Schitzker

Schitzker came to visit me today with an old mutual friend — Australian Shepherd mix, long, silky brown fur, greying muzzle, gentle, sad eyes. He could tell I was sick, jumped right up on the bed, concerned, kisssed my nose in greeting, licked away my kneejerk tears at his open tenderness, then laid down beside me, gazing into my eyes in silence as I pet him, occasionally nuzzling against my touch or petting me gently back with his rough paws.

Schitzker doesn’t care where I’ve been, who I love, what I look like. It doesn’t matter to him how I got sick, whether I was pushed, fell or jumped. He doesn’t care what my disease means culturally, politically, how I’ve fought or for what causes. All he knows is I am as tired and needing of a friend as he is, and he is happy just to spend time visiting me in loving, open, empty silence.

Why can’t people be more like dogs?

“You and Me Both” (?)

Not a serious answer because I have none to give
Cliches are all I have to give myself because I don’t know love but from books and songs,
and I’ve always resented the lie I couldn’t ignore beneath it all
I can tell you what it is to be your own best breaker, but you already know that as well as me
Nine volumes of loss, grief, abuse, striving to fall, and I’m so glad for a glimmer of life and light
I completely miss you’re only doing like me, fakin’ til you’re makin’ it, but already given up on yourself again.

But the thing that rises up in me as I see myself in you and wish I had the magic words that would heal us both
Isn’t that love… for myself in you? For you in me? For all the others just like us because all I see is others just like us
who were too beautiful to suffer and die too young to be so old for as long as they can remember for a mother-fucking word game as old as history?!

I don’t know the answer except that I need to keep fighting or I will have nothing to offer anyone, especially not love.
He loved you. She loved me. But not more than they cherished their own brokenness, and not more than we cherish our own.

If there’s one thing I remember about my mother
it was her insistence that if she didn’t keep reminding us, we’d forget to breathe.
When I was three years old, she screeched this into my consciousness
that I was helpless and worthless without her.
And I was. I really was.
She’s been dead thirty years, and I have survived and taken care of myself the best I can,
except part of me still believes her, and tears me apart every single time
until my stronger lover is changing my diapers and we’re both despising each other for it.
The part I couldn’t bring myself to write, but there it is.
Thirty-eight year old infant who dreamed he was a soldier once, but what have I won
if not my own empowerment and survival.
He loves me when I’m strong, and he hates the weakness that’s killing me,
and that’s the closest to real love I’ve ever known.
And I feel the same way for you.

But my mother was right. I was born breech and blue, and thirty-eight years later I still need to learn to breathe on my own, and you reminded me as a way to remind yourself.

And if that’s a cliché, it’s all I’ve got right now, but I WILL get more.

Birthday

Dawn is sunset seen from around the bend
and both happen somewhere at every instant.

One solid year a stranger, his fingers slipped inside the emptiness
that had settled in between my ribs and the sharpened peaks of pelvis,
so I shriveled back to lose myself amid sweat-drenched bedclothes,
rising the next morning before he awoke, ashamed he’d see my failure,
then ran away to my graveyard refuge to hide inside chickenwire catacombs.

It’s not dying that scares me anymore.
It’s living.

If I let go the anger and pain that tie me to this lonely rock
what swaddling clothes will hold me together inside this barred tomb
that’s declared everyday Christmas for longer than I can remember?
If not my sworn and despised enemy, what is my father to me anymore?
If not for the nagging hip ache, how does my mother still hurt me?

But every day is Christmas, as every conscious instant a rebirth,
and this hill has always been more charnel ground than garden,
perched desolate as a dry skull above the city’s tarnished brass heart.

For sunset is dawn in every instant
and courage begins with an empty heart.

Lost Angels

He buried his own son in the riverbank.
I only know because Seth told me.
Thirteen years old, mother vanished.
Angel he called him, because he was,
tiny as the palm of his hand, squirming,
too young to cry, just mew piteously.
He cradled him against his naked heart,
zipping up his jacket to protect from cold,
and vowed the men in white coats would never steal
the only thing on earth that loved and needed him.
He had no way to care for an infant so small,
barely able to provide for himself except on his knees.
I don’t know how I know it, but I do –
he prayed that day,
prayed to a god he’d never believed in before or since
that by some sympathetic hormonal magic
his scarred and battered breasts might give milk.
But the only miracle born that evening stopped squirming
and mewing as he started off for the convenience store,
wondering if he had enough pocket change for formula, bottle, diapers.
He panicked, pressed lips in a first and last kiss to puff life,
two mangled fingers pressing in futility against a chest
thinner than they were, until passerby stares snapped him back
to a deeper panic that they would never believe someone like him
hadn’t smothered the infant just to be rid of him, so took off
blindly running back across the bridge towards home,
to kneel on the banks of the sacred muck and slush,
digging a grave with his own bare hands
as something shattered inside forever.
He knelt endless minutes trembling before unzipping himself
to lay the tiny bundle of his own flesh and dreams in the pit
and cover him over with blankets of wet silt.

He never told me about that day, or about the girl
who Seth claimed he never saw again.
But he still startles himself awake,
drenched in cold sweat and urine not his own,
to ask me before he’s quite awake if I hear a baby crying
before arising to wash us both and change the sheets,
cradling me against his still naked but unmiraculous heart
and murmuring comfort as he rocks us both back to sleep.

Sonnez les Matines

I remember the day I first looked in the mirror and saw your hollow eye sockets staring back at me, my own irises cast adrift and slightly crazed as yours had been the day you spoke your truth. The Dutch had come to interview a zombie, but in spite of spectral mien you were eloquent and coherent as you told of a lonely boy whose love refused to be constrained by the world so yearned to heaven because gods alone are free to joyous pleasure.

It’s easy to forget, staring across frigid aeons of emptiness, that each glittering, icy rhinestone set on that rich velvet blackness is in fact a vast ball of fire violently consuming itself on its way to extinction as it freely sheds its light and heat as the source of all life in the universe.

And he was there, too — hammered, beautiful, but already reduced to the dust of memory. Two boys caught together alone in desperation to have crossed the galaxies for the love that danced beyond twilight’s horizon yet remained unreachable just beneath their crushed fingers the whole time. Turns out gods are only as free as they can let themselves dream, and so turn back, craving to die shattered and romantic as men.

Can you believe it was already eight years then since my diagnosis? My god, we were both still children to be so old all the sudden. But I was still healthy and as beautiful as I’d ever be, and even though you looked like the ghost of my future, all I could see in you was a man courageous enough to be honest, and I hoped all the lost boys watching would find in you a beacon that they were not alone in the night.

How come I’m the only one who didn’t notice you were dying with the same breath? That somehow love and poison had become interchangeable for you? A few more years and it would be undeniable even for me, but by then Raul had disappeared himself, and I’d taken to compulsively throwing myself in Christian lion dens and calling it a living. By the time he returned and I woke up, my body had given up on me and there I was, staring into the haunting familiarity of my own wasted brokenness and remembering you. But by then you were well again and re-ascended, past finally buried, paradise reclaimed, healthy, strong. And in the light of your triumph against all odds, I rediscovered my own will to heal and to shine through the darkness.

So how come I open your page the other day to see you looking just as ghastly as I can’t help but be? How many more spins cross the dance floor do either of us have left, do you figure? We’re both too smart for this, and still just as beautiful and innocent as before they’d unilaterally declared us the fallen.

It’s up to us, my brother, to find the strength to disbelieve them.

Priorities

Paula recently replied to a really old (albeit popular) post I wrote about the first review of the film Little Ashes to have come out.

Conversations with Dalí were recorded on 1969 (not 1963), 6 years prior the death of Franco, at that time the regime was clearly weak. A world-famous artist ,as Dalí was, could have said he screwed Federico Gª Lorca without any consequences (for sure his words would had been censored), it is other story wether Dalí wanted to recognize it, if it did happen (there are only theories but no facts)…
You could compare Franco with the rest of fascists dictators, but it is really exaggerated the death toll rate 10 to 1 (Franco-Hitler)… I wonder which are your sources to mantain that statement. And homosexuality was sadly chased worldwide…
- cajones means drawers, I guess you meant ‘cojones’
- the name of the filmmaker was Buñuel, as you wrote with accents i guess your keyboard has the ‘ñ’

Let me first address the spelling issues: If you’d looked around at other articles I’d written on the topic, you’d notice that I typically spell Buñuel properly. Here, it was just a slip. As for cajones/cojones, I apologize. Spanish is not my first language, and testicles really hardly ever come up for me when I’m trying to write in it, believe it or not.

As for my sources for that statistic, I really don’t remember right now. At the time I was writing this, I was reading a lot of conflicting (no doubt partisan driven) stuff on the internet about all of this, and frankly, it’s hard to sort out.

Now, to the main point. The irony here is that on the imdb boards there is a girl insisting I’m not giving Dalí his fair due for courage by posting articles detailing the horrors homosexuals were subjected to under the Franco regime as a whole, and here you are insisting to the contrary over a mistake of three years. Honestly, whether the interview took place in 1963, 1969, 1940 really makes no difference to my perception of the politics at the time. Yes, I’ll admit I am completely ignorant along those lines. I wrote this article at a time when I was just starting to research for the series of articles I was writing for the Little Ashes Promo Blitz site, with zero prior background in Spanish history or politics, and such nuances I’m afraid are completely lost on me. My main motivation in posting what I did about that interview was just that at the time I was searching for some shred of evidence that Dalí wasn’t the utterly pathetic and reprehensible creature it sure as hell looked like he had become by the end of his life, and any hint that he was less than sincere in his support of fascist dictators and subversive on this particular point was welcome to me.

But here’s my big point in replying to you right now and at length. If you look around, you’ll notice for the last several months I’ve been writing poetry rather than these obsessive articles about politics and culture. Frankly, I’m burned out on both right now, and particularly burned out on Dalí, of whom I have never been a fan. Just what Lorca saw in the guy, I have no damn idea, and at this point, I don’t honestly care. I’m at a point in my life where my priorities are to get my long-abused body strong and healthy so I don’t wind-up dead in short order, and to be as creative as I can in the media that interest me, one of which happens to be poetry. So, if you find yourself getting worked up over what I had to say about Franco and Dalí back when I cared one way or the other, know that I really think there are more important things in the world than that right now, to say nothing of nit-picking a non-native speaker’s spelling mistakes.

Lost

Hello, Raul. I don’t know where I am,
Some abandoned subdivision.
How long have I been missing?
Feels like I’ve been circling for years
past the crumbling clay walls of the pit
that dreamed it would be a cellar someday,
tipping-toe through mass-migrations of gypsy caterpillars
like the lazy Jain I am without my broom.
Can you follow my voice through the cellphone?
Are we growing closer or drifting apart?
I left at dawn to exploit the night’s lingering coolness,
slender in my innocence as my inner radio screeched of doom –
Fat people destroying the planet! Whose bony fingers cleaner than mine?
Forcing my shoulders high above my perma-stoop,
alone I become the norm, the world proportioned to serve me.
I told you I don’t know where I am.
This wasn’t a maze when I walked in past the empty sales office,
a dozen and a half palace shells and room for ten times more,
But I am far from home, the trees are all wrong.
Where are my birch and maples, spruce, aspen?
The oaks here are spindly and draped with parasites,
strangled in mistletoe that passes for leaves, amid
wild shrubbery tangles where once were cotton fields.
The ghostly crack of the whip reminds what a slave I am
as my aching hip cries out for the mother torn from me.
I can still see her smile that one time.
She loved me, you know.
All mothers love their babies
even if they don’t dare show it.
How can I sit still and wait for you here?
If I let myself sleep, how will I ever awake?
I’m at least a thousand miles away from where I started.
Nothing solid and dependable as bedrock and erratics here,
eroding canyons of dirt the glaciers stole from my holy land,
stripped to bare rocky bones, its flesh settling along the Appalachee,
and not even the rivers here bother to move on from their source
like long scabs scratched open by God then filled with muddy tears
in a town where nobody told the slaves they were free to go.
Did I come here willingly, my love?
The worms ate my history along my breadcrumbs.
I’m afraid I’ll never see your face again, like the first time,
the dark wisdom of your eyes and silent, emphatic depths
wrapped in weather-worn leather, hands grafted to the axe.
You looked just like a rock star, except the wrong color,
and in that dissention I knew your loneliness equalled my own,
with all the thrusting mysteries of the cosmos culminating
in the tautness of your flexing thighs and bared golden chest.
So I followed you like a mangy afghan, convinced of your telepathy
when you commanded my submission with a glimmering glance.
It’s all a game, though, we both know that, your lash a prop
underscoring our sidewards perch on the same low rung,
both of us homeless foreigners in our own country.
I told you I can’t remember!
I only hear high school track-meet announcements
and all the times I threw myself down stairwells
to avoid the certain humiliation of gym class.
Exercise as punishment against my unworthy body.
Too big a sissy to follow power’s lure to Yale’s Calvary,
or maybe too much a man, but surely lost myself
inside too many books full of exit signs to think these mansions
could ever feel like more than a squat to me.
If you find me we can break-in through the basement like we used to,
tear down the panelling to build a fire and make love like boyscouts at camp.
Did I miss my turn again? That earthworm looks familiar,
still struggling its full-body workout crossing the sidewalk
in search of sex or food.
Come take me back to Blackie’s for hotdogs and beer!
I’ll stay on the line…

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