We were warned about spiders, and the occasional famine. We drove downtown to see our neighbors. None of them were home. We nestled in yards the municipality had created, reminisced about other, different places— but were they? Hadn’t we known it all before?
In vineyards where the bee’s hymn drowns the monotony, we slept for peace, joining in the great run. He came up to me. It was all as it had been, except for the weight of the present, that scuttled the pact we made with heaven. In truth there was no cause for rejoicing, nor need to turn around, either. We were lost just by standing, listening to the hum of wires overhead.
We mourned that meritocracy which, wildly vibrant, had kept food on the table and milk in the glass. In skid-row, slapdash style we walked back to the original rock crystal he had become, all concern, all fears for us. We went down gently to the bottom-most step. There you can grieve and breathe, rinse your possessions in the chilly spring. Only beware the bears and wolves that frequent it and the shadow that comes when you expect dawn.
Before dawn, on the street again, beneath sky that washes me with ice, smoke, metal. I don't want to think the bullet pierced my shoulder, the junkie's rotten teeth laughed, his yellow hair froze. I'm careful: 1 smoke Turkish tobacco cigarette butts, 1 drink a lot to piss a lot, I fry the pig in its own fat, eat the knuckles, brain, and stomach; I don't eat the eyes! Always four smokestacks burning bones, somewhere tears that won't stop, everywhere blood becomes flesh that wants to say something. It's not me shouting at no one in Cadillac Square: it's God roaring inside me, afraid to be alone.
I did once. One of them, in his car. Before I knew better, so before I could write ACAB in snow on the hood of a parked cruiser. OK so we didn’t fuck, not really, but we came. He shot like a water cannon. He looked like a cop: square -jawed, soft -bellied. He was a state trooper, some -body’s husband. OK it was his wife’s car. It was the year before the year of all the shootings, so a year of shootings I just didn’t hear about. OK so I should have known better, he was married, that was the draw, not the cop thing but maybe I’m lying to myself. Every faggot adores a fascist etc. OK so it was Dana who wrote ACAB on the cruiser, in the snow. OK so he still texts me. Once a week, more. Haven’t seen him in four years, still the one-way chain of hey hi hello yo —OK so yes a few times he’s caught me cock-handed and I’ve sent a pic. He wants to know when we can meet again but the answer is never or, after abolition. And even then. I know a woman, a friend of a friend, who dates a cop and she doms him, puts her hand in him and calls it subversion. We judge her for it, for the dating not the fisting but what does he give up, when he lets his hands be the state’s hands. What did I when I let them touch me and got off.
I’ll never be beautiful the way certain men are beautiful: the tall boy at the protest everyone wants a picture of, who is the tall boy in all the pictures later. But I prefer imperfect men: short like me, or big-toothed, with a belly. Having sex with too beautiful a man makes me crazier than I am already when I make myself ugly willing otherwise: nails at my skin till it’s ruined, a field picked of its flowers. Not the least beautiful thing. But to say I’m more beautiful than some would be proving something, which the beautiful people I speak of never do. They are their own evidence. In college, I used to talk about beauty in therapy in terms of Occupy Wall Street, as an inequality: there was the 1 percent and there was the rest of us. Beauty was easy the way money was: not, and somehow all the more difficult for my relative beauty and relative wealth. I was stupid in college. What I saw at Zuccotti were people sure of their own importance, which they were, sure, but—they were important. Now I don’t go to the protest to feel beautiful, I go because putting my body there— even if I suspect my body there is unimportant— feels more correct than the alternative. More right. Not right dancing the other night, with the mustachioed man hard in hand already when he turned me around and I knew he wanted to fuck me, which ruined it, the idea alone. I’ll never be beautiful the way certain women are: my friends, and women I see on the train on their way somewhere, women who might take a man when they want, women who can. I could have been a good woman if I could have been a girl. But then beauty might have been a bigger problem, as men make it for women, unless still I’d have been better at it, performed better under that set of expectations. I’ll never be a good man. I’ll never be as beautiful as the Corpse Flower even, the one in bloom in the Bronx people flock to take pictures of— I’m one of them, though I am not one-half of one of the beautiful straight couples or one of the beautiful age-appropriate gay couples or the beautiful young lesbian couple who are never not holding hands. I’m not there alone, to be fair. I’m with a man who loves me —but not how I want it, not the never-not-holding-hands way— a man whose most beautiful years are behind him. His Most Beautiful was more than mine, which might also be behind me, though what is behind me is of no use to anyone, though men like to touch it and tell me what a shame it is not to be able to get in. If just one thing about me I will not change were different—taller, more man, more woman, a bottom— my body could be beautiful, I think, as a painter stands before their work searching for the source of their dissatisfaction. I know better than to believe fixing my face would fix anything else, but— Let me return to the analogy of money: it never belongs to you, so there’s solace in spending it, as my sadness might be softened looking down at my long, long legs.
A lake of pain, an absence Leading to a flowering sea? Give it a quarter-turn And watch the centuries begin to collapse Through each other, like floors in a burning building, Until we get to this afternoon:
Those delicious few words spread around like jam Don't matter, nor does the shadow. We have lived blasphemously in history And nothing has hurt us or can. But beware of the monstrous tenderness, for out of it The same blunt archives loom. Facts seize hold of the web And leave it ash. Still, it is the personal, Interior life that gives us something to think about. The rest is only drama.
Meanwhile the combinations of every extendable circumstance In our lives continue to blow against it like new leaves At the edge of a forest a battle rages in and out of For a whole day. It's not the background, we're the background, On the outside looking out. The surprises history has For us are nothing compared to the shock we get From each other, though time still wears The colors of meanness and melancholy, and the general life Is still many sizes too big, yet Has style, woven of things that never happened With those that did, so that a mood survives Where life and death never could. Make it sweet again!