Gigolo Poems

Dancing partner, frivole,
Failed limericist, can be
Cute in three languages,
Seeks home for winter with
Attractive lady of
Means. Prefer applicant
Young enough improvise
Girlishness, old enough
Appreciate bargain,
Assured enough regard
Money unimportant
Except as membrane of
Grace. Should be capable
Sustaining tenderness
Past point aware faking.
Chance to live movie with
Experienced partner,
Show sore spots. Guarantee
No fumbled lines. Handsome,
Fun be with, don't eat much.
Sit cafe, write poems
All day till you need me.
Send recent photograph.

Oh, sorry, I didn't
Mean to eavesdrop.  I was
Listening to your voice.  You're
Right, it's rude to stare but
Then again we are none
of us invisible,
Are we—at least those of
Us who are visible.
You remind me of a
Character in one of
My novels. Well, no, the
Heroine.  It's the way
You look. Why do you feel
Cancelled by that?  It's you.
Your beauty expresses
You. You despair for those
With less to show, is that
It? But you can't not live.
Whether God made you this
Or you chose it we don't
Know but it mustn't scare
You. No, I don't think you
Should be any thinner.
Why don't we have dinner?

0 pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth.
Thy mistress bids me kneel and give thee tongue.
Her splayed thighs can't but emphasize her girth
But she's grown shameless now that she's not young.
Who knows to what effusions thou'lt give birth,
What shapes from nether regions be outwrung?
But I shall chew thee up for all I'm worth
Until she's sighed, protested, grunted, sung.

Confide in me.  I crouch here in this huddle,
A priest in consultation with his oracle.
Whisper something gassy, something subtle,
Beguile the time with figures metaphorical,
Say what we are, united in this cuddle—
Bee in flower?  Fisherman in coracle?
Snout awallow in thy slippery puddle?
Or part thy lips in prophesy historical,
Foretell the moment when her randy butt'll
Begin to tremble, buck and bounce, euphorical.

No, let that earthquake take me by surprise,
For in thy depths lies coiled the magic fact
That when thy mistress is reduced to cries
I'm filled with fire to join her in the act
And feel my weapon quick begin to rise—
Look ye then, what bloody man is that?
My sword unto its mark it fairly flies,
It hammers to the hilt thy gaping cat
And holds in there that thou mightst feel its size
Until I roll and lie beside her, flat.
No doubt I will again apologize
The next time I drop down to chew the fat.

Late afternoon at the cafe.
On the railing overhead
Fat gray pigeons,
Sidestepping nervously to emphasize their remarks,
While we sit in paralytic silence
Looking in different directions.
A splat on the table
Draws our gazes parallel
For perhaps the last time
At a gob of green and white swirl
As of unmixed paint,
Floral with impact
And already hardening into a symbol of our affair.
You lean faintly forward,
Raise as it were your lorgnette
And peer at it, dissatisfied.
The feathered whorl flutters
And recomposes itself
With the unmistakable levity of spring
While I settle back
Overcome by a splendid enervation,
Cross my legs at the ankles
And wait for the waiter
To come and scrape it off with a screwdriver.
But he is already hovering,
Waving the birds into flight
Before another anus can tremble,
Removing the mess with a single pass of his cloth
And replacing it with a Martini Rosso,
Which will have to do.

Six Exaltations

I don't know what it is to decide
But one day I looked at suicide
And didn't turn away.
Thought about it the rest of the day.
It had to do with being a poet.
For that I felt myself able to throw it away.

Not writing poems, as Eliot insisted,
But being a poet. I enlisted
To assume what I could of my proper height,
Shape wonder in my own person
And let words swirl and settle as they might
In the wake of my passing.

At first it was merely financial—
Poetry is not remunerative
And it sins against sense to write it—
But it was cumulative
And soon grew substantial,
I couldn't fight it.

Devising fictions,
Rejoicing in common convictions,
Surrounded by characters, I had tried
To be one of those voices
We live with; to join.
And methought Success was just going
To open her legs when I looked up and spied
Seductive Loneliness, and the choice was
And I was afraid
For the broke and lonely old man I'd be.
Was that cowardly?

As hard down the line as right now, and I knew it,
But I could do it,
And it lifted away
The burden of my ambition,
Found me happy in my usual condition,
Playing the writer and accepting aid
From women, and freed me for the nothing—
Airy, not existential nothing—
Of which poems are made,
The elevator floor falling away.

And aren't poems suicides,
Some of them? Don't they draw us from shore
Over depths we deplore?
Mood enhancers, most, but don't take
The whole bottle, you could wake
On the other side
Bereft of what you were before,
Or don't you think dreams
Can swamp us and sweep us
Away? Am I a man of extremes?

All right, isn't each birth a decision to die?
Don't they tell us the price at the door?
Isn't life a sea we try,
Risking the shark?
Do we over stop wanting more?
I had run all the numbers and here was I
Still aburst with myself, impatient
To break the egg and feel it all
Without contradiction. What is it, chemical?
Have I been flung down for a high spirit
Into a world and forced to endure it
To pay for my exaltation?
Good. I crouch in the dark
And take the lie of the possibilities.

And as for the living,
Are not women poems?
Must I not start anew,
Lose myself anew each time?
Don't they live to be seduced?
Aren't they as grateful for rhyme?
Certainly they're more forgiving.
And here was my proper metier only slightly traduced,
For a poet is one who can make you fall in love.

Sweet suicide! was my cry.
I lie here impaled on your money! I die!

—My personality
Dissolving agreeably
In their service. But perhaps
I had tricked me into yet sweeter lapse,
And my real desire,
To be, not a poet, but the dazzling fact
Worked around, reachieved,
The bare piece of world I beheld in the gaze of the buyer
And plunged after, suisexual, relieved
In the bought and rebought act,

And so swam to you, my true death
And best blunder,
Unaware even of holding my breath,
Of being under.
And now I find with welling wonder
What I had forgot—
Forgetting here is the without which not—
That love, though it is true poets have lied,
Is the best
And sweetest suicide,
And forgets the rest.


An afternoon party.
We are in the garden.
I am the only man,
The only guest undressed,
The only one standing.
Not a guest exactly.
A trellis arch above
Involves my arms and the
Hostess, seated, white gloved,
Handles me, light dappled
Atlas under the vault,
My hips David canted,
Not unpleased with myself.
Well dressed women in chairs
Sip tea cross legged and
Watch.  Milady's other
Hand, proprietary,
Moves behind and gentles,
Urges, mothers, tightens
My below, tenses out
My above.  Negligent
Underside caresses
Build me purple, leave me
Swaying, recollar me.
Mais, il veut pas venir?
Asks one, elbow on hem
on knee, saucer proffered
Peut etre, my mistress nods,
Vos souliers.  Cheek sucked smiles

And flutter of glances.
They put on sunglasses.
The challenger complies.
Down pointed embarassed
Bark bare toes pry, flick shoes,
Erase at each other's
Welts and curl from our gaze.
Shaded eyes.  She holds coy
While her feet behave.  I
Am stone beckoned to life,
The glove tracing marble
Details, the feet posing,
Mocking, condemning me
Under trembling trellis,
Samson stiff, to mercy.
First baby sighting aunts,
They sigh at waving drops,
Shore cast, hanging in strands.
The glove, dutiful, unstained,
Soothes the not entirely
Trustworthy animal
From accomplished distance.
Vous voudriez du the?

Another Garden

Another garden.
Mossy walls.
Insolent blare of cicadas.
Orange trees shade the table,
Common dishes crowded by wine glasses.
She ignores me blithely,
Chatters with her brother
Home on leave,
His girlfriend, his buddies.
Her father is from Crete,
There is some question of his shooting me,
But he is gone,
Pressed down by the afternoon heat
Into diplomatic sleep
And I am safe.
The serving man pushes more plates onto
The table and her mother's
Granny creased grin
Welcomes me.
I have become a fact
Here where soul
Smiles on soul
And cicadas drown thought,
I have wriggled in
Through her daughter's fissure
And yes,
This is how it's done.
I have no future but here.
She is,
I acknowledge,
My true wife.
Her tenderness breaks me open.
I should stay with her,
Protect her from myself,
Hand in my lap
She leans to them
Joining me to the mild communion.
But spring would only
Come round again
And I wouldn't be able
To stand it.
It's boring.
I will measure my decline against this.


0, God!
God, God, God
Who crouches above me,
I am the lamb between your paws,
Dandle me,
Turn me to your delight
For I am yours
And my submission excites me.
Fix me between your forelegs
As you move up to mount—
0 God!
I scream without voice as you enter!
To whom shall I appeal for mercy?
I bow my head
Only to bare my nape to your jaws,
God of my heart!
Though I see you not you fill me,
You approve me in ways I cannot know.
Accept this trembling sacrifice,
Lap sweat from such beauty as you find,
Batter me hollow,
Burst me with yourself,
Force your heat into me,
Gather me around your coming,
Incarnate in me,
Submit to me—
0!  Too brief!
Your agony is an alien thing,
Another rhythm.
You lie spent,
Panting on me
And I am grateful,
My God, I am grateful.
I'll have something to sell
When I can't get it up.

I Must Love You

So here you are
All ready for the beach,
But for the delta patch and string.
Your skin has seen the sun so much
It scarce betrays a gender,
Though still so strangely tender to the touch.
Youth's behind you far
And out of reach
But nothing here suggests
Much has been lost.
These legs were never interesting,
These feet that slender,
These thighs may have been muscular at best
But time has not imposed too great a cost.
You were always more or less grotesque.
And I must love you.

Your hair is coarse
And bottle tawny,
Your eyes, even at their softest, pop.
Your voice and accent, shrill and gay,
Make my heart stop.
And shameless you,
Your breasts are bare,
Stretchmarked as if more were there,
Webs behind where these potatoes are guyed
Or perhaps
Where your wings are appended,
Tummy suspended from fine wrinkling,
Rump scrawny
For hips so wide
But puckered with collapse,
Toes twisted to points
Huddled under horned joints
And you smell like an ashtray
When you haven't been drinking,
But I must love you.

And don't I?
God loves you
Who watches the progress of the ant;
Professional pride won't allow that I can't.
I mount you and hover,
Straight arm aloof,
Torso posed,
And grind,
Eyes glazed, inwardly closed,
Wondering I can seem a lover
Who give such proof
of rejection.
But you like the sky god ploy,
Occular ravishment makes you coy
And we both have my body in mind.
When your grip on yourself slips
And tightens on me
My arms give and I
Fall towards you, running
Under your rein,
Carrying you with me,
Careful of you.
It must be divine command that I love you,
There's nothing here to feign
And I learn again
As I bite your malodorous lips
To anticipate nothing.
There is no protection.

And I must love you,
So generous to my whoredom,
My fetish, so excited,
To want so to protect you from the mirror.
It is I who am invited,
Hurt by the hope in your eyes,
And I want it to be
More than a screen where I take place,
But you read in my embrace
The poem of my eventual
Betrayal of you
And the monster I am in my boredom,
And goggle back with good humor, your angel;
You are nothing if not robust
And you know the mirror lies.
Mine the confession, you the hearer,
My image caught
My need bought,
And love you though apparently I must,
As near as an employee
And no nearer.

Then run we hand in hand across the beach
And plunge into the sensual sea,
Float about
With our feet out,
From the clutch and grab of need.
Our arrangement has placed us
Where passion can't waste us,
Out of our mutual reach.
Protect me for the moment with your wealth,
Put up with my redemption
Of your toes.  Call my attentions
Compulsive, it's probably true.
Let's love a while at lower rate,
This likes me too.
Visit my heart like a Spartan, by stealth,
I can wait.

Putting Out the Garbage

Tortured by no vision,
Borne to occasional
Poise on booster rockets
Of whim and spring fever,
Soliciting impure
And unmotivated
Ecstasy, I said as
I sodomized her.  I
Am a beach, I always
Seem to be on a beach,
Vampire white and standing
outside myself, some drug
I must once have taken.
She had agreed to like
It asking only to
Be protected from such
Humiliation as
She associated
With her knowledge of my
Knowledge of her/its smell.
I have a mania
To articulate, to
Swim in language, I went
on, electrifying
My aggression, I want
Language to love me, I
Want the network of words
To be a caress that
Fits my skin, is my skin.
Oriental teachers
Turn it off, sit silent,
I soak myself but if
I'm not careful I can
Back somersault into
Schizophrenic trance, your
Velvet sack, drawstring tight
on my pestle all at
once unosmosed by the
Verbal membrane, a mere
Dissociated state
I do not penetrate,
My soul disappearing
Into itself, without
Referent, my body
Walking the earth puzzled,
Not quite forgetful, ape—
Aspirant, sitting in
Brightly lit bars as if
in the dark.  Her husband
Came over and said do
You know who I am?  I
Said I'm not all that sure
Who I am, I just go
on my intuitions.
A poet, she explained,
A sentiment I like
To encourage, puts them
At tax write off ease.  I,
Burning with charm, one of
Dante's damned, as helpless
Before it myself as
Perhaps he, protested,
The typist arranges
The lines, selects the rhymes
If any.  I don't leave
Many, or acknowledge
Her by name, but she loves
Me just the same.  We had
Entered the crackling calm
That precedes the punch.  I
Wasn't quite sure what he
Wanted, nor he.  Really?
He said suspiciously,
Paid up member of the
Vast underclass.  When I
Fart it's art I assured
Him.  While he ordered drinks
My eyes tit grabbed the dark
Lady of my sonnets,
Pale maiden of my quests,
And bullied the nipples.
It's an efficiency
Compulsion I told him,
Nothing else to be done
With it so I scrape it
Out into poems, like
Putting out the garbage.
Any money in it?
I abstracted myself
From her cleavage.  Your lives
I said clinking glasses
With them are so dreary
I don't know why you're not
Down on your knees puking.
That night I sat up with
One of those flashes and
She murmured what are you
Doing?  Recording my
Sins I told her leaning
Into the light without
Much interrupting my
Scratches.  She said Oh?  What
Do you call sin?  I said
An interesting passage.

Eat Me

Are you sure you want to do this?
I am going to hurt you,
You know that.
This will be good sex
But you have to be hurt.
To submit.
You know you deserve it.
You know you want it.
Don't worry,
No one is looking.
Get on the table.
The black padded table.
You are naked.
Your body is fat and blue veined,
Your cheeks stick to the leatherette,
Peel away damply
As you shift.
Don't be nervous.
Your smells are acceptable
To me
If not to you.
Your pride must be put aside.
I have no problem with your misshapenness.
Age and ugliness are poignant to me.
All I see is the desire.
You desire my hands.
You want my hands on you.
You do understand that for this therapy
I cannot touch you with rubber gloves.
I have to feel you craven and unworthy,
I have to feel you as you are,
You pathetic pig.
Your skin is so hopeful,
Really, I'm moved.
A tissue sample with dignity.
Can't you see how absurd that is?
Put aside the dignity,
It keeps getting in the way.
Rot, damn you!
Stink!  Be whole!
All right,
It's not as bad as all that.
The bad part's over.
Not the hard part but the bad part.
Breathe easily.
Feel my hands,
Breathe up against my hands,
My hands want to feel you
And you want my hands.
Your throat,
Your thighs,
Your stomach,
So fat,
But you're not that bad, really.
Believe my hands,
You're not all that bad.
You are
(Now, grasp this,
You are finally finding your place)
You are useful.
To yourself,
Do you understand?
You are useful to yourself.


Her eyes, when she appeared at last, were dark
And there were such symmetries in her face
I faltered, the effect not only stark
But public!—not at all as I'd imagined her.
I hardly dared approach I felt so floored.
With such exclusion who can bare to live?
Awareness of this seemed to me to flash in her,
And I bethought me how long I'd been bored
And what I liked to think I had to give.
How could she fall through my hole in the sieve
Unless the awful forces that had fashioned her
Were testing me with a mirage of grace?

My faith in life, however, was restored.
Her flame in fickle breeze inclined toward me.
Salacious self regard came off her only
When her thighs touched as she, curled on the bed,
Watched me undress, her look a boar that gored me.
She had stretchmarks too but beautifully placed
And nothing matched those, as then I told her,
Where her breasts weighed whitely from her shoulders.
Then—Holy Joy!—I melted into her
And she gave up till we commingled were
And lay mute hearted neath the falling star,
All wishes spent.  Mine, a love that owned me,
And like the sea she soaked into my soul.

But she was rich, and that had left its scar.
Her money was a sore and constant question
Infecting all her notions of her worth,
And festered doubt in all that I could say.
"And do you value happiness in love?
Because, my love, you're losing it," I said.
"Is this suspicion never going to end?"
She said, "Unless you make it go away."
Whereupon I made her this suggestion:
"Give it away.  If necessary burn it.
Find someone you can trust not to return it.
Use your connections, get a job in Rome
At the Library.  I'll do my work
There till it's time to eat and then we'll stroll
The city, sip wine and watch the light change,
See the undubbed films in Trastevere,
Eat pesto, live somewhere above the domes,
Swim at the lido, cultivate our friends
With Tuscan villas and love, be love,
And naked in the face thereof."
Whereat my lady smiled and shook her head.
"As visions go it may be cheap," I said,   
"But it's enough for us to live in, honey."
She said, "Can't we do that and keep the money?"

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