Posts Tagged ‘Nickel’

Get Reminded Of The Time I Tossed Chickens Into The Sea

19 Aug


Gabriel Thy, Child Harolde's


Originally published on August 19, 1997

Sueball celled in from Saint Thomas last night before reboarding the liner. She & her Aunt Lou are a fog of champagne sizzle, two larks clinging to a swizzle stick. I could smell the fun on her breath from here. It's brutal without her at home for this long, but you know me, I'm soaking up all the quiet I can. I miss her, but it'll be Labor day until we baby dance together again. With that clanging in my left ear I've carried since London '92, my days and nights pass eerily as if in the dark woods or high farm, bull crickets and the silence of nothing but the fan. Alone, no pressure to succeed, no terms of regret, no inkling of failure or gestures of redoubt. Hints of a new routine, say for instance an evening walk around the neighborhood, a dip into the city, a relaxing drink in the backyard nirvana will probably not happen. She tells me I don't know how to relax. I tell her she is correct.

No, I've stayed inside avoiding the heat, but I've noticed these inner stirrings. Today is twenty degrees cooler, but even so, I hack away at this terminal, working, planning, fooling myself I'm living life with some great plan to succeed. Me, I just do what I can, and try not to aggravate or be aggravated by every whim and weasel this world has to offer. Guess I'm still stewing over Blumstein's bluster because I don't know where it came from, life?

Life is not always a home-brew. Life is what happens to you when you are busy making plans for something else. You said that before, but that's the steel and the gristle of it. Nothing's any more clear than that. Now the chicken farm is gone. My mentor (of hard work) has been dead for ten years, and the farm I helped build, torn down. Life? Yeah Bob, lemme sit at your feet, such wisdom.
Life? That word just swooped in on me and I cannot fathom why or how he intended to mean it other than demeaning me. But, I'm way off the path of solitude when I let Bob crash my peace. He gave a blanket apology. Back to the crickets in my bad ear, the purr of the fan at my feet, and the allure of the Internet where anybody can be somebody and everybody can be nobody, but none of us can ever know the difference until we do the work.

I associate this aural reverb with Lofton Creek FL, the chicken farm days, the cabin, the unbelievable stench of forty thousand birds that one learned to ignore, the long lonely weeks without ever seeing much less talking to or being heard by another human being, my daily summer skinnydipping with a bar of floating ivory soap, vegetarianism for the most part except the hand-picked smoked birds the landlord had stashed in the chest freezer, the daily diet of cheese and grapes and rye bread, the flood of imaginary lovers, the hurricane waters, and I busy, by lamplight writing my first serious, pressure poems of a lifetime, poems I still read with enthusiam today (aching to plug online), those ten mile hikes into town, Dylan Dog who looked and acted just like Nickel Dog, getting buried in three hundred year old literature checked from the library, Will Durant, and a steady feed from PBS.

I was 24-25. Young, thin, even skinny. Long sun-bleached blonde hair to my shoulders. Some say I looked like Jesus. Others John Lennon. Without the beard, Peter Frampton. Full of zest, vigor, and the peaceful easy feeling the Eagles sang about. Life is not always a home-brew. Life is what happens to you when you are busy making the bed you will sleep in tonight. We've heard all this wordplay before, but that's the steel and the gristle of it. Nothing's any more clear than that. Now the chicken farm is gone. My mentor (of hard work) has been dead for ten years, and the farm I helped build, torn down. Life? Yeah Bob, lemme sit at your feet, such wisdom.

Have you heard the recent uproar about the thousands of fish sporting nasty abcesses on their smelly scales first in North Carolina, and now the schools that prowl the Chesapeake? After nearly a year of mystery, these problems are being blamed on chicken farm runoff, a feathered excrement tragically high in nitrogen and ammonia gases running off into the streams and creeks straight into the ocean waters. That's some high octane chicken gas that survives the plunge into the sea. Chickens. Who knew back then...



01 May

I am in disgrace, imposed
Strictly between the lines hunger drew,
Composed of
I had it! I had it!
But a poor speaker gone near-public
With a whetted conscience of mayonnaise
And economic morality gone sour,
I jerk off into another memory, sifting
My self-rising hour, shifting on my feet
Like an entrepreneur trading promises,
Looking to the burning bush for better days.

I've been swallowed by that whale,
Caught in the drift of a dedicated urge.
I had it, I'll borrow to
Replace it in one revolution or two.
Yes indeed! I had it to give it
Its proper massage at face value,
To grease the palm tree with coconuts
Or oil spilt during an afternoon's taboo.

If'n you are polite, say
You are void of impulse, and
Let it go at that, say no thanks
But I have to go. (Periodically
Perjury is a motive known
To the best of legends.)
I had it, almost.

Language, your honor,
Is mere alphabet dirt. Abandonment is energy
Too sharp to touch without furor,
But say, haul it in,
Taste beyond contentment
The release
Doing its own work,
And other mad values captioned in crime.

Strapped to thyself against the deck, say
Blow, say blow bay blow, say
Grab up cane and tame the vicious dog.
Know that fear's elect echoes no chorus
But somehow somewhere sometimes forgets
To clothe itself with dignity befitting
Its call, say howl Allen Ginsberg
If you chance meeting him
In occupied territory
Where gods wrestle and speak, say
Speak to us in whale. And to the last word
Nymphomaniacs and their guessing captors,
Legging margins across the dispassionate land, say
Hey button those blouses open to angry remarks
Ruthless enough to Naomi, say
Juggle yesterday's summer
Until parenthetical dawn, say
Nothing to Walt Whitman,
Ezra say Pound, the captain of swans,
Willie Mays say hey Neil Young, say
My, my, say, nothing
To the brash Elvis, research impulsive,
Or Johnny Rotten in the heat
Of awkward citizenship.

And Mother Alibi, say the key to happiness
Won't open the door
Where implication and silence
Are only as good
As each word implies,
Say, how is it every time I pray
I feel like deodorized vomit, say
Souls grow on bones but die beneath
Banker's hours, say
Tell us your name whale, and
We'll make you a star, casting
Matches like chorus lines
Between government issues, say
Where do we hang our hammock, say
Hope a man will cut his hair
Simply to punctuate a sentence, or
Fix his neighbor a cheese sandwich, say
To Delilah Mae Jones,
Samson is dead. Say, but
There has come another greater than he, say
Welcome y'all, say crab canons are delicious
Ways of life, say whales of America
Are a sign to insurance agents.

If'n you are angrily plundered, say
Do not be tricked by men, say
But let them trick you, sampling
Their techniques
So that you are never sent to the orchards
To gather unbias pickles, say
Pairs of excuses are unexplainable
To a whale who is strictly vegetarian
For reasons only the father knows, say
Midnight cravings innocently coded
In hollow rhetoric
Are useless to the slayers of
Civil disobedience, say
Navel oranges tapered to grip expense
Sit down, roll around, gnaw bones, shape knees,
And remind us that chaos is culture, say
Practice what you preach, say
Silence. I am in disgrace, almost.

[ 1982, Atlanta, GA ]


"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""