by Michael Istvan

Fifteen Angles on Beauty and Body

Eyes tense in watch
as the chair groans
under the hulking body.

Having the body exhumed
only to gaze upon it
one last time.

Mothers inking names
in their children’s clothing
for body identification.

Intrigued by her
only when someone else
finds her beautiful.

Rejecting new art on grounds that it rejects
beauty relieves one from having to state
that those finding beauty in it are wrong.

The urge to see the body of the dead loved one.

Violent body waxing.

Imagine the violence in sex that would be
if male humans had the same libido as now
but a horse body and hooves instead of hands.

Brain cancer his diagnosis, the first move
of the bodybuilder is to escape to a gym
where he flexes his health in mirrors.

Do praise the athlete body,
the icicled tree, but not
to scorn sculptures.

The urge to place cold hands on another’s body.

The Crawford mark of beauty
nauseating to wake up next to
each day: topographic, brown.

Other things equal, the one oblivious
to her beauty, seeing herself as neither
beautiful nor ugly, has greater beauty.

That hangdog look of wasting
soon after gastric bypass—
head too large for the body.

Fighting back the urge to shift your body yet again.


Frequently still slipping into baby-talk despite his son being in elementary school, M.A. Istvan Jr. is out and proud as an age-queer. Even in Austin, a city chock full of queers, Istvan finds it sad to see all the nasty looks in response to his whimsical rhymes and sing-song motherese, the sort of babble speak you find in Sam Pollit or Tom Bombadil.
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