Like, Comma, Like

But this poem’s got no parents
snapped to life, ditched its
Bildung and flooded backwards
over the border to Canada               it has no appetite,
health or grudges     no sour feelings keep it up at night
no autobiography left to compose of glances,
tresses, snap decisions, remarkable
and unremarkable men        water slouching
through a bathroom ceiling in a singular home
Candy a class act when a landscape
painter at pop punk court
I’ll outlast both, and dexedrine, and I'm not sorry
more like you discover melodrama
in the windows of the technically not that rich


Copyright © 2020 by Kay Gabriel. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 24, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem derives from an ongoing sonnet cycle for and about the Warhol superstar Candy Darling (1944-1974). I like the sonnet as a form that, on the one hand, permissively allows for a kind of extralinguistic excess—a slurry of words, sounds or lines with little obvious connection between them—and on the other, tends towards a kind of philosophical argument under the veil of courtly love. In this project I’m using the sonnet to foreground a certain, specifically trans, relationship to pop culture and celebrity, one that trades on past images and cultural modes as fuel for its self-consciously overblown style. Darling, for instance, resurrected an eclipsed studio-system Hollywood in Warhol’s anarchic Factory, and I find that appealingly perverse. Relatedly, I’m trying to explore the lyric as a mode capable of both realistic self-narration and of aggressively inhabiting other registers of speech: lies, hysteria, seduction, invective.”
Kay Gabriel