Posts Tagged ‘love


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.




’tis the season



flowers, art, and death

this morning when the alarm rang it woke me up in the middle of a dream that i was robert motherwell’s studio assistant/biographer (last night before i fell asleep i had been reading about richard ellman, james joyce’s and oscar wilde’s biographer) and motherwell was finishing one of his monumental black and white paintings and it was all black except for at the very right edge where the black overlapped a block of white that had been painted to look like the edge of a sheet of deckled paper laid over a narrow section of black, and as that was revealed to me, i said, “that bastard.”

i assign no meaning to the above paragraph.

i am a compulsive obituaries reader. today, there was a lengthy paid obit about the life and times of a 94 year-old man. one paragraph, as they are, was devoted to his survivors and those who had predeceased him. those who had gone before were a sister and a son, ronald. then the list of survivors began, it included his second (loving) wife, children from both marriages and their spouses, grandchildren (11) and great-grandchildren (unnamed, but numbered, there were 18), [numerous] nieces, nephews (one named kieron, singled out for some reason), and the coup de grace: peter paul rubens (not his real name), the deceased’s son’s partner (italics mine).

i thought that was sweet, charming, progressive, and a sign, perhaps, that even in death, love is universal.


an old married (as if) couple

my partner (left, below) and i have been together for 30 years today.

then, at le jardin du luxembourg, paris

i can clearly recall the first time i saw you; standing against the wall at the bushes on halsted in your suit, tie undone, its knot playing peek-a-boo with a thatch of dark chest hair. that smile you gave me. then standing between my outstretched legs, did we kiss?

a week later, our first date, seated at the wooden picnic table at the back of halsted street fish market (so much of our lives in chicago took place on halsted they should name it after us — and you and you and you and you, you know who you are–and of course, the ghosts that haunt any love story that started in 1982), my friend joyce, the owner’s wife, sitting with us, her little girl rasp and giggle smoothing over any awkwardness there might have been.

but there wasn’t much, was there? we fell together and in love quite naturally, an “as if it were meant to be” moment if ever there were one. i laugh now at how you received a full body immersion with my friends; ralph and the french deaf theater group just a couple of weeks  later — taking over your apartment as you and i discovered just how small my little attic hideaway really was. but it didn’t matter, did it?

i believe we kissed. a lot. (there’s more, of course, but this isn’t that kind of story.) and we may have kissed some more, and held each other, and smoked a cigarette or two (or a pack, who remembers?) we drank wine, beer, cocktails–you a scotch, me a tequila gimlet — there were times when even that seemed unnecessary, the joy of being with each other a completely lovely high all its own.

and now, at our neighbor’s home for a cook-out

you taught me about the ‘do-nothing’ vacation, which i took as my birthright, and who knew getting naked on a beach could be so much fun? (what? you’ve never? darling, trust me, you absolutely must do it at least once, somewhere where you can go swimming in warm clear blue water, with white sand, a palm tree leaning from the tradewinds, it is to die for.) but had it not been for you i may have never had that experience.

we bought a house. that golden brick bungalow just north of pratt blvd. and i would walk to the touhy station to take the train downtown in the winter, and it never got tiresome, although i do think that summer’s were worse, that walk a sweat factory, suit, dress shirt soaked through, but i loved our home and our yard, and nicky in his kiddie pool playing with the water squirting out of the hose, and the clematis; oh god, do you remember that strip of earth between the sidewalk and our neighbor’s driveway that we planted with a gazillion bulbs and seasonal perennials that made it the most beautiful one foot wide strip of earth you’d ever seen. crocus, tulips, daisies, asters, and mums. iris, roses, and the vegetable garden, such bounty. just like our love.

our careers took off, you got into the art biz; we had an opportunity to live in paradise–your family came to visit and all of the wonderful friends we made there…and speaking of friends, have we not been lucky? all these years later and we still have so many: cheryl & sophia, bill & ralph, rosie and sister arlene, lenny, barbara, and joe, vicki, patricia & corey, sally and our dear charlotte, charlie & jerry; oh i know i’ll forget someone, so i better stop by saying we love you all, thank you for being a part of our life.

and now, we find ourselves here, warm and dry, loved by billy and joey; each of us with a lot less hair and a few more pounds, but here, together, and that counts for something, doesn’t it? i know it’s not always easy, but we always hang in there, find a way to make it all work.

thirty years. ain’t it grand?


a week of self-portraits: friday


sonia redux

her scent is intoxicating (trite, but true.)

her beauty is incomparable. (tried, but true.)

my love for her is indescribable. (sad, but true.)


the snail and the leaf, a parable

nothing happened. the snail made its way slowly across the sidewalk, ignoring the leaf i had placed in its way, and leaving behind it its silvery trail of slime. there are times in the late afternoon when the sun is just so in the sky that the sidewalks shimmer with snail’s trails, beautiful silvery ribbons of goo with little breaks every few inches where the snail has pulled up and off the sidewalk in order to move itself forward. at night they congregate in a mosh pit of snail love, all one upon the other; if you’re very still you can hear henry rollins and black flag just before he throws himself shirtless off the stage into the arms of his raving fans [although that may be my memory of seeing them perform at the mud club in chicago in 198_, but whatever. –author]

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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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