The Expectation of Wilson
Im the one who ends up in the kitchen
doling out the beers
and the women who stay for any length of time
are looking for a man in another line of work.
I spend my days around lawyers.
Last year they wrote a thousand contracts
that I put in their proper files
ready for immediate retrieval.
Our filing system is impressive
though I cant tell you what we do.
Of course I can tell you
but I dont have the full knowledge to explain it myself.
Its something about foreign television rights,
bad pilots that never aired.
Baywatch is high art compared to what we sell
but that has nothing to do with me,
wandering into an office each morning at nine.
Without an inner life to speak of, I drink my coffee.
I answer the phone and, most important, I have mastered
the art of the paper cut.
I staple and type, and change
the bottled water by the clock.
I believed I would grow up to be powerful, known,
but after listening to twelve continuous hours of motivational tapes,
I have become the kind of man who punches holes in walls,
opening a space between the nothing that is not there
on Tuesdays and the nothing that is nothing.
I lament my lack of journal entries
from the beginning of my youth.
I cant remember my childhood.
My father, in his dementia, burned all the pictures,
took the house with him in his funeral pyre.
My boss is concerned.
He believes that his people shouldnt wear black eyes,
cross their knuckles in scabs that ooze.
I have to agree.
The laundry has been calling.
The blood-stains are impossible to remove
from my white cotton shirts.
There's nothing we can do, they tell me,
nothing to do,
and theres that nothing that is
again, coming at me from another source.
The Hollywood Meditations
During the lunch break while the executives dine at LA Farm,
I jerk off in front of the Mitsubishi.
Enough ambition for today, lost in a cloth.
The skin offers a fine resistance
for ten seconds.
I have traded away the real thing by sending off the Beloved
for the afternoon taking cats to the holistic vet for
their shot of herbs.
Later they will meditate.
I understand the mind of God
becomes visible during sex.
I am watching Misty Blue part her knees while Jerry North
heads south, moving in among those meatless bruised
happy thighs for the close-up.
And I am all used up. Hollywood, some call it.
On the stairs outside a small office in the Valley, miles
from Hollywood and Vine, which is itself miles from
that Hollywood appearing on your screen, on the stairs
the men are waiting.
Their line goes into the street where it is Wednesday.
The police allow this weekly ritual, they leave the line
Here, the only thing that matters is the size of the cock:
size means length, thickness, circumference.
Boldness in the Trade.
Misty Blue arrives and nods her head choosing three hopefuls
to once more mark her thighs.
At work I sit in a screening room and watch poor framing,
another error by the projectionist; at $22.50 an hour,
he doesnt have a care.
We let our best man go to Sony.
Now we have to rent him back.
The optical track is wavering by the side of the screen like
snakes running up a wall.
Not my metaphor.
I have borrowed it from the sound man and I ask him: Does
he want it back?
Five men in suits walk down the corridor all holding phones;
some say power drifts behind them.
They need to make us laugh to keep their jobs.
I have no trouble laughing, I start on Monday and by the
middle of the week I grow exhausted by all the mirth.
After that I close my door and worry.
Will my talent never ripen?
Sometimes a closing door
stands in for loves first stages,
imminence in the smack of bodies,
the way the parts all fit together
and then they dont.
It was me she waited for,
to say Im sorry, on a winter afternoon
between semesters when she caught me with someone else.
Ive never been good at denial,
and who can be when discovered red-handed, red-faced,
between the open legs of the stolen goods?
Sometimes a closing door
advances toward its frame
holding daylight on one side
to let new lovers start.
I cant apologize for lacking finite answers,
and the one I slept with years ago
it only happened once, once.
All this talk of doors in metal
sandwiched between wood,
hollow-cored and insulated,
glass low-boys and the ones that come in red,
the insulaton factor nearing ten
the metaphor cant change the facts:
She went out the front and kept on walking.
I climbed back into bed.
Wilson Exercises His Classical Education
The spit-camel of the Sahara
doesnt have to drink for a month.
I learn this on the Discovery Channel.
I, on the other hand, find myself pissing each hour.
This makes for difficult sleep.
So its pasta again tonight,
sauce from a jar.
I dream I have the heart of a lion in the body of a trout,
this makes for a cat who can breathe underwater.
I have no time to process this image
because my dog is demanding
to be fed.
My culinary skills have not progressed beyond
flicking the burner on.
My burners are sealed.
They develop 40,000 BTUs.
Thats power, baby, this stainless steel
commercial grade Viking range
sits quiet most nights.
I dont lament her leaving
and taking the cats.
She chose between a supporting role
in the new Madonna vehicle and staying home
what would you have done?
When I was young I walked to the movies
and got lost in the dark.
Tonight I don't bother.
I depend upon desert.
I pass a cheesecake and my heart throbs.
I pass two women discussing cheescake
and I follow them home.
A company films outside my favorite restaurant
and I cant get to the door.
Shoe, shouts a man holding a stick, Betty, Five K.
These are the codes of a street obstructed by silver trucks,
the sidwalks blackened by power cords.
I try to step lightly between fixtures
when I fall into the shot.
Its the fault of my big feet that
I get discovered, the director rushes to my side,
all this happening to a man who hates cameras and persists
in sitting at the back of every room.
When the police finish questioning me
about why I disrupted the shoot,
I go back to my house and clip all the hairs from my nose.
I can breathe easier now
and work on my ears.
This thrill of aging
sends me to the couch.
Stronger glasses, bigger pants,
these are the reasons she left me
and that Im on a first-name basis with Vool,
the delivery man from Domino's on Ocean Park.
Discarded pizza boxes make excellent insulation.
I heard this on television.
Save the planet
build a house
from pizza boxes and newspapers
and oriented strand board culled from waste growth trees.
When I turn on the television, the plant on top
begins to grow. In the time it takes to water it,
she is there, selling cars.
Vool will be here in ten minutes.
I hope he can fix the color;
she looks a bit red.
Wilsons First Film Set
A man rushes into a paint store and shouts:
I need to paint a banana.
Wheres the yellow?
Now in your town, if a man rushes into a paint store and
announces he is painting bananas Im willing to bet that
the clerk would roll his eyes, make that circular movement
with an index finger round the temple, suggest you find the
At Standard Brands in Hollywood, clerks rush to your aid,
knowing it must be some movie, believing that they, too,
are part of immortality.
So I am holding a banana
standing in a paint store
examining bottles of paint.
For twenty minutes we compare paint samples,
decide on something water-based,
easily applied by hand.
We test different types on the banana to cover all its flaws
eventually producing a peerless fruit: ripe, neccesary,
totally made up.
With extra bottles of paint, brushes, thinner and other solvents
for cleaning, I return to the set.
The commercial actors are striking and its up to us to get the
meaning that as a production assistant charged with carrying
boxes, getting food for the director, delivering cans of
film, I am part of one vast enterprise of filmmakers, of
artists who daily sell you bread.
After ten hours with a tray of tomatoes
the director isnt satisfied.
Theyre not red enough, he decides, we need to make them weep,
glisten with sexual abundance.
He says, I want tomatoes you can screw.
In this Hollywood, no one sees
that I have gone to film school
prestigious film school, I might add
spent years working on my craft.
I know more about lighting, cameras, film than surgeons know
Get ready with the bananas, the assistant tells me,
we might have to go to them quick.
This is how we sell produce when the actors are on strike and a
parrot stands in for the usual spokesman for the grocery
store chain, a soap opera star.
So I am here with the bananas for the next insert,
lining up the boxes, ready with my paint.
Meanwhile we finish the tomatoes,
will go to lettuce after lunch
while the leaves maintain some green
before they wilt.
I think about filters.
The actor prepares.
How Id frame the shot.
How Id bring out the emotion in the fruit,
to find and lose all sense of self.
Wilson Discourses on the Personal
Finally the personal
is all I can hold onto,
the vanishing sill between foundation and wall.
What is authenticity to a frog?
I have spent years inventing
my parentsdivorcing them, killing them off
in piece after piece.
Never allowing them to come together,
I negate my existence through their disunion.
I pit fictitious brothers against themselves,
make sisters hate.
Then I set myself up as an only child,
emperor of the toy box, the one pony.
What can be more personal than a list of lovers
who have passed from the scene?
The name of everyone I ever lied to
beginning and ending with me?
A man walks into a house, the door closes, and he is alone.
From other rooms a wife appears, children, even cats.
Time passes and he is again alone, gravitating
toward his natural state. For a moment
I dont doubt the sadness
but because I say it doesnt make it true
only ducks are that sincere.
In the instant I believe I have grasped
all the possible permutations of a life,
something new presents itself,
a thing that might startle,
perhaps incest this time
might confirm to myself there is being, not emptiness,
a man remotely resembling a man that is me.
Its not for lack of trying:
The palm on the left has become a rusted pad.
I grind up flies,
examine arcana and mystery cures,
crack ape moons,
restrict my glow
This is the vernacular of conservation.
Ive gone to eating whole grains
and soy milks and nuts in the raw.
Ive learned the nine basic exercises of Tai Chi.
Every night I stimulate the dragon.
The wood collects ashes.
The paint chips.
I cant hold the crane position for long.
I find myself reading romances:
envisage mood and action follows.
I take tests from womens magazines,
measure my potential
as a love slave.
Chen Zao says, when the feet point outward
the seed turns to dust.
I score high.
Perhaps this is another El Niño complication,
up north the ice is burning,
south it rains.
The sex doesnt matter.
Okay, the sex matters.
Every step inside the bedroom
is a door opening on broken glass.
I feel it all,
but apartment time is a horizontal expression
of Newtons first law: we wait to repeat
the northern migratory patterns of stones.
Id like to announce an improvement in circulation,
all other factors remaining the same.
Then our efforts to defy gravity fail.
My lover who woos me with the passion of a cheap suit.
To divert myself, I plant perennials in a container garden.
The problem, of course, is nothing without space can grow.
I dont believe in spontaneous human combustion.
My boss does.
He believes in the power of the triangle,
the probity of high colonics, ear-coning, deep tissue massage.
Hes taken to wearing fiberglass mitts
though it's difficult to shake hands.
Temporarily, he wraps himself
in smother blankets
until his tailor crafts a suit from unburnable thread.
Hes investigating personal sprinkler systems,
smoke alarms in the brain,
an early warning program spewing large doses
of flame retardant on the surface of the skin.
This kind of behavior
is always rewarded.
In fact hes had a raise,
parking space closer to the door,
the suggestion of a younger, prettier
assistant than I am: balding not a little
The company directors think
hell open new markets,
see profits rising.
Now my boss is dancing by the window,
trying on his brand new fire suit.
I carry on the office tasks.
Human Beings, says Chen Zao,
wander forever in fog.
After work, I go home to my apartment
where the power is in my name:
where I get light
with a touch of a finger.
Wilson Abandons His Muses
The beagle showed me the way to my first great poem.
All that white hair, the long long snout,
I never saw it before
the start of my many publications,
and then I understood the unmistakable
facial similarity to Robert Frost.
Success continued until one day the cat urged me
in a different direction: all swagger
and mince and murderous whim. Frank OHara.
I should have known
from those perky little ears,
that, and the rolling drunkards gait.
Of course the dog and the cat didnt get along.
Discordant aesthetics brought tension
to my home, so I have taken
to writing outside.
A bird who could pass for Rimbaud
has accosted me. The blue nut grows houses,
cries a squirrel in the voice of Breton.
I need to go some place sterile,
where the birds and the bees and the plants cant get to me,
a sealed room with filtered air and filtered light
where I wont be subject to influences.
Then and only then can I claim the words on the page.
If the walls dont start talking,
if the floor stays quiet,
if the ceiling doesnt render an opinion
on the quality of my verse.