Kay Gabriel


BLIND ITEM
 
1. Peroration

Stephen Ira is in the bath!
Stephen Ira is ten feet tall!
Stephen Ira wears bright blue trunks!

The scandal Stephen Ira
The dandy Stephen Ira
The infamy, Stephen Ira

Stephen reads the poems of Roberto Bolaño,
reverent in church.
Stephen reviews the Letters to James Alexander,
and takes them to the zoo.
Stephen enjoys the personas of Dennis Cooper,
bluely inside.

My invoice for 78 cents, Stephen Ira
My receipt for a whiskey rocks, Stephen Ira?
My rich deserts, do they look okay?

Stephen, musk-redolent
Stephen, multi-orgasmic
Stephen, quasi-violinist

Liker of Forster, Stephen Ira!
Delighter in Stein, Stephen Ira!
Pleased by Genet, Stephen Ira!

As Doctor of Dental Science (D.D.S.):
thunderous, abrupt
As Philosophiae Doctor (Ph.D.):
impressive in shorts
As laboratory scientist (???):
moistly attentive

Plushly on the carpet, Querelle:
A loser of jeux, a cheat
Criminal in criminal body hair.

Transfixed at the mirror
and enjoying something made by her wife.
Alice, Gertrude, Gertrude, Alice, appetite.

More suggestive of infinity than any railway,
Stephen Ira! The Schlegels are upon us.
And what do you intend to do?

 
 
2. A Country Weekend

Stephen is late to catch our train. “Sorry,” he says, “I was on my antique telephone in a
nightgown. Guess the film!” But I let it slide. Why fight about it? We are going to the
country. Breathy chit-chat gives us an auspicious start, but directly we sit down a spirit of
the age appears neatly across the aisle with an inscrutable tome, which she folds across
her knee. Accosted!

THE RAT RACE: Pipe down about your email! This is the quiet car! Lights the fuck out!

She makes a good point, so we pick up our sandwich wrappers. The next car features a
granite bar, mood lighting, and crustpunk on the speakers. Ice-cubes in the shape of
pearls rattle with our relentless forward motion. Isn’t it glish, Stephen Ira! I open my
mouth to say so.

GAVIN DEGRAW, TENDING BAR: I know you! You’re that hot pants kids. Don’t you
have opinions? Well-fucked by moonlight, proud Titania! But I shan’t be having your
business, Mary!

What to do when both of you are Mary? We have to agree, even our currency shares our
proclivities, well-assed by moonlight. Shall we proceed to the lounge car, Stephen Ira?

Oh, for want of a fainting couch! Yet as we pass into the car I swoon onto a convenient
chaise longue. When I come to Stephen is talking to a man in achingly tight pants. “Me
too!” I say. Stephen makes introductions: “Kay! Come meet The Real Deal. He plays
piano for the lounge society.” The lounge society? For indeed women around us chomp
on fat cigars. Sofas stuffed against loveseats recall so many bumper cars, an afternoon on
the Seine. The Real Deal strikes up Porter—

THE REAL DEAL: You’re sublime—you’re the Analytic—you’re a lime—for a churlish
critic—

This Real Deal tickles my nose, Stephen Ira, can we keep him? But then the rest of the
lyrics momentarily escape me out of embarrassment. Farewell, tight pants! Away we fly to
the following car. The train, indeed, devours the countryside hurtling on towards—but
here we have arrived in our own private bureaucrat.

CREAM OF THE CROP, Private Bureaucrat: What’s the big idea? Which among you
frequents the state capital? Show me some plastic! This form belongs to another decade!
What is the glyph beneath your port of entry stamp? Who sews the pants? Who lays the
tracks? Who sets this thing in motion?

Thus baffled by questions we debark quite by accident at the last stop on the weekend,
and were forced to start all over when, just now, the telephone began to ring—


 
3. Matins

I brush my teeth with the writer Stephen Ira

I masturbate with the writer Stephen Ira

I run laps with the writer Stephen Ira

I tend bar with the writer Stephen Ira

I pull the plug on the writer Stephen Ira

I dilate next the writer Stephen Ira

Am in cahoots with the writer Stephen Ira

brew coffee for the writer Stephen Ira

stamp stamps with the writer Stephen Ira

I lick letters to the writer Stephen Ira

I sext the writer Stephen Ira, on accident

Am up all night with the writer Stephen Ira

Am at pains to determine, Stephen Ira,

My morning schedule with the writer Stephen Ira

with the writer Robert Duncan

with the writer Kylie Minogue

with the writer David Wojnarowicz

with the writer Stuart Hall

with the writer Neil Smith

with the writer James Earl Jones

with the writer Sylvère Lotringer

with the writer Sky Ferreira

with the writer Rylee Lyman

with the writer Hart Crane

with the writer A.B. Robinson

with the writer Gertrude Stein

with the writer Louis Zukofsky

with the writer Samuel “Chip” Delany

with the writer G. “W.F.” Hegel

with the writer Gaius Valerius Catullus

with the writer David W. Pritchard

with the writers Zach LaMalfa and Cam (Cameron) Scott

with the writer Friedrich Schlegel


with the copycat August Wilhelm Schlegel

with the utopian Helen Schlegel

with the symbol Margaret Schlegel

with the pregnant Schlegel

with the perilously rural Schlegel

with the upbeat low-rent Schlegel

with the Schlegel Stephen Ira

and the Schlegel Leonard Bast

and the Schlegel Leonard Bookcase

 
4. Noises Set in Motion

Like machinery aufhob manufacture i.e.:
preserved and cancelled, “superseded”
since “sublated” is (a nitpick?) a table reserved for G.W.F.
and his friend G.W.F. Hegel, it is fancy,
it is latinate, it has a determinate origin,
it wears elaborate socks, it incorporates the thread
from its socks into its person, we might suggest:
“sublate” is a little gay.

Thus “reproduces,” “blots out,”
“abstracts”—like machinery and manufacture thus today
who can tell the bather from the bath?
And would you like one?
And would you like to tell your friends?
And Stephen Ira, where is he?

**


KAY GABRIEL is a poet and classicist. Her chapbook Elegy Department Spring (BOAAT Press, 2017) was the finalist for the 2016 BOAAT chapbook prize judged by Richard Siken. With David W. Pritchard, she’s also the author of Impropria Persona (Damask Press, 2017). Find her provocations on Twitter at @unit01barbie.

Shiv Kotecha

“I’m Sorry Shiv, I’m Sorry Diana”
 

He didn’t fuck her for years.
And she begged him to.

But they had a son.
So, that’s a lie.

They fucked probably
a couple of times.

They definitely fucked.
and she only probably

begged once or twice
before giving up

and loving him,
leveling her desire

to fuck him
against what she knew

was more reasonable
than begging him

to fuck her
as fucking a man,

as her son knew,
as she knew,

involved many
forms of begging.

As many as learning to
love a man does.

There were as many ways
To fuck by begging

As there were ways
to deal with a kid

who learns all that it knows
by flipping everything

it sees into a language
of begging.

It was true.
They fucked

to make him
and he made

sense of it.
Made sense of the men

who lied about wanting
to be fucked by men

for years by lying
repeatedly to anyone

who would listen
to him about the ways

in which those
that made him

begged like he did,
and didn’t fuck,

without apology,
maybe because he

knew men were for
the most part bad

at fucking women,
and when they were young,

at fucking men,
but at any age

were terrible to talk to
about fucking anybody,

and so chose to
disregard the ways

in which men might beg
beg women to fuck them

for the ways in which
women learned to lie

down and ask men to
do the begging for them

or maybe because
he wanted to be the man

fucked by men he knew
confused godliness for manliness

but only ever begged
to be fucked by women

and so chose not to be a god
himself or maybe because

he knew that
he could fake begging

for love as easily as
he could fake prayer

and that all it took
to absolve one lie

in the eyes of nobody
was another lie

that is said to them
with the conviction

with which a friend
says their friend’s name

to them, says Shiv,
says Diana, to get them,

to understand that they
don’t need each other

for anything more
than the friendship

they are willing to
give to one another

at any particular moment
as any moment between

two friends has nothing like
fucking that ties it together

to the next moment
than the lies that are

told by one friend to the other
about how they can’t.

She didn’t fuck him for years.
And he begged her to.

But so did he.
And he went on.

and on and
she listened to him.

She heard him say,
I don’t think

that I can.
Which he said.

He did.
She knew she heard him

say it.
And she heard him say

I really, truly don’t
like men.

That’s what he told her.
I’m not gay.

It was true.
He wasn’t.

And he said so
many times

or so she thought
he did,

sitting there,
with his legs

wrapped around
her face

as he said,
You don’t seem to get it.

She did
get it.

She was listening but
he just never said it.

He smiled.
She smiled.

He went on.
I don’t want to fuck you because—

Well I mean I love you but—
look, he said,

as he sat there
with her underneath him

waiting for him
to get off

or to say something
other than I love you

so that she could
do any one thing

that either of them
might want to

try doing to each
other purposefully

if she could just get her arm
out from underneath

his leg.
and put it on

top of him
as she once did

with her dick
before he had the chance

to say stop.
Look, he went on.

I don’t want this to be sexual.
Put these on.

She put on his pants.
She looked at him.

She had never even said
she wanted to

fuck.
She wanted to

be his friend
which she knew

involved as much specificity as
someone who you fuck might

involve specificity
but not openness

to things other
than fucking—

the same way
that loving a cat

that is yours
and no one else’s

might also involve,
one, specificity

but also two,
the understanding

that cats are ultimately
dumb creatures when it

comes to building a relationship
with anyone that chooses to

love them, having learnt,
over the course of thousands

of years that raw
flesh is tastier to them

than friendship
ever could be.

She decided she knew this
So she asked herself:

Does a dick
cat require being loved

the only way a dick
cat wants to be loved

or knows how to,
she asked herself.

She decided that
she was wrong,

at least about cats,
because she loved

too many of them
over the course of her life

and over the course
of theirs, as friends.

She thought about all the cats
she loved with the openness

of friendship
and whether or not

she’d let herself fuck
them even if they were all

dicks to her.
She thought about

the ways in which
though he would try

Shiv would never understand
that kind of love.

Can I call you “Diana”
she asked him.

You definitely can.
“Hi Diana.”

He gave her the smile
he gave her

before he would laugh
in her mouth.

Diana.
Come on, listen.

I don’t want to fuck you because—
let me tell you a joke.

Bicuriosity killed the cat.
You get it don’t you.

It’s a joke Diana.
It’s not gonna happen.

Just because I said it
doesn’t make it true.

But a joke works as a good example
of why I won’t ever fuck you.

This one in particular—
I mean what if

every time we fucked
a cat died.

You love cats.
You even write about them.

In your poem, “God was Right”
you give many examples

of why cats are good.
You make a claim,

like you always do,
that God decreed it.

Well,
how would you feel

if you were God,
if you were “Diana”

and every time I grabbed
your great big God dick

and shoved it in my mouth
while you pushed my head down

so that I could kiss
the shiny halo, golden and red

your pubes make
so as to both weep

and reap your God dick,
Diana, as worship

before you pull me off
and flip me around

and slap me in the face
to send me a reminder

like God sometimes does
that all things need to keep moving

that they cannot be
you command, like God

at all inert
or else we’d fail

at fucking
and if at that,

then at living also,
which is different

from what we are doing now,
not fucking but just talking—

a cat died.
Think about how many

cats would die
if we started to fuck.

I mean we wouldn’t
stop fucking.

We’d go to bed.
We’d get up.

We’d fuck.
We’d go to bed.

We’d get up.
We’d fuck and

we’d go to bed.
We’d get up and again

we’d fuck.
We’d go to bed and

we’d get up and
we’d fuck again

and cats would die.
Our cat would die.

And then more cats would die.
Every time we were awake

and were fucking.
Whatever that means.

Just think of their names,
he told her.

I’ve named all the cats
I’ve ever fucked.

Think of all the cats
you’ve named,

that people you call friends
have named,

think of all their names.
Émile. Monster.

Kirby, Arby.
Lanny, Beta, Parker

Ed, Alejandro.
Bev, Joey, Aaron.

Crayon, Tompkins.
Edie, Holly.

Minnie.
Mille.

Feller, Ester Jane, Fernando.
Nemmie, Corina.

Coco, Kitty,
Bridget, Opal.

Greg, Tim,
Anna, Hannah.

Marie, Radish.
Flanks. Delores.

Pyewacket.
Nina-bug. Sailor.

Tegan, Winnie and Josie.
Amie and Andy and Nook and Lucy

And Thomas and Studio Cat
And Erin and Josef and Chris.

Kristen and Brave Horatius.
Alfons.

How would you feel
if all these cats

with all these great names
about who they are

to us
and to your friends

stopped being sweet
stopped licking

stopped purring stopped biting
stopped stretching out

stopped wanting
anything at all

and died
when we fucked

and with them
our friendship.

The joke is just an example, Diana,
of how this won’t happen.

Seriously.
Diana.

You don’t seem to get it.
This is not an argument.

Let me tell you another joke.
Let me touch your pussy.

She laughed
as she sat there

with him sitting on her head
held tight between his legs.

her chin tucked up against his briefs.
Two, three maybe sheets of cotton,

she thought,
the only thing left between us.

I’m Isabel.
And he’s Pierre.

And we will fuck
like they did.

I’ll Pierre
his Isabel.

She looked at his briefs.
It’s all she could see.

And it’s the only thing—
she thought—between us.

Just two to maybe three sheets
of soft to the touch

cotton fabric.
It might not all even be cotton.

10% or 90%,
80% or 40%,

some of it’s gotta be
elastic

memory yarn
so that there’s a little lift to it,

she thought,
when he’s soft,

which he was,
for years,

but that I’ll get to see,
put to work,

when I finally
get him hard

and shove him in my mouth.
She cleared her throat

And began to say
This is good—

but had to stop
because she heard

Shiv purr and put
his hand into her

beard, calling
it his beard

and without saying
anything else bit

her as a cat bites
its toy, on her mouth

—This is good,
she went on,

like cats are good,
that there is not just one

but two or three
sheets of cotton

that I can get into
with my fingers.

Stroking the valleys
that dip against the hems.

I’ll flick them
until the cotton gets soft

and wet
and opens itself up to me

so that the dick just falls out of it
as the tongue does out of my mouth

and makes its way
to the dick

after having licked its way
through the folds of his

memory
cotton briefs.

It’d be just like he always said
fucking a cat

was like to him,
she thought,

as her hand
cupped his dick

so that she could feel
it sit there

with her,
softer than the cotton

of either his underwear or the sheets
as he looked at her

and said or felt nothing
but thought.

long and hard
to himself

about which of her friends
he’d let fuck him instead

counting them
like souvenirs

while deafening her
with his legs

for who knows
how long,

for a year,
probably more,

at which point
she realized

that what he wanted to say
even though he wouldn’t

was that everyone
had already fucked

everyone else
except for them

and that was the reason
they needed to keep talking.

Diana remembered then,
as Shiv did,

the time she realized
that she could not for

the life of her remember
where she had read

something Kenneth
Koch wrote, but which

she knew, at least,
that she had read

when she was 18
when Shiv met her,

not her, but his lover,
the one he learnt to

replace with her, Diana,
and her friendship,

and that he had said,
Koch, that ideas

were basically wasted
in conversation,

that they were better,
or straight up just

worth it,
Koch wrote,

if they were written down,
expressly,

as if for some kind of posterity,
as if for his kids, Koch’s

or for theirs,
Koch’s readers,

Diana,
But not yet shiv,

or, if not for the children,
then for the possibility that

ideas, when they are written down,
and not wasted in conversation,

have the ability to
be as cherished

as children are cherished
unfucked yet,

untouched by the body
of language as speech.

And as she tried to remember
what Koch wrote,

she remembered how he,
Shiv, told her in conversation,

and not in writing,
that she should forget about it

because most of Koch’s ideas,
especially that one,

were totally bullshit,
and irrelevant,

and that Koch really
only ever wrote

one good poem anyway
and that was a poem about

talking to Patrizia
who “doesn’t want

to talk about love
She says she just

wants to make love
but she talks about

it almost endlessly,”
like they did

just without ever
having to fuck.

But I don’t even want to
fuck, she thought.

I want to go to the movies.
But first, I need to get him off

of my head
and so she thought,

why not
tell him a joke

not about fucking but about how
she felt at the movies.

She fucking hated jokes
and he knew it too.

She preferred to be persuaded
by way of description

rather than by jokes
which she thought

required a level of stupidity
and seriousness

only suited to those
who were already fucking

and had decided to quit trying
to get each other

to become hosts
to one another’s vulnerability

but she knew she could pull
off a joke as she could

in an argument for
something that was true.

She gave him a bad one.
Let’s go to the movies, she said.

I like it better when
I touch you

between the seats
instead of

in the sheets.
It worked.

He said her name, “Diana”
and shook his head

and got off of her.
She slipped

into something pink
and soft.

So did he.
Eventually, fucklessly,

he laughed.
And she got off.

**

SHIV KOTECHA is most recently the author of The Unlovable (Troll Thread, 2016), EXTRIGUE (Make Now, 2015). Other work can be found online at GaussPDF, Jacket2, and at shivkotecha.com.