A LIFE

Sad from birth, made for suffering,

For flesh and mouths yearning for fire,

But no ever-present sense of sin for

He who's already lived it, knows hell

Where no love is and called it home.

And everyone knows my life, my loves,

Where I've spent my nights, in whose arms

And why-everyone knows whom I've fathered

And how, and what has become of them and

Why, everyone knows what I've done and

Haven't done and everyone has reasons to

Explain it, stories to define it, psychopathologies.

Everyone knows but no one imagines what those nights

Have been-nights when nothing but she before me,

Slender, pale as a virgin bride, glowing, naked,

My lips on her in moments which would be broken

By anything stronger than a kiss.

                              	  Or nights when her body

Unfolded, limb by limb, beside me, beneath me, above me,

Unbelievable-to have her feel my heart beat inside her chest,

To feel me within her, trembling in her arms.

No one knows but we know, we who were there and

Reached for it when our fingers and skin healed

Us and for a moment felt less confused, felt our

Bodies take shape pressed against the other,

Defined our boundaries with each others' fingers and

Found rest there.

                    That I did not choose this but my heart is

So and has done and cannot be abandoned but drives

Me and lays me down as best I can, to accept and

Move it forward as best I can, white-bellied,

Beautiful in what I've done and haven't done.

And all who rise before me proudly engendering

Imaginary worlds of moral indignation of their

Own creation, who dare to speak of how it should

Be or was or how they've lived their lives as other,

While I and all who touch me are blameless in our

Intuition of what's at stake to be here at all-lonely

With all I've loved or those who've loved me,

Refusing to reject the flesh but to rise above it, use it,

Move it closer as I bless the body I inhabit, blend it

With hers, bless the bodies I have touched and will touch

And will touch again when you have all gone home,

Humbled by what her body has done, what it offers

Me, and one day will again-to bridge the distance

Between us, to warm and welcome me inside her,

To move with her as if we knew what we were doing

But only the body leading us where we belong,

Knowing more than we know or you know for I know

This and them, what will or can or has been done and

Will be done again.

                      And that I will be ready when

She arrives with her exquisite slowness and silence,

To hold her body as she lowers it to the floor, as she

Enters it, inhabits it, as she rises into the skin of her own

Body and warms in it and I warm in her reflected beauty,

For no one knows what can be done or has been done or will be done

When she is warm and open and lifts her arms on either side of mine.

                                 June 18, 1997

Dear S:

Tonight I went to her reading. She had a heavily featured
face and gigantic endless vacant insect eyes and a curling
skirt which fluttered at her feet and she was tiny and
breasted with tangled curly hair messily pulled away from
her face, exposing her ears in a certain dramatic focus to
suggest an ocelot or lynx. She had slender silver earrings
which hung in her hair like filaments of glass and she
wore embroidered Oriental slippers. Her metallic blouse
shimmered when she bent over. At Tom's Tavern afterwards
Sue leaned over and held my wrist. "Are you okay?" I was
staring out the window at couples walking side-by-side up
the Pearl Street Mall. She watched me walk back to my car,
arms swinging from the fists in my jacket, and followed me
up the street, she and the reader, whom she barely knew.
The night of the Joyce festival a woman came up to me in
tears while Joe was reading because he was reading the
section she'd practiced for over a month. At the Ginsberg
Memorial I turned around and saw an old friend and said
instinctively, "You look beautiful." When I got home I
wrote a letter which I thought was intense but she thought
was angry and called the next day in tears... as if her
life wasn't difficult enough.

Why am I writing all of this to you? Because I got your
card today and this is what happened and it's very much on
my mind. But that's not why I'm writing. I'm writing
because of a character in a movie--a 30-year-old falls in
love with a woman because she was the smartest person in
the movie. At one point she broke up with her boyfriend
and told this new guy she had a new boyfriend-- him.
"But," he said, "you're only thirteen." "Yeah," she said,
"It's a tragedy of Elizabethan proportions."

I know I must have somehow earned my reputation but I
really believe it's misinformed. As long as you're honest
with everyone involved, people are grown-up enough to make
decisions about what's best for them. My desire and my
nature are for a single relationship but they're hard to
find. Once you've really loved someone it opens a hole in
you which will never be filled by anything less. But that
doesn't mean you stop living when they're no longer
around. As Bess says in "Breaking the Waves," "Everybody's
good at something. I've always been stupid. But I'm good
at this."

So believe what you like but in my life it seems that the
evils people see are the evils they project onto situations
they don't really understand.

Or as the French proverb goes, "To understand everything
is to forgive everything." Or as Lou Reed is singing on my
phonograph, "... some people they go out dancing,
and other people got to work, and there's even
some evil mothers who tell you everything is just dirt --
that women never really faint and villains always blink
their eyes, and that children are the only ones who blush,
and that life is just to die. But anyone with half a heart
wouldn't turn around and break it. And anyone with half a
heart wouldn't turn around and hate it."