Patrick Lawler


One day he receives a poem in the mail
from a woman he met
two years before. The poem is titled
“The Day I Fell in Love with Patrick Lawler.”

He is a little concerned. He suspects plagiarism.
He scrutinizes the poem line by line,
comparing it to a poem he wrote
with the same title. Then he realizes it is the same poem.

He had sent it to her a year before,
and she is returning it.
At first he is shocked, disconsolate.

It is hard for him to explain.
Maybe she is so obsessed with herself,
she can’t pay that much attention to him.
Then he realizes his obvious mistake.
She has returned it to him to be autographed.

Yes, that’s it. The world is full of unexplainable
beauty, coincidence, and charm.

He does anything for the right word,
for the musical moment, the musical melt. 
“Let me be your one-night poem,” he says.

“Let me snuggle up to your mouth
like Tender is the Night.”

He is fascinated with the hinge
where bodies connect.

He has prepared a computerized form
he sends out after sex.
Boxes can be checked.

‹ ›  Thank you for an efficient evening.
‹ ›  Thank you for the subscription to Maturity.
‹ ›  Thank you for what you did with your mouth.

‹ ›  I didn’t know a body was actually capable of doing that.
‹ ›  Written directions certainly help.

‹ ›  I didn’t know it was permissible to talk.
‹ ›  What did you mean when you said I spoiled the moment?
‹ ›  That was one of the most thrilling things
I’ve ever seen done with post-it notes.

“You see, we are acrobats over great chasms.
We are complex interior bridges
made of whimsical heterotic string.”

He wanted to live like water,
always ready to settle in the deeper places.

He wanted to live like postage,
attached to sentiments, desires, words.
Always having an origin—a destination.

At the moment he said,
“There is no turning back,”  
rivers began arriving in the mail. 




First, Patrick Lawler would never write
a poem called "Patrick Lawler."
That's the first thing. The first clue. 
And there's others.
I mean, he wouldn't be that pretentious. 
That self obsessed. Self-absorbed. Narcissistic.

The person who says he is Patrick Lawler
does things that Patrick Lawler would never do. 

I warn you.
The Patrick Lawler you know is an impostor.
The body that surrounds him
is his, but the insides are not.

The real Patrick Lawler, the one who does not
reside in quotation marks, is being held hostage.
Somewhere.  I can assure you there will be
elegantly written ransom notes
with onomatopoeia and subtle internal rhyme.

Remember the Patrick Lawler
who was a ventriloquist.
Remember the Patrick Lawler who stuttered.

Oh, sure, in retrospect, it's easy to see
how we made the mistake.  The fake Patrick Lawlers
looked so much like the real thing.  Even better. 
They carried a stain of authenticity.

Remember when they had the Win-a-Night-with-
Patrick-Lawler Contest. That was a fake Patrick Lawler.

At one time or another, we've all been fooled.

I must admit I myself have been accused of being
a Patrick Lawler impersonator.

I wish he had done something
remarkable or even remarkably mediocre
so there would be more demand for him.
It's hard to justify the attention.

At the Patrick Lawler Impersonator Convention,
they usually complain about the absence of work.
They hate to admit it but sometimes they
think that there are just too many of them.
When they look at all the name tags, it makes them queasy.

Then there is the rumor that Patrick Lawler
has given up being Patrick Lawler.

Here's the evidence: If Patrick Lawler
did not want to be Patrick Lawler,
then why would he write a poem titled "Patrick Lawler"?

Remember the Patrick Lawler Anonymous meetings?
Remember the Patrick Lawler who had lead eyes?
Remember the Patrick Lawler who tried to use
crutches for wings?  It was as if someone were holding him
underwater.  He forgot he had eyes.

The real Patrick Lawler's life became dependent
on the Patrick Lawler impersonators.
They began to live his life in more meaningful
ways than he himself had ever lived it.

There was no single, solitary, existential, autonomous
Patrick Lawler. Like emergent properties. Like birds.
Like weather. Like a collection of hats. Consciousness
of the whole was more important than the single self.

You always know if it is him because he stands in front of you—
sometimes silvery, sometimes in slow motion—
and he tries to convince you as if it is the most
significant fact he can possibly share with you.

"This 'person' in front of you," he says, "is not Patrick Lawler."



At one time, someone else named "Patrick Lawler" started writing poems using my name. This was a bit disconcerting. To reestablish my unique identity, I decided to drive a nail through my head. Afterwards, to my dismay, I discovered another "Patrick Lawler" had driven a nail through his head. To verify this story, please Google my name, but ignore any of the Patrick Lawlers who write poetry or drive nails through their heads. They are not to be trusted.