Poetry Friday: Incubus

h1 August 7th, 2009 by eisha

Incubus Hey, wanna read something disturbing? Kinda spooky? Good. Check this out. It’s “Incubus” by Craig Arnold:

The chain uncouples, and his jacket hangs
on the peg over hers, and he’s inside.

She stalls in the kitchen, putting the kettle on,
buys herself a minute looking for two
matching cups for the lime-flower tea,
not really lime but linden, heart-shaped leaves
and sticky flowers that smell of antifreeze.
She talks a wall around her, twists the string
tighter around the tea bag in her spoon.
But every conversation has to break
somewhere, and at the far end of the sofa
he sits, warming his hands around the cup
he hasn’t tasted yet, and listens on
with such an exasperating show of patience
it’s almost a relief to hear him ask it:
If you’re not using your body right now
maybe you’d let me borrow it for a while?

It isn’t what you’re thinking. No, it’s worse.

Click here to read the rest.

I don’t have much to say about this yet, because I just discovered it myself, and I’m still trying to get my mind around it. I’ll tell you this much, though: I like it. I think it works, either as a literal supernatural tale, or as a metaphor for a specific kind of bad relationship.

What do you think?

(p.s.: In case you hadn’t heard, Craig Arnold disappeared a few months ago while hiking solo in Japan. So, while thinking about this poem, maybe also spare a thought for the sudden loss of a young talent, and condolences for his friends and family.)

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Since I’m all about telling you what to do today, I suggest you should check out what the other poetry peeps are posting too. Tricia’s on round-up duty at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

9 comments to “Poetry Friday: Incubus”

  1. Amazing

  2. that she can put her foot
    down, clear to the bottom of desire,
    and find that it can stop, and go no deeper.

    Holy heck.
    I, too, need to read this again. I think it’s both metaphor and reality.

    Oh, Eisha, no. Please don’t tell me this is the same guy who is missing and presumed dead. How sad the world, to find such genius, and have yet another bright light slip away before we hear all he has to say.

  3. Dang — that is some poetry there. The whole thing is like an epic that takes place in the woman’s head.

    I wanted to find a counterpart poem about a succubus — just to balance the ledger, y’know. But the ones I found online seem pretty inexpert and/or just plain, er, gross. Possible exception: Robert Graves’s “The Succubus”… But although that’s mentioned and quoted from on dozens of pages, the whole thing apparently is nowhere online. We’ll just have to use our imaginations!

  4. Whoa. I second Tanita’s comments – those last lines, and it being metaphor and reality. And maybe myth as well. How sad to hear he’s the missing hiker.

  5. This poem is so beautifully controlled–the story spins out and you’re entranced and you listen and you’re lost and then stomp—those feet come down—and you’re back. Whoa. Eisha, you bring the lovely strange to the poetry table so well.

  6. Nina, thanks! I think so too.

    tanita, I’m afraid so. I had only heard a hint of the story before I found this poem. So sad. You put it beautifully.

    JES – or we could use our LIBRARIES. thanks for the suggestion.

    Kelly, good call.

    Sara, why thank you! That’s quite a compliment from a master like yourself.

  7. Whoaaaaaa. Creepy.
    but in such a cool way.
    This makes the grief part of Arnold’s story so much harder….

  8. Holy cow, that’s beautiful and spooky and a bit–um–urpy. And seems very truthful as well.

    Thanks for discovering it for us.


  9. Eisha: Ouch ouch ouch! Of course we could use libraries! (I do forget who I’m talking to sometimes.)

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