I. Some kind of joke
The year is nearly unimportant. Zinc is in pattern,
but I can only purchase my thoughts on even numbered
days. Poor, acquainted more clearly
with the poor folk's rag theory
than with the possibilities awaiting
to be chosen, I swear on a stack of paperbacks
I ain't no fucking prophet,
but a walking man walking,
walking without bail and rolling on past
damp December, born into debt,
a free state, and a slap upon
born to choose, born to hesitate,
free to lose in storming screaming success,
my swelling head tossed off in oft repeated duress,
and designated on some long lost Monday
to openly investigate.
Standing straitlegged slowly trusting
flagged caper hornstone corners of civilization spry
beneath mystical but outdated electric streetlights,
I glance briefly at an old bank's perpetually
still digital clock, no Big Ben but my party-line
glands assure me neither am I,
knowing sugar sweet well there is no time [left]to lose, nor time [right] to gain before the sign of the whale
registers its final pleas, its aim to seize
our weakening eye. With an addict's frazzled wisdom
I stray eagerly to my left in search of the missing kingdom,
but tonight there's no answer blowing in the breeze.
So I grunt and gesture with a shrug to my right, no saints
squirm there this time for me to unabashedly offend,
so I tuck then barrel straight up the middle for short
yardage and the promise of doubt's permanent mend
where fear staggering city waves chase throbbing membranes,
as flesh-scarred sky's the limit, and good taste obnoxiously spawns
cactus-eyed vendors winging unabridged versions
of security said solid, safe, and sound, mockery
advertizing plain the new plastic rosary,
dutifully opening mixed oral bags
of sleek promises
for the influx of staring strangers to see.
But reliable inside sources,
alias the missing link to downtown centers of faith,
have warned warm the wires of each thicket brain
that back in the gymnasiums, where these mongrels
eat and sleep, their closets are packed full, and
their children can't weep. Bombs still burst in air,
crippled marriages identify our modern stare,
this sublimely decent thing called the love blind
chills us helplessly into statistics we can't keep,
below or above these rats in the heap.
Past irregular self-annointing, some distant star
dying happily ever after, calls after our illicit kingdom,
junior high language suicide squeeze, pimplexiproblematicisms
at work, tourists who rob you, rape your wives and daughters
and sons, distorting the shapes of seasonry.
We live in our own ashes,
Elmer's glue, crockery, satisfaction,
strength in numbers, baseball fevers and career
goals of seventeen, twenty-six, forty, twenty-two,
twelve, thirty-three, sixty-five, and one hundred plus one,
the age of consent times the age of pure reason,
career goals, blanket insecurity, student loans,
Eden punchlines, or don't you get it?
By the vastness of our viscera, we were sitting straitlegged
and reading a book of tall sayings.
We've been given an inheritance
horizontal hangups, vertical revenges
oblong fantasies, firm nothings, horns of
plenty firepower if little else remains.
Tortured teenage codes string and amplify
tricks the tribes roll thinking each one of us
brave new worlders or fast track miracle workers
willing to beg to be or maybe not be born
or put to death, typecast for the camera eye
in sweaty bedroom recoil, sunshine victims
of some heartless exchange, hanging limp
along some prairie pirate's dense fog
like ivy-spined surrogates on dangling red hinges,
and then out goes the call into the gunshy sprawl,
advantage windows grow dark for revolt
so that others can snottily bolt across
airwaves and minds and habits
of the next great gall, the generational stall..
The year is better left to experts.
Bread is without leaven.
II. Just shooting blanks
Miners vote on a new contract burying new hopes,
the beer and peanut years in full swing. Microchips & glib smiling
innuendos rake across drunk on purple mountain's majesty and cope
in dimly lit plantation halls of liberty wiring sick hunger's mope
this night of origin, rags and stain, but lewd whispers are begun
again, again the whispers begin to spin planetary Cain,
and the poets wither behind the scenes,
grow crass anticipating the sun
without names to call their own quiet men into reign.
No one knows us better than the eyes.
Let us undress,
in vague rooms undress the issues,
before the scornful but bulging flies
of them repressing and unjustly revealing
nothing less nothing. Let us cleave unheard of
to a more explicit syntax of behavior,
apochraphally vital to the performance
from inkblot to living score.
The holy remain holy.
(The ugly remain ugly.)
!#%&*!!@?...*$&?!!& Typewriter quarrels
of the List Generation pop pop pop pop
invalid as flapper skirts and whey, as they become
the Make Me Famous Right Now Generation, a cash crop
diamond duster storm hailing romance to new recruits
on laser beam technologies with hope in pocket series grift,
yet we still clamor in the riots of self-incrimination,
fall daddies, makeshift straw babies, and tons of
critical mass on display here and there
if not everywhere the bell quit tolling.
Egg on the face is America's new centrifugal pay,
slops the chemical preacher, our new oral robber baron,
digging tunnels at sky wages to build superhighways of moral decay,
utter relief the failure to consecrate him pope of the new plot.
"We are the Blank Generation!" snarls punk Richard Hell.
No, no, nowe're Generation XY! Nahthe 13th Generation!
...scripting others out to grab a pissful of job benefits
still available to young gun energies soon gone the way
of the two parent family.
The poet stands on ceremony to greet the four horsemen,
germ attitude left on vagina leaf doorsteps,
vanity fizz, ostrich cocks squirting
all over the faces of freedom
in Great Warrior hypes,
word blockades, bush brides half-busy,
cube juices, perfidy in the talkshow toiletrooms,
permanent sunglasses, icebox follies, and river ram rookies,
to greet not with a handshake but a suicide pact,
stiff cumbersome shapes oozing last night's wrestling elsewhere,
bottomless crotchpots, intellectuals for hire, unavoidables,
Vichy drownings, culture mice and blue moves,
we of carriage amass. The poet stands on ceremony
to question the audience, but
where is she tonight, Bertice Berry?
the latest shore Sir Walter Cronkite?
and Monroe's Doctrine? Will Blake's reservoir?
is that bra Oprah wears made here in America?
where in this mix and match morality is Custer, is Malcolm?
or Little Orphan Annie's favorite paradox? And
where is Castanada or Bob Dylan
when you need them most?
And all mysteries marked old science burned in market
squares, reveal wastebaskets filled with spunk,
ladders stored inside a blue trunk,
and lessons learned according to the whistles
of collard greens, undeniably brutal.
Each one visited, each one verified,
leaves you with this realization:
Just one of many darwin, darwin,
build me a ship
to harvest the horny ones who wear
a rusty hook in an upper lip,
fished between mad rushes through sermoned turnstiles
and holiday pay. Sitting, picking gristmill nose,
my feet fidgeting below the antique davenport,
the subject of malediction was deep and forty plus two months
dry, but I knew the impossibility of never aspiring to try.
Deeper into despair I dug, deeper, deeper, deeper,
hoping for a holy hug, a keeper, a keeper,
as beautiful as beauty can excel,
a sleeper, a sleeper. And then
it happened oh so suddenly,
like a twinkling in a cobra's eye,
a weeper, a weeper, I became a leaper of crass mockings
when I saw she was a sweeper, wearing those plum red
stockings with the reign of terror, seeping, seeping
pantomine from her sheepish toes a rocking...
"Loose parables are the worst on the market," smirked the loan officer,
just before denying his own role in ridiculous affairs.
III. The new gladiators
Forced perception seen galloping,
turf course on the course of analytical geography clicking,
memoirs of Mesopotamian mapmakers interceding,
Each-factors lobbing soft curveballs against false
summer leagues, clay heroes, Earth-ghetto,
Government property, convicted mercies,
catechisms still warm in the oven,
stern but frivolously exposed. Painkiller street
versions working faintly kicking up dust and deliverance,
mere swings among cliffs and men minding the store,
booking recommendation, audibly secure. Swift,
nautical excuses milking witless the full court presses
and the pure in fashion. Triggered by current events I endured
this frying pan reflection with the ease of a Great Sham Pain Whore,
grabbing gusto from cheap lists, checkout counters, black thickets
of rabble and ruins, and I won't say I never got burnt
or charged a woman with equality.
(When circumstances change,
usually so does the hand that feeds them.) Galvanized
doctors scuttle the dead and dying rich in revealed range,
hooking centerblock experience windfall, chrome river beds
and sex sweets simmering on the back burner, surf bitters
sent off on waivers to the crowd of generic ritualisms,
battle ax comfort, prototypically. Are still the poets dead? Caught
in the kitchen rush or pillows they trust?
Am I? I amAmerican Punk.
Am flying basement brittle,
born toy deep below windless bedrock walls,
loopholed behind Miss Nye's ivory white picket
fence with pimpled vow spelling out breath withdrawal
symptoms, swearing on myself as the preacher
of procrastination, predestined powdersprings
of mirth. Yo! American feeble, I'll lay
it right here for you. I've traded
my bible belt for a spiked water spout, pampered
steel, and absurd corrosive wordslinging on the half-shell,
not pearled oysters like the sea king, but shysteristic shards
from the dark, shattered windowpanes reduced to broken nails
airwave hell has pounded! I stagger into your neighborhoods.
I fear no evil. Danger Zone is the marrow, my bone. Danger
is poetry dancing in the nude in spite of the weather.
Words are only words, purpose is only purpose,
and life is only the value of a dollar? Liquids or solids?
Conversion or vice? Best laid plans of nuclear fission or ice?
I am one who has bargained to dismantle language,
the earth's crust, sanctuary or bust! You there
neatly dyed in the polymorphic suit
have no monopoly on public prejudice, the nest, or the brute..
Nor do I, a white nigger sold on the welfare time stings.
But isn't it okay to do that in that space only?
(When circumstances change, usually so does
the silent serpent dancing.)
By the vastness of our viscera, we were slumped down in bedrock
and whistling a tune to the enemy. After cursing the opening
stage fall into Piccadilly's eternal pocket, a loose economy
of patches, rashes, rigged ashes, and a day at the races
we cornpone preachers illegitimately have borne,
and after a handful of carnal conversations
with every trisectable phantom we bleed ripe and rosy,
I felt bundled with bald omens gripping campus
corpus the very base of my throat. Relentlessly
educated and clever to a tee, teepee, and piss,
they in codified glee teased me for lack of natural speed,
the sterility of this secret once known as my seed,
even to the ox-point configuration of my wondering
if scrubbed in suds of motion perpetual,
might ancient tree tigers spring the molested eccentric
from here. And the more I wondered, floundered, blundered
for le mot juste, the more I exposed some new cheer,
a sudden reversal to revere, I would die a near death,
killed cold caught living the ultimate sequel.
IV. Lipstick stains on demand
Stones coat the industrial lips of desert dwellers,
encyclopedias the outboard teeth of the urban devout,
one thing certain, another quite sure, with or without a celestrial shout,
the answer to an off color riddle is a joke to kill time
ill in its innocense still clinging close to American soil
in bremstralung search for the algorithm of flowers,
primed for another confessing, another blessing
in disguise. Truth in advertising.
Angels can't french kiss.
Stony goats ploughing
the city, raise whole fig cities
well-spoken, and billy
Countdown to creation in a bloodless dream,
from freckle to dimple to raids on an echoed melanin
scream! War orphans giving brain jobs until the gurus flow
like tap water, strategem shanks oily, vigor evaporating
from applied lakes and likes of youth, its constant sentence,
irreparable articles of clan, standard mystifications,
capital gains and losses deductible on tax day
blitzing the eager populace...
both the naughty and the nice! It moves right along, profunct!
It proves right nor wrong, profunct! We've never known
such maniacs as are stepping out tonight! Inform
the settlers along Perception Coast! Welcome! The Apocalypse
arrived! Test the Wisdom of Our Ages! Science the foul boast!
The beast of the west strikes in combat the best of the east.
I glance at my watch, tear it off my wrist, and sling
it into the fireplace to watch time fly. I lift
my glass to toast the rally,
the tally of the lion and the lamb...
Look to names.
Discover the science of naming.
Thou Art Identity, pure scatterings beyond proof.
Extension of thought arrangement, syncopating magnetic
snorts scorning the stubborn who enslave decency, capsized
by unannotated gust time after time in rural crisis,
quotients unresolved, contrived interpretations
the natural vacuum of sanity, moral gravityits purse.
Polar explorers. Deep Space interlocutors. Asians.
Textiles. Marijuana. Mantle cracks. Crab claws.
Crab canons. Some others. It's natural to be picky,
but can we afford it?
Our pavilion sky full of holes. Daily howls
ev'ry torquing wind, and still lost, the new leader. Yet near
the imaginary borders of the laws of grievance, gossip
of the groundhog is heard: Abandon with care!
Abandon if you dare! Abandon the false bridges
surfacing here and there! Take note mild peoples,
through the hustle of hysteria such maniacs are gaining ground,
their shadowsuits black with the ascendant
soot of these times. Extreme examples are easy to appraise.
Young woman found murdered behind the poet's house,
her breasts lopped off. Unnumbered unappreciated boys of noise,
appendages stuffed down their throats unable to cough. Poisons
like appliances in every household via the public works,
and yet the reality is clear to those questioning chaos.
Systems are not at faultweak people are.
Yet, we hold these truths
to be self-evident, embracing yesterday's clay pigeons
the pig and the horse suffer different betrayals,
different raffles of the soul, and still survive
America's whale busy purifying
the belly of Man.
V. Pentecostal tilings of symmetry
Crude nihilistic memberships are dying in vain,
drying up, strung out, near blind, culture moles digging disgrace
near the edge of fallow smoky canyons, fast lane epitaphs
carved like focal point pock marks along castaway
sandbox minds, taught in tune, initiating
the ruse of roses never rising from the schoolgrounds
where rude encyclopedia henchmen improvise a flair for inertia,
ironclad alibis, and pray the maxim of death for ware gain,
whispering bitter nothings to a nothingness crowd
of fractiled etymology, knots in the family tree
an affrontary to the wet harridan pulling
at some shrill vice-infested despair,
a full-time job no First or Second or Fifth Amendment
can protect from the flippancy or the unfair flipside of regret.
Spitting into songs of the textbook ocean,
the switch is made as she slings off her dirty blouse,
popular semantics, and skilled treasons against ancestors
just to dive beyond the salt licks her genomic wounds
manufacture in a fit of common failing.
Rich in veins of cobalt kick,
marigold bronzed breasts heavy in holding patterns
glisten as the polite sun welcomes
her stable heritage, the broken symmetry of an oral history
evaporated on a whimper and a scowl
as she cups the left mound in geological stare of indifference
pulling the nipple in passage from time
to space to whatâ€™s happening theatre
and the surplus of poets from the missing homeland.
The farceur of fame jiggles the lock becoming the only
preditor to seize her, rape her, eyes of glass now telephone poles.
I am hiding near the trees. Against the orange cliffs. Yet I hear her,
breathing hard like the winds of approaching war. She sucks
rabidly, standing waist deep in the burnt
Pacific, her prized parcel of promise
in her hands but not in her mouth.
She lifts the other fan to her expanding pinched lips,
soon strictly well-endowed, a product of milleniums of misery,
memory and the angles dark sky must embrace to survive,
her fingers lightning talons of revenge. I am the intruder. She falls
backward into hooks of icy water, solutions of surface tension,
scaling arms, balloons, flags, sentiments, in surgical precision
as pillaging grey seals fly off the rugged corporeal coast
of the Isle of Modern Man's Fatal Flaw
as observed by me alone before I am struck self-conscious.
Rumors are true. I am neither poet nor pilot yet have no choice
save to sneak a little closer, a little closer to the edge
where to strike the bargain of loneliness
with sampled voice is to strike a blow
for Our Lady of Contrapuntus.
She is ancient, numbers fail to register her complaint.
I am quite young. Not quite a virgin.
Discharge came unusually easy for me, watching the hag,
my psychological deficiency preventing normal orgasm
unless excited by strange and gospel experiences. I never
ejaculate with my wife, even unto raw, bloody pulp,
but I love her despite my ailing loins.
She farts along thy escalator,
ranting more nothings, but scarcely aloud.
And be warnedcompany policy invents the turn
of the century as a chorus of clock rats exploiting
public transportation rise up through the cracks
in the system they believe defiled them, humming
a hymn to frontal lobotomy, fully automatic.
Even unto the end of the world.
Obligating no one to spare him,
a gentle steed is seen strolling green pastures
the city of Washington with nature cooperates
as steady reminder that power in the mainstream's
a slick chemistry and wave function few can manage
over time without heat at steady interval
and periphrasis. His name is Lom, the bard of old news. Erudite tattooes
slip into the mind saying, "Long live intergeographical solidarity!"
I laugh, identity stripped, crawling inside my skin, worms in toil.
"I am the victor! I am the scholar of my own crimes!"
Vivid explanations and kisses unfurled,
flags hiding the limbs of functional anarchy. The end.
Welcome wild citizen! You have just ebbed. It says so
here in the newspapers. Enter familiar rubu. A walking fare walking,
posed as functionary, thinking of excuses for seeking shelter
in the deadly rain, rain to row row row
your boat, I am with sistrum, and borrowing
the loose mouths of twelve thousand unpainted virgins,
neither male nor female, the question of the hidden scale,
who sing "no no no no no no no no" we protest against
this swindle of bones. Vultures feeding on stars and stripes. But then
who would have guessed that old Henry Miller, limp cock
in hand, would remember the limping scorpions
hitchhiking across yellow deserts, offering
bizarre flogged, sterile, franchised explanations
coupled with pity wampus wedding expectations
of a generation fickle and prostrate,
fondled beyond all recognition,
decayed blurred frankness
the new master race,
Castrating pawnbroker peace an election day disposal,
savage purple the color of their eyes! Spirit Misers.
Unstamped caprice. Voices that need attention...
(A very slow thing to conceive, never mind
the inconveniences. They are said to be
temporary and forgettable.)
Here lies a gifted reader.
Here lies a civil servant.
Here lies an ancient myth.
All rise to Sane Revolution!
"Sane?" the Great Crowd grubbed in vain.
Facing the radical Middle Class mingling in makeover,
we know rainbow truth is easier to swallow than weaponry lies,
and we suffer clear hope that all this America trashing will stop on a dime,
okay with you this time? Clear it with the boss, whatever it takes,
the season, the reason, better than one thousand lakes
of irony, of skin, of skirting the fickled flames,
the shoe is on the other foot this time, the brakes
are set, so embrace the flower, forget the roots.
America the Quick has forgiven you.
The poet takes off through the alley,
lunch is probably on the table. Bologna and onion
sandwiches, a Macintosh apple, a Black Label beer,
the tongue of near champions unmoved by promises,
fear, of a better life in the country where chaos theory
speaks louder than words on cold poorly lit soapbox or page.
Meanwhile, I squat starving, naked, hysterical, once removed,
cheering the baton unshifting bravery twirls as it's passed,
as it's passed from me to you, as it's approved
by me by you until each spectrum of prophetic light
peers forward from the sixteenth note of our past
to right each wrong in homeward flight. Amen.
[ 1982, Atlanta, GA ]