again and again

by sophie

FINDING PAUL MONETTE, LOSING HIM

It’s just two days since I read you
two days since your Elegies for Rog grabbed me
in the stacks at the Brooklyn branch
grief eating through the binding like dragon blood
dripping through four stone floors
into the charming restaurant in the basement
I checked you out and brought you home
so I could love you and pity him in private
and cry for him and you and myself
I never burned up grief or anger with such song
never came within two bow-lengths of the paradise
of men’s hearts open to one another
I’ll check you out again and again
I think I’ll steal you
I don’t want to release you back to circulation
I study your picture on the sleeve for signs of sickness
search the flyleaf for year of publication
could you have survived 1987
so long ago dangerous year
to be a sick fag in America
In the cafe at the gay bookstore
I’m afraid to ask Do you know Monette
Did he make it The boys are so young
thumbing through pages of naked men
putting them back dogeared The boy
behind the counter doesn’t read poetry
I’m afraid of hope as I walk
to the back of the store PLEASE BE ALIVE
PLEASE BE among the M’s I run my hand
along the spines Maupin McClatchy Melville
until it rests on yours
I tear you open the suspense killing me
please please be living with the dogs
in the canyons somewhere north of Malibu
writing every day doing well on the new drugs
sleeping like spoons with a guy named
Peter Kenneth Michael or Gustavo
Your picture is harder thinner
face lined eyelids sagging “novelist poet essayist
AIDS activist who died”
You’re gone then
I’ve made it to the future a few years further
but who knows if I’ll reach your forty-nine
why bother reading your book anymore
what difference do poems make or love
So this is your last face a fox and rabbit kissing
even dead your name earns a “face-out”
guarantees those big sales
who gets the money now
YOU JERK FUCK YOU
ridiculous to die so close to a cure
renders you me us absurd
shameful irresponsible
how quaint to die of this they’ll think in 2030
how nostalgically sepia-toned and old-timey
like dying of the flu for godssake or the clap
like talking on a windup telephone or
buying ice for the icebox
On the Net later
I cruise a guy who says he knew you
when you tried to live and love again with Winston
I’m hungry to hear anything about you
but he interrupts with a reflection of his cock
in a hand mirror in a garden of red hibiscus
so for a moment I almost easily forget my love
my love of two days
two days in which you were born loved wrote grieved died

Oh God in whom you never for one moment believed
will I still have time

by Patrick Donnelly

Thanks to Mark Doty for posting Donnelly’s poem IN LOW UNWORTHY ROOMS HE MADE CARELESS LOVE AND NOW, (and thanks for the thoughts afterwards too).

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