Sal Salasin is editor of RealPoetik. His book is _Stepping Out of the Plane Under the Protection of the Army (Another Chicago Press, 1989). Sal can be reached at salasin@wln.com.

People say they love you but
would they pay $5 to park in
Venice, California?

"Darling," she would say,
"Put your hands on the car where
we can see 'em."
And the next thing I know I'm
waking up on the floor of the
intensive care ward making friends with
a lot of folks on drugs.
I'm here because
unlike the ancient mariner who
stoppeth one in three,
I got 'em all.

Look,
if the ends don't justify the means,
what does?
As IBM would put it,
I'm applied but not committed.
And welcome to Chuckies' Kimono Klub.
I have an MFA from the
IBM laughing academy.
I need a
deeper, what-is-it-really-like-
to-have-lunch-with-her-sort
of interview.
I'm convinced we are in the last days
just before the ruling class makes
the whole planet unendurable.
Crime saved my fucking life.
It's all one thing and
the only time it ever exists
is now.


You know, Harriet,
if you were twice as big
you'd get your way a lot more often.
Ever notice how the more food Sally Struthers collects
the fatter she gets?
Sex between two people can be a wonderful and
exciting experience. Especially if you're between the
Right two people.
That was then,
this is now.
That's the way it is,
that's the way it still is,
and that's the way it's gonna be.
It's like living in Pittsburgh
if you call that living or
Eckankar and
the Spirit of Eck.
Blah blah blah blah.
So. D'ja get any?
Next,
doglike carnivores in packs
join the search for food.
They say they love you but
then they ask for quarters.
And now a moment of silence while
I commune with the mother ship.
I'm not as stupid as I look.
Or sound.
It's sort of a moral and spiritual de- pantsing.
A glimpse at the
evil, nasty, sniveling Republican Party
and its leader,
Bob Dole
of the stiff and withered hand.
Oh look!
Some careless creature has left thousands
and thousands of dollars lying on my coffee table.
It could happen.
I want to hear those
three little words:
"Life, No parole."


Friends!
Art Lovers!
Security Personnel!
In my dream, I find myself on Montel
engaged in a venomous argument with
two slatterns and a guy with
thinning, slicked back hair.
As reported in the
Journal of the Academy of Sciences.
Famous last words:
"No,
it's a banana."

Oh look he
hit his head getting into the
police car.
Money may be exchanged for
goods and services, but
I don't know why.
The other nice thing about getting old is
I'm harder to convict.


It's probably true that reality bites
the hairy big one but
it's still impossible to benefit from
the realization.
Increasingly I realize my one true talent is
heating up cans of soup and
my only recourse to
throw myself on the mercy of the court.
Poetry's my job and I quit.
We should all return to our native villages,
smoke salmon and reduce the numbering system to one, two, three, many.
This would,
I'm convinced,
solve many problems.
It's not just a job it's
a total waste of time.

Hi, I'd like to book a flight for the
Brechtian Cluster in the Argos Region.
You serving dinner on that one?
Signs of the End:
Rita Haworth speaking passable Mandarin
on my TV set right now!
Passing fair, passing graceful and just passing through, yes.
And what are the words you most dread to hear?
"Mr. Salasin, could you
step out of the car please?"
I feel like the floor of a taxi cab.
"All pigs up and away, Sir!"


Six twenty-three AM and
little Sal rises and
boils a cup of water to make
instant coffee.
This man's life calls out for
extinction payable in
Canadian Tire money.
If we lived within our means
our lives would be crap.
It was a white collar crime I
mugged a priest.

And every night we worship at
the nightly network of our choice.
It's your life.
Isn't it worth a Sony?
Here,
let me help you out of those uncomfortable clothes.
I'm a piece of crap the
universe revolves around,
and each actress brings something
new and fresh to the role.
I may have killed six million but
I've learned to forgive myself.

Who owns the tubes the
economy's going down?
The way to a man's heart is
through his windshield. It's
a good thing they show everything on
cable twice since
I'm usually so stoned I
never remember the first time. I'm
awash in the ebb and flow of
cable TV.

I was drinking a hot cup of formaldehyde and
driving the porcelain bus when I realized
national socialism rejected any syncopation or
saxophone music. This took four days to
propagate out through the internet along with
signs reading
I Work for Food
(which,
thought occurs,
I already do).
Dating is sure tough when
you've got kids and are married.
It's kind of like being Science Officer
on Wayne's World.
I'll just fill up on bread here while
soldiers outside clear the streets.
We'll blame it on the Yutes.


My lawyers and I were in the neighborhood and
thought we'd drop by.
One Eight Hundred Loan Yes.
Anyway, I'm not a loan shark I'm
a debt management specialist with
offices in the DMV, K Mart and
any of the Slavic nations.
You got a warrant, Officer,
or are you just glad to see me?
It's not just a concern it's
a model of mechanical repetition.
Mechanical repetition.
And a long vacation at Club Fed.
I've been here a long time
and the Buddhists are right.
Time for a dirt nap.
And to think I used to get by on my looks.
That was before I became one with all
the universe and woke up with my face in
a gutter on the Lower East Side and all my pockets inside out.
It's the curse of _2001_. Pan Am,
Bell Telephone, the CCCP....
Virtually every logo displayed in the film
has gone belly up.
Coincidence?
I need a life.
Maybe I should change my name to Barbara Stanwyck and
join the Federal Witness Protection Program.
It was two years of the big heat over
Louis Bukholter Lepke,
Oral Roberts presiding.
I'm
leaving on the next thing smoking.


Four Dreams:

One

My wife and I are on an anniversary trip to Las Vegas, and after a long and exhausting day touring the city have returned to the hotel and sleep. We are awakened by a late night phone call. More than half asleep, I roll over to pick up the phone and a man's voice says, "Tell me, you sonofabitch, have I sent Pirelli over to tear your arms off yet?"

"What?" I say. "Who the hell is this?"

"Never mind who this is," he says. "I want the money and I want it now."

"What money?" I say. I search my mind and can't think of any money I owe, and certainly not to folks who collect debts by tearing off arms. But at the same time I see there are three large guys already in the suite, all dressed in dark suits, including one huge fleshy guy with no hair, a kind of Kojak figure on steroids. The floor lamp spreads a kind of yellow glow over his face. The other is standing in the shadows and the third is seated in an armchair.

Somehow, I manage to snap the gun out of the hands of the one in the armchair. I smash him hard across the face. We get the others disarmed and then torture them unmercifully for hours, days, until they're destroyed utterly.

Two

I'm applying for a job in Seattle, and Roseanne Barr, the actress, is one of my references in New York. The job seems in large part to depend on references, and Roseanne is very busy and insulated by a large staff. I'm kind of concerned that she may not return these calls promptly enough to do me any good, especially given a three- hour time difference. After some effort, I manage to track her down on the set of her television show, which is a madhouse of activity. As she and her entourage whip by I manage to stop her, catch her arm briefly, and explain the situation, although I notice I'm being overly deferential, almost obsequious, with a rigid little smile none too pleasant for me. I attempt to explain the situation with the time zones and try to impress upon her the importance of looking out for calls from Seattle, but I can tell Roseanne thinks I've overstepped my bounds. She tells me she'll do what she can and gives me the wide grin which in her performance means, "No way, Buster," and sweeps out. I'm pretty sure those calls are not going to get returned.

Three

I am in Mexico, a land of bright sunlight and color as well as deep shadows. A beautiful Mexican woman who loves me kisses me goodbye because she must leave me with a man who is our friend. He offers me a strange and very powerful marijuana with large, strange, husked seeds. I smoke some and at his urging eat one of the barbed, husked and pill-like seeds and become extremely stoned.

Four

In a strange hotel far away I encounter the beautiful Paula Rogovin, whose name, for some embarrassing reason, I don't quite recall. In fact, I had been speechless and tonguetied in her presence for many years in college, although she was an extremely nice, warm and approachable person.

Now, many years later, she's still beautiful although of an astonishing sophistication, leading a life rather like a combination of Holly Golightly and Thomas Mann. Everyone knows her, men gather around her bringing gifts. There's a successful search for some pot (which we smoke) and the two of us make a trip to a restaurant out in the country, a sort of rolling, mountainous land very near the sea. In the course of the conversation, it turns out she sleeps with almost anyone, and all I have to do is ask... but I feel as if her life is too rich and disordered for me to follow, and I return home. I still can't quite remember her

name. Shortly thereafter I have to lie to my mother (!) about why I'm dressed to go out again so soon, whereas in fact it's to see her one more time to say goodbye.

Sal Salasin


back to author list