Saturday, March 03, 2007


And It Won't Be Long

I met Teresa under the white neon Josephine Tobin sign at Woodlawn Lake. She was soaked, bedraggled, and completely flustered by the monsoon weather. She had her Psy. D. in hand—it, too, was withered by the storm.

I pulled under the Tobin arch, rolled down the window, and offered her a stack of postcards from old, dead Peacock Academy. She took one postcard and waved off the rest.

Holding up the sodden diploma, she said, “They told me, they assured me, that this would be the key to my future.”

“Teresita,” I said. “Gainful employ, lovely man, lovely daughter—what’s not to enjoy? You’re not still holding out for the purple Benz?”

She blushed, the exact color of her automotive Grail.

“Okay, okay,” I added. “Nothing wrong with a little Janis Joplin at our age.”

That our smote mightily. The lady was, verily, still but 7-squared. Oceans of time before the half century. I, truly, was beyond the pale, awash in the purgatory of middle age.

She slipped into the front seat of my dog-eared, dog-haired Honda. Leaned in close and whispered, “You won’t tell, will you?”

“Upon the soul of the grandmother of my blue heeler, I am sworn,” qouth I. “I am the soul of discretion. Prithee, do tell.”

She looked off into the flooded night, then back. A gargantuan secret, no doubt. Clearly, she needed something for strength. I handed her the rest of my Mountain Dew. She waved that off, too.

“He told me to meet him here, at five, under the Tobin.”

I nodded.

“The sky was robin’s egg blue then. Not a cloud in the sky.”

Another clerical nod.

“The sky breaks at six-thirty. I’m Ariel by seven; Flipper, by seven-thirty. Eight, Purefoy rolls up. Long stretch limo, armada of Veuve-Clicquot bottles, when the window rolls down.”

“Blinded by gold bronze.”

“Exactly. Behind the armada, an apothecary’s hutch full of tickets.”

“I hear Purefoy is global now. World wide distribution.”

Terry nods. “So, I hand him the diploma. He sniffs it. Sniffs it. I know what it’s worth, but I also know Purefoy. I know it's worth four Bowie tickets, front and center. Dylan, halfway back, maybe—who wants to be that close to Dylan anyway, with that nasty moustache he’s sporting? But again, it’s Purefoy. You know you’re only going to get fifty cents on the dollar. I figure, at the very least, a tidy six-pack of Bachman-Turner Overdrive tickets. Evan will kill me, but at least he can wear his beret and slum with the groundlings.”

“And?” I was eager for the punch line.

“He hands me back the sheepskin, reaches behind without looking, and pulls out a whopping stack of cardboard. Drives off before I can read what he’s given me.”

The arch in my brow is question enough. Save me, please save me, from further travail.

“Fifty tickets, like brine swill, he gifts me with fifty tickets.”

“1910 Fruitgum Company Reunion Tour?”

“Worse yet. New Christy Minstrels.”

“New? Ordovician era would be new. Municipal Auditorium?”

“Krueger Middle School.”

“I feel your pain.” Rotary Club at the Bun and Barrel was posh, by comparison.

The rain was slowing; more precipitation down Terry’s cheeks.

I aimed high. This was, after all, her year. She deserved “Golden Years,” not Well, I'll be a dandy and I'll be a rover. “San Francisco Steakhouse? Two of their sweet Delmonicos?”

She wiped her face on the sheepskin. “Fifty years, I thought I’d go vegan.”

“Oops. There goes White Castle. Big Apple Bagel?”

“The cream cheese is too tempting.”

“I hear you.” If I were a bagel, I would marry the BA’s jalapeño cream cheese. “Rice Dream root beer float?”

Her hand reached across to mine, pretty emerald on the finger that mattered.

“You know the old red carpet at the airport?” she said.

“Remember it well.”

“They moved it to Wonderland.”

Wonderland Mall had been Crossroads for twenty years, but for those of us in Virgil’s waiting room, Wonderland would always be Wonderland.

“No kidding.”

Two eyes now matched the shine on that Ozma beryl. My Honda’s window was rolling down, and fifty cardboard butterflies fluttered off into Josephine Tobin’s night.

“Onion rings before or after?”

“Must I choose?”

Run for the shadows, run for the shadows…

Wednesday, September 14, 2005



all packed in
genocidal swamp
after crumbs of after lives
wormwood desperation

in the eventual, I have given
all my limbs extract
all walls cave & roofs collapse

whose math
whose murmur
whose orange path

dividends paid
verities laid waste

one girl cries from the window:
my home is yours

feral loop
minute affairs unattended

hand held
of other making ancient salt

men from boys
wisdom moored
cracked clay roots

pimpled sarah & her blue baby
cross the nouns of st. peter
belly taut / shattered dreams

— do not leave —

mission burned:

down viaduct
down angels
down violet bloom.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


[Druids, these revealed children]

Druids, these revealed children
Blue umbrellas in the high blaze
Wandered through the plaza de las islas
Came to rest against white stone,

An old man the youngest boy,
Squatting, thighs to calves,
Shower shoes, green shorts and tee and
Someone’s heart broke
This afternoon of orphan time,
Tiny Buddha in limestone shade,
Sister lying prostrate in the heat,
Lifeless, eyes open to searing blue.

Mother wayfare broods,
The bottom of her belly—copious—
Stars fall in the lap of he who wanders
Heart razor-wired to memory
Crossing dreamland, crossing shattered, crossing
The last stitch of time
These gathered ruins
These splattered lives
A boy whose syllables sing the song of 46:

Sundays with fathers missed?
Pennies in his mother’s pocket?

Gather him, gather you
Riverbound, this one cool and
Clear. Gather. Cool hand upon his brow.
Gather. Birdsong in his heart, gold
Sun in his mouth. Count toes, count fingers—
Map the caverns from you to him,
Undertow of privation
Fields of weary, this weary world,
Worry world, worry.

What to give him, he me, my
Pockets too were empty—

My eyes. Here: take my eyes,
New and old,
The palms of your hands,
Cat’s eye, tiger, steelie

Etch your circle and let fly—

Wednesday, July 06, 2005



After the myths had fallen,
grain in the mist of fallen men,
we were chaff, thrown off:
exiled from the kingdoms of want.

We desired pain to cease,
organic hunger to rise:
a ruin's purge in the ache
of last night's Apriled dream.

This was the one we lost,
the one we measured
out of bosom's way:

List: day dawns rampant;
sentinels breed the gathered storm,
this font of wayward moss: green
Mary's kiss will wait no longer.

Stone upon fire,
fire upon stone:
the cardinal remembers well:
carrion on the lawn,
the ostensible wish,
the beryl reeling,
this miscreant faith.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005



JohnWayne debarked from the Ocho Bus at the corner of Ashby and St. Mary’s and strutted down Ashby in the afternoon’s blazing heat. Palm trees, sassy in counterpoint to JW’s own strut, offered no shade or any other kind of consolation: just a slow sashay of long-limbed sticky hips.

JohnWayne’s skirt was a light blue denim, cut at the upper thigh, tilted forward to reveal more leg back than front: it seemed a calculated decision by the homespun seamstress who, with enough trips to the mirror, had figured out where superiority lay. Stodgy Ford grille at the headlights, Thunderbird fins sleek and longing at the rear. She longed: she wanted you to long along with. Farm boys would know that hiked up skirt from a pasture’s worth of Angus heifers: nature’s will to telegraph the ready somehow, when love notes were not an option.

Those legs were worth another paragraph of their own: a fetching orange, burnt sienna, tan in a bottle. The bottle had gone all to the legs: JohnWayne’s face and arms did not match, not by color or texture. Dark, yes, but farm rough. Garnet ear pendants no match for the cowpoke face. Yes, fruit juice would flow down those ski-slope legs, but there were too many mudflats and salt licks in the upper reaches – Valencia orange flesh torn between the chewed lips would pool and sputter, Amoreena (the fruit juice flowing slowly slowly slowly down the bronze of your body, Mr. Taupin) fizzle-dried out.

Still, those UT-orange legs owned the street and she knew it. Shuffling down in the street, not the sidewalk, her head a bob of Joe Namath curls, blood red drops at her ears, two inch platform blooms on her wide splay-toed feet. Tink, in her baby blue tee and camouflage cut-offs perched just southside of the bikini wishing line, stood on the porch of her sea-foam house and marveled at such proprietary dominion. She remembered the Mardi Gras Phantom of the Opera down on Burgundy in the New Orleans French Quarter, tuxedo clad, a six foot crystal chandelier soaring atop his head. Phantom owned Burgundy: thus did JohnWayne own – daily, mind, not just for special occasions – the neighborhood of Ashby and Paschal. Daily, too, was Tink’s unabashed fealty.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Quad slumming with the Rat:

Quad's been hoofing, pigged on catered La Fonda, drowned in ancestral queso. The Institute celebrating 22 years of departing Janet. Twenty-two years of anything is suspect, but 22 years of wanton puffery is bureaucratic leprosy. Quad, guacamole-bloated, was a little concerned that the cheesy clock and picture would be all she wrote and therefore confirming just how needless was that waste of years, but needless waste deserves - and thankfully got - better: fine looking wicker on the veranda, now that's what I'm talkin' about.

Pity Quad: the lurking, lately neutered anarchist was trapped at table with two lamenting vets: Jungle Wad and T-Bone, the former an avowed two-termer in the Kingdom of the Dominos, and the latter a venomous hippie-hating car salesman who no doubt filled Wad's stretchers with boys bent on being all they could be buying brodchen on the streets of Frankfurt, never once dreaming that their dreams would flame in the rainforest chessboard anarchy of Ho's making. T-Bone never saw a conflict he couldn't run (marathon run, mind you) from first, selling the chits of all his surrogates down river, those who, if they thought long enough about it, would jive to the somethin' happenin' here as not their sisterbrothers in the streets, but Mr. Ancira with his no dicker shake and bake down at the station. Woo woo, Chattanooga there you are.

T-Bone: "Our job is to kill and get out." (In point of fact, T-Bone's job was to shill and get out.)

Later, Wad to the breathless nervette at table right: "The new soldiers say, 'Give my life for my country.' We old boys said, 'Take a life for my country.'"

You see why Quad needed double-guac to get through the festivities. In the meantime, Tres Leches has grown desert hot. Last week as the ovens got stoked, Quad quaked: this week his portly round greets the street hail fellow well met, he fairly revels in it, his forehead a tarmac on par with the black tar at his feet.

When not queso-bathing, he's traveling, training cross south Asia with T, who's suddenly sweetened in Burma: pity cries out, a shining black-haired nayad calls to him to leave life and limb for the long sweep of her comb beside the hamlet well, the edge is blithely dulled, cats at bay. Quad can only imagine that something unsaid lurks beneath the procrustean uttered, a lance too close to the heart of the traveling curmudgeon impaled on some lost vision of Upper Burma - Maymyo, Candacraig, Lashio, the Goktiek Gorge.

Quad thinks of St. Anton, the welcome drear of an August winter, world turned upside down, even peas for dinner cannot shroud his splendid gloom. It's been years since Quad has yearned for those tracks, but yearn he does now, chasing T's ass through a madman's chase for Browning luxury in a stand of eucalyptus. He's hocked his pride to enter the poetry sweepstakes, money down on a dark horse to take the rail and fly like a bat out of hell.

He's gearing: PT, Coe, Sinclair, Ackroyd, the aptly named BS Johnson. Pinter in the wings. CM wants to keep him stateside, but even he yearns for Yeats, the Irish Kings, no country for old men. Can he build fire enough to blaze them? Where? And how far? Florence. Orebro. Sifnos. Malaga. Barcelona. Munich. Yerevan?

Leaving Bangkok for Butterworth: 7 in the morning. Ciao.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


horses dark

pour the fat of sweet love
and pain will know you well
all the hours of nights and windows painted through
all the homes of your imagination
second sands the dunes of other seas.
night breaks open:
desire knows when
desire knows how
the heart’s moon a mask
missing the song of the harbor
seals that bathe the mind’s diagonal reef
angles of fugitive riddance, angels of the orange noun
invisible plants of somber elegance drown the room
i am shaken / withered / in equine bloom
my nouns shun the slopes of grassy intent
i am poverty’s rain in your midst
a revolution of blue flowers, aching tumult
trouble rounds the gerunds of errant ardor
and I am bloomed, all semblance colored by lucid dreams
a miracle of chase, an evolution of dark horses
through the crimes of citrine entanglement I am cut:
lapidary fate: crossed by a bat’s vision of sacrifice:
you wore this crystal morn
you shaped this ashen heart
you crowned this amber vision
at the precipice of love’s embrace
detonated folly most warm
down the wisdom of your azure gate

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