from NER 36.2 (2015)
Amazing to feed misery like this, and so
Selfish: sitting there, in a crowded park,
A book on his lap the ghost of the book
He wishes he’d written. Amazing—
How in all that bright, cheap air he could cut
Again and again with that one
Serrated blade that reddened
As it healed him. The West
Indian woman throwing a sideways faggot
At him, throwing at least what his ear
Shaped into a faggot, was a tooth of it,
As if she could taste,
Could literally smell in his crawling sweat
The name of the man that
Passion ironed him to. But passion doesn’t mean
Intimacy, does it? Never did.
He is so human, this fiend so in need
Of charity that here, finally, is the part you’ve
Waited for: when I lean out
From this page I’m writing on—or up,
Instead, from the book—to kiss him:
Two tongues cradled in a pathetic speech,
Remember when I was a boy, and did not yet know
Myself. Was I really, then, a boy—?
I might have been a blade of the grass I rolled in, itching,
I was outside the knowledge
I needed to know myself, know anyone.
That was happiness.