Thursday, March 31, 2011


Sorry to have been away for a few days. I have been off communing with the Muses. They are very demanding ladies and refusal to obey their summonses carries a steep poetic price. You are lucky to escape with all of your fingers. Still, two events of note in my poetic life. One of my poems for Gavin Dillard, The Camel, has recently been published at the excellent online journal The Nervous Breakdown. My little epic, Takaaki, has also been published in the latest issue of The Raintown Review. 66 sonnets, nearly 1000 lines, Takaaki is written in adapted Pushkin sonnets following the basic form of (ABABCCDDEFFEGG). Essentially, Takaaki asks the question: how much is love worth? I attempt to answer that question, not philosophically or poetically, as one might expect, but in terms of reality, actual dollars and cents. Or is it sense? Either way, the answer came as something of a shock to me. Both Takaaki and The Camel will be appearing in poetry collections to be published later on this year.

Thanks for dropping by!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Escape Artist

Since it is his 137th birthday and since Houdini was one of my earliest heroes and since I have always found him kind of sexy, I thought I would post a poem today in his honor.

The Escape Artist

Why don’t we take a tour of your ribcage?
Feel free to smoke. No spitting, though. It’s rude.
Now pick a person from the rack—an image
To titillate your senses. Something nude.

That’s your companion for Eternity.
Your soul-mate, if you like. He never rots.
You’ve picked a postcard—excellent. Let’s see.
He looks like that Houdini—clad in locks

From head to toe.
Will he escape in time?
Reserve your seat for Harry’s greatest feat!

While we are waiting though, we ought to dine.
There must be something in the Snack Bar. Sweet:

I thought I saw a box of Raisin Bran…
You do like Raisin Bran? You look distressed.
No, the box contains no Raisin Bran,
But please inhale whatever’s there with zest.

You’ll find it very hard to criticize
The brute who brings the breakfast—and his rose.
Tears have a tendency to fill his eyes
When you attack him. And he breaks your nose.

Which brings us back around to your cell door:
They recently installed new mirrors—steel.
We had an “incident” on the top floor
When life inside lost all its sex-appeal.

It does get dark in here. That’s why I’m glad
They took my glasses and bricked up the sky.
The other prisoners all called me mad:
But I’ve no hopes to tie me down, do I?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Letter to Takaaki

As some of you may know my boyfriend, Takaaki, lives in Tokyo. He is there right now, hopefully sleeping.

Since the cellphone systems have been down, and he doesn't use a landline, in the days since the tsunami and earthquake we have been keeping in touch by e-mail and through Facebook. He plans on staying in Tokyo for the duration of the crisis. Food supplies in Tokyo are low, but he has provisions. He has turned off his heat and is bathing at the public bath to help conserve energy. He is trying to see if he can help out the people in Tohoku in other ways, too.

Sometimes the two of us get a little down, being separated by so many miles and surrounded by so much uncertainty. Still, we have been trying keep our spirits up. Here is an excerpt of a letter I sent last night, in case you are curious how we are doing it.

Dear Taka-chan,

I am happy you and Koji had a good night last night. I wish I could have gone to the bath with you! I haven’t been sleeping very well for the last week and I could use a nice evening soaking at a Tokyo sento [public bath]!

We are getting a lot of confusing reports here, too. The BBC says the JSDF [Japan Self Defense Force] is dropping water from helicopters into the spent fuel pools and reactor buildings. It is scary that there is so little food in the stores and that people are hoarding, not pulling together and thinking of their neighbors as much as one would hope. Some have a hard time remaining rational during a crisis. Fortunately there are always a few sensible citizens, like yourself, determined not to fall apart, to do what they can, like those men at the power plant in Fukushima.

People are freaking out here, too, mostly news people and Californians. Everything freaks out the news people. And Californians. Maybe the news people are all from California. Who can say? They lose their minds at falling snowflakes. I am from Buffalo, New York, so the snowflake holds no terror for me.

So, I ignore the news people and look at what the scientists have to say and sift through their opinions myself, piecing together a picture of the situation in Japan as best I can. I am not a physicist, of course, or an engineer. I am, like you, just one man trying to make sense of Chaos. Even so, ignorant as we may be, we both know this: Japan has faced much worse and overcome much greater hardships than the ones it faces now.

There was a picture in the New York Times today, taken in Tohoku, which caught my eye and reminded me of something. In it, a bunch of ojii-san [grand-dads] were arranged in a circle, like stones, around a fire built from smashed houses. They were all sitting in different kinds of chairs—metal, wood, canvas—some of them broken—also probably collected from the rubble. They looked tired, dirty, a bit hungry, but not defeated. A heavy sky hovered above them—dark blue—like an on-rushing sea. But there they sat, outside, keeping warm, defying the darkness gathered above with a little fire they had lit themselves: a fire which all the collected forces of nature could not put out.

That fire is like my feelings for you. That fire is your friendship with Koji. That is the fire which draws people from all over the world to search for survivors in Tohoku. That is hope. Whatever happens, ojii-san, we must take care it is never extinguished.

So, tell Koji I say, “Hi.” Remember to bundle up. Remember to keep warm. Remember I love you.

Even if, in the next few days, I do feel the need to send you a case of SPAM…

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Second Thoughts

For Gavin

I admit, I had them. Second thoughts.
You said that Verlaine and Rimbaud might be
the sort of partnership we could explore
poetically. I groaned inside, “Here we go—
how boring, how predictable, no way—
how un-American. He wants to waste
my time, my tears and sweat, reviving a
withered pair of old French pricks.” No thanks.
I walked through the East Village eyeing others—
mostly chicks. That sad relationship
would never do: a lousy metaphor
Verlaine/Rimbaud—a vacant stretch of earth
so intensely alkali even
the few rocks living there all want to die.

A dizzy spell, a rest, a little chai,
you stirred around with a tattoo. The gym,
the sight of Omar’s smooth Brazilian glans—
peeping at my firm, white fanny through
his loose foreskin—tantalized my teeth.
You gave the problem of our partnership
a bit more thought. Americans we’d be:
Emily and Edna, Dickinson, Millay,
wild words for you, soiled sainthood for me.
You made an offer I could not refuse.
I got to travel to Kyoto and
sleep in cherry blossoms, study monks,
write imaginary letters to a friend
laid up with Meniere’s disease.

Since returning from Japan, you have
been many things to me besides dizzy,
Emily: Diane Arbus, Shiva, Gandalf,
goats, top the list of your identities;
you are a martyr to Satyriasis,
Antonius’s lover, Hadrian,
the Emperor of Bunny World. What
you have never been with me so far,
sweetheart, is vulnerable to harm.
Nor will you be that man until next week,
when we finally meet. Jet-lagged, sand-bagged,
you will learn with horror I am not
quite the gal you ordered—not at all.
I am Cleopatra. I studied art

under Julius Caesar: how the heart
divides in parts. I march through men like Gaul.

Out of Doors

For Gavin

Not being a sleepwalker by nature, I
seldom find myself wandering into brick
shithouses by moonlight. I will drop by
the fridge to gnaw on a cold drumstick—

now and then—seized by hunger pangs—
the result of the treadmill. I’ve been doing
so much running. I want to look good for you
in Frisco, or Black Mountain, wherever

pale asses glow most poetically by night.
I am thinking of myself here. I see
me—for no good reason—because I am
incarcerated in a gray cubicle—

abandoning treadmills for roads—doing
dirty things out doors: lying under
a tree, sharing a green sleeping bag—
well-fed, well-fucked—well, wondering if

this sort of life would make me happy—
if, God forbid, this fantasy came true.

Ashes to Asses, Dust to Lust

For Gavin

Don’t misunderstand me, dear. I’m wed
to speculation, for our future is
not carved in stone. If my tight fanny fits
atop your cock, or it buckles, we shall

learn. For breakfast to exist in any form—
a gentle lay at dawn or Bloody Mary
at brunch—we must reserve a seat—at least
have a destination in mind. I have come

home from brunch, to find my house burning,
a smoke choked sky, and, to my astonishment,
laughed, lit a cigarette, happy I was
full and carried a toothbrush in my bag.

When the police allowed me back inside,
I cried a bit—it’s true—my windows smashed,
bed glittering with glass, that day destroyed.
But I was insured for fire. I found

no pearls among my debris, just CDs.
I open cases now—15 years
later—to find dead musicians veiled
in soot. Unplayable discs. These I replace

with new recordings. Life goes on.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Porn and Poetry

For Gavin

Our audience, I think, could not care less
if I love you, as long as we have sex
at some stage in this book. I suggest
a public consummation best performed
in San Francisco, New York, or Berlin—
unless the Vatican’s available—some
great city frothy with hot spunk and piss,
the gay equivalents of milk and honey.

I’m proud to say I’ve never disappointed
a paying customer in my entire
life. I’m always glad to grab my shins—
to cackle, squeal, or bray—imitate
the perfect piglet, chicken, or wild donkey
the poor things dream of boning in the dark.
I know what men want. Pornography
enjoys a wider base of fans than love.

Ulysses and Penelope

For Gavin

Ulysses and Penelope, maybe
I was wrong to look at us this way—
as human beings, not the things we are:
demigods, a race apart. Although
it kills me to admit mistakes, so
be it. In San Francisco, I shall see
you only commit bestiality.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Daedalus and Icarus

For Gavin

Behold this blue bath towel: a
clean place to masturbate. My fate
falls to its surface, like wax
and feathers. There is no escape

for me. I’m Icarus tonight,
delighting in that dizzy dash
upward—ever upward—toward
a small, heart-breaking splash

below. Watch as my white hand
disappears in the Aegean.

Crossing Legs

For Gavin

Help me hold it. If I wake tonight,
will you place your thigh against my crotch?
I'll pillow you in pubic hair, so light,
so curly and so warm. Let me watch

your silver chest descending as you sleep,
illuminated by a square of moon.
Shift your weight slightly, should I creep
up with an erection. It’s too soon.

Move again and bring your leg to rest
a little higher. Close to tears, un-
able to dissolve, I will confess—
I’ve got to go, to piss, I’m dying. None

could endure such torture. “Hold it in,
babe. This is love,” whisper with your shin.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I have already posted The Camel in the side bar, but since these two poems form a single sequence of thought, I thought it would make more sense to post them one after the other as they will appear in the book I am writing with Gavin.

Both, of course, are dedicated to him.

The Camel

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.


Yes, pick me up, dust me off, fill
my mouth with testicles, goat-cheese, grapes,
change my oil, enlarge my cock, replace
my heart with something softer than the plum
stone I suspect is throbbing there. Be
Prometheus to me, be Frankenstein, but leave
the memory of that lonely road intact.
I wasn’t ready then—to hold a pen
or penis properly. Forget a hand.
There is this transformation I still have
to undergo, to be myself. I smoked

that solitary Camel to Damascus.
The butt the truck driver flung from his cab
seemed a sign—a well-meant meteor
crashing against the asphalt, splashing sparks,
rolling to a stop ten feet away,
glowing. I ran to pick it up, before
the filthy filter put the fire out! I had
no matches, maybe, but I had a chance
to put one corner of my Cosmos right,
light the lost cigarette I found—to
let my lungs fill up with poetry.

To accept the universe like this,
to welcome an old Camel as just one
of those small gifts which Providence bestows,
is harder for me now than it was then.
I’m older and less flexible. I’ve lost
some of my looks, the hair I once dyed red,
my combat boots, the 1950s trench
I pawned my silver boom box for—
all those external things I thought were me—
adorn a boy I fear is dead. His ghost

appears in steamy windows. He haunts
my eyes when I am shaving. When I fuck,
I make the love he was incapable of
making. I do this in his memory.
I regard tattoos and scars the way
he looked at certain birthdays. Something must
remain besides the pools of melting ice
cream and wax. Still pictures. Poetry.
All we carry over from the past.
Stale Camels. Cars. A butt flung from a truck
rolling to a stop somewhere. Like here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Dog’s Life

For Gavin

I can’t take this anymore—I’m sore—
leave me alone—get out of my head!
I closed my eyes five times today, felt you
knocking wildly against my prostate—as if
my prostate were my heart—spurting soul

each time I came. I licked my fingers to
replenish my insides. I am a husk.
My skin seems alien. I can’t touch myself,
even to wash, without feeling your
hands holding the soap. When standing

before the mirror after swimming, I
squirt moisturizing cream into my palm,
bend over, rub my shins, my knees, my thighs,
my muscles stiffen, like a giant cock
I am stroking in public. My body

must belong to you. I am a dog,
a Victor dog, a werewolf spinning round
in circles to the sound of a new master’s voice.
Whatever crazy music you desire
to hear me howling at the moon, I play.