A Poem in Two Homes by Eileen Myles

BOMB 21 Fall 1987
021 Fall 1987

A Poem in Two Homes

Everywhere I go
is home

when I’m dreaming.
Creamy traffic

pouring past
the Noho Star

“I thought you were
coming to my
home!”
 

l am.
Okay.

 
At my back:
all of Bleecker St.
the confusing

 
part of New
York life

 
three generations
back. Today:

 
fruit stand, bad
bars: Stormin’

Norman & Susie,
old cafes, Village

Oldees, depression
now, the Bleecker

Cinema—Some
interesting “film”
 

Become a member
of the Bleecker
St. Cinema
 

your first year
in town. It’s

doubtful I will
move to Atlanta

for business. To
Texas to teach.

Remember Soho. This
is Soho. There’s
just these two
bars and then
 

the OG where
conceptual artists
sat all day
 

you can hardly
hear it, my
poetry. It’s

in danger of
vanishing if
I don’t write
 

it down. Does
it change like

the neighbor-
hoods, yes,
if you don’t

buy it in a flash
well who knows

what’ll happen
to you? You’ll
wind up in the

 
lower east side,
one day all cobble-
stoned with

 
trolley tracks &
dairy restaurants
like some old

world. There was
a giant line out-
side that old

church on New
Year’s day. You

 
couldn’t get in
so you went &
 

had coffee
with the
 

guy who depressed
you, Noel Sack.

 
Eileen, why don’t
you work he
said.

 
Noel, I sd
waving my hands.
I bought his

 
old speakers
& my check
bounced.

 
That was the
last straw.
He was so

 
pissed. I
guess he’s

in California
or someplace.

 
We went to that
history of the Avant
Garde Cinema

at the Modern Art.
I didn’t want
to be

with him at
all. His teacher
Duncan McNaughton

 
writes me about
the “real thing”

 
poetry that’s not
what, language,
ethnic, lesbian
 

black, you
know like Charles
Olson.
 

I packed all
of my clothes
from your

 
home into a
Macy’s shopping

 
bag. Oh gimme
that jacket, I
wanted to


wear that. And
walking up twelfth
brrr it’s

 
really cold. Gimme
that white tur-

tle neck.

I did not forget
the yellow legal
paper folded

with the stripes
going up. I
forgot the tan

notebook full
of numbers
I’ve got

to call. I’m
walking home
 

with a Macy’s
bag and one sweater
& a head band

in it. Her soul
is not a great
soul. She dwells

on domestic things:
her love. Her walk
in the cold &

even keeping to the
tiniest rule makes
me full.

My home becomes
a prayer mount
when I get

there—full of
light & dust &
the answering

machine blinking.
Hello Eileen, I am
Joel Lewis. I

am the world’s
greatest poet.
 

I do not seem
to be obedient
to the world

today. Since
television, there
has been
 

me. It has
been a tall
order to carry

out, the whole
case for enter-
taining literacy

 
on my back.
I was listening

to a tape of
Patti Smith yes-
terday in

my home. It was
before she had
a band & everything

in her voice
was waiting
for it.

And, even better,
oh dear god,
andro-

gynous creep
in the sky
Danny heard

Hitler. & he
says Hitler
sd bumble

bumble, not much
blurrr facts,
bull shit

& then he exploded
you didn’t
know when

& that was
what moved

the crowd. The
freedom of
exploding

 
in the air.

Hitler, Hitler,
Hitler pop
Hitler.


I want to
be Will
Rogers

that’s what
I want to
be. And,

that folks
(twirl twirl)
is the

end of the
world. As
we know.

I think I will
be the anti-
christ. Rather

than simple
Eileen Myles.

Poor she. The
anti-christ
is me. I

died at the
age of 33
yet I
 

walk the
streets of
the east

village joyful,
and remorseless

like a cruel
& perfect

 
poem, my
butt, unsold.
 

Sometimes
I act vague

 
about my
lesbianity.

No, it is
deeper
than all

I know. The
softness, the
flagrant

disposition. To-
day I used
half a jar

of Dippity
Do & I
got it right.

I will put
my plastic

head on
your shoulder
& weep.

For you, but
not for
me. My
 

compassion is
boundless &
 

incredible.
 

My mission is
not so predictable
as reverse
 

of the first.
 

I take some
of this
& some of
that, I
wiggle

unlike Christ.

 
I’m not a
girl, nor
a boy. I

 
won’t bear
child,


nor knock
you up. I
do not
 

come w/instructions
even to myself.
All my notions
are felt

I think, as the
arrow
strikes the
 

fatty part
of the
 

arm of
 

the boy martyr
I am unwounded


wet from the
well. I am
clear-eyed &
 

burning with
dispassion
 

like Christ,
but different.
 

Zounds. I
love that word.
Zounds. It


resembles arrows.


Each panel

represents a dif-
ferent industry
or else each
panel represents
a different re-
ligion, or masonic
lodge, or else
each panel re-
presents an age,
like the awful
age of pisces
which we’re leaving
behind us as
we’re chugging
on towards
the great
new mysterious
age of Aquarius.

Everything you
can think of
that seems
mysterious
everything’s
going
to be
like that.


A sphinx would
make you
 

happy because
at least
a sphinx
is a fact.


We’re coming
from there,
the desert &
we’re going
right back
in. Now
 

more than
any other
time in
history, you
really ought
to please
yourself
because
in mysterious
winds a
cave inside
your soul
might be
the only
place
to go.

So why house
a skunk?

Once my whole
apartment is
grey I can
think this
all out.

But I’m
hardly
ever home. Hi,
I barge in,
all smiles,
the answer
machine is

blinking away
& my hands
all full of
direct mail
envelopes, Salvation
 

Army, gay direct
mail, poor Bowery
guys, culture.


Everybody wants
money. And
I just came
home from
a hard
day of looking
for money
for my
organization,
that of
the poet.


In your
decline
I sing
your song.


At the end
of the
world
l am
my poem.

Eileen Myles’ collection of stories; Bread and Water is available through Hanuman Press. In the Spring her collection of poems, The Real Drive will appear in a series of Semiotexte. She is currently performing her play Feeling Blue, Part I, II, and III around town.

Two Poems by Todd Grimson
Related
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Chris Kraus and Douglas A. Martin conjure the iconoclastic author.

Becca Blackwell by Jim Fletcher
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The actors chat about performing masculinity, transitioning, and Blackwell’s one-person show They, Themself and Schmerm.

Eileen Myles: My Need To Say by CAConrad
Em Body

Poets CA Conrad and Eileen Myles discuss the past, Myles’s novel Inferno, and Modern Maturity.

Originally published in

BOMB 21, Fall 1987

James Rosenquist, Julian Barnes by Patrick McGrath, Diane Kurys, Richard Greenberg, and Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe.

Read the issue
021 Fall 1987