A few poets have written explicitly paedophilic poetry – Ernest Dowson being a prime example. I hope, in time, to present some of Dowson’s work (though Christian at Agapeta has done such a good job of championing his work that it feels a little redundant for me to be doing so here).

But for now what I particularly wish to share with you are some poems which, though maybe not overtly paedophilic, nevertheless might hold a special power for those who love children.

The following is a poem by C.K. Williams (born 1936). Williams has developed and mastered a stanza which consists of eight ten foot lines. This form allows for a breathless, edgy, exhilarating discursivity.

The following, from his collection ‘Flesh and Blood’ is a good example:

The Mistress
by C.K. Williams

After the drink, after dinner, after the half-hour idiot kids’ cartoon special on the TV,

after undressing his daughter, mauling at the miniature buttons on the back of her dress,

the games on the bed – “Look at my pee-pee,” she says, pulling her thighs wide, “isn’t it pretty ?” –

after the bath, pajamas, the song and the kiss and the telling his wife it’s her turn now,

out now, at last, out of the house to make the call (out to take a stroll, this evening’s lie),

he finds the only public phone booth in the neighbourhood’s been savaged, receiver torn away,

wires thrust back up the coin slot to its innards, and he stands there, what else ? what now ?

and notices he’s panting, he’s panting like an animal, he’s breathing like a bloody beast.

The poem seems filled with quite startling images of sex: his ‘mauling’ at the buttons on his daughter’s dress, his daughter pulling her thighs wide, her pride in her ‘pee-pee’, the impotent telephone with its own vital parts thrust back up into itself. I think the little girl pre-echos what he’s thinking about his mistress. But for me, as a paedophile, she makes me feel that his infidelity is double: there’s his infidelity to his wife, but also to his daughter, who also wants to think of herself as her father’s lover.

Then there’s the fact that the whole poem is just one really long sentence, broken up into a lot of short verbless phrases – read it aloud and by the time you get to the end you’ll almost be “breathing like a bloody beast” yourself.

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