Afloat with Primo Levi

See me dressing in New York
pushing hair back from my face
thinking about the cult of underwear
sliding into jeans and being careful with the zipper
taking off warm Mr. Mouse
and watching my little chest tremble.

See me dressing in New York
running hands across my bristles
so jealous of Jean-Marc Bahr in ‘The Big Blue’
picking out a shirt from the black wardrobe
my black shirt, putting it on and staring into the mirror
feeling sticky and heading for the bath.

This is my life here
running with water and trapped in plastic.
See me smoking while I’m bathing
mixing steam and sulfur
counting the pieces floating, soon I’ll be clean.

I’m scrubbing little parasites
the pilot shoals of eye and ear
draining wax and pulling lashes.
Imagining myself insulated
covered with honey and baked quite crystalline.
I’m thinking of pastries glazed with apricot
gelatin and maraschino.
Of gorging, being roman, swelling not regretting.

I can see my skin stretched out
a taught book-binding,*
and my mind returns at a plummet
to practices barely human.

* The demand for Nazi memorabilia is very firm, with auctions well attended and high prices consistently achieved. There has been a problem with the growth of unauthenticated items flooding the marketplace. Of special contention seem to be obscurely minted medals and books or lamp shades purportedly bound with human skin.