You call to mind the Colossus of Rhodes:
Triumphant, naked, and free;
I roil beneath like waves at your feet,
Strong as the Aegean Sea.
Shivering, quaking, earth shunting aside,
You shudder and buck from bronze knees.
And loathe though I am to see you crumble,
I’m glad you collapse into me.
Arms outstretched in private places,
grasping for a friend, the searching
eye will diagnose the iconic lines
emblazoned on his breast, a symbology
that triggers this camaraderie of kin
otherwise abandoned thin in social
isolation. But here amongst the hive
where such subversive patterns grow,
the mirror still surprises him
with faces that he knows.
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You know, forget the nausea.
Forget those jittery,
over-caffeinated / under-rested
the detox sweat
that makes me
smell like a dying goat’s ass.
What kills me
is not knowing.
What to do,
what comes next,
where I’ll be tomorrow.
I miss the hangovers.
There, I said it.
I miss waking up with
that swaying headache, cloudy
with a chance of
puking in the shower.
Waking up sober
doesn’t compare to that first breath
when I leave the steamed up bathroom,
when I know everything’s out of my system.
The air tastes
that much cleaner
after I’ve put my liver
through the wringer.
I don’t like being hungover,
but it makes more sense than
the vague grogginess
I’m wading through right now.
An hour before dusk really set in, but twenty minutes after the sun had bowed behind the buildings for the day, James headed out to rehearsal. He waited for a string of six cars to roll by before he jogged across the street and down the dusty alley. The grit and crunch of the dirty pavement marked the time of each step. He had almost come out the other side when he realized that he had left his stupid bass at home again.
Turning to head back, he saw a group of five people had trailed him down the city canyon. They chatted with each other in well-projected Spanish, a multi-generational bunch, a family in practice if not necessarily blood. As James approached them, he wondered if they were out for a leisure stroll or moving with a purpose. People who say nobody walks in this town only know the people who don’t have to. Crossing next to them, he saw that one of the younger men, maybe in his early 20s, was wearing a dark shirt with a line drawing of Lord Edmund Blackadder on it. An Atkinson quote ran underneath it, but James would have had to gawk rudely to discern which one it was.
He kept his eye on the Latino man, hoping to catch his attention and give him a nod. He hoped that would do enough to convey his shared appreciation for classic British comedy. To clearly show that the advertising on his wardrobe had made a connection, had some resonance with someone else in the world.
The man never looked James’ way. The group walked on, still chatting and laughing, still making sure the young child didn’t run off too far. James thought about looking back to see if there was something on the back, but he thought that might be intrusive. He was halfway back up the swirling alley before the sound of their voices stopped echoing around behind him.
I wonder, now, if I wasn’t
fetishizing the people
with whom I celebrated
my impending nuptials.
I consider, now, how it
might have looked, this
drunk young woman
flashing her diamond
at the drag queens and
demanding their attention.
Be happy for me!
Because of the circumstances
of my birth this go around,
because I came into this
world squalling as you did,
red-faced as you did,
but heterosexual and
I get things that you don’t.
Now bring me up on that
stage and lip-sync
“MacArthur Park” to me
and CELEBRATE, as
my giggling companions
toss penis-shaped confetti
and down Godiva martinis.
I’m so sorry.
—the saying is, something like, if it was too difficult, if it shattered you, you would only do it once. never twice.
but we do it again and again like breath
that you cannot help but expel in order to take in more
(a mixed tape from some blue-eyed boy has in the lyrics of a track mid-way through “love is like oxygen”, dramatic and heavy, makes me blush; followed by Pulp singing “Common People”, because I’m not; followed by a track of his own voice recorded)
For some of us, falling is like living, inevitable and effortless.
My friend rolls her eyes and goes to her job but I’m saying: We—the people—
(I feel like a Founding Father) do not
know how to live right, straight up. Comb our hair. Set our teeth in line.
We too go to jobs and pay our bills and brush our teeth and say our prayers and the hearts we’ve broken bleed out all over town in rivers
It was never meant
—not even once. We were just taking in some air,
again-again-again, like that.
I have just eaten the plums that were just
in the icebox until I just ate them—
just the plums, not the off-season peaches
and nectarines we just bought from the stand
we just saw just recently on just our
last trip just up the highway just past the
mountains just beyond the county limits.
I just don’t understand how they can just
grow peaches just whenever they want like
they’re not just supposed to grow in summer
or just when they’re just in season and just
ready to be eaten just off the tree
like a mid afternoon snack that God just
made just for us just because he just did.