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part 1 of The Modern Hero

Let's pretend you're such a damned good pilot you flew before you could read
(at fifteen they'd told you it couldn't be done
you built a single-man craft to heed only scientific law
and you
more sweat than blood held you both together
not quite long enough)

but let's pretend you were also raised for politeness
(or the semblance of such
had the idea of conventional response beat bloody into your skull
and your tongue and your throat
thanks be to family affairs, you drawl in street tongue and behind a curtain
fuck your cousin)
how then can you reconcile all your responses when He thinks He can open conversation not only with mention to that you'll be gone again by

He says
after he swallows
never looks up from his never-full cup
'I hear the winds will be turbulent.')

but the weather, he brings up the fucking weather.
Pride and politeness war for your tongue
all pretence aside
nature's impending flatulence nothing compared to the storm spun from his insult
he supposes your ignorance
when you know

He doesn't mean anything the way it sounds.

So let's pretend
He didn't want to mock you
couldn't think of anything else to say
the benefit of doubt, you can give Him that again over such a small thing, surely.
(What He really wanted to do was find a way
to ask you to stay

a day instead of a night
a tomorrow instead of today
now at that thought -
you laugh.)

You nod
drink the shot He's poured you, and the next
the burn feels like (all his unspoken) words
got stuck in your throat and turned to acid.
You put your tongue in His mouth.
oh god
how you hate it when He tries to talk
when you've nothing in common, any of you
aeronautical genius and vagrant aristocracy.

He tastes drunker than you are
doesn't have to fly tomorrow
doesn't have a hotel room within limping distance
doesn't have anything but this hovel, grey walls and skies and old, old
He pretends He never once danced amongst crowns and thrones.
Let's pretend
He's happy with His wooden chair.

When you were younger you must have dreamed too
(of coming away from a fuck unbloodied
of grand old European cities loving you the way they do now
you're older, Prague, Berlin, Moscow, but never fucking London)
and the dreams stack inside each other like hollow dolls all rattling, rocking, the largest one the most hollow, painted garishly
at the core something small nestles, the only solid doll of the lot.

Let's pretend you're dreaming now
what treasures can be found as you sort His graying mop of hair
into a pattern resembling order
you wind your fingers
don't let go

He sucks cock like a hero.

Let's pretend you really did share nothing with Him
but fluids
not a childhood that could have been a mirror of yours
had twoscore years apart
Let's pretend you have a life
a partner
(Lesha lives in Bombay now, and you visit, sometimes, Lesha writes)
somewhere to go or important things to do.

Let's pretend He pretends He has a life too
still has His inheritance and His class and His wife and His purpose.
(Let's pretend He never has to carry groceries back from the corner store, the bag breaks, you imagine some pretty young thing might help Him repair it
god knows if it were you
you'd help Him just to work out where He kept His wallet.)

Let's pretend you learned better
than to come all over another man's face
(pilot scum, sky slut, whore
your abundance spills on this exiled lordling's lips
He wipes it away
not begrudging you the right
to still be some byblow of a bastard).

Let's pretend He never meant His insults
words spoken like steel
He thought you were classier than He
that you'd found freedom
that you were better than He and brighter and braver than He
more likely to win this game of life than He
but He couldn't take it
the truth
(ah god, He, He
could He have known how far you went for your own survival?

Every sound still startles you to the sky
every touch threatens a cat-trap closing
touch everyone else instead
be the trap not the cat
a thousand shallow kisses total one meaningful caress
your calculations suck as badly as you do
inarticulate street-kid
filthy-mouthed slut
but you used to be honest, sometimes even with your self
and here you were for years thinking you'd pushed a straight old rich man one step too far
when He was never straight, no longer rich, only recently old, but always a man.)

The only habits you have time to learn of Him are the ones that relate to His bed.
Good habits
quick habits
get-it-over-with habits
not a hint of romance in a scarred soul
(He'll strip off grey sheets first, all but the last, before you'll widen your knees across the expanse and brace against the wall
He'll push you down, without fail, and force you with slick fingers
comes in at a harsh angle every time
as though to test your resolve
to test you
He'll fuck down and hard and long with one leg upright and all His weight on one knee, His hands on either side of your spine to force the angle
a skill, that, to direct all impact to the end of every single blow
without a change in brutal rhythm until you'll lose yourself
all over his single bared sheet
lost, again)
again, you're hard even before the sheets come off.

You can't remember if you greeted Him at his door
a perfunctory hello
if you thanked Him for the drink
(unforgivable if you didn't)
you sincerely hope you did, because otherwise the first words out of your mouth are

'I've been aching for a right hard dicking since I left Singapore.'

And if your Lordling had been on form or two years younger or maybe two drinks further behind He would have growled in response
(you're always aching for a dicking, you whore)
mocked with a trace of affection
(well it'll leave you aching, for sure)
but instead He sinks to sit, fingers too hesitant
across the skin of your jaw
(you forgot to shave, no rhythm, no rhyme, only rasp).

'Come on, pet.'
Scum scum scum,
you've left your come
in His hair. You'd work it out but He'd probably interpret the action as

'Sentiment? From you?'

You're preempting Him, and that's rude.

'Will you stay,' He asks, dully
and at times like this you remember how He used to live His life
(you had to extrapolate, you never wanted to listen when He was in the mood to talk)
he had pride
of place and a place
of pride
blue blood in all that black
abrasive, born and bred to be.

You still can't forgive Him for asking this.
But you dissembled, or must have,
you can't remember saying anything but

(yes i'll stay)
His hand on your cock
(you put it there)
nose and tongue buried in you
like He's devouring some ripe watery fruit after a lifetime of thirsting.
You must have said something

('Yes I'll stay')

for Him to do this,
you presumed tenderness was beyond Him,
He's moaning the name
of one of your selves
in small panting breaths
He wants you, strange man.

It's not as good as you remember it when He starts fucking you, He's doing it tenderly, too tenderly to make you hurt, until you're
hurting anyway, arching beneath Him, remembering another time because this time's too much
you can't remember the most important
when this frontier was conquered
(when love became fucking, people became marks
you hated them all for the freedom of not being you)

a boundary dissolving
ending in cries, groans, grunts and grinding teeth
useless addenda to fucking, these sounds
like tassels on cushions or jewelry on a man
symptoms of your unrefined upbringing and total lack of taste
(how wild you used to run, once upon a time!)
you collapse into the wet morass of someone else's despair, it's not yours, it can't be yours.

'Is the boiler working this time? I'm not having a cold shower again.'

'God, love,'
He growls
'what embarrasses you about this
sharing loneliness?
How many? Flinging yourself into all forms of company
what am I, who am I,
another fool who trades companionship for a drink and
- a drink, and a bit of noisemaking -
when you escape each trap laid for you
how much of yourself do you leave behind?
Every time!'

'I have to go.'

'So go!
Who needs you?
What imaginary hero do you play at this time?
You're - god I want you, and you're as loathsome as any unfaithful whore
you go, you run, I can't get free of you!
Go on, go, fare thee well and fuck you very much
beautiful and unfaithful,
my gratitude for the fruits of your loneliness
you share so generously.
Your branches are more laden than mine,
fit to break.'

You would be shocked, shaken
(somewhere someone more innocent than this self is weeping
but not you, the one always at the helm)
but He does nothing spontaneously
an old man even older.

His outburst still rings on the air like a poet's recital.

'How long did you practice that one? Write yourself a script, a prayer, a dialogue duly lacking my response?'

'When did you last visit?'

You answer the pillow. 'A year.'

'A year.' He chokes
would whisper with the awkwardness of true spontaneity
had a man His size been made for silence, or spontaneity
or anything but what His failure has made of Him.
'You're the only one left who still knows who I am.'

Remembrance terrifies you.
Once upon a time,
five minutes ago
ten years ago
right now
you used to hurt.
'I have to go,' you lie, 'I have a job,' you lie
you've only ever flown for yourself, or from the same.

You go. What else are you good for?

June 2008

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