January 2002
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Art is Gossip told by Toads
"let us
begin where I must
from the failure of systems"
-- Robert Duncan

Today I am at the point of copious vomiting - a telltale sign of extreme caffeine withdrawal or bubonic plague. 

When I had my first seizure, passing out during Superbowl 30, I managed to fall down and break off my front tooth.  Later, I considered mailing it to my brother, who has a false front tooth as well.  But there are a few things we donít need to share with the ones we love; like herpes, seizures and sex poems.  I doubt I'll ever write to my brother saying, "Oh happy days!  Iíve fallen in love with the owner of two Porsches and a house in Marin."

Cherry Vanilla [from Andy Warhol's Factory]:
 I became like an acid queen.  I loved it.  My looks got crazier.  I started getting into things like pink wigs, teasing them up to make them really big and like bubbles.  Iíd wear goggle glasses and real crazy make-up: spidery lashes and white lips and micro-minis-Kenneth Jay Lane earrings.  Big Robert Indiana LOVE earrings-giant love paintings on my ears.  Little bikini undies, a band around the top; and we made these silver dresses that were just silver strings hanging on us.  I was surrounded by a lot of gay boys in designing and decorating who would always give me a hand in pulling some look together.  I would go out half-naked with see-through things.  You took a scarf and wrapped it around you and thought you were dressed.

Thereís no future in becoming the object of more and more intense adoration like Jayne Mansfield - dying in electric blue go-go boots - in the top left hand drawer of my dresser you will find, in no special order:  two pairs of wolford velvet de luxe black stockings, one pair of black shockshop classic nylons (w/ultra sheer lycra lace effect stocking top), and one black lace suspender with matching high-crotch briefs w/ transparent mesh panel in back - as if any of this, as if putting on enough black eyeliner would make me more lovable - come to think of it, I donít know anyone in Marin either.

Should I let my hair down to my shoulders and become a scruffy femme fatale  One day it will all fall out into somebody's sink and I will have to check into a serious wig boutique.  No more trip-hop night clubs - those dark, sweaty holes of my childhood, with flannel clad stage divers and young women singing about oral sex.  Everything I've learned came from my brother.  Iíve never had a Ďsistuh,í just knew young men with the right cheekbones and asses that looked good in skirts.  No more psychedelic Thursdays and cheap beer.  No more Divine.  No more zebra patterned carpets in the Men's Room.  No more vinyl and velvet gay glam fests.  Everything about sex scares me.  Margaret Atwood once asked a group of women at a university why they felt threatened by men.  The women said they were afraid of being raped, beaten and killed.  She then asked a group of men why they felt threatened by women.  The men answered they were afraid the women would laugh at them. 

My brother is out in California, in creative arts, making a movie in which a man describes to his psychoanalyst a dream:  heís Joan díArc, waiting in prison to be executed.  An angel comes down and gives him a doughnut - chocolate with sprinkles, his favorite kind.  My brother puts little gold sequins in the frosting of the doughnut and used a special lens that makes it sparkle like a disco ball, blinding the viewer as light pours through the doughnutís hole.  But before he can finish the doughnut, he wakes up.  He asks the psychoanalyst if this means anything.  She thinks for a second, and says, 

Considering I do not trust my emotions nor my body anymore.  Considering the last letter my brother wrote me said he saw a guest poet/lecturer who "spent $1000.oo recently to go to El Salvador and deliberately put herself in a nasty situation so she could have material for a new article.  Of all the information she gathered, she said she used only 10% of it."  I quickly scrawl on a postcard using my own electric eyeliner, "Dearest, Iím at the point of copious vomiting"  - heíll understand.

Giving up my vices: no more Pucciniís La Boheme.  No more Singapore Boom Boom Club, where drag queen Kumar screeches, "weíre supposed to be one Asian family but we donít care about that, la!  Iím going to talk about something elseÖIím going to talk about cock, very much la!"  No more Ravelís Bolero or Second Piano Concerto by Rachmaniov.  Iíll even tear down Nijinsky, taped above my television, dancing to Líapres-midi díun faune.

 "Is sex a fabulous comedy needing skillful acting?"  Like how Coyote lengthened his penis, cast it out across a river to copulate with Mallard Duck Girl?  Or how Inari took young Foxboy to bed?  Once Monkey slept with a ghostwitch, teeth gnashing furiously in her vagina?  These are my Voltaires of pubic literature.  But donít take it from me.  Like Plato said, "hey, Iím a white boy.  As for myself, I know nothing."

I want to tell you about having to go the bars in Detroit - when I am sober and have to keep telling myself, "I think itís a myth that people can have fabulous sex with people they donít know."  Thank you Mz. Raquel Welch - if I looked like you Iíd say the same thing too.  My world cracks in half over a kiss - thatís the problem with this poem, itís like knowing youíll never get published in Altaís  radical feminist Shameless Hussy Press.  Like my friend Aurora, who finds men a turn-off, but went to a Chippendaleís show in London anyway - it was her friendís bachelorette party - the muscle bound cheese-cake on stage took off his g-string, swung it over his head once, twice & flung it out into the audience - hitting my friend in the face with a wet splotch you could hear all the way to Charing Cross Station - the next day Auroraís eyebrow, even her whole eyeball, begin to itch terribly - she goes to a doctor, an eyeball doctor I suppose, who says, "I donít know what youíve been doing, but you have pubic lice all in your eyeball!"

Once Bobbie draped his arm over my shoulder, cigarette in one hand.  You know the gesture.  It couldíve meant anything.  I was once like him.  As soon as I left home, all I wanted to do was bump & grind on the dance floor, sweat those massive thighs, steep forbidden buttocks - dry hump anything that was hard.  I knew the rules.  Spending hours at home memorizing every line of Milton Moore, Maplethorpeís Man in the Polyester Suit; while Sir Mix-a-Lotís Cake Boy & Esquivelís Space Age Bachelor Pad Music played in the background.  Being celibate these last two years, I must admit sex was nothing like a night drive through Detroit.  No one was left moaning in the streets as I passed by.  Half crazed with drool.  Choking on my own heavy fluids.  I must have gotten it wrong.  Mae West couldíve been right, "itís better to be looked over than over looked."  I still remember that hand on my shoulder, a pressure greater than any desire I feel today.  Saying to me, "I got a right - gimme some skin!"  Yes.  Very much la.

(c) Zachary Chartkoff.  All Rights Reserved.

See Zachary's work in the Poetry section.