to Across the Years excerpts

wooden box containing luxury Across the Years book and cd

Across the Years luxury box

compact disk: Richard reading all the poems 
in his book Across the Years


book cover: Across the Years by Richard Hell


from Across the Years Dear Reader
Love Essay
The Trouble
Autobiography of a Small, Mean Man (I)
Across the Years
Dear Reader (II)

To discover yourself: buy makeup, but reader
to fulfill yourself, say these words:
"My name is Frank Sinatra."
It's true, like everything
that's frightening--a speaker
in the flesh has disintegrated your body.
Horror, after all
is the basic ingredient
of each bite of butter,
each layer
of cake
my lamb, illegible

Bozo sucked the scum and only
"Bo..o Tr....phant" remains to be scrutinized
by scholars intent on discovering
how those two words could be equated
with the gray and brown stains on bedsheets
as an expression of love communicated
across an infinite distance.
Reader, darling,
come closer.
Though we must employ the techniques
perfected in the production of endless television commercials,
we can read between the lines, can't we...
We're three-dimensional, though, yes, you're right,
I've revealed my insecurity on that point, and
"my" may be too strong a term in this context.
The line of your forearm blurs
and you move it to convince yourself you're there.
We've become so close...
I've picked up your habits
...a Spanish accent...
a tendency to ego-disintegrate and passionately
identify with the cockroach one is compelled
to viciously crush on the kitchen floor

identify to the point of suffering with the
cockroach one has just...
identify...crushed to the point of
...identify the cockroach to the point of the...
floor...suffering...uncontrollably on the one
who has just crushed
collapsed into a far more desirable object
superior in every way
to the ordinary "sheet of paper" human being...

Yes, we have so much in common
lying on the floor, a chromosome pool,
calculating all the possibilities and invariably
arriving at "I must have left something out,"
as milk flows from your mouth
and starry blood stamps on the accelerator to escape
the fate awaiting it
in your brain cells.
But if we could just hold onto each other, my sweetheart,
at night, inside artificial light,
the position of each object spectacularly
increasing its ominous presence
when the smeared mirror places a
triple white distance in advance of the blue wall and
is not conscious of its effect--
your presence alters these perceptions
when you are in my arms
as I am in your hands
right now.

But when every line exists
to cancel its predecessor,
"He wants to better himself,"
is all that remains to be said,
A thick head can be an advantage.
Must stupidity be held against the writer?
Must false modesty?
Must psuedo false modesty?
All I ask is your indulgence
for introducing myself
one's lips...
Aren't they eloquent enough stationary?
Must they move?
We're of the same species
Could I please offer you mine as a friendly gesture
from another structure?
Consider them yours.

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Yellow and grey, the checkered cloth, each
square its sculpture rising
hampered sunlight topiary of a tree-strewn
slope: the trees can move and their leaves
touch your throat. I lift my arms
and, lying on my back, I levitate
with the laws of nature, thoughtlessly, the checkered ground
like a handkerchief lifted from its corners to enclose me... and
the vivid taste of citrus radiates its own absorption
from that spot upon the tongue
in ladder upon ladder
from whence I wave to you
hectically, abandoned, without a thought but to make you glad
way up there in the sky, with your hair and turned-away
head in the foreground, looking
at me as if I were your child, for
which I'm grateful, deck after deck
of cards sprung free
down around your feet
and arms and knees and shoulders, all of which
we can see, except our faces because our eyes are in them


I long ago exhausted my habitual self-imagery before your eyes and then, in acts of creation that bordered on the self-destructive, rearranged my motives [their apparencies], like layers of transparencies, beyond any real capacity to substantiate their claims until arriving here where my existence is so thoroughly provisional and mingled with your own that sometimes I am terrified to wonder whether all I know about myself is love and hate you for it.


If this were everything I wanted it to be
It still wouldn't be what I want it to be.

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I keep trying to find ways to make
myself attractive in my poems. I mean
really attractive, more attractive than anyone else.
After all, it ought to be possible--I don't have to answer
questions afterwards, nobody can see me
while they're reading them, I have all of literature
to steal from, etc., etc. Still, I
can't seem to do it--it's partly because I'm
lazy (he brags, insinuating), but also because the moment I
succeed in giving the impression I possess
some appealing quality, I've deprived myself
of variations on it and that drives me
crazy, plus there're all the existing poems
with such strong claims to intelligence,
insight, sensitivity, wit, etc., etc., that
since they are my models, how can I
possibly surpass them? The thing that really
worries me though is that I'm afraid
that hardly anyone but me is actually
drawn towards the traits I've tried so hard
to suggest belong to the author of the poems I sign.
That is really scary. It would mean my life is
wasted twice. Doubly wasted. Can you top that?


Flavored paper dumps rocks over the other side
splintering like a water fall onto an
island in the half light. It resembles
handwriting. A hand stretching until its
nearly translucent, transatlantic


Reaches across the years to me
as when, alone, I held my own (hand)
Imagining it yours. You helped to make me that kind of great
awful poet whom I exploit here
the way
I'd like to fuck you in the ass
so much.

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