Contemporary Portraiture


SPECIAL THANKS TO Griffin Editions in New York City, for printing & framing Thirty Show Me Your Life photo-collages for the Tristan's Moon Art Installation.

My Lover, My Venus

It is the morphine hour/ he gets his morphine/ i get mine/ his pain is different from mine/ mine is dead bone pain/ his is tumor pain/ pain is not just pain/ that is how the emptiness of western medicine sees pain/ it is all the same pain/ western medicine sees pain this way because it is a cultural institution/ pain is the dipper down and dredged/ the morphine and the weed are medical and legal/ things arcane in silver fires and the skins of entire stars/ it honestly disturbs me that people would buy the marshmallow scenario like Little Women/ do i appear to be Louisa May Alcott/ i could lie and tell you that I do cute/ most people prefer the lie/ AIDS does not exist and all children are happy happy and live with mummy and daddy and thousands of boys are never sexually abused, trafficked, prostituted ever ever ever and we all go to school where we sit nicely for the teacher with our hands and conscience folded and our smiley smiles/ there/ i wrote it/ so it must be so/ shit/ i hate the lies will sell to our children/ i am haunted by SPIRIT and the beast is an apparition with claws and teeth/ i hate our religions and hypocrisy/ i refuse to go quietly/ i am here to tell you, the horror won’t disappear like a marshmallow just because you want us all cozy in our jamies by the fire/ get a grip/ this is drugs and AIDS/

With our eyes now in this quiet house lifted toward an august sun/ take my hand and we will doze by the mulberry tree/ beyond the cornfield and the dusty towns/ i will show you the world/ so/ are there places you cannot see/ most of you can’t see the room you live in/ places/ we will stand in streets and laugh and fire will pour from our lips like birds/ from this cage, i will run you down corridors of sound/ beyond them and their televisions, i call it teleblindness/ beyond them/ forget the suitcase and the summerhouse/ our feet will sink into the soldier dust upon the wind/ knowledge is the incalculable center of the thing/ we will outrun Spirit even as she waits for our return upon the shore/

tonight, boy/ now/ let us run/ run, boy, run/


The Red Zone

The morphine hour/ so you have washed yourself with mud again/ the housedog is the poppy plant/ it’s the best they have to offer/ the solution from your veins distilled/ 2:am thumbs up god himself creeps his grief through pain/ fentanyl, fentanil, sublimaze, actiq, durogesic, duragesic, fentora, onsolis, iInstany, dilaudid, oxycontin/ my favorite is actiq; whose witchery breaks the rims of memory, into softer wheels sitting in the silences of sadomechanisms/

The masochist’s deceit that the strongbox can easily be plundered/ no/ the plundering will be of you and any number of your other selves/ the edge of nighttime’s fence/ vibrates doorframes of my tomb of mud and stones and small deceptions, whirl over and around the rain-soaked grass/ a stir of wonders with the plastic lightness of a blowing grocery bag/ the wandering pill-to-pill/ and mud again, shines the summits of a rapture/ sleepwalks among the bones up and down the walls painted with the demon’s face/ such threads of veins have been gnawed on by the bodies of a fertile land now entangled with the voices of the talking to the lesser saints/ the awfulness of sorrow and the vanishing of the bleeding doors to sleep/ how hard they close with a clang just as the sun licks the horizon gently with its numb the mud again and melancholy tongue/

Interstellar mediums, then/ we had a telescope in the backyard i could see the rings of saturn/ jupiter’s eye of storms to catch my focus in a richot/ it’s usually anaesthetized a truce with despair/ beyond doors of burning fists he would whip me now until my back/ ran scourged with blood/ they say child abuse is an epidemic/ i would have gone with anyone to get me out of there/ and eventually did/ i went back to my father’s house/ of pain/ mars was in the sinai red/ the moon melted down for weapons/ the boy had put his eye to desert scars/ the old man was growing apples then/ it was too late for us/ i had found that other men/ had been given by taking/ all the world roars a sunken pain/ before i buried him/ he had grown weary of whips/ and the distance i kept from/ his wilderness as far as the sun would take me/

And my numbness dreaming of the slow plow/ rides the jackknife in pursuit of dragons/ chasing lightning as it hits the ground/ the world weeping in the dust/ chaos leaking from the eyeballs/ no boundaries gathered for the flight from winter’s leaking streaked in lines upon the sky/ abandoning dimension/ all my hammered names/ in rooms upon whose dangerous beds our second selves bring their own sullen memories of death/ to what is now a finely-tuned stringed instrument of bones and salt/ which is half of dying ruined like a whisper pushing the dark away in the silences of graves among the summer’s leaves/


Baggage Claim

In a perfect world/ in a perfect world safe harbors would be able to withstand slowly rising waves or more o much more is often necessary/ safe from what pounding in what sleep/ stares through us/ our bones bared/ okay i'll just say it/ i am not sure that the idea of the safe harbor can actually exist/ it would be like melting coins/ you can make it safer i suppose/ or as safe as the drudgery of a mausoleum/ where what embryos plummet to their dark address/ safe is perhaps the old neighborhood/ harbor is something moving in that light/ solitudes and rift/ no punishment or harangues/ the monster has been pushed aside/ now, year after year you will have to defend it/ or be content to be a passenger/ aboard a ship as brilliant as orion/ floats as languidly as a milkweed upon what winter's freezing cold/



You cannot know me/ i am a very dark person/ i do not think like most other people/ i do not see what they see/ art and only art has saved me/ most of the boys cannot be saved/ what i care about is that they are now living somewhere safe/ many of them have seen horrible crimes/ all of them have been abused/ most of them are shattered human beings for whom there is no hope/ sometimes, they die/ we live in a house with many dogs/ every boy has a dog/ i have two/ the boys make art and video/ they are on antiretrovirals/ to survive/ there is no vaulted sky/

Another form of being/ slashes/ poetry slashes/ you cannot know me/ it’s about survival/ we are the man in the picture who is treading water/ surrounded by a blackness that only is/ we do not desire to be saved/ you cannot save us/ such condescension is a paternalistic grinding away/ we are ruthless about who comes into our lives/ can you imagine what a visitor with the flu virus could do to us/ the boys live away/ i do not live with them/ i am in and out of their lives/

We are dangerous, apocalyptic, resurrected/ in love/ starships that cannot be reached/ our visions are of shores and perilous floods and outrageous sex and suicide and sprawling naked on red velvet couches/ at times, we have gone blind/ pale warriors; i see them in the gloam/ on cold hillsides with wild eyes/ tied in bondage/ rivers of wind/ alive/ screaming/ sometimes dead/ silent as an ancient stone/ you cannot know me/ this is how i think/ these are the sort of words i see behind my eyes/ in print like some vast dictation wet with wind comes up from my throat for the hanging and the lights/

Cordelia: sir, do you know me/ lear: you are a spirit, i know/ cordelia: still, still, far wide/ doctor: he’s scarce awake — let him alone awhile/ lear: where have i been/ where am i/ fair daylight/ i am mightily abused/ i should e’en die with pity/ to see another thus/ i know not what to say/ i will not swear these are my hands/ let’s see — i feel this pin prick/ would i were assured of my condition/ cordelia: o look upon me, sir/ and hold your hand in benediction o’er me/ you must not kneel/ 

You cannot know me or the pit or the box we arrive in/ my existence is forever thinning and i have wrapped myself in barbed wire and mesquite and i am always unfolding and dismembered/ i particularly make women squirm (mostly to save me which is absurd) and men mainly ignore me with some contempt/ i will not be remembered or pushed into inarticulate silences/ i am tied naked in bondage to the horror of this life as this even darker planet spins the glimmering of tempests pursuing hurricanes/ 

The man with the voice who lives inside my head has the kind of name that has been lost in mortgaged houses who await the arrival of the arsonist/ whose burning up sits with me wrapped in blankets out on a rock as we watch the north sea thunder/ first i found him beautiful as autumn/ his lips luminous as beach dust/ he’s dying/ broken to the stone/ the bruised ground having given birth to Tristan now wants him and his small boat back/ i believe in graveyards and all the stars are scattered/ you cannot/ you cannot know me/ i am treading all the blue in all the water there ever was/ surrounded by the dazzle of the dragons in every moment of your life/ 



It will undo us/ it is deep october/ we will be undone in our black hoods and robes flowing from the secrets of our skulls/ we are of a gothic emptiness of echo and grandiose and chanting death and days and we are quick as spring upon the melting snow/ the male rut of sullen fall/ the world has become a gutted thing of withered on the rocks and hooks/ we believe indifference is rooted in the truth/ our idea of man is not a mothership to die in that could stand to wear my heavy cloak for an hour of forgiveness, let alone a day of suffering/ archaic: and uttered then in other names and rooms an outcast face of sons/ zero for a pile of bones/ who speaks out at what they see/ was not the dark made dark or deep enough for the unconsoled and the dust of it/ what fire and that whatever motion has in sodden rot another life straining at the teeth/ it will undo us always/ we have turned to our fathers climactic graves holding cigarettes and all the universe is in revolution/ the end of knowing sailors and their bars of genius you said nobody was to blame/ you can't fix the chainsaw, boy, i saw you, too, walk whitman, let's hang out on polk street and lean so long and longing as the men walk by/ among the dregs and those who would rob them like us over emptiness/ reminding them that they cannot stop time from leaking from their eyes but they can stop us dead in their tracks at five-hundred-bucks-an-hour we will do anything, anything/


Cell RNA

We do not want you here/ i went to bed one night not feeling too well, and woke up a month later on an intensive-care-unit respirator/ icu respirators make this horrible wheezing noise/ you have aids, they said/ WE DO NOT WANT YOU HERE/ the nurse crosses her solemn arms/ oh/ there was not a whole lot i could do about it/ they put tubes down your throat, and up your dick, and their tubes suck everything from your jar of dreams/ finally, i could not take the hostility another day, and i walked out/ i am not dead yet/ so now i live among the empty rooms sucked dry of hope and melting like a birthday candle/ darkness on the good nights is hard and sweet like a lollipop/ yesterday i removed a tumor from my tongue with a razorblade sterilized in bleach and i can swallow now/ sometimes i can sit in the garden and scratch out poetry/ but on the bitter days of stillness nothing speaks there are no words/ WE DON’T WANT YOU HERE/ good, because i do not want to be here either, bitch//

the first thing you needed to know/ after being first diagnosed was would you look the same/ they will lie and say yes/ i will tell you the truth that you will be changed forever/ as if until you closed your eyes and the body's loneliness creeps no touch/ they will no longer touch you/ and leaves a human being without meaning and alone foundering in the hall/


The Wilderness

Brainworms/ let us call him Christian/ Christian has always been the younger dancer among us/ here overlooking the runways of our lives/ some virus hangs between us like an icon/ and you wonder why i left/ Christian came to me to apologize/ crawling into my bed/ everything is always Christian’s fault/ Christian hates himself/ it was quite late/ i hate it when they do that/ stay out of my bed/ they never listen/ i'm sorry he said the brainworms are bad tonight/ what do you mean brainworms/ i mean these worms inside my head/ crawling around in my blood/ Christian, there is no such thing as worms inside anyone's head that crawl around in blood/ by now i was pissed off/ and wide awake/ you guys never let me sleep/ and you wonder why i left/ but i can see them in my eyes Christian said/ there are no brainworms in your eyes i told him/ but i am sorry the brainworms are killing me/ there are no brainworms in your head there is no such thing as a brainworm/ i see them he said/ brainworms/ whatthefuck/ maybe if you hug me they will go away the brainworms/ i doubted it/ but i hugged him anyway/ what did i have to lose but another night of sleep/ the next day i took him to the clinic he has aids dementia they said/ on the way home he said i am sorry i have brainworms it is all my fault/ Christian, what can we do to make the brainworms go away, please tell me/ we can dance he said/ when we dance they go away/ and so we danced the dances of dementia/ washing my body in the water of that war/ and you wonder why i left/ stop wondering/


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