Lyric: I long to touch her body... (2001)

I long to touch her body,
   to nestle, hard and full,
inside her pliant belly,
    its curving lunar pull.

I long to touch her body,
    so close to swallow whole
the safety of her loving,
     the goldness of her soul.

I long to touch her body,
    for touching is the truth,
beyond the conscience guessing,
     beyond the pedant’s proof.



Lyric: To live in pain is weary... (2001)

To live in pain is weary,
   to die in vain is hard,
and Love is tender-teary,
    by sorrow ever-jarred;

To live is disappointment,
   to see your body fail,
deprived of its enjoyment,
    as sluggish as a snail;

for everything has Reason,
    but hidden is the plan,
and Love is just a season,
    and God is not a man.

Fire (North Halls, State College Pa, October 1996)

Out of void nothingness, a woman
arose before me with incandescent
ivory skin; she said, “I will be yours,
worship you, make you incisive with
the vast, monstrous power of my
body; you will worship me, we shall
die together evening by evening.” I
embraced her silence, did not kill it
following, kissed her, we died together
then. She lifted her body, stood by the
window in the white/blue room, night
blackened against us. She said, “I
have encompassed you, scribed you,
you will never find me in you again.”
I pleaded her, fell upon her with kisses,
caresses, all in vain. Her name was
Fire, she told me, left me, never again
appeared. I sit, write, pierce what flames
still leap out of void nothingness— she
ornaments the darkness somewhere, burning.  


A Dream (summer 1996, Gulph Mills, Pa)

The night, as I recall it,
was moonless. An
ambiance of demonic
enchantment hung
heavy over grey
concrete parking lot.
It was a carnival of
dead souls, ghost-wedding,
vampire funeral. No
rides, cotton candy,
starlit skies, carousels,
only shades of sniffing
bloodhounds, consumptive
spaces, conglomerations;
strange animal glamour
of spilled blood. Deep
implications of hell, chills.
I awoke: thunder crackled
over the trunks of trees.

Feel (2005/2006)

I.
I saw the greatest artists of my generation parched, hardened & scarred
             by a virtual machine,
blood cleaned from shiny surfaces, purposed to cut out the soul’s wisdom, the body’s                             
             agita, the heart’s
heaviness, creators neutered & spayed by a decaying empire, wired
             for a never-ending battle
w/ bureaucrats, corporate drones & art-world phonies, bones rattling
             in Philly February snow & ice,
D.C.’s perpetual snooze, loose NYC streets that tighten round the Village,
             while they tried to chill-pill themselves,
direct their energy to the task at hand, finding a plan, an escape route from playing
              cogs, greased-gears freezing all around them—
who worked for banks & were fired for downloading porn,  moved into dank South Philly
              studios, recorded, put out CDs, whored themselves to wine-stores & occult dives
              where poor mottled matrons paid ten dollars for card readings & felt themselves
              bleed at the collapse of the Tower,
who stripped, did coke, published poems on the Net, learned massage, started as Temps,
              ended as Temps, sang dirges at West Philly art-parties for free Schlitz, dove-
              tailed joints in brick alleyways, scars glossed over w/ blush, sweaty-breasted,
who wrote comic book epics for guitar & voice, developed mystical Jesus raps at Goth
              clubs, Christian-blissed as Trent Reznor blared through stacks of amps & love-
              boys got blow-jobs in corners,
who were pregnant at 21, had & ignored the kid, got locked in jail for neglect, expecting
                daddy to come w/ bail, no help from a shitty city,
who threw out poetry to work for an architect, drank w/ kids in Manayunk bars
                & got a beer-gut, “make it new” screwed into soft-fucks,
who were forced into drag by failure, post-avant punk records dis-chorded into oblivion,
                 scarcely attended bumper-boring tours from Alaska to Milan,
who made the cover of the City Paper, lost a sugar-mommy & dealt coke, wigger pants,
                 trench-coated, eyes bleary, nose runny, walking round & round liquor
                 stores miming interest in Pinot Grigio,
who got on planes to London to live in sardine tins, no sex for two years, music biz lies
                 don’t work even near the Hyde Park Serpentine,
who spent afternoons at McGlinchy’s cadging Manhattans, making out w/ strangers,                           
                  blowing band dudes w/ Ron Wood haircuts, dreaming of a Khyber stage &
                  the place packed,
who lost a hustler father to heart failure, took Greyhounds to Atlantic City weekends, put
                  trust-fund dollars on poker chips glistening black in the lurid light, ice rattling
                  in gin tumblers, Italian pimps leaning forward for the kill in silk pants,
who painted Apollos & Athenas in high-windowed studios in the Gilbert Building,                    
                   getting laid on pull-out black sofas stained cadmium red,
who went to D.C. to lobby, did puppet shows miming councilmen in Philly, gave up lit
                    to look for kinks in The System & were left holding onions in the Italian
                    Market,
who managed Chinese restaurants in State College, sang shirtless for bands at the White
                     Lodge, sailed off to Oregon looking for a label,
who followed two L.A. chicks from Bar Noir to Ocean City, snorting H off a hotel toilet
                     & becoming a ghost & drifting down halls & collapsing on carpeted stairs,
who played soccer w/ tin cans on summer afternoons in alleys off of South Street, Blow
                     Fly singing “you’re too fat to fuck” in the background,
who took in jail-bait to complete a ménage a trios, then watched her try to jump out the
                      window of the Highwire Gallery, strip at parties but for a thong, get
                      arrested for stealing from a Verizon register, all the while keeping two
                      boyfriends in South Jersey, construction workers, blind to the bricks,
who spent nights chasing hipster-girls in Upper Darby, paying the cab-fare from Dirty
                      Frank’s, then left to rot on the downstairs couch surrounded by plastic
                      Christmas candles & a mother’s footsteps down the stairs,
who curated minor shows at the Kelly Writer’s House, dreaming of future glory, having
                      Koons & Schnabel show up & kiss ass to the one & only,
who shouted at drunken idiots through bull-horns on 4th Street Mardi Gras, perched in
                      windows like Dada ready-made patrolmen,
who took girls to the Walnut Street Bridge & laid in the grass at midnight, ‘til cops white
                      blazing light scared their pants on in the summer mist,
who stumbled half-awake onstage at Doc Watson’s, ploughed through a short set & sat at
                      the bar knocking back Tequilas, eager for the next gig,
Grape Street, Pontiac Grille, La Tazza, Balcony, hallowed stages where the eternally
                      neglected Philly bands knocked out Fixx-mixed Corgan-riffed Patti
                      Smith blues, watched by no one in particular, & thus by the Gods,
who started independent newspapers & did press-runs of 10,000, garnering national
                       acclaim & absolutely no money,
who worked nights at the Taco House on Pine Street, smoking pot in the back room,
                       scribbling notes for an endless first novel to be read at Molly’s Books
                       while despair unfolded of ever knowing anything about sex,
& who therefore threw out a U of Arts degree to strip, thinking of Colette & Courtney
                       Love, wanting to know what this flesh thing was all about,
who died in obscurity in Roxborough, then had volumes of poems thrown away by a
                       jealous lover who was somehow  managing the estate, & is therefore even 
                       more obscure, Alexandra, unacknowledged legislator of Philly lit,
                       stalking health food at Essene, reading at Robin’s, always taking the bus,
                       a car too much hassle & no time to scribble poems in the back,
what were you working for if not eternity? Your name up in the klieg lights of greatness,
                       may happen yet, some of us are holding a torch, will continue to, for you—
who had pictures taken w/ Allen Ginsberg, then locked themselves in the house once the
                       Painted Bride Quarterly was gone for good,
who were reduced to writing fishing books when the poetry wouldn’t fly, then insisted on
            comparing themselves to Joyce, Proust, & Kafka,
who hooked up w/ metal-faced teenagers in stairwells, sucking on brass where a nipple
            should’ve been, riding a nitrous high into a screened window,
who met guys on the Internet & moved up to Philly from Florida, settled in studios at
             Juniper & Locust & were watched by pervs in the parking lot next door,
& then joined spoken-word bands & did shows in baby-doll dresses, took up w/ a poet,
             got cheated on by a poet & went back to Florida & came back again,
who decorated an apartment w/ fourteen dead Christmas trees, licked up pine needles
             on slow nights & had whiskey-drunk one-night stands to kill time,
who decided to move to L.A., was psyched to move to L.A., got everything packed to
              move to L.A. & then realized that there wasn’t any money left,
or moved to L.A. via Daddy’s money & helped sign bands to major labels, gave up
              painting, got a new boyfriend & turned into a palm tree,
who appointed themselves guardians of Duchamp’s bikes, staged toilet races in Old City,
              installed grungy bathtubs, humongous cheese graters & doodles of teeth being
              shaved in space 1026, welded themselves to the Last Drop & the Bean, were
              followed by throngs of Dada-minded hipsters, then went into hiding,
who bought condos off Washington Square, were ripped off by newspapers, wrestled
              w/ an incomplete second novel & an NYC agent w/ a talent for evasion,
who wrote columns for Philly Weekly & earned the hatred of hipsters for loving Simon
              & Garfunkel, saw the world behind thick glasses, wrote songs & earned a
              modest following & was then murdered by a divorce,
who found themselves up against an Ivy League wall, fought the Philistines w/ Keats,
              & made Penn bow down to the genius of Wordsworth,
who sat in coffee shops talking poetics & politics, acknowledging the impotence of the
              current generation in fighting Bush & his cronies,
& also acknowledging that this generation is a small generation & virtual & unlikely
               to change anything substantial now that the Boomers run everything, & it’ll
               be this way ‘til they die out, thirty more years of boredom,
who served cocktails to Centrist poets in Boston, had miscellaneous affairs w/ Philly
               writers & others, wanted to be Bonnie & Clyde w/ out Clyde,
who made a mint off a rock record in Japan, spent it all & started Temping, all the while
                looking to keep falling in love all the time in the Village,
who put together multi-media shows, served hash brownies & whiskey, made a little
                money & used it to buy more hash,
who e-mailed Noam Chomsky, decided not to be Zionist & took off a Star-of-David,
                realizing that the Holy Land is only an interior reality,
who went to live on a kibbutz & came back disillusioned w/ everything & not having
                fought in the army went out & bought guns instead,
who fled to San Francisco for no apparent reason after putting out a book in Philly &
                watching it sit unmolested at Book Trader,
who was fired from Barnes & Noble for feeling up female employees, worked in a loony
                bin, wrote in the loony bin, then caved in & joined the Masters program at
                Temple,
who roamed Villanova searching for dead souls, waiting for the words to come back as
                years slipped away into a haze of academic mediocrity,
who stood in line w/ bags of pasta at dollar stores, picked up butts from sidewalks, took
                resin hits, chomped on bits of stale bread & shat in buckets,
who did Action paintings on cold nights in Northern Liberties, slaved away at Office
            Cents lugging parcels around Center City, latched onto female grad students w/
            swank apartments & made slow-motion art movies of silent screams & hollering
            demons wading through the half-frozen Delaware,
who painted Kabbalistic cool-color fantasies & sent them to Tyler openings, managed
             restaurants & threw canvases away & walked around Germantown awaiting the
             arrival of the Sixth Race who will cool the Earth & set it on the Tree of Life
             & protect it from malignant ministers of Malkuth,
who retreated to Philly after 9/11 to find the city half-dead & the sinking stink of global
              warming hovering over Rittenhouse Square like a huge clove of garlic, & the
              vampires w/ Gucci glasses wandering & watching & warping what tenderness
              remained for lovers of cigars & Salman Rushdie,
who mourned for Rachel Corrie from a perch at the Good Dog, wrote secret pro-
              Palestinian pamphlets & hid them under socks & condoms,
who tried painting & poetry & music but found the balance in yoga, only to find the
              yogic mind devalued in the capitalist slip-stream of a run-down economy, &
              thus made plans to go to New Mexico for the summer & squat amidst clay,
who found themselves a million miles away from everything on Race Street, so retreated
              to Cherry St. to hit on Moore girls & manicure-giving bar-maids, & took one
              home & found her ready & then was too drunk to fuck,
who ploughed through five years PHD work to find a vacant job market & the few open
              classes not enough to pay rent, so built houses in the ‘burbs & sipped Bud in
              rabbi’s back yards hearing stories of Moses & Joshua & Aaron, & the story
              of Job hit a special nerve,
who got fat in Bainbridge Street lofts living off pot-dealing money, writing landscape
              poems remembering Virginia beaches & a shiksa’s skinny little ass, how much
              give it had or didn’t have as it bobbed up & down in the waves,
who met booty calls on the Franklin Institute steps & got naked & boned watched by Jane
              across the street fingering herself secretly,
who got sent to Budapest by parents to study math, having failed out of Penn & Temple
               & having been burned out by years of scraping three-chord riffs & hitting bars
               & orgies & all the time wondering why things seemed so empty,
who were exiled to academic New Hampshire, poems in hand, devising childhood
               vignettes of coffee Moms & smoking Dads & cold mornings out on Federal,
who kept afloat writing copy for Urban Outfitter’s, getting blitzed at poetry parties & up-
               staging ex-boyfriends w/ yuppie-puppy hook-ups,
who worked as concierge at the Four Seasons, scored w/ a pale blonde bookstore chick
               only to have a bookstore Byron steal her back & write about it,
               & you have to see him every day, he’s always lurking in odd
               café corners & no one knows what he’s thinking or why,
(& in fact no one knows what anybody’s thinking, it’s a sin & a drag & candor is in short
                supply in an artificial virtual era, & our “there” is nowhere),
who collapsed in lines at Starbucks, knocking over displays of gourmet tea, spent two
                weeks in the psych ward at Jefferson, visited by solicitous boyfriends bearing
                chocolate & coffee table Raphael books & playing ping pong for hours while
                several schizophrenics huddle together watching “Sleepless in Seattle”,
who picked up photographers in coffee-shops & boned them sans condom on piles
            of black & white prints,
who prowled through suburbs w/ a half-lit bowl, passing dread Cheltenham where
             endless tears flowed through virginal misery, stopping for a deep hit by the old
             house drowning nostalgia in thick green smoke,
who toured the world & got famous & threw it away for a needle & couldn’t sleep for the
             thought that the thing could never happen again,
who sat at Gleaners waiting for contracting jobs, played UNO & Scrabble &were masters
             of both, well-spoken beneath knitted caps & trapped as lame tigers,
who got knocked up by Rastafarians & were left to raise babies on a waitress’s salary,
             picking up tips & shit for being bitter, sister at home keeping the baby fed,
who wrestled demons of bi-polarity tool-box in hand, looking for lost screws & sockets,
             fixing locks toilets hinges refrigerators, hoping the voices wouldn’t come at an
             important moment, rattling through the ether w/ a sinister cackle, mocking the
             silliness of ever doing anything other than smoke drink & fuck,
who were flushed out of New Orleans like a tampon back into the soot of Spruce Street,
              drinking through frigid winter Philly doldrums, mornings too raw for walking,
              too-white music in the clubs, no mint juleps on the menu, only Jager & Jack &
              Stoli & Captain Morgan’s,
who got it on w/ keyboardists for riot grrl bands in bathtubs flooding tiles splashing walls
               all for ten seconds of the ultimate chorus,
who slept w/ a different guy every night two months then took a year off writing
               confessional verse on My-Space for 40,000 friends,
every one of whom wanted sex, love, a chance to hold somebody tenderly & forget that
               the whole virtual charade ever happened,
who labored through slow days in Philadelphia’s dead-end streets, breezes annoyingly
               sharp where Market hits City Hall & the Broad Street line gets off,
who took the Broad Street Line to Allegheny to look at an art gallery as possible event-
               space but found a rat-infested shit-hole w/ a few bad Basquiat imitations on
               the wall & a toilet dripped on not by Pollock & a floor that would inspire
               another Munch & a girl from the Northeast before a mirror but only too round,
& who was forced to shut-down a co-op that no one could run any more in a fractious
               scene in a fractious city in a fractious country in a fractious era,
a fractious world where the artist counts for shit & waits for shit to happen that can’t
               happen anymore because the numbers aren’t there anymore the guns are,
the artist plays w/ guns, runs around shooting blanks at a dead world, curved into
               himself like an ingrown nail, hailed randomly by strangers to carry boulders
               up hills & teach the children, the noble artist looks for the transcendent will
the natural will the will-to-form, the will to turn around the deadness into something else
               a place where hope lives & allows one to cope w/ what’s been dead in America
               for years the spirit the spirit the feeling that things are progressing must progress
               that progress can be made & there’s no reason to wait for anyone else to do it
               cause why should they it falls on the artist to create it all him or her self & that’s
what they’ve done & what they’re doing & if a new dawn awaits or if it doesn’t the
                the struggle goes on to put things down that mean something more than
                nothing which in this day & age means a hell of a lot because it’s worth
                everything & you can’t quantify it if you tried
II.
What hung over Philly, NYC, D.C., what swept through the freezing streets w/ sleet &
            cold snow?
Virtual women on cell-phones clicking buttons talking Jolie Spears & Simpson, stopping
            in boutiques to try on blouses & purses & cursing maxed credit cards!
Virtual men in suits & London fog overcoats talking numbers figures & prospects betting
            on Phillies Fliers Nationals Eagles living vicariously through overpaid clowns!
Virtual tunes on the radio, three chord synth-driven sappy cliché-ridden tripe belted out
            by Whitney Britney & Mariah, plush beat-programmed god-damned garbage!
Virtual movies w/ impossible sex scenes everything falling into place perfectly for two
            perfect bodies sans sloppiness of real caresses & how people look undressed!
Virtual galleries showing warmed over nihilistic facile installations of piles of rubbish
            lugged in w/ out skill craft or love sitting in a dump masquerading as art!
Virtual ads for virtual products gum that chews better Old Navy sweaters McDonald’s
            hamburgers Toyotas Hondas Oldsmobiles hot wheels for prosperous suburban
            jerks jamming up expressways carbon dioxide flying into an atmosphere of
            used to be American greatness faded into days of fat complacence!
Virtual leaders vomiting sound-bites for virtual commentators Fox News CNN spouting
            platitudinous blarney to keep the asshole half of the country happy w/ a disastrous
            administration bucking the Kyoto treaty to keep oil flowing & wiping out regimes
            for no good reason other than crude black crap to kill forests!
Virtual TV “illustrating imbecile illusions of happiness” inducing mass spiritual slumber
            humming a nation to sleep believing everything’s OK as long as Will & Grace
            stay happy inside the little idiot box on four hours a night!
Virtual bars & conversations knocking back twenty lagers & pints of Jagermeister
             trying to forget years frittered away in pursuit of music that didn’t work
             paintings that didn’t sell movies that went unseen as the world swirled by
             denying they ever knew or cared what art was!
Virtual love affairs based on fucking can’t say what you’re feeling but kneel before the 
             altar of sex for its’ own sake magazine culture!
Virtual friends virtually loving virtually hugging virtually drugging each other on the
             Internet fretting waiting for e-mail games of who writes first!
Virtual Jesus virtual Moses virtual Buddha virtual Jewish pleas to please return to Baruch
             Atah Adonai Elohanu Melech Chaolom,
Blessed art thou Lord of the Universe Forever & Ever Amen now please give me Bar
             Mitzvah money to spend on Nintendo Super Mario & a hot new I-Pod ready
             for instant use on spring afternoons before Hebrew School,
& the world is only virtually holy anymore & holiness can be bought in any store where
             money changes hands cause solvency is Heaven Thy Kingdom Come Thy Will
             Be Done our Father, Holy Ghost & Son delivered all in holy green!
            
III.
suffer ye victims
of a virtual age!
suffer ye victims
of Microsoft rage!
suffer ye noble,
wayward as Shelley,
suffer ye hopeful,
fire in belly!
suffer a new, bitter, screwed, littered America!
suffer ye who know Jesus w/ out casting
stones!
suffer the action abandoned to dumbness,
suffering the actions unspoken & loveless,
suffering the action unfurling our country,
picking up oil & oil-soaked money!


IV.
Allen Ginsberg! I’m w/ you in Heaven
   where we feel like two sages,
where bread is unleavened
   & no granfalloon rages!
I’m w/ you in Heaven
   where the air is like nitrous,
where deadness is deadened
    & you’re plagued by no virus!
I’m w/ you in Heaven
   where the feeling is placid,
where we’re ruled by no felon
   & lay tripping on acid!
I’m w/ you in Heaven
    where the Buddha is grinning,
where no self-schemas leaden
    lead to feelings of sinning!
I’m w/ you in Heaven
   where poetry’s money,
where the moon’s always setting
   & the sky’s always sunny!
I’m w/ you in Heaven
   where each spirit is sexy,
where you love who you’re bedding
   & you touch them correctly!
I’m w/ you in Heaven
   where no fame is too famous,
where you know what you’re getting
   & all power is blameless!
I’m w/ you in Heaven
   where each spirit can run things,
where self-governed settlements
    take place of gun-slings!
I’m w/ you in Heaven
    where America’s perfect,
where the states have no nettles
    & the taxes are worth it!
I’m w/ you in Heaven
   where we’re writing this poem,
where we’re secretly betting
    how far we can throw ‘em!
I’m w/ you in Heaven
   where the jokes are Eternal,
where the Hope is unfettered
    & the dope is supernal!
I’m w/ you in Heaven,
    where I’ll stay ‘til the war ends,
where I’ll lay w/ your blessing
    in the shade of a God-Head!

V.
Apocalypse! Apocalypse! It’s over! It’s over! We’re living in twilight! Twilight the streets, twilight the houses, twilight the beats, twilight the louses! This is Rome, this is Nero, this is home, this is Zero! Apocalypse! Apocalypse! It’s ending! Ending the guns, ending the money, ending the sun, ending the honey— bums, guns, sex, drugs, scum, Jesus, love, reason, all over! All ending! All covered! All bending! This is Rome, this is Egypt, this is feces! It’s over! We’re living in the End-Times! Over the getting, over the spending, over the feeling, over the lending! Forests, traffic, mountains, madness, plaster suburbs, drastic lovers, over! Apocalypse! Apocalypse! Twilight the schools, twilight the college, twilight the fools, twilight the knowledge! Twilight degrees, twilight alone, twilight & freeze, twilight unknown! Ending the quest, ending the artist, ending the rest, ending the parties! This is Rome, this Atlantis, this is home, this is hopeless! Dope, smoke, Starbucks, Hotmail, gropes, jokes, spirit e-mail, souls, moles, used car salesmen, fags, hags, gun-mad mailmen! Apocalypse! Apocalypse even for the faithful! Even for the Enlightened! Even for the patient! Even for the frightened! Even for the transcendent unbending resplendent defended art-mensch! Apocalypse! Run for shelter! Run for cover! Helter-skelter! Find a lover! Do something! Hold something! Screw something! Do someone! Before the end that’s coming! Before the end that’s drumming! Before the end of suffer! Before the end of lover! Act, suffer, feel, act, suffer, feel, & do it & do it again! Over the time when you live in a rhyme & it’s okay to rest & to slowly confess! Apocalypse! Apocalypse! It’s over! It’s over!

                                                                                   







Chase my weasel (rag on theme by Beats)

Chase my weasel
crown my cheese
take me from the freezer
Dive my tunnel
ride my breeze
rob me of my reason
Chop my sorrow
dice my fear
take me to Atlantis
Stone my hollow
bounce my queer
let my death be dances

Grow my maple
plant my seed
turn my waiting soil
Loose the staple
of my greed
be my holy foil
Bleach my bottom
teach my troll
save me from the ages
Chuck the rotten
bodies’ mold
blow my mind in stages

Sketch the frame
pose the brain
rage against machines
Cry the pain
drink the rain
cultivate a dream
Where’s the spook?
Who’s the kook?
Where the fly?
Bare the eye
open like a watch—

Build my crutches
cross my street
do my funky chicken
Frame my touches
beat my meat
pinch me ‘til I’m stricken
Box my playthings
cocks & hooks
toss me like a pizza
Top my chocolate
heart & looks
cure my poor amnesia
Bless my chicken
haunt my farm
be my pious shepherd
Buy my ticket
birth my charm

exorcise my leopard

The dawn broke over our bodies (North Halls, State College, September 1996)


The room spun a wide arc, I feigned indifference, compact blue sky tightened, you sighed, I put a silent right hand on your thigh, heavens opened, venom woke, wound itself around us, the dawn broke over our
bodies—

Limitless, primitive flower, first flush of power, teenage friction, skirt-chase eyelids, lipstick spasms, ingrained anger, you panted relentless, the dawn broke over our bodies—

Drunken boated, Rimbaud ice cream, I heaved, felt myself burning, bleeding, too-close breath, breasts, I felt you perfectly as an ideal forest, the dawn broke over our bodies—

The leaves died from gyrations down, into a pained place where static passion moved, was moving, we lost it, I hated you for the coming, into the coming day, slobbering dogs, crosses making Christ himself cower, absolving saints, the dawn broke over our bodies—

Our souls’ music created sex for its own amusement, passing time, my sex standing for yours, bound in the breathing of stars, cutting into life deeper, space-shuttle hurtling skyward, sports car on receptive freeway, the dawn broke over our bodies—

De Profundis: composed in Pattee Library, State College Pa, April 1995


The only reason I’m writing this is because I have no fucking choice. I don’t usually use expletives, but in this situation one is appropriate. It’s early April and the clocks have sprung forward; it’s almost eight and still reasonably light. I was outside a minute ago, but now I’m in this library sitting next to a brick wall that I wish were a window. I could move, I could find another seat, but I won’t because I’m a masochist and that’s how God made me. I believe in God and always have. I don’t know if I like Him or Her or It.

I’m just counting the minutes until I can sleep again. I do not know what is motivating me to write. Eight tolls of the bell. I am not dead yet and I don’t know if I’m alive; something in me lives but only because I wish it to. I want to be held and I don’t want to be fatalistic. I want to kiss and be reinfused with faith. I want to have fun, enough so that when life gets lonely again I can spitefully tell myself You had your fun. It’s a habit I have, spitefully saying things to myself. I constantly wonder if I suffer too much or not enough. I am dominated by suffering but not time. Time is my clay. I am determined to fashion a life of meaning, painful meaning, from it.

I could sit here all night. If I sit here long enough, I could break through the layers of my surface unrest to find the white round pearl of my suffering knotting my throat. I may do so; I may not. A face, now a voice, passes through my mind, and I am tarnished. No! Not her. I don’t know her. I wish many things. Wishes hurt. They are not fun. Santa is a sadist. Do not tell him what you wish for; he doesn’t want to hear it. I don’t put much stock in holidays anyway. Nothing changes. Nothing is changing now, too; it must be a holiday. I declare this to be Inertia Day 1995. We will all celebrate by complaining of our directionless lives. Hallmark will bring out a line of cards; blank cards. Of course, no mail will be delivered.

Enough of that; I’ve carried the joke far enough. I’m sorry; I was just trying to stay amused. I find that my amusement always seems to end much too fast. I’m dejected. There’s nothing for me here or at home. I need a lover and I am 19, supposedly the peak of my sexual capabilities, and my Mother still thinks I’m too young. There is a female on this campus who makes my heart stop dead. DEAD! Strips me bare. BARE! I think about her so fervently that I must use my hands as pacifiers. I’m frightened of her, and vice versa. Circumstances are not extenuating. I’ve felt this for months, and nothing has changed, and may continue not to. She has shortly cropped blonde hair. How I’d love to run a single hand through it. She sounds like Joan Crawford. She makes me think inarticulate thoughts. I want to baby her. It would probably be advisable to meet her before I try.

What do I do about this? Give me an opportunity, God. My dignity as artist and man is diminishing with each whispered lamentation. My thoughts are not grandiose: a flaxen head, a spill of blood, imagined moans. God, you sent me this plague. I demand an explanation. If I am too young to make this manifest, what does it portent? Madness? More loneliness? This could conceivably go on forever. I’m not going to jump from a window. I live in a room that has a screen preventing me from doing so. I am not sitting near a window now; I’m sitting next to a brick wall. I’m going to have to live my life tomorrow, too, and the day after. Why are eons encapsulated in a single cold April night? No birds are singing and she is not here. Help me understand, God; why don’t I see myself in trees, flowers, grass; why don’t these things reflect me? They are like airplanes or factories, just points in the visual landscape. Nature kindles no joy in me. Nature is cruel and very unusual. I am disgusted with my own discipline that binds me to this pen and keeps me from relaxing.

I have not relaxed today. I fear I’ve lost the talent. I used to be prodigious, then decided to be an artist. Art is something, nothing else. That’s all: no presuppositions, no posturing. I do know that if we saw ourselves adequately reflected by nature, we wouldn’t need art. Nature is crude and unlovely. A branch does not amuse, a leaf does not stimulate desire: we do. We are dedicated followers of no one. I call myself Artist because it has more letters than Adam. Besides, am I Adam? Nothing springs from my ribs but disillusionment. I don’t mean to be cutely cynical. Lots of people are into cute cynicism. Cynicism looks cute because it is babyish, it never grows. Now I’m going to direct my energies into the active elimination of the memory of having created an aphoristic phrase. I feel better already. I feel almost worthy to be loved. The lousy haircut I got today doesn’t bother me anymore because I know that appearances are a ruse. Are bullets and beer forms of wisdom?

I was once made fun of for being fat. I am thin now but was not thin. I starved myself until my legs buckled when I stood up on the bus. Those were painful days, as these are, and I do not concede my right to complain. Creative self-pity is the basis of Art. I love nothing more than my pity for myself. Nine tolls of the bell. It’s probably completely dark outside now. Me and my brick wall are sticking together. We have a healthy relationship. We are not mutually interdependent. We have adopted a non-violent approach to our relative closeness. I’m too young for all of this. I should be doing what young people do. This desk: a pirate ship! This wall: a much coveted treasure! My loneliness: grosser than Hamlet’s!

I wouldn’t deny myself the boastful privilege of saying I try to know how to listen, what to listen for. Everybody thinks Art is supposed to be graceful. Everything lovely is jagged and sharp. Grace is a myth. Content cannot be graceful. Who leads a graceful life? The ones who slide by on surfaces, seemingly unscathed? I mean, I always want to assume that all great artists are moralists, but obviously that’s a false assumption. God, this is getting vague. I’ve got to go on. If I’m too young to love, I’m also too young to stop. It’s demoralizing to think about the time when stopping starts. The fantasy I’m having is of her reading this and being so overwhelmed by my caustic wit and biting satire that she takes off her clothes. Even the suggestion is painful. In fact, everything  is painful. Does anyone remember what being young is like? The fear, the continual fear, hanging on every moment, every breath? Does urgency fade with age?

I have created tonight and I am creating right now. I will continue to do so, even though I don’t know where I’m going. I’m trying to listen for the next impulse and it will come. I’m allowed to reject it if I want because another will follow. The most inspiring thing for an Artist is that there’s always something more to be afraid of. I will not repeat myself unless I feel the need to do so. I do not feel the need to do so. I swallow.


Original Blazevox pdf: Cheltenham Elegies (youblisher)

From Original Blazevox pdf: Cheltenham Elegies