Monday, February 28, 2011

The Lost Generation

Yesterday the last American veteran of World War I, Mr. Frank W. Buckles, died in West Virgina at the age of 110. 65 million people were mobilized for World War I. As of this writing, only two remain.

Gertrude Stein called them the
Lost Generation. Perhaps nobody really personifies that feeling of futility for us better than Wilfred Owen. Owen was shot crossing the Sambre-Oise canal on November 4th , 1918, exactly one week before The Armistice was declared. Owen's mother received the telegram confirming his death the very day the bells began ringing in England, pealing the end of The War To End All Wars.

Today, in memory of Frank, and all of the others, living, dead, or scheduled to be swept away by events in the 21st Century, I would like to post a poem by Wilfred Owen. Not his most famous poem, but I think one of his most poignant and perfectly realized.


Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds—
Woke once the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides
Full-nerved, still warm, too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Day Of Apocalypse

For Gavin

It’s hard to see the future as a land
rising from magma deposits, bright
rivers of lava, pyroclastic clouds,
volcanic vomitus boiling from blue waves.
I must have some sort of blindspot.

I feel my way forward like Gloucester
in King Lear, smelling my way to Dover.
I shower. When I pull a washcloth between

my legs, after my morning dump, things
in Dover can look pretty bad. I hang

the soiled cloth on a steel rail to dry,
then I soap up my hands. I pluck my peach
cleft aside, rinsing off an asterisk—
the Southern star I have so often used
to orient myself at night, sliding

through the sea in search of spices. I
survey my world through a tiny vent,
a window cracked to let the steam escape.
I can see Queens: a tall oak tree, and three
old ladies with Ziplocks full of cooked rice.

The Fates! A Buddhist with a bowl accepts
their offerings with a bow of thanks.
I’m thankful, too—for what I can perceive:
green leaves and gratitude. Tomorrow might
erupt like a volcano, I suppose,

blowing me sky-high. I’ll cope. Maybe
I will land in your arms, if it does.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Burnt Fingers

For Gavin

I never leave a man without a souvenir—
a name, a mole, a memory, a pearl,
how dark, how light, how his sweat glands have
scattered scents about his frame like seeds

which flower into poems. In your case,
the poem has preceded you. You are
cold water on a blister here, as I
cool a burn I got when grabbing the

handle of a hot pan. I forgot
to find a good potholder, since I thought
I was grabbing you. I bet your lips
feel better on a blister. More like ice.

Or maybe liquid nitrogen. I’ll see.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

No Agenda

For Gavin

I’ve never asked for an agenda, dear,
only you—content to follow where
a moment leads: another moment, Mars,
an elephant tattoo, a rabbit hutch,
mosquitoes, Maui, mountains, sex,

love plain and simple. Still, I must confess,
each poem I compose for you, I die
a bit in writing—mingling my dust
with yours. There might be better ways to spend
my afternoons. But not eternity.

Strange Meeting

For Gavin

Would we have over-looked each other
in passing—pissing at a gym urinal,
or shopping for some carrots at the store?

What a stupid question. Here we are.
My dick is thicker, thanks to you. Just like
when I stood in Waterstone’s, pulled your book

off the shelf, ignoring all the others. Did
your orange cover catch my eye? Your spine?
Did something you say seize my scrotum, “You

had better take me home if you want these
back, boy.” I’ve no idea. I just paid
my money, took you home. A whim. That choice

has altered all of my tomorrows now.
Graying—about the age I am today—
I looked at your portrait twelve years ago—

new to me as an exotic newt. Cute.
I studied your expression and compared
dust jacket photo to the words inside—

looking for insight. Here’s what I learned:
your bartender is Trebor, you like Poles,
you shoot wild cats. You wrote an epitaph

that rhymes, just like John Gay. Yes, we might have
never met. We might have died a thousand ways
today. But here we are. Imagine that.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Curriculum Vitae

For Gavin

Something human I can hold. If only
cameras captured living things. It seems like
we’re coming to that freakish place where
men are less mythic, monolithic, flesh
and blood. This must be where the talk-
ing stops, we start to smell something strange,
like gas. We look into each other’s eyes
and see our limits and desires for the first
time. “Is that the moon in there or me?”
We ask the odd homonculi reflected in
our skulls if these small images are souls,

our words wide open windows where
the breeze is soft and tropical. Or gas.
I’m in New York and I have nothing but
a leaky oven here to keep me warm—
words and pictures to manipulate:
the lease I signed allows no other pets.
Maybe I’ll make a cup of tea. First
a piss. It sounds like rain. Listen. Words.
They have no taste, no texture, and no smell.
These are my poems. They are sad—pale
yellow substitutes for the pink tongue

I crave to run along your clean crack.
I wish that words were more reassuring
like maps. I’ve been studying your woods,
you know, North Carolina, your intended
home. I would kill to climb a tree. Should I
apply for a position there? A pine cone?
A cat? A forest pixie? I’ll submit
a sample of my urine—my Curriculum
Vitae. Not my life. A sketch. A crude
outline in a tiddle-cup. Feel free
to test it, once you’ve fed the chickens.

My family is…they’re far away. I called
my granny twice a day for 20 years.
She had a massive stroke last summer, died
in church, just as I said the day before.
I never miss appointments. I’d prefer
a fling with Figaro to Madame Butterfly—
one happy ending to three hours of drama.
My favorite English poem is “To His
Coy Mistress.” My favorite poet must be this
guy, Gavin Dillard, although it is a photo-
finish: you and Shakespeare tied with Ovid.

My cock is 19 inches. Hard. It is.
I’ve never measured its circumference, nor
received complaints about its size—just groans—
which don’t count as complaints. I do like dogs.
I detest Mark Doty. Overwritten. Overrated.
I love one man at a time. I have this
trouble separating my dick from my heart.
I manage desolation with a dildo, since
it doesn’t leave an aftertaste like bad cologne.
I’d rather swim than dance, unless it is
to slam with skins. I worry I will die alone.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Interview With ‘The Nervous Breakdown’

To complement the release of my queer little chapbook, Terence, I have been talking with Wendy Chin-Tanner about Terence and on-demand publishing at The Nervous Breakdown.

If you have a few minutes, join the party! Drop by, check it out, maybe leave a comment in the on-going dialogue.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

How I See You

For Gavin

Today, I saw a hunk in a wife-beater in
a picture, posing, freshly inked. His purple
elephants, linked trunk to tail, still looked
a little painful, pink, raw and tender
in places. Who was he? He looked like you.

No, not Gavin Geoffrey, in the flesh,
undressing for success—another you.
The tuft of armpit there, against your wife-
beating white, didn’t arouse those elephants,
though it affected parts of me. Tonight,

before I went to bed, I looked through all
the photos I possessed of you—younger,
older, picking out my favorite. You
sit beside a gorgeous Grammatophyllum,
wearing a black hoodie and glasses.

You’ll think I am crazy, but I can read
through your lenses better than you—what
is written there around your eyes by Time—
the poetry of God or Fate—whatever
name we assign the genius with the pen.

That man is mine. Remove it all—the frames,
the hoodie, orchid, elephants, old
and new tattoos—there’s my Naked Poet:
all that you are, just as you appear.
The essential man. So essential to me.


For Gavin

We must be mutants then. The DNA
tests confirm it. And our love for combat
boots, angora sweaters, animals,
the ones we used to fuck like mad, but now
we must feed. We are nurses. We can

handle nukes in nylons. We absorb
cosmic rays. We write poems and plays
which baffle all the critics because love,
like life, is so damn baffling. Shakespeare
would understand us. Sappho. Housman.

Housman the best. Dog and cat lovers.
Apple people. Adam. Eve. I believe
a lad I liked and almost slept with once—
named Steve—no relation to the saint
I kissed goodbye and never saw again.

Who are we then? We few, that happy few,
the lucky ones, that band of others, who
stood at Stonewall, Dunkirk, and Thermopylae
against barbarians. We are their tongues,
lungs, vocal cords—the voices of the dead.

We are unlikely heroes, you and I:
naked, standing up against the sky.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


It has taken me two years to write and subtracted ten years from my life, but I have finally published my first book, a little book, a chapbook,

From the publisher:

What makes us human? What makes us different? In the tradition of ‘Vladimir Nabokov’s ‘Pale Fire,’ Eric Norris looks at life as a corrupted text, with the greatest meaning lingering just at the margins of error. ‘Terence’ tells the story of a bewildered boxer’s love for a beautiful young man he meets at the gym, complicated by the untimely appearance of a cow.

It is a very strange story. Terence approaches the problems of life and love from a different angle, obtuse at times, acute at others, but hopefully enjoyable for all.

(If you are curious about the cow, click here to read an excerpt.)

As always, thanks for dropping by.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Snowman

For Andrew

Unable to refuse the Medicis,
His patrons, the young Michelangelo
Trudged through drifts higher than his knees
To build the family a man of snow.

To reassure the Florentines the sky
Above held firm, this white apocalypse
Meant nothing, the new prince felt he must try
Something. Michelangelo kept his

Opinions to himself. They paid him gold.
Torches blazed behind the falling flakes,
Like heretics; in Italy, a cold
French army pounded in their own tent stakes.

The Medicis would be deposed. Next year,
Savanarola would be burning books,
Botticellis, mirrors. More would cheer
When he was burnt at the stake. But it looks

Like nobody had bothered to record
What Michelangelo sculpted that night.
No sketch survives, not a private word
Set down in any diary with delight.