everyone had a mustache (but one)

they walk past me single file in that half light between waking and sleeping.


ghosts of the living are always the hardest to discern in this moment, the time it takes for you to stretch a toe, count your fingers, open an eye and check the time, the bedside table a glassy, still lake choked with magazines and books, the foam of your life washed ashore with the gentle lap of wakefulness.


the actor, the dancer, the writer, the waiter, the addict, the restaurateurs, the lover, the friends, curly haired, thinning, straightened with a blow-dryer, four-eyes, green, blue, brown, hazel, gray, black; all in a chorus line backed by revolving mirrored panels, tall, short, medium, thin for the most part, one barrel-chested, hairy or smooth, jewish, catholic, protestant, atheist, agnostic, seminary-, street-, college, high school-educated, but all there just this one time, a meeting among friends and strangers, hung on the thread of my life.


the dead are easy to account for, they don’t stray too far and can be conjured up with the slightest thought, an american airlines ticket, a ballet position, a pair of glasses, the part in a head of hair, a laugh, the smell of a burning cigarette, the stare of a pair of green eyes, a hug, the fake jab to an upper arm in jest, the lonesomeness of the loss of their companionship.

michael brennan 1977--877

the living are another matter entirely. scattered to the four corners, you know they’re there, but at the same time, they’re not. of course, communication is easier, but it doesn’t make it easier, it makes it harder because they’re always just out of reach. ghosts you can touch.


have you been kissed by a man with a mustache? have you felt the soft hair slip across your lips, under your nose, along your neck, in the hollow of your throat, brush up against your earlobe, the scapula, an armpit, your nipples, that depression where your life was disconnected from your mother’s, a hip, the inside of your thighs, the back of your knees, the perineum, a toe, an ankle, and witnessed the smile that breaks across their face as they look up at you from the end of the bed?

noe cuellar 1982 --878

and that’s what flashed through my mind the other morning when the alarm rang, interrupting a musical adaptation of the years between 197_ and today.

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5 Responses to “everyone had a mustache (but one)”

  1. March 11, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Wondrously written, again. Robert, your words are such a gift…and today’s transport me back to the years I worked with dear friends in and from the Castro. I was cleaning my brushes after a day’s work on a mural at Taylor and Bush, when a limo pulled up, and the driver went around to the passenger’s door- emerging with a lovely bouquet, and an invitation from a handsome, mustached Gentleman. I graciously declined, being a young father with two little ones, yet the sweetness of that moment came back to me as I read your words today.
    Thanks for the memories

    • March 11, 2013 at 10:25 am

      Well. If you’re going to be picked up on the street, that’s certainly a good way of going about it. And considering it was the Castro, his chances were probably pretty good that he’d score sooner as opposed to later. Hopefully he’s still shaking his head in bemusement at the handsome young blond painter who kindly refused his offer.

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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Bonjour! Ca va, au'jourdhui? (This rose only speaks French.)


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