Kevin Killian

Two Poems

All the Lovers

Outside the Disney Concert Hall,
Kylie has summoned a clutch of cold models in white underwear,

They clamber on white boxes pitching for the sky

Somehow she appears in a dream sequence,

Boys and girls kiss and poke and struggle for love

In California, where the major candidates for governor and senator
live the lavish lives of Roman emperors,

Carly Fiorina, like Nero, bought a violin
for everyone on her Christmas list, from Cremona,

her wood golden and thin as hair,

81 per cent of voters don’t care how wealthy a
candidate is

You have to be rich to flourish

What came first, the wifebeater or the social system
that allowed ever and ever more flourish

In the face of a liverish social despair
all the lovers who have gone before

they don’t compare to you


Excited to read Gurlesque, the book, the concept, the package, I suppose one
might well call it The Package,

Well, that would be stupid, but let words fail me,

Alerted by Juliana’s squib that the anthology took part in a register of
social formation, with plenty of names she noted from the poetry factory,
mine among them

Oh dear, why didn’t she say what they were saying about me!

          Book comes, there I am, ostensibly reading The Gurlesque and
          admiring the depth and breadth of these women writing about their
          pussy and Little Mermaid and jeans, but one part of my mind
          frowning, wondering, but where’s Kevin in this.  Then came the

          —Oh here I am!

In the one poem, by Tina Brown Celona, she describes a day in San
Francisco that culminates in a reading by John Godfrey.  “Bill
Leslie Scalapino and Kevin Killian are in the audience.  Bill and Kevin
ignore me but Leslie says hi.”

That was where I was going when the call came

Me the little friend of all the world.

                   I was mortified to be so displayed in the pages of the hot new
                   thing by showing only my cold side, my evil side you might say,
                   and our beloved Leslie escapes by virtue of having said hi to
                   Tina Brown Celona,

                   Or is it even a cut at Leslie, it wasn’t like she gave Tina Brown
                   Celona a ruby necklace or any poetry lessons.  But she said hi!
                   That’s enough to save her immortal soul from obloquy.

Crying in my social room, I weave and flip.  Dana Ward says, oh yes, I’ve
met Tina Brown Celona, and she’s a good friend of Stephanie’s—or was—
she’s said to be a fine person.

“Fine!”  I shriek, spitting uncontrollably at Dana.  “And yet she ripped my
heart out, girls all over the world will be reading her and taking me for an
unreconstituted pig.”

“Fine!”  I keep thinking of the many shades of the word “fine,” like, it’s fine
to ruin a man’s life
in the name of the female gurlesque.  It’s Always Fine
, with Frank Sinatra, Dan Dailey, Dolores Gray.  I would like to
impose a fine on Tina Brown Celona, but in the name of free speech and the
female gurlesque I stop myself—

Just like the lemming who won’t let himself jump off that cliff.

I say, if she’s such a fine person then where does the evil come in?  And
light breaks, common sense says, the fault, dear readers, lies not in Tina
Brown Celona but inside writing itself.  This all seemed so familiar, when I
put aside my own hurt feelings.

Presently I was, oh my goodness, you know what it is, this happened to us
already in the New Narrative.  We were supposed to name names, take the
high ground, gossip creating community, community leading to direct
political action.  She just couldn’t stop herself, the syntax of the poem made
her do it.

Stephanie.  John Godfrey’s good tonight, isn’t he, Kevin?

Kevin.  He’s OK.

Stephanie.  Oh, I forgot to introduce this visiting female writer, Tina Brown
Celona.  Please welcome her to San Francisco.

Tina Brown.  How do you—

All stand amazed as Kevin turns on his heel, 180 degrees, and pretends to
take an interest in the strange serrated concrete walls of the Poetry Center’s
multifaith room at the Unitarian Center, with its eight long banners
displaying the eight great religions of the world.

Always those banners flummox me.  I can tell the Jewish one because it has
its stylized Star of David.  The others, I can’t tell them apart.  John Giorno
pointed one out and said it was Taoism like that’s something everyone
should know.  Bruce Boone asked, does one of them have a sickle in it?  “I
think so,” I hedged.  “Well that’s Islam, Kevin.”

Juliana says, “I actually don’t think Stephanie is friends with Tina Brown
Celona, but maybe?”

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