Butterfly Nut House Ė in memory of PJC
We buried you, in a cold snap, during
a transit strike, nothing moving except
under the power or our own energies.
We whispered, a cancer, what made it?
and there grew a fear of our rash rough throats,
everything a threat. We shifted uneasy,
shoulder to shoulder, almost as in love
as we all were in the old days but for
this thrall of absolute ice, we owned
no explanations except perhaps sucrose,
and red wines too sweet for grownups. Peter.
how did we arrive here, without you?
Tonight I write at our old holy place.
The bartender does not know youíre dead,
He gives me free beer; cold benediction.
He begins the list, asks after our circle.
This one still hungry, another married,
the youngest carries tumors; mistaken babies,
the loudest gone to where he can praise
an easier god and you; each time Iím asked,
I forget which words mean that youíre dead;
underweight, 90 lbs when they cracked
the ice bound earth. I have not spoken aloud
since your first call to say, Cancer. Perhaps
your bare back exposed as a scandal and
all your lovely hungry boys. The last thing
I said was, How do I apologize
for letting in the monster that is eating you?
Was it your fatherís ministry, his holy,
the cracked closet door, your motherís deep cough,
or the voices that leached onto your ear?
When you stopped listening, did they migrate
south, inhabit your spine? You abdicated
madness. Was that it? You, younger, crazy
more naked, you louder, willing to sing
off key, off beat, all the wrong words. You said
you wanted babies and a lover with
a jaw like your fatherís, but a fistless,
godless man whoíd look just like you. I said,
you were too young. I said, we had time for
all our vain mistakes but you murmured,
a baby. I want to be beautiful
for someone- want a body to love me
so that Iíll be beautiful. i think
I promised that weíd love you, always.
I hope that I did and that itís enough now.
Still it seems the monster took a faster
path than love, arrived at always before us.
Perhaps laptops, black-pepper, pesticides.
Was it red meat or 10,000 bacon sandwiches,
the old days or our fashionable inhalations,
our mystic vegetation? we canít have been
so innocent. Perhaps naked to the moon,
something in the ether would not forgive us
and so had to have you.
Perhaps menthols, lead paint, asbestos or lye.
Something must be at fault. Perhaps religions
that swallow a gay black man whole in this
precious America where faith is what
we wear on our t-shirts. Dear Peter,
here is our religion. you are 1st generation
of this butterfly nut house, beekeeper
to us sons of immigrants, comic book inker
of scar wristed superheroines.
you, Peter, keep our brilliant boisterous,
protect our cartoon alter egos, our truthless
selves. know, please, how I wish
that Iíd lied when you called to ask if,
finally, we were growing up. forgive us
what we do in your memory.
© Lynne Procope