has written Track Conditions
and The End of Being Known
— both memoirs. His first book of poetry, 1990
tied with James Schuyler to win a Lambda Literary Award and his second book of poems, then, we were still living
will be published by GenPop Books in the fall of 2010. He teaches in the MFA Program at Goddard College and is on the faculty of the summer program at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.
In the other kind of living I did not live, Alfred Hitchcock
wanted to make a movie about my grandfather Jack Osterman and give him
the starring role in the story of his life as interpreted by
Alfred Hitchcock which would include Jack Osterman singing
when the red, red, robin comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along
at the Palace Theater in New York – the song that made him famous.
It never happened.
They never even met. I think it was Jack Carson who Hitchcock wanted to play
It was all hypnotist jib-jab – bending my grandfather back
into a kind of spell about just a little of his radioactive fame
seeping into Hollywood.
It was what the doctor tells the patient: life is
your funny story and to live
above and below the story
you have to hear it singing only to you, away from the other singing.
I almost died last night in my sleep – choking, or drowning –
something stalled, then moved, then mixed with the paleness of sleep again.
I wondered if it was important
to tell people about it.
And then: how strange it was not to
tell people about it – the living list of characters
in the play about my life as it was being lived.
Is near-death allied death’s first blossom,
or a sign to the soul to refuse?
I’ve heard of where you go
when the world was what was left.
But I’ve never been there.
Not with my own life.
My mother used to go. In hers.
The light in the room
down with the sun in the cloudy glass of water
or gone the other way: hesitant burn
on her sheets (still in bed) in the afternoons.
Every explanation of the place unjoins the place.
The depressive’s only language: a dead language
the depressive’s temporary cure: the shine on a wave.
I suppose we are different,
but we both see in the dark
we learned to open that still gives us the world
and what my mother called a waltz of desperate music: have the world,
have the world
that it is, that it is
and always falling from our hands.