Tim Dlugos

Three Poems from High There

Volume 17:1, Winter 2016
Some Of Us Press Issue


He is going over the edge
and knows it. The pleasurecraft
he is trapped in will crumple
like a bright leaf under tons
of pressure. Only Jean Peters
will be saved, by a copter
out of the sky; the end
of the beer, the end of the ammunition

and of him. Once
he looks upstream, after
she has jumped for her life,
toward the tower where he locked
the body of his wife, the beautiful
and faithless Marilyn Monroe.

High ThereDeath by Drowning

for Yukio Mishima

Death by drowning—
the swimmer paralyzed
by finally learning
the truth about swans:

why they fly at night,
what they do to their necks
to put the curve there,
why they make that noise.

I shall drown in all
probability, he said to
his friends, because of
the things I want you

to know. The words had failed;
their bodies never learned.
He wished they were crewcut.
He wished they wore hats with shiny brims.

He had been swimming
a long time when the swans
arrived. He watched them
settle on the waves.

His friends had gone.
The temple had burned down.
He knew it was his body’s turn
to not know.

The sea will wash me
onto the beach, like in
movies, he thought, and fixed
the scene in his mind

for a last thing to look at.
It was no consolation.
He died in the sea, and his body
was not washed up.


Everybody tells me I’m crazy because I walked around
muttering and screwed my courses
I’m crazy for losing Financial Aid and living in a
crazy old house full of rifles and books
where I’m crazy in the attic like a Gothic novel and
crazy in bed when I yell in my sleep and of course
because of the other things I do in bed
I’m crazy, but I’ve known that all along and don’t
mind a bit
I’m jobless and crazy, crazy with power, crazy for glamour
and rhinestones and stars,
you’ll laugh at me and point your fingers and I’ll still
be crazy when they lock me up but I’ll be
crazy about the surgical orderly who shaves my head,
that’s the kind of beautiful crazy I’ll be

I’d be crazy to take off my clothes as I read this, and
crazy to take yours off too,
we’d all be crazy about the policemen with big black boots
who’d take us away when we were finally naked
they’d think we were crazy when they read all our personal
and saw how I used to be crazy for Jesus, and crazy for real
when I cared that they said I was crazy,
but now I’m 22 and growing my hair, I’m crazy with joy
when I think how I’ll look in a year in the city, out
on the street
being crazy about New York boys, red hair! brown
eyes! blue jeans! who’ll say
You’re crazy when I fall into their eyes.



Tim Dlugos (1950 – 1990) was born in Springfield, MA and grew up in Arlington, VA. From 1968 to 1971, he was a member of the Christian Brothers, a Catholic religious order. When he could no longer reconcile his political activism or the fact of his gay identity with his religious commitment, he quit the order and moved to DC, where he became involved with the Mass Transit poets and published his first book of poems, High There, with Some Of Us Press. He worked in DC for Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen until his move to New York City in the late 1970s. In New York, Dlugos edited and contributed to such journals as Christopher Street, New York Native, and The Poetry Project Newsletter. After his HIV positive diagnosis, Dlugos decided to return to train for the Episcopalian priesthood. He studied at Yale School of Divinity, but was unable to complete his degree, dying of AIDS-related complications at age 40. Dlugos published five books of poems in his lifetime; three books of his have been published posthumously. His books include: A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos, edited by David Trinidad (Nightboat Books, 2011), Entre Nous (Little Caesar Press, 1982), Je Suis Ein Americano (Little Caesar, 1979), and For Years (Jawbone Press, 1977).