Notes: San Francisco, Ruins (2018) — annotated

Sacred Space — Arrival

The wrinkled woman
resting in the doorway
hustles aside,
her bones twitching hard:

“I'm sorry, Sir,”
as I pull my bag into
the Inn on Folsom Street1.

⥨

Exposed brick walls try hard
in my suddenly empty room.
Industrial.  Rough-Masculine.
I don’t...feel anything.
I thought I’d feel something.

No ghosts. Nothing.

⥨

I know the old fairies flew south
years ago.  No place for the
Auden-faced.  And the demons?
Those super-charged leather
dangers stalking prey in red steam? 
Now they cam2 from rented rooms
in Sacramento and San Diego, 
their hunting names changed 
from Steve to Chase, TwinkChase3,
ever-so-sweet-and- 
special Chase.

I don't know what to pray for
or to, not in this abandoned church.

⥨

Walking While Thinking — SoMa4

What if the usurpers,
the influencers paying $1.9 million 
for a pissed piece of SoMa,

are just waiting for us

to die?

What if these squatters,
these supplanters,
are the Old City’s fevered urge,
lusting after land and
Better Homes-ness,
trading-in sweaty stories
for a kid in an UPPAbaby5,
the ultimate accessories? 

Makes sense as senses
now scent safety,
porning lean clean high-pitched
action-figures in Lower Castro6. 

Everyone’s lost their balls.

⥨

Pause — Phone Call Home

“Mike called,” says the man on the phone.
My boyfriend.
Back in LA.
“What’d he want?”
“Know where you were.”
“What’d you say?”
“Up in San Francisco. Probably getting disillusioned.”

That’s why we’re at 20 years. More or less.

⥨

Exhibit — Dolores Park7 Cafe. Conversation, overheard
while eating expensive steel-cut oatmeal.

“And so he's interested in you 
finding a tenant for your property.”

“Yeah, and we have so much
in common!” 

Outside, those who can only afford 
the sidewalk are no-shows to the 
convention of web-developers and 
Mommy-n-Me in Lululemon8.  

I’m a haunted old spirit:

“The best never survive.”

⥨

Walking Richmond9, after searching
GG Park10 for Signs of Life.

They all have money, or They have all the money.  
Houses high atop garage doors painted
in expected candy-shop pastels.
Millions couldn't buy in. But it's also an 
attitude; they fit. This kaleidoscopic 
nursery is their world.

I like the sidewalk now; it’s original,
the hard-marked past, bones of my city,
cast when these houses were just houses,
you could hear shouting because people
shouted back before dot.coms and Grindr11, 
when bandanas12 spoke not conclusively, 
you had to look a guy in the eyes
and the park was full of risk and joy. 

My world: on that older hill,
the one covered in open-faced beauty
and daring, weathered desire. 
Somewhere.
Or sometime?

⥨

Processing — SFO13

A cocoon of security.  We pay
to pretend.

You can’t pretend in 
bus stations.

But here, I wonder with
beating breathing heart:
What would I do
if I was asked for spare change
at the United ticket counter?
If I wanted a cigarette? 
If someone stood up and said
preferred pronouns are simply 
an expansion of binary imprisonment?

If an out-loud not-texted internet-free
political need happened?

Their aggrieved-teenager answer:
“Is it so wrong to live unencumbered? 
Does everything real 
have to be uncomfortable?”

It’s easy to get turned around
by children.

Now I miss their sandcastles,
the peaceful playset neighborhood.  
Nobody who doesn’t belong wanders by.
It’s nice.  Just like an airport.

It’s all that’s left.

⥨

Reflection — Flying, looking back

San Francisco: where dreams 
and memory
lay buried.

Only ruins survive;
fate has fashioned them weapons
hope can’t overcome:
marriage bourgeois magazines health 
money a future an attitude 
clean pecs
success.

But still... 

I look back as the plane banks
for SoCal, for LA and my 
old boyfriend who will greet me
outside third-world LAX14 and drive
the stained and broken 40515 home, 
where books and vacuuming
wait; and I see my once-home fading
into a sunsetted Ocean that touches
every time I’ve cared about, waiting,
just waiting, 
and I find myself praying:

Maybe you will be broken again,
so like me when you led 
my strange and halting body 
through cracked unwanted lovely 
streets to flowers and eucalyptus,
pro-offered grass in sheltered 
shadow and men became yours, 
cool-touching breeze, wounded 
naked-love in pine-fragranced 
gasping way-too-crowded dirty 
Heaven…

I miss you.

Shake off this juvenile dream.

Please, God, let us be in love again. 

Notes:

1 	past and (somewhat) current location 
        of San Francisco’s gay leather community
2 	interactive filming of oneself engaged in 
        sexual/intimate acts, either alone or with 
        others, for a live internet audience, in 
        exchange for money and/or tokens
3 	unblemished young adult male, typically 
        between the ages of 18-20, who utilizes his 
        perceived innocence or actual lack of 
        sexual experience in the pursuit of (generally) 
        older adult males/“daddies”
4 	South of Market; historically, the economically 
        disadvantaged/“seedy” section of San Francisco
5 	high-end baby stroller; average cost: $850
6 	once known as GayMecca, the center of San 
        Francisco’s Gay Liberation Movement of the 
        mid-1970s
7 	somewhat successful example of urban 
        revitalization/renewal; once known as DrugPatch 
        Park
8 	high-end workout wear favored by teen girls 
        and their mothers
9 	neighborhood/district in the northwest corner 
        of San Francisco, just north of Golden Gate Park
10    Golden Gate Park; known for its Victorian-styled 
        Conservatory of Flowers and lengthy wooded 
        trails;  iconic location for public sexual activity
11	dating application designed to identify and 
        communicate with potential gay male sex 
        partners; lists inclinations and availability, as 
        well as possible locations for sexual activity
        (host, travel, public, etc.)
12     heavy handkerchief positioned in the back 
         pocket of gay males to communicate sexual 
         inclination;  historically, the color and side of 
         placement indicated sexual appetite (eg:  
         hunter-green in right-hand pocket = looking 
         for a “daddy”).  No conclusive guide existed/
         exists for the placement/meaning of the bandana.
13     San Francisco International Airport
14     Los Angeles International Airport
15     also known as the San Diego Freeway;  largest 
         connector between the West Side of Los Angeles-
         proper and the populous San Fernando Valley

Just in case this wasn’t enough poetry for you, click here.

And yeah, there are books. (Click there, on “Books”)

Marriage as Privilege

Thomas and Alito demonstrate something important: rights that are GRANTED can be TAKEN AWAY. And we have a word for rights that can be taken away: privileges.

Marriage as a privilege. Not as a sign of commitment, or love, but as a sign of privilege.

If I was married, I’d be pissed off. People might start thinking the value of my relationship has less to do with love than it does with a desire to belong to an exclusive club.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisondurkee/2020/10/05/thomas-alito-urge-supreme-court-to-fix-decision-legalizing-marriage-equality/

Beginning Middle Man — Poems

Beginning Middle Man. Its poetry is surprisingly straightforward, honest and strong, adult without apology. All gay-eros, all the time, a way of remaining true to what I’ve known since I was 17: if we’re not talking about sex, then we’re not talking about ourselves.

These poems are like most men I know and love, rough around the edges and awkward in the extreme. But still beautiful. 

Available at:

Lulu.com

Amazon.com


More? Click here.

Upon Seeing the Hollywood Sign

“Did you ever notice,”
Tate asks as he pulls down his shorts,
“that when they ask,
‘What’s your dream?’
like they do in that stupid movie —”
he turns around to face the tall white letters —
“about the prostitute with a heart of gold —
what was it?  Oh, yeah, Pretty Woman —
that they never —
camera ready?”

I say yes, the camera is ready.

Tate opens wide his arms to The Sign,
hefted cheeks glistening, reflecting the sun,
flexing newfound freedom, a bounce…

“ — really let you choose 
off-menu?”

The phone makes the sound cameras make,
a sharp click, as if something real just happened.

“Know what I mean?”
he asks as he pulls up his lucky shorts.

More? Certainly. Click here.

“Lorca”

Hey, bro!
I did her!
With sunglasses on!

— Memorial Acclamation

Go do it, then,
whatever it is that you do —
sex someone, buy that ring — 
film it, even, make
a record of your elementary courage
and then social your accomplishment
to your kind.
After all, you have the keys — 
(Secret gesture.
Secret gesture.
Secret gesture!)
— and I should want to be
just
like
you.

But, 
no.
If you’re going to do it, hijo,
choose a field where 
you will get caught
and shot
and then I’ll know you’re real.
Let your body stand erect 
as rifles are raised by priests and soldiers;
stand before their righteous hate, alone,
knowing you die for your desire.
Then I’ll follow.

In your childlike voice: 
“It was just a little fun!”
“Why do you have to be so serious?”

Mi pequeñito, you have a thousand ways 
to explain your survival — 
as his blood sings from Spain,
intones a truth known only to me:

Divinity is a dead body,
sinking and stinking,
unliked and unfriended,
shot by justice,
abhorred by Church,
buried nowhere but my heart.

Cristo amó.
Cristo murió.
Cristo murió.

Located here.

BackAlley Jack

Learning from the best. A new story.

“Our future’s so bright we gotta wear shades.”

Every graduation speech, ever

Everyone tells stories in high school, about what they do and who they get with.   The baseball team at Van Nuys High School, 13000 Oxnard Street, Van Nuys, California, was a great source of these stories.  Whether they were true or not — that didn’t matter. They kept our minds from imploding under the weight of Curricular Standards of Achievement. 

It was 1985, and we were all just waiting to get out into the world, any world. And when that seemed impossible, or would take too long, we took matters into our own hands.  It’s called in Educational Literature “The Creative Relationship to Boredom.”

Where would we be without boredom?  Probably still eating raw meat.

There was Toby “the Bat” Bauer, slugger, blond, a man-child who would eventually go bald and who, it seemed, could inspire quite a few of the teachers.


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