Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Camel

For Gavin

The love is in the writing, yes. It is
This pencil—architect of all my hopes.
I suck on my eraser, like a nipple.
The friction of the lead provides some heat.
The little squiggles which adorn my man-
Uscript, swim wonderfully between the
Lines, like freshly ejected sperm,
Seeking, out of instinct, a nice, warm
Place they can kick off their flippers,
Crack a Michelob, exhausted, and unwind.
A mouth, a hand, some other place. Who knows?

Your last poem mentioned your career,
Retiring from porn, continuing to appear
Naked, reading poetry in California.
I was in college then, learning from my dad
Sucking cock was probably something
A boy in Buffalo ought not to do.
Soon after he discovered my diary,
I found myself searching for a butt one
Night along the shoulder of a road
So dark it seemed to lead into a future
Paved entirely in blackness, coal.

A scattering of stars, a slice of Moon,
The prick of a pink planet, Mars, I think,
Took pity on me, like the passing cars.
Those headlights allowed me to pick out
A discarded pack of Camels which
Concealed one cigarette and puff of air.
How incredible that find: how Moon
And Mars, Camel and cars, kept
Me company that night. But the sparks
Of a tossed Marlboro let me smoke
Where I was going—a dim, orange glow.

I thanked the driver as he sped away,
Truck dwindling to a pair of rubies. I
Had no matches in my pocket—no-
Thing useful, no money, no house keys:
A Latin book in my backpack, Ovid’s
Metamorphoses, toothbrush, clothes,
Socks and soiled underwear. And still
How lucky I felt—and not too cold—
Now that I could smoke. The poetry
We’d write together was so far away—
Farther than Mars, that truck driver, you

Standing naked in L.A. And love,
While that Camel lasted, didn’t seem
A possibility all that remote.

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