Jailed Genet (in Honor)

The deepest truths cannot be taught
except by experience—
Genet’s face, that jail of dreams, each line
in the forehead, a galley where lives pitch, hitched
to the wilderness skin molds over.

This is how castaways touch, littered
with the bright density of stars dead and far flung.
How closeness requires effort, even while at
the thing: flesh merging in grips of kisses that sigh out of harms past…
The scars of arms now tattoo smooth, the creamy slopes of hirsute moss,
all trained, so trained to only be disclosed in fits, in stolen shadows…

Crowded into the pits, the mess halls, the tunnels—
There’s a rite, there’s a system of degradation early on.
Stand at attention.  Open the mouth, the body for spit, for flogging,
for an erosion which will carve out an edifice for masks.

Thus, gutted, left up to tests, paranoid, persecuted, it is a phenomenon
if contact should happen: the coveted signals, the mix of tenderness & rough
stubbly chins in hands, on heads shaved likewise so the bones may be pure
as letter paper sneaking words forth as rose petals, that miracle, that moon.

Where’s the point of a scream if there’s no one to listen?
In this society of secrecy gesturing song from dusky air, the sheer shearing of touch
nights and corners share, the screams do not need an execution to happen, to happen,
as it will, in order to be heard.

My lover, you chicken, brute, pimp, pirate,
all the names that we call each other to distinguish what’s still a blur
of reform schools, of prisons…come set sail, come any way, come soft
to this cabin though anyone may see, and I will shield, shield

how you let down your guard.


How visceral, the plunge and loop,
lights meeting arms,
shrieks fading to giggles, gasps,
our fingers still locked
through that swirling midway…

Wishing for rain now, rain on rocks
Thunderous as Moses’ dropped testaments,
our oath slowing this hurly burly,
these sighing cars ridden
to some weird fun house ritual…

Time to get off yet,
to go shoot at ducks, throw a ring,
win some impractical crockery
or a Bernard large as grandpa?

No way, not for you anyhow—

Hitched to this island,
gliding rails down the wire,
that roll and scramble sustaining nerve damage,
rotgut liquor and cotton candy swell as smooches
too good to stop.

Only they do, every September, packing your circus

and sailing the tent-raft away.

‘Til next year then, ‘til next year,
a tattoo in my mind when I ain’t jail bait,
the merry-go-rounds’ pony, but seasoned
as each Ferris Wheel your hands have built
and disassembled with the wisdom of a gypsy
who might still need a little tenderness,
our religion, our Mardi Gras,
for every one of those long-forgotten carnival nights


Mica and Quartz

(Thank you to Nicola Griffith)

This is the sky’s alien pearl
under an ammonite moon.
The whorls of that collects us
in memory’s voyages.
What dead seas are the tides still of our blood?
In these sands hands pulse to the pull,
a planetary drumming.

To place fingers then on the heart-shape
of your shoulders bending over, on the heart-shape
of your buttocks, cello-perfect, is to breathe
the atmosphere out and in:
a metronome’s depths.

You are as much celestial via the skin to skin
as the home in the stars so long ago left.

Know it now as a secret vine, a transplanted seed
in a garden already started before we arrived.
The plot has a plaque glazed in the loam,
all-weather safe, the fragment of that note
addressed “Dear God.”

Who wrote what we are here to finish?
Whose quote are we the new constitution of now?

Beside that trellis of what we call
off-world fruit
is an old papyrus-woven basket, sandals, Trojan,
and a silver walker left like a compass.
Surely these are the ancestral relics
of astronauts forgotten.

Come plant this seed in homage with fish

for our ground

The Acolyte

In the beginning I was an annoyance
surprising you with that knife
to cut the rope ’round your throat.

“Let me die,” you muttered tedious with delirium
but brought down lengthwise,
a cord of wood in my arms.

“Nonsense, Hermes.” I rebuked
with something like fury.
“That king’s more fickle than a queen
Elizabethan in his sulks lining the tower
with corpses, and what good are those?”

Tantrum this, tantrum that,
my fed-up head thought
rubbing the pain from your limbs
under the canvas of that cart.

Huntsman, Richard was too damned foolish,
as were you to end your life for falling out of favor
from the capricious graces of his court.

What sport worth your wounds anyway
to save him from the white stag
when the Windsor Wizard intervened
crowning your head with the dying beast’s horns?

Any empathy worth its weight is such a transplant
only by living would you learn the power of,
now, weapon-less as buck, as steer.

Sure the antlers took some getting used to,
a matter of balance, as the forest gave strength.
You received that in its very greenness,
healed as a gatherer with the wild mushrooms,
the leeks, a farmer of pure harvest
hard toil earned.

We’ve been in our cups since,
the stars bedding above, coursing transparent
charts in your gaze as I lie beside you
taboo as a tattoo the secret dark stores.

Mouthing the Words

While walking along, towards work or on break,
me, blue collar queer mumbling whispers maybe too
at first unawares of whomever might overhear
this one so prayer-deep, re-beginning
if misplacing a face, forgetting a name,
all the sinew to a soul’s bones
held together by these prayers for
more than to,
so as not to lose rhythm in currents,
here; desperate, there; calm,
salmon upstream, daily in
sameness and change,
the nature of time & what it might bring now
by historic clocks turned back, tidal,
to the Great Big Winner
fortune smiles spoiled millions on still
in banner balloons streaming up while
marching underfoot those who opposed,
critics of tactics, hail Victor to the Conqueror’s
polished Big Business shoes,
that political charm of the boasting ogre
whose power for themselves others now queue up
to kiss the ass or the ring of,
pucker, pucker,
time now to get all those packers of fudge,
them uppity women, them illegal terrorist-leaning,
them different Others wrong in religion,
and not born from around these parts anyhow,
melting pot great, we ain’t no more
for that sort of America—
You listening? You, crazy, praying
to yourself, writing to ride it out,
this fearful, angry mourning
for our one and only Earth.