Table of Contents



Richard Siken


They shot him by the side of the road. The sun was tangled in his hair as he leaned against the car. He fingered his chest, just over his heart, as if touching it directly. —My car broke down. —You need oil and a belt. Take off your shirt. You could consider him compromised. There is no universe where he is not a hitchhiker asking a rancher for help, where he is not plugged in like a lamp. The doctor has to crack the ribs to get to the lungs. The plumber has to pull out the sink to get to the pipes in the walls. The pornographer has to adjust the bodies to catch the slant of the light. He moves them like furniture. In the barn, the rancher spreads a blanket and their clothes fall off considerably. They are technicians. It is a compliment. They clock and clam like eels and the night goes mink. I want to be them. I want to be like them. I want to fuck everything but I don't want to be touched. It's awful, my watching: the refusal to participate, the ogling and superiority, the approximation of a true desire. It's fake, but it isn't. It's art, but it isn't. They're pretending but it doesn't matter because they're actually doing it, exhausting themselves as the acting evaporates, peak beauty, that momentthe swan dive, the little death, a bird flying into a kitchen window, open or shut, this or nothing, it strips the bolts. The cameraman is standing very quietly. It looks like he is weeping.





Pornstars have sex on camera for money. Actors pretend to fall in love for money. Stunt people jump off buildings or run from explosions to pay the rent.