Art by Felipe Baeza
Parachuting Into a Thimble
The Sal Mineo Fan Club button
on your rose embroidered blazer
gives him back to us under the hazy water
of the lost Fifties. You like his bad-boy,
vulnerable, slightly goofy look,
and that his name references two fish:
salmon and minnow. What’s with that?
“Out of the ocean, we walked on fins—that’s what.”
We don’t discuss his characters’ squirmy torment
in Rebel Without a Cause, or his real life
trapped-in-the-shadows sex life,
or being stabbed dead at thirty-seven.
You do ask if you’re too old for the button.
And then say, “Of course, I’m timeless.”
Knowing that these late birthdays irk you,
I leave age unmentioned
during homemade lasagna and toasting
whatever good health and years are left.
We lean on the tabletop, push up,
stagger to the couch and there he is,
brooding eyes, pouty lips, on the screen.
Only it’s later, from the Sixties.
He’s one of four men in a prison cell,
three of whom circle the weakest,
the dark waters of their hunger closing in.
Your hand, mine, arms collapsed on each other.
You rub my shoulder gently. “I can’t watch
men do this, even to another man.”
You Couldn’t Call It a Plan
Allen Ginsberg, Who
Two Heads, One Platter
My brain’s 7:36 a.m. alarm goes off all night.
Your head kicks at something.
I’ve become a man who resents
the wind’s sloppy kiss, sunlight’s no-look leap.
You’ve become a woman who wouldn’t mind
breaking the noses off Mt. Rushmore’s faces.
Still, we keep it contained.
Others would have to be us to know.
The bathroom mirror winks. We’re in, we’re out.
Why were we always such a struggle back then?
Why equal, but always one more so than the other?
We only threw dishes that should have had wings.
We only yelled our dance.
We only shook our fists when imitating maracas.
We only wept together.
As for the kids, they call: “I lost my job,”
or “My marriage won’t make it.” Never:
“I won the Nobel Prize. Can you help me with my speech?”
We don’t have to invite them for dinner;
they show up anyway, open the fridge,
study the shelves, as if it’s all theirs.
As if we are all theirs.
I’ve become a man who admires
pavement squares punched crooked by roots.
You’ve become a woman whose eye rides
Pollack’s roller-coaster line from canvas
to the tiny bars of light on your fingernails.
Our memories are bordered by cracks and curbs.
The hole in the wall that the calendar hides—
you know how it got there. It’ll never go away.
If our current velocity holds,
we’ll bow before it, somewhat bewildered,
weep together and whisper our dance.
Douglas Collura lives in Manhattan and is the author of the book Things I Can Fit My Whole Head Into, which was a finalist for the 2007 Paterson Poetry Prize. He won first prize in the 2008 Missouri Review Audio/Video Competition in Poetry and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2019 and 2021.
Felipe Baeza (b. Guanajuato, Mexico) is a visual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Baeza's practice is equal parts confrontation of violent pasts and a tribute to people whose sense of personhood is constantly litigated and defined by those in power. Baeza's recent exhibitions include The Milk of Dreams, 59th Venice Biennale, Venice (2022); Prospect 5. New Orleans: Yesterday We Said Tomorrow, New Orleans (2021); and Unruly Suspension, Maureen Paley, London (2021). Baeza received a BFA from The Cooper Union and an MFA from Yale University.