Tuesday, July 28, 2009



As if he were put together each day

from a box of pieces, carefully

stored in his locked room,

guarded at night by large,

black men with bulging shoulders

and dark, shiny glasses.

He appeared occasionally. His skin looked

unprepared for the sun, as if it had been chosen

without a thought of natural light.

In his bathroom mirror, when the large black men

finished brushing the powder onto the cheeks,

setting the wig straight above his forehead,

balancing the sunglasses gently

with thumb and finger on the vertical

bridge of his nose, his complexion

seemed more than perfect.

Marble, like a goddess of antiquity.

But which goddess? Not Aphrodite,

with her long red hair and woman’s

hips. Or Athena, with the iron warrior’s

eyes, or Diana…even she was too rough.

Too mannish, in a way. In the end,

it didn’t matter. One deity is always

as good as another, one name as sturdy

as another, to hang an image on.

As the ancient media scholars observed,

the marble is the message.


He appeared to us constantly, like a playful sprite

on heavy rotation in a child’s daydreams.

Like all the spirits, he was sexless.

But he played at sex, and sang at us,

and made us wonder where he came from

and what he wanted from us.

Pinnochio was on TV

with one hand on his crotch, dancing

like so: spin, kick, masturbate;

spin, kick, masturbate,

as if one of our toys had come to life

and started making lewd gestures at us.

We watched and wondered in our bedrooms

and in the record store at the mall as he spun

around the graveyard. Wooden limbs, straight

like a doll’s, but seemingly inflamed.


After the first few tunes, it was less about the music

and more about the reality. He was told that

he was Michelangelo and Peter Pan and Einstein rolled into one.

He transcended himself. This was his trap--

to be known for being known, loved for being loved.

Then it was about who, if anything, was behind the costume.

After the universe’s secrets are opened

come the sleepless nights. Even Einstein

has to figure out how to be Einstein.

After relativity, something has to be next.


All the pieces went back into the box.

It was solid gold, or it seemed to be,

in honor of his status, his rank.

Death almost seemed the logical extension

of his fashion sense. At last he was

preserved, ageless, untouchable.

His brother is due to speak.

He is famous, too, in his small way. He wears

a red rose in the lapel of his suit.

He sings what brothers always sing

on these occasions. His voice is

clearer, his pitch more perfect,

and we expect to love him more

because his grief is somehow more pure.

But it is not more pure. It is angry. He cries

for a few minutes over his brother’s veins,

angry that the undertaker’s job

was stolen, that they were drained too soon

and filled with poison. He is angry

that sleep took hold and left his brother

frozen. For a moment, the music is

the reality. There is no pantomime

of sex, or death, or any other ecstasy.

No reaching for childhood.