Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cleaving / Heartache

Cleaving / Heartache


“The poet must die
several times in
order to be reborn”
—Jean Cocteau, Orphée

Pain is—my Boyfriend
Down into—the Subway
The dark Land of Dis—we go

I trade in—my Rolls Royce
Plus my American—Cadillac
Heurtebise—young chauffeur

Through the—Liquid Mirror
Down into—the Zone
I am Orphée—lost in Pain

Avant-garde—Rush Hour
Eurydice—New Yorker
Young Cegestius—Brooklyn


“And so it was that
eternity finally changed
him in himself”

Down here—in the Subway
Down here—in the Zone
Reading the—Fiction issue

Escorted by—young Thugs
Dressed in—Black Leather
Driving fast—BMW’s

Cocteau—turning me
Into La Belle et La Bête
It’s Time—to Transform

Altho—Time is a Lie
And Death—is always our
Guardian Angel—for Life

The poet’s—death is a
Ticket—in order to get
There—Chrysler Building


“The Tribunal is a Court
of the Underworld and the
judges play the role of
examining magistrates
at a trial—and much more
than that”—Jean Cocteau

Pain is—my Guide
Sorrow is—my Moon Walk
Thriller—my way out

Heurtebise—is my Guide
Heath Ledger—heartbroken
Standing by—the trailer window

River Phoenix—sullen Guide
Kneau Reeves—his Lover
Is this how—the Matrix works?

Sitting by a fire—at night
Sharing our—own Private Idaho
Is this how—Love disambiguates


“Short scene in
front of the mirror”
—Jean Cocteau, Orphee

Pain is—my Lord and Master
He drives hard—like Neil Cassady
On the Road—spectral Americana

Fear and Loathing—in Las Vegas
All the Lizards—in the Casino
The Liberace Museum—my Temple

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cleaving / Heartache

Cleaving / Heartache


“I am interested in tracing
the tension between the
fearless imagination and
the fearful self”
—Colin Tóibín, Love
in a Dark Time

Somewhere—over the Rainbow
There’s a—Huge Cleave
Between me—and myself

Most of the—Time
There’s a Gulf—between my
Imagination—and myself

Recently—after surgery
When my—worn-out heart
Got a new—heart valve

Like, well—that’s when
A different—kind of Cleave
Took over—my Imagination

My sternum—Cleaved like
A Lobster—my guts exposed

A mitral valve—replacement
Calcification—cleaned up
A valve job—a tune up

Then the Cleave—bleeding
Sewn up—leaving a
Long wound—to heal

A Cleave—all the way
From my—bellybutton
To my—Clavicle

That’s when—Yours
Truly—and my fearless
Imagination—became One


“Do you see with
different eyes yet?”
—Phuoc Tan Diep

Cleaving words—is easy
But stanzas—aren’t stitches
Closure—is cardiovascular

Cleaving words—is easy
Writing—myself deeper

Cleaving words—smoothly
After awhile—invisibility

Serial verse—smoothly
Writing backwards—like Spicer
It’s uncanny—like Dictation

Cleaving words—takes time
Sometimes it—makes sense


“What are your plans now that your
heart is mended, that the surgeons
have given you an extension of life?”
—Phuoc Tan Diep

Cleaving myself—into Future
There’s something—completely
Déjà vu—listen to your heart

Cleaving myself—forward
Feeling myself—split in Time
That’s when—it hurts

Cleaving myself—Breathing
One breath—after another
My lungs—are killing me

Cleaving myself—hurting
All I could do—was cry
Out for—more Hydrocod


“It dries you up
or makes you think
you are infallible
or your poetry
becomes puffed out
with self-esteem”
—Thom Gunn on
Allen Ginsberg, Love
in a Dark Time

It hurts—really bad
Every word—hurts

It’s a—silent scream
Deep—down inside
Where Pain—is real

It hurts—to Breathe
It hurts—to Move
It hurts—to Think


“Victor Hugo thought
himself superior to
both Jesus & Shakespeare.
It is a complication that
the imagination can do
without”—Thom Gunn,
Love in a Dark Time

Cleavage—makes one
Humble in the—face of
Fearful symmetry—Pain

Lying in bed—afterwards
Looking at—the ceiling
Feeling like—a red Lobster

How can I—ever again
Crack crab—eat shrimp
In Ivar’s—Clam House?


“If endlessness
offered itself to me
today I don’t think
I’d have done anything
Differently”—Mark Doty


A sense of—sad endings
Without—the usual closure
Haunted—by death

Then—emergency room
A week of—recovery

All three rooms—co-existing
Simultaneously—thru Night
Night of the Living Dead


“unimaginable phrase—
unerring Muse who
makes the casual
perfect”—Robert Lowell

Straight—as Boss Cupid
Shooting me—Valentino

Soon I—felt like
Writing unending—imperfect
Sequences—loose cleaves

Then—I did nothing
Eating sleeping—recuperating
Watching TV—cable

AMA about—cutting costs
Medicaid—then Medicare

And then—in the middle
Healthcare—Insurance crisis
Cleaving—America & me


“She shared with
Hemingway a fierce
simplicity, a way of
work in which the
emotion appears to
be hidden, to lurk
mysteriously between
words,”—Colin Tóibín

I wanted—to write
Cleaves—easy to
Read—and listen to

Put down—on the Page

Cleaves—with a tone
Of casual—disinterestedness
But it took—a long time


“And now—you’ve left
for good. You can’t
de-arrange—or re-arrange
—Elizabeth Bishop

Cleaves—are like Letters
Performances—bursts of
Energy—full of intimacy

An artform—in itself
Pure confession—quirky

I’m sorry—Bishop said
For people—who can’t
Write letters—to Others

I love—Letters because
They’re like—writing
Without really—doing it


“Discourse of sun
and moon / final
beginnings / behind
words / the illuminated
words”—Thom Gunn

More into—Cleaving

Like an—Angiogram
Squirting—Ink into Doppler
Kansas—Tornado sky

Like a—CapScan
A million—Cleaves

No—central myth
Like Larkin—Lowell

Does it—make sense?
Enmeshed—in time?


“In 1966, Bishop
taught in Seattle…”
—Colin Tóibín,
Love in a Dark Time

I like—to Remember
I had—27 happy years
With Francois—here

Mt. Rainier—summers

Blood—coursing thru me
Once again--Beating
This new—Repertoire

Cleavage—opening up
The Quotidian—New Reportage
All my Veins—and Arteries!!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gone with the Wind (2009)

Gone with the Wind (2009)

Scarlett: Vivien Leigh
Rhett Butler: Michael Jackson

Scarlett: I'm very drunk and I intend on getting still drunker before this evening's over.

Rhett Butler Jackson: Great balls of fire. Don't bother me anymore, and don't call me sugar.

Scarlett: Oh Rhett!!!! Let’s fuck, baby!!!

Rhett Butler Jackson: I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.

Scarlett: [pleads with Michael Jackson as he is about to leave to join the Confederate Army] Oh, Rhett! Please, don't go! You can't leave me! Please! I'll never forgive you!
Rhett Butler Jackson: I'm not asking you to forgive me. I'll never understand or forgive myself. And if a bullet gets me, so help me, I'll laugh at myself for being an idiot. There's one thing I do know... and that is that I love you, Scarlett. In spite of you and me and the whole silly world going to pieces around us, I love you. Because we're alike. Bad lots, both of us. Selfish and shrewd. But able to look things in the eyes as we call them by their right names.

Rhett Butler Jackson: [struggles] Don't hold me like that, Scarlett!!!!!!

Scarlett [holds him tighter] Rhett Butler Jackson!!! Look at me! I've loved you more than I've ever loved any man and I've waited for you longer than I've ever waited for any other man!!!!!!

Scarlett [kisses his penis]
Rhett Butler Jackson [turns her face away] Let me alone!!!!

Scarlett [forces him to look her in the eyes] Here's a daughter of the South who loves you, Michael. Wants to feel your arms around her, wants to carry the memory of your kisses when you go into battle with the damn Yankees. Never mind about loving me, Rhett Butler Jackson!!! Let me do you!!! Let me do you…just one more time!!!!

[Scarlett goes down on him]

Shopping at Costco with Hamlet

Shopping at Costco with Hamlet

To be or not to be—isn’t the question
It’s already too late—we’re already in hell
I woke up today—and realized I’m fucked
I was shopping in Costco—and couldn’t get out
The hair on the back of my neck—stood straight up
All the creeps in my life were there—shopping
Carts full of heart-ache—full of crummy bargains
I wanted to die—but there was no escape
Hell made consumption—completely mandatory
I wasn’t just dreaming—I didn’t have a choice
All the previous whips and scorns—of misfortune
They were nothing—compared with death’s dream
All the pangs of love I despised—were back again
The insolence of TPTB—getting even at last with me
The rulers of hell are patient—pride is their pudding
They’re patient with both believers—and infidels
After grinding and sweating—your weary life
Dreading something—worse than bankruptcy
Along comes Swine Flu—Global Thanatos Oink
Formaldyhide City—the Undiscovered Country
Where no shopper—returns to the parking lot
Once inside the Warehouse of Death—No Escape
Costco makes cowards of us all—puzzles the will
Honeycombed with side-rooms—full of Family
The worst ones—full of mother in laws bitching
All of them eating pizza—choking on hot-dogs
Over it all the sickly twilight—neon hue of death
An enterprise of great—Dantean pitch and moment
In this regard there’s—no turning away ever
It’s all meant to be—it’s waiting for you and me.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Notes on "Snarke"

Notes On "Snarke"
—for Susan Sontag

1. Snarke is a noun—a combination of "snide" and "remark." Sarcastic comment(s). Also snarky (adj.) and snarkily (adv.)—Urban Dictionary
“His commentary was rife with snark.” "Your boundless ineptitude is astounding," she snarkily declared. “Not to be snarky, but I don't see how what you're saying makes any sense.” "Oh, well, *that's* a good idea. How about we *all* follow *you* and jump off a cliff like lemmings?" she said snarkily.

2. Many things in this world are snarky; and many things, even if they’re not snarky yet, will be snarky soon.

3. One of these is the sensibility—unmistakably postmodern, a variant of camp sophistication but hardly identical with it—going by the cult name of "Snarke."

4. A sensibility is one of the hardest things to talk about; but there are special reasons why Snarke, in particular, should be discussed now.

5. What is Snarke?

6. Sometimes Snarke or Snarkism is basically defined as someone who is suffering from a bad case of snarkiness: “Woah, bitch, don’t give me none of that snarkism.”

7. Sometimes Snarke is defined as mode of masturbation—like “Snarkabratory.” Which is commenting on a topic, item or situation in a gratuitously snarky, scabrous semi-crapulous and puerile manner. Sometimes in a vain attempt to appear relevant to someone under-25. Usually associated with outpourings from semi-literate "urban kultcha kritic" magazine journo's: "MTV is the same age as Justin Timberlake. To progress from that in the usual snarkabratory way is to say TV producers have even less talent than an e-tard flamed on bang".

8. Sometimes Snarke is defined as “Snarkalicious”—a really good snide remark at someone like “Wow, that talk show host is really snarkalicious with Paris.” Or groovy in her own right, Snarkalicious is a person on a mission. “Your mission—cure all constipated children and giving shaving advice. You will leap tall buildings and shoot people down with the immense power of sarcasm.” Snarkalicious is a powerful entity; however, Snarkalicious (or Snarke abbreviated) can also be a gentle soul: “Groovy Snarkalicious Puget is sitting on his couch eating Cheetos and farting along with the Wiggles.”

9. Sometimes Snarke is something not to do as in “Snarkebait”—something which someone says is bait for a snarky response or lecture. “I wouldn't say that again. What you just said was pure snarkebait.”

10. Sometimes Snarke implies bigger Blogosphere boogers: like “Snarkefest” meaning feasting on the words or comments within a Blog by others in the Blogosphere such as when a news item or story, placed by another to snare another logger into smearing the discussed article as fallacious, and then attacking the Blogger as a liar.

11. A form of Snarke is “Snarkeblogging”—to write blog entries with a high level of snarke. Sometimes it can be considered mean, but snarkeblogging sometimes is funny, insightful and interesting. “Dude, I so snarkeblogged the Zuckerberg interview.” ”I cant believe that company thought that was a press release. I am going to snarkeblog this tomorrow.” ”Did you read that snarkeblog? They nailed Steve Jobs perfectly, and it was so funny.”

12. Sometimes Snarke can verge on “Snarkasm”—especially snide or belittling sarcasm, often directed at a person to their face. Alternately: Snarcasm. While the comment, about a third person, "Yeah, that's really going to work," is just conventional sarcasm, the same comment, directed at the person will exaggerated inflection, "Yeah, that's REALLY going to WORK," slips into snarkasm.

13. Snarke often shows up as “Snarkehole”—a snarky asshole; an annoying, sarcastic, self-superior, person. “I read about it from the snarkeholes at the Poetry Forum.”

14. Snarke has happened to me. Even I have been called a “Snarklette”—an attention whore who posts too many poems & postings. "Puget is such a freaking snarklette. No wonder everyone hates him and his toupee.”

15. In terms of the web there’s the “Snarkpit”—referring to possibly the greatest website ever made, for mappers and anyone else who bothers. "Did you see that new ultra leet feature of snarkpit.com the other day?"

16. Personally I prefer the word “Snarke” since the word is me: a witty mannerism, personality, or behavior that is a combination of sarcasm and cynicism. Usually accepted as a complimentary term. Snarke is sometimes mistaken for a snotty or arrogant attitude. “His snarky remarks had half the room on the floor laughing and the other half ready to walk out.”

Snarky T-Bird

Snarky T-Bird

My high heels—are shiny red

My boyfriend—is moody mauve

I drive a—retro T-bird and

My life—is snarky kewl

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (2009)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (2009)

The death of American icon Michael Jackson marks a decisive stage in the American Hollywood dream. Twentieth century film and literature up until now has been basically American Plantation Literature which resulted from changes that began in the Great Depression and continued up until now:

“As these changes played out they often took the shape of a larger clash between national democratic ideals, which emphasize the theoretical sameness of all citizens as citizens…”—Michael Bibler, Cotton’s Queer Relations: Same-Sex Intimacy and the Literature of the Southern Plantation, 1936-1968, “Nation and Plantation between Gone with Wind and Black Power: The Example of Ernest J. Gaine’s Of Love and Dust,” Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2009

The death of Michael Jackson focuses attention on the questions of sameness and difference in closet-plantation literature from the Thirties through the Twenty-First Century, reflecting and engaging the social, political and economic changes that transformed America during these years.

Although set at the end of the post-Civil War Era, Tennessee William’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955) is in many ways a rewriting of William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! (1936). The two Big Daddies (Thomas Sutpen and Big Daddy Pollitt) are wealthy Mississippi planters and both men are consumed with passing their estates smoothly to their sons, Henry and Brick.

But the problem is this: Henry and Brick’s latent homosexuality threatens to spoil their fathers’ designs by raising the strong possibility that these sons will become the last of their family lines. The two young men are each involved in a powerful love triangle—Henry with Bon and Judith in Absalom and Brick with his friend Skipper and his wife, Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

In both cases, this homoeroticism produces the notorious resistance to narrative closure for which these texts & movies are famous for.

This lack of closure is the American problem. What did Colonel Sutpen whisper in Henry’s ear to try to turn Henry away from Bon his half-brother and lover? Until finally the tragic end at the gate of the Sutpen Plantation at the end of the Civil War? What alienates Brick from Big Daddy and Maggie—who was this Skipper who dominated Brick’s life?

Most of us by now have read Faulkner’s novel and seen Tennessee William’s movie—so we know that there’s no single answer to the above question. There’s no single way of sharpening the narrative indeterminacy of white men, black men and the planter class in America today.

What I’m going to suggest is that Michael Jackson offers an alternate solution to this American tragedy by exploiting the crisis of inheritance that dominates Absalom, Absalom and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Jackson combines both Henry Sutpen and Brick as the new Plantation Son of the South—wealthy, talented, omni-sexual, Motown idol and American icon.

Pastiche, satire, fragments, collages, transgression, deconstruction—these are the methods we used in the Movie Club, Fiction and Poetry for exploring The Age of Mirth, "Delta Autumn," the Weimar Period, Magic Realism, Carol Ann Duffy, Sylvia Plath and other filmic-fictive representations of American Zeitgeist Lit.

The above methods I gradually embraced, extended and learned how to deploy by writing in the literary Blogosphere—as did nnyhav with his blog Stochastic Bookmark.


Although I tend to agree with the immanent snarkaeologist
Mahendra Singh whose insightful characterization of nnyhav as “occluded” and rather “high-flown” smacks of cheeky Snarkosphere dish


I nevertheless think nnyhav has always been in contact with Snarkology and Blogosphere Lit. In fact, I see nnyhav’s blog as a Rimbaud-esqe bateau ivre getting ready to pull ashore & begin the post-Ardennais adventure of taking Verlaine and Paris by storm. But I quibble…

Friday, June 26, 2009

Liz and Michael

Sunset Boulevard (2009)

Norma Desmond (Elizabeth Taylor) decides on another fabulous “comeback”—after the one with William Holden ended rather desperately in the pool. This time it’s a double-comeback with Michael Jackson as her kept man and young protégé. Just imagine the older film noir Fifties version of Sunset Boulevard (1950) jump-started 50 years into the future.

The result—a jaded somewhat decadent Sunset Boulevard musical with the usual tragic-comic equipage and dance numbers to back it up. Monkey-shines with dead monkeys in the old Mansion, a chorus-line of flouncey old has-been actresses ready for comeback fame and fortune and Michael Jackson redoing his "Thriller" album appearance as the dead kept gigolo lurching out of the pool. Talk about Hollywood campy nostalgia!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson

The Paris Spring of Mrs Wilde

The Paris Spring of Mrs Wilde


The café is a shadowed—world of vices
Where lonely men—slide their way on sidewalks

Passer-bys let themselves—be detoured
Ennui & boredom—draw them from the suburbs

Heads turn around—the night has its own ways
The café a shadowed world—full of smell & decay

A new face shows up—heads turn around like
Weathervanes—breeze of boss Cupid wings

Although seen—everything remains unseen
Names in the night—nameless young faces

I would’ve ended up—this way anyway
Minor bon vivant poet—an aging Parisian queen

Sooner or later—it happens to the best of us
Playwrights aren’t forever—neither are poets

The Age of Decadence—a queenly coffee klatch
Beardsley, Firbank and I—petals on a bough


This city—of trembling hands
This city—that never weeps a tear

Stairways rising up—from mists below
Stairways leading down—into the Seine

Love can be disgusting—laughter of hyenas
Gnawing memories—Verlaine’s broken heart

Immense beasts—palpitating darknesses
Gargoyles leaning down—ancient Roman dive

How did I end up here—under the wings of
Gaunt cathedrals—beneath a wolfish moon

Boys that I didn’t know—but understand now
Consuming rich divorcees—like myself

All of us—finding ourselves lost and found
Walled in by this night—of truant romances


“I is another”
—Arthur Rimbaud

Here I am—in the City of Light
Exiled into—French boyish arms

I should’ve—ditched London sooner
In Harris’ yacht—I was in harm’s way

My own bateau ivre—beached rudely
Just as you did—beautiful Ardennes boy

You reclaimed—the inside of a volcano
Simmering there—deep inside you

Your high-cheekbone face—fringed with
Frenchman green eyes—flower of youth

It was every man for himself—around you
Sinking ships going down—like Miss Titanic

Sinking deep—phosphorescent parlors
Visceral glowing fish—swimming deeper

Paris the Bright City—beneath the Sea
Jules Verne diving deep—deeper than me

Black Cat Café—your Left Bank home
Imagination—your voyant craft

Young Rimbaud— Ardennes idiot savant
Help me to recapture—my childhood at will

Stretching ropes—from steeple to steeple
Garlands from window—to window

Golden chains—from star to star
Illuminating the darkness—inside me

Leave me a jilted lover—if you wish
Like Verlaine in the gutter—stunned

But shoot me dead—with déjà vu
Beat me, bend me—into the Light

I prefer Light—to Literature now
The French language—Illuminations

Full of jetsam—rotting eroding Light
It’s my gay imagination—that needs you

Feasting with Panthers

Feasting with Panthers

“In this world—there are
only two tragedies—one is
not getting—what one wants
and the other—is getting it”
—Oscar Wilde

The Characters

Alfred Wood

I’m the Empire—at the end of a decadent age
Who cruises—short blond hustlers in London

While composing—lazy indolent love poems
In a style of gold—dancing on languorous pools

My solitary sick soul—dense with ennui
All my clothes—splattered with erotic shame

Without love—I’m feeble with sluggish desires
With love—my existence is surely doomed

My true will—the desire to feel you die a little
When you’re drunk—and laughing at me

When you get drunk—I eat and devour your
Every exultant inch—I’m on fire for you

Empty boy—my neglected pouty slave
Alone with you—an unnamable ennui pains me

Sidney Mayor

You contemplate—your young male beauty
Nude in front of the mirror—after making love

The wind weeps—the rain against my window
Next door a piano—sadly plays a ritornello

How sad life is—after making love
How slowly time flows by—when you leave

I yearn for your body—atom by atom
In the infinite screen—of lonely nothingness

Only a few have—deciphered our love
But is it really love—this thing between us?

You’re my type—you fit my melodramas
My vices, grieves—my melancholy sickness

And when you sip wine—and disrobe
You turn me into—a bright golden dandelion

Then London reclaims you—none of you remains
Except everything is down—loneliness continues

Charles Parker

Painted pretty boy—of Piccadilly Circus
Like some sharp knife of ice—deep in my heart

Black dark ice—turned to fire there shopping
With my wife Constance—at Swan & Edgar’s

It was like a day—by the ocean all alone
All you had to offer to nothingness—was yourself

What precious smirky smile—what a delectable smirk
No fortune teller—could tell me what I already knew

My anxious heart told me the truth—this was it
The young gutter rose—habitual truant love

Invisible Piccadilly—wrapped me up in transparency
Nobody knew I was drunk with love—except the boy

Freddy Atkins

But Freddy Atkins—I was deeply in love with you
Everybody knew it—didn’t you or did you forget?

One evening—I went cruising out in the night
I found you hustling—in a cathedral back alley

You were showing a little leg—as usual
Preferring rich cardinals & popes—to mere priests

Oh Johnny—you’d lose it so very innocently
As if you were still a virgin—in some convent school

No wonder the moon would pale—and swoon
You procession of tricks—made the city tremble

Did you find comfort—prostituting yourself?
Staining—the stained glass with obscene love?

How the broad onyx droned—in the darkness
Driving the flames of the tapers—toward you

They were drunk like the breezes—with you
Your smell and songs of virtue—and vice

Robbie Ross

Once upon a time—there was a Saint
His name was—Saint Robert of Phillimore

Every night—while the sky was jet black
He’d rise from his bed—and fall to his knees

He’d pray to God that he—of all his lowly Minions
Would cause the sun—to rise & brighten Earth

And always, when the sun rose—he’d kneel again
Young handsome—Robert of Phillimore

Thanking God—that this great Miracle had
Been vouchsafed—once again

Then, one night—Saint Robert overly wearied
By his vast number of—good deeds that day

Slept in so soundly—that having woke up
The next morning—grew troubled & grave

Because the sun—had already risen without him
And the Earth—was already bright and alive

So after a few moments—the flummoxed young
Saint Robert fell to his knees—and thanked God

Despite his all-too-human—neglectfulness
Saint Robert—had still caused the sun to rise!!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gay Marriage

Gay Marriage

you need to realize that your
marrying Earnest is of the
utmost importance to the
society upon which you reside
and your stature amongst the
elite within the backdrop of
our environment.”—Oscar Wilde
The Importance of Being Earnest

“Well, Bosie, would you like to get married?”

“Not in England, Oscar.”

“Where then, my dearest?”

“I was thinking of Monte Carlo.”

“Why Monte Carlo, honey?”

“Because, Oscar—it’s a gamble.”

“You mean risky?”

“Yes, you know—what would Parliament say?”

“So what, Bose? Theater critics have been worse.”

“And then there’s the Queen.”

“You mean your mother? C’mon now, Bosie. Queen Mothers are all the same. They’re discretely in love with all their minions—especially their cute siblings. And, my lovely Eternal Rose—you’re the bright shining decadent star of the New English evening.”

“And then, Oscar—there’s always my dearly beloved father. The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The Ogre Under the Bridge. The Queensbury Creep. Surely, he’ll do more than throw turnips on the stage during our honeymoon.”

“Actually, my delicate hyacinth imp, your father the Marquis of Queensbury—he’s rather “butch trade” if you ask me. Surely with all those rippling muscles and big hairy chest… that exquisite athletic built—surely he’s been propositioned in the gyms and bars? That pugnacious broken Boxer’s nose—I find it rather sexy, Bosie.”

“Oh, stop it, Oscar.”

“In fact, my dear, I bet your father was cute when he was young like you. After all, male beauty runs in English royal families.”

“Oscar, you devil you. I imagine you could charm a snake out of its skin. Even the Serpent of Eden.”

“Then believe in me, Bosie. Let my charm and golden tongue—calm your troubled waters, my little aristocratic honey-pie. It’ll all work out—just wait and see. I’ve been working on my new play...”

“But Oscar—you’re totally naïve. You live in a fantasy world of piquant witty Tea Room conversation. But the English are mean and primitive and cruel—like my father. They’d just as soon see your downfall—as camp melodrama like Lady Windermere’s Fan. They’re gauche and bored—like a gang of sharks. They’d just as soon eat the Aristocrats as devour you. The French and Italians are much more civilized and sophisticated. Let’s get the fuck out of here now in Harris’ yacht—while we still can.”

“But you haven’t answered my question, my dearest Adonis. Will you marry me—my cute Prince Charming? We’ll collaborate like Shakespeare and W.H. We’ll do fabulously—like Auden and Kallman.”

“You’re helpless, Oscar. We’d surely divorce soon.”

Oscar Wilde laughed—smoking his cigarette. The evening shadows—moving across the lawn. In his mind he was going thru some lines in his new play, Feasting with Panthers. All of his plays were pastiches—conversations with knowing young men.

“Besides, Oscar—surely I’d bankrupt you.”

À rebours américaine

À rebours américaine

“I write for myself—
and others”—Gertrude Stein,
The Making of Americans

I’m not like—Gertrude Stein
I write for myself—fuck the others

The Making of Gay Americans—much
Too long, my dears—may I suggest

“Lifting Belly”—with your cute lover
Mister Skein—or lovely Master Furr?

Then there’s always, of course—
Patriarchal poetry—big yawn amour

Altho things seem to be looking up—
Two Lesbos poet laureates—my dears!!!

Dykes on Bikes—Sapphic muses
So far—Carol Ann Duffy my fav

Thumbing thru—The World’s Wife
Chatting with—moody Miss Medusa

Schmoozing with—Lady Lazarus
“Miss Myth Reversals”—so very camp

All it takes is—a little gender-fuck
Plus Twanking your—Magic Twanger

It’s easy as—American Pie, honey
Slice it dice it—anyway you want to

No more crumbs—under the table
Rebours Américaine—psychic, baby!!!

Dorian Gray Flashback

Dorian Gray Flashback

“And I remember—
I could have rescued
that world…”
Wilde to Latourette,
—Edmond Wilson, Oscar Wilde

Describing Dorian—Richard Ellmann
Tells how Oscar Wilde—meets Louis Latourette
Coming out one night—of the bar Calisaya…

Wilde says—writers direct nature
“You see, my idea was right—art inspired
How I imagined Dorian—as a young man”

“He’d never have existed—if I hadn’t
Written about him—The Picture of him
I didn’t find—anywhere until afterwards

He showed Latourette—a photograph
A young Englishman—he’d met in Rome

“That’s the way—I’ll remember Dorian”

Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray

“from some programme
of the Psychical Society”
—Oscar Wilde

Octaves and sestets
Dorian began—to write de siecle
Pretending himself—beyond Wilde

Dorian—Mademoiselle Muse
Dripping and sugary—
Would she ever unripen?

Muse—“lavender on her wrist…”
Eternally adolescent—rather like
Young James Merrill—eye on Tarot

She began consulting—Madame Sosostris
Famed Euro-sophisticate—on darkness
Went for cute—“psychic callboys”

Young clairvoyants—showing a little leg
Second-rate fin blondes—male prostitutes
The Tarot knew all—much too much

Dorian Gray—no romantic moonlit foliage
No masquerades—pet monkeys no
drag queens—searing passionate femme fatales

''Jaysus christ—Write about queens”
Said Miss Firbank—“those in the face of
Heartless Indifference—turbulent mockery"

Like James Merrill’s boyfriend—''Heavenly colors
And swell fish!''—Auden’s ladylike gush with
Straight boyfriend’s terseness—symbolist pastiche

Monday, June 22, 2009

Channeling Dorian Gray

Channeling Dorian Gray

Chiaroscuro Lite—
Light and shade—
Nothing but light—
And shade—all the
Rest is literature

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Fag Who Wasn’t There

The Fag Who Wasn’t There

“I learnt the
Stations of
—Carol Anne Duffy
“Mrs. Lazarus,”
The World’s Wife

I look at—elderly lesbians
They’re usually not—blue-rinse queens

I look at—elderly gays
They’re not usually—tres gay

Especially—gay widows
And lesbian—widowers

Done in by—DOMA
Done in by—Proposition Hate

Done in by—the lucky 10,000
Who didn’t—register late

My lover died—before the List
Was even born—on the Books

Who advocates—us GLBT wrinklies?
Hardly AARP—or SSI, honey

Nothing’s—quite as lonely
As the fag—who wasn’t there

I should know—I was there then
I’m here now—tell me something new

Great Gay Expectations

Great Gay Expectations

“I saw the horror
on his face”
—Carol Anne Duffy
“Mrs. Lazarus,”
The World’s Wife

She’s not good—at debate
Even tho she—did get her
Ruby in her—debate pin
Way back—in high school

She’d much—rather kvetch
And schmooze—her way
Dishy like—Dido Merwin
Trashy like—Sylvia Plath

She was—so good at it
The best part of—Bitter Fame
All about Ariel—authoress
Her head—stuck in an oven

To tell the truth—my dear
She’s rather—transgressive
She prefers—Miss Havisham
With her—lovely sob story

Great Expectations—a Lie
Just ask—cute Pip
Estelle—such a downer
Love = Great Disappointments

Lucky—Miss Havisham
Better to be—stood up
Than end up—a widow
Like poor—Mrs. Lazarus

From the—stinky grave
Stench—of rotting husband
Moist—and rather mildewy

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Kissed Dorian Gray

I Kissed Dorian Gray
—for Katy Perry

I kissed Dorian—and I liked it
The taste of his—cherry lipstick
I kissed Dorian—just to try it
I hope Lord Henry—doesn’t mind it
It felt so wrong—it felt so right
Don't mean I'm—in love tonight
I kissed Dorian—and I liked it, I liked it
No I didn’t even—know his name
It doesn't matter—it’s just human nature
It's not what good guys do—I couldn’t help it
Down in that opium dive—in Whitechappel
I got tattooed by—a bunch of queens
My head got confused—I let them do me
I kissed Dorian—and I liked it, I liked it

Dorian was so magical—red lips so kissable
Hard to resist—so exquisitely touchable
Too good to deny—too bad to be innocent
He showed me his portrait—up in the attic
Then I understood—why he was so coy
He called it his—Black Cat Curse
Basil and Lord Henry—were up there too

I never planned it this way—I got so brave
Drink in hand—I lost my discretion
It's not what I'm used to—being a sailorboy
Just wanted to try him out—and get high
I was curious—he caught my attention
Now I’m here—posing in the portrait
With the other—Faustian fauxmosexuals



Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lord Henry / George Sanders

Lord Henry / George Sanders

“More clearly homoerotic—
is the competition of Basil
Hallward and Lord Henry
for the attentions of Dorian”
—Claude Summers, ”Oscar Wilde,”
The Gay and Lesbian Literary Heritage

It’s all—Lord Henry’s fault
I was in the garden—burying my face

in the great cool—lilac blossoms
feverishly drinking in—their perfume

it was the finest wine—intoxicating
Lord Henry like a snake—touched me

“You’re quite right—to do that”
he murmured to me—as I trembled

nothing can cure the soul—he said
my dear Dorian—beautiful boy

nothing but the senses—just as nothing
can cure the senses—but the soul

thus I ended up—a gothic novel
flawed & haunted—by ambivalence

I ended up—a tragic novelette
a text—divided against myself

I ended up—on the edge of an
exquisitely poignant—new Aesthetics

a modern—Pateresque epicureanism
both liberating—and self-realizing

harmonizing—my youth and spirit
a postmodern—nostalgic Hellenism

but instead—my gay imagination
floundered in—self-indulgence

caught between—two male lovers
Basil Hallward’s—idealized love

linked to a—long tradition of
platonized—Greek homosexuality

culminating in—his sinister portrait
awakening in me—my vanity

inspiring me to—diabolical abuse
of others—as well as myself

exploiting my poise—and youth
corrupting myself—with self-love

the object of Basil’s—Artful motives
curves, lines—subtle colors

Basil worshipped me—portrayed me
out of guilt & fear—as Eternal Youth

The Black Cat—wasn’t supernatural
actually just a mere—gothic plot device

Basil reshaped—whetting voyeuristically
Lord Henry’s infatuation—with me

stirring him from—his usual languor
rousing his cynical—disillusionment

his tendentious—misinterpretation
of Miss Pater—ironically suggesting

beyond my—supernatural bargain
with the devil—mere youthful beauty

the Faustian desires—of both Basil
and Lord Henry—to fuck me over

Opium Den

Opium Den

"Of all sweet passions
Shame is the loveliest.”
—Lord Alfred Douglas

Dorian Gray glided—along the quay
through the drizzling rain—toward the den

a dark house wedged in between—two gaunt
factories—with gaunt shuttered windows

a secret knock—then a shadowy figure
opened the door—and Dorian went in silently

without a word—or look at the squat figure
up a little staircase—through a ratty green

curtain swaying with the wind—from the street
then into a chamber—lit by flaring gas jets

distorting the reclining bodies—laying in weird
fantastic postures—on filthy mattresses with

gaping mouths—and empty staring eyes that
fascinated him—especially the young sailors

evil opium and—handsome stoned sailors
fascinated Dorian—teaching him the secrets

of a new forbidden joy—how much better off
they were than him—loaded and clueless

easily available—not troubled by anything
only wanting to escape—for a long lost weekend

until their ship sailed for—China again, plying the
lucrative opium trade—getting laid & tattooed

sailors often bore tattoos—as a mark of good luck
and as souvenirs of the places—they’d visited

usually the tattoo parlors—and opium dens were
under the same tattered roof—places he haunted

so that while the tattooist—and whores did their
thing—that’s when Dorian dressed in drag did

the tattooed young Neptunian—naughty sailors
who didn’t care who gave them—the oral pleasures

they needed after days and nights—of lonely Pacific
voyages dreaming of women—and smutty romance

in the darkness of the dens—there was no need of
shame—the spirit of the flesh even of crude sailors

had its own subtlety and charm—so that the look
on the portrait’s face grew more coarse—while

Dorian’s lips grew more comely—with each new
shipload of gorgeous young hunks—delighting

him so much that he was gone—for long weeks
down by the louche docks—languidly servicing

her Majesty’s—swooning youthful seamen
his meeting them—strangely moving Dorian

provoking him to wonder—if the ruin of their young lives was really—any different than his slow demise

for with these young stoned sailors—there was no infamy or insult—and for a few seconds he Dorian

was sad but then, after all—what did it matter to them since their days were so long onboard but

so brief ashore so that—the burden of another's errors was never on their shoulders—each man

lived his own life and—paid his own price for living it the only pity being—Dorian had to pay so often for

his single fault—indeed he had to pay over and over again—in his dealings with young men—decadent

destiny never closing its accounts—simply adding more ghastly decay and wrinkled putridity to the

portrait in the attic—up there behind the locked door
giving Dorian those moments—of complete freedom

moments, psychologists tell us—when the passion for sin—and for what the world calls forbidden sex

dominates a nature—so that every fiber of the body and every cell of the brain—seems seduced by those

very same instincts—and fearful impulses that
make killers murder and maim—addicted to the

love that dares not—speak its name except in dark
dirty opium dens—down my the Whitechapel docks

young sailors—and men who like young sailors
such moments cause—loss of freedom of the will

they move to their terrible end—as automatons move—choice taken from them and conscience

either killed, or, if it lives at all—lives but to give rebellion its fascination and disobedience its charm.

for all sins—as theologians grow weary of telling us are sins of disobedience—when that high spirit

that morning star of evil—falls from heaven, it’s into the arms of a greedy fag—like Dorian Gray

Callous vampire—concentrating with stained lips
hungry for young sailors—draining them dry

Dorian Gray hastened on—to the next opium den
quickening his step as he went—buying his way into

the inner sanctum—where Davy Jones’ locker
conceals the comely treasure—runny pearls and

onyx pubes—sparkling in the candlelight on sofas
pipes and hookahs—darting into dim archways

knowing all the short cuts to—ill-famed dives
up and down the docks—knowing when each ship

comes in delivering its cargo—cute seraphimyoung brutal boyz of the deep—done in nicely

Monday, June 8, 2009

Letter to Oscar Wilde

Letter to Oscar Wilde

“Then Oscar made—his escape
Onboard a yacht—Erith to Dieppe”
—Oscar Wilde Revisited

It seems to me—you had good advice to flee
the courts gave you a chance—to get out of the

country, the Marquis of Queensberry— and his
thug-detectives could have been given the slip

the estate and incomplete manuscripts, the house
the whole ball of wax—could have been done better

instead of the sham auction—of your books, mss,
furniture, belongings—all of that could

have been protected legally—or moved elsewhere
with some foresight—and the help of friends

But most important—you could have had an
honorable exile—a chance to kept your reputation

friends and connections—much better as a kosher
exile with some much needed funding—rather than

fallen disgraced broke—Sebastian Melmoth with
Bosie the Leach pulling you—down even further

so much for fickle public opinion—theater goers
came to your plays to be—entertained and dished

so that it was unwise—for you to throw your welfare
to the mercy of the very society—you’d satirized and

made fun of—perhaps a big mistake for an uppity
Irishman playwright—a writer in a Victorian fish tank

full of sharks and bottom fish—ahead of your time
the world loves a winner—skip Miss De Profundis

an earlier Parisian exile—would’ve been stylish
how many other exiled writers—James Joyce

Henry James—Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas
Ernest Hemingway—James Baldwin, Paul Bowles

the difference being—respected Exiles are quick
not Melmoth monsters—not ruined physically and

kicked dead by Reading—or made slowly mad by
St. Elizabeth’s—Miss Verlaine left in a daze

but hindsight rarely—conforms to the real
we may never know—why you didn’t escape

But what if you escaped—became Parisian literary
exile—gay provocateur for post-Victorian gay lib

all those shiploads of fags—fleeing Great Britain
for the City of Light—your homo Lost Generation

with its poverty, absinthe—hustling, ennui
and ultimately boredom—your creative spirit dead

instead growing and flourishing—bright Exile Lite
nascent GLBT literary movement—kick-started

the Plathian Arielesque—rebel paradigm
pushing queer lit and freedom—onto the stage

where you could make—things happen adroitly
edging decadence—into postmodern kitsch

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Night Life

Night Life

“Names are everything.
I never quarrel with actions.
My one quarrel is with words.”
—Oscar Wilde,
The Picture of Dorian Gray

The public-houses were always open—louche men
and women clustering—in broken groups by

dim doors—from some of the bars came the sound
of horrible laughter—in others, drunkards brawled

and screamed—sitting in the hansom with his hat
pulled over his forehead—Dorian Gray watched with

listless eyes the—sordid shame of the great city
coming to life again—the night of the living dead

a dog barked as they went by—and far away in
the darkness some—wandering sea-gull screamed

the horse stumbled in a rut—then swerved aside
and broke into a gallop—after some time they left

the clay road and rattled again over rough-paved
streets—most of the windows were dark

but now and then—fantastic shadows silhouetted
against lamplit windows—murderously grotesque

Dorian watched the city at night—totally bored by
people moving like—monstrous marionettes

but where were the puppeteers?—the ones that
pulled the strings—but even more dreadful

and horrible—what if there weren’t any? just
emptiness—no evil puppet-masters at all?

then as they turned a corner—a woman yelled
something at them—from a ghetto window

Dorian’s throat burned—as his delicate hands
wrung nervously together—on and on plodded the

hansom, going slower—it seemed to Dorian
thrusting up the trap—calling to the man to drive

faster—the hideous hunger for opium gnawing him
he could taste it—toking the long slim evil pipes

his lips burned—his twitching fingers snaking
in and out of each other—nervously anticipating

the road seemingly interminable—the streets like
black spider webs—strangling grey-flannel fists

then they passed by lonely brickfields—the fog
so thick it rang in his ears—making him feel sick

was it true that simply—plunging into the senses
could cure him—but innocent blood had been spilled

who would atone for that?—for there was no
atonement—forgiveness was impossible

forgetfulness was still possible—there were
opium dens where one—could forget things forever

and Dorian was determined to forget—to stamp
the world out to crush it as one—would crush an adder

that had stung him—like Lord Henry stinging him
with serpentine sullen words—what had he done?

who had made Dorian—the judge of his own soul
yes, that was the secret—he had to endure

the hideous craving for opium—wanting to forget
he could buy oblivion—in dens of horror where the

memory of his sins—could be destroyed by the
madness of even more—sullenly ancient sins

the moon hung low in the sky—like a yellow skull
from time to time—a huge misshapen cloud

stretched a long arm—over the evil lunar light
the gas-lamps growing dimmer—the streets more

narrow and gloomy—a ghostly steam rising from
the sleek black horse—splashing through the puddles

Dorian desultorily ogling—out the sidewindows of
the hansom—as a cold rain began to slant down harder

blurring the dim street-lamps—into London darkness
buildings looking ghastly—in the dripping mist

now and then repeating—to himself the words that
Lord Henry had said to him—that first day they met

"To cure the soul—by means of the senses
and the senses by means of—murdering the now”

To live this most terrible—of all man's appetites
quickening into force—each trembling nerve & fiber

ugliness that had once—been hateful to him
now making things more real—becoming dear to him

ugliness was the true reality—the coarse brawl
the loathsome den—the crude violence of queenly

decadence—the very vileness of thief and outcast
more vivid—their intense actuality of expression

beyond the gracious shapes of art—the dreamy
shadows of plays—the bleary-eyed Symbolistes

young foreign sailors—Greenwich in the evening
and the sullen hustlers—by the East End docks

they were what he needed—for forgetfulness
their moody gestures—sulky dangerous beauty

Dorian hated himself—a dull rage deep inside him
two thugs ran after the hansom—for a few blocks

the driver whipped at them—with his long whip
both had recognized—the wealthy stranger inside

it’s said that decadence—makes one think in a circle
an endless circle of heaven—and recurring hell

certainly plagued by these—hideous reiterations
Dorian Gray bit his lips—shaping and reshaping

those subtle words—said by Lord Henry that
the soul was nonsense—the ultimate fiction

that there was no way—to fully express such
an abyss of emptiness—decadence once realized

it was already too late for Dorian—he’d gone beyond
Lord Henry’s naïve dilettantism—beyond even Basil

it was Dorian who—willed his Evil Twin into existence
and it was Dorian—who’d done in this doppelganger

as if betrayal of oneself—was even an option
anymore—everybody betraying themselves daily

Evil as performance art—one’s Double required
Keep it closeted in the attic—that’s very wise

Give it a nice Stamp of—Good Housekeeping Approval
the kind that—did Sylvia Plath in

Pick your Double carefully—Bosie just won’t do
Neither will Chester Kallman—Rimbaud or Hughes

Dorian took his Double seriously—everything
else had become mere—selfish dilettantism

passionless without—any sense other than
pure unadulterated—doomed eternal hedonism

such jaded justification—dominated his temper
each sullen second—the web of his thoughts

the same sprawling spider—in the dismal night
where even opium eventually—becomes monotonous

decadently unbearable—as the mist thickens
one thought—desire for a new portrait

The Yellow Book

The Yellow Book

“his very eyes stopped reading,
and it seemed as if his mind,
gorged with literature and art
refused to absorb any more”
—Joris-Karl Huysmans,
Against Nature (A Rebours)

Dorian had known—this curious fancy
in the seventh chapter—Huysmans tells how

crowned with laurel—lest lightning might in a garden at Capri—reading the peacocks strutted round him

and the flute-player—mocking the swinger of the hero of the decadent novel—that with the young

green-shirted jockeys—in their stables had so influenced his life—had himself a jewel-frontleted

horse and like Domitian—had wandered through a corridor striking him—he’d said like Tiberius

haggard eyes for the—reflection of the shameful books of Elephantis—while sick dwarfs with ennui

and that terrible tedium vitae—that comes from burnt-out Caligula—having caroused and peered

through a clear emerald—supped in an ivory manger with or without in a litter—of pearls and purple

bedroom-eyes—and gilded marble mirrors
purple-velvet Pomegranates—in a House of Gold

daggers that used to end plays—as he passed by
like Elagabalus with painted face—denying nothing

with colors plied by distaffs—among all the red shambles of the circus—the women bringing the

Moon from Carthage—and Dorian in mystic marriage to the Sun silver-shod with—Icarus waxed wings

and carried through the Street—listening to boys and men crying out to Nero Caesar—Roman sugar daddy

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Yellow Book

The Yellow Book

“means of forgetfulness—
modes by which he could
escape”—Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray

Decadence—dalmatics of white satin and pink silk damask—decorated with tulips and dolphins and

fleurs-de-lis—altar frontals of crimson velvet and blue linen—and many corporals, chalice-veils and

sudaria—in the mystic offices to which such things are put—performance that quickens Dorian’s jaded

imagination—for these treasures and everything
that he collects in his lovely house, are to be for

him means of forgetfulness—modes by which he can escape for a season—without reason from fear that

seems to him at times—to be almost too great to be borne—upon the walls of that lonely locked room

where he’d spent so much—of his boyhood
hanging with his own hands—the terrible portrait

whose changing features—showed him the real degradation of his life—in front of it draped the

purple-and-gold pall as a curtain—for weeks not going there—forgetting the hideous painted thing

getting back his gay heart again—his wonderful joyousness & passionate absorption—in mere

existence but suddenly some nights—he’d creep
out of the house—down to dreadful places near the

Blue Gate Fields—staying there day after day
until he was driven away—then on his return he’d

sit in front of the portrait—watching with that pride that’s half fascination and sin—smiling with a certain

secret pleasure at his own—misshapen double
having to bear the burden—that should have been

his own—rich decadent Dorian wearing ecclesiastical vestments—as indeed he had everything connected

with the service of the Church—long cedar chests lining—the west gallery of his house storing away

many rare and beautiful—raiments of the Bride
of Christ—enjoying purple and jewels and fine linen

while the pallid macerated—bent miscreant Other
upstairs suffered that name—that dares not speak

its own name—wounded by Dorian’s self-inflicted pain—possessed by gorgeous capes—of rich Papal

crimson silk and goldthread damask—figured with
repeating patterns of golden pomegranates—set in

six-petalled formal blossoms—beyond which on
either side pale pineapple—devices wrought in

seed-pearls—delicate orphreys divided into panels
representing scenes—from the life of the Dark

Virgin—the coronation of the Dark Prince figured
in colored silks upon—rare Italian crowns of the

fifteenth century—capes of green velvet embroidered
with heart-shaped groups—of acanthus-leaves

smothered with—long-stemmed white blossoms
the details of which—were woven with silver thread

and colored crystals—a stag with seraph's head
in gold-thread raised work—orphreys woven in

diapers of red and gold silk—starred with medallions
of many saints and martyrs—among whom were

many ancient and—modern-day St. Sebastians clothed in amber-colored—smooth silken loincloths

and gold brocade—with tart yellow lemon arrows
piercing the air with—citrus pricks of gilded pain

figured with representations—of the Passion
and Crucifixion of Christ—embroidered with lions

peacocks and other de Medicis—mourning masks
Florentine black velvet—powdered crescents and

descending suns—curtains of darkness with leafy wreaths and garlands—figured upon gold and silver

backgrounds fringed—along the edges with broideries of pearls—standing in a room hung

with rows of queenly devices—cut black velvet upon cloths of silver—Louis XIV royal embroidered gold

caryatides—fifteen feet high in his apartment
the royal bed of Sobieski—the King of Poland

made of Smyrna gold brocade—embroidered in turquoises with verses—from the Yellow Book

books of silver gilt—beautifully chased and
profusely set—with enameled jeweled medallions

taken from sordid Baghdad camps—Abu Ghraib
and grim Guantánamo—beneath a tremulously

quivering neocon-gilded canopy—so that for a whole year Dorian sought—to accumulate the most

exquisite specimens he could find—of exile and tortuously embroidered decadence—dainty Delhi

muslins finely wrought with—gold-thread palmates
and stitched over with—iridescent beetles' wings

Dacca gauzes—their transparency known in the
East as "woven air" and "running water" and

"evening dew"—strange figured cloths from Java elaborate yellow Chinese hangings—books bound in

tawny yellow satins and fair blue silks—wrought with
fleurs-de-lis, birds and images—veils of lapis lazuli

worked in Hungary point—Sicilian brocades and
stiff Spanish velvets—Georgian work with gilt coins

Japanese Foukousas—with their green-toned golds and their marvelously—special plumaged birds

how different it was with—these luxurious things which had been passed from—the great crocus-

colored robes—worn by the gods who fought against the giants—who had known the pleasures of Athena

the huge velarium—that Nero had stretched across the Coliseum at Rome—Titans sailing into the soft

purple velvet curtains—representing the starry sky
and young Apollo driven—by chariots drawn by

gilded Ganymedes on reined steeds—the longing to
see the curious table-napkins—wrought by the

Priests of the Sun—on which were displayed all
the dainties & viands—that could be wanted for a

funeral feast—the mortuary cloth of King Chilperic with its three hundred golden bees—fantastic robes

exciting the indignation—of the Bishop of Pontus and figured with—"lions, panthers, bears, dogs, forests

landscapes, rocks, hunters”—all in fact that a painter could copy from nature—the coat that Charles of

Orleans once wore—on the sleeves of which were embroidered the verses—of a song beginning with

"Madame, je suis tout joyeux"—with the musical accompaniment of the words—being wrought in gold

thread and each note—of square shape in those days formed with four pearls—Dorian reading in the room

of the Yellow Book—his palatial library for the use of Queen Joan of Burgundy—decorated with thirteen

hundred and—twenty-one parrots made in broidery and blazoned—with the king's arms and five hundred

and sixty-one monarch butterflies—whose wings were similarly ornamented with the arms of the

Size Queen Catherine—the whole worked in gold
described by Henry VIII—on his way to the Tower

previous to his coronation—wearing a jacket of raised gold—the placard embroidered with diamonds

and other rich stones—a great bauderike about his neck of large balasses—earrings of emeralds set in

red-gold Armour—studded with jacinths and collars of gold roses set—with turquoise-stones and a

skull-cap parseme with pearls—the ducal hat of Charles the Rash—the last Duke of Burgundy

hung with pear-shaped pearls—and studded with sapphires—how exquisite life had once been!!!

how gorgeous in its pomp—and decoration!!!
reading of such luxury—of the dearly departed

causing Dorian to turn his attention—to lush embroideries and tapestries—performing the office

of frescoes in the chilly rooms—of northern European nations—as he investigated each decadent subject

as always with that—extraordinary faculty of his becoming absolutely—absorbed for the moment

in whatever he took up—almost saddened by the reflection of the ruin—that time brought on beautiful

and wonderful things—Dorian at any rate escaping each summer followed summer—as the yellow

jonquils bloomed and died—many times and nights of horror repeating—the story of his shame leaving

Dorian unchanged—no winter marring his face or staining his flowerlike bloom—wreathed in a crown

of sardius with the scorn—of the horned snake inwrought so that—no man might poison him

in his bedroom—two golden apples of the sun
which were two carbuncles—so that the gold

might shine by day—and the carbuncles by night
like Lodge's strange romance—Margarite America

telling the story that—in the chamber of the queen he could become—"all the chaste ladies of the world”

inchased out of silver—looking through fair mirrors
of chrysolites, rubies—sapphires & greene emeraults

like Marco Polo having seen—inhabitants of Zipangu place rose-colored pearls—in the mouths of the dead

sea-monsters enamored with pearls—fetched by
nude young Polynesian divers—from fathoms deep

King Perozes having slain—the young thief and mourning for seven moons—over his sad loss

The King of Malabar—showing off a certain Venetian rosary of three hundred & four pearls—one for every

god that he worshipped—while the Duke de Valentinois son of Alexander VI—visited Louis XII

of France—his horse loaded with gold leaves
according to Brantome—his cap with double rows

of rubies that threw out—a great neon-red light
Charles of England riding in stirrups—hung with four

hundred and—twenty-one icy diamonds while
Richard II with a coat—valued at thirty thousand

marks delicately covered—with balas rubies
telling undiscovered—wonderful stories about jewels

Alphonso's Clericalis Disciplina—mentioning a serpent with eyes of real jacinth—and in the

romantic history of—Alexander the Conqueror of Emathia—about whom it was once said that a lowly

camel boy found in the—shadows of the Pyramids a young pharaoh with lips—of dark emerald kisses

turquoise eyes—like gems in the brain of a dragon
according to Philostratus—telling us about ancient

exhibitions of golden letters—and mandrill-assed
monsters that could be thrown—into magical sleep

and slain—according to Pierre de Boniface the
great alchemist—Diamond Man wizard-invisible

agate India eloquent-tongued—cornelian youths
full of hyacinth-provoked sleep—amethyst dreams

driving away the fumes of wine—garnets cast out by hydropicus—delirious rings of Saturn waxed and

waned with the—meloceus blood of Leonardus Camillus—white stones taken from the brain of

a newly killed toad—certain antidotes against poisonous bezoar creeps—found in the heart

of the Arabian deer—a charm that could cure the plague—nests of Arabian birds and aspilates

the King of Ceilan riding—through his city with a large ruby in his hand—for the ceremony of his

coronation—behind the gates of the palace where
young John the Priest—gets exquisitely laid

Decadence and Disambiguation

Franz Kupra, The Yellow Scale

and Disambiguation

“Wilde’s individuality generally
announced itself in flamboyant
theatricality and indeterminacy”
—Joan Sloan, Oscar Wilde

Decadence—and Oscar Wilde
Go hand-in-hand—like Lady Windermere

And her Fan—like Importance and
The Being of Earnest—like the Picture

And Dorian Gray—all of these texts
Recontextualizing themselves—rather

Adroitly and ambiguously
The Disambiguation—of Decadence

Rather than resolving—literary conflicts
Is actually a way of—increasing and

Making even more complex—the images
Wilde creates with his—plays and poetry

Short stories and fairy tales—and his
Infamously decadent—Dorian Gray

Like Alfred Hitchcock—playing cameos
In his own films—Oscar Wilde promotes

Fictional images of himself—resisting the
Counter-decadent—those extra-legal forces

Of society—continuing to uncomfortably
React and reject—the love that dares

Not speak its name = Proposition Hate
Present-day Wildeans—are even more

Vulnerable today—to fears & prejudices
Because the love—that dared not speak

Its name has now—gone Metro and the
Conflict between—the forces of decadence

And counter-decadence—have converged
In new systematic—Aesthetic ways

Decadence today—in our global village
Through urbanization—and emergence

Of mass markets—technical innovations
Such as the Internet—and Blogosphere

With film, literature—and You Tube
Borrowing from each other—thru new

Disambiguations—of Ambiguity
So that the images—of Oscar Wilde

Celebrated by consumerists—and gay
Political sub-cultures—GLBT activists

With different loyalties—memberships
Undergoing—their own disambiguation

Are going beyond—avant-garde Wildean
Traditionalist—conformist rebel styles

Recontextualizing—Oscar Wilde today
On Stage—in Film, Poetry & the Media

Through the nouveau—Blogosphere
Gives insight into—Texts in Contexts

So that Oscar as wit—dandy, literary
Anarchist, self-publicist—homo martyr

Deploys a new—gay intertextuality
Wilde today—is extra-decadent

Given the chance—always choosing
Both alternates—no matter how

Compromising—or contradictory
Politically disabling—or postmodern

The importance—of being Oscar Wilde
As Ellmann says—in his biography

Wilde’s life—a life of paradox

Paradox and—performance art

Friday, June 5, 2009

Recontextualizing Oscar Wilde

Recontextualizing Oscar Wilde

“For years, Dorian Gray
could not free himself
from the influence of
this book”
—Oscar Wilde,
The Picture of Dorian Gray

Today’s Dorian Gray—the same beauty
That had so fascinated—Basil Hallward

Even those who’d—heard evil rumors
About his dishonorable—London lifestyle

Those who whispered—to each other
About his notorious—Whitechapel affairs

Those who sneered—behind his back
Gossiping about—rowdy foreign sailors

How curious Dorian’s—unspotted beauty
The purity of his face—rebuking critics

How his male beauty—stayed untarnished
Charming and graceful—unstained

While those around him—became sordid
Debauched and ugly—over the years

While men at the club—talking grossly
About him—grew silent in his presence

There was something—transgressive
And decadent—about Dorian’s lifestyle

Transgendering himself—metro-meandering
He seemed to be constantly—theatrical

Indeterminate—concealing and negotiating
The Importance—of Performance Art

Like Alfred Hitchcock—playing cameos
Getting off a bus—in North by Northwest

The disguised killer—in Rear Window
Waiting in the attic—in the deadly Birds

Pulling the shower curtain—aside
Janet Leigh sliced & diced—in Psycho

New identities—Jude Law playing Bosie
Appropriating Wilde—destroying him again

With instant images—coexisting alongside
Age-old loyalties—revisiting Decadence

The Importance of—Being Dorian Gray
The forever young man—amongst slobs

Attempting to predict—the future relevance
And appreciation of—Oscar Wilde the poet

Such a task is—inevitably hazardous
Since Decadence—is no longer viewed

As an Age of Transition—between Modernity
And high Victorianism—but rather a spotlight

As never before—as a conflict between
Decadence and counter-decadence

With new cultural & literary—intersections
Coming from the Internet & the Blogosphere

And the emergence—of mass marketing
Literature, Film & You Tube—into Today

Disambiguation—and Decadence
The recontextualizing—of Oscar Wilde

The electronic borrowing—of techniques
Converging as never before—into Aesthetics

The Portrait of Dorian Gray

The Portrait of Dorian Gray

“It was a poisonous book”
—Oscar Wilde, The Picture
of Dorian Gray

Lord Henry had sent—Dorian a yellow book
What kind of book—Dorian wondered to himself?

Dorian was bored—in need of diversion
It can be so tiring—being eternally young

It was a novel—without a plot
It was unlike any book—he’d ever seen

It was like the portrait—up in the attic
The book had a weird—strange life of its own

The pages started—turning on their own
Opening up to places—that wanted to be read

Immediately he fell—into poisonous depths
It was as if the book—suddenly seduced him

It had been waiting for him—smoldering
Petulantly there on—the pearl-colored stand

It picked him up—flung himself into an arm-chair
After a few minutes—it was no longer a book

It was some kind of—exquisite entertainment
A delicate filigree of desires—unspoken sins

Things only dimly imagined—suddenly got real
Things never dreamed—were gradually revealed

It was—a long desultory decadent story
A decadent monologue—by a young Parisian

Someone like Dorian—slowly ruining his life
Taking his time doing it—as if he had forever

Gradually realizing this—Dorian read deeper
Finally—a book that told the morbid truth

He’d always felt alienated—and ill at ease
Belonging to another time—not his own

His various moods—merely artificialities
Compared with some other—knowing other

It was a strange book—made stranger
By Dorian’s natural rebellion—against himself

The style of writing—was curiously segued
One strange addiction—following another

First scented oils—burning odorous gums
Frankincense and ambergris—stirred Dorian

Then sweet-smelling—aromatic balms
Dark and sickening—louche pheromones

Then devoting himself—like des Esseintes
To zithers—vermilion-gold scarved Gypsies

Grave Tunisians boys—playing flutes
Beneath ceilings of—olive-green lacquer

Crouching slim Indians—turbaned & pouty
Blowing thru long pipes—of reed and brass

Feigning to charm—out of woven baskets
Great hooded snakes—sleek horned adders

Such barbaric music—smoothed by hookahs
More beautiful than—Chopin’s sadness

Inevitably though—Dorian got bored
Ending up at the opera—with Lord Henry

Hopelessly Euro-tragic—Dorian eventually
Seeing Tannhäuser—as prelude to disaster

To calm himself—he took up jewelry
Appearing as—Admiral Anne de Joyeuse

In a dress—covered with 560 pearls
Such taste enthralling him—all weekend

Worshipping various—stones he collected
Olive-green chrysoberyl—red by candlelight

Pistachio-colored peridot—rose-pink and
Wine-colored topazes—scarlet rubies

Pearly-white moonstones—amethysts
Three Ecuadorian—simply huge emeralds

His many rings—of red gold and turquoise
The envy of—all the jealous connoisseurs

Diamonds rendered—Dorian invisible
The agates of India—made him eloquent

The cornelian—appeasing ruffian’s anger
The hyacinth—provoking sailor’s sleep

The garnet—casting out demons
The hydropicus—making the moon pale

Duke de Valentinois—son of Alexander VI
Visiting Louis XII of France—leafed with gold

Favorites of James I—wearing earrings of
Emeralds—set in serpentine gold filigree

Piers Galveston—in a suit of red-gold armor
Studded with opals—a collar of turquoise stones

Henry II—jeweled gloves reaching the elbow
Hawk-glove sewn—with 12 blood-red rubies

Charles the Rash—last Duke of Burgundy
His ducal hat—hung with sapphire teardrops

How exquisite—life had once been
So gorgeous & gay—the luxury of the dead

All these treasures—means of forgetfulness
Vivid & yet obscure—full of argot & archaisms

But soon these—various aesthetic treasures
Began taunting him—transgressively

Paraphrasing and smirking—Dorian’s desires
Slinking subversively—like French Symbolistes

The villa he shared—with aging Lord Henry
On the beach near Trouville—lost its touch

He no longer found entertaining—Algiers
Nor the foreign sailors—nude in Whitechapel

Entertaining the—fashionable young men
In his Nottinghamshire mansion—ended

Even thieves & hustlers—became hum-drum
Even young rough-trade—down by the docks

His life became—a deluge of lifeless inanities
A torrent of hackneyed—broken phrases

He felt full of—Baudelaire Evil Flowers
Putting up with insolence—male lechery

Forever haunting—the local brothel
Smelling the sheets—for new aromas

Others tolerating—his sullen insolences
Debonair manner—because he was rich

Whispered scandals—and up in the attic
The tainted portrait flesh—slowly rotting

Chapter by chapter—Against Nature
Haunted Dorian’s life—a wake of debris

History was into it—gilded decadent death
How many Caligula queens—biting the dust?

Dorian hardly knew at times—whether the
Book was reading him—or he was reading it

A poisonous book—morbidly confessional
Dramatic monologue—heavy odor of incense

Patchouli clinging—to the sticky pages
Reminding him of—fatal disambiguations

Subtle monotonies—complex boredoms
Ennui elaborately—hypnotically repeated

Producing in his mind—other chapters
A form of reckless reverie—forgetfulness

It made him unconscious—of the decay
Of portraiture—and creeping shadows

Cloudless—pierced by a solitary star
The copper-green sky—groaning metaphors

Monstrous orchids—devoured Dorian Gray
Clinging humid—glassed-in homicides

Dorian became—Des Esseintes’ book
The library locked—other books bored him

He became the book—like the portrait
The pages smelling—like pungent patchouli

Giving off—an odor of unhealthy mildew
An ongoing haunting—abhorrent decay

The book got up—placing Dorian on
The little Florentine table—by the bedside

Already the book—felt stunned & shocked—
Pleased with Dorian’s—unadulterated ennui