Poems and Texts

“The Great Ephemeral Skin” by Orlando Tirado

The Great Ephemeral Skin

The scab removes after each wash. A new surface reveals itself. Yellow, a little red, pink on the margins. He stares into his open palms, looks around, re-arranges this and that with bandaged hands, always thinking about the next possible juxtaposition, maybe this time: God? He does away with his books, things he kept and never did things with, attachments, and looks to them to fill the void, but all they LOVE is the EXPLICIT SIDE OF HIM. This man, that man. Faceless, armless, crippled in one way or another. A man named Freedom. Another named Him. On the dance floor, the others gravitate towards the familiar, clasping onto eyes the same color and the same shape. Two bodies, like brothers, one inside the prism, the other here and now. Narcissus. Tantalus. The uniform is prescribed, predisposed, and copied. K. dances for them, mostly a dark object they ignore. When he goes into the night, he wraps his keychain around the shaft of his cock, and just before the time comes he removes it in the darkness of the stranger’s apartment, with a discretion that reminds him: he has a tiny home somewhere. The world is brutal, not just the institutions, the people, the buildings. Nature too is cruel. His mistakes glare at him like angels, their anger suddenly made visible, rushing in front of him but backwards, grey, slowly undressed. Cupid points to the shame of soured youth, and like ash, its beauty dissolves. His face falls off into his own hands. The shroud onto the floor. Every man looks like the devil. The furrowed eyebrows create a sharp, defined “v,” the devil dick tapping at the innermost sensitive part, his body like a mad cat, or a snake, or some other slithery thing. When he pedals his bike home, buzzing, his tears fall onto the road, and he sings- for what? Los Angst. Smell.A. L.AIDS. qThey ask him where he’s going. He clasps his hands together and rests his head upon them. He would do anything to be able to sleep through this life. He met a man who did that once, his body permanently swollen, almost as if he had drowned, but was still living. This world was never for him. The buildings reach into the starry skies like claws, and the magistrate awaits. Even so, the tape and rubber and string that holds this body together is growing tattered, like a cadaver turned inside out. The doctors surround it with tools and open books. The only solace is in the fact that in this city, which expands underneath his feet, someone else is probably going through the exact same thing he is. Someday I will kill myself. Someday I will kill myself, he repeats. Before they get me, I will kill myself. Somewhere else another hustler is looking into his hands. His eyes, two half-moons too, look into the eyes of a jury: sarcasm, lovelessness, the fantasy of autonomy. Who gives a fuck about you? Bye now. Wish I’d never met you. Wait, how much does this cost again? But the way the others see him is unavailable to him. Even in his peripheral vision, the mirror does not quite speak. Every lover witnesses the desire boiling in him, which makes his body recoil like a snail’s. Intimacy, like respect, must be earned. The uniqueness of his fingerprint makes him sick.

In the first Atripla dream, K. appears, looks into his face and passes his hand through his hair. Don’t cut it, whatever you do, don’t cut it. The next night, in another dream, his friend, a famous B-movie actress, falls out of a convertible on parade, and he nurses her concussion with constant talk of love, though she can’t stop throwing up. It’s gonna be okay honey, don’t you worry. Because he fears sirens, the ambulance is never called, and she slowly turns into a baby in his arms Just stay with me now shh shh shh he frantically cradles her awake in his sleep.

Orlando Tirado

Orlando Tirado is a writer, filmmaker, and independent curator based in New York City. His film Medeas, written in collaboration with director Andrea Pallaoro, premiered at the 70th Venice Film Festival, has screened in 28 international film festivals, won various awards, including the Sergej Parajanov Award for Outstanding Poetic Vision at the Tbilisi International Film Festival, in Georgia, and was released in theaters in the US and France (forthcoming). He is currently writing various projects for screen and stage.