Inner Critic

A confusion of muses disillusioned
by the automaton adults they
entertain, all my nudes have
lost their way. ‘Baby, write
us into your next play…’
they chortle, breathy as static
sirens tangled in phone cords

dangling from a jailhouse wall,
these has-beens hanging onto what
they insist is talent (what?
the cock-block?) with fistfuls of
dollar-bills and rock, mock-beauties leading-on
policemen and absent fathers, on-again/
off-again boyfriends, they are the

real dealers. A crisis in
my own right and on-call,
idling here hoping to cop
a hot line for my
next psalm, only willing to
call-out one of their many
faults, I say, ‘Poems, Babe.

I write poetry, the art
of fags.’ And then, a
coy retort corrosive as shellac
presses forth with the bitterness
of bitten nails, ‘Oh yeah,
you don’t say? Then why
do you get so hard

with us if it’s cock
you suck and think of
when you get off touching
yourself? You’re certainly not touching
others with that played-out stuff.
Make us stars, Baby. Don’t
try to act so tough.’

In the cool livery of
flickering neon licking iced nipples
with fiery tongues of amethyst
and humming pastels, an insatiable
instability of back-room beauties wearing
nothing but bad attitudes accessorizing
benign apathy with unrefined ironies

of diamond-studded crucifixes lilting like
rose-gold thorns adorning silicon mountains
under a costume of crass
sarcasm, in the haze of
their crumpled twenties gaze they
gyrate. My girls contort like
Picassos, amateur Cubist alchemists packing

punches of venom like mules
turning shit into gold, professional
cons with platinum cunts convincing
each other but never themselves
that porn is art, my
penitent women heckle their one
apostle with tips for which

he has come. In this
temple, where every shadow is
a sabbath, prayer takes on
as many forms of worship
as god does. In this
place where angels trade rough
table dances for a taste

of leftover wings they paw
over with great haste and
take, taking chances with fate
they fatten themselves between sets,
dieting on soda (and not
cola) and high-octane tweaks of
mainlined flame that hit the

spot when life misses the
mark. Some vape, waiting for
a sign. One is late
by three weeks, has not
touched pills, painkillers or Midols,
in as long, complains of
pains in her gut and

heart at the same time
ever since her lover left
her with an empty apartment
and no wallet, gave her
no ring but pledged with
a knife what seems more
to me a threat, than

a promise, that he would
have her as his wife.
‘Girls,’ I nod, ‘Let’s acknowledge
our differences and move on.
I’m working on something less
original than usual and want
to copy down quick what

you make me feel, without
any shtick or efforts on
my part (as the author)
to polish or censor what
goes on in here, in
my head. Can you help
me get it, Dolls, what

it’s like to live alongside
my thoughts inside this box?’
After huddling for what seemed
like an extended disco version
of an intermission’s eternity between
sets, my collective fell unconscious
under cover of a cloud

of smoke and whispers. Krystal,
their chosen leader, an indefatigable
feature-girl, undefeated crowd-pleaser for the
last several years, rose from
the scrum to saunter over
to my ear and sigh,
‘Every night with you is

like having to fight your
fantasies for custody of a
fame whose name isn’t even
mine, you egotistical prick. But,
I love it when you
convince complete strangers that this
graffiti is literature…’ I smiled.