Dark Love Poems   by Michael Benedikt

Poems about Love, Passion & Erotic Excess from THE BODY,
Benedikt's 1st poetry book (Wesleyan U. Press, l968).  2001 selections & revisions.

Reminder--this site for college-level & above only, please.

Poems At This Page

(1)   Divine Love   (2)   The Grand Guignols of Love   (3)  Joy

(4)  Sextette: The Great Divan  (5)  Before Going On  (6)  Events by Moonlight

&  (7)  A Memory: The Young Lovers

This page is part of a website with selected poems from THE BODY and SKY, the first two poetry books by Michael Benedikt.
  Besides dark love poems, THE BODY contains many other dark poems/poems of 'Black Humor' in a Surrealist vein
--and many other types of poems, too.

Other Themes/Types of Poems in THE BODY

Links to other pages at this site are given towards end of this page, at

Links to Other Pages Within This BODY-SKY Website


for Robert Bly

A lip which had once been stolid, now moving
Gradually around the side of its head
The eye dangling from a single twisted thread tied to the end of somebody's
        rapidly circling finger and spinning
Around the sun, its ear,
And the brain aloft above the lake of the face--
Well above the cataract of the body--
Like a cumulus cloud enlarged before a rainstorm:

A sound
That grows gradually in the East
Driving everything apocalyptically before it: moonbeams and cattle and rainbows and
Swept on
To the slanting table of the body at which five men and two women are
        casually sitting down to eat

 June Hildebrand Print
for 'GG Love' with Lips


With thanks to Louis Simpson and Milton Gilman for their suggestions on the verse

"The generosity of her love provides me
With practically all edibles.
It is like coming constantly to table.
If only we were not in our underwear, or bare," my sensualist friend proclaimed
"It would be ideal dining."

He thought he might tie his lady up, to a chair, to amuse them one day;
Once affixed, he would tickle mercilessly.
She arrived panting, and was soon
Attendant in her underthings
His hideous plan, upon a chair. Then he thought: No rope there!
"Must the executioner's victim
Supply her own weapons of destruction?" she inquired.
"It would have been thoughtful,"
He replied, as yet undaunted.

"Wait," he said. "I have thought
A marvelous entertainment:
You will dress up for a fantasy-role
And I will beat you with these chains withal
While you dangle from this ceiling by one foot."

She, imagining the benefit
Straightway consulted her tinted wardrobe.
The array of costumes was endless
Once they started upon them.
He never knew what she would be
And she, for her part, never knew.
Courtesan, faun and fireman they ranged
And down through mythologies and classes
They plunged, then surfaced and lay gasping.

Sitting late at table that night
Solemnly, yet not without an undertone
Of genuine joy, they concurred
That they were lucky to have encountered.
In a word fraught with indifference and danger
Here each had come upon the rare, "Oral" Type.
Like the captains of two explorer-ships
Perpetually ready to depart, yet without a wish to ever reach port
Nightly, hand in hand, they would sail away
With a sharpened sense of savoir faire.

And sometimes their thoughts would travel together
To lands of such gentle events
That their eyes would meet
And they would look at one another.


How can I get through that sweetly insipid innocence?
Jump through, and land in a damp swamp?
No, I'd rather go bicycling

Around it, and enjoy its nearly impenetrable sogginess
Starred with flowers so magnificently sickly
Only the most rotted self-deception regarding the value of their own virtue,

        could impel them.

Another thing I like doing a lot
Is helping you across busy boulevards
With a specially enlargeable hand

Implying friendly aid at first,
Secondly a growing degree of passion;
--Then I inflate it and make it throb! I also enjoy

Watching you tremble in otherwise empty, echoing underground tunnels
How you cry out in horror when days turn even slightly cloudy
Your wonderful trembling, too, when we sit side-by-side and the clock strikes

And kayaking in mid-Atlantic, alone.


"Nous nous sommes souvent ennuyés, comme ici"--Baudelaire

And one of them, a sweet young thing, looked up
And said, though her words
Were almost lost in the general thrashing of that moment
"It's getting late, and so I must return soon to my parents' house
Which represents stability to me,"
Then plunged back, faltering only slightly, into the writhing, moonlit mass

While another, whose lorgnette
Had been thoughtlessly shattered by the Teamster from East Nanuet
Genuflected beside the great divan
But abased herself by abandoning the sextette
As the divan's owner--a legendary hostess, and an old friend of mine--
Reported to me peevishly the next afternoon, over tea and crumpets.

"Still, it was curious the way they chuckled"
She concluded, brushing crumbs from her cuffs
"When they found themselves alone there then

--Just the five of them."

June Hildebrand print with
back & flowers


An entire curvature, for a change!
So many others are broken up into arcs
By the cunning construction
And also the panting
Of this face-down, prone body
Which is a world unto itself and therefore surely worthy, when pausing from
        passionate activity
Of our closer examination, lingering attention, and leisurely ocular study
The particular curvature along which our eyes adventure
Begins with a slight indentation
At the nape of her neck,
Goes roaming down behind her collarbone
Arching down between shoulderblades and rear of ribcage,
Sloping down further to hollow of her waistline--offering to travelers aboard this
        highly educational visual roller-coaster
A chance to pause amidst observations, and take a little breather.

Then whoops!--there it goes again, that same spine
Arching outwards and upwards this time,
only to form a deep dividing-line
On either side of which lie twin globes, each of which when properly seen,
        presents yet another fascinating world unto itself,
For study, observation and perhaps--who knows?--eventual exploration
As does the shadowy division lying between...

So, let our eyes rest for a while, even if only temporarily,
        on that little stable plateau in the hollow
At the back of this lady's waist

Before going on....


Some intense event dictated a poem;
Poem and event had come closer together than ever before.
It was as if, in passing,
The event had pressed its own image against the page
And its shape had left a mark

The hand lay useless atop the desk. It smoked.

The pencil fell under the desk unsharpened and broken
And the moon rising over the intensely intimate little room
        where the exceptionally wild party had just been held
Pressed itself very hard against the windowpane
Behind which the groups of lovers had recently been assembled

An entire landscape of possible future events of that kind
        was illuminated back there, stretching even to the very rear of that room

--A sparsely-furnished chamber with only deeply cushioned couches there,
        and various mats and throw-rugs, plus pillows thrown all over the floor

But nothing could be without the moon's being

The dust of events was never shed on the paper except under the moonlight

A Memory


The embarrassed moon turned away
It was like a door swinging
Which slammed at morning
                Our ears hurt
Watching from our twin beds in the attic
But nobody ever learned
                of our interest in the heavens

                Shyly, our fingertips touched
As the glaring lighthouse beam
Swept across the room
And landed on our dominoes...

Graphic showing Dominoes

All illustrations above by graphic artist June Hildebrand. Used with Permission.

Earlier versions of  'Divine Love,'  'The Grand Guignols of Love,'  'Joy,'  'The Great Divan: Sextette,'  'Events by Moonlight' & 'Before Going On'  first appeared in THE BODY (Wesleyan University Press, l968), © l968 by Michael Benedikt. Revised versions, © 2001 by Michael Benedikt.
'The Young Lovers'--a contrasting poem about innocent young romance--first appeared in 8 POEMS (NYC, Igal Roodenko, l965), a limited-edition portfolio of prints
by graphic artist June Hildebrand, with poetry by Benedikt.
Illustrations © l965 by June Hildebrand. Revision of 'The Young Lovers' © 2001 by Michael Benedikt.

Note: "The Young Lovers" was written several years before most of the poems eventually included in THE BODY.
And, a couple of years after the publication of a chapbook of short poems called CHANGES (Detroit, New Fresco Inc., l961).



figure drawing by Benedikt

Small llustration Above: 1960's Sketch by Benedikt

Top of Page

Benedikt Biography

(Complete bio. in Marquis' Who's Who in America;  World;  East; Entertainment;  & Bowker's Who's Who in American Art)

Selections, etc., from many of Benedikt's books now appear at various   Websites

Michael Benedikt has published five collections of poetry: The Badminton at Great Barrington; or, Gustave Mahler & The Chattanooga Choo-Choo (University of Pittsburgh Press, l980), a book of tragi-comical love poems; and with Wesleyan University Press Night Cries (prose poems, l976); Mole Notes (prose poems, l971); Sky (l970); and The Body (l968). Anthologies of poetry under his editorship are: The Prose Poem: An International Anthology (Dell/Laurel, l976); and The Poetry of Surrealism (Little Brown, l974). Benedikt has also co-edited/co-translated 3 anthologies of European drama with theatre critic George E. Wellwarth, all 3 published by E.P. Dutton & Co: Modern French Theatre: The Avant-Garde, Dada, & Surrealism (l964, Faber Ltd. in UK); Post-War German Theatre (l966; Macmillan Ltd. in UK); & Modern Spanish Theatre (l969). He's also the editor of Theatre Experiment: American Plays (Doubleday, l967).  Benedikt is a former Art Critic & Associate Ed., Art News and Art International. A former Poetry Editor of  The Paris Review, his editorial selections are represented in The Paris Review Anthology (Norton, l990).  He's currently Contributing Editor for American Poetry Review and The Prose Poem: An International Journal.   His recent, l990's poetry appeared in such literary magazines as Agni, Iowa Review, Jerusalem Review, Lips, Michigan Quarterly Review, The New Republic, New York Quarterly, Partisan Review & The Paris Review.  His work is represented in 65+ anthologies of US poetry. Grants and awards have included an NEA Fellowship, a NY State Council On The Arts Grant, and a Guggenheim Grant. Benedikt has taught Literature and Creative Writing as Visiting Professor at Bennington, Sarah Lawrence, Hampshire, and Vassar College/s, and at Boston University. He's given many poetry readings at colleges and bookstores around the USA--in l986, at invitation of US Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Brooks, at Library of Congress. He's recently read from his work at several Barnes & Noble 'superstores' in the NY Metro area. He lives in Manhattan, NYC. E-mail at benedit2@aol.com.

Info re Background of Benedikt Websites via article at About.com
'The Compleat Michael Benedikt--Poet Laureate of The Net'

Other Topics/Types of poems in THE BODY

Categories starred [*] are followed by Notes & Commentary at page   Thematic Index to The Body/Sky

The Four Elements,  Childhood and Youth and Growing Up,  Gardens and Their Symbolic Meanings,

 Time,  Space, Spirituality,

Love,   Philosophy [*],  Business and Finance,  Social Concerns,

Language and Esthetics,  Film and Theatre [*],  References to l960's Art & Artists & Rock Music [*],

& Poems that go to Classifiable Extremes:

(1) Poems in Unusual Forms[*];   (2) Highly Surrealistic Poems [*]

(3) Poems With Multiple Dictional Shifts [*]



Page 1--Home Page: Benedikt photos & Bio

Includes 1968 & 1998 photos & a more complete bio. than appears at this page

Page 2--Selections from THE BODY

Selected poems from the opening sections of this unusual, sometimes Surealistic first book
by a much-published contemporary US Poet.   Early poems in a range of tones--some cheery, lots dark.

Page 3-- 'Dark Love Poems' from THE BODY

This Page. Hedonists, sensualists, & erotic extremists. Satires re alternative sex.
Love vs Lust. Off-beat lovers & romantic lunacy. Warnings of course, re What A Little Moonlight Can Do.

Page 4--'Spooky Poems for Halloween'

From THE BODY and SKY & on the very eerie side.
Award-Winning Page which may haunt you even between Halloweens

Page 5--Thematic Index to THE BODY and SKY

Subject-Index categorizing poems in both books by topic. Cites related titles. With notes so far on the philosophy behind the poems,
on innovative techniques used in them, & on their connections to works by visual artists--multi-media artists especially.

(Although above page is mainly intended as a college-level resource on modern poetry, page also has general info
which may offer insight on how these two unusual first books of poems came to be written).

Includes thumbnail views of some interesting 1960's photos from Benedikt's Archive.





Prose Poems & Microfictions
Brief Prose Poems & Interview With Benedikt

From Benedikt's fourth book of poetry, NIGHT CRIES

The Badminton at Great Barrington

From Benedikt's fifth & most recent book of poetry, love poems re a not-so-comical Valentine

The Thesaurus & Other New Verse

From OF:-- a manuscript-in-progress

'American Vibrations'

A recent poem about a dark side of 19th-century USA Pioneer Life

Click for Next Page of This Site-- 'Spooky Poems For Halloween'

Other Pages Within This BODY-SKY Website


This Webpage Established 1/12/01

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