How belly they aged, your friends,
how hard the young years,
every look, an eye for an eye,
rapscallions when this country had corners
rounded to secret, sweet places unfound by blab and tweet. In that famous photo,
which stood over my desk so many years, I regard the defiant penis
on Gregory and you,
but here, in the Grey Gallery, I see I missed the smile hidden in the cross hairs.
In ten years you all go from men so sleek and lovely
you’re as lickable as the skin of a 1956 El Dorado
to, you think, old fucks so shriven and used, you’re as despicable
as a map destroyed by needle tracks.
Later, it seems you took pictures of the miraculous every day
the shocking verdant vacant, outside a window
and tried to believe “things are symbols of themselves.”
But you were my symbol
when we met. I wore my heart on my silver pant leg
which you fingered, saying “They let kids wear this to high school?” We were on the corner of Telephone and Telephone.
That night at the Neighbors of Woodcraft, my lame pants jangled
to your terrible voice and your beautiful tambourine until I fled, complete.
Is it better to throw ten wild ones to the wind and
get back twenty of pain and misery?
Is a question I ask myself
as we both walk the mandala,
passing out the door of the exhibit, you ever the giddy teen girl,
me, always with a wild old man in my heart
to the young boys strolling NYU and fall to our knees before them
mouth on the first of ten thousand bows.