Tuesday, August 11, 1998


shake your hair back

tuck tufts behind your ear

don't let a smirk escape

your lips--that would be


closed like shutters,

empty and withdrawn

like a rabbit in hibernation.

you hide another smirk:

you are not thinking of the


why do you play?

I close my eyes and feel

the intensity of the emotion

as the waves of music

wash over me.

I close my eyes and

can still see you.



pursing your lips,

casting awkward glances

at the conductor,

nodding your head as you move,

shifting in your seat,

absently drawing on the chords.

all there before the darkness

of my eyes.

I open them, half expecting

to see you gone, but you are

still there and the chorus

continues, accelerating

ever upward, spiraling,

and you play.

when we talk and we

laugh, telling dirty jokes

and swapping tragedies--

why do I not see this part

of you? are you the artist,

or am I? I don't feel like one:

these misshapen words

all that I can conjure while

you produce worlds

from your magic pouch.

how odd that it should be

you... here, in this place.

these pews of wood and stone,

the crucifix above you, and

I sit at the back,

almost not a part of this place;

and you do not see me.

perhaps you do, now

letting your gaze wander

about the church,

perhaps you spot me.

what is that look in your eyes?

weariness? anger? discontent?

what is this? now your

head is bowed completely,

dull melancholy in eyes I

cannot see, but you soon begin.

closing my eyes, I am again


passion in the music, in the

unspoken words erupting forth

from the mouth of a great


somehow I do not know

if this place suits you. you

hide yourself well, tucked away

like your hair behind your ears.

you open your eyes

occasionally and let some

peer deep into your soul,

for a moment, before you blink

and the whirlpools drawing me inside

you are banished. you strike me as one hiding.

perhaps I would not have come,

but I told you that I would, and so I did.

I wonder if I shall go to speak with you

afterwards, or whether I will slip out the door,

unseen. there might be something poetic in it,

i'm not sure what. I don't know why I wouldn't,

but then, why would I?

odd. I feel as if I've been speaking to you,

saying all these things to you these last few moments.

but I haven't. Should I not show you this I'll have

spoken the words and you'll

not have heard them. It's all a continuum, you know,

all of it.

the music builds to a crescendo,

mounting and mounting,

piling note after note upon a great heap,

until it threatens to burst.

do you?

I didn't lock the door.

I don't now know why.

I was standing right there,

the door in my hand.

how easy it would it have been to reach

out and flip a switch?

perhaps the hand of God

prevented me.

perhaps if I had locked the door,

you would not have locked your keys


then would you have ever known

how lucky you had just been?

something would have happened

that you would never see.

Odd. All of it.

But so am I,

And you.


Language's mildew, the sweet oysters who foam

at the mouth,

rabid and discontent,


Love is leprosy, love is kind.

I hear the distant bleating of

the mollusks.

Angry bourbon, it assaults the drinker,

who, sitting in a bar next

to a pretty, unintelligent


whom he asks to leave with him.

she agrees, smiling at the bourbon

as they leave,

arm in arm.

Merciful murders, killed before they knew

they were evil.

Killed while still innocent,

mercifully denied the right

to sin; they die.

sweet mercy.

Drunken oysters go postal.

Bottles of bourbon are found next to the dead.

The police call them murders of passion.

The drinker calls them frightening.

The victims do not speak.

The oysters are too drunk to comment.


The lamplight.. it plays with your mind, dances from it's

post as it were some god, some shade or creature..

the whir of flies buzz in their dense swarm at the top

like a cloud, or plague, or fog. The insects dance with the

light; and the light casts scornful glances at the dark street,

painting billboards in the distance and benches, the ones

that might bear "wet paint" signs in humble scribble on

some piece of lost cardboard that would be slightly drenched

with rain that might hold that unholy acid, on the side of the

street. The lamplight, street lights, they play tricks with your

mind. You stand here, for hours on the street corner, your

overly made-up lips tugging on a cheap cigarette; your arms

wrapped tightly about you as you shiver in the cold. There

might be a moon, there might not.. you can never tell with the

glow of the light above you.. Light pollution, they call it.

But all the same, you can't see the stars from right here,

even without the light, the smog of this city would block them.

Sometimes I sit here, hugging the post as if it will hold me

back. Sometimes, I just hold the post, feeling the cold

distance of the metal as it rests against my body. Sometimes

it is comforting, the post is there: it is always cold and always

rough to the touch; but it is constant. Sometimes it is

terrifying.. as if I am afraid that it will become something that

it is not.. that one day it will change and become warm and

close, that it might hold me back. And that scares me.

But the light plays tricks on your eyes. You think you might

see a vagrant on the horizon, swaggering forward. Perhaps he

holds a bottle in his hand, you might be fairly sure that he is

drunk and know in the same moment that he will make his way

upward as if he were swimming and try to talk to you. You

aren't particularly afraid, but annoyed. Another lost drunk to deal

with. But then you blink, and he vanishes. And you realize he

was merely a wraith in the darkness, nothing real. And then you'll

turn your eyes downward, sometimes after it has just rained, and

there, in the street, will be a puddle where several drops of oil have

fallen. And a thousand different colors of red and blue and green in

distorted swirls that speak of people's lives stretched out and twisted

and yet strangely beautiful. They wrap about each other as you shift

your stance, almost writhing on the street. You can see fear and pain

and love and death in the people's eyes; you can see them looking

back at you. Staring up at you. They watch you. But you are not

paranoid, for they cannot harm you. And again you blink and they are

gone, except for a vague memory still resting like a single page atop

a desk of cluttered papers, where you can sometimes distinguish it

from the rest, but just barely. And then it is gone, and you've lost it.

But the light plays tricks. Sometimes they are beautiful.. other times

not. But it is still magic. At least to those who see it.

But we stand here, at least I do. Waiting. Watching. Staring

into the darkness, never saying much to each other. It would be

wrong to speak in these moments, with our thoughts to ourselves

we can be someplace else, perhaps with children and a house,

in a place where we can respect ourselves and not wake up feeling

dirty and shameful. Empty. These moments where we are each saints.

These are moments of hope. And the streetlight bears witness to

them all. And, like us, says nothing.

Then a car pulls up, the window rolls down and a bit of face

protrudes from inside. "How much?" a scruffy voice asks.

"Fifty dollars," I say.

He looks at me for a moment and says, "Get in."

And I take one last glance at the streetlight, close my eyes,

hold my breath, and step inside his car.