Bryce Baron-Sips is a queer writer stretched between the United States and Sweden. His work is published or forthcoming in The Woodward Review, Revolute, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. He can be found on Twitter (while it lasts) @bric_a_bryce.
Wild Grape Poem
There’s blood dried into the leather of your shoe, as if you’d been stomping on wild grapes to musk up your skin with the yeast of theirs and I fizz and ferment like berries in a dead waxwing that had gorged so well that the fruit falls out of its mouth when you hold it just right like when you wrap a hand around me and the maggots in my body churn so hard my stomach ripples when you turn me over.
I think how far you had to walk to come and see me, and how you probably didn’t even notice that black spot, chickadee-sharp as you are, scorched against your heel and the leather, and I think about how you like to stretch out in the sun and for a moment I always think you’re dead when I’m walking over, and how I want to put my splayed hand on your back and feel your shoulder blades push up against me, and I want to make you feed on wild grapes as if I were going to turn against you at any moment. You seedspit with the best of them and I still want to watch you betray yourself as I bring the musk-flesh to your bloodstained lips with my fingers and say “open up.”
“You know, I thought it would be perfect for a pastoral opera because like, look at it…”
Pageant-wagons passing, horse-drawn floats sweeping Rococo clouds and curlicues onwards with martial, marital tunes, everyone overhauling themselves to become the overall mood of the party
Every reveler camouflaged so distinctly that it breaks up the outline between one and the other
A herd of striped animals before a predator.
It would be hard to believe that if the candles were snuffed out, if the sun were, the moon were, the theatre wouldn’t keep rolling on, keeping itself warm with the press of bodies, until it slowly, coolly, ran dry of stars.
“They take their country dances, smooth them out and spruce them up, then call them more natural than court life, when that just is court life. That just is a pastoral, I tell you. But I guess that’s only amusing if everyone is in on the joke.”
A golden stag takes centerstage, with antlers like coral or bloody velvet. Someone set it up to move on little wheels and gears, someone who’s probably driving their patron to bankruptcy with their champagne taste and confrontational nature.
After a few rounds on stage the stag clearly gets impatient and shakes off its inanimacy like a sheet of water before joining the players.
The musica universalis, the music of the spheres picks up and swells in the nerve nets of the spineless, the easily moved.
They float, their bodies reaching around in the dark for a time before art, before their idea of art and artifice
They touch, and are touched, with novel emotions from novels of sensibility.