January 31, 2013

Apology to a Dog



When I realized the enormity
of your betrayals and treachery,
begun even before my own infancy,
as I was a child of Rape;
I disowned you,
after you disowned me first,
“as a proven evil-doer.” (Neruda)
Don't approach me.
Don't look at me.
Hands off.


I am a True Believer in the One and Only God,
Whose law is Thou Shalt Not
Put other gods before Me or beside Me,
for I am the One and Only True God and Creator
of all Beings, and there is no other. In Me resides the only Majesty, Sanctuary, and Peace,
In an abode of Absolute Silence, where all Eternity is still; a single, Eternal, Moment. 
Changeless.


I am here to honor my violated mother,
and my most-gracious and generous, sensible and blessed,
hardworking, artistic, and god-loving grandmother.
Gone to meet her Jesus at last;
but none of you others at all.

After a century of staring at the wall,
that you built for my prison,
and seeing it multicolored for the very first time,
long after you went blind from eating like a pig,
I realized at last the varied nuance of your crime
against me. For bastardy.
You made a bastard out of me.
You stupid backward idiots in the Lee family of Louisiana and Texas.
And my New York father had "date-raped" my seed into the world.

I do not forgive him for that act of violence
against a defenseless woman in sexual disguise;
against my lovely and one and only mother.
It just about ruined her life, having me.
"I nearly died," she told me several times over the years,
"and you almost died too";
my birth had been so difficult.
And get this, for understanding
the importance
of this
to my development as a human person:
I did not learn it until I was in my mid-forties,
and only from Mickey herself, who
finally could talk to me as an adult.
It explained early mysteries; it made me forgive her.

I do not forgive him for passing his conscienceless oversexed genes onto me;
and to mine. But how could he have known or suspected anything
about consequences, "farther on up the road?"

I do not forgive you for the life without family you left me to.
I do not forgive you for never calling or seeking me out.
I do not forgive you for not inquiring.
I do not forgive you for not answering my letters.
I do not forgive you for not returning my phone calls.
I do not forgive you for "staying out of it," when my sister
put me in solitary confinement for 18 months for grass and LSD.
I do not forgive you for not discussing, at least with me,
my very real grievances with my mom.
She drank too much.
She was an alcoholic in denial.
She deprived Sidney's children and myself with her selfish drinking,
and endangered their sweet lives by drunk driving.
She was unreasonable and spoke in deliberate non-sequiturs;
like Professor Irwin Corey.
When she needed it most, her brave Irish spirit flagged.
Nobody knew that alcoholism was a curable disease.
And you all knew she was alcoholic; but so were you.
But she was passionate enough to sustain it, do her work,
and keep her fresh Irish auburn-haired beauty.
She was charming and agreeable to her friends.
More intelligent than she let on, except to her best friends,
Sharon and Violet;
she was always ready to play the straight man or clown,
if it was proper and amusing to others.
.
Everybody except her jealous little sister liked her.
She was an efficient office manager and receptionist,
and she typed like a flash on those old machines
with even the best of the old hands;
at 120 wpm.

And if she ever made more of herself than she was,
as we all occasionally do,
it was by pointing out that she had been "the personal secretary"
of a certain Colonel Parsons at the Oak Ridge facility of the Manhattan Project--
"We called him Colonel Sargent," she said;
He armed the Bomb over Hiroshima,
setting the trigger at the last moment.

But she put me in jail for a week when my step dad had been dead only three months,
for "talking back."
Parents regularly did that with rebellious kids in the South back then.
She had turned me over to him, when I had rejoined her at 10,
and couldn't think of anything else to do,
when I said a forbidden word twice..

Her younger sister Jess was lean and savage by comparison;
a cruel little bitch with a wimp of a husband who,
at six feet and six inches,
could have taken on Mohammed Ali if he had any guts,
and strong as a chiropractor, because that's what he was;
(Ali would happily have whipped his white racist ass.)
But he wouldn't stop the nasty-tempered drunken racist bitch
from beating me with a belt buckle and kicking me in the stomach and head,
after dragging me upstairs by my hair, drunk as Caligula,
because I had said at her pasta dinner, cheerfully,
"Pass the cheese, please."
She was jealous because she was barren, and her sister got pregnant
from mere looks.

Sid had to drive the 140 mile trip to and from Lake Charles to Houston
for my retrieval; he was grim;
a mustang captain of combat engineers, he never lost control;
but would not let me even discuss it
as he drove like a barrel full of nails with not another word..
I was wrong and that was all there was to say about it,
"So just sit there and be quiet, Michael."
Later, I was surprised to learn that my older sister had gotten Bill off his ass to "do something!"
to stop the beating and my incessant screams.
Another stupid pompous professional overeducated too rich racist snob go-along,
who did more damage than he ever knew.

I do not forgive you for calling my mother a liar,
my once-dear Uncle Sherman,
while she laid lifeless under her concrete slab;
your own elder sister,
who loved you to death,
and would have defended you with her life,
when she protested that she had been made drunk and then raped
on the steps of the San Jacinto Monument,
 in November, 1940, after dinner on a "blind date,"
 with her best friend Sunny Brown;
who fared better weather,
moved to California,
and married a millionaire..

I was growing in her belly
like a regular consumer,
and then my
son of a bitch father
abandoned us in Chicago,
after taking us there
from New York's Upper West Side;
The White House in fact,
where she had followed him pregnant,
having wisely insisted on his address
in the unlikely event
that he would rape
or perhaps even kill her..
He just took us there and dumped us before I was a year old.
Like refuse.

She left me with a neighbor and fled home to Mama
and the little girl she had not seen for a year.
When she did not return,
The neighbor gave me to Chicago.
But my grandmother found and saved me,
becoming my legal guardian.

I finally found the son of a bitch in Las Vegas,
after casually scanning phone books for 40 years,
when he was in his 80s and too frail to come to the phone.
His protective daughter, younger than me, did not even suspect
that she was talking with her bastard half-brother.
She knew nothing about his life on the run from the FBI
for Draft Evasion;
 the fucking coward.
My mother finally confided that he
had tried to turn her into a whore.
I spent a whole day in the Plattsburg, NY, library
with the Town Historian,
that gave me a lead that I froze for years...
what difference would it make, anyway?

If you
are interested in seeing
the subtle intertwining,
and unlikely combinations
of safes that no one can crack,
without high explosives;
then just try to track
the genetic rivers and streamlets,
through vast vodka gimlets,
with flattered words spoken,
promises broken, whiskey glass broken,
and hard dicks always intruding,
and hands grabbing your ass,
eroding fate lines on your sad,
and dying, funny face;
Sid's favorite song for her was,
"My Funny Valentine."

Mickey was better than that two-bit nowhere cardboard town;
DeRidder, Louisiana, and DeQuincy, where she sprouted,
 she told me.
I can vouch that De Quincy is not worth a shit.
The guy who owns the only hardware store
doesn't really know
what a real paint brush is;
or what it does.
And he can't even cut glass.
Even his new hammers are rusted.

My mother Mickey Lee had class;
she liked to read and learn about things.
And she was still pretty in her coffin, dead at 60,
with her cancer-killed hair dyed an unnatural red,
her body donated to science
to pay for her funeral,
and her skin already harvested
by those little skin lawn mowers,
those living cell sowers,
rolled up like carpets of lawns for transplanting;
but her skeleton dressed well and padded;
and me not even suspecting
that even the skin that I knew her by,
the skin that was my own, the blood,
my own;
the smell of it,
the ruddy Irish blush of it,
my own;
the infrequent friendly brush of it,
was totally gone.

I am not a forgiving person,
despite my principled grandmother's wise advice;
unfortunately for us all.
And fortunately, I am not the violent person,
that you seem to fear I am; not a'tal.
Nor was I ever, though I was a marine four years and two months,
who was shot at only by his own officers.
I collected precious butterflies as a kid, and read books
that Mickey Lee bought for me.
She passed to me as a gift or curse
her own insatiable wanderlust.

I am like and now pity
the poor pit bull,
that would crunch
and tear my head off, 
if he only could;
Because I hurled big stones and sincere curses at him,
simply for boasting in the middle of the night,
every night,
all the tedious,
barking, thought-disrupting nights,
that he was a primo dog too,
with inalienable dog rights;
entitled to as much doggie-style
sex as the bitches,
that he smells from all over town,
all gettin' down
for the ritual of screwing
to propagate the race of dogs;
commanded to avoid extinction; all the fucking that they
could stand still for; and if the gang rapes had been not stopped short
by a kick ass pit bull like himself, the poor pregnant bitch,
still seeping hormones, well they would have fucked her to death;
the hot hungry dogs,
only there for the fucking and fighting,
and incidentally the food.
He would kick some ass to get some of that.
It was what he was made for.
But humans had anchored him like a statue.

And the respect as well,
from lesser males,
because he was Alpha,
and they all were pussies to him..
He could and would bite their sorry arses and hang on,
as he was designed to accomplish;
and so would his Line;
if only the people,
who liked him too much,
would simply unbind him from the damned tree--
his only sanctuary from the likes of me,
and maybe even from  thee.

This dog could drive you crazy.
He was an obnoxious aggressive and monotonous dog,
with a RUFF! RUFF! RUFF! RUFF! every six to 16 seconds
all the livelong blog-slog night.
Rarely a whole minute passed quietly,
when I tried to concentrate and write..
No, I would bark at myself too,
and vow eternal hatred
for the stupid old man,
who keeps pens in a can,
and, who didn't even see
that the book wasn't right;
the plan wasn't working;
the characters were grotesque in their perfection.
and that the dog
was meant to stop me;
to make me sort it out again and start over;
'Keeping hope alive'.

Thank you at least for that,
Dog;
You mindless, horny, canine son of a bitch.
(It would have been a passable but bad first novel.)

So, I am sorry,
and humbly beg your pardon,
Dog.

But the rest of you can go fuck yourselves.



January 28, 2013

Ants


 
When I dream as I often do,
I dream of people and situations,
and sometimes I dream of you.
Okay, I almost always dream of you.

You have a dozen faces,
I see you in many places,
and they are always twisted or impossible:
crumbling skyscrapers shaped like spiral ziggurats,
expensive homes in Ho-Ho-Kus,
penthouses without cigarettes,
and expensive cars that go nowhere.

You are always embarrassed to see me again,
yet friendly and dismissive of the past;
and always are you surprised.
I am always on the verge of tears.
I can never find my way out of there,
not wanting to have intruded in the first place;
I was not even looking for you.

I hate myself for leaving you,
and you and you and you and you and you.
We speak of bland and nothing things
and never broach the truth.
Then suddenly you disappear with a promise
to return; but you never do.

I never can find my way out of there until I wake.
Improbable elevators take me in the wrong direction,
stairs become ledges over chasms where a slip
would fling me to my death on 72nd Street.
Buildings become squalid rooms, hasty huts,
and rusty vans;
people become silhouettes.

No one but me knows your name,
or mine;
and no one I meet
remembers you.
I am sure it's a conspiracy of silence,
and you’ve told them all about me:
how I did this and didn’t do that,
and what a ridiculous mistake it was in the first place.
You fascinate and leave them laughing
with you and never at you,
but at me, whom you were so surprised to see,
I suspect; but never know if it’s true.
They sympathize. And forget.

I wake in pain and clarity,
rush deliberately through my necessary ablutions:
rituals of the aged, rusted, and blue.
The false teeth, the sandy eyes, 
the coffee machine that never lies.

Lighting a forbidden cigarette, 
I start the blessed machine
which makes it easier to spell;
I sit and describe with defective words
the dream that made me feel like hell.
Pills don’t help and forgetting is beyond doing.
So I keep traveling in discomfort on my chosen road,
Going alone everywhere that I can pay for,
Trying not to make contact
With anyone that I might dream about;
alighting from flight wherever I can land.

I almost never dream of men,
and of the ones I know outside of dreams,
all are strong and memorable like myself 
but not like me.
I am stronger alone and weaker 
than all of them together,
standing barefoot alone in my cell.
And those aren’t dreams, but memories,
of men who seemed to understand
that I'm a solitary wanderer,
and not without purpose or good intentions, 
whoever I am.

They bless and admire or condemn me for it,
and one who thought he wanted
to be like me suffocated in a tent 
from too much mayonnaise,
and lonely for his innocent, abandoned family.

They laugh at my elaborate stories,
and praise me for being so adventurous.
I look them straight in their uncomprehending eyes,
and modestly say nothing of consequence.
I’ve learned to simplify my rococo descriptions
with plain words and bare essentials,
mentioning only places and idiots I might have known,
their foibles and crimes or praiseworthy intentions,
while I, bored yet fascinated with their empty lives,
so much like my own,
consumed them like fuel for a Rube Goldberg machine.

I don’t know why I do it, except perhaps
that I temporarily need some attention.
But everything I recount
could have gone without mention.
I only want to see the unknowable;
the cosmic pulsating net of existence outside my
poor world of nonsense, stupidity, and futility.

I never knew why I lived or exactly how
it came to be this way.
I know no one else to blame
than myself; it was my trip and none other.
But it started with my grandmother.


I know there is not a single soul
on earth who even knows me,
and those who thought they did
have probably forgotten my name.

I’m grateful to whatever God there is
for the life I lived in torture and pain.
It was a life after all. And a punishment.
It’s almost finished now,
and I am glad but frightened and regretful
that it might have been better-lived,
If only I had found the key to the elevator
off of the ziggurats of loss and re-acquaintance,
even if you never did return.

I wake into another dream, and yet another,
each more unexplainable than the last.
Why am I traveling still?
Why am I still alone?
Because I snore, I tell myself,
and want to wake no one.
I don’t want them to see me at all,
much less, know me; or I, them.

I’m pleasant to strangers and horrible to my friends.
I drive them off or try to leave them laughing.
We shake hands and hug and always end up waving
goodbye at a bus stop.
What a relief to get away from the burden
of them thinking that they know me.
I could tell true stories reducing them to silence,
because their words would disappoint me.

So I leave them there to live their lives
completely independent and free of me,
and slightly puzzled, if that; there is work to do.
And then they go about living their lives
as if I had never been there at all;
and I am comforted, knowing,
that I cannot interfere, influence, or enthrall.

Each new or old place that I visit,
never intending to settle,
has seen me never or once before.
But no one remembers me at all,
or, if they do, they have forgotten
the essential thing: that I
am unknowable and improbable; even impossible.

I passed through incredible scenes like a ghost myself
with total disinterest, yet inscribed by every passing occurrence.

I believe in nothing that isn’t real,
and reality is the greatest illusion.
I believe only in the unbelievable
connection of all things.
I  cannot and will not
try giving it a name.

But you keep returning to my dreams
like a ghost that won’t depart.
The dream that bends my mind;
the one that breaks my heart.
I awake thinking it is important
to write it down, even though,
I know that
I cannot do it justice.

I’ve learned to swallow the tiny ants
invading my sugar and my food.
It is impossible to remove them
without starving myself.
I don’t know what their microscopic chemistry
is doing to my own metabolism,
except that I feel like part of them:
tiny, ubiquitous, and unknown;
And even less necessary.

At least they have a vital part
in the unknowable scheme of things.
They live like me to die to feed others.
While I, a third arm crippled by a bullet
that was never fired, and blessed or cursed
by intelligence, memory, and talent that went nowhere,
hang uselessly, atrophied, wishing that it would fall off.
Painlessly, of course.
.

January 19, 2013

Kindred


V II
The Seeker
By Pablo Neruda


I left to find what I lost
in enemy cities:
streets and doors closed on me,
they attacked me with fire and water,
they hurled shit at me.
I wanted only to find
broken toys in my dreams,
a small glass horse
or my exhumed clock.

No one wanted to understand
my melancholy destiny,
my absolute disinterest.

In vain I explained to women
that I was not out to steal anything,
nor to murder their grandmothers.
They screamed with fear at the sight
of me climbing from a cupboard
or entering through the chimney.

Still, through long days
and nights of violet rain
I made my expeditions:
furtively over the roofs and tiles
I crossed, passing through
those hostile mansions,
and even under the carpet
I fought and fought against forgetting.

I never found what I was looking for.

No one had my horse,
or my loves, or my rose
I lost like so many kisses
on the waist of my beloved.

I was imprisoned, mistreated,
misunderstood and wounded
as a proven evildoer,
and I no longer seek my shadow.
I am as serious as the others,
but miss what I loved:
the leaves of sweetness
that fall one by one
until you are ever motionless,
truly naked.


 V II  
El Que Busco´
De Pablo Neruda


Sali a encontrar lo que perdi´
en las ciudades enemigas:
me cerraban calles y puertas,
me atacaban con fuego y agua,
me disparaban excrementos.
Yo solo queria encontrar
juguetes rotos en los sueƱos,
un cabillito de cristal
o mi reloj desenterrado.


Nadie queria comprender
mi melancolico destino,
mi desinteres absoluto.


En vano explique a las mujeres
que no queria robar nada,
ni asesinar a sus abuelas.
Deban gritos de miedo al ver
que yo salia de un armario
o entraba por la chimenea.


Sin embargo, por largos dias
y noches de lluvia violeta
mantuve mis expediciones:
furtivamente atravese 
a traves de techos y tejas
aquellas mansiones hostiles
y hasta debajo de la alfombra
luche´y luche´contra el olvido.


Nunca encontre´lo que buscaba.


Nadie tenia mi caballo,
ni mis amores, ni la rosa
que perdi´como tantos besos
en la cintura de mi amada.


Fui encarcelado y malherido,
incomprendido y lesionado
como un malhechor evidente
y ahora no busco mi sombra.
Soy tan serio como los otros,
pero mi falta lo que ame:
el follaje de la dulzura
que se desprende hoja por hoja
hasta que te quedas inmovil,
verdaderamente desnudo.



 
  


     

 

January 18, 2013

"Take my advice; don't listen to me."




Nearly three whole hours of sleep that time wow...dragged by dream and memory from bed ...an hour of listening to him read his stuff and not an honest word in it...no stab of pain no piercing puncture of disrespect or dishonor or self-disgust not a failure anywhere...just that lazy self-satisfied laconic amused superior look back at what must have been excruciatingly lonely experience he's competed all his life to surmount and hide behind poses...dream made me so angry I had to drag body from bed put on back brace start coffee wash eyes with eye cup and bottled water to dislodge persistent Mexican sand and turn on computer so I can get it off my chest with a cigarette sugar and flying fingers.

I'd rather read Rumi for love Neruda for love and politics Hemingway for honesty Rulfo for mystery Gorky for outrage Lenin for cleverness Sartre Camus and Russell for intellect Faulkner for characters Cormac McCarthy for story O'Connor for macabre Dillard for craft Aeschylus Jesus for essence Gandhi and King for hope Pericles for wisdom or even Obama for commonsense...than novels produced as regularly as turds whose stink still lingers 24 hours later...for Christ's sake is there any honesty in you ..you  boast brag pose and use big words to show us what an intellectual you are...look at all the stuff you have done wow. Impressed. Really. Like hell...I'm not stroking you..only mild hints at resentment of injustices by deadbeat dad, of which I was confessedly one...where is the inside?

I'm jealous of course...can't even look at my own novel...and it's the best thing I've ever attempted to write...it will never see publication either and who cares?..what is another novel in the glutinous mountains of words stacked already?...so that I can be admired praised and paid-for?...I gave up on that dumb dream when I heard real poets and read better writers...if I can't match them what's the use?

Jealousy envy pain hate bitterness lonely defiant suicidal and plain pissed off is what...yes I know how weak it makes me look but it's true...Kerouac true...sons of bitches with their positivity and fruitless "message art of hope" and grayed-out graffiti...looming $50,000 fines...and surfing the net to find a dancer who hates me for loving her...another white teaser...admiration her daily bread...all the best schools and more friends than flies and my three best friends dead in no time at all...all honorable men...me left with nothing nothing nothing just as I figured it might be but pushed ahead with anyway...all the time working my ass off just to pay for gas and stay out of your hellish jails...yes I resent it and scoff at your gutless prose ugh...and your silly experimental plays...I'd rather burn to death than publish that crap...crap you have to pay to smell...better things to waste my money on...denture adhesive pain medicine rice and beans while watching swollen ankle from looming blood clot...but keep trying but as for me I see no shame in not trying at all...and why the hell can't I find a decent English dictionary in this godforsaken country crawling with North Americans and Englishmen?

Ah, that feels better already...you say your friends are dead too and you are dying too?...why aren't you crying then?...why haven't I heard a howl of truthful pain yet?...because you are a winner man...you've crafted your persona well...medals and pensions for proof... but you're dishonest as hell and you haven't surpassed your dad yet...although you must have been a better father and a better fuck too from what I heard...you never thanked me either.

Yeah...I wrote this for you but you will never read or acknowledge it if you do.

I keep remembering what an old true friend told me about you a long time ago..."He's posing even when he's taking pictures."

"Don't get up, gentlemen/I'm only passing through."