Wayne Koestenbaum

 
 
 
 

#11 [slaughter ball]

 



 

            I promised him
an ode, “Jared
stubble in parfumerie”

 

_________

 

 

            enjoy the bumps
obstructing cognition—


 

_________

 

 

            two or three
roses beautiful because
they are separate from
each other—separated
roses are more beautiful
than joined roses


 

_________

 

 

            she’d never
heard of sugar snap
peas—I explained
sugar snap peas in detail


 

_________

 

 

imbibe straight male
narcissism, see how
it tastes and sounds


 

_________

 

             Elaine
Stritch died yesterday,
89—see mother once more
before she turns 84


 

_________

 

 

hooked on Cheops


 

_________

 

 

my hand lit up and
crammed into you


 

_________

 

           

             or Schoenberg’s
waxed bikini line
redux, trilling like Romeo


 

_________

 

 

             nonstop
Otello storm clouds,
his fat unshaved
chops sucking storied
lollipop


 

_________

 

 

             nose of
96-year-old blind
mother of anyone,
a face moving
into early dementia


 

_________

 

 

dementia at
96 isn’t early


 

_________

 

 

I like the word “stipple”
I say at lunch


 

_________

 

 

common for sons
to be sued for defamation
of character—I have
thrice been tried


 

_________

 

 

aunt whose last shame
before death is witnessing
the mayo bologna fight


 

_________

 

           

no pee coming from Fed Ex
man at urinal, I linger
by sink and allow silence
to blossom so his pee-
shyness can grow audible—


 

_________

 

 

maybe upper-middle-
class dad will smother
the baby—


 

_________

 

 

            your near-
death experience
involved a wall
of grape hyacinths


 

_________

 

 

identification with crying
baby but also a wild
wish to stop the crying
by stopping the baby’s
existence


 

_________

 

 

vielleicht the baby
is a future war
criminal


 

_________

 

 

her name is Aurore
Clément—she
plays the mother in
Chabrol’s Bridesmaid


 

_________

 

 

I added Venetian
red which is really
brown to create an
illusion of ground
beneath a car


 

_________

 

 

added ultramarine blue
above the car and
accidentally effaced
purple coneflower stems


 

_________

 

 

            then dragged
a pencil through
pink to retrieve
lost lines of two
figures coitally embroiled


 

_________

 

 

            and now I
see a rhubarb-colored
dodge ball (slaughter ball?)
balanced between two
mustard lines—


 

_________

 

 

skillfulness abides in
seemingly random and
unthought decisions—


 

_________

 

 

            deliberation,
if it occurs, must
itself be spontaneous—


 

_________

 

 

            I won’t
ask him to pose—
asking involves
a level of abjection
even I am incapable
of descending to—


 

_________

 

                       

            though
deciding I won’t ask
fills me with teen
despair—father’s
fullness reigning
over me with titanic
indomitability—


 

_________

 

 

             my recourse
to code situates
me as Satan, not
major-domo Satan but
Satan’s little helper
with an apron and
thimble and food
processor for slicing
carrots on the bias—


 

_________

 

 

            Josep
Pla’s anti-Semitic description
of Jewish necks—


 

_________

 

 

caught having sex with a
guy at 17, pants opened,
dicks out, taunted for
a year


 

_________

 

 

            an edible
crawling tortoise
we ran over and couldn’t
eat the murdered meat


 

_________

 

 

wanton destructiveness
toward my private
property—


 

_________

 

 

            a problem
for five decades, these
objective unlyrical statements


 

_________

 

 

maybe gradually caress
his arm to receive
touch backward


 

_________

 

 

scarf by Vera a status
symbol in Coral Gables
or towns that yearn
to be Coral Gables


 

_________

 

 

cross out a big area
with bilge and then
write on top of the bilge


 

_________

 

 

             headed
toward hell, saying
please to hell as I approach
its ambiguous gate—
or is hell a river?


 

_________

 

 

            in the Hill
Korwa tribe’s drawings,
an alphabet wordlessly
emerges


 

_________

 

 

a non-gay-seeming
man was holding hands
with a gay-seeming man near
the ragtag pharmacy

 

 

 
 

#16 [a pear blue green slivered near brown]






the death books I haven’t read


 

_________

 

 

my trumpet teacher is dead and I
don’t want a lesson from his son,
a cougher


 

_________

 

 

“we are so alike”
my grandfather said
in his erotic inscription


 

_________

 

 

            a recorded
clinical voice like silent
Nazimova’s Salomé

 

 

_________

 

 

             saying “data”
with a Frank O’Hara accent


 

_________

 

 

            the painting
has a frog in its throat


 

_________

 

 

in the elevator mirror my
jaw looked swollen


 

_________

 

 

            at 13 she
sang in Cavalleria Rusticana—
debut dreamt or real?


 

_________

 

 

I almost fainted
from imprudent diet pills


 

_________

 

 

draw the grapes on his
arm—I want hair
to compose a proposal


 

_________

 

 

begin to see any pelvis
as a covered wagon


 

_________

 

 

and start to wonder how
genitals discern destination—
why each groin seems
to contain two genders


 

_________

 

 

             to write in
the midst of a sexy demon-
stration on the subway


 

_________

 

 

            wondering why the
man’s knees are crossed,
legs and hands forming
a triangle like elongated Bruckner
phrase if Lenny Bernstein
were wearing a nightie


 

_________

 

 

                        we caress
on the street and I say
to the horse I am an
exhibitionist, not the black
glasses of Roman Polanski


 

_________

 

 

             mouth of
a man who resembles
John Coplans


 

_________

 

 

            perceiving
myself as a body by dis-
covering how to unearth
outlines beneath gesso,
digging a B pencil into
wet surfaces—


 

_________

 

 

he recommends a blending
brush, Richter’s secret


 

_________

 

 

the year argyle
(sweater, socks)
tried to change
my life and failed


 

_________

 

 

            he is praying,
not stroking himself—
the two activities in civic
space interchangeable


 

_________

 

 

clad legs signal the return
to a depressed world-view


 

_________

 

 

oil paint feels better when
it lands on top of oil paint
like brother-brother incest,
randy pallbearers


 

_________

 

 

Gandhi, Pavlova, Pavel
Tchelitchew, Paul Cadmus,
Bellini, which Bellini,
both Bellinis, the abstract
coven


 

_________

 

 

            Jewish coven of
meddlesome Castevets
in Rosemary’s Baby, seen
from Mia’s paranoid
or perspicacious vantage


 

_________

 

 

to close my eyes and then
discover purple shoes
Hieronymus Bosch painted


 

_________

 

 

sickle moon a pear blue
green slivered near brown—

 

_________

 

 

            adjectival
slot is where lust
can roost


 

_________

 

 

the world at 7:30 is
trepanned dusk
mitigated by pink


 

_________

 

 

lozenge pointillism, penis-ism
vs. pointillism—your points
are sticks or rods, like
saffron threads in plastic box
or like a sapphire
needle and the foam bed
the stylus rests its unworthy
napping head upon

 

 

 

Wayne Koestenbaum has published eighteen books of poetry, criticism, and fiction, including Notes on Glaze, The Pink Trance Notebooks, My 1980s & Other Essays, Humiliation, Hotel Theory, Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films, Andy Warhol, Jackie Under
My Skin,
and The Queen’s Throat (a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist). His next book of poems, Camp Marmalade, will be published in March 2018.  He has had solo exhibitions of his paintings at White Columns (New York), 356 Mission (L.A.), and the University of Kentucky Art Museum. His first piano/vocal record, Lounge Act, was issued
by Ugly Duckling Presse Records in 2017.  He is a Distinguished Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and French at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.