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,

however briefly, 

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

scaffolding collapsing

 

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.

 
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