Emanuel Xavier |
“Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars;
see that ye not be troubles;
all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet”
I escape the horrors of war
with a towel and a room
to Palestinian and Jewish boys
as a ‘piece’ to the Middle East
when I should be concerned with the untimely deaths
of dark-skinned babies
and the brutal murders
of light-skinned fathers
I’ve been more consumed with how to make
the cover of local fag rags
than how to open the minds
of angry little boys
trotting loaded guns
Helpless in finding words
that will stop the blood
from spilling like secrets into soil
where great prophets are buried
I return to the same spaces
where I once dealt drugs
a celebrated author gliding past velvet ropes
while my club kid friends are mostly dead
from an overdose or HIV-related symptoms
Marilyn wears the crown of thorns
while 4 out of the 5 weapons used to kill Columbine students
had been sold by the same police force
that came to their rescue
Not all terrorists have features too foreign
to be recognized in the mirror
Our mistakes are our responsibility
The skyline outside my window
is the only thing that has changed
Men still rape women
and blame them for their weaknesses
Children are still molested
by the perversion of Catholic guilt
My ex-boyfriend still takes comfort
in the other white powder-
the one used solely to destroy himself
and those around him
Not the one used to ignite and create carnage
or mailbox fear
It is said when skin is cut,
and then pressed together, it seals
but what about acid-burned skulls
engraved with the word ‘faggot’,
a foot bone with flesh
and other crushed body parts
It was a gay priest that read last rites
to firefighters as towers collapsed
It was a gay pilot that crashed a plane
into Pennsylvania fields
It was a gay couple that was responsible
for the tribute of light
in memory of the fallen
Taliban leaders would bury them
to their necks
and tumble walls to crush their heads
Catholic leaders simply condemn them
having offered nothing but sin
Queer blood is just rosaries scattered on tile
Heroes do not always get heaven
We all have wings . . .
some of us just don’t know why
Ruth L Schwartz |
Isn't one of your prissy richpeoples' swans
Wouldn't be at home on some pristine pond
Chooses the whole stinking shoreline, candy wrappers, condoms
in its tidal fringe
Prefers to curve its muscular, slightly grubby neck
into the body of a Great Lake,
Swilling whatever it is swans swill,
Chardonnay of algae with bouquet of crud,
While Clevelanders walk by saying Look
at that big duck!
Beauty isn't the point here; of course
the swan is beautiful,
But not like Lorie at 16, when
Everything was possible--no
More like Lorie at 27
Smoking away her days off in her dirty kitchen,
Her kid with asthma watching TV,
The boyfriend who doesn't know yet she's gonna
Leave him, washing his car out back--and
He's a runty little guy, and drinks too much, and
It's not his kid anyway, but he loves her, he
Really does, he loves them both--
That's the kind of swan this is.
Tony Hoagland |
Maxine, back from a weekend with her boyfriend,
smiles like a big cat and says
that she's a conjugated verb.
She's been doing the direct object
with a second person pronoun named Phil,
and when she walks into the room,
some kind of light is coming from her head.
Even the geraniums look curious,
and the bees, if they were here, would buzz
suspiciously around her hair, looking
for the door in her corona.
We're all attracted to the perfume
of fermenting joy,
we've all tried to start a fire,
and one day maybe it will blaze up on its own.
In the meantime, she is the one today among us
most able to bear the idea of her own beauty,
and when we see it, what we do is natural:
we take our burned hands
out of our pockets,
Allen Ginsberg |
"Soyez muette pour moi, Idole contemplative..."
I came home and found a lion in my living room
Rushed out on the fire escape screaming Lion! Lion!
Two stenographers pulled their brunnette hair and banged the window shut
I hurried home to Patterson and stayed two days
Called up old Reichian analyst
who'd kicked me out of therapy for smoking marijuana
'It's happened' I panted 'There's a Lion in my living room'
'I'm afraid any discussion would have no value' he hung up
I went to my old boyfriend we got drunk with his girlfriend
I kissed him and announced I had a lion with a mad gleam in my eye
We wound up fighting on the floor I bit his eyebrow he kicked me out
I ended up masturbating in his jeep parked in the street moaning 'Lion.'
Found Joey my novelist friend and roared at him 'Lion!'
He looked at me interested and read me his spontaneous ignu high poetries
I listened for lions all I heard was Elephant Tiglon Hippogriff Unicorn
But figured he really understood me when we made it in Ignaz Wisdom's
But next day he sent me a leaf from his Smoky Mountain retreat
'I love you little Bo-Bo with your delicate golden lions
But there being no Self and No Bars therefore the Zoo of your dear Father
hath no lion
You said your mother was mad don't expect me to produce the Monster for
Confused dazed and exalted bethought me of real lion starved in his stink
Opened the door the room was filled with the bomb blast of his anger
He roaring hungrily at the plaster walls but nobody could hear outside
thru the window
My eye caught the edge of the red neighbor apartment building standing in
We gazed at each other his implacable yellow eye in the red halo of fur
Waxed rhuemy on my own but he stopped roaring and bared a fang
I turned my back and cooked broccoli for supper on an iron gas stove
boilt water and took a hot bath in the old tup under the sink board.
He didn't eat me, tho I regretted him starving in my presence.
Next week he wasted away a sick rug full of bones wheaten hair falling out
enraged and reddening eye as he lay aching huge hairy head on his paws
by the egg-crate bookcase filled up with thin volumes of Plato, & Buddha.
Sat by his side every night averting my eyes from his hungry motheaten
stopped eating myself he got weaker and roared at night while I had
Eaten by lion in bookstore on Cosmic Campus, a lion myself starved by
Professor Kandisky, dying in a lion's flophouse circus,
I woke up mornings the lion still added dying on the floor--'Terrible
Presence!'I cried'Eat me or die!'
It got up that afternoon--walked to the door with its paw on the south wall to
steady its trembling body
Let out a soul-rending creak from the bottomless roof of his mouth
thundering from my floor to heaven heavier than a volcano at night in
Pushed the door open and said in a gravelly voice "Not this time Baby--
but I will be back again."
Lion that eats my mind now for a decade knowing only your hunger
Not the bliss of your satisfaction O roar of the universe how am I chosen
In this life I have heard your promise I am ready to die I have served
Your starved and ancient Presence O Lord I wait in my room at your
Paris, March 1958
Nick Flynn |
At the end there were straws
in her glove compartment, I'd split them open
to taste the familiar bitter residue, near the end
I ate all her Percodans, hungry to know
how far they could take me.
A bottle of red wine each night moved her along
as she wrote, I feel too much, again and again.
You asked how and I said, Suicide, and you asked
how and I said, An overdose, and then
she shot herself, and your eyes filled
with wonder, so I added, In the chest, so you
her face was gone, and it mattered, somehow,
that you knew this. . .
Every year I'm eight years old and the world
is no longer safe. Our phone becomes unlisted, our mail
is kept in a box at the post office,
and my mother tells me always
leave a light on so it seems
someone is home. She finds a cop
for her next boyfriend, his hair
greasy, pushed back with his fingers. He lets me play
with his service revolver while they kiss
on the couch. Cars slowly fill the windows, and I aim,
making the noise with my mouth, in case it's them,
and when his back is hunched over her I aim
between his shoulder blades, silently,
in case it's him.
Maggie Estep |
I was a 20 year old unemployed receptionist with
dyed orange dreadlocks sprouting out of my skull. I needed a job, but first,
I needed a haircut.
So I head for this beauty salon on Avenue B.
I'm gonna get a hairdo.
I'm gonna look just like those hot Spanish haircut models, become brown
and bodacious, grow some 7 inch fingernails painted bitch red and rake
them down the chalkboard of the job market's soul.
So I go in the beauty salon.
This beautiful Puerto Rican girl in tight white spandex and a push-up bra
sits me down and starts chopping my hair:
"Girlfriend," she says, "what the hell you got growing outta
your head there, what is that, hair implants? Yuck, you want me to touch
that shit, whadya got in there, sandwiches?"
I just go: "I'm sorry."
She starts snipping my carefully cultivated Johnny Lydon post-Pistols hairdo.
My foul little dreadlocks are flying around all over the place but I'm
not looking in the mirror cause I just don't want to know.
"So what's your name anyway?" My stylist demands then.
"Maggie? Well, that's an okay name, but my name is Suzy."
"Yeah so it ain't just Suzy S.U.Z.Y, I spell it S.U.Z.E.E, the extra
"e" is for extra Suzee."
I nod emphatically.
Suzee tells me when she's not busy chopping hair, she works as an exotic
dancer at night to support her boyfriend named Rocco. Suzee loves Rocco,
she loves him so much she's got her eyes closed as she describes him:
"6 foot 2, 193 pounds and, girlfriend, his arms so big and long they
wrap around me twice like I'm a little Suzee sandwich."
Little Suzee Sandwich is rapt, she blindly snips and clips at my poor punk
head. She snips and clips and snips and clips, she pauses, I look in the
mirror: "Holy shit, I'm bald."
"Holy shit, baby, you're bald." Suzee says, finally opening her
eyes and then gasping.
All I've got left is little post-nuke clumps of orange fuzz. And I'll never
get a receptionist job now.
But Suzy waves her manicured finger in my face: "Don't you worry,
baby, I'm gonna get you a job at the dancing club."
"Baby, let me tell you, the boys are gonna like a bald go go dancer."
That said, she whips out some clippers, shaves my head smooth and insists
I'm gonna love getting naked for a living.
None of this sounds like my idea of a good time, but I'm broke and I'm
bald so I go home and get my best panties. Suzee lends me some 6 inch pumps,
paints my lips bright red, and gives me 7 shots of Jack Daniels to relax
8pm that night I take the stage.
and by god,
HOLY SHIT I'M NAKED IN A ROOM FULL OF STRANGERS THIS IS NOT ONE OF THOSE
RECURRING NIGHTMARES WE ALL HAVE ABOUT BEING BUTT NAKED IN PUBLIC, I AM
NAKED, I DON'T KNOW THESE PEOPLE, THIS REALLY SUCKS.
A few guys feel sorry for me and risk getting their hands bitten off by
sticking dollars in my garter belt. My disheveled pubic hairs stand at
full attention, ready to poke the guys' eyes out if they get too close.
Then I notice this bald guy in the audience, I've got a new empathy for
bald people, I figure maybe it works both ways, maybe this guy will stick
10 bucks in my garter.
I saunter over.
I'm teetering around unrhythmically, I'm the surliest, unsexiest dancer
that ever go-go across this hemisphere. The bald guy looks down into his
beer, he'd much rather look at that than at my pubic mound which has now
formed into one vicious spike so it looks like I've got a unicorn in my
I stand there weaving through the air.
The strobe light is illuminating my pubic unicorn. Madonna's song Borderline
is pumping through the club's speaker system for the 5th time tonight:
"BORDERLINE BORDERLINE BORDERLINE/LOVE ME TIL I JUST CAN'T SEE."
And suddenly, I start to wonder: What does that mean anyway?
"LOVE ME TIL I JUST CAN'T SEE"
Screw me so much my eyes pop out, I go blind, end up walking down 2nd Avenue
crazy, horny, naked and blind? What?
There's a glitch in the tape and it starts to skip.
I stumble and twist my ankle. My g-string rides between my buttcheeks making
me twitch with pain. My head starts spinning, my knees wobble, I go down
on all fours and puke all over the bald guy's lap.
So there I am. Butt naked on all fours. But before I have time to regain
my composure, the strip club manager comes over, points his smarmy strip
club manager finger at me and goes:
"You're bald, you're drunk, you can't dance and you're fired."
I stand up.
"Oh yeah, well you stink like a sneaker, pal." I peel off one
of my pumps and throw it in the direction of his fat head then I get the
hell out of there.
A few days later I run into Suzee on Avenue A. Turns out she got fired
for getting me a job there in the first place. But she was completely undaunted,
she dragged me up to this wig store on 14th Street, bought me a mouse brown
shag wig, then got us both telemarketing jobs on Wall Street.
And I never went to a beauty salon again.
Denise Duhamel |
my mother pushed my sister out of the apartment door with an empty
suitcase because she kept threatening to run away my sister was sick of me
getting the best of everything the bathrobe with the pink stripes instead of
the red the soft middle piece of bread while she got the crust I was sick with
asthma and she thought this made me a favorite
I wanted to be like the girl in the made-for-tv movie Maybe I'll Come Home
in the Spring which was supposed to make you not want to run away but it
looked pretty fun especially all of the agony it put your parents through and
the girl was in California or someplace warm with a boyfriend and they
always found good food in the dumpsters at least they could eat pizza and
candy and not meat loaf the runaway actress was Sally Field or at least
someone who looked like Sally Field as a teenager the Flying Nun propelled
by the huge wings on the sides of her wimple Arnold the Pig getting drafted
in Green Acres my understanding then of Vietnam I read Go Ask Alice and
The Peter Pan Bag books that were designed to keep a young girl home but
there were the sex scenes and if anything this made me want to cut my hair
with scissors in front of the mirror while I was high on marijuana but I
couldn't inhale because of my lungs my sister was the one to pass out
behind the church for both of us rum and angel dust
and that's how it was my sister standing at the top of all those stairs that
lead up to the apartment and she pushed down the empty suitcase that
banged the banister and wall as it tumbled and I was crying on the other side
of the door because I was sure it was my sister who fell all ketchup blood and
stuck out bones my mother wouldn't let me open the door to let my sister
back in I don't know if she knew it was just the suitcase or not she was cold
rubbing her sleeves a mug of coffee in her hand and I had to decide she said I
had to decide right then