A Geography of Friendship

We are approaching new
terrain, the darkened forests
left far behind. On the right,
one eyes a drop of several hundred

feet, enough to give one a sense
of a leap into the marvelous. Like
tourists carried by nimble Sherpa up
Mount Everest, we hew to the face.

As in mating season, on a spring break
in the tropics—disease-free on
crushed hopes—one has yet to
appreciate the ecstasy of lowered

expectations, trained not from birth
but adolescence to cry over
spilled milk. My heart is hardened
now, calloused like bare feet,

from sleeping around, too much
of a good thing too soon. I know
now that it is too late. Yet.
the show must go on…and on,

from try-outs in Boston to
final curtain just outside Philly,
not by the mighty river, but inland, by
the topic of cancer and the ominous

threat of extinction. You’re
going to be huge. Your life’s a road trip
in a bark canoe strapped to the
back of a locomotive, riding

that caboose for all it is
worth, a tale spun like a tornado.
The engine far in front is fueled
by a revolution of tenderness and

left crushed by the burden of
appreciation. Thanks a lot. I cry.
Learning to be offended comes next.
On one’s high horse, you’ve got a taste

for torts and high tea. One mustn’t
raise a finger as one takes in what must
be hard for others to swallow. Someone
is on the line. Hold for the precedent.

Menus

You’ve had Indian food, sure,
but have you tried chicken chettinad?
How about raan?
Or goat Kadhai?
How about an enlarged prostate
or a prolonged bladder infection?
Are you passing blood?

These days, death is not a metaphor.
Like the Royal Delhi, my clinic’s offerings
can be described as an attempt
at encyclopedic deliciousness
from across the universe. It’s
a dive all right, a real cop-and-fireman
watering hole without the jokes.

Dishes are half price at lunchtime on
weekdays. Try the MRI; 10% off if
you schedule the EKG on the same day. My
doctor recommends the CAT scan with ultra-
sound imaging. He demands that I
try something out of the ordinary. The
nuclear stress test looks interesting.

The smell of masala spices that wafts
from the plate can’t be beat. A regal set of dishes
can be found in the dosa gallery section
of the hospital. If you crave heat, order the
‘very spicy’ version with direct intravenous
injections; no anesthetic. You’ll feel a jolt.
When the thallium begins to flow
you won’t be disappointed. I promise.

What about dessert?
It all depends on how long
you have to live. I wouldn’t recommend
ice cream. The strawberries look
divine. You can have 2. Maybe you’d like
a cup of tea: brown, barley-flavored, and
lukewarm in a small Dixie cup? No sweetener.
Call the nurse when you start to feel pain.

Erect on Demand

In a tree, underwater, sitting or standing. Isn’t it funny?
Some people can’t wait to do it in public. They’re eager.
Back seats of cars start early. On the kitchen floor, why not?
We are the opposite of dogs, really. We’ll copulate anywhere—
clearly—sex is not an intimate act, not for humans, but we’re loath
to defecate in public. Hey! Do you mind?

Home sweet home no longer includes a honeymoon suite.
Sex has gone public. Let us hope that defecation stays in the closet.
Love turns out to be not a concession to animal lovers so much as a take
on a popular Mexican street food, chicharrones de harina, which happen
to be vegan: ridged wheat puffs fried golden and bombed with raw
vegetables, candied peanuts, pineapple-habanero hot sauce, and cashew crema.

This brings back the issue of public life in general, the dropping of privacy
as an issue. People value privacy but want the right to give it up at their pleasure.
People want to be left alone. They wish to do as they please. There are no limits.
The product of stultification, everything goes perfectly with thin slices of marinated
chorizo and hefty slabs of caramelized-garlic focaccia. The question remains
as to whether one finds this triumphant or squalid.

Have you tried the iced Mexican mocha made with condensed milk, mint,
and a hint of Aleppo pepper? Or, how about the cucumber-shiso sangria
and the michelada-like El Rey Delfina, with pilsner, Worcestershire, and lime?
It’s to die for. They’re happy to put pins and needles into their nipples to look
more appealing. Hooks and studs look attractive protruding from their lips
and tongues. Signs of lust stand out. Tattooed bottoms and vaginas announce they’re ready.

The degenerate feminist is a thing to behold. She wants the power to be a sexual
thing, an object of desire, or in today’s parlance, a bitch. The girdle’s off;
she’s on her knees. The men surround her. She’s a liberated woman. The men say,
“What took you so long?” He takes a crunchy corn tostada, slathers it in a luscious
whip of butter and Greek yoghurt, then layers on meaty chunks of sardine and
coins of radish and purple carrot, finished with a bright, herbaceous vinaigrette.

Commotion

Hope is faster than light,
its speed behind measure.
It’s alive, today, but what about
tomorrow? Easy come, easy…
I need something to build up
my courage.

One advantage is sleep, an endurance
test: a locomotive or a pillow. We
learn to calculate the commotion.
Suck the straw, hang out, hit the hay.
Who’s to say? One cedes territory, one
establishes boundaries, one signs along
the dotted line. Some prefer Southern exposure.

Gross indecencies stare us down. Our
calm is our rebellion. It’s the last frontier.
Benumbed, confounded, lost forever. We
escape confinement like water, searching, but
what of our aversion to chaos? Our taste for the
tranquil. Must we be held in contempt for despising
aggression, our preference for the impassive?

It’s massive: jest. Or condescension. We cultivate
superiority; we celebrate death: theirs, hers, his.
Inoculation. Innocence. Quest. It’s a matter of
combining ingredients, the right balance, justice.
Too much won’t do. There’s much too much parsley.
One less grain of sand. The handyman’s muscles are too big.
The phone keeps ringing. Where’s the drain?

There’s anguish in repetition. I prefer hilarity.
The monks won’t go. Offer them a martini.
Thelonious learned to tread lightly as one should.
Deer in the headlights, grizzly bear, a flamingo: there.
Notoriety ruins everything. Ask the Princess.
I like to stay in bed. Back to basics. Sunny side up.
He refused to remove his boxing gloves; he grunted
and the world stood still. Rebellion begins with rest.

Audacity of Hype

I value the black rhino but not human beings. Save the rhino.
My colleague doused his SHIT HAPPENS T-shirt with red paint and walked
down the middle of Beale Street at the end of May in a death parade.
He sees this as a cultural “action”. He submitted a video of this zombie
attack to his tenure committee and was made professor of English.
Never mind Jane Austen.

If it were 1943, the most admired companies would be making gas ovens.
Yes, that’s how bad it is.
We worship money. Our favorite website, after all, was invented at Harvard
by boys looking for ways to keep track of women’s tits.
We were promised a rosy picture but what we got instead
was a Sears & Roebuck catalog pure and simple.
Nothing has changed.

Who thinks anyone can write better than Sherwood Anderson
after 50 years of creative writing classes?
There are terrible shades of Bill Clinton in Obama’s dream of life
after the White House: “I want a plane and I want a valet.”
He wants a man to hold his underpants.
What you need, my coach said, is an attitude adjustment, “Bend over.”
There was a time Pollyanna had it right.

Grant’s Tomb is not in Acapulco.
I want to live with Satchmo. I want to cook him dinner.
I need a crew cut.
Lou Rawls could sing. I don’t know about you.
I wasn’t born in Gary, Indiana.
I don’t identify with the downtrodden. Who’s their leader?
I wanted Donna Reed as my mother.

Mario’s teacher in Monterrey threw rice on the floor and made him get
down on his knees. He knelt like this for hours while holding 5 textbooks
over his head. In L.A., he told his teacher to go fuck herself.
He was sent to the office. The Principal, Dr. Burson, punished the teacher
for giving too much homework. “Man,” Mario figured,
“you can wrap these dumb fucks right around your little finger.”
At this rate, he can get the Principal to go down on him.
Power is an aphrodisiac, just ask Henry Kissinger.