The Pisces / an excerpt

cix, Untitled.


The Pisces

For Elaine Kahn

I leave my friends behind, at their houses and at their bars.

An astrological tweet that morning predicted:

Pisces – An act of courage tonight will bring

months of emotional excitement

for which you are not prepared.

So I walked down the block and to the left

with the cordial self-assuredness

of those who never had any troubles

under this moon rain drops blister like neons

stepping down town in this tiny metropolis

drunken with literature where stories

begin among other stories without ever ending

and when a stranger asks your name:

match their bluff, respond in tone, keep the mood going,

it’s an exercise in style, in imitating gestures and voices

be a pastiche of their fantasies, a satire of their cosmology,

Keep this up at least until the nakedness of a third date

If you are talking to a firebrand

tell them you are a firebrand yourself,

and that’s why your royal family sent you abroad,

and that’s why you look like a Corsican shepherd.

When Helen asked where Paris had been hiding until then

They said: when my sister and I were born my mother dreamt

they were birthing a firebrand that would burn the city they sired

and that is why my family sent me away

and that is why I’ve always been hiding

Helen said: don’t you dare hide and come out,

the riches promised you by birthright

they might always be just one more veil away.

Remember what a waste every unseen nakedness is.

See: I have taken so many forms in the fields

I can’t carry them unless you help me make a garland

the crown will go to the one who races the fastest

take my hand and let’s knot our hair together

What is up with your strange tiny hands?

they are smaller than mine, can you even hold a cup

buy me a drink and moisten my lips and I will

kiss that hand, if you will kiss mine then too

Whenever Helen needs effervescent refreshment,

they tell the expert brewer:

“Brew me the best beer ever brewed.”

I wish I had come up with that.

They ask of the sacred band of Thebes

the golden army of 150 pairs of gay lovers

have you ever heard of something so hot and horny

like a fantasy gay antifa, or a communist gay gun club

Could you even imagine an army of lovers

to let a thousand flowers bloom

blinding like the solar golden record

their sacred band, their shining shields

the harvest is soon upon us

summer is a lightning bolt

Mao knew it well, they are

all armed and chanting in unison

this is the time of our revenge

this is the time of our revenge

Could you even imagine an army of lovers

with the one who always hid their face

as their shoulders shook with laughter

always holding it in their hands

perhaps scared it would fall off

The one who froze all mousy and terrified

to always be the prey and never praying

the one for whom emetophobia was self care

for deep and drawn-out sadness feels like nausea

The one whose body aches and spasms

so violently they throw themselves aground

to cry and moan and fill their mouth

with sawdust and cloth and mites

to clog a thirsting throat, to hold their breath

until their diaphragm rebels and coughs and coughs

Have you noticed that dog, the reactionary white guard

chanting in secret, between the I swear, I swear

one more time, one more chance

this is the time we are going to change

this is the time we are going to change

And, if the kingdom is of the meek, they can take a city

have you looked up at the sky yet, still copper-lit

from the lingering flames of the oldest earthly city

filled with regret, their heart bestially aching in the world

The old turning their face, leaning against the walls in ruin

as a busboy cleans the empty tables and the empty chairs

spilled with the overturned cups of tomorrow’s laughter


an excerpt from The Eminent Lives of Patrons, Artists, and Whores


I’ve noticed that a quarter past eleven is the only time at which a day ever truly starts

To say on a Monday morning that you have secured the bag, criminal activity must be involved

Only after committing my first felony in the United States, I got the courage to wear jewelry

It wasn’t my very first, at 13 I stole a motorbike and took it apart in an uncomfortable garage

The absence of judgment and time’s forgetfulness absolve my conscience always already silent

Can’t become US citizens: drug users, sex workers, communists, and anyone of moral turpitude

You sad cops and weepy bureaucrats just couldn’t have stayed in your father’s womb

At Larry Flynt’s a girl waits for her boyfriend to leave and ask me: are you here for work or fun?

Dance, save money, hire a boudoir photographer, and when you can get ads, ads are important

At Dixie Divas theyed enter with dogs, and read aloud the girl’s names as they identified them

Asked what I do for a living, this time I say: I bring together very rich people and entertainers

Like for Coachella? No, you could say more like for Coachella adjacent events

Strung along a cute DEA investigator, talking of my dark secret as if I were a comic book hero

What would you have done commissioner, if you ever found out who my friends were

Married to the carceral you would have knocked on our doors with your bejeweled fist

Elsewhere after Branko, S*** says I never liked Xanax until I started to fear they’ll take my wife

A man screams in the street as a crowd gathers around him, come we’ll send you home

And Baal, dark and so lovely, a beast at the heart of the world cries back Where?

ANTON IVANOV grew up between Italy and Bulgaria. His work has appeared in Wonder, Blush, Triangle House. He runs a monthly reading series in New York with Rachel Rabbit White, called Ceremony.