Voicemail Message 233

by Jonathan Rentler

placed at 1:15,
to listen press the star key:
I imagine the ocean raw in September.
Names, not necessary,
but stamped indicting all.

No Chris,
I’m not asking to come down anymore
or up eleven stories to find you
craving a strip-down-dance-wrestle-sex
(sober though).
To lie then on your floor while you descend
to cocktails and friends,
“They’d bore you Jon.”

Like funhouse mirrors propped
on the backs of Fates,
through a shot glass smashed,
I sit on your white plank throne
watching the crash of someone on my shores.

He, Jim, brings his “kids,” an ark of pets.
A bed of leashed lizards,
collared dogs, one cockatoo perched,
a meth boyfriend in the back spare room
found living in his Toyota.
Another stray. “But no,
he hasn’t fucked me in three months;
he’s more of a roommate than anything.”

Jim calls nightly
much like I once did to you.
Oh what a strain!
I don’t want you, I whisper
as you I’m sure did.
You don’t want me, chanted secretly
down telephone lines to New Orleans.
When threatened
like a bitch defending her runt of a pup
he slanders your name.
You’re the bronzed knight
on a tarot pulled
when he’s confronted
with my plot-less metaphors.

I’ve been led to the water’s edge
but fail to jump in.
I’m the one who takes off.
When anyone calls me
more than once a week
I freak.
I hull up planks
and drag my anchor aboard.

I unearth the stringy roots
used to leave faint impressions
like disappearing tracks
of sandpiper feet
on coastlines shifting.

“But (sob) Chris (sob)
the way you (sob) chased (sob)
and Chris (sob) strung (sob)
asshole (sob),”
said sans his Southern twang
and queer wit.

The bedroom puns are lost
sunken in the sags
of forty something skin
on a bed somewhere
in the French quarter.

in the beginning you harped
on disappointment,
the careless handling
of others by others.
Setting bulbs of poison oak
laying tracks
of Venus fly traps,
whistle blowing breaths
stored early on.

The words flowed
from your pitcher lips
like honey wine
hornets still in twitching.
Wishing just wishing,
Chris would be the exception
to the spouted.

An earthen concoction buried deep
where Adam and Steve
did first meet.
Love caught at the base of the trunk.
The seed steeping
into a swirling sap
cupped in a jar of clay.

For Chris and I
to find one day
lapping up
till death parts.

But Chris,
your home is in the news;
all alarms and sirens’ whine.
A Philly nymph
bought a one way ticket
for a one way swim
left her waitress skin
to skim
atop sea foam,
surfacing at your feet.

In Atlantic City there are syringes
in with the summer waders.
Washing up are bags of fat.
Rotting like jelly fish sacks,
they burst beneath your ATV wheels
penetrating sun shades.

You blink in AIDS
and Old Age.
They follow Fear
to the optic nerve-ways
to your starfish of a brain
its legs tangled, tucked,
curled like the fingers
in the fist of a stillborn.

Cupid had in his party
the avenging angel
of Love unrequited,
When it’s not reciprocated,

Enter Anteros
a face of knotted teary sleeves
a dagger always drawn,
never sheathed.

He just arrived
so don’t pick up.
Just let this ring
leave me to a voicemail slot:

Hear this.
Hear me.
I cannot help if
I don’t feel the same for Jim
as I do for you Chris.
(I hope your listening.)

The blade lifts
with a familiar scent,
the crust of someone else, recent
in the last few hours.
Grains of sand fall
from the clenched god’s hand.
As he lays me down, I ask,
“You didn’t happen upon,
the death before this one,
a condo where a lifeguard slept?”

A nod and I float
on my stomach,
arching my back as it slides in sharp
its Chris
its Chris
its Chris
but its not.

-Jonathan Rentler is an actor and writer currently grappling New York City.
One eye always cast over his shoulder towards the golden coast.