from “[the old soiled carpet of the wish to be Anaïs]”

            writing on the bruised
body and seeing into the
bruise’s locked backyard, not
psychoanalyzing the incursion
but appreciating its scissory
up and down


            remembering the wish
to be Anaïs Nin—


            stepping on the old soiled
carpet of the wish to be Anaïs—


the pullulation of scratch marks
and their glistering anonymity


British perfume wrongly purchased
for stepfather—the perfume stank
so why did I buy it?


            the entire sky
with a palette knife is scratched
turquoise opal—
no underlying tint to betray it


a sick tint inundating the marsh


I celebrate mother’s sunset
or I am cloud making her
sunset more inspiringly Turneresque—


to scratch through the page until
it dies, and no credit given
to the scratcher


More by Wayne Koestenbaum


the atonality of folded underwear

the Tel Aviv of Chinese water torture

the martians of My Three Sons 

the parsimony of Tel Quel

the archivist of beatitudes

the Helsinki of Frankenstein

the Winchester Mystery House of devil-may-care

the worldwide franchise of Croatian mystery plays

the Bettie Page of situationism

the New Criticism of Ethel Waters

the marble pound cake of tauromachy

the Christopher Strong of Sesame Street 

the Michèle Morgan of abstinence

the 19 Berggasse of Calvin Klein

the stifling corridor of condom leakage

the Boris Karloff of Maiden Lane

the CalArts of maple syrup

the Lord's Prayer of Rumpelstilskin

the Gretchen's Spinning Song of fatuous praise

the Eli Wallach of pragmatism

the meal ticket of the Williamsburg Messiah

the Mrs. Robinson of Abstract Expressionism

the mead-soaked sheets of Melanctha

the Abbott and Costello of ostinato

the abracadabra of panty-hose

the Guys and Dolls of pineapple upside-down cake 

the Hungry I of Shangri-La

the Bog Man of Capitol Hill

the Beresford of bilge

National Nudist Club Newsletter

Into the unisex nursery's toilet my undershirt falls.
I fish it out and find my face on a marquee.

Florida: in sneakers, I construct
Delft shelves to store scrawled diagnoses.

I enter an observation tank
(rightly considered tragic, irreversible)

to greet the hatchetfaced magician whose dead mother
says welcome back, implying I've been fired.

Through Skinner Box glass 
he watches me play with dildos, blades. Entranced 

by unending orgasm, I dismiss his tendency 
to find amelioration in experience's fluctuating shallows.

Related Poems

Behind Perfume, Only Solitude

Ink will come.  Lamp lung
breathes light at the edge
of an idea.  The edge
an idea, also the door

of the room 
that silence opens.

The pen sighs, a lens
for the shut-in light.
Breathe me, light.
Have the idea to have me.