you are in the diode archives spring 2010




Spiritual texts are the most boring books in the world.
None of them mentions a bicycle
or a Ferris wheel, or baseball, or sea lions, or ice cream.
They just lump them all together into “the world.”
The “world of appearances.” The “world of illusions.”
You can walk through this world and not
believe it for a minute. You can get to the end of it
and not believe that either. The miracle is seeing
right through the world to another
world that’s right here, right now.
But you have to let go of everything.
You have to let go of everything—you can
start by letting go of these words, just let them
go. Let them fall through the air, skim
your knee, spill to the floor. How to read these words
when they’re lying on the floor face-down
like bodies? That is the seeming difficulty.
You can sit in a small room all alone with your body
and not believe it for a minute. You can
don the humble johnny that closes in the back,
and when the doctor comes in with his numbers
which are your numbers, you can
not believe that either. You can let them fall from his lips,
skim your ear, pool on the floor where your eyes
and his eyes have fallen. He won’t
mention the bicycle, or the Ferris wheel which is
taking up a lot of room right now in the little
examining room where a sea lion has clambered up
onto the table and is barking, and the baseballs are flying,
and the vendors are hawking ice cream—because he can’t
see them. He can’t perform a miracle.


The Quintessential Impotence Poem

Quintessence is the fifth and highest essence
that permeates all nature and is the substance
that the heavenly bodies are composed of. Impotence

is the state of no sex in heaven. Or if there is
sex in heaven, it will technically have to be masturbation,
because everyone is one and the same in heaven.

Hell is having nothing to read but your own
poems. A psychiatrist is someone with a hanging
psychiatric shingle outside his door. A prostitute

is someone who sucks dick for a living.
A dangling participle is a relative clause
in an ambiguous sentence, or it’s a life sentence

in a man with erectile dysfunction. For example:
“Jerry Remy hit an RBI single off Haas’s leg,
which rolled into right field.” You would think

the leg rolled into right field. You would think
getting to first base with a girl would give you
a boner as hard as a baseball bat. All we know

is that Remy got to first base and someone
scored. Whoever it was, he must have been very
happy. He probably got an erection. He probably got

a raise in pay and self-esteem, and he probably
had an erector set when he was a kid. My mother
never bought me an erector set. And my father never

learned to speak English very well. He thought
a home run was something you did when your mother
forgot to pick you up after your baseball game.


How to Touch a Woman

Technically, and with a love of
technicalities mixed with childlike
wonder, and also a little shame
at the long history of the ignorance
of men. Touch her the way
you would touch whatever’s behind
glass and a Do Not Touch sign
if the glass were suddenly removed
and the sign were given you
to fold it into a beautiful paper crane
to give to her. Touch her that way
every time as though it were
the first time. And when you consider
your cells and her cells are dying
and being born all the time, technically, it is.


Blues Harp

More like a cross between a saxophone
and a five-alarm fire
than a Hohner harmonica
small enough to fit in the palm of her hand
or breast pocket. He was thinking
the fact that she even had breasts
was almost completely beside the point.
Almost. For he had never
heard anyone, much less a woman,
play harp like that. It was
powerful, intelligent, sexy,
downright athletic the way she ran
her tongue up and down it, breathing
hard into the bullet mike, Chicago-style,
trading licks with the rhythm guitarist
center-stage, bending the notes into
shapes that conjured up for him the beautiful
catastrophes of train wrecks. He wanted
to get her alone after the set, out behind
the club, and in the darkness whip out his
own harmonica, play a long train with her,
show her his rhythms by starting out slow,
then building speed underneath her
while she whistled and steamed and moaned
on top, letting her juggle the high notes
like so many birds in the hand, so many
waves upon waves, while he chugged along
steady and low, running like clockwork, letting her lead,
letting her go, letting her, letting her, letting her.


Suicidal Ideation

It wasn’t that he wanted to take his life.
He wanted to take his death
into his own hands. There was
a difference, he knew, though he couldn’t
articulate it. More speculative than suicidal,
more curious than depressed,
more interested than not,
he didn’t want to talk to a therapist.
He wanted to talk to Walt Whitman.
He wanted to talk to his best friend from
kindergarten, who’d moved away
on the cusp of first grade, and he never
saw him again. He wanted to climb a tree
and sit up there all alone in the top branches
watching it absorb the carbon dioxide.
He had a bit of the tree in him himself.
He had similar aspirations
and spent much of his time in the branching
ramifications in his head. But because his children
would never live it down, he climbed
down from the tree in the car in the garage
every time, and walked back into his life with a few
leaves and twigs still sticking to his head.  


Paul Hostovsky’s poems have won a Pushcart Prize, the Muriel Craft Bailey Award from The Comstock Review, and chapbook contests from Riverstone Press, Grayson Books, Frank Cat Press, and Split Oak Press. He has been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Best of the Net, and The Writer’s Almanac. His newest book of poems, Dear Truth (2009), is available from Main Street Rag.