FOUR POEMS – Paul Hostovsky

Posted: December 29, 2012 in Fiction, Poetry
Tags: , , , , ,

God, Dan

I was a junior and Dan was a senior

drug addict in the school of arts and sciences. Neil

Young was a prolific songwriter with no

allegiances, except for the music. I had never

done cocaine before, so while he was cutting it

on the square mirror on top of the dresser, I put on

the record, and asked him what kind of shape

I would be in for class at two o’clock. He said

it was an aphrodisiac, so go figure. He was

cutting class himself and meeting his girlfriend

at one-thirty, because all it made him want to do

was fuck. I didn’t have a girlfriend. I had a Comparative

Religion class at two o’clock, and now I was thinking

twice about getting high before God and

man. But Dan was in a hurry, and he handed me

the rolled-up twenty which I knew enough to

stick inside my nose and aim at the nearest

cloud-row reflected in the square lake on top

of the dresser—and sniff vigorously. Then Dan

was saying something about making love

as he left the room, and Neil was saying something

about needing someone to love him the whole

day through, and I was alone with God and no one

to talk to about God, when the coke kicked in.

Thank God for Dan, who came back looking

for his twenty. “I don’t think God created the world,”

I said to him as he scooped up the bill and licked

the top of the dresser with his tongue, as an afterthought.

“In fact, I doubt He even knows we’re here.”

“Thank God for that,” said Dan, “because all I want

to do in the world is snort cocaine and rub my cock.”

I loved his honesty. I told him I would try to weave it in

to my paper on Abraham. “You need to get laid, man,”

said Dan. “Old man, take a look at my life,” said Neil.

I sat down at the typewriter and began: “ ‘Here am I,’

said Abraham to God.” “I’m out of here,” said Dan.


The Good Fight

Which one
is the good fight
Isn’t it the good guy
kicking butt but
a little reluctantly
because he’s good
and hates to have to,
but since no one else would,
and wrong would just go
on unrighted,
he steps up to the plate
and takes a few good swings
and puts that baby to bed? Go
fuck yourself, you said
and have said nothing else
all day. Now it’s night
and your silence is still
that choked, caked, kill-
no-prisoners kind
you have honed to a fine
squint. But I only
meant to point out
what was wrong—
to right it. I don’t know much
but I know I love
your butt more than God
or country,
and when we fight
it hurts me right
here. And now
I think the good fight
is the one we get through
quickly, get to the other side of
with nothing dead or otherwise
irreparable floating
in the churning reddish
air we part like a sea
finding our way back
to each other’s


Hand Cream

If you look up Messiah it says

something about being anointed.

If you look up anointed it says

something about smearing or rubbing

oil or unguents. If you look up unguents

it says they’re like ointments or salves.

Jesus Salves would be a great name

for a hand cream, I believe. And I believe

hand eczema is one of a dozen

skin diseases that got lumped together

under leprosy in the New Testament.

I believe a little hand cream everyday

goes a long way toward healing dry skin,

and if you squeeze the tube a little too hard

and too much unguent squirts out,

you can do what Jesus did: spread

the wealth around, anoint yourself and

others, rub some on your forearms

and their forearms, on their faces and tired

necks and shoulders and backs, the whole

body of Christ. If you look up holiness

it says something about being set apart

for sanctification. If you look up sanctification

it says something about being set apart

for holiness. One hand washing the other

just like in Jesus’ day. But if you look up

salvation, surprisingly it doesn’t say anything

about Jesus, or salves, or the Messiah.

It talks about our liberation from clinging

to the world of appearances, and the illusions

of sickness, pain, and death. A final, joyful

union with ultimate reality. Really good stuff.


50-Year-Old Circuitry

He looks at all the beautiful women

especially all the young beautiful women

especially all the old enough to be her father

beautiful women and he feels a little

ashamed of himself

but he also feels that what he feels

is a sign

that he’s alive

in fact it’s the only he’s alive sign that’s still

got all the bulbs burning

brightly inside of it

so whenever he sees a beautiful young woman

like his daughter’s friend Bethany for example

whose body is a precocious

light bulb and whose face is a pure


he can’t look at her and he can’t stop looking at her

and his eyes turn into neon I’m alive signs

alternating with the all night

SEX signs flashing in the red light district

behind his vanishing hairline

so the combined effect is a kind of

I’m STILL fucking ALIVE sign

which lights him up

and turns her off

and turns his daughter against him

  1. especially the last one, a nice long (edgy) build-up and then the kicker just when you thought it was going to be alright after all

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