I don't know if the billboard is still there. I haven't been to West Hollywood in a long time.

However, back around 1993 I used to, ahem, go down there a lot. I loved that portion of Santa Monica Boulevard. Los Angeles actually seemed pretty from there.

However, there was one jarring reminder of reality towering over the whole tableau. One so surreal that I began to question the very warp and woof of the universe itself.

The item in question was a large billboard, strategically placed so you could see it on your way from one queer coffee shop to the next. It was a picture of a fairly large Navy ship, sailing on a sea of crystal blue water. It was a recruitment advertisement for the Naval Reserve. Right there, towering above the very heart of gay LA, was a military recruitment ad with the caption:


Cruise being the operative word, of course.

So tell me, what's wrong with this picture?

This is my first attempt at nodeshell rescue.

When you talk about this, and you will, be kind.

Slow and steady,
sunlight mapping the curve of his face.
He steps clear with a single shadow.
Such a blessing after so long inside.
Hands still running along the walls,
feeling for reality.
Choosing which fears and conversations
were tricks of mind and memory
and which were more tangible points in time.
Which were the landmarks shared with others?
Sometimes guessing wrongly.
Stepping back to check his footing.
Watching choices closely.
Watching the faces of friends.
The workshop fills with images and forms,
cathartic expressions of both real and
imagined extremity.
Sharp edges and fallible minds
in colour and form, light and shadow.
A long room full of people, busy and tall,
parrying wine glasses and wits.
Images under glass on bare brick walls.
They move through, but are too close to see.
Some will come back later to see properly.

Fur, silk, denim, perfume and impatience;
gloss stems drifting under smoky blooms.
A sculpture spins reflecting colour and sound.
Names and styles, places to see, commerce.
He sits with Constance,
Watching from the steps outside,
two dark shadows on the wet brickwork,
She purrs, waiting for pâté.

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