In the Sailors’ Laundromat

Was the leopard-skin leotard really worth

the twisted, battered toes,

plastered in Paris, breaking

down to piece and powder, blood

blistered and bone spurred thorn

of calcified remorse and disappointment?

Your own proscenium arch, your breached

monarchy perineum pushed you on

to toe the point and hit your mark below

the lights, while your cavalier set sail 

and left you in the company of bleeding

swans and stage-door Johnnies, peeping

in the green room, missing all

their cues, and never there

to catch you when you fall into

the pit, as neither ever now am I.

And so, before I wash my clothes

I have to smoke and watch a fight

and hear the music, dancing

in the mirrors, move the picture

on the bookcase to the wall above

the desk below the portrait of the sea.

Then leaving trysting sailors with my clothes,

I run upstairs, a hard-on coming, pull

the mirror off the door and lay it

on its side upon the chest I’d stolen

from my father’s younger sister, beside

the barren bed I’d stolen from my mother,

and see me in the middle of the mirror

smeared with mucus neither mine nor yours

and tend myself, transcend myself,

in visions of our love and thoughts of you:

not thoughts of wine and skyline

fogging window breath,

now stopped to hold the moment

and the words we both remember,

now panting to the next

in burning faith and disbelief;

not thoughts of what the world

in us would want, when

we had what the whole world wants,

now hidden from us by our fear;

not thoughts of railroad bridges

rising in the siren night,

now flashing with improbability

that we should be the chosen,

now feeling all is as it must be

for the sloop to tack the ebbing channel;

not thoughts of sand and salty

waves of cold and crashing

want of you defeating fear,

now flowing like the tide that we embraced.