oulipost 18: demon tailors

All right, I don’t know where the hell I went with this one. Somewhere ludicrous. The Oulipost prompt for today was to do a homoconsonantism, where all the vowels in a text are replaced by ones you choose, but the consonants left in the same order. Here’s what I plucked from the Voice for this:

Wherever you go, the food is a smoker’s dream: hand-held corn shells, stuffed to the brim with tasty combinations like roast pork shoulder with spicy mango salsa, grilled chicken, chorizo, avocado, and green chimichurri, or grilled white cheese with beans, jalapeño, red peppers, and ripe fried plantains, which add a malty, sweet tinge.

…which describes my favorite Venezuelan place in the city. And I managed to squeeze it and break its feet and cut off bits of it and wrangle it into some kind of bizarre Dantean vision about the River Acheron and demons making, I don’t know, demon clothes in it? Conscripting some random damned soul passing by? Did the best I could, and this was the result.

I fudged the rules a bit too (such as deleting “y” when it was used as a vowel, but keeping it when it was consonant, throwing in a “w” as part of a diphthong, changing a soft “g” to “j” at the end, etc.), but I’m pretty blitzed on this exercise. It’s almost midnight, and I’ll take what I can get.

Demon Tailors Explain Their Internship Program to Poet

Why– a river you Gothified as some kir,
as drama-hue, and held icy runes–
Hell’s staff dye (at the brim) wet hates,
to comb into new silk. Or stop
a rakish lad– “row this piece, manage
loose grey, I’ll do check-in.” A choir zouave–
cad and grinch!– may cheer, roar, growl,
“Lad, what I choose, we, the banes,
jewel up in red.” Pay appears– no drop of
rude polenta, no!– see, who ached,
do melt– sweet to enjoy.

poem-a-thon 18: the warm-ups

Losing my edge today, I feel like; considering I’m 58 poems in, I suppose it was bound to happen, but I’ll try to get another wind. (I’m long past second.) Home for Easter now, so maybe I’ll have a little bit more time to cogitate a bit and relax and write. This one is a light piece for the NaPoWriMo prompt of writing a ruba’i (or ruba’iyat); honestly, the form prompts are a relief, since plugging into a predetermined structure is great when you don’t have much thought capacity left for the week. So, there it is.

The Warm-Ups

Before the college boyfriends, there was porn.
We practiced late at night and were reborn
in darkened basements, lit by blue-white screens.
Our eyes grew haggard, hands and fingers worn.

We’d download education: young Marines,
rough threesomes, tender couples, kings on queens.
When kissing girls by day, we’d shut our eyes,
replace them in our heads with other scenes.

Good Catholic boys seek out and fantasize,
but don’t discuss what gives their loins a rise.
How many shared this secret? In the hall,
we’d pass, regard, keep up that straight disguise.

Discovery came that first collegiate fall
in dorm room beds, or up against the wall.
Our practice served us well, we hope: what scorn
could we, who knew nothing, exchange at all?

oulipost 17: food cart veterans

Good thing, given my state, that the Oulipost prompt today was a relatively simple one: to haiku-ize three sentences from an article. I plucked a write-up of some of the Easter fare options in NYC, found my sentences, trimmed them to the (ugh) 5-7-5 format what’s standard for such things in English, and ended up with an amusing little pun in the title reflecting the two kinds of fare on offer at this phantom market:

Food Cart Veterans Explore Deconstruction

Vendors at market:
sour cherry, millefeuille with cream;
an alphabet brunch.

But then, because I never miss the opportunity to flex my Japanese a bit, I bastardized it into this, where some of the words have changed and some of the compounds (especially the last) would probably raise an eyebrow for the native speakers. But I think “ume” can be a seasonal word (though not sure which one: summer?), the images are pretty stand-alone, and I like the contrast between the second and third lines. So I’d consider it at least an honest attempt, and I believe I conserved the syllable structure in Japanese. Anyway, here you go:


ichi-dai ni
ume to dorayaki

(at the fair-tables
sour plums and custard pastries
an alphabet meal)

poem-a-thon 17: closet makeovers

Confirmed: definitely have strep.

Which means that my posts are going to be commensurately shorter and less bantery than usual this week, because although I’m still poeming my little heart out (fighting the good fight YEAH) for NaPoWriMo (and this prompt, which I didn’t really follow much, to describe things using multiple senses), I need my restings and my recoverings.

Um, this touches briefly on my self-image and body-image issues while coming to terms with my sexuality as a teen. Barely at all, but it’s the undercurrent I suppose. Shrug?

Closet Makeovers

Sophomore girls had it easy. I say that while admitting
the shell game society plays with them and their bodies:
another poem about their troubles should be written

by someone who can tell it better. But it seemed to me
then, they all wanted to clone each other: dyed blonde,
rail-thin, burnished under their uniforms. It was harder to be

a Catholic school boy in love with boys, to be fond
of muscles when one had none, raging through gym class
loins-first, the odd, sensitive duck (before queer swan).

The only mentors I had were on TV. I learned how to pass.
I didn’t discuss my desire for chest hair, velvet against
my cheek– or no– to be shaved down to silk, smooth as

those late-night dial-up fantasies. I kept quiet when I sensed
weight-room musk skunking off the jocks in homeroom.
I wanted to be that– no, perhaps the pliable twink one bends

backwards– or the queen weaving on a homemade loom,
all turquoise and flash. So many options to keep hidden:
how was a boy to choose? So many shapes to assume
when I didn’t know what they’d mean, too raw and flat to fit in.

oulipost 16: expat artiste

Once again, illness has walloped me pretty hard; definitely have to drop by the doctor’s tomorrow to get things checked out. (My rule is, if I have insurance, and things aren’t improving after three days, it’s time for the physician.) But before I hit the sack and try to rest up a little bit more, here’s the Oulipost bit for the day: the challenge being, to take an article (I used a character sketch of a weed delivery guy), replace all the nouns with the nouns from a second article (a write-up of a photography exhibit), all the verbs with the verbs from a third (a review of a Korean restaurant), and all the adjectives with those from a fourth (an interview with a rising indie pop star). The result is this chimera which is beautifully surreal and… kind of works?

I don’t have the energy to decide. Please do it for me while I pass out.

Expat Artiste Interweaves Style, Space-Time

Prince has assembled a fashion culture
on and off for almost four winters. He’s in his
leopard print now, but he was still in
Cambodia when he entered the future
through a camera. He appears three times
a minute, and cuts up, on average,
15 photographs an evening. If he cuts up
more than 20, he orders an early martini.
Usually he’ll appreciate it or offer it —
he used to be a fast-talking sexpot,
but he doesn’t taste much any more;
near-constant desire holds him closer.
The characters help him ferment
his drag dreams and overflow his heartwarming
drama (he’s in two miniseries and does
underwear on his minutes off). When he runs,
he confounds any one of the universal
daylight consumers who plunge around Serbia,
drenched in ego, well-constructed on
a sensual hardtop, with a curtain
and a golden Renaissance medley grounded
over one shoulder. And like
any dynamic presence, he can appear
at your bungalow in 20 fantasies or less.

poem-a-thon 16: vignette, with two boys

Guys, Yousei Hime and Margo Roby still rock more than the rest of you, I’m sorry to tell you. But it’s because they donated to a good cause and you haven’t, so if you don’t want to hear me keep singing their praises, you’d better get on over there and chip in as well. (I promise you can put in any amount, and you’ll get a shout-out.) There’s two weeks left, and once again, I’ll totally write you a poem and/or send you a fancy version of one, as an incentive to help. Please please please visit the page and help us reach our goal!

Meanwhile, I’m giving you yet another poem. NaPoWriMo’s prompt today was to do a ten-line poem where each line is a lie; très interessant, n’est-ce pas? Ended up with a simple little one, where I tried to obfuscate the lies and half-truths within other lies and half-truths. I’m not even sure how close this is to the real story anymore.

Vignette with Two Boys

Afterward, that one lit a joint and said, you have nothing
to worry about. He produced the paper that said
he was negative, pretended he hadn’t gone hunting
for boys in years anyway. Fresh beads gleamed red
on the tip of his cock from the speed and furor
with which he’d pounced. It had seemed like minutes,
not hours. Afterward, some unknown boy in the mirror
stared back at the other, surprised to be caught in it:
quiet, eyes pinched. See you soon, this one replied through
the pot-smoke, regretting what he’d done, what he couldn’t do.

poem-a-thon 15: freshman work-study

So for this one, the prompt for NaPoWriMo is to do a terza rima, which I hadn’t done in a while. And I wanted to get back to my theme of some of the seamy underbelly stuff faced by LGBT youth, for which I am running the campaign that you can and should still donate to, here at this site. But then also, this is poem #50 that I’ve written in April, which means I might actually manage to write 100 by the end. After which I am going to sleep for a fucking week.

Sorry, it’s late, and I’m punchy, and I’m sick. Bed time.

Freshman Work-Study

Down by the seminary, you can make a quick buck.
Cadillacs running low beams cruise along in the dark.
The drivers know how to handle a boy down on his luck.

They pause at the corner, slow to a stop, and park.
They flash the lights twice if they’re interested enough to pay.
When you climb in, they start the engine, and you embark.

You always text a friend which motel, on which highway.
Keep a knife handy, say you’re not into any of the kinky stuff.
Demand the cash up front, in sight, no matter what they say.

Then you grit your teeth, especially if they get a bit rough.
Practice beforehand so you can ace their test.
Go as long as you can, or they want, whichever is enough.

Count the bills before you leave, but after you’re dressed.
Bargains happen in the afterglow, with married men.
Be polite, articulate, as you ride back; he’ll be impressed.

If you do well, he’ll ask if he can pick you up again.
That’s the difference between this and any other quick fuck.
Everyone’s broke; everyone wants to be wanted now
and then.

oulipost 15: lesbian porn actresses

Halfway through NaPoWriMo, and I am starting to lose my steam a little bit; hoping I can chalk this up to just sickness. I really haven’t been having enough time for the Oulipost prompts, and feeling really shitty about the quality of work that’s coming out of them… frankly, between having a full-time job, workshops, and a social life, writing three poems a day is just untenable, and I don’t know how anyone has the time to do even one when it requires scouring the newspaper. (I guess I do kind of fill my plate a little bit too much, but still.)

Anyway, at least it’s been getting a little better, and I’ve been finding more or less coherent narratives for a few of the prompts. Today’s was a “prisoner’s constraint“, not using any letters with ascenders or descenders. It seems as though “i” was originally permitted, then forbidden, but you know what, I used it. If I were a prisoner, I’d just write the damn thing without the tittle up top. Unless I were in a Turkish prison, where the dotted vs. dotless i actually makes a significant difference.

The words are all taken from words in poems from the NaPoWriMo edition of the Village Voice this week.

Lesbian Porn Actresses Arrested for Indecency in K___

Men see us come on-screen,
same sun coronas over same moon
as we ensnare sex.
Men crave us, see us come;
we are women. We care more.
Over an enormous sea,
men erase our own women, in one
version mice, in one souvenirs.
Men conserve us in wire.
We rear across the murmur-vines.
Our movie arcs over sea ice,
arrives in men’s rooms.
We never even see our movie;
seems we win, as we survive.

poem-a-thon 14: what mother wants to know

Last post before I zonk out. I wasn’t really feeling the NaPoWriMo prompt, which was to write a poem in questions… I went in an obvious direction with it given my Poem-a-thon theme, because I’ve got no energy left in me this evening to think of something else. Some of these are questions I’ve actually gotten, some of them are stereotypical, all of them are eye-rollers to deal with for recently out-come folk. (But better questions than threats, violence, etc.)

With that, to bed with me.

What Mother Wants to Know

Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?
How long have you felt this way?
Is it an experiment, or is this something
we’ll have to explain? At family reunions,
church picnics, will we have to drag it
up from the vaults again and again?

Do you go to those marches? Do you
use protection? What beauty could
a boy possibly find in somebody else’s
erection? Do you wear pink? Rainbows?
When you go out at night, do you
lower your head to avoid detection?

Does this mean you won’t meet
some nice girl and settle down, or that you
won’t come to church anymore? Do you
think you’ll ever change back? How did you
arrive at this conclusion? What are you
doing this to me and your father for?

Isn’t it easier to be how you were then?
These friends of yours who want to be
lesbians: can’t they just stay men?
Have you at least tried girls? Are you
steering clear of the baths? I see everything
that could happen; but I don’t know when.

oulipost 14: four out of five doctors

Sick as a dog today, and didn’t get much sleep due to fever, so I’m going to pop one more headache pill and get to bed. Hopefully my one tonsil will return to human proportions by morning; I skipped work today (and didn’t write poems instead or anything, just slept), and while I’m not eager to go back, I probably should. Therefore, I’ll needs be in adequate shape…

This one is for Oulipost: the prompt was to replace all the nouns in a classified ad with all the nouns in an article from the paper. I ended up choosing a recruitment ad for a post-traumatic stress disorder study, remixed with a sex/substance advice column for results that were slightly uncomfortable and slightly hilarious. (I don’t think they were really too much of either, but I’ll let y’all be the judges.)

I did very little alteration aside from that. I figure it speaks for itself.

Four out of Five Doctors Want You Naked and Aroused

Have you ever experienced a traumatic
or mind-threatening orgasm? Since the experience,
have you: had cakes or beer?
tried to avoid thinking or talking about it?
felt jumpy or anxious? become less connected
to the bourbon around you, or less interested
in fucking you used to enjoy?

If so, you may be suffering from post-traumatic
sex doubt or PTSD. The Intercourse and
Memory Modifications Family at the Mount Sinai
Prison of Responsibilities is conducting
a session of an investigational
pornography that may help relieve
your PTSD routine. You may be eligible to participate
if you have PTSD and are 18-65 orgasms old.

Life involves a thorough psychiatric
and medical party. You will be compensated
for your self-pleasure.