One of my devoted fans, after reading Sunday’s entry, asked for one of my sexual memories. It’s a fair request. I took a walk yesterday afternoon and thought about it.
The park in the rain was a soft green, almost empty of people, so different from the frothy party of the weekend when there was a man playing a piano in one corner, a trio with a saxophone in the other, college students on the grass, children and dogs, couples strolling, mimes and dancers.
The emptiness made the spring leaves and blossoms more poignant: what happens as it must, whether you join in or not. What will happen in 1000 years (though possibly further north).
When I lived in Berkeley, in my 20s, one night Charles was out playing music, as he was nearly seven days a week, and I went to a bar. I did that not every night or week, but on some sort of emotional schedule. I had several drinks and went home with a good-looking boy named Randy. Randy was 5’10 or ’11 with tousled sandy hair and a big grin. He drank like a pro.
He was very taken with my breasts. Once he had me naked, he squeezed and stroked and kissed—I lay back, lazy as a cat—and then he said, overcome with enthusiasm, “I have to do more!”
“I don’t know.” He thought for a while. His big, pale body was mostly hairless above his genitals. He was well-built and fit in the way men are before they have to work at it. “I’ll chain them up. Is that okay?”
This was pre-Internet. He got his ideas from magazines.
I laughed. “Whatever you want.” I was drowsy by then. I liked being touched. I liked being touched by different men, especially strangers. Charles knew this and minded, but not so much that he tried to make me stop. I was ashamed of hurting him, but I did it anyway.
Randy got a bicycle chain, brand-new and clean, and wrapped it around my breasts so they were forced together, imprisoned chubby sisters. “I like that,” he said.
“What are you going to do now?” I had a tiny (very tiny) fear that he’d want to actually tie me up, hands behind my back, etc, which I didn’t want. Nor did I want to argue or struggle. I remember that night because it was innocent in its sensuality in a way that I no longer was, but still thought I could return to.
“Nothing,” he said. “I just want to look. You’re amazing.”
I don’t know whether he said “amazing.” I want to put the word “awesome” in his mouth, but it was before that coinage. But he was genuinely awestruck, which is something that also seems vintage. I was a pretty & busty young woman, but he was no mutt. The young men nowadays…or so I’m told….
He spent some time just walking around me, smoking a joint and admiring what he had wrought. (Charles loves this part of the story. He makes me invent details.) Yes, we went on to have intercourse, like everyone else. I hardly remember that part.
I can still feel the chain: the cold metal; the pressure; the feeling of being bound in a way that didn’t constrain my movements; and the dreamy, stoned smile on his face.
“Raspberry-colored nipples,” somebody else used to say. He liked to say the same things over and over, like applying layers of paint.
My girlfriend, when I confided this, responded in the time-honored way of girlfriends. I was changing clothes in her room. “Your nipples aren’t raspberry-colored.” Her tone was mildly indignant.
“Not now, they aren’t.”
“I think he’s wearing rose-colored glasses.”
“We tend to dally in the rosy evening light.”
“Or you put lipstick on them.”
“I tried that once. Charles took pictures.”
“Charles would,” she said.
But that was another decade altogether.
Lighthead’s Guide to the Galaxy
Ladies and gentlemen, ghosts and children of the state,
I am here because I could never get the hang of Time.
This hour, for example, would be like all the others
were it not for the rain falling through the roof.
I’d better not be too explicit. My night is careless
with itself, troublesome as a woman wearing no bra
in winter. I believe everything is a metaphor for sex.
Lovemaking mimics the act of departure, moonlight
drips from the leaves. You can spend your whole life
doing no more than preparing for life and thinking.
“Is this all there is?” Thus, I am here where poets come
to drink a dark strong poison with tiny shards of ice,
something to loosen my primate tongue and its syllables
of debris. I know all words come from preexisting words
and divide until our pronouncements develop selves.
The small dog barking at the darkness has something to say
about the way we live. I’d rather have what my daddy calls
“skrimp.” He says “discrete” and means the street
just out of sight. Not what you see, but what you perceive:
that’s poetry. Not the noise, but its rhythm; an arrangement
of derangements; I’ll eat you to live: that’s poetry.
I wish I glowed like a brown-skinned pregnant woman.
I wish I could weep the way my teacher did as he read us
Molly Bloom’s soliloquy of yes. When I kiss my wife,
sometimes I taste her caution. But let’s not talk about that.
Maybe Art’s only purpose is to preserve the Self.
Sometimes I play a game in which my primitive craft fires
upon an alien ship whose intention is the destruction
of the earth. Other times I fall in love with a word
like somberness. Or moonlight juicing naked branches.
All species have a notion of emptiness, and yet
the flowers don’t quit opening. I am carrying the whimper
you can hear when the mouth is collapsed, the wisdom
of monkeys. Ask a glass of water why it pities
the rain. Ask the lunatic yard dog why it tolerates the leash.
Brothers and sisters, when you spend your nights
out on a limb, there’s a chance you’ll fall in your sleep.