To feel your arms around me...to feel your breath on my neck...is pleasure in itself. It is home.
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To feel your arms around me…to feel your breath on my neck…is pleasure in itself. It is home.

-Faye Hall

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I feel to that the gap between my new life in New York and the situation at home in Africa is stretching into a gulf, as Zimbabwe spirals downwards into a violent dictatorship. My head bulges with the effort to contain both worlds. When I am back in New York, Africa immediately seems fantastical – a wildly plumaged bird, as exotic as it is unlikely.Most of us struggle in life to maintain the illusion of control, but in Africa that illusion is almost impossible to maintain. I always have the sense there that there is no equilibrium, that everything perpetually teeters on the brink of some dramatic change, that society constantly stands poised for some spasm, some tsunami in which you can do nothing but hope to bob up to the surface and not be sucked out into a dark and hungry sea. The origin of my permanent sense of unease, my general foreboding, is probably the fact that I have lived through just such change, such a sudden and violent upending of value systems.In my part of Africa, death is never far away. With more Zimbabweans dying in their early thirties now, mortality has a seat at every table. The urgent, tugging winds themselves seem to whisper the message, memento mori, you too shall die. In Africa, you do not view death from the auditorium of life, as a spectator, but from the edge of the stage, waiting only for your cue. You feel perishable, temporary, transient. You feel mortal. Maybe that is why you seem to live more vividly in Africa. The drama of life there is amplified by its constant proximity to death. That’s what infuses it with tension. It is the essence of its tragedy too. People love harder there. Love is the way that life forgets that it is terminal. Love is life’s alibi in the face of death. For me, the illusion of control is much easier to maintain in England or America. In this temperate world, I feel more secure, as if change will only happen incrementally, in manageable, finely calibrated, bite-sized portions. There is a sense of continuity threaded through it all: the anchor of history, the tangible presence of antiquity, of buildings, of institutions. You live in the expectation of reaching old age.At least you used to.But on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, those two states of mind converge. Suddenly it feels like I am back in Africa, where things can be taken away from you at random, in a single violent stroke, as quick as the whip of a snake’s head. Where tumult is raised with an abruptness that is as breathtaking as the violence itself.

-Peter Godwin

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Thus spoke the Beauty and her voice had a cheerful ring, and her face was aflame with a great rejoicing. She finished her story and began to laugh quietly, but not cheerfully. The Youth bowed down before her and silently kissed her hands, inhaling the languid fragrance of myrrh, aloe and musk which wafted from her body and her fine robes. The Beauty began to speak again.'There came to me streams of oppressors, because my evil, poisonous beauty bewitches them. I smile at them, they who are doomed to death, and I feel pity for each of them, and some I almost loved, but I gave myself to no one. Each one I gave but one single kiss — and my kisses were innocent as the kisses of a tender sister. And whomsoever I kissed, died.'The soul of the troubled Youth was caught in agony, between two quite irresolvable passions, the terror of death and an inexpressible ecstasy. But love, conquering all, overcoming even the anguish of death's grief, was triumphant once again today. Solemnly stretching out his trembling hands to the tender and terrifying Beauty, the Youth exclaimed, 'If death is in your kiss, o beloved, let me revel in the infinity of death. Cling to me, kiss me, love me, envelop me with the sweet fragrance of your poisonous breath, death after death pour into my body and into my soul before you destroy everything that once was me!''You want to! You are not afraid!' exclaimed the Beauty.The face of the Beauty was pale in the rays of the lifeless moon, like a guttering candle, and the lightning in her sad and joyful eyes was trembling and blue. With a trusting movement, tender and passionate, she clung to the Youth and her naked, slender arms were entwined about his neck.'We shall die together!' she whispered. 'We shall die together. All the poison of my heart is afire and flaming streams are rushing through my veins, and I am all enveloped in some great holocaust.''I am aflame!' whispered the Youth, 'I am being consumed in your embraces and you and I are two flaming fires, burning with the immense ecstasy of a poisonous love.'The sad and lifeless moon grew dim and fell in the sky — and the black night came and stood watch. It concealed the secret of love and kisses, fragrant and poisonous, with gloom and solitude. And it listened to the harmonious beating of two hearts growing quieter, and in the frail silence it watched over the final delicate sighs.And so, in the poisonous Garden, having breathed the fragrances which the Beauty breathed, and having drunk the sweetness of her love so tenderly and fatally compassionate, the beautiful Youth died. And on his breast the Beauty died, having delivered her poisonous but fragrant soul up to sweet ecstasies.("The Poison Garden")

-Valery Bryusov

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No,” she breathes. The smell of her turns to spice, sharp and warm, and I know I’m sensing her now, even through the block in the house.We stand like that for an eternity, still as statues on the outside, but inside I’m running, running toward a place I’ve never been. I should be terrified. But all I feel is strength. Rightness.And then Kara moves, her hands skimming up my chest, testing the boundaries. Her palms slide to my shoulders, her fingers tracing the line of the muscles in my arms, down to my waist. She grips my shirt, stretching it a little, waiting for me to tell her to stop. But I watch her lift it, let her pull it up, raising my arms, and I even take the last of it off myself, dropping it to the floor.We breathe, staring at each other.The vibrations move between us. My left arm buzzes with them. I think she’s doing it. Whatever’s happening, it’s her.I reach up and brush my marked knuckles across her cheek, amazed at the feel of her, the way her eyes seem to see everything, the way she pulls me into her. I can’t seem to remember why I shouldn’t kiss her. And kiss her. And . . .I kiss her, taking her face in both hands, skimming my thumb over her jaw as she leans into the touch, reaching out to curl her fingers around the back of my neck. I have to remind myself to breathe. I need more of her. The emotions roll over me in a rush, a tangle of sensation and movement, heat and sugar and heady aromas.I grip her tighter.Her nails dig into my shoulders. My hands slide down her spine. The kiss deepens, goes on forever, until I can barely see sense. I explore her shape, the feel of her ribs, the textures and taste of her skin on my tongue as I kiss her neck, her shoulders, her chest. As I draw trembling gasps from her lips, she grips me so hard it hurts.Our bodies mesh. Our breath mingles in frenzied desperation. Nothing else exists except her. Her warmth. Her spice. Her.

-Rachel A.

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Unerringly locating Riley's dick in his loose dress pants, Jack grabbed it forcefully and leaned close to Riley's ear, hearing the quick indrawn breath from his husband. A spark of lust flashed through his own body as he contemplated what to do next. Finally he decided. He was tired of all the pussy-footing around, and the darkness of the hallway invited sin. He moved his hand on Riley's hard dick, listening to the groan in Riley's throat. Riley, you know who this belongs to? This belongs to me." He gentled the touch, twisting his hand. "I saw you flirting and sharing with those girls out there, and I'm telling you now, I don't share. No one else gets to see this.No one else gets to touch it. No one else gets to taste it. Just me. It's mine for one whole year, and I have the contract to prove it."Riley tried to form a reply as Jack moved his hand again. It was good to see the other man speechless for once."Don't worry though, husband.I'm gonna treat it so good. I've decided that I'm gonna make it,and you, feel so damn good you'll never look at another woman again. You only have to say the word, and I'll show you what you signed up for." His voice fell into a heated whisper, the words low and drawled. Now do we need to get out of here? I'm thinking I might need to take you home and show you who you belong to." Riley's eyes widened, his dick fully hard, iron in Jack's clever hands. "I can make you scream. You wouldn't even know your name when I finished with you.""Jack—please."Riley's voice was broken.Everything Jack wanted to hear."Please?"Riley blinked, unconsciously pushing his groin into Jack's hold. Jack knew what followed next was certainly not a decision Riley made with his upstairs brain. "Fuck, Jack. Let's get the hell out of here.

-R.J. Scott

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Dear Neil Armstrong,I write this to you as she sleeps down the hall. I need answers I think only you might have. When you were a boy, and space was simple science fiction, when flying was merely a daydream between periods of History and Physics, when gifts of moon dust to the one you loved could only be wrapped in your imagination.. Before the world knew your name; before it was a destination in the sky.. What was the moon like from your back yard?Your arm, strong warm and wrapped under her hair both of you gazing up from your back porch summers before your distant journey. But upon landing on the moon, as the earth rose over the sea of tranquility, did you look for her? What was it like to see our planet, and know that everything, all you could be, all you could ever love and long for.. was just floating before you. Did you write her name in the dirt when the cameras weren't looking? Surrounding both your initials with a heart for alien life to study millions of years from now? What was it like to love something so distant? What words did you use to bring the moon back to her? And what did you promise in the moons ear, about that girl back home? Can you, teach me, how to fall from the sky?I ask you this, not because I doubt your feat, I just want to know what it's like to go somewhere no man had ever been, just to find that she wasn't there. To realize your moon walk could never compare to the steps that led to her. I now know that the flight home means more. Every July I think of you. I imagine the summer of 1969, how lonely she must have felt while you were gone.. You never went back to the moon. And I believe that's because it dosen't take rockets to get you where you belong. I see that in this woman down the hall, sometimes she seems so much further. But I'm ready for whatever steps I must take to get to her.I have seem SO MANY skies.. but the moon, well, it always looks the same. So I gotta say, Neil, that rock you landed on, has got NOTHING on the rock she's landed on. You walked around, took samples and left.. She's built a fire cleaned up the place and I hope she decides to stay.. because on this rock.. we can breath.Mr. Armstrong, I don't have much, many times have I been upside down with trauma, but with these empty hands, comes a heart that is often more full than the moon. She's becoming my world, pulling me into orbit, and I now know that I may never find life outside of hers. I want to give her EVERYTHING I don't have yet.. So YES, for her, I would go to the moon and back.... But not without her. We'd claim the moon for each other, with flags made from sheets down the hall. And I'd risk it ALL to kiss her under the light of the earth, the brightness of home... but I can do all of that and more right here, where she is..And when we gaze up, her arms around ME, I will NOT promise her gifts of moon dust, or flights of fancy. Instead I will gladly give her all the earth she wants, in return for all the earth she is. The sound of her heart beat and laughter, and all the time it takes to return to fall from the sky,down the hall, and right into love.God, I'd do it every day, if I could just land next to her.One small step for man, but she's one giant leap for my kind.

-Mike McGee

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