Poetry

Routines

About once a day I think about the wetness of Ellen’s eyes as Obama placed the Presidential Medal of Freedom around her neck. The other day on Ellen the entertainment guests were hip-hop dancers who busk on the subway. After their routine she calls out to her assistant Andy. ‘Andy, bring in the hat’, a giant baseball cap into which she hurls bricks of money. ‘I think we need more, Andy. Another 10,000’. The men dance on the furniture, Tom-Cruise style, like each 10k is a Presidential Medal of Freedom. ‘Another 10,000, Andy.’ She stops, even though the hat isn’t a quarter full. She wants to take a minute to thank the sponsor, but it only takes two seconds.

 

Every time an upper-middle-class artist tells me they are anti-capitalist, I ask them what an interest rate is. They’ve got an MFA in not reading the news. They’ll put a hoodie in their latest installation, as if to say
‘oh, exactly’, as if to say ‘come on boys – art – let’s do this’, as if to say ‘an interest rate is the cost of borrowing a hoodie from my ex-boyfriend’, as if to say ‘an interest rate is letting your NY Times subscription lapse because they tweet the headlines for free’.

 

Whenever I drink an Aperol Spritz I think of that summer everyone drank Aperol Spritzes, while talking about how everyone was drinking Aperol Spritzes. The summer before people pretended to prefer orange wine to a nice dry riesling. That’s when I knew Brexit would happen. People just want to belong to smaller and smaller unities. No one is an island, but sometimes you can hold one in your hand: foam against the rocks, oily sunset, Italian herb garden over the breeze.

 

Every few months my mum texts ‘Have you heard of Rupi Kaur?’

And I reply:

                           thank you for taking an interest

                                             in my career

 

About once a year my friend asks what the difference is between an ironic jerk and a jerk. I think it’s a stupid question. The difference is irony. 

 

On Rachmaninoff’s birthday I read Frank O’Hara’s poem ‘On Rachmaninoff’s Birthday’. (Frank is my favourite sit-down comic.)

 

Every fortnight my therapist offers the same advice: you have already used your ten free appointments. I view this as a Lacanian entanglement. No, I want to say, you have used my ten free appointments.

 

I’m in this S&M relationship where I let this dom-top me text inanities every night. Your camera really captures the light./The only thing it captures is light, Gerard. 

 

I’ve joined a group thread with straight men, or mostly straight men. It’s like those TV documentaries where they place an arachnophobe beside tarantulas in a bell jar. I’ve been chatting with them every day for five years. Now when someone says something agreeable, I say ‘woof’. In that straight-man way – woof. I’ve convinced them all sport is dance.

 

Is humour an attempt to avoid the basic fact of your desire? My mental-health plan is correcting the grammar in my therapist’s thought-of-the-week emails. See that’s the difference, I explain to him, between white artists and white poets. White poets read the news. Or they write poems about white artists as if to say ‘oh, exactly’, as if to say ‘come on, Greg, we can make this work’, as if to say ‘at least return my hoodie’, as if to say ‘I’ll let you borrow my password for the Times.’

 

Once a week the man I’m sleeping with appears to me in a dream to say ‘every poem has its own ontology’. ‘What does that mean?’ I ask in the dark. ‘For instance,’ he explains, ‘in this poem there is a conceivable future.’ When I wake I turn to him and say, ‘you deserve every happiness, but I deserve more’.

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