Contradiction IV: Zhuang Yisa

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We shall be publishing the works read by the speakers at Contradiction IV in a series. We thank all the writers for allowing us to do so!

Both these poems are by Zhuang Yisa.

The Tough Guys

It is a serious matter. This spying
from behind a shower curtain,
across the ginger corridor of desire.

It is real business, and only real men
do it: show me what you have, and what I show you
will leave a bittersweet aftertaste

in your mouth. An open mouth
begs the question: what makes us real, as men?
You steal a glance

in the sauna, at the stud’s
towel-clad reserve, to observe the stoic,
unreciprocated silence

that might answer the question for you.
Ask and thee shall receive. A hunter’s credo.
The waiting isn’t ritual; it is mental.

Out of the gym we carry weights.
We are the tough guys. We are the soldiers,
the husbands, the fianc�s,

the boyfriends and the secret lovers
bracing our souls, to march on under
a sky willed cloudless into monochrome, blue as soap

held in a dispenser, pressed disinterestedly by so many hands.

Dog Lover

The best breeders love their dogs
to the point of exclusion

of even the slightest possibility of loving
another human. They are at one

with their dogs; they cannot tell what is worth loving
beyond the merits of their own species

except, perhaps, this potential in the rest: the ease
of being manipulated, bought over

by blind devotion to the superiority
of their breed. Knowing this,

I followed you home. Knowing
what I knew then, I put a leash

over every resistance
in my body, and put it in a cage; I pushed the key

into your hand, then lay next to you: we spent the night
in the hot stench of dogs

not knowing if the night would outlive either of us
should we bare our teeth and bark.

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