You walk over the bridge, the silent playscape,
the red carpet someone pulled out from under you and left concrete.
Once you get to the other side you smell
the deep fry and sodium of music steaming off the city.
And you go in there and try to fan it all away
with your feet and voice and arms and guitar but no, it’s too many,
GI Joe has a guitar around his neck
that is no more than a gold chain, a tag.
It’s cleaner on the east side
where long haired bearded men flop out of their bare mattress
like it gave birth to them in underwear
and they fall in trash and punch their out of tune banjo
’til the strings sing together
and write a song for all the dead miners and rail road men.
You walk over the bridge, the silent playscape,
Keep nailing crushed beer cans to the soles of your Nike’s to make tap dancing shoes.
Keep dragging your box of change around the French Quarter dancing fast and bitterly.
Keep telling tourists, “You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning”.
Keep making impromptu stages out of spray painted palettes.
Keep drumming your afro-pick against an empty Heineken bottle as you dance.
Keep smacking a tambourine against the neighbor lady’s bottom.
Neighbor lady, keep salsa dancing, keep smiling in your pretty red hand me down dress. It owes its beauty to you.
Keep old men in tennis-ball-walkers on the mic, shaking their baggy hips, scraping their feet.
New Orleans, keep singing through the hole in your teeth.
Keep your police doubled up atop giant horses, watching us finish warm whiskey from the label.
Keep boasting the pressed and folded garments of security,
The uniform is a brown bag over a beer can.
Keep police relaxed and smiling at Jazz Fest, at Tuba Fats park, joking, smoking with locals.
Keep hipsters on skateboards being pulled by the leash of their pitbull into the darkness at the edge of Frenchman street.
Keep the handicap orbiting around the intersection in a Hoveround, dancing circles for the brass band.
Keep switching trolley track with a hot crow bar, impatient in the sun.
Keep fishing off the side of the levee for catfish, using spark plugs to weigh into the mud.
New Orleans, you keep trying to modernize
And hurricanes keep saying, ‘sit yo’ ass down, my baby,
You are a preserved moment in time,
I can’t just let you go on now.
God wasn’t gon’ make it easy for anybody that carry a torch.’
You are the keeper of an old light
Now kept young and lasting.
If we keep muddy enough
The rags that make up the frayed quilt of America
Can always be scrounged up from your puddles.
So, New Orleans,
Keep playing that ‘Big Fat Woman’.
You won’t always get half of what you put in.
Keep swerving your chrome cruiser bicycles apathetically down the wrong side of the street.
Keep your flowing oaks growing into porches and power lines.
Keep burning early morning torches for 6 a.m. saggy floorboard swing.
Keep your crawfish mountains high on a sheet of plywood, 1000 little red devils.
Keep telling people Tuba Fats blew his horn into the pregnant belly of Glen David Andrews’ mother and the next day Glen David Andrews was born.
New Orleans, keep playing your rusted bazooka,
Like it’s a shiny golden horn.
Sloshing through fields of cold coffee
I hear the rumor of the tuba,
I the swamp of the trombone,
The splash of the sax and
The trumpet’s river barge moan.
The pitter patter of drums
Is hard rain on a tin roof.
I realize how wet Jazz is.
The city below sea level,
The flooded, washed up city,
Sputtering and spawning that dilapidated, foamy sound,
Until it grows, bursting at the seems,
An ocean pressing against the levee,
Like lips against a mouth piece.
I slide my bare feet through the fair ground rain,
Crashing water cymbals,
Dancing the roots of my heels into the soil.
The suction noise, as my foot farts out of the soft ground,
Is a loose lipped tuba lick.
I can play the splash of high hat puddles with one foot
And unplug the muddy tug-boat tuba with the other.
I can make broth and butter.
Bo Jarome Battle would call it
“Peaches and cream”.
The lips of the sky spit and buzz,
The cloud of Jazz seeps in slowly,
Now we’re floating in it.
The bog that divides each crowd in two
Leads to a single empty spot in the front row,
We are sailors of it.
Let Jazz come to you and hold you,
If you try to reach for it,
It spills instantly.
I walk out past the young sidewalk brass band
“Playing their hearts out harder than the guys inside,”
Twisting them out like wet rags.
My bare feet sting against the pavement.
Under a dripping canopy of palm trees I walk a mile back home.
There, I pull out a stiff chair,
The legs honk against the tile.
I sit, tambourine dishes rattle into a pile.
Bass runs across the floor.
Someone’s leftover cup from breakfast
Is on the table rippling.
One heavy shot,
And I drink the muddy water some more.
“Now we’re good and ripe,
Ripe for the picking
-The musical picking,
Ripe enough to be harvested”, I say.
“Ripe enough to be satisfied”, smiles Eric.
“Ripe enough to be consumed.”
In the cloudless Texas sky
The moon is another tall street lamp
And we’re ripe enough to be devoured whole
-To vanish before the sound.
The lead singer paces around the rosy antique stage
With bare arms in a silky black vest ,
A scally cap
And white winged sunglasses.
When the charged up gypsy dance rings out
He jumps his ripped toes a foot above the raising,
Bending his knees just enough
To keep his soles flat and together as they land.
Like his ragamuffin shoes the music bounces about
And stays level with tradition all at once.
The accordion player, in a transparent black dress
And high socks around her stocky legs,
Nurses the heavy weight of her black-child button box.
Moving her spider hand up and down the key bed,
She Burps the song baby,
Consoling the sharp firsts and fifths.
Her head reels around.
She sings high harmonies,
Chanting with the lead singer’s Irish tone, Indian trill,
Italian, Bulgarian and Haleem tongue.
The bassist, nodding in a red and blue flannel,
Shaggy brown hair and Aviators,
Toys with his u-bass.
The thick shiny rubber strings
Excite in wave form,
Undulate like little black snakes
Moving but not getting away.
The drummer melts into the sound,
Chopping long blocks of rhythm,
Channeling the bassist,
Charming the serpents, soft slingshots and live wires
Bouncing under his finger tips.
We leave with the violinist
Who removes her yellow 1950′s sunglasses for the last few numbers
Revealing her pained, solitary eyes
Which remain completely dissolved in the playing,
Totally composed, neutral and vacant
As she dices single notes into double rhythms,
Cuts up and down Spanish and Hungarian gypsy scales,
Her lanky puppeteered arms,
Knit her instrument
Like a praying mantis rubbing her hands.
She stares cooly at the ground.
Her eyes are stern and yet somehow sensitive and exposed
Stone and alive,
Staring away from the stares upon them,
Except for the subtlest responses to the crowd
– A quick blush, a blink of nerves, a flash smile
And then her lashes fall again,
The music takes her under.
Her eyes breathe in deeply,
And a quiet smile relaxes
Under her curly
I slide off of my church pew seat,
Walk out of the general store venue that is the Whip In,
Pass between counters of candy, elixirs, cigars,
Beer taps and grocery style coolers.
Outside, I pace through picnic tables
Lined neatly under Christmas lights on a stone and gravel patio.
Ramshackle 2×4′s boarded up around the outside form a fence.
Ribbed metal industrial siding, fit for agriculture, patch the walls
Which are grounded in giant aluminum feeders,
Cacti budding out the sides.
All I can think about though is the electricity in the violinist’s graveyard eyes,
The lonely burning moon
And drinking from it all like a pig squeezing into his trough.
-Whip In, Austin, TX, 3/26/13
The changing face of the homeless image
As a child I remember my mother pulling me to the over shadowed city streets
I was awed by old bearded handicaps
who dressed as if their wheel chair were a crashed chopper
Alcoholics, with peach core heads – scaly red skin and thin sparse yellow hair
A black junkyard crackhead revving
kicking his suitcase insisting that the “motherfucker get up”
war veterans waddling their wheeled body around
on one coral reef heel
like a flintstone firing on one piston
like a bird with one wing, flying in spirals
These sun dried, wreckage sailors of the brick work
They might have burnt sea weed hair
And fat worn out black comforter jackets in summer time
But their chemical smell and blazing jelly fish eyes
At least let you know
They were drowned.
Now, we have a variation of the peddler
The image of the homeless man has blurred
The new post apolocalyptic hippies
Trickle down out of the woodwork
Like Haight Ashbury descendants
But uglier and smarter
One is a fat black kid in a faded bubble gum jump suit
Sparking a joint by himself in Harvard Square
Beckoning a congregation through the power of wind
An oval forms around him
A low pressure system waiting to get
Another black kid with a Mohawk, denim vest, combat boots and patches
Slaps his hand
A pear shaped white girl with a greasy pony tail and generic t-shirt
Holds two bulldogs who lay comfortably on the bricks
The air stirs, thickens and settles.
Across the street is another young beggar
with clean pressed cargo pants, a hiking vest, an extra sweater aroud his waist, sunglasses, a fully packed and organized back pack, a tent, a tarp and sleeping bag
His sign reads “Spare change for a new sign”
Mocking every truly desperate man who ever needed much more than that
He pokes the crowds yelling, “Spare change for marijuana”
“spare change for a space ship to mars”
Like a game show host or sweepstakes give away announcer.
At night when the square darkens and empties
He unfolds his giant body bag and climbs into its center
Lonely under the 2 am orange lamps.
Like Ishmaels leg he sleeps inside a beached whale.
The image changes.
The Worm Town festival rat
Can trickle into the banks of Harvard Square
And on his first night there jump about the triangle
As if it were his own figure skating rink, spotlight and soapbox
And the alligator eye ball Police duo would stare at eachother in their cruiser
And say “he’s celebrating”.
If he had a Polo shirt on
They’d arrest his ass and pulls his tendons down to the station.
But instead he’s found the perfect uniform,
The truly invisible camouflage
The volunteer homeless men
blur the lines of homelessness
Making travel easy
Making freedom obscure and accessible.
Kraj ran from my hometown
Became one of the volunteer bums
Though He looks more like an amazon medicine man
With boney facial peircings, long dreadlocks, colorful eyes,
sleeveless rags and back pack drum.
His first love was smeared across a rail road track in Wisconsin
He hikes the Appalachian, follows music like a nomad
And has been sited in grocery stores, bus stations and drum circles.
Homeless? The fucking kid seems to be filled with homes,
A surplus, overflow of homes across the country side.
When he’s older and settles in a tourqouise tent in the leafy forest
Behind a car wash or supermarket
And like letting go of a penny into a fountain pool
He drops acid so he can wash Blood Off the Tracks
Don’t bulldoze his vinyl mansion
Kraj carries with him no shield
And He would not want the mice plowed into the field
Teams of Fiddles, accordions,
And flutes, a banjo,
guitar and mandolin
Are held and played with loyalty and precision
In a dim back room where tough varnished tables
And rows of thick wooden chairs
Are occupied by three dozen first and second generation Irish folk
Who don’t so much as clap, speak or turn their heads
when their kitchen symphony ends.
The next song strikes up from a seeming silence
Like instant sparks from a wooden bow drill
The seconds between each tune is any man’s chance
To throw wood on the instrumental embers.
Each musician burns with the same traditional sheet song memory
Which is like tracing over an intricate face so many times
You can draw it identical when the face is pulled out from under the thin paper.
When the cloth is whipped out of this dining table
the silverware, plates and glasses are hardly shaking.
The song settles and crystallizes.
A bearded drummer enters during the music, sits and begins clapping his ‘bones’
The stubby chop sticks
The Irish castanets march the song with a story teller’s waving arms.
A fighter would envy the way he flicks his wrists w such delicacy and sting.
The lone drummer swings the invisible reins to get the fiddle mules dancing harder
He whoops and yells in the back when the measures come around
Some of the clan smiles softly to themselves,
glad to have a backbone pushing them
glad to hear a ruckus again.
Another man approaches the drummer timidly
and moves his Bodhran laying on the seat to his left.
The busy Drummer snubs
Then he sees the brother in the stranger’s face,
stops his dream vision conductor hands and brightens to him
The pack continues on humbly without a driver again
The new comer puts one leg up on his own knee and his arm around the drummer’s chair head
Their narrow eyes shine into the same familiar plane of vision
Their culture alerts their hearts in a way I wish the world could remember
A white haired man 10 years their senior turns around w a stiff neck and a broad grin
He says something about ‘soods in a boocket’ and ‘shut the front dar’
All nodding to their mutually understood wilder drinking days
That they nurse now with a
The violin bows raise and fall like firing sickles
A field of pumpjacks
And chain gang pick axes
Scythes, yo yo weed slingers on the banks of a grassy highway
The wispy broken horse hair hangs and snakes
like the shreds of hay stuck on the blade.
A large heart falls to the floor pumping
skinned fish flopping.
I look closer to see its three hearts stuck together at the tips
Forming a single clover.
I want to kick it off the dusty floor or put it away
But its dancing to the factory whistle music
Like a kettle top dances to boiling water
Like a rock dances atop a quaking sifter.
So much delicate strength
at the end of these fading tales
At the fingertips of their sound
Their violin strokes cut me open
Without ever scraping a nerve.
Her pain was dew forming, filling, then dropping,
ticking slowly from a turned off shower head.
She wrenched the valve shut until it snapped in her palm.
The beads kept returning.
Like dribble from the seams of a stroke victim’s lips.
A vegetable love.
She dabbed away her pain with a clump of used tissue paper that she kept ready in her fist.
An Emerald Dancing [Difference between Sex and Oil Drilling]
Inspired by William Blake’s “A Memorable Fancy” from Marriage of Heaven and Hell
When she whinny’s and kicks
the horse head of the oil drill bows and strikes
If I can get this V-belt to revolve perfectly
I will make her soar like the edges of a crystal glass
The prime mover has always begotten the crank
But this time my arms and beams have (desired)counterweight
This time we can drill oil
Back into her guts
I grab tight onto the bridle
The polished rod diving and retracting
With the fringes of the stuffing box
Some Oil and gas expelled
Stroke length, sucker rod
In oil drilling you can’t fall out of love.
Impregnated with oil virgin woman turns red then white then blue then grimaces her mouth in rage and insanity and commands, “usurp wooden fires for oily sensation! drill me like an intravenous drip! You, slurp the oil from your dish bowls of chastity and return them to my furnace! I will burn the exhaust of man.
With straws harvesting black semen out of the earth, the fairies combust manhood and stink up the channels of information with his exhaust. “Pay the fairies!” shouts man from the deeper inner ball of earth, “and the new born man will contemplate on every cry from woman’s earth”
Smaller the brain
Smaller the reason
Bigger the harvest of the infinite season
When I’m walking and I hear the metallic, reindeer bells twinkling sound of someone coming up from behind me, I can always tell the jingle of car keys from the rattle of a dog’s medallion because a pocket didn’t jump up behind me when I was 11 and sink its teeth into the back of my knee.
Right now, Beer tastes like that strange metallic foam your father let you try when you were 12.
I’ve moved on though.
I suck from the teat of a white Russian pacifier.
After twelve hours of casting sweat into dust
Handshaking the fingers of weeds that break off at the wrist
And form a bratty new hand next week,
The inside of the airy farm house feels farther away than it really is,
As if transplanted next to the smooth snore of the ocean
Though it only looks out over ripples of weeds and sunlight.
I walk to it.
Sweat and mud in my arm hairs hardens into a grey mortar sleeve.
The screen door breathes in
Like separating the thick round staples
And knotted burlap
Around the ball
I remove my boots.
My eyelids lose their elasticity.
Broken window shades.
I want to sweep myself under the rug.
Sleep is no longer a task but a gravity and a tug.
My blankets are sheets of turf
My mattress- dirt.
My pillows are quick sand shaping to the shell of my head.
Tired, I drop into bed.
Like matted down grass the surface conforms to my body.
Dissolving what touches it.
August has overlooked me and I am too weary to fold myself under the sheets.
They sometimes clothe me when I awake.
Sleep creeps in.
A black sun hovering,
Petting my head, squeezing room temperature water from a rag,
it trickles down the length of my spine.
My bed slowly begins to open the gate of its mouth.
The branches of veins in my limbs
take root in the ground.
When you don’t sleep for a couple days your mind
slips off like a startling beaver scurrying under the sticks,
goes to bed without you,
shrinks into the backgrounds of your head,
like the pupil reacting to light,
like a camera focusing, shutting down
like a crook
Like the center of a circular ripple caused by a throaty rock dunking into a pond,
the perfect center that implodes and then spits one beam of water directly up
in the opposite direction
of the falling stone,
your anchor mind sinks
in to the vast ocean of your head.
Suddenly your senses reappear as sturdy, good and whole.
Like a fish you can only survive with your senses submerged.
A tiny carpenter redoes all your wiring,
brand new again and fit to size,
no cat screech door hinge,
not one drill with dying batteries in the house.
Acute senses why have I not skipped heaven’s daily death more often?
I can see a face behind a surrogate fog face on the trolley
peering through its own finger painted eye holes.
I can see it now from the footsteps of the library.
Noises sound different, more accurate, organic.
My teeth Severing the squeaky clean Pentium processed chicken
Sounds like sneakers on a basketball court.
A girl I don’t know routinely jerks her head like a dog’s cute misunderstanding of a note
And then she twists like an owl.
The cracking of her neck sounds like squeezing a soda bottle with the cap off and the wrapper on.
Doesn’t she know there’s only a finite number of rearrangements
the neck can make before you have to adjust something near it?
Doesn’t she know the neck becomes like a paper clip.
If she continues this grotesque habit into her adult years
she will become a school yard poll with a tether ball head.
The clicking of the mouse
Sounds like clipping nails.
Four Crows pull 4 long cables
Attached to my shoulders and toes.
They Move me like a crane does a heavy pipe.
Like a helicopter dragging a cargo almost too heavy to pull
They puppet master me one block back,
I’m An oversized couch squeezing into a narrow apt.
The Crows are hacking and Jerking in different directions to budge the cow further.
Like most domesticated beasts
I give up once I get to the pen.
What’s the point in fighting now?
In fact, swiping off the 4 chains as if spider webs,
I walk myself in.
Never choosing defeat until it’s the last chance of dignity.
Never wanting sleeps darkness
Until it blinds me standing.
I give in.
I make a fort out of this prison.
Branded in my cellular sleep
A Hot bath burns the brass horns off of my ear.
Sizzling until I’m numb
I cool and harden like a blacksmith’s molten rod into a pool.
Welcome to night.
Fish from the darkest oceans of my mind
wiggle upwards like a lone seltzer bubble that doesn’t burst at the top.
They look sideways out my aquarium eyes
Trying to Peer through the ferns of my eye lashes
That begin to Open and close and breath softly like swaths on a pine tree.
They can see the cavern of another universe,
Faint impressions of my bedroom
Illuminated by Two rhombuses projected on my wall by the street lamp outside,
The shiny edges of the deodorant stick and jack knife on my dresser.
They can’t make sense of these dim foreign images
That slowly flicker from my windows open, curtains closed eyelids
As I try to make sense of theirs.
I march to the cadence of a spinning, wobbling, off balance washer and dryer,
A sheet metal factory
and some steam engine crack head expending his roller arms onto a 5 gallon drum.
So that each one of my toes is keeping a different rhythm
And they take me off like ants under a watermelon.
Standing on my toes
They move like hummingbird fingers across a piano
Blowing wind into the sails of my back
I wiggle down the street.
My feet start to move together like a centipede
Like when you lift up a vacuum and brush it to the next room
I glide over to the next crosswalk.
When I’m drunk
I feel like C3PO hay wiring.
My feet move beneath me
As if the sidewalk were an airport escalator,
I’m a floor sander
accidentally plugged in.
Dylan is a snake
His words hiss like pine in a fire
Slither off into the crowd
Like smoke at the end of a cigar
As if always coming from behind you.
He sinks his fangs into the back of your ankle
Poison beats like a drum and creeps up your arms
Your vision spirals
Searching for he center of the wheel
The eye of the storm
He devours the audience whole
With a mischievous smile
That says, “Good and Evil hold hands
Like brother and sister
Like roots into soil
And I will always know more about the holes in the ground
where Heaven and Hell leak into one another
Because that’s where I was raised
And I said it first”
And while his scales peel under the desert sun
And his rattle fades to a rustle under the leaves
His eyes remain
Aqua and black
An ancient indifference
Like two stolen gems.
He moves towards center stage
Pointing up to the commander in chief
Who sits crossed legged on a dirt floor
Playing his flute in a figure eight.
A slow moving wave
Moves from the bottom of Dylan’s toes
To the top of his white hat
Whispers through the steam holes in his harmonica
And slides off his thumb
The other hand waving free
Continuing the rigid sway
That danced asleep
And rose up from the ground.
Soon he will die there
Amidst the grains of melody
But like all good snakes he will hide his body
Where it cannot be found
Dylan will shed his last layer of skin.
Springsteen is a Billy Goat
his eyebrows jackknife like bobbing horns
as his nose wrinkles up in a fierce inhale.
His under bite muffles the gruff in his throat
and shows a bottom row of flat grounded down teeth
he jerks his neck around.
He carries with him the ass kicking
of a thousand factory workers
the heavy jaw of the veteran
and wears their colors proudly
in his shaggy hair
and Billy Goat beard
His head is disproportionately larger than his shoulders
which narrow down to a small solid frame
and black leather hoofs
stammering to the top of a wobbly mountain
He is grounded and building traction now
butting his face into the microphone
like it meets him halfway and bucks back
he sings as if in pain
interlocking with the down trodden, the horses and the mules
he pounds out their agony until it is thin enough to wear.
Cracking away at the weak spots in the fence
like a motor that can run full throttle
for four hours
like a Billy Goat
with a head made of steel.
Animals are social beings
But discarded as dispensable and inferior
Because anti-nature is glamorized and flaunted.
Humans increasingly distract themselves from nature
Which is like shrugging at the blood in your veins.
Animals are just as sophisticated and intelligent as humans
Only in different ways.
If anything they’re more intelligent
Because they know how to live sustainably.
They maintain their environment
If not improve upon it.
We piss in our own beds.
We cut our own wrists.
We wipe our asses with the rivers and then wonder why our water tastes like shit.
We as a people, as a civilization
As a stage in an evolutionary time line
A point in a bell curve
Are either at a stage of great infancy
Or great death
The way we muddle our words and soil ourselves.
A dial tone is beeping in the back of my head
like the phone’s been off the hook all day.
My ear drums are loosening around the edges
once a rawhide snare
then a canvas
and then a plunge.
So all that I can hear is the far away distant rumor of my heart
like the city fires twinkling beyond the horizon
like a miniature leaf storm
playing Ring around the Rosie in the back fields
Lone night time drivers come and go like crashing waves.
I’m a thousand feet underwater
and a rudder swims in the distance.
The moon is playing tug of war with the sea
My grip is losing strength.
My senses die down around me
so that all I can hear is the ticking of my heart
like a pair of boots tumbling in the dryer in the basement.
My head is finally quiet enough
for my heart to speak its dreams.
Laying on the leather chair,
the muzzle around my mouth
looks like a atheletic jock.
The hiss of nitrous
Dull flourscent light
The belly of my shirt rising and falling
The sweet smell of laughing gas
I feel like I’m stoned
Fingers are tingling,
I can see the edges
Of my eye sockets better than ever before
Like im skrinking
Inside of myself
The dental surgeon appears
In his clean white NASA get-up.
I remember the day before
when I was in his little room
he asked me
why don’t you get all four removed?
Cause my regular dentist said only two were necessary
And he turned away laughing smugly.
Now, he says nothing
Until instruments are in hand.
He’s ready to dig in.
Right side right?, he aks
Was that a joke or real question?
Good one, doc
I bet you use that one on all your patients
I chomp down on the torqoise mouth bits
My body is hallow
and I’m laying down inside of it
watching the giant doctor
and his big curly haired nurse
go about their routine
on my body.
He applies the novacaine
like a pizza cutter
pressing into my gums.
Blood seeps down the back of my tongue
and I trap it against the roof my throat
sucking air through my nose.
My chin is numb
and cannot feel his latex hand
anchored on my plump lip.
The sharp buzz of the drill
is steaming in my ear.
Pressure on my jaw
sticks to the back of my tongue.
I think of bones and soot.
He taps into the valley of my back tooth
like demolishing a mountain
close to a neighborhood,
dangerously close to the root.
He tries to break away the sides
with a pick
lodged into the circular well
but he must not have drilled deep enough
because he’e leaning into his lever
like he’s working on a Chevy
and the whole tooth is rocking.
He quickly grabs the drill again
Is this normal?
I hear the RPM’s of the drill
peak and then slow
to a struggling moan
from the pressure of his hand.
He snatches up his lever again,
fits it into the hallow,
TNT in his fingertips,
one after another,
I hear them snap.
The doctor turns around swiftly.
With his white seamed back to me,
vanishing out the door
I hear, You’re all set.
His nurse folds me back up
in the electrical chair.
She speaks to me hurriedly like a DMV clerk
I’m just refilling my skin.
My lip is temporarily dead.
My words clumbsily drop out of my mouth
Slurred and ugly
as I ask her to explain and repeat.
She answers me impatiently
like I’m a painfully frustrating child.
I slowly drive back home
with the radio off,
pressing my tongue
against the bloody wad of gauze
that’s propping my mouth open slightly.
The rain drools on my windshield.
I glance up at my rear view mirror.
My lips are cracked and bloody
and I keep repeating allowed
Ha Ha Ha laughing gas
Ha Ha Ha laughing gas
as I think of the cocksucker doctor
who’s probably driving home right now too
smoking a cigarette in his vanity plate sports car
waiting for the clouds to move away
from the flourescent sun.
On Friday nights I call my upstairs heaven
And my basement hell
Because on the second floor we play
Simon and Garfunkel
And Muddy waters
And all the lights are on
But underground the strangers squeeze around the keg barrel
Like piglets squirming for the mother’s teat
We put the disc jockey in the dungeon like the wild child
So he can stay alive without the neighbors hearing his noises
His flashing lights and broken disco ball in the thick darkness
Is like a midnight murder scene
Silhouetting the wild dancers
Shaking like branches on a haunted oak tree
Who have no movement
Only x-rays from the lightening flashes of the strobe light
The girl I’m seeing is crouched over
Moving up and down like shallow waves
While some 20 year old stranger is rhythmically rubbing
His zipper between the back pockets of her jeans
She must have seen my outline against the wall
Because her arms are bent up awkwardly
Like a boxer from the 40’s
And her head is bowed low behind her fists
Hiding, hoping I mistake her for someone else
She’s pretends to keep dancing
My stomach rots
My spine jerks once
My skull squeezes out my flaming eyes, lunging them their way
My knuckles meet the kids eyebrow
Like a dull axe pounding through the bark of a tree
And he crumbles, branches and all
Like a building blown up from the bottom
Like splashing into a drum-set
Flipping up the thick tiled top
That was never screwed to the legs
Of the table
Holding the two turn tables and laptop
“two birds with one stone” I think
As I swiftly turn my back to the dirty girl
Being perfectly sure not to let her know she exists
And I walk slowly towards the stairwell
Staring lifelessly ahead
The back of my shirt stretches back
Then snaps out of the desperate pinch of her reaching finger tips
The rap song is skipping and repeating
The red lights are swirling on the ceiling
There’s a loud, deep, thumping
Subwoofer in my chest
As I run up the two flights of steep spiral stairs
Back to heaven.
Fighting the Laughter
I have a mischievous bug,
a skinny Black House spider that dwells in my head,
playing with the wires in my brain
and when I’m sitting in my car at a red light
and I see a pedal bike
growing larger in my rear view mirror
squeezing between idling cars and exhaust,
he times the moment the biker’s going to wheel by.
My eyes dart to the mirrors and back ahead.
My fingers tap briefly on the wheel
as the biker is ticking louder,
passing my left side blinker,
ntering my blind spot
and the black widow clenches my shoulder
and whispers sharply in my ear, “Now”
and I want to see if he’s timed it out right
and without looking
flash open the driver’s door
but instead my fists tighten around the steering wheel,
I straighten my arms,
pressing my back into the seat,
I bite my lip and smirk to myself,
imagining the spandex somersaulting over the top of the cars.
The spider says nothing.
He just turns around
and slides away
But I think of all the times when the little spider and I used to get along.
In seventh grade geology class,
sitting in the front row of the small and silent room,
only a few sentences into the lecture,
Little Blackie pulled my eyes half way shut
and made me suck in a drawn out fake snoring noise
so loud it made my throat raw.
The teachers face filled with blood.
The little bug’s eyes grew wild
and he howled.
When I was two my mom would take me to the grocery store
and sit me on top of the shopping cart.
As she pulled the twitching wheels down the isles
I would stick out my plumb little arms
and right when she wasn’t looking
drag my hands stiffly into the shelves
knocking down the cans, jars and boxes,
Little Blackie laughing contagiously,
walking over the glass chards and apple sauce,
waiting for blood.
My grandmother, with her white hair,
her light bulb head,
she used to call me a devil child,
My mom would smack my hands quick,
her voice scolding
but her mouth and eyes were fighting back the laughter.
My father always fed me well.
My older brother melted when I looked up at him
and sprayed Spic and Span in his face
and his voice cracked when he hollered my name
as I chased him weaving through furniture
with a 12 inch kitchen knife,
Blackie almost getting a taste of what he wanted.
In those days he was a well oiled wheel,
spinning violently with laughter,
out of breath,
one eye larger than the other
drinking, never drifting,
And there’s a stillness that grips me now
because I’m aware of what he might do.
I’ve learned to own the sneaky little bastard
who never put the wires back quite right,
who trapped my mind and poisoned it,
who left his ruined webs in the attic of my head.
When I’m talking to strangers
or someone’s back is turned
or when the pub crawlers are getting drunk,
there’s a stillness that lives in me
because Blackie’s eyes are still grinning
inside his amber cell.