It was well said of him,
“The clothes bespoke the man”.
Yes, he stumbled in the mud.
Yes, his reputation soon was stuck within the stinking sludge
and, granted, it was all of his own making.
But surely you remember how he'd been so impressive.
Once I said, “You're spotless as a manikin”
and shared a hearty laugh with him.
Be we also had some serious conversations,
discussing what he meant by “loveliness”.
That was all before the storm that hit us
with the force of filth from continents and generations.
It reminded us, again:
not every love is innocent;
the finest gentlemen are capable of
(some say inclined to) monstrous crimes.
After, no one spoke of him.
He tried to hide behind his usual accoutrements:
the matching tie and handkerchief;
his feathered hat and crimson mackintosh;
the smell of musk.
But he was tainted, spotted once the news was out.
As the headlines had it:
“Gilded Lily Withers – Roots Exposed”;
“If clothes have made this man, they're now irreparably torn.”
“Patent leather playboy now well scuffed.”
God knows what his publishers had to put upon his jacket
to sell off the remainders.
Yet even from the darkness of his prison,
he seemed to think he could rely upon
the persuasiveness of beautiful adornments
- “Always envied; often copied; never matched” (his line) -
trusting it would make him seem attractive once again, even clean.
He died the 23rd of May, 2007.
They say that night he'd tied his shirt a special way,
with a feminine flamboyance,
but it failed to impress as he intended.
In some dark hall (we don't know how) they caught him,
stripped him to the bare essentials,
leaving him undressed and cut, an ochre ugliness.
What were his final thoughts,
when all that he had left was soiled and bleeding?
What we he really needing?
Still, I'm glad I knew him,
Still call him friend, and miss him.
The spots I'm seeing connect,
forming an image through my cold sweats.
I feel like a jest but nobody's laughing,
it's silent like the inside of a coffin
at the graveyard, only sounds are
the footsteps of the drunken night guard
playing cards with the dead.
I need someone who feels
in the tongues of streams.
I need their cheeks
to sprout dandelions,
and let them grow,
even though others say they're weeds.
I need their mouth
to taste of earth,
and their soul
to hold the heat of the earth's core.
I need their ribcages
to contain mountain ranges
that can puncture my diaphragm,
and remind my lungs
how much they like the like the taste of air.