Wayne Koestenbaum

Photo credit: Andrea Bellu

Photo credit: Andrea Bellu

I've kept a diary, writing in it virtually every day, since 1976.  Beginning on November 30, 2012, I stopped keeping a diary, and started instead a series of trance notebooks, as a way to transform my journal into a higher pitch of ceremony, an occasion for intensified, unmoored consciousness.  A year later, I distilled the results of my aleatory experiment into a sequence of 34 assemblages, which I   call The Pink Trance Notebooks. This poem is    one of these trance notebooks. 

 

***

Trance Notebook #17

            [the lake and the kink]

every time I kiss
Thomas I grab his
face to feel the stubble

________

dreamt I was on stage
with Liz in Giant or Cat
on a Hot Tin Roof, a
new live version, I
could tell (from her perfume)
that she was epic

________

            dreamt I
tried to buy liquid
paper but the bottle
broke

________

rock diva’s eyes damaged
by too much plastic
surgery

________

Hydrox cookies, sister’s
cravings

________

            did he leave
his hairy belly exposed
especially as a feast to
taunt my eye?

________

spike has 3 meanings,
all are (St. Sebastian)
site-specific

________

                        nonstop
frequenting of tearooms in
Albany, at 16 years
old already a pedophile,
internet whore, identity thief

________

voices of men in
the army are
abdominal he said

________

            Commie scares
in mandarin orange
sections

________

            his balls unremarkable
for a rocket scientist
or a card shark or
a literary charlatan

________

            la chambre
est une veuve, the chamberpot

________

            (fable
of the delicatessen’s id)

________

il marche avant la
guerre, he memorized
Costa-Gavras’s Z

________

il arrive sous la terre,
a wire is loose

________

                        il pleut
dans la chute, it
pulsates and churns

________

            on peut
rester ici sans angoisse,
we can stay here
thanking the insane

________

            I did an
inadequate still life mixing
the palette’s colors
to compose an
innovative gray sometimes
dominated by brown
red or green

________

            a father’s spittle
landing on me though
I’m not the spittle’s
intended object

________

brother blowing his nose
without kleenex

________

pink tourniquet
unfolding

________

                        a mnemonic
device leading me to you

________

mackerel after standing-
room Boccanegra

________

our baby
tortoise behaved,
our train
survived radiation

________

            his father-in-law’s
severe sunburn a
joke for decades

________

            the burnt patch
on the waiter’s arm and his
reluctance to serve me

________

attempting to paint a
strawberry container but then
it turns into an Easter egg

________

will eating an apple be
perceived as asocial
behavior?

________

            movement is
aphrodisiacal and non-
movement is stultifying

________

confessing my invisibility
and waiting for them to
correct me and say “you’re
not invisible”—

________

            disgusted by
filial piety and night’s likeness
to day

________

            disgusted by the lake and
the kink

________

            by the arm and
the fossil and my
capacity to love fossils

________

            by a smile
covering his jealousy like
a condom over Zeus

________

            by trumpet teachers
and hairless chests combined
with tattoos and Thin Mints

________

disgusted by cemeteries
and think tanks,
crenellations and tadpoles

________

by mother’s oscillation from
life to death and her semi-
permanent position on that
threshold

________

            by her rectum’s
appearance in
my litanies

________

            disgusted by
my imitation of
Auden and her teeth’s
participation

________

            by my
Auden imitation’s
resemblance to a lesion

________

            by my
reliance on one father’s
homosexuality, and that
father’s suddenness

________

            by my reliance on the
homosexuality of many
fathers, and their ballads,
and their descriptions of
ballads

________

            disgusted by
goldenrod’s invisibility and
by song

***


Wayne Koestenbaum has published over a dozen books, on such subjects as hotels, Harpo Marx, humiliation, Jackie Onassis, opera, and Andy Warhol. His latest book of prose is My 1980s & Other Essays (FSG, 2013); his latest book of poetry is Blue Stranger with Mosaic Background (Turtle Point, 2012). His first solo exhibition of paintings took place at White Columns gallery in New York, in Fall 2012. He is a Distinguished Professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center.