Gender & Sexuality

To Elsie

The pure products of America
go crazy —
mountain folk from Kentucky

or the ribbed north end of
with its isolate lakes and

valleys, its deaf-mutes, thieves
old names
and promiscuity between

devil-may-care men who have taken
to railroading
out of sheer lust of adventure —

and young slatterns, bathed
in filth
from Monday to Saturday

to be tricked out that night
with gauds
from imaginations which have no

For My Daughter

I love her fierceness when she fights me,
shouting "Not fair!" Her eyes slitting
like shutters in cities by the sea.
Her life is rife with bonfires — seen and unseen —
fires that burn through the turning years
bringing her to life again, and again, in a miracle of smoke.
This heat gives her a sense of forgiveness — or so I imagine —
she kisses my back, capriciously, when I scold her.
Maybe she recalls the scalpel by which she was born.
Easy, the mark of its slash in my skin.

[His mother stepped about her kitchen...]

His mother stepped about her kitchen, complaining in a low
all day his father sat stooped at a sewing machine.
When he went to high school Webber was in his class.
Webber lived in a neighborhood where the houses are set in
lawns with trees beside the gutters.
The boys who live there, after school, take their skates and
hockey sticks and play in the streets until nightfall.

Pretty Convincing

Talking to my friend Emily, whose drinking
patterns and extravagance of personal
feeling are a lot like mine, I’ m pretty
convinced when she explains the things we do
while drinking (a cocktail to celebrate the new
account turns into a party that lasts till 3
a. m. and a terrific hangover) indicate
a problem of a sort I’ d not considered.
I’ ve been worried about how I metabolize
the sauce for four years, since my second bout
of hepatitis, when I kissed all the girls
at Christmas dinner and turned bright yellow

Air and Angels

Twice or thrice had I lov'd thee,
Before I knew thy face or name;
So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame
Angels affect us oft, and worshipp'd be;
Still when, to where thou wert, I came,
Some lovely glorious nothing I did see.
But since my soul, whose child love is,
Takes limbs of flesh, and else could nothing do,
More subtle than the parent is
Love must not be, but take a body too;

An Anatomy of the World

When that rich soul which to her heaven is gone,
Whom all do celebrate, who know they have one
(For who is sure he hath a soul, unless
It see, and judge, and follow worthiness,
And by deeds praise it? He who doth not this,
May lodge an inmate soul, but 'tis not his)
When that queen ended here her progress time,
And, as t'her standing house, to heaven did climb,
Where loath to make the saints attend her long,
She's now a part both of the choir, and song;
This world, in that great earthquake languished;

Love's Alchemy

Some that have deeper digg'd love's mine than I,
Say, where his centric happiness doth lie;
I have lov'd, and got, and told,
But should I love, get, tell, till I were old,
I should not find that hidden mystery.
Oh, 'tis imposture all!
And as no chemic yet th'elixir got,
But glorifies his pregnant pot
If by the way to him befall
Some odoriferous thing, or medicinal,


We want pictures of everything
Below your waist, and we want
Pictures of your waist. We can't
Talk right now, but we will text you
Into coitus. All thumbs. All bi
Coastal and discreet and masculine
And muscular. No whites. Every
Body a top. We got a career
To think about. No face. We got
Kids to remember. No one over 29.
No one under 30. Our exes hurt us
Into hurting them. Disease free. No
Drugs. We like to get high with
The right person. You
Got a girl? Bring your boy.

An American Poem

I was born in Boston in
1949. I never wanted
this fact to be known, in
fact I’ ve spent the better
half of my adult life
trying to sweep my early
years under the carpet
and have a life that
was clearly just mine
and independent of
the historic fate of
my family. Can you
imagine what it was
like to be one of them,
to be built like them,
to talk like them
to have the benefits
of being born into such
a wealthy and powerful
American family. I went
to the best schools,