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  • Morgan:A Lyric
  • Boyer Rickel (bio)

Come with me if you want to live, the great-chested Schwarzenegger commands in Terminator II.

I’ve never seen it, I confess, clicking to another station.

No, too busy rereading The Iliad, Morgan says.

At the Met, Leonardo’s drawings: faces where things erupt, the flesh deformed in bubbling lumps; a man on whose chin a growth extrudes toward his nose like a mangled penis.

His deep chest made my brother-in-law a better transplant prospect, a friend tells me at a cocktail party.

I wonder if the forced coughing for over an hour four times a day concerns our neighbors in adjacent rooms.

From behind the dressing room door, his voice on the cell to his girlfriend, who thinks he’s at his parents’.

Blackout—that’s how he’d like to die, he says, a burst vessel in the brain.

A body flayed reveals the cord-work of the muscles, a visitor’s face pressed close to the glass in the room’s dim light (to preserve the drawings).

Our life contained in rooms.

The walls like teeth around the sound of a word. [End Page 117]

The eyes of the corpse’s face are open, as if he remembers something that happened to him.

In the New York Times, a Swiss clerk explains why verse dominates the bookstore shelves: Our language, Romansh, is dying. When a patient is dying, he writes only poetry.

Is it this time or another that he wrote, in a neat blue script, the word I live for on the white duvet cover?

From behind the dressing room door, his voice on the cell to his parents, who think he’s in Brooklyn with a friend from college.

In the minuscule portable fridge, antibiotics, beer, leftovers from a Greek deli.

In eternity, there’s no distinction of tenses, I read.

I’m a lung-er, he’d say. Like the doc in Deadwood.

ramming the spearhead square between his teeth so hard / he hooked him by that spearhead over the chariot-rail,/

What do I do now? he asked at 30.

It’s like balancing on a razor’s edge, he said, twisting his chest just so to reach a pocket of phlegm.

I’ve never been the hero, I said. I don’t want to be the hero. I’m the hero’s sidekick.

tore his chest left bare by the shield-rim, / loosed his knees and the man went crashing down./

Morgan didn’t ejaculate.

The fluid, too thick, couldn’t squeeze through the slender vessels. [End Page 118]

There’d be a tiny pearl on the tip of his penis when he came.

I had to take his penis out of my mouth at just the right moment to discover this.

I was always thrilled. I sometimes thought I could taste a bit of cum.

(They were not wrong who saw desire in my devotion.)

I shoot blanks, he’d say in mock exasperation, I’ve got cystic fibrosis. You’re imagining things.

Rings from condensation (gin & tonics) mark the low blond table on which I prop my feet.

I place my hand on his chest to feel the rise as he inhales the vaporized antibiotic.

Sterile water capsules cluster at the table’s edge by his knees.

The small print of our lives.

Maybe the dingo a’cher baby, he shrills in unison with Elaine on the Seinfeld rerun, the volume punched up to rise above the motor’s rumble, pumping air to inflate and shake the vest.

Small votives flicker, dotting the shelves and counters of the apartment.

What would you like engraved on it? he asks, when I unwrap the gleaming metal flask.

Something from Herbert, the sonnet, I say, and pull a book from the shelf.

Desire itself is a kind of immortality, a critic writes weeks before his death.

Do I believe it? Did he?

Gimme back my son, gimme back my son, he shouts at the screen a beat before Mel Gibson screams into the phone. [End Page 119]

Here it is, I say: The soul in paraphrase.

The struggle of a shadow with a wall...


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pp. 117-127
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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