Letters to Mapplethorpe
by Robert Carr
The paper-skin prints of my left hand flip through your X portfolio. Your Polaroid fuck collective,
your porcelain models drawn from Mineshaft piss. What is it draws me back? Sorting mother’s
blue-blood family photos? The albums – black construction paper pages, those glued corners, the colorless baby portraits, my pudgy legs forgotten in silver marker? Robert, are you out there giggling with horns glued to your head? Do you clutch a bouquet of dried red carnations, the blossomed assholes of men? Do you too miss being in a body?
After X, a Y. We are a pair of Jacks-in the-Pulpit, standing back to back in Jonnies. We die on opposite sides of a privacy screen in a shared red room. Robert, you would pitch a fit to find the whip has fallen out your ass and the Y portfolio stands alone – a floating gardenia, a leaning bowl of tulips. Stop asking me Robert, why, when the air is still, finally breathable and the deadeye of the world is counting my blessings for me, I am writing endings. There’s an empty chair in the corner where pale blue vinyl has split.
Stop asking me if you’ve succeeded, if your Z is still untouchable. You’re long dead but the perfection of black skin has amplified to unspeakable. Thin men measure a dark length against the lining of a mouth. Gratitude is out of reach and I wonder why I finger a smear on the frames of your black and hairless portraits. And you, Robert, fucking with me still? Your laughing eyes empty, holding frozen the silver knobbed skull of your stick. My eel white arm leans into your cane. We leer, grip loosening into the composition.