The bus rides on the 265 and the sliding
back-and-forth from one grocery trip
to the next. The raincoats in Dublin.
The Halloween nights at Five Guys
where we ate so many fries
one of us puked outside the Froebel dorm.
The trips to Heathrow, the stop-and-go
tube rides and giving our seats to priests
when it was hot and we didn’t want
good men to stand. The Oyster cards
hard in our hands when we’d forget
where they were. The waffles in Amsterdam
dripping with red light.
That Edinburgh night when we drank
so much that we felt lost right in front
of the Castle Rock hostel. The filthy cheeseburgers.
The mushy peas, how we wondered in Oxford
how much meat you could fit into a pie.
The top of the Eiffel being much less impressive
than we thought it would be, but
it was nothing. Not like everything else.
ode to bleach
in the dog of summer
when it’s time to clean
the kitchen sink i pour you
on my sponge.
we scrub together in bubbly
melodies. there’s nothing
quite like your toxic perfume
–how it reminds me
of my grandmother’s pantry—
warming up my nose.
and the parties we host!
all the balloon-lungs we air up
and the hawaiian punch
we wipe off shirts.
i love how white
you make the dark,
how your clear stream
streaks the pollock-stains
straight off the canvas.
and your blankness!
oh the things you could rebirth
if we let you:
spilt supernovas in the sky,
all my bad nights.
oh how i wish to drink you—
but only sometimes!
In college, I took a figure drawing class.
I was, at the time, a decent sketch artist,
and it was spring quarter and the class
was in the evening; I liked to walk the
campus at that time of day, when it
was less crowded, less hectic, less hectoring.
I was prepared with charcoal, pencils,
all the accoutrements of the artist.
Still life: bowl of fruit; vase and flower;
components of a disassembled pocket watch.
The final project was a series of nudes.
One evening, we walked into the classroom
studio to find a woman in a silk kimono
standing on a platform in the middle of the room,
our easels arranged in a circle around her.
At the teacher's signal, the kimono slid off
and she stood, nude, unmoving for an hour
as we drew her. I was displeased with my work;
on my page, she was angular and gormless.
I went back to my room and placed an ad for a model;
the next day I met a girl for coffee. She had answered
the ad. She was a freshman at the community college
in the same town. She was tall and slim,
Israeli: olive-skinned, black haired, hazel eyed.
In short lovely, and just the sort of girl I would not
be opposed to seeing naked for an hour.
We made our arrangements and met at the appointed
time at the studio.
She had the body of a soldier: lean, taut, ready.
She was flat chested and had a great black cloud
of thick pubic hair. She posed, and I drew her
from every angle. I shaded her inner thighs,
her sides, under her breasts. Her cheekbones,
the notch of her collarbone, every detail
of her I made sure to capture, to trove away;
this was not for anyone's eyes but mine, I realized
as I sketched her thigh.
I made several good drawings of her, gave her one,
gave her the agreed sum, and wished her well
in her studies. I wanted to sleep with her,
but I knew after I would rip her drawings in half.
Awkwardly I asked a friend to pose.
I needed a male model for the portfolio,
and the overweight, balding yet congenial
mechanic who had come to the classroom
had been turned unsightly by my pencils.
I began to wonder if I were only able to draw
the beautiful in any manner of realness.
My friend was handsome, he looked like
he had aged out of a boy band, and was not
offended or otherwise put off by my request.
He stood still, lean and pale and uncircumcised,
as I drew him from one angle only, rushing through
the hour, yet managing to capture the shyness
of his pose, the embarrassment and the thrill.
After, we went and got drunk at a party
and I told the girl he was flirting with that I had
just spend an hour with him naked.
That summer, I posed nude.
The Israeli girl called me out of the blue,
asking to return the favor. I was nervous, but
agreed. It was to be, she said, for her whole class,
and my nervousness compounded, but the
exhibitionist in me prevailed. The classroom was
small, there were only seven students, arrayed
in a tight circle around a slightly raised platform.
I stood, in undershorts, my clothes in a pile on
an unused desk. Most of the students were older
women, finally taking that night course they had always
been talking about. At a sign, I slid my shorts off and
stepped out of them, my eyes going to the Israeli girl
without meaning to. I was well-made, I had heard
and believed it. I listened to the scratching of the
nubs on the paper, the rubbing of erasers, the
occasional clearing of a throat. I had left shyness
behind as a boy's curse, I had resolved to be more
true and more myself; I stood, telling myself
I was liberated now from self hate and worry,
that because they could see all of me, they would
would not judge me. I dressed in the bathroom;
when I came back in, the Israeli girl showed me
her drawing. It was, I admit, an excellent likeness.
We went for coffee again, and she made a joke about
how we had both seen each other naked but never touched,
I shook her hand professionally, and said There, and she
laughed for some reason. She stood to go and
leaned over the table to kiss my cheek, and then
she walked away.
A month later, she mailed me an index-card sized version
of her drawing and a letter that said she was going back
to Israel, that she had gotten a four-point on her
portfolio, and thanking me.
That night, I set the drawing of me side by side
with one of the ones I had kept of her
and jerked off all over myself.
I also got a four-point on my portfolio.
the ceiling shouts metaphors as our bodies tangle together
carpet burns melt into stifled moans
i can't see past your hair anymore.
your voice is my dulcet muse
jesus would be wasted on you
who needs a star in the sky when i have one right here?
oh god oh god oh god oh god.
we are cliched voices; pounding against the the walls of the world.
twitching memories and trembling souls
virgin and crazy lying soaked in ourselves.
i think your eyes are where he hid that fucking apple.
contented sighs and writhing breaths
you are my original sin
you are my second coming
i am lying here in rusted moments
mangled in your religion.
The constant weight
Desert. Pint. 11:13 p.m.
right now in Barcelona
I'd be doing the same shit
or in Rome
or in Buckeye
the wait transcends
space and time and
but nobody does it
like they do it in
in the desert
sitting here outside of
outside of the writing
the next book
the next hustle
all the next bullshit
sipping a Kilt Lifter
bonus lime wedges
from the belly shirt
and ass behind the bar
while outside the
moon burns white
above the mountains
drinking to forget
what I haven't done
or will never do
all the precious normality
I admire and despise
the constant condition
the constant weight
the constant ghost
the hidden laughing bruise
the sick and tired prostration
before a night slowly wrapping
a lotus dream before
sitting here at the bar
frontal lobe toggled
head change coming
the tapping in
as the night moves
across the desert
winding and watching
the dirt and rock
and the grace of
on all of this.
Nothing’s been the same since you
no matter how I slice it
no matter how I see it
no matter how much time attempts some bullshit move to heal it
You were in my blood and you will stay in my
until my blood stops
your love and roots and every
bit of fur haunt me
no matter where I run
no matter which continent
or bar or highway
your little ghost
sits, sleeps, rides shotgun
your eyes the faintest of blue
looking wise in the sunshine
across the parks and ponds and lakes
your little heart beating big enough
for my own
your belly against my palm
in all those shitty rooms
in shitty towns
or in the beds of
you always knew I had
guts when nobody else
and you always knew I’d
pull us up and out of anywhere
closer to me than any human
deeper under my skin than
my own bones
so far into my heart you’re still
your daddy was in jail
when you had to die
and though I don’t believe
in angels or anything beyond
you came to see me the first night
you were gone
and I held you on the slab in
the cell and fell asleep with my
hand on your stomach one last time
before you went off
to do something greater
than I could ever imagine
I want to take this afternoon
to tell you that I love you more than
and no sacrifice I’ve ever made
to keep you
could hold a candle to how much
I still love you
six years past your
and I want to tell you here
that because of you
I know what unconditional love means
and if you were here now
I’d buy you the best of everything
even though you wouldn’t have
any idea what that means
but your little brother is almost
and he’s happy
and I still talk about you
and his tail still wags at the mention
of your name
and there’s even a little
girl in the mix now
she looks something like you
which is why she’s here
and while it’s true she doesn’t have your
shrewd, moody genius
I know you’d be proud that
I gave her a home
and on days like this
when the whiskey’s half gone
and I’m lost out on the road
while I wait for things to come through
while I cross my fingers and hope
things start to make sense
while I wait for the spines and brains around
me to grow
while tricky assholes have
siphoned my money
while I either do or do not
wait for eminent failure
the Sun sits high and warm
and shines a beautiful
orange across the desert
while I sit in a hotel and
to disappear back into
the days when you were
when I was alive
and we watched each other
anywhere we chose
and while I’m sitting here
and staring into
I want to take this
to tell you
I still love you.
Copulation, debt, Nabokov, and their bullshit.
Pedaling Old Town
lean back and pull up on the bars
five stair drop
let the coffee course
and your beard go white
fuck the rules of them
their candy ass bullshit
if you contrast your blood with
their copulation and debt
you will only suffer
like they do
the only division being
and while life
is not a contrast
keep an eye away
from those who
but right now
and think of
roll past the
young ass and
flowers and find that
red brick bar outside
lean the bike
and order the
talk to your waiter
your life in a hotel room
while you drive the States,
pause for a week
Back out here
in the wind
ignore writers who
bitch about age
it's all bullshit
keep your body lean
keep the fire in
and the sex
the rest is there
only to pull you
Mixer in the afternoon
alright, on my third
but outside the Sun is frying
everything in its touch
everything regarding the city suffers
a famous, commercial writer once said
never place your desk in front of a window
sitting here now in the early afternoon
frontal lobe joggled just enough
ice at the bottom of a glass
sings as sweetly as Simone with
the right timing
watching the tip of the mountain
burn from my window while I write
take advice from no one
if it goes against your gut
ignore and avoid kept men
with soft hands
in weak imitation of the greats
ignore their cries for attention
while they use age as a gauge for
wisdom while their
wives fold their clothes for them
in the next room
which overlooks a tiled den
and a gorgeous yard
ignore the bullshit
to simply survive is not enough
while outside the mountain burns
and your words hit the page
the reward is doing it
the reward is in the lift of heart
those of us who have made a living off
the writing will tell you it’s
a long and brutal fucker of a climb
but a climb with each second worth
more than a life
avoid the circles of trash, stench, and low-flying resilience
aspire to money for contentment
but be driven by neither
accept to banish
abolish to embrace
don’t place faith in
the existence of things you
but place it in things
you know must be there
laugh at the sorrow
while the sorrow eats you
and outside the mountain burns
and sheds rocks like tears
the Sun disfigures dream
the life of us gripped
in the fist
of our own surrender
but spiked with moments
of unfathomable joy
of moments combined
that becomes our fortress and gate
our Mars and Pompeii
our sunlight, Liszt, and metal
our poets, singers, thespians, and
criminals of war
all the love inside
trapped but burning
beneath all the anger, waiting
beneath the unfathomed greatness
moment to moment
the buzz gripping the mind
the time running out in this poem
before I start sounding like one of them
and feeling the oddly warm comfort
when you become what you despise
sitting here in the early afternoon
the dead men on my shelves
the dead women on my shelves
the dead-eye stare of a mountain
weeping across the desert west to
where I know beauty
must be waiting
while I sit here writing
ugly in desert
while the mountain burns
at my stupid