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.