Odalisque

 

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Look into my gazelle eyes

augmented by the darkest kohl,

mark my brow of alabaster,

my breasts ensconced in bronze and gold,

arms seductive as candelabra,

my hair a russet waterfall,

mouth tasting of almond sweetmeats scented

with rosewater, delicate pout carved with a pearl-handled knife–

all fine attributes worthy of a place

behind bullet-proof glass at the museum.

 

Perhaps I’ll make you an offer behind the scenes,

an impoverished artist once cut off his ear he was so

mad for me–here’s the presentation box

lined with bloodied satin–

and his still lifes are now worth millions,

so please bear in mind I’m a piece of work,

the doyenne of mixed messages,

with a Godzilla appetite for wanton destruction.

 

Think carefully before you place a finger upon me,

or my golden sheath of fine Fortuny pleats

might cause a bigger stink than a corpse flower–

‘tis a far better thing to be my servant–or should I say follower?

Feel free to admire my seductive shimmer

from behind aviator shades, or else capture it by drone,

like some desert hallucination,

where all thirsty creatures slink from very edge

of a plundered Eldorado.

 

This dance seduction is for you alone–

and as I shed my luxuriant folds into the muddied

Somme of your imaginings,

see how it falls away like a serpent’s second skin

over my soft belly and rounded hips,

spilling over chiselled knees,

around good calves and exquisite ankles

to settle with a sigh around my feet,

lovingly recreated by some anonymous Greek–

his best work by far.

 

I’m not really after your money,

just your regard, approbation, what-not–

and I always appreciate those cute emoji comments,

all the sweeter,

if I don’t know who the hell you are,

as you savour my down-blouse moment,

(and sometimes I go beyond that description)

hypnotising lurkers with my sultry sway,

tableau after tableau, always a little off-centre,

pausing to adjust, how you adore my

amateurish ways and I can spill my erotic masquerade

to the four corners of the earth,

where sullied banknotes scattered by the ghosts of

Lehmann brothers quantitatively eased–turn to

dead leaves scurrying over pulverised stone.

 

They say I am either a vampire princess, corsair’s slave

or bored housewife,

but I was once like any young girl who

travelled the long winding silk route to success,

marrying a squat herdsman on the way who almost won

bronze, weightlifting in Rio–

so I will leave you to ponder an epitaph

as you watch me for the umpteenth time,

sitting there in your frayed underpants and old string vest,

gripping the arms of the seigneur’s chair,

rigor mortis smile, countenance bled white,

you know I am worth it.

 

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Odalisque

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