So we move to moisten what is already damp, to wet what is already moist.

Shadows in hand, we trace the traced.

What is hot we heat — what is open, open wide — what filled fill again, spill over, and fill.

The risen we raise, the plumbed we sound.

Already posed, the positions hold — what was there is there once more.

"In this poem," he says, "I was hoping to be as erotic and arousing as possible without using any statements, or even any words, that are directly or exclusively sexual. I wanted, simultaneously, clarity and mystery . . . specificity and abstractions once essential and removable.

"But, of course, the preceding explanation is all after the fact. At the time I was writing the poem, I wanted to capture, somehow and however vaguely, the experience of sex in the experience of words — so that I could give those words to the woman who was in my thoughts as I wrote."

Once again, Corey's love and erotic poems illustrate the importance of language in this category of verse. He tries to enhance meaning by commenting about love or showing the act; each entails a measure of risk (particularly in erotic poetry whose images are meant to arouse without lapsing into the crude or profane).

But poet Ann Townsend, whose work appears regularly in top literary journals, takes another view about risk in love, saying, "I want, in a compressed fashion, to explore moments of danger in human relationships." Here is a representative poem by Townsend:

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