THE PORTRAIT OF HERACLES The last time I met Spence Was at one of Nina’s stately affairs, Amongst people leaning ‘gainst pockmarked walls In the style of a French Impressionist. He turned to me, and said offhandedly, “How long until one of them fucks it up?” Bearing, then, a vague resemblance To a portrait of Heracles. And I said With listless intonation, “All your life Unbridled and freewheeling… But for you To draw such a sharp divide, Between your past and the artist life….” And he replied, “For this you must barter— Just look at those men flailing round with bravado,” And I caught wind Of a mnemonic impression Of a man (still the portrait of Heracles), It was neither Saturated nor angular Anymore And I said, “Look out the window,” For the snow had started falling…. In that Egyptian boudoir We saw the sky in a side-view mirror; Saw that Spence—by then my foil and confidant— Was struck the same way as I was. We were ushering in January ’06 When I gave Nina the ransom bid, Said, “You know you’re twice as brilliant?” Knowing well that under Debussian skies Spence and I would brave that fire.
BLUE ILLUSTRATIONS Saul looked straight at the wall, Said, “I’m just not ready for love…. I’m just not ready for love.” And I said, “Is that a man, woman or a rock?” And he said it had the curvature of a rock, But that a lack of light served to obscure the stone. When we stepped out onto the street It was night-time and we Were enveloped by metropolitan energy; As we made our way from his apartment to Dawn He had a certain joie de vivre, A nullifying quality And the paling city was pretty much nebulous, As was Saul in lights dodging that streetcar As I rightly cursed the brevity of being free. Eu lembro-me claramente: Ele tinha um casaco de couro preto E um boné. Ele era o meu amigo mais próximo. Compreendes? Dawn would’ve seen it in me. Our very own Aphrodite! She’d say, “You look awfully flushed; Now, come over here and let me brush you up...” As I look back at that fleeting point in time When I gauged time as a form of currency, It strikes me that, for however long it took to travel, I had given myself up for the sake of Dawn.
THE KIND-HEARTED BETH VALENTINE Beth, shoot the gun Beth, shoot the gun Beth, shoot the gun Beth, shoot the gun The gun The gun The gun The gun The gun The gun Bill lay next to a pile of Friday clothes And a television set on the floor; Beth kneeled down and caressed his pallid face, She did not leave him a kiss: No, she went for the door with haste, Looking back at Bill only once. As she locked the door behind her She looked at the name on the door; She made a mental note whereby She paired the phonetics of Reid with misery. And she ran, In the direction of the knoll Offsetting the suburb’s grocery stores With nothing to show for but mounds of salt. As the sun was pressing It was clear to her, too: Beth Valentine Would be her name from then on, A kind-hearted girl— Saccharine knuckles, Coagulated blood.
SYD HALL OFF TO MONTREUX And as he Disappeared before her He seemed... rather... Crooked. Syd Hall took off to Montreux In 1992; He said, “My heart is simple, If fickle as the dunce.” “This heart!” he said. “Believe me… It will only deal in games of crass charades.” I said, “I’ll miss you, Fickle heart and all; So you tip the cap as if you Were a bachelor at odds.” And so it was, in hindsight, I played the game and lost— By God!
HOW COULD YOU NOT SEE THE LIGHT? Another, again… You see me lying down, But you don’t pick me up. You don’t say a thing. You hold my hand, but you Don’t pick me up... You don’t pick me up…. My friend, Why could I not see the light?
THE SILVER CHAIN Jim’s parting words Were Vee’s hex to him As the door closed, Rattling the metal cage; Lane, watching him Intently from Behind the cab window, Assumed as if water As Jim walked away…. The silver chain He had in his palm Was not as cold as that muscle, No, it was slightly hot, Hot to the touch, So when the car pulled over in the fusillade Lane repeated Vee’s name While he gathered the sovereigns. The wind carried down yesterday’s debris, Cans and newspapers Were lining the tawdry streets; He stood in front Of a four-story building That was covered in dust and graffiti. There, he saw the peaks Of the tower of kings, Saw the weighty pall in the periphery; Saw the grey overpass, Fiddlers and raconteurs, Tinted shapes of passing women. He could hear it then, From the far distance: Vee’s voice as it drew closer to him. But the silver chain That Jim had handed him Was now a totem in his hand— For it had turned into a writhing snake.
THE PHOTOGRAPHER We only met once But you saw right through me As if you’d known me for 15 odd years We were in your darkroom Where fractions of time had been frozen on slides Among plants and flowers That made homes for spiders You said my name in such a peculiar way As if you knew me And so you told me to Look into the camera And I saw inside that eye That we were trapped inside the contraption of life But despite that dire conception I had faith that you’d be fine. You said that whatever happens, At least we had this moment.
It was the day of Johnny's prediction. He called it BLACK SUN WAKE... You are the third And fifth— You once told me that As with slate, And all that I could see Was the blood splattered in front of me. And O my heart, it cried— It cried! the song of the late Bernadette; After all, you were the friend Who sang me her song…. John! You tell ‘em Johnny! You tell ‘em you’re a good man! You ward ‘em off!