The Glass Mountain
Bob Glück

I'm at the Folsom Street Fair--three hazy city blocks. I'm tired of pushing through bodies, tired of trying to process and contain with only the strength of my eyes the men who attract me. I look up the steep slope of the Glass Mountain but I can't see--what? What can I not see? The reason many of us came to the fair in the first place. Then the murmuring crowd parts as though my will to see him equaled his desire to appear.
     He has a caved-in, haunted look, a hollow in the center of his chest, his neck is too thin, too long, his butt is really too big. Perched on the Glass Mountain, he does not seem preoccupied with himself or aware of his effect on others. In fact, he looks hungry for company, a little scared, and maybe that's why he does not appear to recognize us. Hungry for friendship, lonely for sex, sketchy, unused and fearful of being used. How can he commit to the moment, give himself to the moment, when he never did before? Which moment? Each one becomes a welter of choices terrifyingly embodied.
     You look at him, there's that old familiar swelling, the increase in blood flow is pleasant, you are a little drunk but not unduly, you smile foolishly and don't care, and maybe you let other men touch you, it's alright, they are attracted to your arousal even though they haven't caused it, your arousal is a private door open to the public. It's just a warm-up and they know that. God bless the leather community, they know that sex should be one of the practical arts, like crochet, with its fantasies of wings, flowers, and pineapples. You are making a little spectacle of yourself, climbing onto a glass foothill of your own: you are available, sure, but your feelings point upward so it's an incomplete experience you are offering these strangers rubbing your crotch at a street fair, because you look away from their interest with a smile, you are not committed, you hardly note the hardons you incite on helpless bodies or even the ten fingernails digging into your behind. You are beautiful, and that makes you applicable in a general way.
     Your excitement honors the Man on the Mountain, you don't stop thinking about him, what about him I can't imagine, his glassy expression and his Howdy Doody lips hung in a slack smile as though he's beauty on a float, his big butt. You are petrified yet throbbing, swollen beyond the possible like the last surge before the first spasm when you are that sensation, even lust is distracting till that tension is broken, so you head toward the Glass Mountain, what can you do?
     The fog burns off and the crowd mingles promiscuously. You are dressed and naked. You reach the first slope and he notices you, that's okay, but you can't really make a dent, you can't get to him. He's considering you with that tilted gaze as though from a distance, from above, and you are sliding down on what, a snail trail, and the yammering flesh does not subside. Excitement amplifies your bitterness, nothing of you will endure except a bleached bone which death can't soften and you are alone as you acknowledge many who lie with you littering the bottom, rapt and rotting, glowing like plutonium, poisoning the earth with longing. There should be an ecology law against fucking up the environment with glass summits.

The mountain is hidden--it's transparent but visible because it distorts the world beyond. It's a window on this side of a disaster, a skinny brunette. Void and plenitude invite a closer look, naturally I'm curious, so I move forward to see what breaks all these strong necks. He doesn't look like much, someone else's version of handsome, brown hair and brown eyes, a little Howdy Doody with full lips and toothy smile, but then he senses my scrutiny and turns away abashed.
     He looks back, squinting into the sun, and I see he's uncomfortable, always uncomfortable, and I wonder if I can help him feel less unhappy. When he turns his head to the side, cast downward like a madonna, certainly he is beautiful, and his unhappiness seems to give me access, it's something he's giving me, the knowledge that his actual beauty is based on sadness.
      So I can say, Hi, what's up? He responds formally, hand outstretched as though we were being introduced, How do you do? At the same time his bare flesh, paraded all over Folsom Street, makes him seem sluttish, accessible in a meaty way, like why not just fuck? In this moment my life is bound to the axis of success or failure. Success is release, or arriving at some kind of unity, because I am no longer inside, I can reach myself only through the medium of a brittle young man whose shadow touches what it falls on, the grass rising again after it passes.
     It’s fun to gather myself into the precinct of my groin, and I sort of stand back from this piece of the natural world attached to my front, a thing from Wild Kingdom stuck to a body softened by TV and reading in bed. Or a column of rock candy, it's tasting itself, the flavor is sweet. I witness this estrangement with a laugh of recognition, a scientist observing the progress of a disease in his own body. The elements of my life break into two, every permutation of doubleness, audience and actor, stoic and hedonist, victim and thug, speech and silence, ignorance and knowledge, fire and ice. I'm already halfway up the cliff, I could use my dick to make footholds but I'm afraid of shattering the entire mountain because it's made only of glass.
     This street fair is devoted to rough beauty, he affects a rough airbrushed look, French Vogue. But it's not only sight, it's also the salty hair in his armpit, the lake-odor of his breath. Anguish makes me throw out my arms--extravagant gestures of need, marathon masturbations amplified by tears, they don't take the pressure off. I have that post-jack off interior pallor yet sweetness persists like a chronic desert. I dribble ice water on my boner just to cool it off, I am not even interested in boners, I feel seedy, tired, ashamed.
     He seems barely conscious of all this drama or he does acknowledge it by tilting his face, though I also interpret that as an offer of white neck and clavicle. When he turns away his gesture occurs inside me gigantically, he's a giant instead of skinny and short. I have a right to complain but he crosses his chest with his arms to defend his heart against sudden proximity to a stranger's feelings which he did nothing to instigate, as he reminds me with regret.
     The sun is sinking and I'm pinned to the Glass Mountain. A black cloud scuttles by and I beg for a drop of water. The cloud sails past and not even a drop moistens my cracked lips. The young man who controls everything thinks that to provide relief would be to sign a contract. He's upset by my distress. I look down into an abyss of failure so intense it becomes lust.
     It's almost dark: the endless congestion of tissue and sensation, the revolting enthusiasm of the undead. In a daydream I amputate, cover the wound with salt and graft my penis onto my forehead, but I instruct myself as though pointing to a blackboard, It's already a phantom limb.
     I don't begin with any luck, but somehow I get some. My daydream puts me to sleep, and I slumber as though safe in bed for eight hours. When I wake it's still dusk, rather windy. An advertising blimp sails by, dragged out of its moorings by the wind. MARGUERITAS $3 I grab hold of the strings and the balloon carries me up on one gust. I've gotten high on marguerites, but never on an ad for them, though the Calvin Klein billboard above Times Square affected me. I have an inspiration: I pretend that it's just a lark, I'm laughing and joking with him, I'm on a little joyride.
     He's relieved, I'm not so intense. We're just two dudes kicking back. A few of those advertised drinks? I'm already intoxicated by the wonder of lounging on his bed, our legs casually touching, he's hairier than I would have guessed. As we talk I realize he's a different person--he has parents, two brothers, a sister, constellations of friends, social intensities that begin to bore me, yet he's sketchy too, untouched, maybe a little dumb? His body is loose, hands on the pillow above his head, ankles crossed, all chest and groin. I try not to look obvious as I rejoice, already grateful for what's about to happen.
     I don't even start it. Pleasure is the only character, which we support from our different altitudes. Now that he's sure our relationship is meaningless, he puts his hand on my thigh. The silence deepens toward the actual. I feel explosions of tenderness, I want to heal his famous unhappiness that so attracts me, I push his head back with exaggerated kisses, and at the same time I want a rebate for my own suffering through ferocious sex that erotically dismantles him. First my tongue, then my fingers, and now my cock are inside his amazing flesh, a courtyard full of flowers, he's utterly pliable but only that, and I am dazzled by sheer access. He cries out, increasingly the lament of the wronged innocent, pleasure itself dragging him out of the distance into the prison of feeling. He's groaning deeply as though I'm destroying him in a horror movie. I feel great. Would it be too much to say that his body becomes my cock, that his excitement belongs to me, a treasure that can't be saved but only spent? He's afraid he's going to come too soon. What's going on? He's on his hands and knees, face mashed in a pillow, butt hoisted in the air, and I am penetrating him with rich contentment. I have one hand on his palatial rump for stability, and his belly is a little distended as though to fit into my other hand. I'm so amazed I'm laughing.
     Then I stop mid-stroke, freezing the frame. He waits a moment or two, a question in the air, then moves his ass back onto my cock in one mouthful, dilating and clamping without a struggle. His butt pushes against my groin, almost nuzzling like a dog eager to be walked. My body remains still, he sees how it is, the plot is turned over to him, his hips start pumping blindly and it's a moment of triumph. Of course he's only following a directive from his ass--more pleasure--but he's also announcing a need, if only for pleasure to continue. He's undulating back and forth, sort of fucking himself with my body, so you could say he turns into an ass, an active one, turning me into a dildo. His mouth is squashed in the pillow, his butt is a point of connection if not union--we co-exist around the length of a few inches of skin. This is enough to bind us to the luxury of the present.
     My ruinous obsession should produce stoic insights to make a "human comedy." I’m not against this idea, but it depends on a reduction of excitement and physical resources. I do not subside, the Glass Mountain ripples in the air, I am alive and doing fine. At night it's cold, so we share heat under the blanket. I can't return to the earth—but why should I? It was a false home, and now at least I am truly homeless.

Robert Glück is the author of nine books of poetry and fiction, including two novels, Margery Kempe and Jack the Modernist, and a book of stories, Denny Smith. Glück is certain he will feel your companionship when you read these books, though he’s uncertain about the mechanics of this. Glück was Co-Director of Small Press Traffic Literary Arts Center, Director of The Poetry Center at San Francisco State, and Associate Editor at Lapis Press. Ithuriel's Spear just republished his first book of stories, Elements, and Semiotext(e) will publish his collected essays, The Greatness of Kathy Acker and Other Essays, in 2015.