Peter Nickowitz

Five Poems

Screenpoem #2


Pavement glistens in the night
putting NICHOLAS, 30, in mind
of Film Noir

except this is a date scene, not a crime.

MARK is nice & the streets are calm.

ANGLE ON. . .silences.

Mark and I
drink two drinks.

He speaks at arm’s length
but every word
beckons me to lie

between his echo of arms.


When I tell him I had fun tonight
he could be my mother,
evasive and sly
like vermouth

he/she huddles over his/her drink,
he/she motions for another,

he/she listens by pretending not to listen,
he/she swirls the olives along the wide rim,
dreaming they will absorb every last drop

olives taste best alcohol-soaked.


Mark and I stand before the door
like statues if statues
wore khaki.  A kiss, a good-bye.

I sit at a table, I write, CLOSE UP on notebook,

There is more drama
in a drop of light than the vast space of your palms

you keep too little,
drink too much.

I want to run away

the circus is dead,
I dream of joining
the movies,

ANGLE ON a strip of four pictures, each
a wildly different expression.
I paste it
on the same page.

You could be my mother

speak at arm’s length
& every word
beckons me to lie

between your shadowed arms.


Nicholas, jeans and tee-shirt, clinks ice to glass.
They arrive ten minutes apart because Mark won’t arrive together.

What’s with all the subterfuge
and toying, I admire more matter, less art, is this love
or a game of chess?

He and I batter our words.  Cocktail glasses
bang in the night air.

Honesty is overrated.  Why is there no
food at his party?

We’re all trying
to get through this journey of living
without giving in to misery and decay.

You sound like a Woody Allen movie, Nicholas.       Can’t we
go eat now?  There’s no
food at his party.

Woody’s right
life is divided between the miserable and the horrible.


We walk in fragments of red and tobacco.

To avoid speaking we speak
in quotations–
emotional shorthand for
the jaded.

Where are your charms?

You speak at arm’s length,
every word
beckons me to lie.


Cinema            is death                      at 24 frames per second.

What’s the difference between life and movies?
No one knows, read Tolstoy but get me some coffee first.

Try not thinking so much.

In the absence of interstitial moments, we

                                                                                                            CUT TO:


We’re splayed across the room,
blankets on a warm morning.  A nude scene.  Even our lines mingle.

It’s a gorgeous day, come to the beach.         I can’t,
I’ve got to write.         You always do, it’s time
you reevaluate your goals.

Everyday pleasures
are inherently


when we are all going to die.

Just shut up and fuck me,                    write about it once I’m gone.


I’m an oyster cuddled with a pesky grain of sand.

I’ve seen enough movies
to know

how this will end.

                                                                                                 FLASH CUT TO:


TV screen illuminates
unmade bed, alone,

two smooth men
fuck on hay,
it smells of bitter almonds and sweat.

I take greedy inventory:
left hand, right nipple,

right hand pushes down green 2xist underwear
blond hairs decorate his stomach ridges.

My hand imitates
his mouth, I am

hushed, utterly alone.

The VCR blinks the hour.

Hollywood, Windowless

The oven in the kitchen heats more
than the mind, my bedroom.  The windowed room, seems windowless,

heavy like Hollywood boulevard roaring.  Give me

a window, he prays, but gets Hollywood instead.
Windowless, there are no prayers for this, only dreams

the way honeysuckle smells
the way light unravels

inevitable aching
claustrophobic as a rubber mask.

Hollywood’s a window and Hollywood’s
windowless, even in white daylight everything appears

darkened.  How can this place be so windowless when
forecasts are for laurels to fall?  Drowning

is melodramatic, as are screams over Hollywood boulevard
and this is the paradox

a moment both breathing and choking
like so many

while wind flakes, curls tarragon and garlic,

snagging in someone’s long grayed hair, banking,
windowless, beneath your too luxuriant pool.

And so, and so

He’s made of repetitions and digressions

however, when I see him
I don’t speak

his walk is a stutter

and so, and so, he goes

going but sometimes not, he stops

so then we talk some but when we talk
we also feel: mercurial

then it’s time to nap, eat something with chocolate.

And so, and so, he goes

going but sometimes not, he stops

and so then we talk some but when we talk
we also taste, or rather, feel

like two lanky bodies trapped in a long glass tube
heating up.  And so, and so.

Things I Am Not Sorry

I didn’t know we couldn’t speak about the time
I lost my mouth.

I am not sorry I wore your negligee the color
of sheer lemons, I am not sorry
I composed dances to your capricious

hairstyles, I am not sorry your breath
was flakes of wind.

You arranged me like furniture:
here, my fingers to smile,
here, my eyes to hold the truth, here
my nipples to keep the moment.

You arranged me to kiss,
but I ironed over the crease
where my lips lived.

I am the guy who disbelieves
wisdom is in better hands.

What compels you
to smash me, foot first,
beneath my window?

My hands are tie-dyed
a touch-patch garden of golden rod & violets
& my body falls across the bed
like so much clippings of auburn hair.

Reel 4: In the Laundromat

                                                            —excerpted from Home Movies

Sassy Spanish girls fold & flirt
staccato teeth & air
their world’s the corner of Prince Street
even here especially here I long for
those Israeli soldiers
fresh wild olives
young as my students
I teach them poetic
they expect meter
walk about
taut as sheets
infinite imperium
redux Abraham & Child.

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