Oyster Boy Review 08  
  January 1998
» Cover

» Art
» Poetry
» Essays
» Reviews
» Contributors

» Oyster Boy Review
» Levee 67


Boston Tea Party

Michael Rumaker

5 AM
Room 1408
Park Plaza Hotel
at my window
city twinkling for miles
sky beginning to brighten
one lone star aloft
only the yellow street lights flashing
all over Boston
John Wieners sleeping
or pattering about in
5th floor walkup
44 Joy Street
the shady side of Beacon Hill
Behind the State Capitol
We are both invisble fags
John greeting me
9 AM yesterday morning
in cramped vestibule
naked to the waist
not all invisible:
big belly now
a split nipple on his right tit
I'd never noticed before
Haven't seen him for years
Haven't ever seen him in Boston
where he's always "Jack"
John's mother dead
John's sister dead
John's brother-in-law
doles him bucks from welfare checks
for smokes and eats
Where'd he get those
burnt sienna trousers?
only John knows
A letter in the mailbox
John ripping it open to see
if there's a check inside
There isn't
But he goes to read at
Brown in a month
"400 dollars for 3 hours"
so that's something
Hard climb to
5th floor under roof
apartment has the look of
all the places John has ever lived:
Lower East Side; Leavenworth Street,
Nob Hill (another shady side)
jumbled, rooms-for-transients look
John smart:
we're all just passing through
"Why're you here?"
It sounds from his
lips like the question
of the meaning of
Why are any of us here?
I'm on a panel
"Gay and Lesbian Fiction Writers:
Before the Boom and After"
at OutWrite 95
where lots of queer writers
are visible
John not invited,
says, "Maybe we could
go there for tea?"
forgets it a
minute later
"forgetting everything,"
he says,
"would you like a hot chocolate?"
as always,
courteous to a fault,
and forgets that too
I invite John
to Arlington Street grand hotel
invite him 3 times,
he keeps forgetting
"Outreach? Outline?
My typewriter's broken—
I write by pen"
Barefoot John
pattering about
showing me his Lincoln Kirstein (b. 1907)
Movement and Metaphor
with warped rose-colored cover
he picked up in a flea market
which feeds him this instant
reading bits aloud
through horn-rimmed bottle-thick glasses
temples missing
so that he holds them pinched
between fingers like lorgnettes
reading in deliberate
buttery Boston voice
words shaped in air
like smoke
from the Kent he puffs
by open window
courteous of my
at last tar-free lungs
Cold Boston air
blowing in ice everywhere
in streets below
gray and glassy
in cemeteries
on way over
names long gone from slate stones
rubbed clean by north Atlantic winds
cemeteries in
Boston so much
deader than
John gulping high-powered aspirins
pulling other bottle out
opening new one before old one gone
John concerned
I not bump my head
on a slant beam (like
that appears to be
holding up the whole
all of Boston
the world
"You are angularity, Mike . . ."
What're you doing, John?
"I don't write anymore . . . I'm a dilettante . . ."
is very sure of that
"You are all angles
My typewriter's broken—
I write by pen"
1988 poem (to a woman)
in his handwriting
lying smack center in musty seat
of dining room chair
Another woman, he says,
stole one of his poems
and published it in The New Yorker;
he told me summer 1965
the folks at State University at Buffalo
were trying to gas him
in a basement classroom
Who knows?
2 old invisible fags
rattling disconnected connections
talking in a rat's nest of an apartment
the shady side of Beacon Hill
2 old gay boys
talking past each other now
I want to talk about Charles, Duncan—
old Black Mountain days
John: "It's best I don't get near again"
He reads Kirstein aloud,
the book, like all John's books, jammed with
mag cutouts: photos of
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Jayne Mansfield before decapitation
Billie Holiday, Sophia Loren, his paperdolls
curious little origami mag foldings
glued to the inserts
secret (sacred) only to John
like other mag cutouts on the wall
like on all the walls
of all the places
I've seen him live
Shows me fancy Canadian literary mag
with his 50s journal entries
stuffed with more origami dolls
wants me to see contents of
proposed 4th Measure
(never done)
points to
ending with "Michael Rumaker's letters"
we grin, we grin past each other
2 invisible old cocksuckers
in a shabby still-1955 apartment
up in another Boston sky
as I'm sitting here now 14th floor
in another sky on Arlington Street
5:25 AM now
delicate clouds under the one star
another smaller star shining beneath it
Frank O'Hara is dead
Marlon Riggs is dead
John was born in 1934
he wrote "A poem for cocksuckers" 6.20.58
Robert Gluck at OutWrite 95
flashing color photos
of new blond baby son
naked, uncut
(complimented him on keeping the foreskin)
I am this morning 63 years old