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Succubus (Poem V)

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by Bradley Steffens
Written 1988
First published in 1988
Language English
Publisher The Bellingham Review
Publication date Spring 1988
Lines 30

For other uses of the word Succubus, see Succubus (disambiguation).

Succubus is a poem written by Bradley Steffens and released on the author's website in 2007. The work originally appeased in The Bellingham Review in 1988.


by Bradley Steffens

arrives unseen at the window ledge,
parts gauzy curtains around slim hips,
waits while her opal eyes, teared with flight,
adjust to darkness.
On the double bed, a man
lies on his back, naked under the sheet
as always. As always his nightgowned wife
sleeps at mattress edge, curled like a fist.
The demon raises her slender arms
high overhead, lifting the hem of the curtain,
letting the pale fabric billow like angels’ wings
in a private parody of the annunciation.
She smiles at her dominion.
In a step she stands at bedside, gently
slips the sheet from her victim’s form,
tracing the curve of his shoulders
with her fingertips.
Lips meet. Then tongues.
Teeth lightly click on teeth until
she lowers and fills herself in one motion.
All night long she takes, takes, enjoying
the human’s secret thoughts and desires
without his knowledge.
Yet in that violation the fiend
asks nothing, requires nothing, leaves the man
to awaken to a blue and empty room
with no memory of the transgression, only
the curious but certain sensation
that the whole of this world somehow exceeds
the sum of its visible parts.

Commentary by the Author

Bradley Steffens made the following comments about this work in a discussion:

I thought I would add that this poem originally appeared in The Bellingham Review, Volume 11, Number 1, Spring 1988. Shelley Rozen, editor. I consider Succubus the best poem I have ever written--and as you can see from my page, I have written and published quite a lot. Also, while I am the author of 28 nonfiction books, I have always considered myself a poet, first and last. So it means a lot to me that this poem I think so highly of is gaining a larger audience thanks to your efforts.

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