They don’t leave you with much

6 02 2018

He gave you tears cried late at night

another Saturday wasted & drunk

he said —

something about a girl in a yellow dress —

a song that his father loved.

He made you listen to it twice, each time he cried

tears that felt significant

like glimpsing something through a crack in the door.

“I’m starting to love her like you loved me”

Words texted to you, months later,

as if it were an unexpected blessing

the coda to your heartbreak, a miracle

your ashes your burning down

providing nourishment to his spring, bursting through the topsoil

Glory! Hallelujah!



Poor you

Boo hoo

Always the worshiper, never the worshiped

Always the shadow, cast upon the ground, by some sunnier, better lover


What about the love you squandered?

He bought you a necklace – a piece of glass the color of mouthwash

Back when the apartment spent most of his cash, he bought it for you with

as much as he could afford and more

Back when the two of you slept on your mother’s borrowed bed

awash in afternoon light and fumbling at sex. When

you felt something like worship and seen

but you were ugly in small fearful ways

You put the cat in a box and left shit in the garage


Did you think you’d forget?

That you could dress yourself up in sensible slacks, estranged from regret

That you could step out on the snow and not think about the roiling worms below

That you could take the next step as the first?


And why not?

Why not lie to yourself and say —

I am good,

and I deserve to give and receive love in equal measure

I will not put myself above or below my lover

and I will learn to use the postal service, put away money,

and speak regularly to my mother

I am finally whole and healed

and all of that was in the past

why not?


(12.26.2007) & (12.30.2007)

5 09 2017


Short Poem

Your cock
is short and wet



I’m on the bed
You’re on the bed


28 08 2017



Youth is slim –
A gust of wind blows it away
Upon return,
A bloated coffin follows

Ren Hang – Poems

21 08 2017

A few years ago, I edited a couple issues of Far Enough East – a Shanghai based literary journal that a few friends and I started. We had high hopes but no time, and Shanghai has always been a city of transients.

I was really proud of this issue:

Ren Hang

But if you try to find it now, our URL takes you to a Japanese site that seems to be touting hair removal.

Oh well. Things are lost all the time.

What I remember about this issue was that I wanted to feature some poetry from the photographer – Ren Hang. I was going to translate his poems, and I can’t remember if I ever did. There’s no way to check now, because the site is gone. I remember, he very kindly let us use whatever photographs we wanted.

I heard that Ren Hang killed himself in February, mourned a bit, then went on with my life.

I wandered into a Ren Hang solo show in Shanghai a little while ago, and found his photographs beautiful, and forgot about it again.

Then, today, my good friend asked me if I wanted to go to that same show i wandered into.

I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe in a confluence of events. I also believe that random events can have meaning if you decide to act upon them in response.

I’ve been reading about the afterlife in Judaism recently. The idea of a legacy resonates with me. The living may perpetuate what is immortal about the dead. I’d like to contribute in some small way to perpetuating Ren Hang’s legacy. From afar, he seemed honest, in some way.

He left his pictures behind. And his words. I’d like to bring them into English. To mark and witness him.




Did you understand me when I traced “I love u” on your skin?

9 07 2017

I am resorting to such cowardly ways and means.

Setting my transparencies on the projector, overlaying them upon your blank white screen

But you are not a blank white screen.

Presumptuous of me to fall back into assuming

You have also your inadequacies

I know

I have felt so

Too small or too scarred or too mute

My lines meet your lines, and converge or diverge, blur and obscure

till neither of us is clearly seen

so I think you think I’m not sexy, think you think I’m not quite right, think you think you can’t be weak around me

so you think I think you’re not strong enough, think I think you can’t satisfy me, think I think you’re not quite right

I don’t know what quite right might be. Do you?

I don’t know what satisfaction is. Do you?

I don’t know what you are like, when you’re weak. I don’t dare ask you to show me, to trust me.

You make me lonely.

You make me throw back my head and laugh.

You make me cum hard.

You make me feel as if the stars are singing to me from a room down the hall.

You make me sad and happy.

You smell like the woods, and almonds, and milk

I am trying to be your blank white screen

I am trying to be your blank white screen

I am trying

I am trying so hard

I am trying

I think you are trying to tell me you love me



Fairy Tale for the Clinically Depressed

1 02 2016

There once was a girl who wished she was dead.

Her friend invited her to a birthday party. She told jokes that made everybody laugh. They played musical chairs and everything was fine

but at the end of the party, she wished she was dead.

She met a boy who took her to the seaside. They walked along the boardwalk and admired the waves. They ate cotton candy and fed the gulls. She smiled and laughed, and nothing seemed wrong

but the end of the night, she wished she was dead.

She went to college and got lots of A’s. She edited the newspaper and talked about poetry. Anyone would have said her life was perfect

but she ended most days wishing she was dead.

She worked hard at a job that led to a career. She purchased a house and bought stuff at Ikea. She started dating someone she really liked. If it wasn’t love, it was near enough

but when she lay next to him in bed, she wished was dead.

When the wishing turned into planning, she threw her life into turmoil. Quit her job. Broke up. Moved countries. For a while, she got ahead of it

but eventually, she started wishing she was dead again.

She met a man who turned off her brain, who knew how she felt and knew how to stop it. When she was with him, she wanted to live, to see him smile and hear him talk. She never wanted to be anywhere else. She never wanted to be doing anything else. And she certainly never thought about how nice, how nice it would be to slit open her wrists like a sealed envelope and pull out the contents.

She thought about his eyes and his voice, his arms and his lips, his kisses and his cock, and they seemed like good reasons to live.

Then he took her aside, and told her he wanted parts of her, but not others. Her words but not her lips, her company but not her body, her mind but not her fantasies.

And he began to act like half of her was invisible, or not good enough, or uncomfortable for him to see. And all the while his eyes said to her, “I love you, but not all of you.”

He confirmed. That. Some part of her. Had always. Been. Wrong.


Isn’t it funny? Isn’t it a laugh?  He granted her wish and he killed her. Just like that. As easy as taking off a hat. 


And for ever after, for the rest of her days, she lived a bit dead.

Sunset would be too obvious

21 01 2016

Waking up and trying to fall asleep again at around 5 AM this morning, I realized that everything is the same, except I’ve lost some inner refuge that lets me go to sleep easily.

It’s not inner peace, it’s more like the ability to lull myself, to settle in.

It’s kind of like putting weight on a sprained ankle. I don’t notice usually because my muscles are all tensed around it, but at night, when things relax. I can’t get away.