Fall 2009, Volume 7

Poetry by Paul Hostovsky

Poem for Michael Jackson

I can’t stop thinking about you, Michael Jackson,
brother, son, father, sun, burn victim, king.
You were richer than God, and lonelier.
We had a lot in common, you and I. We were
both born in 1958. And around the time
of your death I was contemplating my own
euthanasia, having gotten the cancer diagnosis
a few months before. I wear a white cotton glove
to bed when my hand eczema acts up. I have done
the moonwalk, or tried, in my socks on my kitchen floor.
I have looked at children and found them beautiful,
not sexy beautiful or movie-star beautiful,
but I’ve-loved-you-ever-since-you-were-born-and-probably-longer-than-that
beautiful; and have wanted, needed, to be near them.
Your music was playing on the radio in radiation
oncology, and the nurses were talking about you behind
my back as I lay face-down on the table, my butt
hanging out, waiting for them to line up the machine
and zap me with the healing poison. It felt a lot like
your life, I imagined, the sublime rhythm of the music
competing for air with all the sniggering, gossiping,
excoriating voices buzzing around your head. The nurses
said the cruelest things about you while you were singing
about love in a child’s voice, just one day after your death.
And I wanted to say something to them, something
in defense of you, something in praise of you, something
in memoriam. So I jumped up off the table with my
johnny flapping around in the dead air of that dead
room full of news of your death, and my death, and I
moonwalked as best I could with my family jewels flopping
up and down in front of their dropped jaws and popping
pathological eyes, right out the door of radiation oncology, singing
with you, dancing with you, standing with you, Michael Jackson.


BIO: Paul Hostovsky's poems have won a Pushcart Prize, the Muriel Craft Bailey Award from The Comstock Review, and chapbook contests from Grayson Books, Riverstone Press, Frank Cat Press, and Split Oak Press. He has been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The Writer's Almanac and Best of the Net. He has two full-length collections of poetry, Bending the Notes (2008) and Dear Truth (2009), both from Main Street Rag. To read more of Paul's poetry, visit his website: www.paulhostovsky.com .