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 
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.

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.
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.

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:
Would be her name from then on,
A kind-hearted girl—
Saccharine knuckles, 
Coagulated blood.

And as he
Disappeared before her
He seemed... rather...

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!

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?


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.

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 


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.

O my heart, it cried—
It cried! the song of the late Bernadette;
After all, you were the friend
Who sang me her song….

You tell ‘em Johnny!
You tell ‘em you’re a good man!
You ward ‘em off!