Poets and Prostitutes


He was a lover of street prostitutes;
not the sable-wrapped uptown girls
bathed in Chanel No.5 and punishing Daddy
by selling their tight-toned wares retail,
but rather those wholesale working-class girls
perfumed by the sweat of their labors;
standing beneath broken streetlights at 2 a.m.,
in cheap, colorful makeup and Wal-Mart lingerie,
with asses bubbling back and semi-flaccid breasts;
those colorful painted whores of the night.

In his youth, he had been scorched by the beautiful
and he would never again have the fevered yearning
of lying with flesh more pliant and comely.

Street-walkers fed his pathos and filled his inner void.
They would let him kiss them on the mouth,
and wouldn’t complain when he couldn’t get hard
because of too much beer and whiskey.

They’d always wait patiently, filing their nails,
chewing open-mouthed wads of gum –
but most of all, they would never, ever
fill the silence with meaning-less chatter.

If he couldn’t function, they didn’t condemn him,
but would play with themselves upon request
so at least the failing of the hour felt sexy.

Most of all, they didn’t lie!

They wouldn’t tell him what a great lover he was
or offer up false platitudes on his endowment;
They used their real names and would share their coke
for an extra twenty-five, and he would pour them full shots.

Sometimes, he would write beautiful sonnets for them
and they would genuinely be moved to tears.

If the sex was lousy, they took it in stride and didn’t bitch.
They didn’t conspicuously spit into folded Kleenex
or stuff their mouths with wads of spearmint gum
after he had come, just to lose the taste of him.
Rather, they swallowed because they, too, didn’t care
if they got one more filthy, fucking disease.

They were like him; defeated and empty,
just grateful not to be judged and discarded
like yesterday’s rotten fruit.

My Winter Years

These are my winter years –
when regret and recrimination ravage the soul.
Half-remembered memories rattle like marbles
in my brainpan and conspire against my forward vision.
My voice is but an opium whisper, and offers no defense
in the foul darkness of my affliction.

The souls of my feet rest upon a cushion of prayers that
never took flight, for my appeals were falsely laid;
and in this moment, I am content to lie upon my prickly bed,
dankly scented with the sweat of whores and cheap whiskey.
I offer no apology, and upon God’s ear none would surely fall,
for upon my cross He has forsaken me to my earthly merriment.

The familiar smell of petrichor wafts through my open window,
and for a moment the abyss before me appears clean washed and inviting,
stretched beneath a crescent moon like the hangman’s noose.
My dreams are shards of colored glass laced with the blood of my inequities,
The cold hours of this night unwind slowly, but unwind they do
while my eyes yearn to see Death’s gnarled fingers
reach out for me in the gray fog of morning.

These are my winter years –
when the mirror of my existence reflects the harshest light
and my bones rattle in contempt.
Free will was never intended for men like me
whose eyes grow dim with temptation’s agony.
If He had plans for me, He kept them to Himself,
and so I have chartered my own course beneath starless skies.