The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2021

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MAY 2021 Issue

My Own Version of You

I make my own version of you

from the one who starts out a poor agrarian boy in trouble with the cops

who wears a sequined apron

who hears my first good poem then kisses my cheek

whose forehead grows horns

who attempts emerging from darkness through the presumption of dawn

who is the face of Masala Munch

who gives reasons why things look as they do

who refuses his sorrow to turn to hate

who hangs a small plastic Hanuman from his sail

who takes part in the life of a sparrow visiting his window

who endorses body sprays and beard trimmers for gents to “look fresh”

who thanks to Isis is transformed from a donkey back to a man

who first encountering her signature song asks, “What does ‘pastoral’ mean?”

who is forced into imagination and self-observation

who perfects wireless electricity at 46 and 48 East Houston Street

who loosens self from gravity

who argues the automatism of life

who requests substitutions when ordering a Cobb salad

whose corpse is identified by the books in his pockets

who begins "Raining Blood" with ominous drums

who is lost in Rome, contemplates suicide, then is dissuaded by voices he last heard in childhood

whose skull resonates with song

who authors The Antidote

who turns her head in imitation of the sun

whose poet get-together loses all cheer (Stalin on the phone)

who disguises himself as Hermes to serve as psychopomp

whose garlanded donkey intuits the gospel

whose spirit journey requires he clings hard to a speeding cloud

who invokes the dog that's got no master

who notifies a MoMA security guard that their Matisse is upside-down

who sings not quite as divinely as Roy Orbison but is exponentially more handsome

who requests his corpse be dumped before the White House

who reads in a dictionary that he's the only cited authority for a word he's unsure ever existed

whose tagline, "This is the cycle of life," is a comfort in evil times

who trains racehorses immortalized on earthen lamps

who's a gentleman cricketeer on a drinks break

who gives me directions to the temple of Santa Muerte

who ignites her Bösendorfer in a Florida parking lot

who organizes readings for all visiting poets

who drops his Phoenician urn and trembles before Boeotia's serpent

who instructs his session players, "Go for whatever you're hearing"

who cruises gardens, promenades, stadia, and toilets

who sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in my despair

who is my sister in spiritual delinquency

who plants serpent teeth and harvests men in armor

whose heart resists cremation

who envisions a brigade of nurses parachuting behind enemy lines

who covers his forehead in ash

who through friendship confirms the gospel of Christ

who when dying hands over his water and explains, "Your need is greater than mine."

who boops the snoot

who kisses me on the lips after his concert at The Masonic and says, "You're a good boy"

who's stunned to see a young shepherd draw a perfect circle

who tours Europe dancing around teepees with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show

who introduces the saxophone to Ethiopia

who sings within its egg before hatching

who wants to fuck me like an animal and feel me from the inside

who tells friends that in Greece she'll be sane

who believes there is nothing like fine weather, and health, and Books, and a fine country, and a

   contented mind, and Diligent-habit of reading and thinking, and an amulet against the ennui

who works as an umbrella holder and in downtime writes poems to Shiva

who is tasked with turning up the sound

who assists excavations by Prince Giovanni Torlonia

who acknowledges that baths, wine, and sex ruin our bodies but make life itself

who seeks a world as beautiful as his wardrobe

whose sexual charisma catalyzes societal collapse

who says she'd be a great Supreme Court justice because she's always been judgmental

who's fairest among hills and vales

who meeting Queen Victoria likens her to an approaching fire but enjoys his visit

who finds a moment of mercy in Tomis

who walks into the blade-like arms of God


Evan Kennedy

Evan Kennedy is the author of I am, am I, to trust the joy that joy is no more or less there now than before (Roof Books). He lives in San Francisco, California.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2021

All Issues