She learns

She learns to get them on the stage
when they’re needed
and the hell off of it when they’re not
“Live in the present,” says the sage
“The stage is always present”
Why sage?
Maybe I want to revel in hot visions
of future happiness,
as I luxuriate (just for today) in the many
melancholy losses of my past

Alex is not just gay, he’s really gay
He’s prissy gay, an actor sometimes
but most of the time a fastidious waiter with a dream
He’d put a kerchief on his placid gray tabby cat
and scoot around his living room pretending
the cat was Christopher Reeve in Superman
That was before poor Mr. Reeve broke his neck
in an abrupt, violent equestrian accident
It was funny— both homage and parody at once
before the man’s real tragedy made him stop

Sherry’s mean in a way most of us aren’t
“Hello, Mrs. Weinstein?” her mother phoned mine
Boy, that used to piss mom off
Sherry’s mom could never get it right
“It’s Weinberg, bitch,” but my mom wouldn’t
say that, “Weinberg, yes, this is Mrs.Weinberg” and to me
“Your girlfriend’s mom is a bit of an anti-Semite”
Sherry’s family would drink soda at dinner
but it wasn’t elegant to see the soda bottle on
the table, so they’d keep it on the floor

Sherry wanted them in bed ASAP, she said
She relished the advantage of that break in their defenses
but her male homosexual friends were immune,
she said, to her more toxic ways
She loves to stir up the yearning, the sweetness
life’s glorious and most stunning powers
We seek for our stubborn, our unique
that sharp line between our edgy and our nuts,
our revelatory and our ridiculous
“They just don’t care about fucking me”

So he told her that in order to gain his skills
she should read his last book on whatever it was
and pay careful, scrupulous attention to the
techniques employed in chapter 1, especially
The birds sing to each other loudest
when I walk away from the crowd
But she’s devoted to you and your marriage
“Yes, that’s what she says”
She only wants what’s best for you
“Yes, that’s what she says”

There’s a heaviness, a self-consciousness
that attends the work of the self-taught
His speech that day was abrasive,
hostile and full of clichés
It’s an honor system
You don’t pretend to see a bird
you didn’t see and no, no one can check
and you don’t have to prove a thing
I watched it all, he said, their suffering
and then I walked away

Just another whose DNA has disbursed
back to the ether, into the universe
15 years working there and she leaves
Grandma’s eyes light up, we tell ourselves,
as we sing “Happy birthday, Grandma, 91”
She then devours part of a piece of her birthday cake,
appropriately chocolate, with the help of
her friendly, caring healthcare aid
There’s a place between waking and sleep
I spin worlds in that place and I like it

An unobtrusive seer sees us, disguised,
his sliver of a camera unnoticed
Rebecca’s leaving; she goes home
across the oceans to Australia
“Good luck to you, Rebecca,
I hope you find what you want there
Good travels”
But I don’t say that
After the last of her lies
we leave it blank, she and I, silent




-July 18, 2015-