Monday, August 31, 2015

Revised Version of the Last Poem in My First Book

Antony and the Bookcase

Wearing a black T-shirt on a treadmill running,
block-print word crying across my chest.
Bought it at a concert—Antony and the Johnsons—
a singer draped in ivory, circled by an orchestra,
band members at stage corners, my first time at the Apollo.
Songs about nature, the destruction of . . . the Crying Light,
the human plight; I’m running in place again, a loose book
on a library shelf during an earthquake, like Satan is at it,
fork-tongued vibes through Earth’s crust, tainting
literature, history, Christian fundamentalists. And singing lifts
and tumbles over heads in an audience, every emotion felt
by the well adjusted, the addicted, the entering a hospice,
the learning to walk again, the first time, and crying is not a bad thing.
So Christ on a cracker, an obscenely obese man struggling across
a gas-station parking lot; I watch through a gym window, thinking
this is why I come here—a place I’ve nicknamed the jail yard,
all cinder-block walls, rundown equipment, men working out
wearing jeans and construction boots. Muscles work when pushed,
undamaged, free of deformity. It’s showtime at the Apollo,
time to get a full-length collection published, please the handful of people
who enjoy reading my poetry, attempt to battle the academic, conquering
voices: who’s in, who’s not. I’m crying for my word kept quiet, the weight
I work hard to keep off, songs about relationships ending, the temperature
changing, transgenders joining in camaraderie and love. Antony on stage,
tall in a dress, waves of fabric white and bleached in spotlights,
Lady Justice, blinded, emoting to a crowd of faceless forms,
thrown from shelves, cracked ceiling, instruments played.
I’m cooling down, a Satanist in love with the sky, tree leaves,
obsessed with human interaction, a black T-shirt from a concert,
the word crying, and attempts at climbing Empire State high,
a King Kong–sized homosexual, to get to the choking point,
scream until numb, a book cover missing pages, libraries burst
into flames, gas-station explosion when a car crashes pumps,
we all sit down: the crippled, the hopeful, the dumb.