Five Prose Poems
after Henri Michaux “Simplicity”
When I was just a young thing, my life was as simple as a sunrise. And as predictable. Day after day I went about doing exactly as I pleased. If I saw a lovely man or women, or beauty in any of its shapes and forms and flavors, well, I simply had to have it. So I did. Just like that. Boom! I didn’t even need a room.
Slowly, I matured. I learned a bit of etiquette. Manners, I discovered can have promising side effects. I even began carrying a bottle of champagne wherever I went, and a bed. Not that the beds lasted long. I wasn’t the kind to go easy on the alcohol or the furnishings, nor was I interested in sleep. It never ceased to amaze me how quickly men drift off. Women, many of them, kept me going night after night. You know how inspiring women are.
But then, alas, I grew tired of them as well. I began to envy those folks who curl up into balls each night, their bodies as heavy as tombstones. I tried curling up with them, slowing my breath, entering into their dreams. What dreams! To think I had been missing out all along! That’s when I became a Zen master, at one with the night. Now I teach classes on peace, love, abstinence. At last I have found bliss, I tell my followers. The young, they don’t believe it. But really, I ask you. Would I lie?
The Broken Promise
after Heberto Padilla, “The Promise”
There was a time when I promised to write you a thousand love poems. When I said every day is a poem, and every poem is in love with you. But then the poems rebelled. They became a junta of angry women, impossible to calm or translate, each more vivid, sultry, seductive than the next. Some stayed inside and sulked for weeks, demanding chocolates, separate rooms, maid service. Others wanted to be carted around like queens. Still others took lovers and kept the neighbors up, moaning at all hours of the day and night. One skinny girl (remember her? the one with flame-colored hair?) moved away. She went back to that shack down the road where we first met. At night she lay down in the orchard behind the house and let the dark crawl over her arms and legs. In the end even her dreams turned to ash and blew away in a sudden gust of wind.
Little Big Man
after Russell Edson “Sleep”
There was once an orgasm that could not stop shrinking. Little big man, his friend called him, watching as he grew smaller and smaller with each passing night, first before making love, then before even the mention of making love, then before even the mention of the mention of making love. Oh, what a pathetic little thing he was.
One night he tried reading, Think and Grow Big, but it only caused him to shrink further inside himself. Oh, to grow large and tall as I once was, he sighed. What he needed, he knew, was a trainer with a whip and chains. Someone to teach him to jump through hoops and swing from a trapeze and swallow fire until he blazed ever higher into the night. Yes, he shuddered. Yes! as he imagined it. A tiny wisp of smoke escaped his lips.
Questions to Determine if You Are Washed Up
after Charles Baudelaire, “Get Drunk!”
Do you feel washed up lost, all alone? Do you fear that time is passing you by like a train for which you have no ticket, no seat? That you have lived too long in the solitude of your room and empty mind, that now you are but a slave of sorrow? Or is it regret? Do you no longer taste the wine of life on your lips, tongue, throat? Is there not even even a chance of intoxication? Bliss? No poetry or song above or below the hips? No love in the wind, the waves, in every or any fleeting and floating thing? No castles in your air? No pearls in your oysters? Are you wearing a pair of drawstring pants?
after Herberto Padilla
This is the house where she first met you. This is the room where she first said your name as if it were a song. This is the table where she undressed you, stripping away your petals, leaves, your filmy white roots and sorrows. And there on the floor is the stone you picked up each morning, the stone you clung to night after night. Sometimes she kicked it aside. Sometimes she placed in on the sill and blew it out the window as her presence filled you like a glow, and you thought for an instant, I, too, can fly.