I needed a friend, in London,
When I first went back
And he opened the door, tall and sarcastic,
And smiled, and we talked for hours.
There were books coming out and addictions to
fight, and memories to erase, (unless there’s an
advance) and a lot to do, for us lay-abouts.
We went to the Colony Rooms and Blacks and
Met writers, drank Bloody Mary’s and irritated people.
We went to a Lolita exhibition in character, and
entertained people, for a little while.
The memories came back, then the drugs came back,
Then we irritated each other.
He said that lives on cocaine and lives on heroin
Weren’t compatible, really,
And we didn’t speak for a few months.
I went to Vienna, went blonde, and went silly
For a while, and met someone else.
Eventually we talked again and went
Back to being friends but
It had all ended really.
When I went to see him he was painting again
But he was sad, and everything in his flat
Was chaotic when it had always been neat.
Torn sheets, scattered books, dry paint, dirty sheets.
Poetic throes or rehab? Modern art, laying in.
He started smoking again. He needed twenty pounds
For art materials. He needed needles for an installation.
I was sad when I left him, as I had never been before.
Maybe I knew it was over, and it was the last time
I would ever see him. He said he’d been happy to see me
But nothing was making him happy
Art wasn’t working, these days.
In June, I was at a garden party with Nina
When Robert called. “Sebastian’s dead. I just
Had to say it – I’m sorry. I know you’ve had your
Ups and downs. Crack and heroin. This morning.”
I looked at Nina and I told her and then I looked around
At this perfect garden, blooming and easy and pale
With the light. Nina said, “I’ll get you a drink.”
We drifted through the rest of that afternoon.
I got sun-burnt and we went to a party and saw James and
Everyone and I said to him, “I can’t take it in right now,”
and I drank some wine and had an odd time,
almost ready to crash myself.
It was the day after that other scandal,
which seemed to matter little now.
There was a lot of black lace at the funeral, of course.
There were a lot of girls and artists and writers
and Soho. I sat next to my publisher in the church,
and cried, though I thought I wouldn’t.
I wasn’t sure what to do with myself afterwards.
I met a little girl, seven, called Kuki,
And ended up spending most of the wWake with her.
She had a little black Puritan dress with Doc Martins
and we chatted about this and that
and she said she wanted to be the next
Kate Bush, and I said, go for it.
The hours went on. At midnight, Laurence called a taxi.
We’d been sitting on a velvet chair for some time.
Laurence said it was the last place he’d seen him.
It was all very strange.
He didn’t know what to do either.
I took the taxi to Chelsea and as the girls were there.
So was Peter, and he gave me a hug. I was still floating above it all
Possessed by the deathly party,
The costumed denial
That the coffin was real
And he was too close to the light.
And we were not close enough.
It was dark now, and about to rain, and we got another cab.
And kept going, more cabs, talking about casual things,
Entirely adrift. I left London soon after.