photo by tess. lotta
Jan Steckel is a former pediatrician who stopped practicing medicine because of chronic pain. Her latest poetry book is Like Flesh Covers Bone (Zeitgeist Press, December 2018). Her poetry book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Nonfiction. Her fiction chapbook Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) and poetry chapbook The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) also won awards. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Bellevue Literary Review, New Verse News, November 3 Club, Assaracus and elsewhere. Her work was nominated three times each for the Pushcart and Sundress Best of the Net anthologies, won the Goodreads Poetry Contest three times, and won various other awards. She lives in Oakland, California.
She says ylang ylang's her secret.
Now she knows I'll find a bottle,
and every time I anoint myself,
I'll think of censers swinging
down the aisle at evensong,
how her long black hair
swung by the crack of her ass.
Goddess tattooed above her navel:
Spirit Healer. On her right shoulder,
a spiral ends in an upward-pointing arrow.
Buddha basks on her muscled shoulder blades.
She caresses my face. Her hands
grasp my neck-nape's hair.
She lets her palm brush across mine:
She says she likes dancing for women,
likes the softness.
It's probably a stock line,
but I want to believe.
When she lets worshippers
adore her back, she twitches
each hip muscle one by one
with perfect control, a strip-club yogi.
She makes the blind-to-beauty see.
She makes the lame lurch to the stage.
There are no atheists in this watering hole.