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Jeffery Sugarman is an American-born poet living in London and a Jerwood/Arvon mentee with Hannah Lowe for 2019-20. His work has been published in Magma, Finished Creatures, Here-There Poetry, American Book Review and various design journals. His debut chapbook, Dear Friend(s), is published by The Emma Press.
for Mark Chamberlain
Edge of Manhattan, silence—
but for the few men passing
in the dark between lamps
cruising one back room then another
the Vault or Mother, the Spike…
private laughter of men in drag.
Absence of trees, but men in shadows
tangled under twisted steel trusses
on burnt-out piers; already dying men
in meatpacking houses; run-aways, some
taken in by ravished, feathered-queens
to pose at lavish “House” balls; for others,
a road show of cock and small change;
soiled gods in limousines; needles
and crack. But at number 69
Restaurant Florent: young men
fluorescent in polos; drag queens on tables,
dancing—fists of bucks between them. Stars
of the Hudson Riviera. When the shutters came down
I resisted—the cobbled streets full of car horns
and cabbies, columns of girls on stilettoes.
Gone, the pink flame of tongues, pricks
unzipped, put back in their leather. No Vault
or Glory. Only the old Wallenstein warehouse
stands; wrecking balls wait to finish its hulk.
Each dark night bothered by neon public art
on resurrected railroad trestles.
All of it—ghosts in harnesses, ghosts
in mascara, cum-shot floors, once hot—
all gone now. All of it, for sale.
This poem was originally published in Magma 75: The Loss Issue, edited by Adam Lowe and Yvonne Reddick.
Photo by Arno Vermote.