LETTER TO MAPPLETHORPE

 

The paper-skin prints of my left hand, flip through your X portfolio. Polaroid fuck collective, porcelain models pulled from Mineshaft piss. What draws me back? Sorting blue-blood photos? The albums – black construction paper pages, glued corners, colorless baby portraits, pudgy legs forgotten in silver marker? Robert, are you out there with horns glued to your head? Do you clutch a bouquet of dried carnations, the blossomed assholes of men? Do you miss being in a body?

 

After X, a Y. We, a pair of Jacks-in the-Pulpit, stand back to back in Jonnies, die on opposite sides of a privacy screen in a shared red room. You would pitch fits to find the whip has fallen out your ass. The Y portfolio stands alone – a floating gardenia, a bowl of leaning tulips. Stop asking, Robert, why, when the air is still, finally breathable, and the deadeye of the world is counting blessings, I am writing endings. There’s an empty chair in the corner where pale blue vinyl has split.

 

Stop asking if you’ve succeeded, if Z is still untouchable. You’re long dead. The perfection of black skin has amplified to unspeakable. Thin men measure dark lengths against the lining of a mouth. Gratitude out of reach, I finger a smear on the frames of your black and hairless portraits. Robert, fucking with me still? Laughing eyes blank, holding frozen the silver-

knobbed skull of your stick, an eel white arm leans into your cane. We leer, grip loosening into the composition.

First Publication: Kettle Blue Review, 2016