is the muggers who won’t unionize
& so work, 4 AM, the Park’s Great Lawn
in rain’s insistent April spritz.
but right balsamic fighting the eggplant
for the glory of both—transaction
& quid pro quo & every illusion a forfeit—
it’s the way you are passed from glance
to glance the crosstown blocks to Zabar’s.
after so much handling? But in the subway,
the Times Sq shuttle I always took to the movies,
I had to hug my self to myself because the you
had so many mutations, all of us rocking, body
to body, my short ride to a two-feature heaven.
In one seedy theater, I saw an off-screen knife-fight—
maybe about a Coke—two guys at it, cut for cut.
But the audience—daylong dwellers, teens & drunks—
New Yorkers, urbane, eyes always on the movie
choosing Art—just shifted a few seats away.
Mailer thanked me when I returned THE NAKED
AND THE DEAD a hundred pages shorter—for years
integrity meant postponing some else’s fame.
It meant at writers’ retreats that I’d steal back
the Promethean words wrongly used—
often I took discs of whole novels,
but usually word by word I reclaimed integrity
for someone else, if only erasing a few poem-lines
from a shared computer. Use Van gogh’s ear
as a love-token (he did), not in a quarrel
about integrity. I’m not Hitler’s Eichmann, confessing
somebody else did it—I stole TYPHOON’S MISTRESS
from your agent’s mail-drop; I made it confetti.
Why did you let the rebels ravage Evita, & overplaying
the metaphor, make the typhoon re-define the slave
quarters as it wiped away the island’s beauty?
Roderick’s revenge too was sexually suggestive & part
of the poor taste that I’ve enjoyed erasing.