I don't remember when I first began
to knock upon a closet door or when
not pretty girls but college boys and men
began to populate my dreams. One man
invited me to tea, a second ran
to buy me wine, a third prepared me ten
delicious kinds of homemade pie and then
he brought me gingerbread and marzipan.
I don't remember very much, but still
one memory persists: I asked the stars
why I was so unlike the boys I went
to high school with. I asked and asked until
one planet answered me, the planet Mars,
in whose red desert I have pitched my tent.
The High School Astronomer, 1967
I used to ask the stars to tell me why
I was so different from the boys I went
to high school with. To what extent
were faulty chromosomes the reason I
would open up locked closet doors and pry
inside? Was this a kind of punishment
for sins I did? And was this permanent
or passing, like a comet in the sky?
I told the stars I wanted very much
to be like all my friends, to someday find
a woman I would love, to someday be
a father, too. I thought the stars could touch
the human soul, transform the human mind;
I didn't know they dream all night like me.
The Honour Student, 1967
I was a quiet boy who studied for
examinations, did his homework, learned
to conjugate French verbs by heart, and earned
a string of "A"s for papers on Lahore
in West Punjab, what makes a muscle sore,
the structure of the atom, when Troy was burned
by Greeks, and how Napoleon returned
to France. But what about my closet's shore?
Although at school no science teacher taught
us that behind a closet door a sea
existed, full of eddies, waiting to
engulf a careless swimmer, I was caught
inside a whirling maelstrom, pulling me
beneath strong waves, not knowing what to do.
The High School Oceanographer, 1967
Not knowing what to do about the sea
behind my closet door, I made believe
it wasn't there; perhaps I was na´ve
to think that certain things just have to be
and certain things can never be. For we
were taught in school no closet could conceive
an ocean, and salt water had to cleave
to laws of inorganic chemistry.
We also learned a "normal" boy is not
attracted to another boy, and love
belongs to couples married properly.
But what about my sea? No matter what
our textbooks said, I heard the roaring of
its waves, I heard a merman calling me.
The pretty girls I date must wonder why
I never ask to kiss them when I take
them home, or hold their hand, or try to make
a pass at them. Perhaps they think I'm shy
or overly polite, not knowing I
conceal a closet with a sleeping
inside, a cobra which I mustn't wake,
for once aroused, he'll slither up my thigh.
If I go out with pretty girls, perhaps
I'll somehow change and fall in love with one
of them. Not very likely, though, for when
I dream, all bolted closet doors collapse
and there I stand, beneath a summer sun
with cobras on a beach, and naked men.
Over the past year or so, Snakeskin has published several
sequences of poems by 'G.S. Crown', knowing that this was a
pseudonym for someone unwilling to publish under his own name
poems dealing with his intimate life. Now the author, Yakov
Azriel, has felt able to openly acknowledge and republish these
poems, together with others, in his forthcoming collection: Closet
Sonnets: The Life of G.S. Crown (1950-2021). It will be
published in the autumn by Sheep Meadow Press.
If you have any thoughts about these poems, Yakov Azriel would
be pleaded to hear from you.