I Am No Angeleno
I’m a stranger here. I like that. My body
clock is ticking three hours in the future.
I wake before the news, I have pre-dawn
with the mountains. This makes me feel
if not invincible, at least not so impatiently
human. My friend in Silver Lake says
everyone here lives in the Very Right Now.
Which I think is a consequence of the constant
summer. Also his specious and rather
narrow views of everyone and here. I don’t know
that there is anywhere I have an everyone.
More I am a herd of one, the calculus in my brain,
alienating and elsewhere, a sugar-high child
who won’t accept the off-switch. A year ago,
a lover ago, everywhere I looked I thought
there was no beauty I could again belong to.
And now I see that what is beautiful
is what precisely I have nothing to do with.
Like this jolie-laide duck skanking through
the reeds of Echo Park, his bill fat with stolen food.
I want to trust my own joy like that. More fully,
I mean, more thoughtlessly and sweet.
There is a man I newly love back east in the future,
whose grief I want to take each time he comes
inside me. There are times I am just about
to come when I wish that I could say the names
of everyone I’ve ever loved at once.
Plenty of truth should be impossible
given physics, given speech, given time
and its phallic insistence on linear forward
motion. Well. My friend in Silver Lake says
should is a word that doesn’t do me any favors.
So I am here in Los Angeles, but I am also
giving myself permission to be here and here
and here in the realities I am inventing.
That is the miracle of wakefulness inside
the shut pink of your eyelids. You can latch
your sublimating heart to the wingtip of a bird.
And I am, and it is flying three thousand miles
across the heartland to light the morning’s
change upon my lover’s face. The light is light
I have endowed with an intention.
That he remember how deeply loved he is
out here in the past, where we are kissing
and I am walking backwards down a hall.
We hold an orange between us and sway stoned
to Arthur Russell. It is Saturday. Isn’t it.
We have hours and hours with nowhere to go.
No shipwreck. No life cast away from.
Cloaked amniotic, I waited in the atoll.
Whether I opened or closed my eyes,
the flesh-colored night was ever falling.
Curled to myself like the crook of a staff,
how could I distinguish loneliness
from communion? No constant raft
was my body, assembling, as I was,
from coughs of water. I returned
to an island I could not remember
leaving. Before killing a goat, I would
sing into its ear, warbling of a place
as a conch does the ocean. I never
did finish becoming a man.