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My mind is spinning. When I called home about an hour ago, Lee told me that Mom was progressing, and that it was time to plan my trip home. She didn’t offer more advice than that, just telling me that anything I decided would be okay. Mom has become more unresponsive, and the morphine is now regular. The service would be held a week from Saturday, and I am waiting for my boss to come in so I can talk to her about leaving, and about how to cover this workshop that is starting on Monday. Making a list of things to do before I go, including checking my account balance to see if I can afford the airline’s “emergency fares”, which aren’t a discount at all, really.


I found a round-trip ticket online for $285 leaving tomorrow, if you can believe that. So I’m taking it. Work will cover me. The ex will watch Louie. Tonight I’ll cancel any appointments and pack. Here we go.


Below (before?) are two poems from my early twenties. Both about failed relationships (the best fodder). I’ll try to just leave them be, without comment. It just seemed a good idea to include them.

This Body


What would you like me to tell you?

I have my things. A bed. A desk. Second-

hand clothes. Coffee and milk. We pour water

in a pan on the radiator. The dishes are clean, the

light spreads out across the floor, fleeting. My plant

has died from the cold through the window. A wool

blanket at night, a clean towell in the morning.

There are things to confront: the stories we’ve heard,

the mutual friends, the rooms of dry

air that chaps your lips. You spent years with a man,

a French intellectual, a professor across the country. A

handful of men, like colored stones, tossed up, scattered.

Men will offer parts of themselves, needless and crucial.

Impressive lies, a house for the summer. A voice,

carbonated, expectant. A boy with bright enough eyes.

So I’m here, with my thin youth. No house, only

one degree. What would I give you? Only poets

read poetry. The stories you’ve heard, about the

things I’ve done, are nothing. A bare torso, maybe,

an ex-boyfriend. I hear these things. My anger tilts

the world on its side.

We’ve left small towns, small places, to come here.

The things we’ve done are small. Our frosted

breath on your windshield, the museum artwork we

forgot to look at. A table littered with powdered cocoa

and teabags, your knees resting against mine.

I would like to write you ridiculous letters.

I would like to leave the city with you.

Instead, I grip your shoulders through

your overcoat. A restrained smile, a parting at

an elevator, a street corner, your idling car.

The winter afternoons are rounded by dark and snow;

a quick daylight, a hastened twilight. I sent you postcards

with other people’s poetry, and have passed hours with

playing cards, losing games of solitaire:

ten on jack on queen on king.

February will pass. I’ve bought you

tea and your dogs lay on my cold feet there in your house.

I touched your knuckles, your palms, the tips of your fingers.

An hour for lunch, food wrapped in plastic, juice from glass

bottles. Between your words I stare at the hollow of your neck.

I would like to tell you this.


One man looked at another man,

one set of calluses against another,

the sins that banished us from the gardens

of other people’s heavens. On clear mornings

they place wafers on wet tongues. This is the body

of Christ, they say. This is the body of heaven.

Our heaven. King of kings. This is the body.

What would you give for that?

How would you prove your faith?

This is the shame of teacup people;

my shame at every night I never

slept alone; a tongued-open palm, a bright-eyed

boy who fed me cigarettes and grocery store champagne,

several months of shared sins. This is shame, what

you’ve handed me. This is the body, full of guilt and

red anger.

The windowsill ivy climbs my bedroom walls.

The snow, melting, runs off the

neighboring rooftops and at night I read the chapters

of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus.

Their heaven demanded certain sacrifices, demonstrations

of affections, atonements and confessions. So, you’ve said.

What do we do now?

The scattered collection of men have all had their hopes,

and, left alone, they have called themselves fools. Is that so

uncommon? Even saints dream of sin.

Drunkenly, you remarked my youth was beautiful.

Plato was happy to lose the tyrant of his youth.

Eventually we’ve given each other nothing of value.

Content, faithful. Like I was never even there.

This is a demonstration of willful affection.

This is the body that I would become, the body

I would fold myself into and sleep, next to you and

your dogs. This is the body and these are my calluses.

This is my world-tilting anger and my desire knotted.

This is my thin, fleeting youth, these are my stories of sin

and my smile at your smile, jack on jack on king on king.

(c)1996 Michael McAllister

There’s a Man Who’s Been Carrying Around My Hands

The traffic on LaSalle filters in only one direction,

exhaust rising in late February,

the sky overcast and thin.

On Sunday mornings I’ve pushed back the covers

and have rearranged each of my vital organs,

to distance myself from the day. Heart behind

the lungs, hidden within my stomach.

There’s a man who’s been carrying around my hands

as if they were his alone. Each Sunday morning

he runs them through his hair and sorts through

his closet for clothes to pull on.

He shaves with them,

dials my number with them,

drinks wine with them.

His skin is coffee and milk, heat within my hands.

There’s a man who’s been carrying around my hands

and when he picks apart each button on my shirt

I undress myself in front of him,

the curtains parted,

thin sky close to the earth,

the traffic continuing without us.

(c) 1996 Michael McAllister

K-Holes on the Dancefloor

Morning. It’s a newer, brighter day and I have four less teeth in my head. (The oral surgeon actually called them wizzies, as in “I know we’re backed up, but I’ve got four wizzies to pull here). They deemed my mouth important enough to call in the star resident, rather than a student (thank God) and actually offered me the option of IV sedation, and despite my desire to be as out-of-it as possible, I chose the laughing gas (no, I didn’t laugh) because the sedation would have required a new appointment, and considering my Mom’s condition, I wanted to get it over with. So I’m home now, with my pain meds, my penicillin, and a few rented DVDs. Workshop or no workshop, I’m gonna give myself a sick day.

I broke down and rented a few episodes of the first season of Queer as Folk. And well, I dunno. It’s neither the best queer show I’ve ever seen (that would probably be Pee-Wee’s Playhouse), nor is it a sign of the Apocalypse. The whitebread characters and the heavy-handed issues made it hard for me to get sucked in, but I’ll give it a couple more episodes. The too gay-friendly Mom prattling on about crusing, while dressed in “Got Lube?” t-shirts and P-Flag buttons rang a bit false, and I winced when Ted had his brush with GHB (has anyone on TV ever taken GHB and not passed out, had a seizure, or been raped?) However, his date’s abandonment was realistic. Nothing like passing out to ruin a gay boy’s party. In my time at the clubs I’ve seen countless poor boys abandoned by friends when the drugs hit too hard. I’ve driven home boys whose friends couldn’t be torn from the club to help. Ah, the heady days of drug abuse and fabulousness.

Anyway, I’ll admit a fascination with Brian’s character because he does all the things I could never do, and gets away with it. He’s the type who can walk through life, damaging all he touches, unconcerned with the repercussions. As I mentioned once before, sometimes I wish I could be that un-selfconscious. But only for a minute or so.

As one site states, the Meyers types like myself (INFJs), “… yearn to live spontaneously; it’s not uncommon for INFJ actors to take on an SP (often ESTP) role.” Not that I’m a devoted “type” ( I don’t place too much emphasis on astrology, either), but when I came across sites like these, they described me perfectly. Anyway, not that you asked. Speaking of that, I sure wouldn’t mind hearing from some readers now and then. Hit the “Mailbox” link above, and tell me about yourself. Or don’t. I’m gonna keep this up, either way.


It’s like 9/11 all over again, except it’s, like, financial, and it’s in Houston, and….oh, nevermind.

The other day as I was channel-surfing, I came across a news interview with a former Enron employee who, having been fortunate enough to land another job as a receptionist, started an “Enron Relief Fund” for other former co-workers. She said the stories she had been hearing about their woes pushed her into action.

“Some of them had to actually, like, go on food stamps, and it was, you know, humiliating.”

Anyway, all disbelief aside, won’t this be an interesting little story to follow?

(Notice me calmly not acknowledging my upcoming surgery today? I am a rock. I am an island.)

Release Me

Due to tension over tomorrow’s surgery (be thankful I’m not presenting it in streaming video on the Internet, a la Carnie Wilson), I’ve decided to treat myself tonight to a 12 step-free evening featuring the decadence of fried chicken and The Anniversary Party. Hey, it’s got Parker Posey and Jennifer Beals in it. It’s a cold and rainy night here in the city, Louie’s on the bed with me, and I’ve already stocked up on pudding and ibuprofen for post-surgery recovery. (Hopefully they’ll give me something stronger, but not “habit forming”) I will absolutely NOT freak out about this. I won’t. I WON’T.

Um, what’s, like, my motivation?

I don’t have an agenda for tonight’s campfire, which may be lucky for you.

I didn’t even know I had an agenda last night until I started writing. But today, I’m just a little quiet, probably out of stress. Mom’s condition at home hovers at that fine line between life and death, and Lee now has friends staying round the clock. I’ve got this oral surgery to get through on Tuesday, and I woke today with some bronchitis. I swear, I get stressed and my body starts to backfire. Plus I have this workshop I’m coordinating at work about to start next week and I don’t even know where I’ll be day to day. Considering the circumstances, I’m finding it hard to be motivated at work. I just want to get through this. Escape, in every sense of the word, is just about all I can dream about. I wish I could convince myself that everything will be okay. I suppose I know it will, but it doesn’t keep me from worrying.


Ah yes, those young, free-spirited l(i)sbians*, naked and dancing. How I miss them so.

Well, however you reached the campfire, I hope you find something to enjoy, especially the l(i)sbian*-seekers from Saudi Arabia. I do it all for you.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Diane Whipple’s death. The dog mauling case created quite the sensation last year as it dredged up all sorts of lurid stories involving sleazy, unlikable lawyers adopting a white supremacist prison inmate (named “Cornfed”) who helped them run a killer dog breeding operation, and with whom they supposedly were to create a bizarre sexual union. The case also made news when the victim’s lesbian (yes, that’s right, with an “e”) partner won a court ruling to allow same-sex couples to file wrongful death lawsuits. While one of the two dogs was put down immediately after the attack, Hera, the female, has been kept alive in a tiny kennel at the city shelter down the street from my office for the last year. My boss at the animal shelter became the de facto dog behavior expert, called in to evaluate Hera and share her findings with authorities. And while she found the dog to be threatening and unpredictable (and this is a woman who has worked with thousands of dogs), the dog has been kept alive by misguided “animal rights” activists, who are so loony they believe that our society (which we’ve created, remember?) has a big, free, happy place waiting for such animals. These are the same nutcases who sent my boss hate mail because she dared to suggest a dangerous animal be put down. The only humane thing to do with Hera is to put her down, and it should have been done a year ago. Maybe these animal rights activists can focus their efforts away from such catastrophes, and instead concentrate on helping teach people how to raise happy, well-adjusted, social dogs. Cuz God knows, we need the help.

I swear (yeah, I know I’m ranting), it’s the people that drive me absolutely nuts. I don’t know how my dog trainer co-workers do it everyday, patiently counselling potential adopters on how to socialize and integrate a dog into their home comfortably, when really all they intend to do is throw it in the backyard, alone, and call it a good life. And believe me, when it comes to dogs, everyone thinks they’re an expert. Especially if the last time they had a dog was when they were, like, five.

Dogs are highly social animals; their nature is to run in packs, and to deprive them of the company of their family, to be thrown in the backyard or garage alone, is plain and simple torture. And then you wonder why they have behavior problems?

And if you’re intending to get a dog for “protection”, have some extra cash for your new property insurance rates, and put your lawyer on speeddial, because you may just be the next in line for the great American pasttime: the lawsuit (see above).

And don’t get me started on the recent hyped-up theories regarding “alpha” dogs and hierarchy, and how to teach your dog that you’re the alpha in the family. Rolling a 125-lb Rottweiler on its back at a dog park surrounded by dogs (this really happened) is a pretty damn good way to get bit. And then, that’s usually when you decide you’ve done all you can, and you drop Fifi off with us. Let me tell you, I’ve seen it all.

Oh, I don’t know why I’m bothering you with all of this, you’re obviously not the kind of trash I’m talking about, and if you were, you probably ran screaming when you saw the word “l(i)sbian*” at the top. Then again, maybe not.

*no, I don’t particularly want to encourage more l(i)sbian-seekers here. We’re all out.