mentioning big brown eyes in a poem has become a cliche
much like identifying a cliche in hopes of absolution
but some brown eyes demand to be mentioned
and I’m going to steer clear of steering clear of cliches
because if they capture what I need to say,
why should I?
the effect those brown eyes have on
demands to be captured.
another cliche: eyes are windows to the soul
that one I won’t use
because he doesn’t need a window.
his soul can’t be contained to a window
it seeps out of his skin like a hormone
it fills his voice
it rubs off on everything he touches.
some people are just made up of their own damn atoms
others compose selves of brands, groups, tribes
identity through association
but he’s pure soul.
if you’re lucky enough to get close
he lets you have some
and you take it and wrap it around yourself and feel like a kid in a blanket
or maybe you sip it for a little like a mug of hot chocolate
(the thick kind. not the powder that makes a joke out of chocolate. the real stuff)
and you’re restored.
he doesn’t demand anything
but there’s something in him that demands to be written about.
Some Parisian women are slender
like you picture when you think of them sashaying their stilettos down Parisian streets
but not all of them are.
Many of them are streaked and marbled with
soft and airy fat
which they carry effortlessly abreast their hips
Across their stomachs
in their chests
and straddling their thighs.
It is a fat that looks sweet-tasting,
a fat made of converted croissants and cream sauces.
They don’t carry their fat with shame or embarrassment,
they don’t attempt to tuck and hide it away
but rather let it float around their bodies like Chanel Number 5
because they know it is beautiful.
The waiters at Cafe Lisboa give me free coffee
With hearts drawn in the foam
Because they think I’m nice to look at
I kissed one of them last week
And he murmured something in Spanish
And I had to ask him to repeat it
Because I study Spanish but sometimes
It’s hard to understand it mumbled after a kiss.
I liked the last boy I kissed a lot better
But he only liked me for the length of the kiss.
We spoke in Spanish, too,
Even though it’s native to neither of us.
When we kissed he spoke to me in badly formed English
Until I asked him to speak his Portuguese instead.
I didn’t understand it,
But it was sweeter to hear.
I missed the Portuguese in my ear when I kissed the waiter who spoke to me in Spanish that I asked him to repeat.
he loves loving Lorca more than he loves Lorca
instead of masturbating, he underlines phrases of poetry in stubby pencil and sighs aloud so everyone knows that
he is a boy who
he carries Lorca around with him tucked under his arm
bound and inked and translated
or sometimes he walks with Lorca open and his nose buried in brown and deep
but his mind on the eyes of everyone who sees him absolutely
sometimes he sits outside by himself with the book open in front of him
thinking that he is reading Lorca
and very pleased to think so.
He snaps a picture of his open book and sends it to a girl
believing for some reason that she truly gives a shit
that he is a boy
Get it together!
She screams in her own ear
And she takes all the pieces of her shattered expectations and
Ties them up all neat in a bundle
Ribbon pressed against the sharp broken edges
And she is together!
She adds a pretty bow.
It’s hard to write when you’re all crumbled beneath emotion of either extreme
Too happy and you don’t need a damn word.
Devastated and what’s the point?
It’s that spot in between
Where you don’t quite know what you’re feeling
Where there’s nothing to be all too sad about
But there’s something missing, something that keeps you a notch under all right
That’s where you need the words
That’s where you need poetry
To put a name to whatever it is that lurks inside you
If you can carve it out of yourself with words it won’t start to rot into despair.
Or at least,
That’s the hope.
the things i will do for a pretty face and for no other reason.
the things i will do for two brown eyes over a smile that shouldn’t matter
because boys aren’t the only ones who like looking at things.
the pretty on him isn’t what listens
it’s not what holds me, not what warms me, not what kisses my neck.
but the pretty is what fills my thoughts and writes my texts.
it’s odd, really, a weird universal
that something with no effect on anything but a portion of your field of vision
(that’s all that pretty is)
can matter so much.
pretty isn’t really something to think about
but it sure writes a lot of poems.
brigadeiro is usually eaten cold but he stirred it up to warm us
and we ate it hot with a spoon in between laughs and sips of cheap red wine
and I told him he was changing my life with the brigadeiro
but really that’s not what I meant.
when it was time for me to go he sent me off with the thick sweet stuff
still warm from the stove pot
heating up the inside of a square tupperware container
(he asked me how we say tupperware where I’m from. it turns out we say it the same.)
It’s cold and congealed in my refrigerator now
and every morning I pull off a piece
it stretches like silly putty
and in it I taste the condensed milk that he fed me with a spoon
then kissed off my lips.
it was sweet and good in his kitchen.
it is sweet and not good in mine.
Bukowski writes to the greats
All the while hoping in the back of his mind
That someone will similarly write to him
Which would make him too a great
And maybe it’s not in the back.
Here you go, Charles.
He writes love letters to Van Gogh, Bach, Haydn, and all these other names I don’t know
And can’t remember them without looking back in the book which fees like cheating
And Haydn I didn’t know until I read his name on bukowski’s page.
He writes them love letters that aren’t full of love at all.
And can you even call something published, bound and sold for the consumption of masses a letter?
A letter means intimacy.
It means using paper to put my thoughts in your head, your head specifically.
For it to be a letter I must think of you while I’m writing it
And you cannot write a letter to a general audience because for it to be a letter
You have to picture the reader’s response to every word you commit to.
The ones that will impress him
And the ones that will roll his eyes
The ones that you will write anyway.
And you must be able to see exactly what his eyes look like as they roll in his pretty head.
And boys can be pretty
And men especially can be pretty
Because pretty means delicate
And really what is more delicate than a man?
A man is held together by his need to not be delicate
And this doesn’t hold him together at all!
You knew that, Bukowski, but you didn’t know it the way I know it
And I can tell That
From the way you write about women.
And Bukowski was obsessed with death and he died and I wonder what it felt like when life finally left his body.
I wonder if after all of those words
It was kind of underwhelming.
We will never know because he can’t write a poem about it
And he will never know because after you die you don’t find things out and you don’t even know the things you knew before.
You don’t anything.
To die is to don’t.