The playground capital(ism)
holds the key & anal(ysis)
retention for a bronze fountain's
slit breasts & fishbreath fury.
After his dunking the General of
alien(ation) kills two tourists cannibal
(istic) phrenologic frenzy: 2 skulls
toothed clean & fresh, filled buckshot-
weighted: 700 calories--speci(mens)
in chrome engaged in Chronic Fatigue.
Maxi(mum) & mini(mal) skip hand
in hand spraying _norm graffiti_: red yellow
blue hippos; silver green pink metro zebras.
They've struggled to get out of class & none
hunt them--their free(dom) spent spraying
polyvinyl menageries--the hub & commun(ity)
jealousy: whose prodigal daughter returned
with multi-colored mates; returned in swollen
gingham? A term(ite) has turns
on a comment(ary) mobile: strung there--
the easy-crying season of dreams,
the housefire & christening if not an alarm
at least a reason for the lower class to drink:
who hasn't rolled once under them, dried off
& told them to go? Forbidden--lowclass has
phone--has turns comment(ary) mobile:
there strung the season of dreams, the housefire
& christening; the open-gowned riot-glories of Rock.
Glaa... the baby drools it all in... glaa
the baby is also narrator, critic, prole:
god with meat-curtain jowls
womyn leapin spacey no bloody
rib-bone genesis; no.
Frozen doves darken branches
until the hunters, fooled, shoot
them down to discover, crying disgust,
that no blood--
scarred-blue fog--drips down. Cathedral
drainpipes gurgle, gargoyle snouts
snarl ice. Bells ring in alabaster rooms
where tourists are blindfolded & wall-hung.
The ice is beautiful, ugly--silver black
DANGER slick & sacred for bored angels--Winter
of uneasy sleep and smooth hurt, in dreams
famished eyes glare through leaves
in a jungle where ice is faster than physics,
off-chord madrigals ring of poisoned seas where,
too tanned to move, some perfumed Son dreams
of a Kansas silo where he's queer-hero
in Father's non-queer history:
an accident averted but paid for,
forever frozen, his one tattoo green & black
in the radiance of a wristwatch.
_My Soul Sometimes Leaves My Body_
my soul sometimes leaves my body
eyes purple & gray, a resume of rage
in those awful eyes chasing the village
idiot around the harbor's bronze cannon;
my soul returns hours later screaming wake
up! put me back inside!
go in, I say, opening my hands to find
no doubloons, my voice in the room
hailing the dog, whimpering, bedside;
my soul & I have much in common:
we're both compulsive, react without thought--
my soul sometimes leaves my body to return,
agitated & depressed that the sun is dying,
glaciers rumbling; I give it brandy,
coax more story until the soul dozes,
mumbling & thrashing, then there is no story;
nights like these circle the chessboard
brandy to black, whiskey to white,
_Jazz, Terrible Jazz_
so terrible I dropped my glass
while patrons pampered & known
chewed over oil lamps & bad blanc.
Again my friend had fallen for this:
a guitar picker whose equipment she'd bought;
I was in town for 3 days in a frame of mind
for anything, knowing there is always _one_
in the crowd whose eyes shatter the slab of my head
so my friend & I made the round of parties & I
told her just once tell some sonofabitch "you can
take it one night, let's get this over with" & then
do what she really wants. She didn't.
And we slept together--just slept, half-awake
& sick on a greasy polyester quilt in a motel
with worn hall-carpet, overweight cheap-suits clicking
quarters in the VendoMatic for Pepsi & Moonpies,
children firing Nerf-rockets in the corridors;
I am so glad she cannot inhabit my dreams,
the morning will be empty of her except for a room
of perfume & I will not look for her in crowds.
Sean Curtis-Brenden Brown (email@example.com) writes:
Hello! I'm back from another marathon road trip, & I think I'll just sit at this keyboard for a few months. Thanks for putting out the "Bill" letter; I'm glad you wanted to and it looks good... Bill got the shit beat out of him for hitting his ex-wife's boyfriend with a Zulu coconut. The boyfriend was stunned, but the ex caught him between the eyes with her umbrella handle. I wasn't there but I heard about it and then saw him in Panama City, wearing his famous beer-helmet bruise-remover (pop the two middle cans from a six-pack & drape the remaining ice-cold four across your forehead--drink the two in hand quickly, then the four on your head, then repeat). It's a shame about the Zulu coconut; it was dropped to him by a Mambo King ten years ago & is a beaut (or was, it's all torn up now) covered with red voodoo symbols, silver hobnails, and goat's teeth.
Jay Jaworski is great! Absolutely... I read his "Breakfast Poem" and said "I gotta get off my ass & send you something." Homesick for the NW today; it's misting outside & cold, very unusual Deep South weather. A million years ago (when I was 16) my mum lived on South Hill, outside of Tacoma, and on Saturday mornings like these (cold, misty, the kitchen smelling that god-wunderful sugar-acid of four bushels of apples) we'd pile into the old Buick & head to Seattle, spend the day on Pike. We'd buy bread, fish, cheese, have our fortunes read if mum "liked the face" of the tarot reader, then my favorite--lunch at Ivars near the ferry dock.
_The Boy Who Folded Himself In 3rds_
He'd do it the last Monday of the month
after a beating for eating the last hotdog
or pint of milk or tinned peaches; irresistible
to take something Big Fucker had blocked his name on.
He'd fold himself into a Sony reel-to-reel carton,
lower the flaps onto his face, taste the rich
cardboard and dream of Pensacola & Pascagoula--
towns in his atlas 1 if by land 2 if by sea;
and Big Fucker would hear him countdown that last
time & kick the box, and his foot would pass through
with such force down he'd crash into his own fat
with a shattered hip, and the boy would be _there_,
unfolded with a hum, a jig, a razzle-dazzle:
he'd be the boss, the ice & sea & blood.
There's granny booting the stove door, bang!
Dumping the cookiesheet of sourdough Grands
bloop! into the radioactive cobalt plato
from Taxco. Pocketing her teeth, slathering
Marmite over a Grand, switching on the 1948
Lloyds...nothing 1 2 3 then... Hallelujah!
roars Slick Billy, Jesus! & tubes pop zzss!
and moth-smoke pours from the linen-laced
speaker. Beetles crawl from the veneer, tiny
shit-pills of oak falling in cones. Jesus!
"Amen," granny nods. Jesusjesusjesus
This mirror is loose again,
a blade of silver nitrate
blackened by one century
of flung suds & sweaty wipes
and steamed croup-babies
& zit mush & lipsticked
Luv U dr.
This mirror swings on one
brass rosette, a flashing
pendulum--there's a face
there it is again--cut!
gotcha! good enough for work
good enough to approve loans
in a kerosene jacket, coffee
cup arm straight out: we all
share these morning erections
goo morn, ya goo morn.
Inside, everyone sings the multinational dirge:
entombed in our lives like generals in concrete
catacombs, we chant Boldface Hymns: Love forgotten
miserably along the way, our voices turning guttural
as Love disappears, as the sky burns, ringed with red:
a mackerel sky, a promised rainbow in there, somewhere.
I have a room lit with red candles of branch-thick
cinnamon which has ruined the pine-clapboard table
with bloodish drips & created an Art-Of-Sorts:
...counting sheep--even in air, sheep smart enough
to run alone... strong enough to run, run, run...
We await the ALL CLEAR siren, but what use is waiting?
Come out! Emerge from survived bombardments & dare
a _clue_, a gambit and vision in the dark: portals
passed on midnight streets where eternal woman tying
back her hair stops to gaze away from stars & storms
into a vision of calm.
The radio warns of curfew and renewed war: behind
the static a woman sings to us to have the faith to drink
(the North Platte, though poisoned, runs swift and cold)
Ah, another hour, then, to count sheep:
Christ cries in the candle--
face blackened, thick lips sensual
under a broad, busted nose & haunted
eyes. He dies from the neck down
for love of man & woman... all
his sheep accounted for...
It's Wednesday, and wine rattles
in wine racks downstairs--the promised
corporate drunk. Old soldiers laugh as Commander
Beaumont kicks in the door, scratches a flea
under his girdle, demands the Christ in our candles.
We shoot & Beaumont falls; we shoot again.
Three of us roll his sad ghost downstairs
and when we're finished we drink another bottle...
I unlock & hang the Sioux fetish--weasel bone, eagle
feather, lynx tooth, antler. I ignite another red
candle and stare into its flame, work into my lungs
the stupefying gas of discovery, the narcotic
of guiltless sleep.
The old Burlington men
in the Cinder Bed Cafe
spoon red chili, roll cigarettes
and speak of Palouse, Ogeechee,
Claylock, Spindle, Thurston:
rivers covered by parking lots.
Another drink poured,
another cigarette snuffed;
grain, glass and weed
unbroken slow-motion blowing.
More night, then morning
the old Burlington men tap
blue plates daisied with fried eggs.
There's a girl they're all afraid
to leave with--she sometimes tricks
them into lighting her cigarettes;
whenever they bob their heads
sleeping sitting she sips their drinks
tasting a way in.
She's not bad-looking: doll's hair,
eyes off-green like plantain leaves--
she's the pack-animal of their dreams.
UGLY HAT & RED HOOK
You need a night at Hofbrauhaus
down the street from Shenanigan's
where fish-shops gas the night air
and squash-headed wharf-rats screech
like cats. It's beautiful
staring through a pitcher of Red Hook
with a shot of Ugly Hat in one hand
and a shot of Oso Negro in the other;
alone on the deck in drizzle,
pretending the few lights at St. Regis
are flickering candles, hearing the
roar of lions from Point Defiance zoo--
something always sets them off
then the peacocks cry e-awk! e-awk!
christ what a sound--maybe it's Bundy's
ghost, standing in the rain by the gift shop,
smelling the chowder, that disturbs them.
You hear someone say "Pretty like nice little,"
they say it again. What does it mean? You've
been away too long. You look through the wall
and rain and beerglass at the voices;
you see them describe an emblem of egg & heart
crying, its holder turns aside,
unfastens the left flap of a nursing bra,
pulls the brown tip forward, a pearl of milk
on her fingertips: _pretty like nice little_.
It's beautiful, the baby in the bar, and under
the deck water laps at the posts, and blue crabs
drop from rocks plop! and the odor of diesel
and mudflat rot fills you up. The lions roar.
_House Fire Piano_
Sky reeks turpentine sunflowers:
cool, calm inviting world
below stretches over rain-slick firemen
The piano gongs and clangs
as silver tiles make
the mosaic of its impact.
Here you are in clouds;
you die what you're taught,
frown from the waist up
over the new piano--they put it together
all wrong. You cry awhile
but all & all it's not so bad--ivory
where ebony should be, so what?
You sit spinning around, a fool on the stool
& lightning under your heels.
Far below, the world catches hell
as you spin & spin--maybe you'll get them all,
just you and your piano demolishing every
"A" country & continent--
you'd do it, too, except the delicate shell moans
for Guards: Africa's scorched, then America,
you get as far as Asia before being slammed
spine-down on cloud-slate,
battered with wings.
Had this friend in voluntary commitment at the Jackson, MS VA hospital, and they had taken him and four other guys in a van down to the Gulfport VA a day before the hurricane was to hit, and he didn't like it, he wanted to get out and drink and gamble at the Grand Casino, so he called me to come get him so I did. I mean, it was great--I zipped into a black Dickies jumpsuit & was about to fucking die from the heat--I had the pockets crammed with bottles of Bud and sat behind some prickly holly bushes drinking them, and covered with these goddamn tiny black palm ants (he was an hour behind) and then suddenly he just burst out of the double doors, through the outpatient "mental hygiene" parking lot and the half-dead lightning-struck palm at a dead run screaming "Go go go!" Well, there was nowhere to go but to the gate, and by the time Bill got to my holly bush (I stood up and shouted "Over here!") he was worn out, sucking air. I gave him a beer and he took a big drink and then spit it everywhere. "They got me on Avert (sic?)" he said--"It's some kind of pill that makes you sick of booze." "Well, get over it in a hurry," I said. We were at my car now and drove down to the big ridiculous pirate ship Treasure Bay Casino, where my girlfriend was waiting because she wanted no part of this bullshit. She didn't even want to be on the _coast_ since they were predicting Erin to just blow the shit out of everything in Biloxi & Gulfport (like it did the Florida shores) but we didn't think so, it just didn't feel right for a killer storm. I stowed my jumpsuit in the trunk.
"It's just gonna be a tropical storm," Bill said. "Rain, a twister or two; shit, let's get some rolls of quarters & free drinks and make some blackjack money." Which Bill can do everytime. I mean, he can't live off the casinos, but he never loses either. Give Bill a ten dollar roll of quarters & first he's at the video poker slots, looking as embarrassed as a priest in a porn arcade & drinking watery Popov; next hour he's at his beloved blackjack, counting that goddamn box like a magician, good enough to make people watch him, drinking iced Stoli and four hundred in chips at hand (where it will remain, give or take fifty, at $400)--again, no high-roller but not bad for a ten dollar quarter roll stake. Sue & I hung around the slots. I get bored--a lot of goddamned noise, and sirens going off for something silly like five hundred nickels, and old farts running around with white plastic quart cups brimming coins. But this time it's not so bad to be down to fifty bucks (& hoping to god the drink waitress doesn't know it, they seem to have a nose) because I'm with a _fugitive_ and anything can happen.
So Bill cashes in his chips, and this time a surprise: he's got $500 to take to the Grand. But he's despondent: "wish Jimmy & So&So were here, too" (both men still in Treatment). Well christ, they aren't and he quickly realizes this and goes back into the Treasure Bay & we all have more drinks, for free (ten bucks into the video poker ring which forms the counter-top). When we exit, Bill's over his slump, he's saying "fuck Jimmy & So&So they'll die dumb assholes just like they were born" and Sue seems happy, too, until the air-raid sirens at Keesler Air Force Base warble & screech--a horrible sound. And then we see IT, and you talk about goosebumps growing goosebumps--we're looking at the sea, the whitecaps, the moon, the stars, and then you can't see the moon for about a five-count, and then the stars are blotted out in a five-count pattern also, a line heading for the horizon. "What the fuck _is_ that?" Bill says, and Sue makes a moaning sound--she knows what it is--waterspout, a sea based tornado. Beautiful, menacing. A big one, too, and I mean menacing in a taunting way, as if it knew what it were capable of if it wanted to beach itself and roar down Hiway 10 for a few miles instead of heading out to sea, blotting out the sky in that incredible five-count pattern.
Well, we get to the Grand and fill Sue with cognac until she admits the waterspout was beautiful, and there are all these people from all over the world asking us "Hurricane She Be Big One?" with stupid grins, bungee-cord grins, the kind of stupid fucking Gortex Jacket Valet-parked BMW grins you see on Hurricane-Party turds who expect, right until the tidal wave washes them out of their Bay-view Windows, that they can whip out a gold card & make it all go away. And now Bill wants to call his psychiatrist--it's midnight but he's got the shrink's home number--what kind of dopey doctor gives out his home number? So Bill calls, and he's too drunk to talk, so after saying "DOH GOO DUY DUB NOP" he thrusts out the phone, but away from me, he's too drunk to even see me anymore, and a valet redcap grabs the phone and wipes it with Windex. "Give me that," I say, and he hands me the phone and starts Windexing others--it's a terrible smell, and Bill pukes, right on the emerald green carpet, and another Stepford Redcap appears and mops it up. "Who is this?" the shrink yells. "Bill's friend," I say. "Don't bother calling the cops, you'll never find us. He's a man of honor, he doesn't belong in your creepy fucking hospital."
"Why do you think I'd call the cops?" asked the shrink. "This isn't _One Flew Over The Cuckoos' Nest_. Tell Bill I don't want him as a patient anymore, my nerves can't take it." He sobs, he weeps! "Jesus christ!" I screamed into the phone, "What kind of psychiatrist cries!" Bill grabbed the phone out of my hand, screaming "Pussy!" before slamming it back. The redcap then unhooked the phone and Windexed the entire wall, so I pushed Bill away from the vapor so he wouldn't puke again. What a terrible denouement; I was expecting a showdown with the state police, or feds, or something, but who gives a damn anymore? Bill hasn't been dangerous for years (70-71 in Vietnam), a couple weapons & drug violations since. It's hurricane season that sets him off, like clockwork every year, and after a good tear around the casinos he's as good as new for another nine months.
Bent your ear a long time, Sal, I better sign off. Eleven more hurricanes are predicted this season, so Bill's going to be an adventure-per-storm; anything else interesting comes up (such as fresh poems) I'll drop you a line.