Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online. He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Currently he is resident artist/curator for The Chroma Museum, artistic renderings of LGBTQI historical figures, organizations and allies predominantly before Stonewall, https://thestephenmeadchromamuseum.weebly.com/.
Your trunk wraps, lifts, lover-solid,
an entwinement secure as the best closeness yet.
Let eyes, near as kisses, look into one another,
little human reflection found
in the round pool of dark harmonious warmth
ages-wise and wider than any other embrace
could be, though what do you see,
beaming back compassion
at the funny mortal form
of limbs spaghetti-tight
to the sparse silver whispers of your hair?
This is a spiritual bestiary, communion beyond
what makes Gods and mere mammals different
if there is a need to believe
life is larger in meaning
than drapery-wrapped urns
and statues casting down their hooded eyes.
Is the price of eternal impermanence,
what every love, both small and great, must pay?
The question may be asked but the stance of Ganesh
is an ebullient dance intimating that to trust
a close ascending hold and a quietly understanding gaze
is a true sustenance to fasten on
and anything which gives such comfort without harm
of a thing cannot but be worthy.
Floors of Fire
The inmate who can't take it any more-----
The painter with eyes of Blake-----
The midnight sun dreamt of
from some squatter's tent-----
Rivet into this & up...
Keep time with a broken arm,
drum beached on instinct,
pain breaking towards habit,
the habitations under construction,
a thousand workmen's helmets
glistening yellow as Mercury's...
Here torches weld, take to alchemy,
the amalgam of alloys, & have faith.
How bolts hold, screws merge
with girders & cables reel communicable
as some match in an elevator
during a huge city black out.
Fountains strive for such, fed
from the mud depths to splash
on marble & rise-----
Channels intervene, aqueduct realms
sparked by evaporative air to stream
& meet steel above a sink of porcelain...
So we melt -----
Caged subway grids, sidewalk floors,
mattresses alongside Park Avenue, a riot
of feet, sole-combustion, spirits, spirits
cascading until blisters ascend
into the everything
bronzed by flame.
(Recorded for collage-film, words not in print)
Quite distinctly, I recall
touching an angel’s garment.
I was sea-bound while,
leeward, in air, some
She seemed too whole
for such kite lightness.
She was, in fact, round,
round as an orchestra pit,
her pregnant gown, billow
after billow, opening very wide.
I wasn’t embarrassed.
I simply took hold.
Over Plum Gut, its cliff-bed
beach, my song forgot
Oh la la la, what a dream
that flight was. On the ship
I left my cigarettes, wallet &
keys, exchanging an old
life for this vision, the angel’s
bare ankle hovering, a novena
of flesh. Then I kissed it &
came down to accustomed
disorder, the wings just soft
salt spray of good news
in my eyes.
(For Anne Sexton, recorded as sound collage for film, not in print.)
The Shades of Night
this plum, this Thalo,
smooth as a cold bowling ball,
this jade like a coast ridden in
on ink stallions.
Now here is grey blanching to chalk
white, unable to be smudged, the dust of it,
gauze fringe meeting rhinestone thighs….
Androgynous, that greater breadth,
with ruby, with amber lids painted on
the harem’s eyes. They flicker & blink
with a fiery wetness. They drift steep
as tigers in a jungle of glass. Pane by pane,
the stained levels, the translucent
as if knowing torment unconscious.
To me, you do this, passing evergreen
branches in a tangle of stars & bat-winged
crickets down ribbons of highways…
I center on the motion as if for the stillness
of mercy, of tenderness, & get them occasionally
where the night’s shifts are Salome’s,
fast fast asleep.
One by One
Elbows, then shins,
the calves, the back of knees
& trunks spread as Elms in our
own wild fire Ebola,
those fevers of scarlet where
red rivers flow…
Love, what poisonous rash
this time has come?
I turn your lesions like a half
I turn your scabs back to the
smooth skin where no sores
seem a possibility
though scores & scores pass:
An orifice conjunction.
Father, Mother, how the gloved,
the suited, the bagging, descend
like astronauts for the moon’s
Tell them to count all, to leave out
mot a one. Tell them I was your son,
you, my parents, he, my friend,
my lover once when the thought
of pox was just about chickens