top of page

Social Studies


All my friends
are so depressed.

And I’m the other thing 
they have in common.


In retrospect, much 
of what I blamed 
on my t-shirts

was, after all,
my torso’s fault.


I trust charisma
in none of its forms.



I am too old and disordered
          for these marathon drugs.

I sicken too easily.

          I am half a life away
from waking on the hardwood

of people who hate me.


In the end, we all become
whoever was nice to us
when we were fifteen.


All my friends hate 
small talk. But me, 
good God, I love it.

That hesitant tango,
with its many tender 
and dreadful potentials. 

How a gesture, 
          barely there, 
could become the fulcrum 
          on which the everything
between us wobbles.

The talk can not
get small enough
          for me. 


Secret deals are made
on the fire escape.


The final frontier
is another person.


I would never have considered
          that I was an asshole
if people hadn’t kept telling me
          that I was an asshole.

For that, perhaps,
I am grateful.


I wish I had a tag 
that said, “I’m sick”
and I wish I had a tag 
that said, “I’m healthy”
and I wish these tags 
were sacred to all 
you comely minglers.


I am willing to make
so many concessions.

But yes, it would kill me
to put some gel in my hair.

Shoes are for walking.
What good is a pair
I can’t get dirty?

It took me decades to learn
I don’t have to be beautiful.

God forbid 
I forget that now. 


It is narcissism, I suppose, 
to see so many ghosts.

Just because I miss them
doesn’t mean they’re dead.


If the ten people in this room
were the last alive on earth,

eight of us would drink
deep and dance close

and the two remaining wallflowers
would disappear early,
the last of our kind
in separate apartments.


To all my pseudo-friends,
          my semi-friends,
the friends with one foot
          out the door:

Keep up the act. 
It’s working wonders
in ways you can’t imagine.

This poem was originally published in Issue 15 of Grist,

bottom of page