Up there it’s a bastard: rain, tears, spit, piss.
I’ve had it all. Down here, though, each deep breadth
pleases; the sun is a beacon. There’s bliss
in this pressure per square inch. Crushing depth,
they call it. All the sky is full of blue
ripples. There are two-legged boys I know, shy
when they first meet mother. What’s that haiku?
“Mother I never knew,/ every time I
see the ocean/ every time.” Yes. Indeed.
Go down, love, I tell them. They taste like brine.
How odd that things made of bone and stone thrill.
I had a lover who called me “Jah;” smoked weed
floating on the surface. I took what’s mine
“I love you,” he said, as he kissed each gill.
Season’s fire enters and I burn. Always
flame; this does not get easier. Aunty,
where is a spring of hope when I’m ablaze?
Where is hope when the one I love leaves me?
All our old men talk of love like they talk
of all things; narrowly. Hell’s nothingness
is far better than a broken heart. Cock
and cunt. Ass and mouth. I am a chalice
boy; born in a pentagram. Take this smudge
stick, Aunt, take this bone bolline. We shall cut
it out. This fire. This heart. This pain. Carnage
in bed. Now cut the strings to this puppet.
Puppets burn. The one I loved left, I bloomed
into fervor, wanting to be consumed.
* * *
The Aspens are so beautiful
they do not understand anything I said.
— Wong May
Before there were radios there was still blue
static. I love static, the hiss-scrunch
of all those other worlds I can’t get to.
Before there were machines that let us punch
a hole in the ice sky no one listened
to static’s song. “The sky is not a roof.”
Static is not a fist. Language deafened
us to the mysteries of static. Soundproof
language. It’s not violence that I’m after.
But pain does take me to where I forget
everything. The first time I cut myself
I turned — was amazed that such a vulgar
noise could sing so lovely. Do not regret
language; just listen to the song itself.
* * *
He took a stone’s face. He took a rock’s face.
Now when I’m out walking in the mountains
I do not know what he looks like. The grace
I called love has left me. There were thousands
of souls here. His face was not one who passed
me. I first spied San-shin at a hot springs
up near Jangsan. Knobby old man with vast
balls. He laughed at my ignorance of things.
Mountain gods like sex rough. For a whole week
I went around with lockjaw. But he tired
of me, or maybe I wasn’t up to
his hard transcendental standards. His peak
is bare. The cold god I once desired
thought that I was only good for a screw.
* * *
Note: In the Korean peninsula, San Shin is a mountain spirit venerated in both Buddhist temples and by local shamans. To say he is the embodiment of a mountain top fails to capture his true meaning, for all peaks in Korea are considered sacred spots for the gods, which might account for the large number of hot springs and spas that claim to be the personal favorite of San Shin.
“Where are we going?” Sen asked. “Somewhere new.”
Yuudai pulled him along. Sen looked over
his left shoulder at the shadows that grew
down the street, the broken streetlamp. Litter
blew this way and that. But, to Sen’s surprise,
Yuudai pressed on. Weird kid, he thought. Before
long, though, he was lost; didn’t recognize
the streets. Soft, a snatch of song by The Cure
came to him. “Hey,” he called, “where is this place?
Is it close?” “Hai.” The night was deserted.
Sen kicked trash out of the way. The boy’s face
glowed. “I am still tripping from his acid,”
he thought. “Speed and weed and all those small sins.
May rot lead us to where the fun begins.”
A line. Souls at the door. Sen heard thunder;
a dark music. “Follow me,” said Yuudai,
skipping the queue, waving at the bouncer.
The club was a wall of noise; a DJ
booth took up the stage. Between laser beams
bodies were milling, dancing, cavorting;
shadows making erotic blasphemes
on the dance floor. Boots, top hats, billowing
skirts. A mess of leather, makeup, hair dye,
metal studs, fetish gear, body art. Sen
was stunned. “Do you like it?” He nodded. “Hai.”
“Let’s have fun” — and the boy vanished within,
leaving Sen to shiver with an odd chill;
the way perfume left behind haunts us still.
Sen was pushed back and forth by the crushing
mass of bodies. Halfway through the packed throng
he stopped, leaning against the wall, closing
his eyes, listening to the pulsing song.
Hollow vocals sounding disconnected.
Lost. All alone. He blinked and realized
he’d been standing there a while. A putrid
stench, a waft, hung in the air. It surprised
him that he could smell anything at all.
He went to the bar, looking for Yuudai.
Had he really lost him? His menthol
cigarette sputtered, the coal turning gray.
“Bela Lugosi’s dead,” a touch of dread
as the song keened, “undead, undead, undead.”
Sen touched the arm of a boy sitting next
to him. “Moshi-moshi, can you help me?
I am trying to find –” If Sen felt vexed
about Yuudai it passed; his mood lewdly
changed the moment this new boy turned around.
“You,” he said. “I’m looking for you.” “You’re hot.”
Sen blushed, as if it were the most profound
thing he had ever heard. Fuck me, he thought.
The boy handed him a drink. “I’m Riko.”
he purred, “and tonight you shall be my whore.”
“I hope so.” “I know so.” The boy’s afro
and dress made him Guro: innocent gore.
Sen had a taste for Harajuku boys;
androgynous beauty, like plastic toys.
They called it the “Broken Doll” look that year.
“Guro Lolita.” The problem, Sen thought,
was his makeup; lathered from ear to ear,
Riko’s face looked as blank as a robot;
a mask behind the thinly painted lines
of his black lips and eyebrows. “Been here long?”
“A long time.” The boy smiled, flashing canines
in the dark; singing along with the song
that filled the air. They grinned at each other
over the music. “Do you want to dance?”
The night seethed around them with its odor
of lust, of rot, leaving Sen in a trance.
He licked his lips as if the meat were fresh.
Tonight he would consume this strange boy’s flesh.
Dancers swirled around, as if they would drown
in a sea of bodies. Sen felt Riko
grind up rudely against him, up and down.
Midnight passed. He was exhausted, his slow
shuffle dance, now out of sync with the song
shaking the room. Something smelled of decay.
“I need to sit,” he said. Something was wrong.
But what? The two odd boys shambled their way
back to the bar. Drink followed drink. Sen’s head
hurt. He swayed. Riko linked his arms with Sen’s.
“I’m drunk. How is this going to end?” Sen said.
Riko smiled: “I’ll show you how it begins;
with a kiss that knows both lust and anguish;
it starts with two lover boys and a wish.”
In a green haze Sen let himself be led.
They passed a lounge where a crowd of shadows
circled a table. “Wuzz all that?” Sen said.
“Nothing, pet.” A smile flit across Riko’s
painted-on lips. “Nothing you need to fret
about yet.” “Where are we?” Sen glanced, red-eyed,
around the foul men’s room. “Do not forget
what I am about to give you.” Sen’s pride
and joy flopped limply in the boy’s cold grasp.
“Tsk, aren’t you called Sin?” Riko smirked, “frightened
to try something new?” Sen gave a small gasp
as his cock, in those gray fingers, thickened
as grave cold lips — “Bela Lugosi’s dead” —
drained him until the victim had been bled.
The boy was gorgeous in the middle hour,
being part flesh and all rot. The sexton
watched him rise up and cast away his sour
smelling funeral shroud. His cracked, swollen
limbs soon smoothed themselves out. Flesh returning
to his frame. Dead boys make the best drama
queens. Still, love is love. The sexton, stepping
out from behind a gravestone, nausea
that the living feel for the dead quickly
fading, wrapped his warm arms around the cold,
little boy; pulling his eerie beauty
close, as if love was something we could hold.
Sacred love, no matter how odd or small;
we are blessed if we find our love at all.