7.11 / Pulp Issue

Seven Poems

My Choppers

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are negotiating
with what remains
of my mouth: chew this
slowly, you fool; too sticky,
idiot; asshole,
that side no longer exists…and so on.
Sugar has eaten parts of whole.
The ride of word passion bloodied sanity.
I’ve fucked with the odds; they’ve rendered me
a chalk horse, scratch, even money
to be turned into glue
anytime soon.

This coat hanger of flesh is closer to seventy
than fifty: half a foot of intricate plumbing
and rewiring on my pump, a mouth
full of rot, fingers fattened, gnarled and bent,
eyes blurred with cataracts thick
with liquor and dope hued saturation.

I’ve had a long continuous fist-fight
with death. People were merely pre-lims.
Usually outclassed and not very interesting.
I’ve stuck words
up deaths’ ass more than once.
He was with every woman I’ve ever slept with;
he was between the sheets of every institution
I fell asleep in; every tooth that was pulled
he yanked on; every drunk I’ve ever been on
he found money for; all the senseless mornings
of going to be fired from a job
I didn’t want anyway, he waited,
to put my rage into a my fist,
or vein. A wise and patient man
death is. He’ll have to be.
I’ll fool with him some more.
Death hates Life.
Words are Life. They leap around
like ballerinas in the brain. They make fun
of teeth, and hearts, and pricks, and cunts and balls, and beerbellys,
crooked fingers and phantom limbs; they laugh
at the silly ravings and meanderings of ants;
they are the final hedge against inflation or devaluation
of the soul; they are the salt edged tit;
they provide power
as the game works
on.

Greenwich Village, 2000


The Bathroom at Slugs

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in the far east,
on third, between B&C
was hot. It was over forty years ago
when even taking a piss in there
fucked with your imagination. It smelled
of sex, quinine, morphine, reefer, body odor
and wastes. Before sets, in between, and after
there were lines to get in: singles, often times couples
of the same or different orientation.
There was a kind of understanding: sometimes it took longer
to get hard, or find a vein,
or role and fumble with a stick, and so you waited.
The ones with priority were the musicians. They needed
to do their business and get the hell back. Besides,
in truth, that’s why most of came to Slugs
in the far east village. The other joints
where cats could work ideas into riffs
for weeks or a month or two at a time,
like The Five Spot or Half-Note,
were already dead and gone.

One night late Lee was on the bandstand
blowing hard
sweating into the collar of a stained white shirt,
pin-pricks of dried blood
in the crook of his arm
when his common law entered. She walked up,
opened her purse,
took a gun out,
and shot him dead
during his solo.
She turned, walked calmly back to the bar
and placed a revolver on pock-marked wood
and ordered a drink–scotch, I think. And waited.
Frankie, the bartender, served her without saying a word.

After while people started to breathe, some whispered,
and others went back to the bathroom.
“That no good motherfucka sonofabitch deserved that killin,”
an older chick nearby me said, real quiet,
“that junkie bastard usin her bread for his vein was bad enough,
but his bitch’s vein too, that’s even worser…
someday he be back though, you know dat, hope he learned
his motherfuckin lesson.”
The ambulance came, and so did the cops.
They took out one living and one dead;
which was which I couldn’t say.

I don’t know if Lee ever did come back.
But this I know:
men will be men,
and women women;
that is the task,
and that, my friends,
is the terror.

Greenwich Village, 2007


No Mistake

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The way back home
is not always
the easiest.
Poe’s fall
was not
luck.

Coney Island, 1969


Haagen-Dazs is the Only Pussy I Like to Lick Now

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You don’t have to worry
about freshness
or taste; it is youthful,
unlined, uncreased, unencumbered;
it’s not etched
by experience
and so its face
doesn’t snarl
or bite
from wounds inflicted
by those whose hands
and head and cock
had got there before
and staked claim.

The Dazs tells you nothing
about parents
and boyfriends
and ex-husbands
planted or not; there’s no mention
of friends
who’ve betrayed them
or who ask
for more
than they give;
there are no jobs
and no bosses
who grab their ass
or their time
and in so doing
stake claim
to your time
hearing their little betrayals
after a day filled with your own.
There’s no risk
of syphilis, chlamydia,
yeast
or urinary infections;
no pounds they have to shed;
nowhere they
have to be.
They do not care
what you’ve eaten
before you get to them,
nor what it is you’re watching
as you wait
for them to soften or
that you’re already soft
for that matter.

At my age
I do not care for arguments,
only to stay alive
a little while longer
to catch some more grace
from the gods. I still need
something
to soothe
and morphine and booze
demand too much
of my time
and money.

At one time
I was in love
with the chase,
the battle
of wits,
the jousting
in new mirrors
in strange bathrooms
where the souls
of women are hung
and displayed.
I loved the conquest
and sometimes love
that lasted as long
as two people
having compatible neurosis
would let it.

But now I like my love
measured
in pints
that are easily
replaceable.
If I got five bucks,
or ten,
and I usually do,
I can pull a pint or two
off the frozen shelf
and take it home with me.
I will not have to hear
about the day,
about the kids,
about the disappointments
or the disillusions.
And I will not have to hear
about all the things,
many many things,
different things each day,
I’m not doing.
But could do.
If only
I cared–which I usually never did.
I just put them
in the freezer. And there
they’ll wait
until my need becomes desire
and I’ll strip them bare
and devour them
with a cultivated
style.

Older men
have their ways.

Greenwich Village, 2011


Reincarnation

For K
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I’d like to come back as song,
(this song)
(any song)
inside you
and feel
as you sing
me…

Greenwich Village, 2011


Looking For Prey

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I’ve got one day
a week
to get out
of my lair
and into the jungle
to line up the prey
I’ll devour
over the next six days.
In-between
is spent
working for the hole
I shit in.
I’m an animal
of the worst sort–
old, trapped,
but still needing
to go on.

It’s gotten warm
on this savannah,
and so I sit
among all the fleeter creatures,
legs, knees and shoulders arthritic,
teeth are long and mostly gone,
heart, though quite diseased, resting
for the next quick pump, the next challenge.
I look at them all,
the female and male:
young ones, old ones, fat ones, thin ones,
ass’ pert or like Montana mules,
I measure them,
gauge the distance;
only one out of a thousand
looks like it would make a good meal,
but the old beast must shop
at any store that’s closest, must make do
with meat that’s available,
no matter the cut and damn
the cost.

Most who pass
give me not a second thought;
they do not see the madness
in my eyes, or the hunger,
certainly not the desperation.
I’ve not gotten this old
by showing my cards,
only playing my hand.

A little girl decides to stop
and plop down
on the sidewalk near me;
her mother tries to yank her up
by an arm; her father looks on
seemingly helpless.
The little girl’s face
is dirty, smudged with her last
snack. Her defiant blue eyes
find mine. We look at each other
locked in a fine standoff.
The girl’s forefinger is stuck
so far up her nose
that barely her knuckle shows.
The mother looks at me,
and yanks harder.
She tells the father
to grab the other arm
which he does.
The little girl drags her feet
and looks over her shoulder
at me. Unfortunately,
I don’t have another decade
to wait for her.
Excuse me,
a gentle voice said,
may I sit in this seat?
I swivel my head
right into the eyes
of an eight-five year old.
By all means,
please, I reply.
I watch as she places
her three-pronged cane
into a space that allows her
to settle safely.
My mouth
waters.

Greenwich Village, 2012


There’s So Much Shit

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to shovel out of.
It’s best to learn early
whose shit is whose.
Not that there’s much
you can do about it;
either you deal with it
or not. Every which way
has its consequences:
try to avoid it,
navigate around
or through it, or
pretending it’s not yours
on the natural
or pharmaceutical,
usually nurtures more
of a mess and stink.
But, by all means,
try
each and every twist.

If you’re reading this
you’re already
up to your neck
in it. Please,
don’t stop,
dig a little
deeper.

Greenwich Village, 2012


I've lived a life of madness and mayhem. I've had diabetes for 50 years and have been addicted to one substance of another for 45 of those years. It has been a beautifully joyful and painful schizophrenic ride: drugs, booze, women, music, writing, and learning with each new success or defeat. These poems try to come to grips with all of life's fractures and contains everything--even you.
7.11 / Pulp Issue

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