Instagram: catalogue of nubile flesh. I scroll through it like a murderer flipping through the case against him. My crest is fallen like a certain kind of woman, my shoulder hunched over above the crown of my head. In my scrolling, I stumble upon a woman. (This encounter has none of the serendipitous charm of the same such an encounter, with a woman, on the street; instead preordainment casts its shameful, fuliginous pall over the proceedings, the proceeding of my thumb from one image to the next.)…she must be the most beautiful woman anyone has ever seen…of a sudden I discover there’s a chunk of charcoal, perched right there where my epiglottis used to be. I can still breathe through it, the porous rock, just, but only with much labor intensity: the sound produced by the effort is marked by the low whine of air ricocheting down a narrow passage—a sound which could be likened to that scene from City Lights, where the Tramp swallows a police whistle. In my throat, I realize, visceral jealousy must have lodged itself. If I swallow, perhaps very, very hard, maybe the slimy lubricant produced naturally by my mouth will be enough to coax the coal down into my estomac…I scorn every lowlife who’s spoken to existential pain, nay, even physical pain—–hell, I’ll say it, even mothers’ griping over childbirth—for truly there can be no pain greater than the man or lesbian woman looking upon a dignitary of that latter sex to whose butter-rich carcass they shall never in their eternally-damnèd lives have access. Job must have felt most keenly this torture, desire thus thwarted…

Be still my quonset heart! which her dogsbodied simulacrum transpierces! That I may love her but once in all my livelong life would not be nearly enough; and but that she might know my love, I’d yoke my jaw to solitude’s steed for the rest of my days—to study her image and her image alone, to write odes and scholarly articles on her voluptuous personage. What that I could caress her lovely visage! and that she should not slap my hand and look sternly away, but instead lie passive—for this privilege, this honor, I would have my name scratched from every ponderous annal of history and shod in its stead every shame and not one grace of that once-living despot Adolph Hitler…she’s so pretty, I want to cum on her face…emit spume thereupon…

I return from my hypnopompic state, and enough drool has coagulated on my phone screen to simulate a finger pad “liking” the photo of the beautiful woman. A heart appears. If only Instagram knew: I didn’t “like” this picture, far from it—it inspired an enmity within me so brittle it could be nothing if not abject, unadorned love. I love this photo and I love this woman and I hate myself. But here I am, forced to “like” it…she looks pretty, the woman, in the photo, looking up at me through miles of satellite towers and telephone wires. Like the Joconde, wherever I stand, there she is, her eyes following me. Computing power unthinkable even a generation ago, wrought through dynamite and African slaves, their sacrifice and ours has been fulfilled; the woman’s breasts, admirably divulged in the picture. A screen more accurate, indeed, than the human eye…no, it’s not her breasts, it’s that glance, blushing at me, there, so small—it’s me, returning her gaze in my direction—that osmise my madreporite and I tumesce…(Why under every calcar of my approbation does one inevitably find the sycophantic mollusk of masturbation?)…the caption reads, as she has dictated, somewhere: Wish you were here…in fact, she is speaking to me, but in a truer sense, she is speaking to everyone in the world but me.

In a Bachian state, I navigate to the comment section of her photo. What is this guileless adulation, this ingenuous sorority expressed by women to their friends on Instagram as sweetly and as naturally as dew expresses itself on leaves of grass each nightfall? The beautiful woman’s Instagram comments are blissful encomium. The charcoal of my jealousy, which usually sturdies into granite-shame among my stomach lining, is shimmying back up my esophagus like an escaped convict up the walls of a well. (Scientists should study me, my digestive and limbic systems have somehow crossed lines: I don’t eat so much as I repress the existence of food by subsuming it, sublimating into shit; my comburent longing, on the other hand, triggers acid reflux, mild indigestion.) If only I could cough hard enough to send my jealousy shooting out like a rock chipper and be done with these emotions, pesky like grievances, or gnats, once and for all…had I half the friends she has, douching her with blarney, unbridled love, admiration, respect—why, I could expire a happy biped. Not only can I not have her, can I never have her, save some act of ingenuity on my part, doubtless a boatload of work—not only this, but when she feels lonely, she is comforted; when she feels inconsolable, she is consoled. It is not enough that I may not have her, that I may not have love, but still yet I may not have companionship born of any creed or breed, may not have friends, pals, chums, to bring me up when I feel down about the former. My confidence is on the floor along with my boxers. She has friends, and I have her picture to masturbate to.

So vast is the human condition on our planet—among the billions of non-abluted wretches who toil their wares, manducate, become sick and then die—surely there exists a beautiful woman, one beautiful woman, who experiences loneliness as keenly as I? Poor, measly old I? Far be it from me to pray that I should meet her, only to have assurance of her existence—to glance upon her but once—would be so much rapture so as to curdle my blood into malt liquor…alas, if such a woman exists, I’ll eat my capotain. Pulchritude only intersects solitude on the wet side of the dermis. The deaf and dumb side. Women of exquisite beauty flock together like anatidae, in my experience (purely ethnographic though it might be)…

By strict logic now: If a woman be beautiful enough, then: friends and lovers will throng to: like ionized metal towards the polar bears. (My virile membrum submits to palpation, my thumb is up my ass.)

Be she any less beautiful, and I wouldn’t deign to look down the sole of my shoe at her counter-countenance.

Let’s express it again, in purer logic still: Were I to love her, then: I would disappoint her.

Her being in such a disappointed state, her friends pledge themselves to her solace.

I, disappointed by her disappointment, am embattled and alone.

Alone, again. I am embattled and I am alone, in equal parts like a wet martini.

I am embattled; I am alone; I am a man; and my name is ——.

I am a man (1).

My name is —— (2).

And I am in love with —— (3).

Her photo is an appealing one…

My priapic has got me in my feelings again. Ejaculate, in preparation for disposal, ambles outside the epididymis on the scenic route to the vas deferens. Perhaps it takes an easy summer’s pace and laughs to itself. In blissful ignorance, it eggshells my kidneys and calcifies my liver. It emits guilt into my veins and up my chakra…I realize I am the reason women laud and exclaim in the comment section of their friends’ Instagram posts…they seek to build each other up, to raise her confidence in order to prevent her from falling down into my arms. They don’t want her body accessible to me…they don’t want her privy to my lies and caprice. Meanwhile, I’ve been so low that I’ve fallen into just anyone’s arms…but, since I have had access to her body—if only for a moment—the tragedy is hers and hers alone. I have my solitude, and I have my memories—the memories of my access. (What a dangerous thing to be left alone with, and veritably I am alone…) She has her dignity, and her friends; they will tell her the scales are equal. In this way the innate horror of the sexual union is shielded from women and endowed to—me. (In any case, someone’s being shielded from something…I adduce the intensity with which I intransitively experience in asserting that, it cannot be me…)

The room is dark though the windows are bare; I have no curtains. I have no friends to comfort me. It must be nighttime. (I wonder if people in the building across the attenuate street have ever chanced to look down on me in my moment of weakness. Books, laundry, esoterica scatter the floor like cockroaches.) Yes, I had a friend, once, but she was her and she has left me. Yes, I have experienced desperation, and yes: I may have voiced it. Yes, my love is all-consuming; no it is not consummate. My love was a conflagration, the plains of my psyche now as scorched earth, razed and trampled by Native Americans. Her love was as a talisman, a rosary to clutch in her pocket—out of fright, perhaps, and perhaps I’m the one who compelled her to reach for it…her body was accessible to me—once—and I accessed it with all the thankless prose of masturbation. As our lives became one, my life was as heaven; hers became a living hell. To hear her tell it. She needs someone with a higher means whither to regress…

The comment section is lively, chipper, agog and a-go-go…the beautiful woman is surrounded by friends…they love her—same as I—because she is beautiful. She loves herself—same as I—because she is beautiful. God Himself might love her for a different reason, but God loves beauty too…I am a masochist at a sadist’s convention…I use my pollex to click on her name, to navigate to her profile. (She wishes I was there; I, too, wish I was elsewhere.) She posts frequently to Instagram. There is a unified aesthetic, to stretch the term—“anaesthetic” might be more dutifully employed…since there are so many images, and all portraying the same woman, you could call her Instagram an iconography, but again, a word so rich condescends itself to be issued within a context such as such. It’s not artful, her aesthetic…though she bares skin there is no discernible grace in these images, nothing celestial evoked…she is not a holy woman, one wouldn’t light a candle for such an Instagram.

She offers herself in a matrix to me. I submit like a woman. In the highrise across the street are men scrolling through these same images? I scroll until my back aches and my teeth crumble like dolomite…in a million years her profile can be burned in occult ritual to the gods…why but what someone like me—an artist—could do with such a woman! for clearly she’s wasted on herself. I have beautiful enough thoughts that her beauty would look pleasing abreast of me. Her beauty aches the teeth like river water, it’s almost a sin it should be cast in such pathetic images. She should be making imams tremble the world over. Beauty like hers could reach truer and more pure heights of joy…but she’s smiling in ecstasy, picture after picture, like a mongoloid. I am only being frank when I say: her intelligence must be constrained somewhat. I, I live in San Jose. I do.

I live here—I can live here, because powerful men wouldn’t drop on their knees but to kiss—nay but wash my feet. Because those with wealth, control, divine piety, would not do such a thing for me—because of this, I may as well live in San Jose, or any other place around which events of import do not revolve. But for such a woman as her, to inhabit the same locale? And yet she doesn’t die of humiliation…a comely specimen like her, lives within a hundred miles of a lowlife like me—to even know me, for the two of us to follow each other on Instagram—when she could spend $200, once, on a plane ticket to New York, and then she wouldn’t spend another penny in her life—not until the day she places an obol over her loved one’s eyes, but even this is tax deductible…what that I could walk a mile in her moccasins…

(My phone is unbelievably dense in my hands. Its terminal velocity must be cataclysmic. The palm of the hand which holds it is as boggy as a march, the palm of my other hand is unimaginably arid, cold, tundric. My intromittence shivers like a stray, febrifugal cat. I glare at it, my sneers lets out more drool. I look at her again; I look at my phone…) She is beautiful…if I was placed in her body for a day I’d know exactly what to do with it. I wouldn’t spend a minute more than what is necessary to travel to the airport and wait, in San Jose. I would introduce myself to others as a poet and they wouldn’t scorn me or scoff me or…they wouldn’t do anything, except fuck me and publish me. I would fuck some executive, achieve outlandish success, then report him to the authorities for rape. The following day, she would return to her corpus having been completely reinvented, in some lavish suite on the Upper East Side, awaking on the arm of a Jeffrey Epstein type…pussy sore, anus moist…It’s a pleasant feeling, this sojourn I allow myself—the highrise is still standing, my windows still bare, serotonin like oil from the USS Arizona…—but the type of trans I am, no surgery would do me any good whatsoever. The type of trans I am, a deep dysphoria…for me, I have trouble believing there are those who are not trans. (My hand is moving even faster, her photos glisten even brighter, my phone is the immensity and form of an event-horizon.) We are all trans: it’s the fact of embodiment that has a trans quality to it. No, my body is not just a vessel—it’s something different, more nefarious…it’s a seminal vesicle…it’s not a prison of flesh neither—if anything, I imprison it.

There are those who degrade this quality by assigning it to sex. But sex is that which is shared with another person. How humiliating to share it with anyone else…

…I am addicted to my phone. I am addicted to images of beauty. I’m thinking to myself, if masturbation is inevitable, like pissing, shitting, then pornography will always be as essential as plumbing…yes, grotesque pornography, pornography which is gilded rape. It’s addictive, you can do it at work and you don’t even have to go outside, like you do with cigarettes. Pornography is the underground, it’s something to get worked up about, like milk cartons of shit squelching out the sewers—but without pornography, what is the alternative? This: I am scrolling through her Instagram profile. She is beautiful; I know her. I know her as a being of multitudes, of vagary and spite, desperation, rage, simple pleasures and simple love for simple people. (And an exhibitionist—everybody with an Instagram profile is one—such a baseline feminine-ity…) Without pornography, I realize, the alternative is to masturbate to women we know—whether via Instagram or our own importunately creative mind’s eye. What a state, when pornography is the lesser evil…there are no winners, only losers on Instagram. God how she is beautiful…

The sexual union is capricious. Love fades…to have access to her body; to get subcutaneous. Every sexual union is rape—it is rapacious, it is of rape. Rape, but gilt…aureate leaf of her desire, frangible as the skull of an infant, or a hymen (of an infant or otherwise)…desire which can be held, viewed, accessed…degraded and taxonomized and abased…(Though the lights in my desolate room are on, the images on my phone, still, always, immaculately assume their finespun nacre, at a normal line to the screen, like dawn through a porthole. What that she could transubstantiate, to have and to hold…)

Let me restate it more clearly: the sexual union is rape’s incestuous brother—Cain and Abel.

The act of rape, in its most reduced form, takes, necessarily, two victims—the one who is raped, and the rapist, who is also raped: fierce and anti-social proclivities are submitted to in a manner that can only be described as sexual (Cybelian?).

The rapist, like the homosexual, does not choose.

Further still yet, the downiest caress is a welcome diversion to which the caressed one submits, but an awesome injunction for the subject, who is active only in the syntactical sense.

Consent to the sexual union is a myth of titanic proport. Original sin is hardly bestowed upon our bassinet, gently so as not to wake us, by a mother, eyes doughy with cardamon; nor firmly, by a domineering father; rather it is act of penetration pure and simple, the direct geometrical converse to the umbilical cord.

She…she is beautiful. I would in all likelihood rape her, if push came to rape. If I were to rape anyone. Of course, I wouldn’t, but were I to, she would submit with fear; she would have to. Her eyes would grow big, then dead. Lies would get caught in her throat. I’d watch as her tendons and muscle slowly dissolve into soft, billowy fat and she’d blow spit at disavowed ivory tresses. I could read the hate on her cheek and her big toe…a thousand smiles, maybe more, stare up at me as if in terror. I bang, bang her head against a cinderblock wall and chalk mingles with the pemmican sultry in the naked, overcast sun, her vitreous bodies collapse out of distended and epactalized sockets…she licks up rot and murine subway grout and feeds it to me like a baby bird…Mama…supplementary brown skin rendered distorted in its bagging and collection and sutured and soldered to the walls of the rectum, sour, smacks of chalky earth, healthy, organic…the tears are coming like gangbusters now…her father looks on with abandon…

Beauty is the seat of a hardly bearable terror. It is only this and this alone…it is holy—to every holy and aweful degree…is she, she who is beautiful, aware of the ramifications of beauty—of posting pictures of her beauty on Instagram? Verily as you sit here today, peal it to your mind and keep it stapled there: lust is a plague.

Now, excuse me while I lance my bubo.