The Poetry Project

Three Poems

Jameson Fitzpatrick



His voice woke me this afternoon loud
and queer on the beach, saying “You
can have a glass of rosé at lunch”—
I missed the rest but opened my eyes
in time to see him strolling there
through the surf with his dog
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxand two
younger men, tanned and toned
but still boyish in their appeal, nearly
identical in their woven straw hats
though one a little shorter
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxand the brim
of one hat wider than the other.

I know the dog’s name because I follow him
on Instagram (the man, not the dog)
as I wanted to follow him then
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxdown the beach
calling—what? “Excuse me, Mr. Cohen,
I’ve been having a crisis of confidence
approximately since birth so I was
wondering if I might join you on your walk
along the water, as I’ve got a feeling
everything would change for me
if I were the kind of person people spotted
with Andy Cohen in the Pines. I might
get a book deal! Or believe in men
who say I’m attractive.”
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxThat would be
crazy, of course. I’d look ridiculous
in one of those hats.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxThey got smaller
and smaller, the famous man and the two
younger in triangle formation behind him
with the dog darting in between. I was left
with my large hangover and too-small
towel and the solace that
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxto the average
eye I almost resemble them, the younger men
I shouldn’t assume are sleeping with him.

But I know better. The difference of the hats,
for instance. They’re easy in a way
I’ll never be—not as in sex, not
as in easily won, I mean they move
in their bodies through space
with the ease of winners, naturals
at being—
being my biggest problem, followed by
beauty and fame in roughly that order.
Sex too, but I used to be better at it.
But too early. Money I was always bad at.

Last night I took half a tab hoping to get some
advice from the ghost of Frank O’Hara
or at least the moon but all I got was abandoned
by Jacques at the underwear party
and too anxious
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxto get it up
in the backroom’s sea of bodies,
the whole scene dazzling me
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxlike the sun
I couldn’t get too close or even
look too long. I could never fathom
pleasure without hardship,
how men can take it in each other
so effortlessly. Effortlessness as it happens
is what my poems lack but
if I’ve got anything going for me it’s
my difficulty.

You may not be the greatest thing on earth
or the biggest dick on this beach,
but you’re different, Jameson.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxThat’s enough.
Other voices might be calling to you,
but they’re calling you all the same.

SELECTED BOYS: 2003–2008

boys in the woodsxxxbeating offxxxoff the beatenxxxbetween the barn and sandpitxxxseemed bigger oncexxxwith their pants downxxxaround their anklesxxxboys leaning against treesxxxrubbing up against trunks boys raw boys wiping up with leavesxxxboys in bathroomsxxxat schoolxxxin classxxxboys in tightsxxxboys in dance beltsxxxboys backstagexxxduring the showxxxboys after hoursxxxin empty studiosxxxboys in carsxxxtaking offxxxnot wearing seatbeltsxxxtaking off their beltsxxxboys in back seatsxxxboys in front seatsxxxboys in trunksxxxboys swimmingxxxhalf naked boys swimmingxxxall the way nakedxxxacross the pond or pool or summerxxxboys streakingstarlike through the darkboys in basementsxxxboys sproutingxxxhair in all the places parts come togetherxxxboys coming togetherxxxboys leaving separatelyxxx15 minutes apartxxxthen meeting in the parkxxxboys getting drunkxxxboys getting stonedxxxboys getting blownxxxboys fucking rawxxxboys named RichardxxxDavexxxBrendanxxxPrestonxxxJeffxxxKrisxxxMikexxxJoel Clark GregxxxWill Greg 2xxxAlexxxxMilesxxxNathan BenxxxNickxxxwho diedxxxwho’s counting


There was the idea of love and then what.
Man Discovers Fire, Burns Self.
Practices losing weekends, months,
a season even, never enough not to be too much.
Like always wanting more cocaine
until the moment I wish I’d done less,
the middle of the night is so short
and morning so long
when slept through. That’s one solution.
Sex works best, probably,
but an excess of feeling can be exhausted.
I mean exhausting. I tried exercising
but I liked not exercising too much.
Poetry if you’re hopeless,
novels if you like to feel smart,
though feeling smart only feels good
if you’re not. Better not to feel
too much or too little of anything
to feel good. Balance is recommended
unless you hate balance
because, like me, you have a personality disorder.
You might try TV.
Maybe don’t have a personality disorder.
Self-care is hard but there’s no comedown.
Walking helps, whatever else
they tell you in therapy.
No feeling is final, Rilke writes
in a poem about god I pretend isn’t.
But you learned that already
on your way back up from the mirror,
from the burning, the whipping your head skyward,
the oh-god-why-can’t-it-always-be-like-this.
There is no god, there is no reason.
Everything is as it should be,
which doesn’t square politically but that’s DBT.
You have to choose what to feel bad about.

Issue 13