I remember the day I got discharged from the army: it was late in May, I was on a train that carried me from a small provincial town back to Leningrad. The two seemingly endless years of service had ended and the future now seemed like one endless summer.
Notes on Seroconversion
Then & only then was it made clear: I was to be no different than the rest stepping out to toke menthols at the curb, standing tall & slack-jawed as we joked about our aging forms—this fresh stretch mark, that odd crash course—did you know there was more than one way to snake a drain? to sump a pump? to earn one’s crust?—eventually snuffing the butts to reenter the song & hall with an edged finesse, as seen in certain sub-sects of eels—the swarm of us, looking just as lithe & cosmopolitan beneath the stroboscopic lights; fueled by syrup & ice & salt on the rim & in these stolen seconds, when the self-loathing lowers its pitch, who wouldn’t be convinced they could exist: bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, not subject to bad trips or high rent or low T cell counts or tear gas or squalor— who wouldn’t be convinced, utterly convinced, to live might always feel
Because what isn’t
Fed back? A time and place
For everything, my mother said,
But everything is A time, a place,
If you know to trace.
I carry my own face
And my mother’s,
And my father’s
Graceless shape; Both are overlaid.
A boy, I tried to rail against
The sect of men Who pick up rage but fell
Among the ranks anyway.
A boy, I was made
Effective in a lowly way, a ditch
In which this country’s scat
When you’ve seen the image
Become word, the word
Become image again, “In the beginning” seems A useless trope.
Don’t speak to me of ends.
I’ve seen the legislated ditch
In which you’ve dropped
The dispossessed and young, hoping
We’d choke on our own
Mass. Why would you think that
Would last? Grown, we’ve come
Into our own, we’ve seen it all
Must be overthrown—
We, the people, the rank, the poor Muscled things
The ditch spits back.
“My idea of abstraction is white lightning”
Halfway between Gonyon and Ophelia imminent splendor. It doesn’t matter what I don’t know.
Clouds creating a blue fissure in the sky, whose grammar whose sadness hurries forth?
I want to speak to order: soybeans, corn, wheat rows browned to torpor.
Mercy. Protozoan, water-shorn, hotly I listen in the pines for my green name. Whoever can
stop reasoning, stop. Is it too much to ask tobe remade I who’ve just begun?
Adagio of light, copper-hued diadem
hanging on twilight’s hem, Virginia sun— I’m yet released from the
sharp language of being: make me anotherby morning lest I stay
in this vestibule wholly unmade
W 177th & Broadway
All night you eyed the man I wanted to be;
my jaw flexed tight. Anger slipped into
desire. Easily he would rise. Easily you would
disperse, pleasure made into light:
what you want under him,
I put on to amuse— I, your worked
supplicant. Yes, love is looking away.
My desire greened in your dismissal. Was
technicolor and twilight-made and never
turning off. The city air hung humid
above our charade. What need I could fill:
to transubstantiate, to unravel?