the poems featured here are from Sky Gilbert's book, Digressions
of a Naked party Girl, ECW Press, 1998 and were previously published
in the University of Toronto Library
As Sure As If
Longing is a kind of company
there is a generosity in it
a presence inside the ache
(standing on the subway and not thinking of you, sure, earlier
been something, but then: some skinny boy with fuzzy hair and
hairline -- he had some girl pressed against a pole -- and suddenly
you, jumping up and down in my livingroom and saying "If
you break my heart,
I'll break your face" and demanding we dye our hair, and
it was your fierce
bravery against whatever it is that was killing you, as something
evidently was, that I loved, very clearly "I have a lesion
on my nose" you
said, I didn't bother to ask, I was afraid to ask, why you used
I have a feeling you'll turn up
there is, like a cold blast of wind in the face,
that whisper, when the cat makes a strange scurrying sound,
the certainty of my longing,
which places you here beside me
as sure as if
Thoughts on "Bringing Up Baby"
It was a sad Sunday
And I didn't like it at first
I was all prepared to be cranky about Howard Hawkes
I mean let's face it
It's all a set up really
Katherine Hepburn's little voice is very annoying and fake
And Cary Grant's coke bottle glasses are so obvious
It wasn't delightful at all, to me
As I struggled awake through Saturday night's hangover
and memories of bad sex
the night before
And then somewhere, I think it was when I realized
she was carrying a butterfly net to catch a leopard
yes, it was there, I think
that I realized that this movie had absolutely nothing to do with
and that's what made it so fabulous
So I was gone
And when they're singing
"I can't give you anything but love, baby"
to the leopard outside the psychiatrist's window
and the leopard is howling along, and so is the dog
and the psychiatrist's wife says to Katherine Hepburn
with the condescension of the sane:
"You just keep on singing dear"
and Katherine Hepburn doesn't miss a beat when she says "Oh,
And that is, of course, what we all have to do, in the midst of
insanity and death
(sorry, I didn't mean to mention death)
we have to keep on singing
And before long, everyone is in jail, and no one knows their names
and Katherine Hepburn is acting butch, and this is what we've
for, the whole movie, for her to drop that plummy accent and the
gestures and just get down to business
And the point isn't merely that the insane are more sane or that
structures must be toppled (hence the dinosaur skeleton falling
at the end)
no it's that there, within insanity lies truth, beauty
or else why would I have been at the baths the other night
with a boy I love
watching him screw other people?
I can't explain why I love him
It's like when David says he just has to get fucked up the bum
or else he thinks the guy doesn't really love him
It's like when Pasolini explains that he is obsessed with boys
because their body hair keeps on growing until they're twenty-five
One tries to categorize and organize one's love, one's desire
And then one realizes that one is using a butterfly net to catch
For there is a certain blessedness in being hysterical
Forgetting who we are is perhaps the only answer
And for certain we will find out if there's a "good leopard"
or a "bad leopard"
at the end of that rope
It will either tear us to pieces or purr
But as Katherine Hepburn reminds us
at the end of the movie
all the time we were merely searching for a good bone
a good hard clean bone that might finish off that dinosaur skeleton
The skeleton is shaking...
But oh, what a fall
Peter had invited me for coffee, first,
at that restaurant with the unpronounceable name
and of course he was sitting there with James.
I was impressed, as well I should be.
(Isn't it interesting the way people introduce the ones they love?
is James", and of course, I tripped and almost fell into
him and then he
wanted to know about my tattoo. It's important not to be too fascinating-
result: jealousy, or too disinterested- result: hurt)
James asked about the various forms of neuroses and Peter was
element- father, teacher, pedant, wit:
"Well Gestalt describes three types of neurosis: projection,
Peter and I agree that we have all three. James is confused and
and goes home, almost stealing Peter's hat.
As Peter and I make our trek to the strip bar I realize that the
wrong; one-sided love is not hopeless - it's the other way around.
James are clearly in love with each other equally, and that of
course is why
they will never be happy together. The obsession is too equal.
crying and sighing hopelessly. Neither is telling the other what
(I.E.: MARRIAGE). Two people equally in love? That's a stalemate,
two pairs of eyes endlessly staring fearfully into the void. Dare
that soul (it loves me as I love it)? Why no, I dare not.
And we're at the strip bar and the boys whirl perilously around
us. One boy
has made pants out of ripped jeans and a pair of chaps. Another
with his long cock. Another sits, pouting, by the slot machine,
time he moves, Peter and I gasp.
And of course these boys make me think about death. As they always
For those who are obsessed with the body are obsessed with death.
We are all
too aware of how the body changes. Each pimple, each wrinkle,
death's imminence. And you can lock yourself in your house and
roll up your windows and make dinner.
Or you can throw yourself into the body of that young man, with
of fury you have left.
Death will come either way. But we imagine that watching it's
approach is a kind of cheat, is beating the game.
And we are always running, with our back to the moon, and hiding,
face in the sun, and yelling, with the music in our ears.
Our desperate escapes! How we love them, as we love our boys,
and though we
are reluctant to admit it, they love us too.
Or then again, perhaps we're just two old queens sipping beer
at the Adonis,
and it needn't be any more important than that.
Green, Verdi, vermilion, vert. Grass leaves weeds eyes, a great
dies, Il Travatore, a whore, she talks dirty, she loves a young
dies, she dies too soon, she dies before, before she should, we
she coughs, she calls him to, to her bed, her dirty bed, her infected
she says I love, I still love, cough, I'm glad I loved, it's okay
he says I, I do too, this part is ugly, it's not pretty, the music
pretty, the blood is red, she kissed his foot, the dirty whore,
the whore is
bleeding, the music is red, the boy is green, she kissed him then,
kissed him when, you can dress up a whore, and paint her eyes,
she's still a
whore, someone pissed on the whore, she's bleeding now, now she
the boy, boy is green, can't go back, whore is now, bleeding red,
green, green knows not, red knows all, curtain is torn, earring
all that's left, leave the whore, she loves you still, for you're
green is good, and red is bad, except to green, oh for god's,
found, found god
in, green that's okay, better to love, the green and die, there's
blood, just don't look, know it's there, look in his eyes, green
whore love green red die god.
god green love red whore die.
die red whore love green god.
red whore love green god die.
God die! Green love red whore.
Why Kathy Lee Gifford is just like the United States of
She's very very pretty
And of course she's a lying hypocrite
And of course she's on TV every morning
And just like America, Cathy Lee Gifford is a drag queen
And what's a drag queen?
Well someone who just can't stop drawing attention to how pretty
they are I
mean Cathy Lee everytime she moves her legs or bats an eye or
hair she reminds you, in that subtle way she has of how beautiful
she is and
yes okay so she IS beautiful but more than that each gesture says
beautiful, so beautiful, and that I'm barely, just barely conscious
and on top of that I'm intelligent (questionable) and vicious.
I can be
vicious. If I have to, I can defend myself against anything and
be beautiful, oooh I'm just stamping my little high heels right
removing a stray lock of hair with my long long dangerous fingernails
can stand up for what I believe and be glamorous too
And I believe in America (which means myself) Cathy Lee Gifford
And I believe in fidelity and marriage and love (and all the other
And even when you find my husbands fat hairy wrinkly old dick
forty-five year old Exercise Queen in a hotel I can pull my life
together and lie
Like drag queens and the United States of America I can lie
I can exploit Latina women in sweat shops and then I can appear
President Clinton and I can lie
And you will love me, Cathy Lee Gifford
But most of all, you will watch me on TV
Because that's the way mornings are;
Inescapable, the beginning of all that treachery and drudgery
there's me, being more beautiful than you'll ever be
Look at me
I'm Cathy Lee
I'm some kind of an achievement