Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday, January 27th, 2013: Journal Entry

I have been trying not to think about him, but now and then I do. At those moments, I get a terrible feeling of unease in my bladder: the same sensation I get leaning a bit too far over the rails of a tall suspension bridge and staring at the Elysian green below; wondering if it would shatter the calm of the water if I dropped in unannounced or if the wet would welcome me with open arms like an old and loving friend.

Since it is impossible for me to say for certain without testing the hypothesis, I do not dwell on bridges for very long. I move along.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Education of Eric Norris

For Derrick Austin

This book is blank,
While that one is full
Of notes on poets
I studied at school.

This must be Dante.
The light is by God.
This Beatrice isn’t
My cup of cod.

She is D’s vision,
His Helen of Troy.
Me, I prefer
Some kind of boy.

Here I have drawn her,
A saint in stained glass,
Miss Middle Ages.
I had to work fast.

She modeled by day,
While I worked at night.
I never quite got
Her Humanity right.

I found her cold.
She told me I stink
Worse than Sin.
She’s dead, I think.

My love, in her eyes,
Had a turpentine smell
Like Pablo Picasso
Boiling in Hell.

So, I closed her eyes,
Whispering, “Love,
My love is like nothing
Seen from above.”

Here, Dante dropped in,
Smiling like the sun:
Until he looked down
And noticed the gun.

I stuttered like mad,
I tried to explain,
“I f-found her c-cold,
Not shot in the brain.”

Dante called Virgil.
He entered the room,
All biceps and Brylcream.
My heart filled with gloom.

I had heard rumors.
I told my best friend
I thought they were lovers.
And then he told them.

The case against me
Seemed open and shut:
A V and a D
Adorned the gun’s butt.

Dante the Don
Chewed a toothpick,
“Son,” he said, “Love
Is my bailiwick.”

“I own all the judges,
I pay the police,
Go, ask your priest.”

Jesus, I freaked,
I’m screwed. This is bad.
My godfather’s God!
“Easy now, Dad.”

I shifted my feet.
Inhaled. When I could,
I ran like lightning
Into a Dark Wood.

I scrambled through brambles.
I hid in a swamp
Under a lily
Pad like a lump.

Cautious as cream,
Trembling with fear,
When only frogs
Were all I could hear,

I crawled to a log.
“Whew, that was close,”
But in that Dark Wood,
A problem arose.

I grew kind of lonely.
I sat and I sat.
I drew in the mud,
“You want to go back?”

For billions of years,
I sat in the dark,
Listening to crickets,
‘Til I saw a spark.

My spark was a star
That fell from the sky.
The smoke of the Angel
Who taught me to fly.

Well, did he smell?
Did he look nice?
Is Lucifer’s light
Worth the huge price

We pay for insight?
Milton says, “Nope.”
And I have my doubts.
My Devil is Hope.

The thing without feathers.
Tender and tough,
A saint and a sinner,
Mixed up with some fluff.

Him, I picked up.
He dusted me off
Like an H-Bomb
Delivered by dove:

This fist full of ice,
All fiery white,
Ten thousand sensations
He seemed to unite

Into one flash
Of sky and hard ground,
Like a rogue comet
Shattering sound.

Triceratops heard it.
Life on Earth changed.
Whole mountaintops hummed,
Home on the Range,

And slid into lumps
Of lava, and shards
Of rock ran around
In hot leotards.

(A chorus of Greeks
Observing this dance,
Observed to the lizards,
“Now is our chance!”)

The damage was vast:
They scale where life lay
Vanished completely.
I shouted, “Hooray!

We’re out of the woods!”
One of my mistakes.
For Dante returned
In a great squeal of brakes.

Ten sedans followed,
Each full of thugs,
Each with a Tommy
Gun full of slugs.

All that we had
Was a couple of Colts,
One can of beans,
And twenty odd smokes.

That log took a pounding,
So did the dirt:
The bullets kept coming.
Unfazed and unhurt,
We fought with such spirits.
The Earth was our bed.
And I felt happy
My love never said

How bad he was shot.
No, not a cry
Escaped from his chest,
’Til he said, “When I die,

What will you do?”
He looked up at me,
“How will you face
Virgil and Dante

Alone?” I cried,
“I don’t know.
That’s why I don’t
Want you to go.”

Friday, January 11, 2013

My Muse


My Muse. Do I have one? I do, indeed. Thanks for asking. I don’t think the idea of a Muse is dead. The fact that you asked the question at all suggests to me that the Muses are very much alive.

Each Muse is personal, I think. I also think mine is spiritual, in a way, and physical, as all living things are. I have a hard time seeing my Muse as a Harpy, a creature like Robert Graves’s snake-handling Minoan, his White Goddess. Or Rilke's fearsome Angel. Rilke's great inspiration has always reminded me more of a Zeppelin than anything else. Maybe this is because I am gay and I admire large, inflatable objects which explode in my face. Maybe it has something to do with experience: how I have come to look at life. I don’t know.

My Muse is kind of like Cupid. I see him as an impossible putti somersaulting through my subconscious mind, scattering daisies and chaos in one of those blue skies from the French Baroque. He appears to be: comic, tragic, totally anarchic, totally ruthless, and well-armed.

My Muse is Love, clearly. I can’t speak for everyone, but I have a feeling that Love is far more protean today than he ever was before. He might be an itchy jock at the gym, for instance. Or an anonymous gift to the Salvation Army. I have even known him to hide in the blast of a nuclear bomb. He might even be you. There is no telling how he will turn up.

Most often I see my Muse as my cell phone, a muted buzz perpetually interrupting me, wherever I am, whatever I happen to be doing: jogging; having sex; taking a dump; trying to sleep; juggling a pumpkin, a carton of milk, a carton of eggs, and a carton of light bulbs at the grocery store; or maybe squatting in a desolate aisle of analgesics at the pharmacy; looking at bottles of aspirin, comparing prices; wondering, amusingly, how many of these I would have to take if I wanted to commit suicide.

My Muse sees to it that the reception is always terrible on these connections, and that the number (Blocked) is usually wrong. But I am a creature of habit, and I never know if the call might be something important: about a new job, a surprise visit from a friend, or the news that a loved one has suddenly died. I always drop whatever I am doing and search for a quiet area—a napkin, a notebook, an empty afternoon—where, if he has left a message, and if it is meant for me, I can return the call.

As always,

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Eric and Michael meet...

“Hello,” he said, standing to the side, so I could get a better view of his crotch.
            “Hi,” I replied.
            “You are new here. You work for that crazy Czech bitch upstairs, don’t you?”
            “You are Michael, right?”
            “How do you know that? Have you been spying on me?” His eyes narrowed into slits and he edged behind his books, leaning lightly against the rear of the truck, teasing the wood, swaying on the tips of his toes from side to side.
            “I am a spy,” I said, “I have eyes everywhere. You had better watch out.” I whispered confidentially, lowering the Atlas I was carrying, glad I held a whole planet behind which my desires could hide.
            “If you are a spy, tell me who you work for?” He moved from behind the book truck.
            He had nothing to hide.
            “I am a freelancer. I sell my secrets to the highest bidder.”
            “Well, I’m pretty high so you had best pony up, Mr.,” he said, tossing his head and his hair back with a gotcha laugh, and slapping the top of his truck with such farcical force it caused one of the books he had been in the middle of shelving, something by Hemingway, I think, to slump to its face between us, leaving poor old Papa a defeated but delirious man, ass in the air, eyes closed, mouth open wide.
            “I’m Eric.”
            “I know who you are. I have spies, too. I know you live in Brooklyn. I know you have a boyfriend. I know everything about you,” he said, looking down, “even your dick size.” He brandished his copy of The Idiot, as if he would club me with it. “My spies are Russian. I asked them to find out who that guy was working for Misha. I might want to fuck him sometime.”
            I didn’t know what to say.
            I nearly dropped the world I was holding.
            “I caught you there. Didn’t I? Didn’t expect that. Listen, you are new to New York. You are from Boston. I will do all of the talking. I’m from Detroit. I have lived here for two years. Let’s get a beer first, after work. We can go to The Abbey.”
            Here, he paused.
            “It isn’t gay.”
            Another pause. His eyes narrowed again.
            “Are you gay?”
            “No. Are you?”
            Under the circumstances, without actually unzipping and taking each other’s pulse there and then, what else could we say?

            “Good. I go to The Abbey after work all of the time. The barmaids love me. Meet me at five o’clock at the main entrance outside.”
            With that, he carted himself, Dostoyevsky, my heart, and everything resembling Reason away.
            I turned around, leaned out the door and watched him go down the corridor. He bent, slightly,  steering the truck with one hand while he adjusted his cock with the other.
            He was right handed, too.
            I leaned the atlas against the wall and also fixed mine.
            I was glad nobody ever came to this section of the library.
            It was now ours.
            I shut off the lights and went over to the window and looked up at the sky.
            It was getting dark.
            It was snowing. A few light taps struck the windowpane. I expect the snow was general all over Long Island, including the borough of Brooklyn, where Nat lay in a fever, dozing under a warm green satin quilt of Nyquil all day.
            By now, my erection had subsided.
            I could go back to the office.
            I would see Michael in an hour, at five.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Michael and Eric

Now that we have worked Love out of our System.

Now that I have scalded my bum washing off the grease.

Now that I have dressed in jeans, undressed, and dressed again, more satisfied with my drab, easy access camouflage pants.

Now that you’ve given up lying in bed, trying to sleep, and joined me on the couch, where I lazily muse about ingenious ways to murder you for sleeping around, for stealing my socks, for having a small goatee like Christ, and long dirty blond hair that might be twisted into an excellent noose.

Now that I’ve smoked my last cigarette.

Now that I have tossed the remote aside, leaned over and kissed your naked knee and said, “The weather is nice. Let’s get the Hell out of here.”

Now that we’ve crossed Broadway, Amsterdam, and Columbus, unmindful of the signals or the volume of traffic heading toward the River,

We find that it is raining nothing but sunshine in Central Park, and has been, since lunch.

We find that Nobody is waving who isn’t a blade of grass, and Nobody is drowning who isn’t some kind of bottom-feeding carp.

We hear a twig snap like a celery stalk fresh from the crisper.

I notice that you have finished your joint and have tucked the remains into an Altoid tin, and found a low out cropping of granite in Manhattan on which to perch and survey the glories of Creation.

This is where I sneak up behind you and ping you with a piece of Reality that I pocketed on the Bridle Path, unbeknownst to you.

This is where squirrels with nuts in their hands look up in astonishment at the rocks as a war of pebbles erupts between two boys and Nobody gets seriously hurt.