The Intimates

by Rex Wilder

On the wall of our clubhouse
A duck cartoon says
“I couldn’t kill myself if
My life depended on it.”

If you still want to join us,
You too have to be willing to fail,
In a life of failure,
In the month of failure.

In your case, you might
Choose the coldest morning
Of the year, when even
The snow gets a snow day.

Slip on a T-shirt (no bra, socks)
& climb over the railing
Of the Vargas Gorge Bridge.
Tears & spit at your eyes & mouth.

The steamy river is a snake
That eats gnawing self-pity
Like yours for breakfast.
Inches between slither & shiver.

If you jump, it’ll be
Like falling out of King Kong’s
Hand. If you jump,
Our little club is not for you.

Rehearse it. Will you flail
Or fly? There is a chance
That between life & death,
Between a sophomore

In high school & a red-haired
Angel in God’s order
That you’ll get your wings
Before you smash

Against the rocks & wash
The rape out
Of your head & your childhood
From between your legs.

If you still want to join us,
Think of a faraway
Christmas, & a freeway
To take you there, on a bus.

We don’t huddle around
A tree but we open presents
Here. We don’t have
Time for any other tense.

I once saw 20 or 30
Men in a circle in a public
Park. They were
Encouraged to close

Their eyes & collapse
Forward. They were all
On their own bridge
But not at all on their own.

Here, rocks are foam
& feather & you’re
Never alone. In this jail,
Even tears safely fall.


Rex Wilder is the author of three poetry volumes: Waking Bodies, Boomerangs in the Living Room, and Open Late: New and Collected Poems. Billy Collins says, “Wilder has found a new way to say the old things…a notable achievement.” He has poems in Poetry (Chicago), TLS, The New Republic, The Nation, Yale Review plus many anthologies. He lives in Venice, California with his children and dogs.

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