Scoundrel Time

Poems By Diane Seuss

[Yes, I saw them all, saw them, met some, Richard Hell]

Yes, I saw them all, saw them, met some, Richard Hell,

Lou Reed, Basquiat, Warhol, Burroughs, Kenneth Koch,

and it all left me feeling invisible or fucked, fucked

sideways, fucked by a john who stiffs you on your fee

and doesn’t leave a tip, it wasn’t impressive, it wasn’t literary,

it wasn’t titillating, I hope you are not titillated by it, their loathing

of women was indisputable, sometimes leaving genuine bruises,

more often just a sneer or no eye contact, the eyes wandering

off like dogs looking for something worth peeing on, or rarely

but potently and maybe worst of all something involving the word

beautiful, weaponizing the word beautiful, finally I took a turn

and made myself atrocious, like drag queens and anorexics, I did

not want to be acceptable, I wanted to be alarming, hulk, colossus,

freak, maybe not a great life plan but a step in the right direction.




[Frank. Robes]

Frank. Robes,

I can’t picture you

in one nor I but I have seen you naked in paintings by Larry

Rivers frontal

hands folded behind your head very come hither and boots! though

I love Double Portrait of Frank O’Hara one face affable the other

fishy your high

forehead receding hairline I wonder did you hate yourself

and Alice

Neel’s portrait of you in profile your nose

just hanging there

like a flag in babyland on a windless day

the edge

of your ear a little flushed and a curl behind it




[Frank: Here’s some deep gossip for you: Your good friend ]

Frank: Here’s some deep gossip for you: Your good friend

Kenneth grabbed me by the hair and stuck his tongue in my mouth. I’d come

to his place to pick up his manuscript for retyping I was young I thought

I was hot but didn’t know what I was doing in truth

only a couple of my dimensions had opened up

didn’t have a clue this particular iteration of grotesque was gunning

for me. Oh not me

in particular I imagine Kenneth

did not discriminate. Here is a photograph of him at your funeral.

Youngish dimensional capable of sadness. Now he too is dead

and his life spread out before him like a map I picture

the two of you leaning over it smoking

cigarettes the part where he’s on top of me

just a red glitch in the far-right corner



[I wish I still smoked so that I could sit outside in the dark]

I wish I still smoked so that I could sit outside in the dark

and smoke rather than just sitting outside in the dark. I’m glad

my parents smoked even if it gave me asthma. It was worth it

to hear the roar of the match and watch them bring fire so close

to their faces and from across the room or yard to see the lit end

grow angry and then out of their mouths came a blue dragon

that climbed and swelled in the air. I’m about to be poor. I’ll live

as my mother has lived. Dish soap and dryer sheets and bird seed

and greeting cards from the dollar store. Yet not being a tightwad.

She’s like Jesus with the loaves and fishes, always a few bucks to slip

into somebody’s hand but never the collection plate. Unlike Shirl

who held so long to a penny that it turned green in her hand. In this

way, I don’t need a bible. The parables are there like the free cigarettes

tobacco companies handed out to patients in mental institutions.




[Frank I need]

Frank I need

to throw some stuff at you milk

weed buck

shot menstrual

rag funeral


cicada unaccompanied

by Ulysses

and this: what if



the you






[Tony said being an army brat meant he was from everywhere and therefore nowhere. I am from]

Tony said being an army brat meant he was from everywhere and therefore nowhere. I am from

somewhere and therefore not everywhere, a small somewhere, nearly nowhere. Either way the wind

blows. It blew the flesh from Tony’s bones. A provocateur, and mortal. Predicted his own death

in a long-ago poem, “Barton Springs.” Small, fierce as a shrew, the way they tunnel under snow.

Quick to anger, to judge. Overestimating what he could get away with, weigh-in on. Overestimate,

underestimate, it’s one or the other for all of us. His kindness never sappy, as least where I was

concerned. He got people to take notice of my second book. At the one dinner we shared I saw

he was a person who tells the waiter all the things he doesn’t want on the salad. Where I’m from

you eat it and say thank you too many times. I felt embarrassed, self-conscious about liking my food

more than he did. Now I’m a thundercloud, more like him than not, can you imagine? Wind’s army

brat, going where it drags me. After all the fuss, when the world turned against him and he was

banished—easy to do these days, you don’t have to look people in the eye—well, after all of it,

he’ll make a smallish pile of bones. Larger than a lamb, smaller than a sheep. Where I’m from,

you bury them deep. Nothing will grow on the farm if you don’t pray over all the bones.





Image By: