Archive for the 'Photographs with text' Category


keeping time by the moon

[Author’s note: It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted. This one’s for T.]

Keeping Time by the Moon


He would not let me undress him. We would sit on the front steps of my 18th Street store-front loft in Pilsen shot-gunning a joint, our lips so close that a passerby might mistake it for a kiss—a smokin’ one at that—and we would watch the passing traffic all the while talking talking talking. We would sit close enough to each other that our legs and arms would be touching and I would turn and look into his eyes—were they brown or blue?  They were beautiful. And I’d stroke his cheek with the back of my hand, he was beautiful.

He would not let me undress him. The fable of our falling together has yet to surface, all I recall is that for a few weeks in the heat of a Chicago summer I was his dog. We did not make the scene, he did not meet my friends, although I told anyone who would listen how this beautiful boy and I were this close to fucking, but for the fact that he would not let me undress him. He lived with his sister in an ugly contemporary building on Dearborn just north of Division, perhaps the 1400 block, it looked like a layer cake, the concrete frosting being squeezed out between each layer of glass; you had to walk down a wide set of stairs to gain entrance to the lobby (like a subterranean car park) and up the elevator to their apartment.

He would not let me undress him. Their life seemed transitional, temporary, with two mattresses on the floor and clothing spilling out of suitcases and boxes with the detritus of life stacked in a corner. Did I take this as a warning? Of course not, I was smitten, bit, enthralled to his charms, he was, after all, beautiful. His beauty was such that women, men, and small animals (domestic and wild) would stop to watch him pass by, every one of them would have laid down their life for him without the slightest hesitation; he was that beautiful. Had you seen him you would have understood my dilemma.

He would not let me undress him. The time we were together was short, perhaps just a few weeks. My gut tells me we kissed, but I cannot confirm that as fact. He did not ask for money, although I gladly paid our way (food, drink, cover charges, cabs, bus- and train-fare) and I kept him stocked with the drugs of the day, but I did not feel like I was being used (well, perhaps a bit, but not enough for it to matter.) I could not have been but a couple of years older than he, so there was not the desperation of age motivating my desire to be with him.

He would not let me undress him. And just as my memory of our meeting is shrouded in the depths of those final months of my denouement, our parting is equally undefined. I believe that one day I went to his apartment and rang the bell and there was no answer. I may have sat on the steps leading down into that concrete bunker contemplating my infatuation (that libido thinking) and cursing myself for falling so hard for one so beautiful. Had anyone seen me sitting there that day, they would have known, just from the slump of my shoulders and the curve of my back, that I had been in love and had lost. He, nor his sister, ever surfaced again, not even in a dream, although I could, at this very moment, tell you exactly how beautiful he was.


He loved me. We did not date. We were not boyfriends. We did not exchange phone numbers. When we did see each other it would happen like this: I would be out with friends and he would be standing next to me like a wraith appearing out of the smoke of the bar. Everything about him was pleasing: intelligent, witty, pretty (in a man sort of way), deferential to my friends and my relationship with them.

He loved me. I did not love him; I do not know why I did not, love him. He did not pressure me to return his love. Quite the opposite, he rarely made mention of his devotion. I never said anything more than, “Shall we spend some time/sometime together?” He was always available to do so. If he had a job, I did not know what it was.

He loved me. You could see it in the way he stood next to me. Days after seeing us together, someone/a friend would comment, “He loves you. You can tell by the way he looks at you.” We would spend several days holed up in my loft, only occasionally going out for food/cigarettes/beer. Afterwards, we would sit on the bed facing each other, legs and arms intertwined and talk about it all (hopes, dreams, aspirations) as if we both loved each other. But I did not love him.

He loved me. At a point in time/in the future/months, perhaps a year or two after we first met, he stopped standing next to me unexpectedly. I don’t know when that happened, but I do remember thinking that he did not love me any longer. Alone/out at night, I would think of him/perhaps in the hope that the thought would conjure him up out of the smoke of the club. It did not. I may have loved him, but too late to make anything out of it other than what it was. He loved me.


His name was David and every few months between 1975 and 1979 we had hate sex. I would tell you that we had nothing in common, but I would be lying; it was that we were so similar that caused the friction. Neither of us could determine if he was too smart for me or if I was too smart for him. Likewise as innocent as the wheat in a spring field. We’d ignore each other for days that lasted the time between full moons and then fall together, shutting the door to the outside world, just the light from the window illuminating our writhing bodies. It was mysterious and arcane, fiction and truth, a fire in the forest.

There was a hollow at the base of his spine just before the rise of his ass that was as tender as moonlight, but his face was marked by adolescent acne, his hair kinky and light brown—he pulling at it all the while we’d be pressed up against each other (at work, at the bars, on the train, or walking down the street), “I hate you Robert,” he’d cry out as we quickly shed our clothes, “Let me kiss you,” I’d plead and he’d run into the hours of my life, tackle my day, and we would fall, fall, fall, disappearing in quilts and pillows, down toward the grunting of hate sex.

There came a time when the moon was new and we’d not seen each other for weeks, we’d circle each other, nod, and tip a beer bottle in hostile greeting, cruise some other men, make out in front of each other, the hours slipping away counted by the number of misfires, beard rash, ass grabs, and pisses in the john, our hate fueled by desire. We couldn’t have a conversation without arguing, hurting each other because we were fighting ourselves, we knew the weak spots and sought them out for the wickedest of barbs, St. Sebastian before he was the American Idol, a Coppertone Christ. We’d pierce each other’s heart, lip-locked and bodies socketed like nesting wrenches. God, it was marvelous.

I wonder if, when I realized I hadn’t seen him in some time, if at that same time he realized he hadn’t seen me either. That our moons rose and fell at different times, a tip of the world, its axis shifting, shuddering, memory fading until tonight when I went out on the last dog walk before bed and there was our moon and I cried out, “I hate you David, let’s fuck.”


You left without saying goodbye. The door whispered shut; you were down the stairs and on the sidewalk before, before, before (what?) the frost had a chance to melt in the early morning. No, no, not that.

You left without saying goodbye. The door whispered shut, the click of the key a tsk; you were down the stairs and on the sidewalk pulling the collar of your jacket up around your neck not so much against the frost of the early morning, but more of a defense against the ghost of the night, what you had left behind. (What had you left behind?)

You left without saying goodbye. Did you stop to look at me laying there, my lips slightly parted in that deep sleep when your soul rides in and out with every shallow breath (blown out, but caught in the intake of the next breath, you never lose it, your soul, it’s a joy ride,) Did you? No, no, probably not. You’re not that kind of sentimental fool, that’s why.

You left without saying goodbye. It could have been that I dreamt of your leaving, silently, still. The door whispered its goodbye to you as you pulled it closed behind you, the key clicked its tsk (that little snap, a breaking — in, out, gone) and you felt its coolness against your fingers/palming it into your front pocket, touching the coins, feeling the ridges of a quarter with your fingernail.

You left without saying goodbye. I did not know you had gone, even when I woke to find your side of the bed empty, one eye still shut against the dawn seeping in under the blinds and slipping down across the windowsill, spilling onto the floor in stripes, your pillow a memory of your head, face toward me, your breath sour/sweet. But that lasted until I didn’t hear you in the bathroom/kitchen/hallway, the door whispering its goodbye as you pulled it closed behind you, the key clicking its disapproval with a tsk.




flowers (and rhetorical questions)

what  becomes of the broken-hearted?


how can we be lovers if we can’t be friends?


where is the love?


how do i live without you?


what’s love got to do with it?


how can you mend a broken heart?


wouldn’t it be nice?


who do you think you are?


who’s zoomin’ who?



as you do (adventures in eating and viewing)

it seems that anymore our “adventures” always involve eating and viewing. yesterday was no exception.

we headed up the freeway to the bluff park/museum district  in long beach (405 north to 7th, over to junipero and left to ocean blvd. and left again, down two blocks and left again, and right where we parked on 2nd in front of a stunning craftsman residence (we believe circa 1912 — 1914. some houses had ‘historical markers’ designated this house or that one a “_____” or a “______”. to have read them correctly, we would have had to trespass and in these days of concealed carry, the last thing you need is an armed resident greeting you with the barrel of a gun while you satisfy your need to know. but i digress.)

i think this house suits him, don't you?

i think this house suits him, don’t you?

after some oohing and aahing over the merits of living in a historic home, m. & i tottered over to the long beach museum’s outdoor cafe, claire’s, where we met up with his ex, a., who was ‘in town’ (which means agoura hills) from chicago visiting his sister; long beach being the halfway point between us. m. & i have been together for 34 years, so that should give you an idea of our relative ages…a bunch of old men.

oceanside at claire's.

oceanside at claire’s.

we had a lovely brunch at claire’s, even though we left the “br” out of our menu selections and settled to a person on the “unch” parts. turkey club on pumpernickel, tuna salad (grilled rare and sliced thin over baby greens), and claire’s cobb salad, with freshly grilled chicken breast, gorgonzola, avocado, bacon, baby field greens, hard-boiled egg, and mustard vinaigrette. finished with a flourish of banana bread pudding.


but to the ‘viewing’ — i can honestly say, m. & i don’t need a museum to be in ‘viewing’ mode. we are of a mind to find the beauty (and the ugly) of our surroundings and to frame each ‘view’ with commentary and perceptive understanding, citing references to other ‘views’ and admitting honestly that “i don’t believe i’ve ever seen anything quite like that.” our storehouse of references inexhaustible it seems, thank the god of mental facility. although admittedly, there’s sometimes a moment of silence as one of us waits for the other’s file retrieval system to kick into gear.


we were fascinated and captivated by the works of terry braunstein, who explored time, memory, and feminism in carefully constructed collages, installations, and photography.

collage by terry braunstein at the long beach museum of art.

“who is she? dancing to kerouac” a collage by terry braunstein at the long beach museum of art.

we took the elevator up to the second floor in deference to m. and viewed a handful of examples from the museum’s permanent collection before we fell into the barbara strasen exhibit, “layer by layer”.

i have to say, it was a bit confusing at first. the work is complex and reminded me of the pattern & decoration movement of the late ’70s and early ’80s, so to sort through all of the dense imagery took some visual adjustment, but once you fell under her spell (not too trite, is that?) you could begin to understand and appreciate the journey she was taking you on. her use of lentricular lenses was particularly fascinating. i believe her commentary on the overload of images we are subjected to each and every day was precise and revelatory. we all enjoyed her work immensely.

possibly the most fab of all the homes we saw.

possibly the most fab of all the homes we saw.

the museum is small, so an hour later we were back out on the street and walking the avenues of bluff park. many of the homes had been fully renovated and brought back to (or maintained) their original glory, but there were a few that could’ve done with a coat of paint and a bit of tidying up–said the gay man. (i hate stereotypes, don’t you? but really, it is a marker, don’t you agree, that gay man like to prettify their surroundings? i’m sure there’s the exception to every rule…but none who would admit it.)

who wouldn't want to live in a neigborhood with a honor library?

who wouldn’t want to live in a neigborhood with a honor library?

we decided that even though it was suggested that everyone in the neighborhood helped maintain the ‘neighborhood book swap’, the reality was that the owners of the home this cart and sign sat in front of did all the heavy lifting. still and all, a sign of community such as this, is a blessed thing in our world today.

hollywood regency plopped into the middle of arts & crafts--perfection!

hollywood regency plopped into the middle of arts & crafts–perfection!

we plotzed when we saw this hollywood regency home cheek and jowl next to a queen anne on one side and a greene & greene on the other. <3!

and finally...

and finally…

i’ll leave you with our favorite of all of the homes we saw yesterday. if you look closely, you’ll see me waving to you from the second story window on the left.



Just Published! A Photo for Your Wallet

Exciting news! A chapter, “A Photo for Your Wallet”, from my memoir-in-progress, “The Photo Box” has been published online by Bull Men’s Fiction and is currently headlining their home page. Click here to read it!



the rose and the cloud, a vanishing act

we used to be headliners.


but then the recession hit.


and now, we’re lucky to book a week in peoria in the off season.



a few minutes in balboa park on saturday, october 17, 2015, exactly 100 years after my first visit

it couldn’t have taken longer than 10 minutes to walk from the san diego history museum to where our bus was idling, but

IMG_2147there was much to admire. this angel trumpet could have been the pipes of a cathedral organ. or maybe it was and had i but listened more closely i would have heard a bach organ toccata, idk. or,

IMG_2148these two people may have been caryatids, designed specifically in the 21st century style to prop up the decidedly early 2oth century urns on pedestals of a particularly pleasing palette. as you undoubtedly can see (if you’ll only take the moment to look);

IMG_2151balboa park in san diego is celebrating its 100th anniversary. someone please light the candles on this rococco revival cake of a building.

IMG_2152a great urban park is a meeting place for a city’s citizens to stroll and gawk and giggle and admire and relax from a week’s work (this being a saturday, after all). that appealed to me…we don’t have that in orange county–unless you consider fashion island or south coast plaza our version of urban parks and the meeting place of a great society. <sigh> and,

IMG_2153just when you thought you’d fallen down a rabbit hole of terra cotta floral excess, you’d be right, of course. one building in balboa park after another is a folly and a fantasy, but it makes sense; it’s comforting in its own way. the citizenry blithely

IMG_2155ignorant and at the same time completely cognizant of its beauty. and in spite of the crush of humanity, each and every person with their own agenda for the day: strollers, gawkers, wedding photographers, children, and pets (dogs mostly, but the occasional boa constrictor, too), shorts and sequins and heels and flats, curls in hair mimicking the floral strands winding their way up the pillars and columns. just the right balance of too much and wishing for more.

IMG_2156were you there, too? i thought i saw you at the end of the koi pond, but you were too far away for me to call to you; for a moment i’d forgotten my 21st century technology and waved to you instead. did you see me?




the big picture

i thought, for a moment, and then it may have been not today, but yesterday, that i would find some inspiration in these pictures, you know, a return, perhaps not triumphant, not caesar entering rome after the conquest of gaul (vini, vidi, vici), no, not that, more a long the lines of caravaggio sneaking into naples after running from rome, dead of night, all dark corners, heart pounding (mine, surely not yours), and yet, that’s not quite it either and so this problem of not finding the right words or finding the words at all seems still to hang around like last night’s dinner with red peppers and garlic and brussels sprouts (he burped.)

are you a big picture person?

or are you all about the details?

perhaps you fall somewhere in between–a little of this and some of that and as long as i’m standing here, i’ll take that one over there because blue is my favorite color (not true).


so, in the end, this may just be an aberration and not a return. i’ll have to see how i feel about it tomorrow (the big picture, not the macro).


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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.

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