Poem 110 ± September 22, 2015

Paul Monette

everything extraneous has burned away
this is how burning feels in the fall
of the final year not like leaves in a blue
October but as if the skin were a paper lantern
full of trapped moths beating their fired wings
and yet i can lie on this hill just above you
a foot beside where I will lie myself
soon soon and for all the wrack and blubber
feel still how we were warriors when the
merest morning sun in the garden was a
kingdom after Room 1010 war is not all
death it turns out war is what little
thing you hold on to refugeed and far from home
oh sweetie will you please forgive me this
that every time I opened a box of anything
Glad Bags One-A-Days KINGSIZE was
the worst I’d think will you still be here
when the box is empty Rog Rog who will
play boy with me now that I bucket with tears
through it all when i’d cling beside you sobbing
you’d shurg it off with the quietest I’m still
here I have your watch in the top drawer
which I don’t dare wear yet help me please
the boxes grocery home day after day
the junk that keeps men spotless but it doesn’t
matter now how long they last or I
the day has taken you with it and all
there is now is burning dark that only green
is up by the grave and this little thing
of telling the hill I’m here oh I’m here

paul-monette-10129Paul Monette is the author of the poetry collections West of Yesterday, East of Summer: New and Selected Poems 1973-1993 (St. Martins, 1994), Love Alone: 18 Elegies for Rog (St Martins, 1988), and The Carpenter at the Asylum (Little, Brown, 1975). Monette is also the author of the memoirs Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1988) and Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1992), which won the National Book Award. His novels include Halfway Home (Crown, 1991) and Taking Care of Mrs. Carroll (Little, Brown, 1978). Monette taught at Milton Academy and Pine Manor College before moving to Los Angeles with his partner Roger Horwitz in 1977, where he became active in the city’s gay rights movement. He died of complications of AIDS in 1995.

Photo by Star Black (1978)

This poem appeared in Love Alone: Eighteen Elegies for Rog. Posted with kind permission of the author’s literary estate.