Is she a faceless woman using a bidet and chamber pot
bending her backside to you,
legs splayed, maybe masturbating,
naked but for stockings and heels?
Somebody who is all over art history
and also in dire need of money?
Wait a wicked second.
Death, dear reader, is the correct answer,
a metaphor that darkens and makes more common
the young lady in the bathroom
who needs time
to freshen up and dab on a bit of face cream
and cover her stretch marks and bites.
Maybe she wants to listen to the radio
in bed alone, sing off-key, and sip something slowly.
Trixie, dressed for business as a rare disease,
attack of the heart, nerve-blowing stroke, etc.,
doesn’t require your imagination to fuss over her,
nor a car and driver,
nor some drunk fuck on the street with a money clip
who doesn’t know what he’s getting into, and can’t wait.
As a writer,
by definition having direct access to you here,
I grant you every little thing
is passing faster than he can find his dick in his dark suit.
I’m talking about the operator who has been eyeing the poor soul;
she’s on the street because frankly it’s time for another Joe to blow,
and while he’s diddling with his ignorant self I’m doodling that
he’s about to die and doesn’t know it, because today,
Death is walking the street in tight jeans. Lousy with feminism,
I’m investing her with adamantine fury
that she turns on you, because you’re a manifestation, too,
of something before willpower or after,
that only the idea of mortality,
and maybe the work of art, can affect.
I’ve chosen the figure
of death for a denizen who likely
would rather sit with a coffee and read the paper.
Eventually, I’d like nothing
more than to get the girl off the avenue.
Should I put her in a factory,
or at the head of a company
in something Chanel? Unless you see yourself,
maybe you need to stop staring
from your plush booth at Trixie,
who just now spilled hot coffee
on her inner thigh and cried out,
Holy Shit. Why debase/erase you?
I’m assuming everybody has it in her
or him somehow to dehumanize, so I
mash this up and have a call girl,
a synecdoche, in fact, help me with my hoax
poem to fell you like a wall bed.
The power I can give her is her
dignity, by her gaze and upright gait
distanced from craving, which leads to suffering,
which leads to craving, and you paying a lot,
with the loss of your best self. For my money,
she’ll be sensible and compassionate,
i.e., you won’t see her coming to deliver your final blow.
I hate to see you suffer, so, hastily,
right when people all over this fabricated town
have their top down, it’s a Saturday,
you’re maybe idly reading poetry,
you’re pinned by Trixie to a stretcher
that has never, nor will ever
be thought of as sexy, and whose ancient
calling to haul you away is everywhere
about as perverse as all the places
you’ve taken this faceless make-up.
I sew your handler into tight pants and hope in a moment
of enlightenment that you also see her
limping around and holding her jaw in one hand—
she hasn’t the time or money
to get to a dentist for a root canal
or Walgreen’s for gel pads for her feet.
Everything changes the moment one takes pity.
Her tooth is killing her, giving her her
humanity in this story, and goddamit, it hurts.
Would you ever see her at home, washing
her panties before dawn, her dishes,
or is she playing with you in this sexist world
of male gaze and female fuckability, everybody looking
for a little empathy in the end.
What bit can be learned about a culture
that objectifies death and sex
equally, in an alley or a painting, while a human being—
empowered, devoured, tired, and crying—
who is too hungry not to hurry after work,
drops her hamburger and fries on the sidewalk?
I’m ashamed. Whereas art may be by nature
manipulative, exploitive, and fallacious,
and not by any means necessary
before food, water, shelter, and a friend,
your most distinguished self is not just anyone
on the cheap who stereotypes, but more
likely a woman or a man who loves life like nobody’s business.
You’re being made to think on some level
that art is a dirty trick, like some creep
who crashed and trashed your place,
or in this case your person in this poem.
In my farce, my amiable, unfortunate gaffe,
a deconstructed model delivers the all-powerful consummation
that catches you off guard, bang! like a hammer to the head,
which you can never afford, never understand.
But in your wildest imagination, if it means anything,
you know what is represented in art
doesn’t exist. If there’s a murder in a poem, no one calls
the civil guard, which means forms are free to lead
like lampposts down a city block through perversity and degradation
to our higher selves. We get there circuitously. For another thing,
Trixie’s cracked a tooth, bringing the goods to you,
so death and beauty are going to need
to be redressed. Your own hot, hot
grad student in a tight knit, in a dirty corner of your mind,
lies beside you in the afterlife of this poem, appealing
to your higher nature, a Trixie the Trasher
who queer and straight in some measure
desire and on some level admire
for having the balls to make hard
cold cash quickly. I could have made Death a God,
a razor, or a jailor, not the one you are preternaturally
drawn to, with the aches in her foot, mouth, shoulder, her
lips all glowy, skin snowy, hair piled to one side, etc.
Pay no mind. The metaphor loses capacity
after I’ve had my way with you— art is cruel,
but life is more so. As I lay you outside of time on a cold marble slab
like a sculpture of a human seeing and being seen,
I tire of the game and lend a tired young lady the money
to earn a judgeship and suffer mostly desperate men.
As perverse as you, I’m Trixie’s brute but also her witness
and subject. Hell, I can only write
from my wasted heart that no one gets
to possess Trixie. Fantasy is disastrous,
some young soul’s harrowing
experience, who dresses her body
in a little black nothing, after a fashion.
She’s one lonely bitch, you, scared shitless
in your last minute, blurt. If I were, no harm intended,
a historically male writer, could I have you
say that? The debasement we fear the most? – Hey,
death has no personal interest in you, a thing of beauty
like a clay pot or a glass bowl. She bows
and puts a liquored cigarette out in your mouth.
Art is righteous loneliness.