Free

- 1952-2019

Free, the price tags shiny with white-out, it's free, 
I go shopping with Dodie, the red shiny bag at Kate Spade
on Grant, let's go into Agnes B and see how much the 
shirt cost that Chris and Brian bought me

Save, long time ago I thought you could save me
I pictured a dreamy house like Elizabeth 
Robinson's, with a sunken tub, but instead I settle
for Squalid Manor, Frank O'Hara's dull apartment

"Build three more stately mansions, O my soul,"
I hear a voice that rings, it might be Kylie Minogue
the sexiest tomboy beanpole on the planet, 
that which I walked in size eight shoes, for to

Buy the ones we saw in the window, May sun
splattering them with pixels, we saw ourselves
the two of us, and I said, Ah, what's the matter with me, 
I have nothing to look forward to

Ship of pearl, which poets feign, 
Sail the unshadowed main—
The venturous bark that flings, and suddenly
the pavement tears itself apart, a lift appears

Man comes up through the sidewalk
in front of Stella McCartney store in New York
a little bit down from Joe and Charlie's
To have seen so much, to have missed so much!

Why, next time we will do better, till our
bleeding feet spurt compassion in our hearts—
in our next life when, perhaps, we will return
as a shell on the beach and a little pink kitten, 

Lucy.

Deep Red

Deep red • the submarine blips on the cold surface
in Antarctica • as Mariner’s ship draws near •
frothy surface on the blue wave •
Life is still • so catch as catch can • still evanescent, still

Red, an oar touches the water’s rim • muscular arm buff as
Meryl Streep’s in The River Wild • in Antarctica •   
frothy surface on the blue wave • life is still • “I don’t have
many T-cells left, but I used to have 8” • “now I have 9”

Under the gristle, vein, under the vein, deep red •
the blood of my pal • deeper and deeper this tiny wave, blue
on the surface • alone on the surface •
if you were one-dimensional what would you see?
a one celled mammal swimming for dear life •
to a shore strewn with protozoa bracken • still life
“now I have 6”

the flotsam and • jetsam of living • high
and deep • this the curve that
will kill you • pal
I’m living in • your disgrace
deep • red hatchet • cells
a doll with hands • scuttles across the face •
of the sea for you
come and get these • memories

The Door into Darkness

A hand within touching distance of the doorknob.
No light, no sound, the lintel black with absence and size.

The wristwatch that talks, “Time for your medications.”
Feeling, the cold drip inside your thigh, the scent of fear.

Quiet, the set is cleared and the long spaces grow still, dark.
Bitter scent of attempted, the light, the warm hatching eggs.

Open the door, pick its hinges, flood the house with darkness.
A short burst of steam, the mailbox slot hot as his asshole,

darkness within and the field of the open human page. The
check for his pills, and a glass of water from crystal springs

tipped to his mouth: he is old now, yodelling in a sleep
indecent, cracked, his hand furtive sly yanks at a single sheet—

Pull the tubes, throw open the black wooden door and let go.
All the world staring at him from inside his own eyes

and I’m like, the hand that takes the door by the knob, firmly,
uprooted, as once I made him come with my hand, till he

couldn’t stop gasping for breath. Now he can breathe, now
he can live, now he can come, now he can write “dead” in the dark.

The Flowering Face

He read all his poems twice, thinking,
                                           “they did not hear them the first time.”

They hired a team of gay men who do this
                                            gardening gig to do it for them

If his body rots in the mouth of maggots
                                                        let’s go to Zuni

Down his throat
                                                        poured a river of beer and rum

In the coercive moonlight of Diamond Heights
                                                       his red hair, gold

He’d like the symbolism
                                             and of course the spring flowers

He was subtle, always said, “Hello my friend,”
                               as though he knew us better than indeed he did

If the words I wrote, and throw up into the sky, in his direction
                                                    mean what I think they do

Then deep into the black earth a post I dig, that says
                                       retention must be paid

I found out who he really was
                          through the name on the bracelet, pink and white beads

A couple of guys from Ireland
                                   passing through town and one says, “Die faggots”

If there was no poetry there would be no
                               toy, face, torment, healing, gladiola, prix fixe, heaven

Related Poems

Beverly Hills, Chicago

“and the people live till they have white hair”
            ―E. M. Price

The dry brown coughing beneath their feet,
(Only for a while, for the handyman is on his way)
These people walk their golden gardens.
We say ourselves fortunate to be driving by today.

That we may look at them, in their gardens where
The summer ripeness rots. But not raggedly.
Even the leaves fall down in lovelier patterns here.
And the refuse, the refuse is a neat brilliancy.

When they flow sweetly into their houses
With softness and slowness touched by that everlasting gold,
We know what they go to. To tea. But that does not mean
They will throw some little black dots into some water and add sugar and the juice of the cheapest lemons that are sold,

While downstairs that woman’s vague phonograph bleats, “Knock me a kiss.”
And the living all to be made again in the sweatingest physical manner
Tomorrow. . . . Not that anybody is saying that these people have no trouble.
Merely that it is trouble with a gold-flecked beautiful banner.

Nobody is saying that these people do not ultimately cease to be. And
Sometimes their passings are even more painful than ours.
It is just that so often they live till their hair is white.
They make excellent corpses, among the expensive flowers. . . .

Nobody is furious. Nobody hates these people.
At least, nobody driving by in this car.
It is only natural, however, that it should occur to us
How much more fortunate they are than we are.

It is only natural that we should look and look
At their wood and brick and stone
And think, while a breath of pine blows,
How different these are from our own.

We do not want them to have less.
But it is only natural that we should think we have not enough.
We drive on, we drive on.
When we speak to each other our voices are a little gruff.

The Discount Mega Mall (in memoriam)

for you
i trace
the
letters
of my
name
in the
air
with my
pinky
like a
gold
necklace
like a
signature
on a
grain
of rice
in a
little jar
eve
the night
before
like a
dusk
like
the end
of things beloved

body shop

i've heard tell of a hustle
in brooklyn where clever folks
throw themselves in front of cars
lurching down eastern parkway

not the beat-up green mini-vans
or duct tape toyotas of poets, not
impalas bleeding chrome
spinning disposable testosterone

but mid to high end machines
of certain insurance booty, drivers
in the 30 to 50 year range, same
demographic as oprah's audience

i suppose there is a right and wrong
approach to this science, the angles
of minimal damage to consider, side
to bumper, back to door, head up

unless her poodle is well groomed.
few have retired, i would speculate
but work less now that checks
lack bounce and the mailman walks briskly

it must be the eyes, wide and clean
that distinguish these impact alvin aileys
from ordinary jaywalkers

at utica i marvel at the desperate genius
the split-second calculus, the risks and gains
of such occupation, before descent
into the dark anonymity of the 4 train