The Portrait of a Lady as a Young Man – Patrick Chapman

From a notebook found in the pocket of a 49-year-old woman, recovered following a trespass incident at 24th St. Mission Station, October 30, 2017.

The Particle Mule. Forty hours later I have showered twice and still the musk of your body lingers on my own, encoded in the fibres of your green blouse. I’ve smuggled traces of your scent across time zones having cleansed my skin but carried you with me, the organic Dior of you, to America in your Banana Republic pistachio shirt. I showered again this morning then put on your avocado top with the atoms of your ecstatic come bound up in it, the dying aroma of my own decaying under yours. I have brought you here to California in your olive blouse and somehow the border guards allowed you in.

Cherchez La Femme. On the shortest day of the year I wake up in the hotel with a sore mouth and find myself all out of cigarettes. I decide it is time to quit and why stop with smokes? Why even get up? But at noon I do and go out to an exhibition on Brodsky, where my throat kicks in with a cough. My need blanks the letters but here is the patronage of Anna Akhmatova. Here is his arrest and trial for parasitism, for not earning enough to please the socialist authorities. Here, his time in the U.S. as Poet Laureate but no word of S.H. at all. I must go to the store and buy more Camels. Who do I think I am looking for? The one I left behind? I tell myself to focus. J.B. died at 55 of a heart attack, as I will likely do, if it isn’t emphysema or a train. Meanwhile I will soon attain the age of Kinsella’s Christ with nothing to show for it but bruises and dependency – and who will there be to miss me when the moment comes? Everyone, of course. Everyone will miss it.

The Platonic Friend. Disappointed at the Hoover show that it features no vacuum cleaners, I get hardly any sense of his turmoil, his life’s nothing. Then at the Cantor Center I meet The Kiss again. I am blasted anew by Meditation and Three Shades. It has been years since art moved me. Today, although I am dead I am also a thinker; and what is even Brodsky beside one of these eternals? M would know, if she were here. M the philosopher, now gone, who valued music. M who was my host here long ago. I thought it must be tough to be alone on campus at Christmas far from home but until I turned up, M had the place to herself. She had the time and space to commune with her beautiful Plato.

Queen of the Nile. It seems calculated that you choose to live on Love Lane, off Mount Street, and have given me Sexus to bring on this trip as my chaperone so that I might remember your peach of an ass and not run off with someone ordinary. Miller’s language is you to me now. ‘Remember my peach of an ass,’ you said, ‘and come back for it.’ Instead Sexus makes me think of your nipples, hard as quantum mechanics to a chihuahua; and of your lips closing around my sleeping cock to wake me up with a shock the likes of which I have not had since Titania, two years before. Your pubic hair feels manicured, or does it grow that way in the wild, blue-black and glistening, alive? Your Cleopatra bangs stir in me a childhood pang for Taylor’s symmetrical face in 70mm, a crush on television. Your southern accent soft as gentle rain on difficult soil, is impregnated with droplets of intellect that inspire in your own perpetually ecstatic limbic system a river of delightful wanton joyfulness.

The Secret Guitarist. On El Camino Real, nothing is unreal. I will later discover that back in Dublin you have moved on to a part-time chamber musician in my office. You meet him by chance then seek him out for the mischief, and everyone knows but I am too disturbed for them to risk breaking the news, and me. What if I crack? They fear that I might. Yet this is not for now. Now in a Starbucks I hear a professor with her student discussing their love like it is a research project that needs to be funded and will be if certain impediments can be overcome. The professor chides her young man. Is he not
selfish for carrying on this affair, with his wife in radiotherapy and everything? But you, you in my mind are alive and not here and I would be no loss to you at all or ever, were you to slip me the Irish goodbye.

The Barefoot Pandora. A mail from Titania pings in. Who the fuck is N? N is proof that Dorothy is wrong. Each love is not doomed to be the love before but in a duller dress. As evidence, I offer your need to be a femme fatale or to present yourself that way. It is endearing, mostly to you, who so desire to be the one true Ava Gardner. You see yourself as an aesthete, a goddess of statues, a Pandora Reynolds figure but no. You are not even Maria Vargas and I am not even the wisp on the end of Bogart’s stogie. By the time I get back to the fog of the real, you will already be smoking someone else’s Montecristo.

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Bio: Patrick Chapman is the author of seven poetry collections and three books of fiction. His latest publications are Slow Clocks of Decay (Salmon Poetry, Co. Clare, 2016); an audio drama Dan Dare: Operation Saturn (B7 Productions, London, 2017); and a novel So Long, Napoleon Solo (BlazeVOX Books, NY, 2017). With Dimitra Xidous he is co-editor of The Pickled Body poetry magazine.




Image: Kiwihug

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