Tony Barnstone


You shall visit a friend for dinner,
an amazing spread of food and drugs,
and you shall eat too much and you shall
smoke some dope, though it kills the memory,
and as your soul rises on a small metal rocket,
propelled by nitrous oxide into an airless seizure,
shuddering through something better than orgasm,
you shall imagine brain cells popping,
and you shall not care,
and when your friend’s lover bends to pour
the wine, a little sloppy, flushed breasts
dropping from her open blouse, you shall not
look away, and when she catches your eyes
locked onto the brown gaze of her nipples
and smiles exhilarated with wine
and desire to see the bottle and glasses
and everything else in the fragile world
shatter and burn, you shall not be able
to keep from smiling back,
and you will drink too much, and you will fall
into the wineglass and into bed,
and you will taste grapes on her tongue,
salt on her thigh, breath in her breath,
and in the morning you will feel like hell
and you shall look in the mirror
at the vein flushing blue and rivering through
the puffed flesh beneath your eye,
and you will roll a dream of apples under your tongue
like a seed, how sweet the cut flesh,
the bulbs swelling red and yellow,
and you will worship her pomegranate lips,
her breasts like gazelles, her golden calves,
and you will tell yourself it is just two sacks
of bones and skin rubbing together like metal and flint,
and later you will call her, feeling helpless,
such is modern life, no white dove or rainbows,
no burning bush,
no mountaintop piercing the water,
just a voice from inside commanding you.

Tony Barnstone
Commandments is from Impure: Poems by Tony Barnstone, (University Press of Florida, 1999).