POEMS

Slow motion high jump

POEMS 1973-1985  |  TUCKER ZIMMERMAN

HELLO UP THERE

there was an old man down in the field
with a shovel
digging large letters out of the foot-deep snow

when he was finished
his hundred-meter-long message read:
HELLO UP THERE

the neighbors laughed
and a passing airplane pilot
thought it was funny too

am I the only one around here
who knows it’s no joke?

THE DEAD-EYE CHILDREN AGAIN

three young people walked by in front of my house
late teens – a boy, two girls
strangers
I said hello
they stared back at me

ah shit, the dead-eyed children again

I said hello a little louder
they stared back at me again
more unfriendly this time

the day always turns a little sour
a little sad
when I meet people who don’t like
to say hello

he had a death’s head emblem
on the back of his jacket

in my daydream I leapt out at them
flapping my arms
« so it’s not fashionable to say hello
anymore – huh? »
I tickled the boy under his arms
« not fashionable – huh? »
tickle – tickle
he swung his fist at me
I ducked – « ho ho ho! »
in my daydream

I went back inside the house
carrying their gift to me:
a wedge between my eyes

GUEST BOOK

before going to bed on the first night
I made the mistake of reading thru
the guest book

when I crawl into a public bed
I often wonder myself to sleep
with the ghosts of those before me

now I knew their names

« move over, Charlie. »
« Louise? »
« hmm? »

sometimes it gets pretty intimate

but I suppose this happens to everyone

yet again until recently
I assumed that everyone as a child
jumped from their roof
using an umbrella as a parachute
I started checked around and found
that I am maybe the only fool
who managed to float to the ground
like a feather

A BUNCH OF BOYS

a bunch of boys up on the road
were throwing stones at our roof
one stone hit the wall
I ran outside screaming:
« just wait until you grow up
and get married
and settle down
and have finally adjusted
to your wife’s silences
my grandchildren
will be just about the right age
by then
to make your lives miserable »

I’m starting to sound
like my own grandfather

THE PLEASURES OF DOWNHILL GARDENING

it was a simple Sunday afternoon
a perfect day for killing peace
when the assassin drove by our house
in a Japanese car
raising dust at a thousand heartbeats a minute
a foot away from our country road door
nearly not missing my toes
but running over my shadow

he’d been seen around lately
wearing a pencil-thin mustache
and a German shepherd dog
selling small packets of dirty mayonnaise
to the children down at the playground

so when he drove by again
I ran out of the house
waving the crippled shadow of my arms
shouting, « we’ve got a small child etc. »

he stopped and said
« I’ve got seven kids myself
and I’ve never killed one yet. »

I heard later that when he arrived back home
and was walking up his suburban driveway
his garage door opened before him
and he was attacked and run over
by seven small children
driving a steam roller
pulled by thousands
of German shepherd dogs

PAVLOV’S DOG LOOP

I know a man with a mind like Pavlov’s dog
his brain must look like a microscopic warehouse
ring a bell
push any word button
and the response is instantaneous

I say « yesterday I was thinking of buttermilk »
and he says, « buttermilk blah blah blah blah . . .  »
« yes but instead I ate a plate of beans »
« beans blah blah blah blah . . .  »
« Yes and I drank a can of beer »
« beer blah blah blah blah »
I play with him like a puppet on a string
« bullshit! »
‘bullshit blah blah blah blah . . .  »
(burp!)
« burp blah blah blah blah »
« blah? »
« blah blah blah blah blah . . .  »

QUANAH: FIRST YEAR STORIES

1. Midnight

Quanah was born at exactly midnight
no one could figure out
if this was the 24th hour of the old day
or the 1st hour of the new
later this led to a heated argument among friends
to which day does midnight belong?
to the one left behind?
or the one coming up?
Quanah lay on the couch, looking up at the light
reaching out for it
he didn’t give a diaperfull of shit
about the discussion

2. « Watch out for the Reptiles »

Quanah woke up in the night
with what sounded like a zoo
in his throat
we phoned the doctor and told him
we heard frogs
mountain lions, pigeons, and pigs
the doctor said it wasn’t serious
until we had identified
at least 6 more different animals
« watch out for the reptiles, » he said

it was Quanah’s first illness
in his career as a human being

3. We Knew It Would Happen Sooner or Later

Quanah fell out of bed last night
fortunately his bed wasn’t on the balcony
of the of 34th floor apartment
(but then again he may have learned to fly)
it was a mere 4-foot drop

so only about 1pp points were knocked off his IQ
now instead of graduating from M.I.T.
in astrophysics at the age of 11
he’ll probably graduate from high school
as a basketball star at the age of 18
instead of growing up to master the 12-octave
polydigital semi-telepathic oscillatron
he’ll probably grow up to play bass drum
in the marching band

4. Birthday

Quanah’s first birthday present
was the sun
setting thru the branches
of a few pine trees
he tried to blow it out

THE BIRD AND THE BERRY TREE

I watched birds strip the red berries
from the tree that grows outside my window
the ground was frozen solid
maybe the worms were frozen too
and there wasn’t much else for the birds to eat

I watched a bird attack the branch
that hangs down in front of my window
he ate every berry but one
then turned his head
and looked at me
thru the window
then looked back at the last berry
and flew away

it stayed there for over a week
– the only berry on the tree
then the ground thawed
and the creek started running again
and one morning the berry was gone

EASTER NUMBER 30

it’s easter
I’m 33 years old
they’re celebrating the crucifixion
of the christ
who was born
for my sins
on my first christmas
which I don’t remember
because I was zero years old

I can relax
I can look forward to another 3 years
of anonymous crucifixions
they’ve still got the 3 christs lined up
the ones who were born
on the christmas days
when I was one, two, and three years old

SWINE LEGENDS

1.
we peeked thru the wires of the fence
into the animal kingdom
« what is it? » she asked
« it’s a pig, » I said
« oh – I thought it was a dog »
it was a pigdog

2.
there was nothing serious about this baby pig
he had found his place in the straw
and was looking out upon the passing world
grunting and grinning
he knew exactly what he was doing

3.
once when I was small I got very dirty
they told us to get in the bath
and stay there
I washed and washed
and when I came out
I was a clean as a pig’s whistle

4.
violin strings used to be made out of cat gut
I tried to imagine the intestines of a cat
stretched out across the violin
with the rest of the animal attached
and hanging over the side
as the fiddler scraped across the strings
with his horsehair bow
the rest of the horse
was attached too

once upon a time
footballs were called pigskins
perhaps because that’s what they were made of
every time I kicked a football
I wondered what they had done
with the rest of the pig
it felt strange to be kicking
part of a dead animal around

5.
they had this code language
that rolled around my childhood years
called pig latin
– igpay atinlay
I never could pick it up
it was quite simpleminded
but I thought you had to stick in a pig
every once in a while
something like:
« let’s go play baseball »
which was supposed to go:
« etslay ogay laypay aseballbay »
when I tried to say it came out
« let’s go pigplay baseball pig. »

6.
in school some of the girls
had their short hair tied up in back
two little bunches of hair
trapped in rubber bands
they called them pigtails
once I sat behind a girl in class
and stared at her pigtails
she didn’t turn around all day
and I just sat there
staring at the back of her head
thinking about the situation
and saying over to over to myself
« so that’s a pigtail »

7.
they had a lot of chores for me to do
that hot summer day
– clean up the garage
– give the dog a bath
– dig up some weeds in the backyard
– repaint the fence down by the drive
I wanted to go swimming
« I’m going swimming » I said
« in a pig’s ear you will » they said
which caused a minor sensation
in my imagination

8.
my kid likes for me to carry him
piggyback
but he seems to heavier day by day
there’s going to come a day
when I won’t be able to carry him
more than 10 feet
before collapsing
I’ll lay there on the ground
with my face in the dirt
trying to catch my breath
and start to worry about
who’s going to bring home the bacon

9.
I knew a guy who had a hard time
going to sleep
he tried counting sheep
jumping over fences
in his imagination
but that didn’t work
then he tried counting pigs
but that was worse
they kept trying to go under the fence
and getting stuck

10.
« hickory dickory dock
2 pigs ran up the clock
the clock struck 1
and got him right in the eye »

11.
this little pig went to market
this little pig stayed home
this little pig ate roast beef
this little pig had none
what a load of crap
whoever heard of a pig eating roast beef?

12.
of course I heard the story
of the 3 little pigs
who hasn’t?
and who hasn’t heard the story
of the 3 bears?
my problem was
I kept getting then mixed up
it wasn’t so bad
when the wolf blew down the straw house
and chased the first bear across the field
by some stretch of the imagination
that was almost possible
but the story got out of control
when goldilocks woke up
in the big pig’s bed
and saw him standing there
how would you feel
if you woke up
and saw a pig standing over you?

13.
I had a friend who got tired
of saying bullshit
so he started saying pigshit
instead
which got people thinking
about what ‘shit’ really means
they had used it so often
they had forgotten
everyone was living in ignorance
until the pig came along

14.
we were served stuffed pig for dinner
it sat there on the plate for awhile
looking dead
and harmless
then it jumped up
and started dancing on the table
it was hamming it up

LAUSANNE 1981

there was a sign –
a metal plaque
set into the cobblestones of the sidewalk
it said: ne cracher pas sur la trottoir
which in English means
do not spit on the sidewalk
in front of it was a shop
selling men’s clothes
I stood looking at the dummies
in 3-piece grey suits
and thinking about that sign

so I spit on the window instead

IMPORTANT PHONECALLS

after I fell thru the roof of my house
I phoned up an old girlfriend
she asked me
how I was feeling
I told her some tourists had been walking by
when I fell
they had laughed
« I only went in up to the waist » I said
« so the damage was only half complete
I could have lost my face too »
my old friend said to call her back
when I had something important to say

the blackbirds covered their eyes
when I stepped outside
for a breath of fresh air
then the sun went down
and the swallows began to fly like bullets
out of the bushes
at the bottom of the garden

by the time I got around to phoning her back
I had seen a partial eclipse of the moon
and Muhammad Ali had won back
the heavyweight crown
for the 3rd time
on TV
I picked up the phone
and dialed the number
of another old girlfriend

COTTONFIELDS OF CHRISTMAS

they played Joy to the World
on the airplane speakers
first a touch of organ
then the grand piano
and then they told us to stop smoking
and messing around
with the laws of gravity
we climbed up thru the clouds
and made the full moon rise
over the cottonfields of christmas

THE STAND-UP COMIC ON A ONE-NIGHT STAND

everybody was talking about astrology
like it was going out of style
(I hoped it would)
she asked me my sign
and I said « I’m an aquarium
with curtains rising
and my moon in trouble »
it was good for a laugh

then I told her I was a lesbian
that I had a very strong
sexual attraction
to women
that was good for another laugh

then I told her the only joke I know
(the banana joke)
« hey mister, you got a banana in your ear! »
several heads in the room turned to listen
« I can’t hear ya, I got a banana in my ear! »
no one laughed

I considered putting a lampshade on my head
but a guy standing on the coffee table
who was 10 degrees more looped
than anyone else
beat me to it
he got the biggest laugh of the night

LEADBELLY WAS THE GRANDFATHER OF ROCK ‘N ROLL

Leadbelly made it on a 12-dollar Stella guitar
with bedsprings for strings
but I don’t have that kind of talent
or those 9-pound nail-drivin’ hands either
Leadbelly made it after spending half of his life
in prison
and I don’t have that kind of patience
he got famous after he was dead
which is kind of like getting left behind
holding the banana peel
after everyone else has had a chance
to bust his ass on it

IDEAS

I’ve expected very little from life
since the day I found out that Santa Claus
was just a nice idea
or maybe it was later
when JFK was gunned down
for getting ideas

the best Idea Man I ever met
was J.S. Bach

to give you some idea
of how strong his personality was
whenever he walked into a room
everybody’s cigarette went out

AND THE WAITER SPEAKS ONLY CHINESE

you go into a Chinese restaurant
and order a number 37
with a side of 15
your friend orders a number 46
and the waiter brings you 2 plates
of whatever’s left over in the kitchen

DANNY AND THE JUNIORS

Danny and the Juniors in 1958
said that rock ‘n roll will never die
25 years later I find it difficult to believe
their promise
but then again
even a few unlucky animals get stuffed
and sent to museums

there was another line in that song:
it’ll go down in history, just you watch my friend
probably some sociology student in the 21st
will do his doctoral thesis on Danny and the Juniors

I mean some cats are still blowing’ Dixie
but I don’t see any teenage girls
breaking down the gates to get in

A STRANGE MAN

it was a strange night
he would do nothing
so I sat and watched him smoke
and read a book
his expression changed
every other page or so

he didn’t get up and phone home
that night
he didn’t talk about all the things
he didn’t learn in school
he didn’t even complain

ROCKS AND STONES

rocks and stones
stones and rocks
I sit on a rock
with my feet on the GROUND
fuckshit

my wife keeps telling me
I have my head too much in the AIR
she keeps telling me
I should come down the EARTH
once in a while

I’m giving it a try

she bakes bread
from wheat that grew
in the EARTH
shitfuck

MYTH AMERICA

then there were those majorettes
in high school
prancing around
twirling their batons
wearing white satin mini skirts
that cut into their crotches
they walked around school
on the day of a football game
wearing heavy wool coats
(it wasn’t that cold)
they just didn’t want to show off
all that fresh meat
so close up
there had to be some limit to indecent exposure
everyone agreed on that
except all the guys
we sat in English class with hard-ons
thinking about what was under those coats
so close by
the limits were on the football field
the girls were out there
with their coats off
flashing their thighs
and everyman in town under 65
stood on the sidelines
with a pair of binoculars glues to his eyes

I AND THOU AND YOU AND ME

Billy Graham is coming to town next month
so is the American Demolition Derby
a little salvation
a little sacrifice
we’re in good shape on the spiritual side
for the fall season

my wife thinks Billy Graham
is the guy who used to run
the Fillmore Auditorium
maybe she’s right

I’m always getting Billy Graham mixed up
with Bill Haley
since I have never seen the two of them
in the same demolition derby
at the same time
I am inclined to believe
they are one and the same person

I’d rather go and see Martin Buber
but a soft-nose rabbi
will never sell out
the local football stadium

THE WHOLE EARTH POETRY PRIZE

a poet stood in the center of the bridge
spinning a world of culture
on an upraised middle finger

beneath
the years flowed by like water

then the poet burned the bridge
and drowned
refusing to swim to shore

we went down to the river
and tossed in a few flowers
a few children cheered
one or two dogs barked
and a whole lot of ladies rolled by
in wheelchairs
with umbrellas
tossing bones
of previous poets
to the dogs

the dogs stopped barking

INCOMPLETE PORTRAITS OF FORGOTTEN MEN

. . . he had a mustache and 2 eyes
he sat on a park bench unobserved
observing everything
he wore a hearing aid
but when he died they discovered
there hadn’t been a battery in it
for years . . .

. . . all he left behind was a faded photograph
taken when he was a boy:
the boy is squinting into the sun
the shadow of the photographer’s head
was visible at the bottom
the photograph was found
in an otherwise empty suitcase
on the balcony of the hotel room
from which he had jumped . . .

. . . stiff silver steel rim glasses
and flat lenses that flashed sunlight
when he turned his head
a black wool stocking cap
rolled up above his ears
he was good with a chainsaw
and missing the first finger of his left hand
he’d chopped it off with an ax
when a rattlesnake bit him . . .

. . . he played saxophone is a 1930’s dance band
white tux and red handkerchief in his breast pocket
slicked back black hair, smooth with the ladies
between sets he stood at the bar
with the sax cord around the collar of his tux
joking with the customers
later he lived on welfare and cornflakes . . .

. . . he was an old crippled black guy
a night janitor
in one of those industrial park buildings
(offices upstairs, warehouse in the basement)
after he’d finish waxing and polishing the office floors
he’d go down to the basement
and watch a wall
of 35 different TV sets
broadcasting the same baseball game
in living color . . .

. . . « there was this guy used to come in here
every afternoon about this time
sit at the bar, have a few beers
he claimed he’d high jumped in the Berlin Olympics
or something like that
he said he’d come in third place
or something like that
he was a tall with a pot belly »
said a short man with a potbelly
wearing a white short-sleeve knit shirt
with a green alligator on the pocket
but no one was listening to him
he usually came in here about the same time
every afternoon
sat alone
talking to himself . . .

. . . he drifted in from out of state
driving a broken-down Ford pick-up truck
the letters on the door spelled
FAST DELIVERY
WE DELIVER ANYWHERE – ANYTIME
but the sign had been washed by the rain
you had to get close to read it . . .

THEY SAY TIME HEALS ALL WOUNDS

I was raised by an uncle who once upon a time
was offered a chance to play 1st base
with the New York Giants

but his wife said it was either her
or baseball
so they moved to the west coast
where he got a job in the shipyards
as a welder

he was usually in a mean mood
treated me badly
slapped me around at least once a week
just to keep in practice

he could find an excuse for punishing me
almost anywhere

once I forgot to water the rabbits
he knocked me around and around
until my head felt like a punching bag
there was a moment in there
when it didn’t have anything to do
with the rabbits

I hated him
I promised myself that when I grew up
I’d kill him
with one of his baseball bats

I just got a letter
that says he’s in the hospital
it’s pretty serious
he’s an old man now
he might not make it
suddenly
I don’t want him to die

EUROPE ON ONE HEARTBREAK A DAY

in Germany
in a public washroom
along the autobahn
I saw a man in thermal underwear
washing his face

in Hungary
across an open-air dance floor
I saw a woman
carrying a package of meat

the streets of Switzerland
were so clean
that I was embarrassed
soon I found out why
the dogs had been trained
to eat their own shit

a post office in Belgium:
everyone was licking stamps

friends came back from a vacation in Spain
they brought me a little wooden flute
it cracked when I pressed down on the fingerholes
it wasn’t meant to be played

the 12-year old boy
who served us dinner
in the Italian outdoor restaurant
looked as old as his father
neither had ever been a child

this rough, tough American stud
pulled into the Greek youth hostel
on the heaviest motorcycle in the world
and we spent the night listening to him
scream for his mama in his sleep

on a train thru Yugoslavia
I sat across from a young married couple
they wanted to share the bottle of wine
that had been their wedding present
he searched everywhere in their suitcase
but couldn’t find the corkscrew

the Dutch soccer team
lost the 1974 World Cup final
by 1 point
on a color TV set
in a crowded French cafe

THE END

I put my hands in my pockets and slowly walked away

what happened before that
is not worth talking about

FAME

these people drop by and ask me if I want to be famous
I say I want to be honest
if I should say no
I would be a liar
I explain that it takes a lot of work to be famous
it just doesn’t happen to you

these people don’t understand
I explain it again and again
it takes a lot of work to be honest

THE FIRST TO KNOW

Anton Webern, the obscure but great
composer of serial music
lived in the American Military Occupied Zone
of Austria
after the war

one night when the blackout
and curfew rules
were being strictly enforced
he stepped out onto his porch
and absent-mindedly
lit a cigarette

he was shot dead by an army private

Webern was one of the first to know
that smoking can be dangerous to your health

AMERICAN OPTICAL

taking a closer look at my glasses
I find
along the inside of the right temple piece
this cryptic message:

American Optical 1-10 12K G.F. 6½

yes, this is obviously a cryptic message
but since I have been wearing these glasses
for 10 years
I know what it means

A CHANGE OF SEASONS

winter creeps in like a pointy-toed hedgehog
summer sneaks out like a flat-footed caterpillar
and people just stand around
like pot-bellied stoves

DRUGSTORE BEST SELLER

it was one of those white cover
deceptively virginal
paperbacks
about the ills of our society
the kind of cheap, sensational writing
that sells millions of copies

who reads this kind of crap?
cracked-up widows
down and out gamblers
unemployed peanut vendors
over-the-hill shortstops
sag-breasted former Miss Americas
and other assorted low riders
it was the kind of book that makes me feel good

TERRITORIAL IMPERATIVE

we have it on solid, honest, hard-earned $1.25
copyright paperback AUTHORITY
that the song of a bird
is a territorial marker
a sort of melodic city limit sign
as it were

but don’t believe it
those birds sing for the hell of it
just like the rest of us

THE MISSING WEREWOLF

sometimes I miss the werewolves
who used to peek in my window

and the vampires who used to tip-toe
across my roof late at night

and the King of Chaos himself
who used to slide down my chimney
leap into the room
speaking like he had a mouth
full of wet cement

once I went into grandma’s walk-in closet
and came face to face
with a GIANT TURD
4 feet tall
grinning at me
grandma had told me not to go in there
now I knew why

but the ghosts, vampires, and werewolves
have heard the whistle of their masters
and have cleared out
I miss them

I’ll trade you one werewolf
for a whole shelf of philosophy books

Summer, 1975

WEREWOLVES IN THE WIND

tonight the revolution’s in town
there’s a time bomb on my wrist
and my tongue’s in a bottle of rum
there is no reason for getting drunk
there never has been

the church bells ring at 6 o’clock
I look at my wrist watch
and can’t figure out if time
is passing fast
or slow

I look down at my arm
and stare at the patch of skin
I had once considered
a choice spot
for an eagle tattoo
the fly which has been buzzing around the room
lands on that patch of skin

who in his right mind
would choose to live in as unfurnished apartment
and entertain dungeonous ideas?

there is a piece of paper at my elbow
on it is written:
there are werewolves in the wind
who could have written that?
who would choose to be so complicated?

Summer, 1975

LOOK AT THE WEREWOLF

humans equal werewolves in masks
the mask is paper thin
a strong wind can lift up the edge
flash!
an instant vision
of chin with thick greasy hair
the corner of a beastly mouth snarl
then the mask settles back in place
i put the book of photographs back on the shelf
and think about men wearing hard hats
atop of atomic bomb brains

Summer, 1975

THE BIG HYDROGEN DUDE RANCH IN THE SKY

the only thing wrong with the bomb
is that they won’t drop it

meanwhile back at the ranch
the cowboys are restless
the boss wants them that way
he wants them uneasy
frustrated
hopeless
punching each other out
for relief

the boss holds that big whip in the sky
keeping them in their saddles
rounding up the cattle
day after day
after day
they ride the range
after day
and repair the fences
after day

a ton of bricks
hanging over your head
is a lot more effective
if it never falls

COWBOY

he rides into town on his horse
the row of houses on main street
looks like a set in a western movie
the buildings seen from the side
are only a few inches thick
held up by props

he ties his horse to the rail
in front of the saloon
heads for the swinging doors
and walks into a bar
in West Hollywood, 1973

COLLEGE

ah, the college of my choice
programmed me so well
it’s taken me years
to get over the blooze

I’m still taking exams
everytime someone asks me a question

MIRROR

I am a mirror

that used to bother me a lot
especially when I first found out

you get back what you put in

after 20 years
the mirror has become tarnished
it doesn’t reflect the dirt anymore
strong light still gets thru

BACKGAMMON

we sat up til dawn playing backgammon
the set had been purchased in the Copenhagen airport
and was designed especially for travelers
it was about as big as a paperback book
with pieces the size of fingernails
we needed tweezers to move them around

THE NEWS

the ground froze up solid about a week ago
I would have needed a flame thrower
to bury my pet hedgehog if he had died
(and if I’d had one)
so I was hoping he wouldn’t

a macrobiotic mountain man set up a tent
halfway up the hillside behind our house
and moved in
we hear him every morning eating breakfast
usually he chews on an old pinetree stump
but occasionally he takes down a live oak
for a change of diet

the atmosphere is so simple
so plain and ordinary
I have to invent the news

MOVIE

the old lady stands in front of her shack
on the opposite hill
looking at me thru binoculars

I wave
but she doesn’t wave back

she has been living alone so long
that the world has become a movie

I can’t blame her for not responding
I never wave at a movie screen either

NEW YEAR’S EVE, 1975

it’s been
1,038, 771, 100 minutes
(give or take a few)
since Christ’s big bang

FASHION SHOW

in times past
women’s fashions changed by the decade
no one thought less than 10 years in advance

by popular demand fashions began to change by the year
and soon by the season
women speculated in advance
about next season’s styles
and a few daring ones
attempted to be ahead of their times

this set off a new reaction
and fashion designers began changing their styles
by the month
announcements would read:
THIS MONTH: SHORT SKIRTS, LONG HAIR, LOW SHOES

then would come the announcement for the following month:
LONG SKIRTS. LONG HAIR, NO SHOES

and so on by the month until women
became so restless for new clothes
the competition became more intense
and style changes began to happen by the week

then by the day

still this wasn’t enough
designers, shop keepers, and advertisers
got it down to the hour:
SHORT SKIRTS
SHORT HAIR
LONG SHOES
LONG SKIRTS
LOW SHOES
LOW SKIRTS
HAIR
SHORT SHOES
then down to the minute:
LONG SHORT SKIRTS
SHOES
HIGH HAIR
LOW LOW
HIGH SKIRTS
NO HAIR
NO SKIRTS
then down to the second:
LOW
LONG
HAIR SHOES
SHOE SKIRTS
SKIRT SHOES
SHOE HAIR
HAIR SKIRTS

it’s difficult to walk the streets these days
all these women changing clothes
as fast as they can
they keep bumping into you and each other
it’s a fast-action strip show in rush hour

a few women have given up
they stand on street corners, naked
ignored
forgotten
can you imagine how it feels to have become old fashioned?

JANE FONDOO

Jane Fonda came on my TV
and told me to be spontaneous
« be spontaneous » she said
she said I could do whatever I feel like
whenever I feel like doing it

the next time I see Jane Fonda
I think I’ll punch her in the face
but it won’t be spontaneous
I’ve been thinking about that punch
for a long time

POSTCARD

I got a postcard from TUCSON ARIZONA
the picture on the front was of a lightning storm
over Kitt’s Observatory

I had an eccentric uncle
who lived his last years in Tucson
he was an inventor
when I was 5 or 6 years old
he started sending me
freaky scientific magazines
with significant passages underlined

I remember one picture in one magazine
a man sitting in a Studebaker
as thousands of volts of electricity
were discharged onto the roof of his car
from a big ball overhead
the man was smiling
to show he wasn’t afraid

INSTANT CHRISTIANITY

I used to think that jesus was born on Christmas
and died on Easter Day
the stories in the bible were read to me
and made me wonder
how one man could do so much
in four or five months

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR

our neighbors are still alive
they seem to be obsessed by
keeping us aware
of that fact

a big storm passed over last night
thunder and lightning
maybe their house would get hit?
no luck

the other day they had a fierce knockdown
and drag-out brawl
the husband punched the wife in the guts
the wife picked up an ax handle
and chased the husband into the house
their seven children stayed outside
screaming
and throwing rocks at the windows
when the fight was over
we heard someone over there
hammering nails into wood
a coffin perhaps?

yesterday the oldest kid
the one who tore down our mailbox
the one who dug up our garden
and threw the plants all over the road
the one who snuck into our house
and carved up our walls with a pocketknife
was swinging on a rope
and collided head-on with a tree
prefrontal lobotomy?
no way

but I should stop thinking about our neighbors
I just don’t love ’em that much

THE NEIGHBOR’S CLOTHESLINE

these people who live across the way
are celebrations of laziness
after 4 years they decided one day
to put up a clothesline

they washed a whole lot of dirty clothes
(some of them for the 1st time in 4 years)
and hung them out to dry

3 months later
THE CLOTHES WERE STILL THERE

meantime it had rained about 150 times
and near the end of the 3rd month
God decided to snow

when we were into our 3rd day
of the magic white powder
I looked out my window and saw those clothes
they had been washed by God 150 times
dried by God 150 times
and powdered by God
I could only sit there thinking:
WHAT MORE DO THEY WANT?

maybe they were waiting for God to come along
and take the washing off the line
bring it in
iron it
fold it and stack it in the cupboard

the snow piled up on the clothesline
between the pairs of stiff underwear
the next day our neighbors went out
and bought a dump truck

AN ANGRY REPLY TO A LETTER I NEVER RECEIVED
FROM GREGORY BATESON

the mailbox was empty
there was nothing there
I hadn’t been expecting anyone to write
but the mailman could have left
a little junk mail
or something

the breadbox was empty too
not a slice
not a crust
not a crumb
nothing at all

I glanced thru the newspaper
but there was nothing there
worth reading

I punched on the TV
and all the channels were blank
not even a test pattern
nothing

then the phone rang
I jerked up the receiver
and shouted hello
it was an old friend on the line
he asked me what I was angry about
« it’s nothing » I said

I can see now
how easy it is
to get steamed up
over nothing

DYLAN’S BOOTLEG

I listened to the Dylan bootleg album

after the record shut off
I carried on
making up words for his songs

 » . . . with her neck in a noose
her knees in a knot
her tongue in a trap
and her thighs in your thoughts . . .  »

good stuff

Dylan should get hold of me
if he gets short of lyrics on his next album

PENIS AND THE BEACH BALLS

a double bill at the Forum tonight
first
Russian River Richard and the Metaphysical Epistemologists
(a rock ‘n roll revival band)
show up
and play a lot of golden oldies
they sing like neanderthals on vacation

then
a punk band comes on
with safety pins in their noses
« HEY I’M PENIS!’ says one into the microphone
« AND WE ARE THE BEACHBALLS! » says the rest of the group
in unison
Penis turns out to be an 8-year old girl
with orange hair
and the Beach Balls look like left-overs
from a drunken Chinese dinner

Penis sings 3 songs
I Don’t Care
I Can Do What I Wanna Do
and Fuck You
she sings the words like she means them
which is more than anyone could say
about Russian River Richard

this is a big year for the group
all the girls want to look like Penis
all the boys imitate the Beach Balls
boy and girls walk around their rooms
slouched-out
with safety pins in their noses
and orange hair
nobody is dancing

I remember Janis Joplin
Tina Turner
The Ronettes
on stage
but none of the guys here
are thinking about fucking penis

well, she’s only 8
that could be the difference

REUNION OF THE CLASS OF 1958

I was 6000 miles away
when the invitation to the 20th reunion
of my high school graduation class
came in the mail
I don’t know how they got my address
I thought I was well-hidden

the letter said it was going to be a picnic

I thought of all those kids
to whom I had nothing to say then
we were 20 years older
and we would have even less
to talk about now

in the envelope was a questionnaire
first a series of multiple choice questions
such as: FOOD (check one) I WILL BRING
MEATS OR POULTRY □
POTATO SALAD □
CAKES AND/OR PIES □
BEVERAGES □

I checked them all
I was back in English IV 20 years ago
taking a test
I was having fun

then came a series of « fill in the blanks »
that was a good game too
I wrote in anything that came to mind
I was having fun
until I came to this:
HOW MANY CHILDREN WILL YOU BRING? □
HOW MANY GRANDCHILDREN? □

grandchildren ?
I suppose it’s possible
some of the girls got married just out of school
already knocked up
if they’d raised their kids to act the same way
there probably would be a few grandchildren
staggering around the picnic
pissing in the potato salad

I threw the whole thing in the wastebasket
I had already decided I wouldn’t go
now I knew
I would even watch it if it was on TV

SIGNS OF LIFE IN THE WILDERNESS

he rides up the trail on a mule
which is pulling a housetrailer
a sign by the side of the road tells him:

YOU ARE NOW ENTERING
THE PARADISE VALLEY
WILDERNESS AREA

there’s also a sign on the side of his trailer:

HORSE TRAILER RENTALS
(MULES CAN PULL ‘EM TOO)

he dots the I of WILDERNESS
with a bullet from his Colt 45
and rides on down the trail
into Paradise Valley

THE BALLAD OF JUNKYARD JOE

Junkyard Joe slouched over
the handlebars
of his 2nd-hand
stripped-down
Harley XLCH
a White Owl cigar dangled from his jaw

« dirty deals and greasy wheels »
he hummed around the edge of his White Owl
and straightening up
he slammed down
on the starter
of his bike
and kicking his hog to life
and letting it idle in the polluted sunshine
he watched Bad Breath Bob
roll out from under a totaled
’55 Chevy
convertible

« what’s shakin’? » said Bad Breath Bob
flipping a crescent wrench
« gotta get outta dis junkyard, Triple B »
said J.J.
« cruise down t’inner city
t’ see a doc abouta
PER-SCRIP-SHUN! »

but as J.J. rode the backstreets
his bike leaning on the corners
his long hair blowing back in the wind
he fell back into his old dream:
wife, kids, home in the suburbs
white christmas
4th of july picnic
Joe Junior’s little league
Little Sally’s birthday party
Johnny Carson on the tube
a round of golf on Sunday morning

he slid his Harley to a stop
in front of the 3rd Street Bar & Grill
where a half dozen other Reptile Brains
were hangin’ out
and wiped the smile offa his face
« shit, fuck, man, I mean, shit . . .  »
J.J. was the self-proclaimed leader of the Reptile Brains
he had an image to keep polished
his slouch had to be MAINTAINED
QUANTUM MECHANICS

in the window of Joe’s Quantum Garage
is a sign:
HELP WANTED
ONLY QUANTUM MECHANICS NEED APPLY

inside the garage
a Chevy Impala is up on the racks
Jimmy Heisenberg is giving it a lube job

at a workbench
Frankie Schrodinger is taking a transmission apart

the gear box of a Ford Fairlane
is giving Bobby Plank a lot of trouble

if Joe could hire a few more guys
they’d get these jobs done a lot faster
get home to their wives
and frozen pizza dinners
and maybe get in a little bowling
or shoot a little pool with the boys
later on tonight

but as it stands
they’re gonna be doin’ overtime
for the 3rd night in a row
these cars keep comin’ in off the streets
and their owners want ’em repaired RIGHT NOW!

for example:
this lilac Lincoln Continental
that’s being towed in
with 2 front flat tires
it’s driver still behind the wheel

Frank and Jimmy and Booby
take one look at it
and throw up their hands

to see grown men vomiting their hands
is more than the driver can take

he starts his lilac Lincoln
breaks away from the tow truck
ripping off his front bumper
backs into the street
and speeds away into the night
his 2 front tires flapping
from side to side

no one knows what’s going to happen next

WHAT DID WE HAVE IN COMMON?

what did we have in common?
– a deep love for symphonic music
– a carefully cultivated taste for 12-year old French wines
– an unending fascination for the writings of Anais Nin
– a superstitious but sentimental obsession
for flying kites
and making wishes on a rainbow
– an uninhibited appreciation of Salvador Dali’s paintings
– an overflowing compassion for stray dogs and cats
– a careless tendency to speak only the truth
and a pathological need to be liked by everyone we met
apart from that we were total strangers

THE FACTS OF LIFE VS THE ACCIDENTS OF YOUTH

Part 1: in which the autoharp is invented

perhaps you’re wondering about my childhood
but then again there’s an even greater chance that you’re not
maybe you’d like some facts for a change?

I recently celebrated by 35th birthday
that’s a fact
there were candles on the cake that helped me celebrate
my 35th birthday
I noticed the box from which they came
contained 36 candles
the question is: what will I do when I’m 37?
the answer is simple:
buy 2 boxes of candles

would you like some more facts?
I was the oldest of several cousins
once a year we sat around patiently
after a thanksgiving supper
while one of our uncles showed his home movies
on a sheet tacked to the wall
the part we liked the best
was when he showed the movies backwards
that’s a fact

I saw my first and only 3-D movie in 1953
we, the people in the theater, sat there
with those idiot paper glasses on
and watched people on the screen
throw knives and swords
and barrels of water at us
the best part of that movie
was when one of the actors spit
the glob of goo came out of the screen
right at us
everybody ducked
Hollywood was finally telling its audience
how it felt about them

another uncle, Uncle Chuck
who had once been an all-American guard
used to bring me footballs for Christmas
footballs and football uniforms
the uniforms weighed more than I
and when he tossed me a football
it knocked me over
I was only 4, 5, 6, and 7 but even then, I knew
I’d never be all-American

America dropped the bomb when I was 4
I don’t remember that
I had to take their word for it
evidence, however, has filtered down over the years

I never knew my paternal grandfather
I didn’t even know my father very well
I was told that my grandfather’s brother
invented the autoharp
it was hard to believe
at school we were forced to play those instruments
everyone in music class
had an autoharp
each one out of tune
with all those untuned autoharps
in all those school across America
we should have been rich
I found it hard to believe also
because I was being told a lot of lies
about other things too

lies were all over the place
just lying around
but only the adults got to tell them
they told us kids:
« always tell the truth
and you won’t get into trouble »
which was the biggest lie of all

my other grandfather gave me a dictionary
and a pair of fingernail scissors when I was 10
35 years later I still cut my fingernails
and toenails with those clippers
tho they haven’t been sharpened once in all that time
but you didn’t come in here
to hear about my fingernails and toenails
the part you want to hear about is the dictionary:
the dictionary ceased to be a useful reference book
long ago
now it’s nothing more
than an interesting historical document

the only thing I learned in school that did me any good
was a song that circulated at recess
behind the baseball backstop
I can remember only the last line:
if you ever get hit with a bucket of shit
be sure to close your eyes
everything else they taught us was in the bucket

I got my first pair of glasses in the 3rd grade
since the classes were seated alphabetically
that put me in the back row
so
with my 20/800 natural eyesight
I’d already had 2
full years of useless education by then
the blackboard was so far away
it could have been in outer space
but there was the good side of it:
2 + 2 could equal anything I wanted

every kid had a dog
mine was named Tippy
except he wasn’t mine
he belonged to himself
I brought him into the house one day
and held him up in front of the mirror
he didn’t pay any attention to his reflection
a wise dog
I couldn’t teach him any tricks either
my respect for him increased after each try

when I turned on the radio one day
and picked up a black station from Oakland
and heard Hank Ballard & the Midnighters
sing Annie Had a Baby
I knew the end of my childhood
was close at hand

when I was 12 I heard a story about a man
who committed suicide
gas
asphyxiation
he ate a can of beans
locked himself in a closet
and farted himself to death
but by then I had given up trying
to separate the truth from the lies
it didn’t make any difference anymore

Part 2: in which German shepherd dogs lick little kids faces

in the 1st grade kids from the 8th grade
waited for me outside after school, grabbed me
held me down on the pavement
and encouraged their German shepherd dog to lick my face
they were had a good time
even the dog

in the 2nd grade they took my picture and I had to make
a frame for it to give my parents
they handed me a small paper plate
the kind you get at picnics full of potato salad
I had to glue my picture in there
where the potato salad was supposed to go

in the 3rd grade I picked up a lead pipe at recess
and bashed in another guy’s skull with it
that was the 1st time I’d fought back
it was generally agreed that I had gone too far

I skipped the 4th grade, they tell me I didn’t miss much

in the 5th grade I signed up for school band
I wanted to play trumpet but the teacher took one look
and stuck a trombone in my hands
« you look like a trombone » he said
the truth was he couldn’t get anyone else to play it
it was too heavy to carry around
and it didn’t have any of the hot-shit melodies
so I carried around my trombone
which was bigger than me
and which looked like me
and started getting good at the things
the other kids didn’t want to do

in the 6th grade at one lunch hour when it was raining
we were tossing a football around the class room
where others were still eating lunch
I flipped a pass which fell short
and landed in a girl’s potatoes and gravy
we were punished of course
but I’ll never forget the game
it was the closest I ever came to making the team

in the 7th grade the kids started
getting to my lunch sack
with my name printed on it
and adding a cross to the initial of my 1st name
2 years later
it would have been taken as a compliment

in the 8th grade some kids from my class
waited for the 1st graders
outside after school
and held them down while a German shepherd dog
licked their faces
but I was into more important things by then
like telling the teacher in class he was full of shit

after we left the 8th grade
they decided to start a junior high school
so we were 9th graders instead of freshmen
2 years in a row
we were the kings of crap mountain
we weren’t prepared for that 1st year in high school

in high school we were introduced to
smoking in the student parking lot
school dances
football games
basketball games
and big tits
they all went together somehow
but I was a poor student
and looked at them as separate things
I’d brought along my rhythm ‘n blues 45’s
from jr. high
but nobody there was interested in these tunes
Elvis Presley was just being invented

in my junior year we discovered
that the class behind us was twice our size
– war babies they called them
(some were OK considering their fathers
had been in a panic to leave them behind)
so we looked at the big tits instead of the books
there was no way we could fail
they just didn’t have enough space

in my senior year we had a special class
we each took turns privately with the teacher
who usually taught drivers education
we went out alone with him in the school Pontiac
which he parked on a lonely country road
he took a small sack of marijuana from the glove compartment
and held in front of my face
« one puff of this » he said
« and you will be hopelessly addicted for life »

I graduated from high school with a D average
in a class of 128 students
I came in 122
the teachers didn’t think much of me
by that I mean
they didn’t even know I was there
I would probably get a job at the sawmill
or the packing plant
and stay there forever
I surprised no one but myself
my leaving town
and never going back

TEN YEARS LATER

10 years later I met a guy about my age
who wished there was some way to go back in time
to high school
knowing what he knew now
and do it again

« man, I’d take along some Beatles
and Stones and Doors and blow
their minds »

« man, I’d go back with long hair
and really freak ’em out »

« man, I’d fuck all the chicks
who were just begging for it then
but which us guys were too stupid
or scared to do anything about »

but he was forgetting something:
the endless hours
in those classes
when NOTHING was happening
except maybe a fly
buzzing around the room
and we just sat
and watched the hand
of the clock
click slowly
around and around
and around
waiting hours
for the click of each minute

I can’t think of a more perfect torture
than to be sent back
knowing what I know now
to that cesspool of boredom
and besides I’m sure
the girls fucked much better
in our imaginations
than they would have
in the backseat
of some used ’51 Ford

ANOTHER USELESS ARGUMENT

mother: you should be grateful
after everything i did for you
child: then you didn’t do it for me
you did it for yourself

I wish they were on television
so I could shut them off

it’s a useless argument

vegetarians remind us: Buddha died
after eating a meal of pork
I reply: christ dies after eating a meal
of bread and water

another useless argument

on the 1st page of the book is the word
« OM! »
then a short explanation saying
that OM is the beginning
the middle
and the end
of everything in the universe
I flip thru the remaining 467 pages of the book
and ask the author
who is not in the room
why he bothered to write all the rest
of this crap

another useless argument

I lift my hand from the table
on which my fingers have been tapping
and try the bent edges of a faded photograph
it’s a picture of a guy in a swimsuit
sitting next to a pool
blowing into a trombone
I don’t know where this picture came from
I don’t even know anything about this guy
in fact, he doesn’t interest me at all
but I continue to study the picture
it’s better than another useless argument

2 DOWN IN THE BOTTOM OF THE 9TH
WITH THE STRIKEOUT KING AT THE PLATE

to start with the club was lousy
the audience was lousy
and the meal afterwards was lousy too

then the organizer told me
he’d forgotten to book a hotel
so I had to sleep in his living room
on a couch that was about 6 inches too short
so far it was a normal evening
it was 3 a.m.
I had to catch a train at 7

things started getting rough about 3:30
when the hamster across the room
decided he needed some exercise
he had one of those wheels he could get inside of
and run and run forever
but with the hamster clicking away
I fell to sleep anyway

that is until about 4
when the cat attacked my barefeet
hanging over the end of the couch

I put the cat in the kitchen
limped back to the couch
curled up
and was just getting into my first good dream
when small hard candies in cellophane wrappers
started landing on my face and body

I leaned up and looked over the couch
it was the guy’s little kid
about 5 years of spoiled rotten
with a shit-eating grin on his face
he kept tossing

I picked up an orange from the coffee table
and threw it with my left hand
I threw it as hard as I could
it hit the kid square between the eyes
– strike one!
there was no way I was going to lose this ballgame

THINGSGIVING

she was a fan of mine
she had a poster of me on the wall
she had all my albums
– one with an autograph

I don’t know how that got there
I’m always giving things away
without knowing it

PEOPLE ACT IN STRANGE AND CONTRADICTORY WAYS

they burn Vonnegut’s books
in South Dakota
the janitor takes them off the library shelves
and dumps them in the incinerator
the kids stand around
watching the flames

then they go down to the drugstore
and buy copies of Slaughterhouse 5
just to see what the smoke was all about

PEOPLE ACT IN STRANGE AND CONTRADICTORY WAYS

you’re in the hospital
you’ve just had your appendix out
it’s after midnight
you’re having your 1st good sleep
in weeks
when the nurse shakes you by the shoulder
« wake up! »
« huh? »
« come on, wake up! »
« huh? what is it? »
« time to take your sleeping pill »

THE SENSORY DEPRIVATION TANK

the U.S. Navy has come up with
THE SENSORY DEPRIVATION TANK
(evil poetic images rise in my brain)
they talk about green beret commandos
back from the far east
with their private collections of earlobes
dumped into its isolated waters
and being turned into screaming
hysterical
teenage housewives
in a matter of 21½ seconds flat

the scientists who run this project
have high IQs
and high ambitions
they speak of man’s evolution
as easily as you or I
cut the grass with a lawn mower
they speak of transcending the human body
as easily as you or me
sweep up the dirt with a vacuum cleaner
only the best minds will survive
they say
(they’re talking about themselves)

now by no means do I feel
(or at least most of the time I don’t)
that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the perfect model
for the house that awaits man
on his next swing across the jungle
on a vine
or, as they say in the Old West University,
the last step
on the human evolutionary
spiral staircase
but there are those still among us
who need a little extra armpit sweat
where would the Chicago Bears be without it?
Sam Peckinpah?
King Kong?

so how about it, boys?
fill up the pool
give it another name
and I might even give it a try myself
if you’ll let me bring along
my rubber gorilla

DESCARTES WAS A CLEAN MAN

perhaps it starts like this:
you sense that there exists
in the world around you
great confusion
you seek to understand the confusion
you read books
you think a lot
you read more books
and sooner or later you bump into Descartes
he confirms the power of thought
but you discover that
ideas such as his
have created the confusion

stated explicitly:
the means by which
you seek to understand
are revealed as faults
in the system of understanding

or as Descartes’ acquaintances
used to whisper behind his back
« every time he takes a shower
he complains about getting wet »

USEFUL PIECE

you’re a useful piece of information
you’re a peaceful use of information
come on, baby, hold my hand
you’re a useful piece of information
come on, baby, hold me tight
you’re a peaceful use of information
you . . . you . . . you . . . useful
piece of information
don’t tell me about it
you’re a useful piece of information
I don’t want to know about you
cause you’re a useful piece
of information
ah, forget about the information
you’re a useful piece of ass

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

brain research hasn’t come up
with anything solid
it could be electricity
it could be liquid
one authority sticks out his neck and says
memories could be stored
in tiny gas bubbles
that sounds as good as anything else
I’ve read in these books lately

I can imagine all my childhood memories
each inside a tiny gas bubble
packed into the cells of my brain
like transparent 8 balls
in the pockets
of an organic pool table

but recently I’ve been having a hard time
with memories
my kid says, « tell me about when you were small »
and I can’t remember anything but a few
empty side pockets

instead I fart (poot!)
and another childhood memories escapes
and rises past my nose (sniff!)
I’m losing my mind

THE SLEEPING BAG FART

there’s a certain kind of fart
which I call the sleeping bag fart
it used to smell delicious

it got its name from those summer camp
2-week affairs in the woods
when we were fed platefuls of beans
everyday
which bubbled down
thru the inner tubes
in a matter of hours

a plateful of beans was perfectly timed
for lights out down in your sleeping bag
R-I-I-I-I-P-P-P-P!
(a sleeping bag fart)

some critics say there is a kind of writing
which they call muscular prose
there must be obese prose too
but probably only a thin man
would make that observation
in fact there must be
90-pound weakling prose
long, tall Texan prose
short fat Fanny prose
as well as diarhetic
and constipated prose

but the sleeping bag fart is pure poetry

WHAT GOES IN HAS GOTTA COME OUT . . . SOMETIME

why is it in the movies
you almost never see the characters
shitting, pissing, or farting?
and even then it’s not the hero
and never a woman
(one scene in Fellini
one in Wim Wenders
and, yes I know, Blazing Saddles
– but Mel Brookes
is no ordinary man)

here’s a typical scene:
the man gets up, he’s late for the office
he shaves, has a quick cup of coffee
and he’s into his car and off to work
what’s wrong?
he forgot to piss
I mean, everybody takes a piss in the morning
it’s the 1st thing you do

I think John Travolta
dancing around in Saturday Night Fever
letting off a few well-timed ass-rippers
would have added spice to that film
or Marlon Brando in The Godfather
in a high-level conference with the dons
lifting up his leg to cut the cheese
would have been appropriate
(everything else in there was pretty realistic)

my little boy answers my question:
« they got more interesting things to show »
like what?
car crashes
rapes
shootouts
I agree, those are pretty exciting things

they say we spend a 3rd of our life
sleeping
I get the impression
that I spend 10 percent of the rest
pissing, shitting, and farting
it may not always be exciting
but I’m usually having a good time
in fact some of my favorite ideas
occur to me when I’m standing here
taking a leak

DROPPING NAMES

I’ve got all these misprounced names
which I’ve given to movie stars
I don’t know why I do it
the names just slip out:

Henry Fondoo
Orson Wellsfargo
Gregory Woodpecker
Steve McQueenofengland
Cary Granite
Dustbin Hoffmanhole
Audrey Heartburn
Marilyn Skidrow
William Holdup
Raquel Belch
Jean-Paul Melbongo
Ursula Undress
Barbra Stretchpants
and
Fade Runaway

maybe it’s because some of the originals
are too perfect
or maybe I’m out to get revenge
for the name I got stuck with
who knows?
who’s to blame?
Warren Beastie
and Charlotte Rampage
– that’s who

W.C. FIELDS’ SECRET

I try to imitate W.C. Fields’ voice
and my friends laugh
even tho it comes out
sounding like Henry Kissinger

« you are a funny man » they say

but we all know it came out wrong

the secret of W.C. Fields’ voice
was the cigar
in the other corner
of his mouth

LETTER

I was glad when she wrote

it reminded me that I’d been thinking
about her
a lot
lately

WEATHERMEN IN THEIR WEATHERSTATIONS

few people realize
in this great age of technology
that weathermen in their weatherstations
do not predict the weather
anymore

they control it

they work for the ruling powers
whose main job is to keep the people
under control

I don’t know how they do it
(I’m talking about
the weathermen in their weatherstations
and not the ruling powers)
but they’re getting pretty good
at controlling the weather

and controlling our emotions along with it

word comes down
from the ruling powers
« excessive rain
to cause severe states
of depression
a little sunshine
to give a little hope
then hit ’em with
buckets of rain
to really shatter their spirits »

unfortunately for them
(I’m talking about the ruling powers
and not the weathermen in their weatherstations)
I love the rain
but I’m sure they’ll find some way
to get me

I hear they’ve got these machines
that broadcast special radio waves
that make people paranoid

DREAMS

when I go to bed
and lay down to sleep
the dreams from the night before
are waiting for me
they’re hiding in the sheets
they’re all over the pillow

but when I wake in the morning
those old dreams are gone
wiped out
erased
they’ve been replaced by new ones:
a tree in a courtyard
a spiderweb
a curved stone wall
a field of tall grass

I get up and go about my day
gradually forgetting about these new dreams

but when I go back to sleep at night
the tree and the spiderweb
the stone wall and the grass
are waiting for me
hiding in the sheets
all over the pillow

it’s a different bed
it keeps changing night after night

DALLAS GETS INTO MY DREAMS

I dreamed I fucked Sue Ellen
J.R. was in the other room
helpless
completely defeated

I know the American imagination
has given the world
much greater fictional characters:
Moby Dick
The Great Gatsby
Philip Marlowe
Holden Caufield
Randle McMurphy
Bob Slocum
Billy Pilgrim
and Montana Wildhack

but Montana Wildhack on the cover
of a Kilgore Trout novel
is nothing compared to Sue Ellen in bed

PORTABLE QUARTZ ALARM CLOCKS

on the way to the station
in Geneva
I bought an expensive
portable
quartz alarm clock
it stopped running
soon after I got on the train
I changed its batteries
tapped it against the heel of my boot
but there was nothing I could do
to get it going again

farther down the line
in Neuchatel
I went straight out
and bought another
portable quartz alarm clock
this time a cheap one
I took it back to the hotel
and looked at it
for a couple of hours
it worked fine

but at precisely 4:17 that night
it stopped running
I found this out when I woke up
too late for breakfast
no longer being served
after 10 a.m.

I threw it in the garbage
and decided to take the train
back to Geneva
and get the expensive one replaced

as I was walking thru the station
its alarm went off inside my suitcase

THIS IS NO ORDINARY HOT AIR BALLOON

they’ve commercialized alienation
they’re selling us alienation
they’re making a profit from alienation
ALIEN underarm deodorants
ALIEN floor wax
ALIEN detergents
ALIEN Japanese motor bikes
ALIEN dog foods
you can brush your teeth with ALIEN toothpaste
you can send ALIEN greeting cards if you care enough
you can shave with ALIEN electric razors
you can take fast-acting ALIEN
for instant relief
you can lose weight the ALIEN way
you can fly ALIEN airlines
and watch an ALIEN movie in mid-flight

but I wouldn’t walk a mile for an ALIEN
I wouldn’t even walk outside
I’ll just sit here in front of my ALIEN TV
with a can of ALIEN beer in my hand
and watch some guy on the screen
try to sell me
and ALIEN insurance policy

when the flying saucers land
there shouldn’t be any problem
they’ll feel right at home
at they drive down Sunset Blvd.
in their ALIEN rent-a-cars

MARY SAID SHE HAD TO DO SOME PUSH-UPS ON THE FLOOR WITH THE BOY SHE BROUGHT HOME FROM SCHOOL

one – two – one – two
« ouch! »
one – two – one – two
« wait, hold it, that hurts! »
one – two
« that better? »
« yeah »
one – two
« yeah »
one – two – three – four
« hope my dad doesn’t catch us »
one-two-three-four-five-six
« hope I don’t get pregnant »
onetwo onetwo
« shit, I think I hear my mom’s car! »
four three two ONE!
« Mary . . . is that you? »

IN FLAGRANTE DELICTO

the cops caught up with me in the park
I was sitting on a bench in front of the fountain
I’d been walking around the city all day
daydreaming

I had already scored the winning touchdown
for the Miami Dolphins
in the Superbowl
I had already disrobed and successfully seduced
the girl behind the counter at Hamburger Heaven
2 young divorcees window shopping in the mall
and 3 secretaries in mini-skirts
leisurely returning from their lunch break
I had already been chosen by extra-terrestrials
as the only human being they wished to meet
(the rendez-vous had taken place
on a deserted mountain top
late at night
with great spiritual rewards
for all who showed up)
I had already out-danced John Travolta
in a disco contest
(while browsing thru a record boutique)
and I was in the Monaco Grand Prix
driving my Ferrari Formula One
across the finish line in first place
when the police chief’s voice came blasting
thru the bullhorn:
« we have the park surrounded
you are under arrest
put your hands on your head
and surrender peacefully »

he was right
I looked around and saw a SWAT team in every tree
the National Guard was laying a strip of land mines
between me and the sand box
a division of U.S. Marines had set up a ring
of machine guns and tanks
on the perimeter of the park
choppers were hovering overhead
and the U.S. Airforce was standing by
to do a little low-level napalm bombing
if things got out of control
somehow the U.S. Navy had managed to get
into the fountain
undetected
and had set up a surface-to-air nuclear warhead

of course I hadn’t noticed that last one
that must have happened about the time
my 1st Piano Concerto
was being performed by the N.Y. Philharmonic
Herbert van Karajan, guest conductor
Glenn Gould, soloist
I was in the front row of Carnegie Hall
helping van Karajan keep time
by waving my arms around in the air

there wasn’t much I could do
they had caught me in the act

I put my hands on my head
and guarded closely by a special squad
of F.B.I. agents I was hustled
into an unmarked armored car
and driven down streets lined with angry citizens
shouting insults
and throwing rocks and bottles
to the city prison
where I was locked in maximum security

but the judge in court dismissed the charges
« there’s not a law in the books » he said
« to punish this despicable
anti-social
and (I might add)
obscene sort of behavior »

walking out of court i fell into a daydream
i imagined in was living in a world
where daydreaming was a crime
men with black sacks over their heads
were strapping me down
they were getting ready
to fry me
in that old electric rocking chair

I’M GLAD IT WASN’T MICKEY MOUSE

we couldn’t think of the actor’s name
the one who’d played in Pat Garret and Billy the Kid
who’d played in Long Day’s Journey into Night
who’d played in Once Upon a Time in the West

we walked around for hours but the name wouldn’t come
I stopped to tie my shoelaces
while she stared at a garbage can
then she said it, quietly, as if no one cared
« Jason Robards »

after that Jason Robards was everywhere
Jason Robards on the radio
Jason Robards on the phone
Jason Robards out jogging
Jason Robards walking his dog

the postman was Jason Robards
the gas station attendant was Jason Robards
the man living upstairs was Jason Robards

we had Jason Robards ham and eggs for breakfast
we had Jason Robards spaghetti for dinner
we had Jason Robards coming out our ears
and then the inevitable happened:
I, myself, became Jason Robards

later I went back alone
to find that garbage can
hoping to discover the piece of trash
that had started it all

but the garbage can was empty
Jason Robards, the garbage collector
had been around since then

NO, BUT I READ THE BOOK

I answered the phone
in my best Humphrey Bogart
Lee Marvin
Robert Mitchum voice
« make it quick, I got a gun pointed at my head »
« hi, honey . . . how you been? »
it was a woman I didn’t know
giving me her best Mae West
Marlene Dietrich
Dolly Parton voice
she had the wrong number
but we kept up the conversation
each waiting for the other to give in

finally we decided to meet that night
have a couple of drinks
talk about old times
we agreed on a sleazy bar
just off skid row

she was already there when I arrived
a thin, delicate girl
who looked like she’d just stepped out
of The Shining
as Shelly Duvall
I was wearing my plastic anorak
and white sneakers
« hi » I said, sounding like Richard Dreyfus
in Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind
« is it really you? » she asked sounding
like Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz
« that’s right . . . you must be . . .  »
« gee! »
I was Woody Allen
in Play it Again Sam
she was Mia Farrow
in Rosemary’s Baby

we each had a coke
talked about the weather
and decided to get married

« do you take this woman to be your wife? »
said the preacher
who was Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones
« I wouldn’t be here wasting everybody’s time if I didn’t »
replied Marlon Brando’s Godfather
« skip the formalities, mister, can’t you see
he’s got a gun pointed at his head? »
said Anne Bancroft’s Mrs. Robinson

HE FLOATS LIKE A FLY IN BUTTERMILK
AND SINGS LIKE A DROWNING STOOL PIGEON

I can hear it already:
« he writes like Brautigan
and he reads like Bukowski »
and it’s not intended to be a compliment

before I got into this
I had other things on my mind, like:
I hope it doesn’t rain
and
yes, those pot seeds turned out to be beans
and
don’t forget, garbage day tomorrow
and
that’s right, my kid’s been after me all week
to raise the seat on his bike
and
why not? a cup of coffee would be nice
and
look at the clock, I’ve gotta get into town
and get those books back to the library
and
I wonder, will I get back in time
for the half finals of the U.S. Open on TV?

but now that you mention it
I just may go down to the tracks this afternoon
lose a few bucks on the horses
pick up a couple of 6-packs
and one lonely hooker
on the way back
and
next week
maybe do a little trout fishing in Japan
after all

THE U.S. OPEN

Borg and McEnroe were going at it on my TV
when there was a knock on my door
it was the finals of the U.S. Open
Borg was playing like the cool cat he was
but it looked like the Mac was going to win
the knocking came again
« come in » I shouted
McEnroe was whining at the line judges
frowning at his racket between serves
and looking like he’d rather use it on Borg’s head
instead of that small tennis ball
the knocking continued
I got up
my eyes still glued to the screen
I reached without looking
and opened the door
« come in » I said
my back still turned
as I walked back to the TV
McEnroe bounced the ball a couple of times
and served an ace into Borg’s outside corner
I was hoping McEnroe would lose
but it didn’t look like I was going to get my wish
« he serves well
– for a kid »
the voice was familiar
I turned around
Jimmy Conners was standing there
a scotch on the rocks in his hand
« make yourself at home »
I said
« thanks, I already have »
said Jimmy
« who’s ahead? »

TUNNEL VISION

I’m the doubtful owner if a new pair
of gold frames for my old lenses

I’ve only looked at trees and birds thru them so far
so I don’t know how people are going to turn out

I suppose they’ll look about the same
as they did thru the old pair
that is to say –
a little worried

ANIMALS

1.
human beings are not my favorite animals
dolphins are more graceful
lemurs more pure
horses have more beauty
wolves have more dignity

elephants, tho enormous,
aren’t interested in pushing anyone around
badgers, tho small,
don’t take shit from anyone

rattlesnakes, tho dangerous,
are always reasonable
pigs have a better sense of humor
even a good dog or cat has more sense

but once in a while I meet a human being
who does not make me ashamed of my species
once in a while I meet one
who had grace, purity, beauty, and dignity
and it’s usually a child

2.
humans built this ladder
and then declared
the top rung
was their private property

all the other animals sat around
looking at the ladder
that led down into a hole in the ground
wondering why
anyone would want to climb down there

THOSE WEAR CLOTHES

cats don’t wear hats
flies don’t wear ties
pigs don’t wear wigs
doves don’t wear gloves

ants don’t wear pants
goats don’t wear coats
men don’t go naked
those wear clothes

STEAM BATH

I’d never been to a steam bath before
but I’ll try anything once
as long as it doesn’t include
standing in front of a moving car
or mainlining a gallon of red wine
to see if I can get drunk
without getting the stomach involved

the room was tiled and smelled of chlorine
the girl behind the counter
had on a white uniform
the kind nurses wear
I paid my buck fifty, got my locker key
and strolled down the hall
thru the swinging doors
into a room full of steam

I undressed, put my stuff in the locker
hung the key around my neck
and wandered around, wondering
what I was supposed to do

naked men were strolling around
with towels around their necks
one with glasses
kept wiping the moisture away
with the corner of his towel
at the end of the room
sat a fat man
in a plastic sun deck chair
reading a newspaper
looking like a degenerate Buddha
« first time? »
I nodded
« trying to figure out what to do? »
I nodded again
he pointed to a wooden bench
« sit down and sweat it out –
or if it gets to be too much
you can take a cold shower
they’re by the door where you came in »
I said « thanks » and walked back down the hall
« hey » said the fat man
« you forgot to pick up a towel »

he was right
I was already sweating so much
that even without a shower
I was too wet to put on my clothes
I walked back thru the swinging door
and up to the counter
« can I have a towel, please? »
she looked up from her crossword puzzle
her eyes traveling from my face
to my dangling genitalia
she put her hand over her mouth
and with her eyes wide open
backed out of the room

how about that?
I’d forgotten I was a man
and that she was a woman
I wished that would happen more often

SEVEN FAILED ROMANCES

1.

I had my tongue in my cheek
and the lights turned down low
she had nothing but time
and a bad reputation
after that we just sort of
drifted apart

2.

she sat up in bed knitting
I lay on the couch in the next room
listening to the Ronettes on the radio
she kept calling for me to come to bed
but I knew she was knitting baby clothes
so I went to sleep where I was

3.

I was just off the plane from San Francisco
arriving at the house
where some friends were staying

she was coming out the door
as I was going in

she was on her way to catch a plane
to New York City

4.

she was 18 and looked 27
I was 42 and felt like 33
if I’d been 3 years younger
and she’d been 3 years older
we would have been perfect for each other

5.

I was tired of being alone
and happy to be alive
I was ready to fall in love with anyone

she was at the end
of a string of broken hearts
and looking for solitude

6.

everything was going fine
until the next morning
when she ate a huge breakfast
then put her fingers down her throat
and puked it up
saying she had to watch her weight

7.

we had an electric attraction
every time we touched
there was a spark
we got a shock
we tried to imagine a future
of gum boots
and rubber gloves
it was too much
for either one of us

TIME LIMITS

people are always putting time limits
on themselves and others
« you have exactly one minute
to make up your mind »
« if you’re not out of town by sunset
you’re going to be in big trouble »
« I’ll give you 48 hours
to think it over »
« we have one week to come up with a solution
or we’ll all be out of a job »

it’s always round numbers
a day, a week, a minute, an hour
sometimes it’s a second
« if you’re not out of this room
in ten seconds flat
I’ll throw you out the window »
you never hear:
« I’ll give you 47 hours and 52 minutes
to get out of town »
it’s always 48
or 24
or 12
it’s never ten minutes before or after
sunset
it’s always sunset

I sometimes think
that if I had to make up my mind
a minute would not be enough
maybe it would take a minute and a half
other times it wouldn’t take any time at all
I would already know the answer
I would have been thinking about it
for the past 3 years

THAT MAGIC TRICK SET

walking down a street when I was a kid
I used to play a game with myself
if I don’t make it to the next lamp post
before that car I hear coming gets there
then . . .
the punishments were always unusual and unjust
they’ll drop the atomic bomb
or I’ll never grow any taller
I’ll be a midget all my life
or worse I won’t get that magic trick set
for my birthday

sometimes I won, sometimes I lost
it was hard losing

now I just walk down the street
it’s all different
I hear the cars pass
without looking up
and I don’t even see the lamp posts

WHITE NOISE

we need noise
we’d go crazy without it
it’s always there
a refrigerator humming
an airplane passing
a dog’s bark
the sound of the radio next door
even those embarrassing so-called silences
at the dinner table with invited guests
when no one knows what to say
you can always hear someone
swallow their food

you get the kids out of the house
the phone rings
when the conversation in the bar dies down
someone cranks up the pinball
when the singer’s finished his song
you can’t help clapping your hands
even when a TV station goes off the air
it leaves behind all that beautiful
white
noise

imagine silence
no noise – nothing at all
it would be a total
screaming
silence

ANOTHER AGE ANOTHER CENTURY

I was born in 1941
everything that happened before that
seems remote
even the 30’s belong to another age
another century
the depression years, the names
of Al Capone and John Dillinger
seem far removed in time
they don’t have anything to do with me

my son was born in 1976
the 60’s will seem the same to him
Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix
will be quaint names from a distant past
even the disco music
we’re listening to on the radio right now
will seem to him someday
as the music of Glenn Miller
and Benny Goodman seem to me
remote
of another age
belonging to another century

RINGS OF FIRE AND AN ASSHOLE FULL OF ICE

I read in a book that when you take a shot of whiskey
in cold weather
it’s only your imagination that warms you up
(quote) alcohol takes blood away from the surface of the skin
if anything it causes a fall in body temperature (unquote)

I quoted this passage to a guy
who was raised in a strict puritan family
he told me this:
« I don’t know
every time I drink a drop of the Devil’s Temptation
I see rings of fire rise up around me
lord, it’s enough to keep me warm all winter »

now when I take a shot of whiskey
I don’t see rings of fire
but by the end of the bottle
I can sit out in the snow, naked
eating vanilla ice cream cones
and ask the lord when he’s gonna send
a little cool weather my way
for a change

AUTOGRAPHED GRAFFITI
(copied from the walls of imaginary men’s toilets
all over the imaginary world)

it’s wake up in the morning
with mung (!) on your tongue
zof (!) in your eyes
and flatch (!) in your dung

the old toilet papers
are slices of truth
you brush your teeth
and lose another tooth
(Burma Shave)

I am a bear
I live in bear land
bear skin I wear
what a bear I am
(anon.)

whoever wrote the above
is full of shit
he’s also such an anus
that all the laxatives in the world
won’t help him unload
(Winnie-the-Pooh)

well, let me tell you folks
that shit blew my head off
man, I was flying
(Timothy Leary, Ph.D.)

if you don’t like solitaire
why don’t you try passing the time
by playing a little 4-hand canasta?
(the Manchurian Candidate)

(hastily scrawled in ball point
beneath a pair of dirty underwear
nailed to the wall)
here hangs Paganini’s bikini
she was a great lady
and she sure as hell could play the fiddle
(Yehudi Menuhin)

after the third beep
the perfect obscene phone call
will become a thing of the past
((signed) the Third Beep

several secretaries
in a subway chewing gum
advertising athlete’s feet
and dreams for deaf and dumb
oh lord, why hast speech forsaken me?
(Matthew 6, Verse 35)

in this life I am a freak
in the one before I guess I was a Greek
the time before that I must’ve had a beak
next time around I think I’ll learn to speak
but right now, friends, I’ve gotta take a leak
– The Bar-Bell Buddha
alias the Mystical Weight Lifter

for those who are interested
in low-cost harmonica lessons
please sign below –
Scarlet O’Hara
Buffalo Bill
Che Guevara
Cecil B. de Mille

Don Quixote
Short Fat Fanny
Casanova
Little Orphan Annie

Zarathustra
Ali McGraw
Romeo and Juliet
and Sam Peckinpaw

Joan Baez
Sigmund Freud
Aunt Jemima
Harold Lloyd

Vincent Price
the Virgin Mary
Mahalia Jackson
Dirty Harry

Jerry Lee Lewis
and Christine Keeler
Dolly Parton
and the Pittsburgh Steelers

a rabbit in the fields
seen thru the squares of a wire fence
jumps from frame to frame
– Waylon Jennings

a fly walks on my window
behind the window
telephone wires?
– Willie Nelson

these Nelson and Jennings characters
don’t know nothin’ about haiku
here’s one to show y’all
how it’s done:

let me give you a hand
let me give you a mojo hand
let me give you a mojo handshake
– Toshiro Mifune

my record collection is full of dead people
– Philip Marlowe

I guess I got the wrong door
but now that I’m here
I’m gonna make the best
of a good situation
and show you boys
exactly how I want that grape peeled
– Alice in Wonderland

listen Alice
I don’t mind you quoting me
but I think you should know
I’ve been in her long before you
and I’ve just been too busy
to do any serious letter writing
– Mae West

I’ve been standing in here all day
staring at the wall
trying to think
of something
to write on it
but all I can think of
is that roses are red
and violets are blue thing
I learned in school
I can’t remember how the rest of it goes
please help me
– Richard M. Nixon

Dear Dick
I think it goes like this:
roses are red
violets are blue
let’s ride into town
on a fat kangaroo
– Frank Sinatra
p.s. but I’m not sure
could someone check it out?

well, I checked it out
and you got it wrong
here’s the original version:
the moving finger writes
and having writ – moves on
roses are red
and violets are blue
– Omar Khayyam Jr.

Japanese and Chinese poets
used to write their poems
then cast them into rivers
and watch them float away
when you’re finished reading this wall
please flush it down the toilet
(the management)

IF I’D BEEN AROUND

if I’d been around when Einstein was struggling
with the final equations of his Unified Field Theory
I would have made a few rapid calculations
and had it wrapped up in a couple of hours
and we could have gone out for a drink

if I’d been around when Leonardo da Vinci
was painting the Mona Lisa
he would have handed me the brush and said
« here – you do the smile »

if I’d been around when Christ was crucified
I would have talked P.Pilate out of the whole thing
which would have saved the Roman Empire
the cost of a bag of nails
and the rest of the world a lot of needless pain

if I’d been around when the Wright Brothers
were leaning to fly
I would have showed them how to skip
the greasy kid’s stuff
and have a man on the moon
by the end of the week

if I’d been around when the Sheik of Arabia
was having trouble with his harem
I would have taken 2 dozen
of his best girls aside
for an evening of pleasure and instruction
and left them walking bow-legged
for the rest of their lives

if I’d been around for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin
Jesse Owens would have been standing
on the 2nd step of the podium
watching me also bring home world’s records
in the high jump, the mile, and the marathon
all of which would have remained unbroken
well into the 22nd century

if I’d been around when everybody thought the world was flat
I would have beaten Columbus by a thousand years
and been elected the first president
I would have been affectionately known as
the father of our country
and today my picture would be on the dollar bill

you may think I’m a little outspoken
when I say all this
but I say it in all humility
modesty has always been
one of my most outstanding qualities

OKLAHOMA SIX-PACK
(or an Honest Film Critic is Hard to Find)

my last year in high school
6 of us guys went out one night
and got drunk
it was something to do
we got in Pete’s car
3 in front, 3 in back
and drove around town drinking beer
there were 2 cases in the trunk
we kept getting out to piss
and get new supplies
then someone said we should go to Santa Rosa
so we did
it was something to do
we drove around Santa Rosa for a while
drinking beer, getting drunk
then someone said we should go to a movie
so Pete pulled over at the first show we came to
and we staggered in
each with a couple of cans of beer under his jacket
the movie theater was crowded
but we stumbled around in the dark
and managed to find 6 seats in a row
the movie was somewhere in the middle
it took about 10 minutes
before one of us discovered the name of the movie
« hey! it’s Oklahoma! »
we were all seeing double
sitting in a row, still hitting the beer
it was about the worst choice we could have made
a musical
none of us ever went to see musicals
even when we were sober
we sat there in a row, seeing double
trying to figure out how we got there
up on the screen there was a dancing scene
a bunch of innocent-looking girls
in white lace petticoats
were trying to act virginal
and sexy at the same time
then came a song
fake sad voices poured out of the screen
« poor Jud is dead »
and Charlie, who was 2 seats down,
puked all over the row in front of us
that was when we decided
we’d seen enough of Oklahoma
we were moving too fast at the time
for me to ask Charlie
if it was the beer or the movie
that had made him sick
and later I forgot about it
but now I’m sure it was the movie

RHYTHM ‘N BLUES FOOTBALL

in the 8th grade I wanted to play football
I got on the team as the 4th string quarterback
the coach invented that position for me
the main job of the 4th string quarterback
was to keep the bench warm
and stay out of everybody’s way

the last game of a losing season
we were playing a team from the orphan’s home
they had a black guy in their back field
he was strong and fast and good
we were losing 75-0
with one minute to play
the coach put me into the game
at defensive left guard
I took off my glasses and trotted in
thinking this was how my Uncle Chuck
must have felt as an all-American lineman

on the next play the orphan home team
ran a play over left guard
the lineman on the other side pulled out
leaving a hole
I stood up, blinking
trying to figure out
what was going on
without my glasses
I could see about a foot in front of me
and that’s when a black ball of fire
hit me face on
ran right over me
knocked me flat
he didn’t stick around
to see my lights go out

I woke up on the sidelines
final score 82-0
that was the last time
I had a job as a 4th-string quarterback
and it was the first time
I’d seen a black guy
– up close that is
you might say it was my first taste
of racial conflict
later that night
James Brown on my radio
sounded different

I turned on the radio
and heard this black ball of fire
coming at me
I knew if I was going to win any games
I would have to change sides
I turned up the volume
and lay back on my bed
as James Brown
the nation’s number 1 Rhythm ‘n Blues Fullback
plowed thru my room
and scored another touchdown

THE SIXTIES

I don’t like to think about the 60s
those years were too important then
they were too complex
and now it’s too late
no one will ever figure out
what went down
the 60s was an unzipped pair of pants

the 70s was a slap in the face
a slap in the face is easy to understand

I prefer the 80s
there’s nothing to understand

SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
CROSSING OVER INTO KINGS CANYON NATIONAL

backpacking in the High Sierras
John and I were 6 days out
Sequoia National Park
crossing over into Kings Canyon National
we hadn’t seen another human
or man-made thing all that time
that’s what we wanted
pine trees
waterfalls
granite rocks
streams from snow meltdowns
that’s what we’d come for

we came to a wide wooden bridge
someone had built across the Kern River
we were standing in the middle
looking upstream
at the fast-moving water
over jagged rocks
6 days out
70 miles from the nearest human
when we were attacked from behind
by 3 jet fighter planes
coming in low
using that bridge for target practice
they bombed the shit out of that bridge
with rolls of toilet paper

BACK ROOM STRATEGY

speaking of toilet paper
I had a temporary job one summer
at the army depot in Oakland
packing CONEX boxes
(metal containers
6 feet high, wide, and deep)
with whatever was on the list I had been given

one week I packed nothing but toilet paper
tons and tons of it

it was all being shipped to Japan and Korea
none of it to Vietnam
where there was a war going on

from this I learned an important lesson:
you’ve got to finish a war
before you’re allowed to wipe your ass

THE FACELESS CHEERING SECTION

« give me an I! »
« I! »
« give me a D! »
« D! »
« give me an E! »
« E! »
« give me an N! »
« N! »
« give me a T! »
« T! »
« give me another I! »
« I! »
« give me another T! »
« T! »
« give me a Y! »
« Y! »
« what’s that spell? »
« I don’t know »

TALK ABOUT COINCIDENCE

after dinner I tilted back
my chair and we exchanged stories
I was talking about the winter
but I was thinking about the spring

the conversation shifted
to ordinary misfortune
I was talking about the forest
but I was thinking about the trees

someone turned the record over
a joint was passed around
I was talking about smoke
but I was thinking about fire

the conversation died down
someone got up to leave
I was talking about me
but I was thinking about you

CHINESE CULTURE EXHIBITION

I saw an exhibition of Chinese culture

they had a bunch of mechanical birds
that bounced around
when you wound them up

they had miniature playing cards
you had to look at
thru a microscope

they had a few rows of plates
cups
and saucers

it ended with a demonstration
of a guy who crushed
a light bulb
into tiny bits
with his bare hands

I always thought western culture
was in trouble
but we’ve still saved a few things
for the mind
(I think)

THE MEETING OF GREAT MINDS AND BODIES

thousands of years ago
2 people were walking an open road
approaching each other from miles away
neither had seen another human being for days
(for there weren’t many people in those times)

as these 2 people approached each other
they had the same thoughts we have today
when we pass one another in crowds?
will he rob me?
kill me?
man or woman?
can i fuck it?

as the 2 people drew nearer
more definitions were created
« hey, he’s got one of those
fancy new shirts! »
« jesus, she’s got a nice ass »
« wow, he’s got a crippled leg »
« man, what’s that perfume she’s wearing? »

it was definite now
one was a man
the other was a woman
they got closer until finally
they stood face to face

and in the moment that followed
the events of the next one hundred thousand years
for the entire human race
were determined

AND THE END IS NOT IN SIGHT

you tell your story
but it doesn’t come out right
so you tell it again

but you’re not satisfied
with the way you told it
so you tell it again

but you forgot to include
some of the most interesting parts
so you tell it again

and when you’re finished
you realize
that all the fun you had
trying to tell your story
should be included too
so you start over
and tell your story again

The pleasures of rolling downhill inside the gates of the garden of eden

POEMS 1986-2001  |  TUCKER ZIMMERMAN

CREDO

I believe in the power of words
(I’d be wasting my time here if I didn’t)

I believe in the force of language
(I’d be a fool to stick around if I didn’t)

I believe in the Lone Ranger
(he had such a faithful Indian companion)

I believe in the holiness of the human spirit
and forget about the limits we burden ourselves with

I believe in the mythological Jesus Christ
(I must or I wouldn’t be taking his name in vain)

I believe in the werewolf
He has lived inside of me for as long as I can remember
We’re old friends.
I believe in the magic of music
I believe in the music of words

APPROACHING WISDOM

approaching 60
feel myself slowing down
muscles
blood
brain
tongue and bowels

they’ve still got this idea
that the Old Man is wise
that his words are pearls
of perfection

there he sits – on his throne
choosing his words carefully
spinning webs of wisdom

DON’T YOU BELIEVE IT

the geezer is just slowing down
pillaging an empty memory box
or just maybe
trying to think of something to say

[ February, 2001 ]

ASHTRAY GARDEN

She stopped smoking one day.

A week later, mysteriously
a flower garden appeared
in the ashtray of her car.

I wanted to see it for myself.

She drove me along the river road
past fishermen and boats drifting
on the slow-moving water.
Cautiously I pulled out the ashtray.
Inside were dozens of tiny red roses,
just blossomed, freshly watered.
Their scent filled the car.

« I don’t know where they come from, »
she said, « And I never know
what I’m going to get next. »

On the way home
I opened the ashtray again.
This time it was buttercups.

AMAZING MINDS

A man and a woman
watched people throwing trash in the woods

The man said, « If I ever figured out
why people do that
I’d probably go crazy. »

The woman grunted.

The man said, « If Harrison Ford came on TV
and said something like that in an interview
you’d clap your hands
and say, ‘What an amazing mind.' »

The woman said, « Harrison Ford
does have an amazing mind.
He knows what he’s talking about.
With you it’s just accidental. »

1984

Orwell gave the year a lot of advance publicity
(tho George was not entirely to blame –
he wanted to call the book 1946)

Richard Brautigan ceased to be a living writer in 1984.
Suddenly the number of his published works
were definite and my collection was sadly complete.
We don’t know if his death was accidental or intentional.
We do know that he wrote in a way that made absurd
a distinction between the two.

In 1984 I read books published in 1972,
1978, 1941, 1956, 1951, 1952, 1937, and 1946.
But none published in 1984.

APRIL FOOLS TO HALLOWEEN

1.
From April to October
I listened to the ballgames on the radio
American Forces Radio from Frankfurt.
Because I lived in Europe they were always
night games. Sometimes the ninth inning
didn’t roll round until 5 AM. I’d come
up from my studio and tune in for a few
innings or occasionally an entire game
settle back on the couch and let the voices
flow over and into my ears, the voices
of Ernie Harwell of the Detroit Tigers
and Jack Buck of the St. Louis Cards
and Vin Skully when the Dodgers
were playing the Giants. Their voices
floated in and out of focus
on the shifting airwaves, the signal
receding to a blur
and mixing in with Slavic voices
and Greek jumping bean accordions
and a snatch of a Verdi opera as
an Italian station jingled in
at two ten a.m. on the dot.
Then the signal would return
so strongly so clearly
I could hear the crack of a bat.
Once I heard a vendor in the background
calling out to sell his hotdogs
halfway around the world.
I didn’t care about the scores
about who won or lost
I just liked the sound of the game
and the way it took me back
and connected me with myself
when I was ten, eleven, twelve
lying in bed on a summer night
and listening to the Giants
go after the Dodgers
with Willie Mays out in centerfield
and Juan Marechal on the mound.
Tho one year by the end of the playoffs
and the start of the World Series
I was rooting for the Boston Red Sox.
Ken Coleman promised me the Sox
would pull it out. Ken was wrong.
But nothing was lost.
It was the ritual that attracted me.
The rules, the flow of voices
and that pocket of comfort I’d drop
down inside of like a foul ball
into a well-oiled first baseman’s glove.

[ the 1986 World Series ended on Monday, October 27,
when the New York Mets beat the Boston Red Sox 8 to 5 ]

2.
From April to October he watched his hair grow.
In April he got a crew cut. The comb lay flat
against his skull and snipping scissors
took off every sprout of hair above it.
Each hair was now of equal length
and the length was measured in millimeters.
He had a thin carpet covering his head.
He patted it with the palm of his hand
and the hedgehog carpet came to life.
By October each of those hairs growing
out to equal length were standing
six inches above his scalp.
He couldn’t get a single hair to lie down.
He thought of his friend in high school
who kept getting sent from classroom
to the wash room to wet down
his wild and unwilling hair
to make it toe the line
and make him look like all the
rest of us junior Bing Crosbys.
The teachers called it insubordination.
They almost threw him out of school.
I thought about my friend as I soaked my head
under the faucet and brushed the wet rug
back until I looked like a blues singer
from Chicago.

[ This is what happened in 1986 between April Fools and Halloween ]

BACKYARD COLLECTION OF PENDULUMS

How can you say this is normal?
A 2-car garage and a 6-air mattress swimming pool
a cell phone in every pocket
a TV screen sucking at your eyes
from every room?
You call that normal?

Why don’t you trade in your cars
and buy 200 motorcycles
and crash-park them in your garage?
Why don’t you stock your pool
with beavers, toss in a few trees
watch them build a dam
then sit on your back porch swing
and shoot them with slingshot golf balls?
That would be a lot closer to normal.

Or maybe toss out all your cell phones
and join a sect that wears electric pink
satin underwear and worships slow motion
candid camera tapes of pregnant mothers
trying to stop smoking

Or why don’t you just put a bullet
thru each of your TV screens
(it’s not true, they don’t implode
and imploding suck everything
into the vast void of the networks beyond
including your face
and the contents of your skull.
It’s just not true. Elvis did it all the time
and he never lost any weight).

If you did all that
and told me you lead a normal life
I’d have to agree,
but only if you came over to my place
and played with my collection of pendulums
in the backyard
and danced upon the live polar bear rug
in the bath room
(« Hard to get that critter to lay down, »
I’d tell you).
then stepped into my telephone booth
in the kitchen (squeezed between
the fridge and the stove)
dropped a quarter in the slot, dialed
a number at random and listened
to some idiot in Idaho scream your ears off
about how many yo-yos it takes to power
a parachute after you’ve jumped off a cliff.

THE BELGIANS

the Belgians are a peaceful people

what more can I say?

I can say:
they eat tons of waffles
with whipped cream daily
they eat megatons of frits
they drink a several lakes of beer
and smoke 22 million packs a day

I can say:
of course they’re peaceful
after consuming all that crap
it’s a miracle they’re not comatose

From the BOOK OF ROCK AND ROLL

And they came
the electric guitar wizards and magicians
they came with their tidal waves of lust
that almost uprooted the entire
western harmonic tradition
Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton
Johnny Winters, Neil Young.
Who would have thought
that B.B. King and Chuck Berry
could have started such an avalanche of musical lava.

And the Magicians and Wizards
brought with them their Dynamic Drummers
who brought their thundering drums
that almost uprooted the History of Music
those nameless, faceless SHADOWS
at the back of the stage
who powered the engines
that powered the huge
Trucks and Trailers
of ROCK and ROLL

And they brought with them their Singers
Singers whose words and voices
almost swamped the History of Poetry
Singer Shamans. Singer Snakes.
Singer Wolves, Singer Werewolves
Singer Weasels, Eagles, Beagles.
Singer Dolphins, Bats and Bears,
Fireflies, Butterflies
Dogs, Cats and Lemurs
the Singers came, they sung, they conquered.
Jim Morrison, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan,
Joe Cocker, Richie Havens, Tim Hardin
Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye,
Otis Redding, Neil Young
Grace Slick, Aretha Franklin

And they gathered into Powerful Tribal Groups
The Beach Boys, The Band, Creedence, Chambers
Brothers, Rolling Stones, Ronettes, Beatles,
Buffalo Springfield, The Grateful Dead,
Loving Spoonful, Sir Douglas Quintet,
Canned Heat, Love, The Fugs, The Doors

Who could have imagined
that Ray Charles and Mahalia Jackson
would give birth to such off-spring?

BREAKFAST IN CHINATOWN

Sneaking out of North Beach 3 a.m.
along Grant Ave. with my sack
of brand new City Lights paperbacks
(Kerouac (35¢),Kierkegaard, Albion Moonlight)
deep into Chinatown, headless chickens
hanging behind dark shop windows
down 5 steps into a side street cellar
it’s Hooey Looie Gooey’s 4 rows
of old, body-worn wooden booths.
I’m the only white face in the place
grab a bowl, head back to the kitchen
where the cook ladles my bowl
full of beef rice and gravy, a sprinkle
of chopped onions 25¢
full meal, all you can eat
squeeze into a booth surrounded by 3 a.m
chopstick Chinese coming from work,
going to work, breakfast and dinner
the same. Beef Rice! 25¢!

CHARLES BUKOWSKI : 1920-1994

Chinaski’s dead.
He talked about it
wrote about it
and now
he’s gone over
to see what it’s really like.

Over to where
critics are not allowed,
landlords never collect rent
and there’s always a parking place
for a beat-up Volks.

Over to where
horses have wings
and the players never miss a bet,
where the beer drinkers
wine drinkers
whiskey drinkers
never wake up with a hangover, over
to where the used-up whores are angels
and poems
are leaves from angel trees
and the leaves are so plentiful that nobody
bothers bending over to pick them up
except once a year when everybody
gets out their brooms
and sweeps them into a big pile
and sings while they burn
and the smoke pours up to heaven
as if from a big cigar.

[ March 10, 1994 ]

CATS

Lumberjack
Tom the Sneaker
Bird Abortion
Rat Puke
Chunga
Breakdance
Tip Tail
Burnt Rentals
Shortstop
Moon

It doesn’t matter what you call your cat
he’ll come whenever he feels like it

CORKY POEMS
for Ellen

I. DOG LOG

I took the dog out to the back garden
he pissed on the grass
he sniffed at a bush
he barked at a bird
no shit

II. DAWG LAWG

Corky leaps into the garden!
sprays the entire lawn
with voluminous amounts of urine!
devours a few birds
and a couple of cats!
howls at the moon
until he sees there is no moon visible
so he screams at the sun instead!
waves his tail at a couple of passing planes,
then races back inside
to cop a few more Zs.
Once again, no shit

CHINESE ROOM MATE

Her roommate was crying out in her sleep
in Chinese.
She said, « It’s OK. Don’t worry, » and she
rushed out of the darkened room into the hall.
I wondered how I could get to know this girl
now that she had a Chinese roommate
who went to bed so early
and had so much influence over her.

HOW TO WRITE A CHINESE POEM

go to china
take the plane
forget your name
come home flapping
your own wings

HOW TO WRITE A JAPANESE POEM

go to Japan
take the train
listen to the temple bells
get out your old marimba
and join in

sometime late at night
you will hear the cry
of the ancient Chip Monk

ignore the ancient Chip Monk

CYBERPUNK POEM

She was 15 the first time she jacked.
(That’s jack, Jack: as in plugged in)
Someday you will give your love away
Tokyo airport flashing past
contained in chains of
virtual molecules. The doctor
in mirrorshades at the baggage
claim carrousel: You got the face
of a 16-year old girl and the spine
of a 70-year old android.
Flying in from Seattle.
The boy with the chrome fingernails.
The fiberoptic co-axial cable
trailing away from the socket
in the back of his skull
trailing away into infinity
smoke rising from a plastic pack
of fake cigarettes
strapped to his bicep.
Some days you can’t give your love away

CYNICISM
for Quanah

cynicism is a waste of good mind;
a futile attempt to protect yourself
from a cruel, harsh world.
What can you do?
Don’t worry.
You’ll get over it.

DATE

she was shorter than he imagined
she had buck teeth
and she was blind

DOG TROT

the dog trots down the frozen street
tiny puffs of steam
popping out of his anus
as he farts along

DREAMS

come on kids, dream

and keep your dreams alive
let’s make them all come true
that’s what they’re for

all you got to do
is dream a little more

DRUMMERS
for Ditch

All over the world there are mountains
and valleys and forests.
There are lakes and rivers
and oceans. There are towns and villages
and cities. And everywhere you go, it seems,
every time you turn around, every time
you get settled down and start counting
on a little peace and quiet
YOU BUMP INTO A DRUMMER.

On the road, in roadside cafes. Drummers.
In five & dimes and supermarkets. Drummers.
Banks, car washes, drive-in movies. Drummers.
Even in your kitchen they’re in your face
beating their tom toms, whisking their skins
and tapping their cymbals.
This morning I went in to take a leak
and found a cool beater in my bathtub.
I sent him out to the garage
to smash in the back end
of my old pickup truck.

Tomorrow I’ll drive to the south
in search of a harmonica player.

[ Gig Harbor Washington, Oct. 1996 ]

ELEPHANT STORM

thunder from across the flatlands
vague flashes of lightning in the cloudy sky
It booms closer
and we count the seconds between the
flash
and the
boom
« one elephant . . . two elephants . . .  »
(and so forth right up to)
« 12 elephants! »

12 miles away.

the storm creeps closer
8 elephants
4 elephants
the lightning strikes are visible now
huge electronic snakes curling out of the sky.

« only 3 elephants. »

then
Flash! Bang!
Right on top of us.
NO ELEPHANTS!

EULOGY

How’s this for a eulogy at my funeral

Delivered by an eleven-year old street urchin.

« He always stopped in the street and talked to us. He didn’t have to. We knew he was a real smart dude because he read books and he composed music and stuff like that, maybe he was even a genius or something, and most dudes like that are snobs and would never talk to the likes of us. But not him. He was real cool. He always asked us how we were doing. He wanted to make sure we were doing OK. »

Not a dry eye in the house.

WHAT KIND OF FATHER WAS I? (PART ONE)

Me (age 38): Hey, man. Want to stop
and climb around on that stack of boxes?
My Son (age 3): I don’t think so, dad. It looks kind of dangerous.

WHAT KIND OF FATHER WAS I? (PART TWO)

Me (age 41, in the front seat, smoking a joint): Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking this is some kind of dangerous drug, that I might start acting strange and say a few goofy things. But don’t be alarmed. I won’t go berserk or anything like that. Everything’s undercontrol. Completely . . . even tho those polar bears who just drove by in that pickup truck looked a little weird . . . and that semi we just passed, I know, it was about three miles long. But that’s OK. None of this is real or at least I don’t think it is -except you and me, we’re real, that much I’m certain of, and maybe those bees buzzing around in the glove compartment are real too, but I’m NOT going to open the glove compartment, not at this particular junction of our life at least . . . cause like I said, I’ve got everything under control -everything. »

My son (age 5, from the backseat): « Where’s mom? »

WHAT KIND OF FATHER WAS I? (PART HREE)

My Son (age 13, while walking the streets of Amsterdam on a warm summer day): That’s just some old hippie stoned on grass

Me (age 48): Yeah but thank god he’s there.

WHAT KIND OF FATHER WAS I? (PART FOUR)

My Son (age 15): That sounds like something Marshall McLuhan would say.

Me (age 50): What do you know about Marshall McLuhan?

FLASHION SHOW

She was shrugging her fist
and twisting her teeth.
She was blinking her butt
and telescoping her belly button.

What kind of woman is this
(I asked myself) who can perform
such original feats of entropy?
Is she the kind of woman
I’d want as a daughter in law?

It was some kind of show on TV.
They called it The Flashion Show
and not even the ordinary freaks
were invited to strut their stuff
This was a special event
for a rare species
of human mutation.

Those who could wrinkle their kneelobes
and flex their eyelips.

FLUPILL

« Wo ist der flupill? »
« Rat unter your tunk! »

GAUFRES

« Laquelle, m’sieur? »
« La Cerise, s’il vous please. »

REPORT CARD

How good is my French?

If I were to get my report card now
I’d get a C minus

THE REST OF THE REPORT CARD

a B minor headache in English
a riptide sine wave in Music
a four-minute bike mile in PE
redundancy upon redundancy in World History
denial upon denial in American Politics
shifting borders in Geography
a lot of zeros, followed by many more zeros in Math
a matchbox model of a Pontiac Convertible
with power steering in Driver’s Ed
a mistletoe kiss and a busted toenail in Drama

FROGS WITH WINGS
in memory of Marion McMahon

I never met Catherine Deneuve.
I don’t know why I told you I did.
The word just jumped out of my mouth
like a frog without legs
and landed on the wet pavement between us.
I looked down at the frog
and wished it would grow wings and fly away.

I worked long hours on the music
for that movie about Marilyn Monroe.
I had a video tape of it
playing in my studio,
right in front of my face,
day and night for 2 weeks.
I remember a couple of times
Catherine Deneuve jumped out of the screen
and landed in my face.
I can’t that she was beautiful
but I must say she was no frog.
Frogs don’t jump like that.

The girl I worked with on that movie
(who was my only link to C. Deneuve)
was definitely not beautiful.
She never washed her hair
and she had several clumps of bristles
on her upper lip. I kept hoping
she would grow a mustache
and make it complete.
She reminded me of a Bulgarian
long-distance runner in the 1976 Olympics.
She had met Catherine Deneuve many times.
If Catherine Deneuve was beautiful
it didn’t rub off.

To prevent any more legless frogs
jumping from my mouth,
I could make list of famous people
I have met and what I did with them.
If you saw this list, you would say
« You had no need to tell me
that you met Catherine Deneuve. »

The point is:
I didn’t WANT to meet her at all.
I’m not attracted to Catherine Deneuve
and I don’t especially like her.

What I do WANT to know, however, is this:
What happened to the stone
you skipped 6 times
across Lake Kawashawigamah.
I’m sure the stone hit each of the syllables

KA – WA – SHA – WI – GA – MAH

but what happened to the stone after that?

Did it just fall into the water and sink
to the bottom like a tiny lost treasure island?
Or did Catherine Deneuve, dive into the lake,
and catch it in her hands, saying,
« I ask for a cool cucumber and you give me this? »

Or did a frog leap out of the water,
catch the stone in his mouth,
then grow wings and fly away?

THREE GIRLFRIENDS IN THE DARK

The first tripped over my shoe
which I’d left in the middle of the room.
The moment she hit the floor
she bounced up and shouted, « YOU SLOPPY
BASTARD! » and other pissed-off exclamations
that went on and on for at least ten minutes

The second tripped over the same shoe,
fell to the floor and lay there,
rolling around, moaning,
trying to make me feel bad.

The third just stumbled
and trotted on into the bathroom.
« Hey, you got any toothpaste? » she shouted.
I knew she was looking into the mirror
and smiling like a pregnant goose.

« GOD BLESS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA »
(R. Reagan’s last public words as president)

In Jan. 1989, after 8 years in the White House
R. Reagan gave a farewell speech

What is significant here
is not the speech
but that I listened to it

I figured I was safe

7 more days in office
and he’d be swept away
with all the other presidential trash

up until that night
I hadn’t listened to any of his speeches

not a single one

when one would come on the radio
I’d hit the dial
faster than Ronnie
could hit the red button

if my dial had been a red button
I would have blown up the world
several times

I couldn’t listen
I didn’t dare
I was sure I’d be so scared
I wouldn’t be able to sleep

and I’m glad I never did

8 years without sleep
would have been a long time

so old Ronnie said goodbye
on the radio
and I listened
and sure enough
there it was
the rhetoric
the double talk
the lies
and other samples
of ordinary bullshit
« Aw shucks I’m just
a kid with freckles skateboard
under one arm slingshot
in a back pocket, a coke-guzzling
bubble gum popping baseball card
trading kind of next-door used
lemon-aid salesman and when
I grow I swear I’m gonna drop
the bomb on all those commies
over there in Europe and Asia
and South America and Cuba
and make sure God blesses
the United States of America. »

my reaction was predictable
7 days and nights without sleep

it wasn’t too bad
nothing compared to my reaction
when George Bush gave his Inaugural
address a few days later

TALKING TO THE RADIO

Peter Gabriel came on the radio
and said he wanted to be my sledge hammer

I said to Peter, « I don’t want you
to be my sledge hammer. »

Peter said, « I want to be
your chauffer. »

And I said, « Forget it
I don’t want a sledge hammer
driving my car. »

Then Jimi Hendrix came on
and Jimi said he was stone free

« I’m stone free, » he said

I said, « OK, Jimi, that’s nice
you’re stone free
some people are stone free
and some are not. »

« Yeah, I’m stone free, » said Jimi

then I tweaked the dial
and Lynn Anderson told me
she never promised me a rose garden
but I already knew that
– she never promised me anything

another tweak
and Credence Clearwater Revival came on
singing « Have you ever seen the rain
comin’ down on a sunny day? »
And I said: « Mr. Revival,
not only have I seen the rain
comin’ down on a sunny day
I have also seen the rain
comin’ down on a Later Day Saint
so don’t try to impress me
with meteorological phenomena
that metaphorically suggest
the existence
of a Supreme Being. »

and Mr. Revival faded out
and Lou Reed faded in
telling me to take a walk
on the wild side.

and I before I could say
« Lou, can’t do
– I’ll walk with you
all the way to New Orleans
and back to Kalamazoo
but I ain’t getting no tattoo –  »

Todd Rundgren jumped in
and told me he saw the light
in my eyes
and I said, « Todd, I know
how you feel. I too
see the light
in my eyes, I see it
everytime I look in the mirror
and find I’m stuck
in the middle with you. »

so I switched off the radio

more musical excitement
from beyond the extremes
of the atmosphere
from all those alien creatures
in their space ships
from UFO Land
would change the shape of my face
and ruin my natural sense
of rhythm forever

I’ll need both
when it comes time
to twist again
like we did last summer

GUN FREE

Kid with Z.Z. Top
turned up full blast
on his walkman
ears plugged in
singing along:
« Gun free . . .
gun free and Steve. »
Actually the song goes:
« Concrete . . .
concrete and steel, »
but what’s the difference?

THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW

I watched Oprah on TV tonight
and saw a bunch of mothers
who had 4 or 5
or 6 kids each
sit around and bitch
about how hard it is
to raise a bunch of kids.
« My kids are out of control, »
said one mom
who was out of control herself.

None of the moms were satisfied
with their lives.
Some felt threatened,
cheated, imposed upon, blackmailed.
« Every time we go to the mall, »
said one, « I have to buy my kid a toy. »

And as usual everybody in the audience
had an opinion which they did not hesitate
to let everybody else know.

Of course I wasn’t there
but if I had been, I too would have had
an opinion.

If Oprah had asked me for my opinion
I would have said, « You don’t want to hear
my opinion. »

And of course Oprah would have said,
« But yes – let’s please hear it. »

And I would have said,
« I see a lot of stupid people
complaining
because someone made them aware
of their stupidity. »

I would have been booed out of the TV studio.
Those moms would have sprayed my face
with under-arm deodorant, they would have
slashed at my mouth with their tubes of
lipstick, they would have smeared my eyes
with cold cream.

It’s tough to be reminded of your stupidity.

Then they would have gone home
and beat their kids for the same reason
Good thing I wasn’t there.

HIROHITO

what’s all this noise about Hirohito?

he dies
and world leaders flock to Japan
to honor his memory

the president of the U.S.
jets in to stand by his tomb

what the hell is going on?

the man was a tyrant
he sent planes to bomb Pearl Harbor
he walked all over the South Pacific
until we sent in the Marines
thousands upon thousands of Americans
died stopping this maniac

so what the fuck is the prez doing
walking in Hirohito’s funeral parade?
standing by his grave and weeping?

the fanatic was in bed with Hitler
and Mussolini they signed pacts
they were going to get together
and fuck up the world
completely

next thing you know we’ll have
Hitler monuments on Washington D.C.
why not?
if you’re going to honor one fascist
then get out the confetti
and celebrate the whole hog of psychopaths
statues of Adolph in schoolyards
all across America
Mussolini Memorial Freeways
Stalin bridges and Tito national parks

« And over here on the left
we have the Hirohito Memorial ballpark
(used to be Yankee Stadium some of you
may remember) and over here on our right
(pardon the pun) we have the Benito
Mussolini International Airport
(used to be JFK, but that’s the way
things go) and straight ahead
we will soon be entering
the Adolph Hitler Tunnel
featuring slide projections from
his concentration camps
upon the walls.
So sit back, relax
and enjoy the show »

[February 1989 ]

HEADACHE

a bunch of guys
are tearing down the house
inside my head

they walked in
thru the tunnels of my eyes
and started swinging
sledgehammers

GIVE THAT HUMANOID A BANANA SPLIT

I.
We humans have such a shallow comprehension
of the world we live in
its age
its immensity
both micro & macroscopic
its place in a vast universe
is far beyond the highest IQ’s
conception of infinity.

We can barely tie our shoes
(so to speak)
we just manage to lift our forks
and feed our faces.
We are so fucking dumb
it’s a miracle we just don’t evaporate
into thin air.

We walk on our tongues
we rub our eyes back into our sockets
and stumble blindly
deeper into ignorance

the caterpillar, the glowworm, the turtle
are too wise to mock us.
The horse, the wolf, the wild geese
too smart to even pay attention
to our futile imbecilities

I have a cat.
He’s kind of stupid,
but compared to people
he’s a genius

II.
ON THE OTHER HAND
have you ever heard such music?
Bach’s Art of the Fugue
The Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations
Beethoven’s 4th & 5th pianos
Brahms Cello Sonatas
The Grateful Dead & Gesualdo
Ginsberg & Glenn Gould
Gabrielli & George Gershwin
Basho & Baudelaire
Browning & James Brown
Bukowski & Tim Buckley
William Blake & Bela Bartok
and that’s just a few of the Bee and Gees

Have you ever touched and tasted
such paintings, such sculptures
such poems and pastries?
such beer & wine
such rums & tequilas
such ice creams & chocolates?
Ice cream is a miracle.
Man invented it.
Man invented tractors
dentist drills & scissors
hot air balloons & bicycles.
Small miracles all
(the bicycle may be his best invention
almost as perfect as some of the creations
nature comes up with)
but man too is nature
and he’s come up with
chessboards & chesspieces
eye glasses & wrist watches
computers & saran wrap
harmonicas & submarines
mirrors, movies, moccasins, aspirins,
calendars, algebra, stirrups
kaleidoscopes & CDs
Q-tips & E-flat seven chords
He has explored the deepest seas
and put machines on Mars
even tho he can barely tie his shoes
count to three
and possibly conceive
that two men with differing opinions
can both be right & need not argue.

ICE PLANTS

I stand on ocean front property
already thought of as my own,
and gaze down at the thousands
of ice plants that lay spread
out in all directions from my toes.

On the other side of the dune
the surf smashes and rumbles.
SH-BOOM

But an ocean view is not the reason
I want to live here. I want to live
with the ice plants.
I don’t want to build a house.
I don’t even have enough money
to buy a tent.
I just want to dig a hole
and make my home in the middle
of this vast green vegetable carpet.

My friends will drop by
and we will have ice plant conversations.
If somebody wants to watch TV
he’ll have to go somewhere else.
In my home there will be
only ice plants to watch.
And I will say: who needs a radio
when you have all this ice plant music
to listen to?
If I ever get tired of thinking
about myself,
it will be easy to think of ice plants.

When I get hungry I’ll pluck
an ice plant and chew the cool cud
of frozen glacier memories.
When I get sleepy
I will lie down in the hole
and pull a blanket
of ice plants over me.
Life will be easy.
Life will be a dream.
SH-BOOM

ICH BIN LADEN

But let’s not talk about politics.
Our mouths are too small, too fragile,
they’re just tiny boxes
and they can hold only so much.
There’s no room for garbage.
There’s no room for conspiracies
plotted by the secret leaders
of the powerful Right Wing in America
who’ve finally got Congress
and a puppet president
under their thumbs these
oil-rich Republicans
who’ve been plotting the overthrow
of the U.S. Government
and the abolition of the Constitution
for the past 50 years
the most recent phase of which began
when they hired Monica Lewinsky
to get a Democrat President impeached
and having failed to disgrace his party
to such a degree that no one would cast their vote
for such a pack of sexual perverts
in the up-coming election
and having failed to obtain a majority
of votes legally, they went into Florida
with millions of dollars and bought the election
at which point they got down to the real serious shit
of bombing America
by sending two planes with full tanks of fuel
loaded with sacrificial lambs
and brainwashed pilots
into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center
in New York City, September 11, 2001
then followed up by bombing the Pentagon
to create a war with anybody, it didn’t matter
which country Afghanistan was a convenient
90-pound weakling in the sand easy to bully
just as long as it created panic and fear
in the populace and gave the leaders
an excuse to put the country under military law
and to justify their suspension of basic freedoms
(temporary they say, but we all know
we’ll never get them back)
and to force ordinary citizens into a position
where they voluntarily demand the protection
of a police state,
as we all plunge head-on and deeper
into the most absolute dictatorship
in the history of the world.

No, there is no room for any of that kind of garbage.
in a mouth.
A mouth is much too small.

THE JAZZ AGE

I. THE KINGS OF SWING

Tommy Dorsey strangled by a scarf
in his sleep
Glenn Miller with mud on his shoes
playing for the president
then disappearing into a fog bank
over the English Channel
Benny Goodman looking across
racial lines and grooving
with Charlie Christian
and Lionel Hampton
Count Basie signing over his orchestra
to pay a gambling debt to the mob
and continuing to play as a paid musician
in his own band.

Who were these Kings of Swing?
Where did they get all those
trombones and clarinets?
What were they thinking about
when they looked out
on the dance floor
and saw all those couples
doing the mambo?
Did they really believe
their drums came from the jungle?
Did they ever get sick
of the smell of gardenias?

We’ll never know.
The Kings of Swing
now live in their pyramids
drinking down darkness
wrapped in sheet music like mummies
talking about all the blind dancing dummies
who sucked in clarinet notes with open mouths
and found their feet in turmoiled delirium.
They’re laughing, heads bobbing,
and one king is snapping his fingers while
the baritone sax line of MOONLIGHT SERENADE
wiggles down the side of one leg
the string bass part of STRING OF PEARLS
crawls down the back of the other.
the trumpet riff from TUXEDO JUNCTION
wraps around one arm
and the piano chart of IN THE MOOD,
tattooed to his chest, begins to glow.

And what about that Zoot Suit Bop Boy over in the corner?

II. COOL AND HARD BOPPERS

Then came the Cool and Hard Boppers.
Miles, Bird, Dizzy,
later Cannonball and Trane,
Charlie Mingus, Art Blakey
the Five Spot, Blue Note Records,
the Village Vanguard, Birdland,
Blackhawk, Bop City.
Smoke, smack and bourbon.
Horace Silver and Thelonius Monk.
Hard Bop and Cool Blues.
Sweat and steam and streaming scales,
riding riffs in and out of Milestones
and Doodlin’
and Kinda Blue
ripping sheets of screaming sounds
from the walls of their skulls
snatching entire pages of chord changes
from their mind books
wadding them into fists of pissed-off notes,
tossing them in the air
and closing their eyes as they float
to the flooded floor
thru raindrops of icebergs
and thumbnails and thumbtacks
of frozen snow
as ice cubes rattle in the glass
of a 17-year old farmboy
sitting 3-feet away at the front table
nursing his coke
as he stretches his two-drink minimum
into the third set
and Miles turns his back on him
and blows muted seagull cries
into the velvet drapes

III. PLASTIC ALTO AND POCKET TRUMPET TRICKS

Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry
tweeting and twatting away on stage
plastic alto and pocket trumpet tricks
at the Both/And on Divisadero

it’s all over
the Jazz Age

I’ve still got Horace Silver
doodlin’ in a juke box on Grant
and I’ve still got Coltrane
soprano saxing on his latest LPs at home.

but it’s all over.
The Jazz Age.

I’m not crying
I’m just movin’ on
to higher forms of Bop and Jive
and praying that an electric guitar genius
will soon appear, sounding as good as
Horace Silver and John Coltrane
and playing such invitations to Joyful Panic
that we’ll have no choice
but to start Dancing in the Streets again.

THE MOVES

When the moves blacked in
the property values went down.

« Shit it’s the Moves! »
« God damn, not the Moves! »
« You can’t ever tell what they’re talking about. »
« You can’t tell one move from another. »
« Christ almighty, the Moves. »
« Anything but the Moves. »
« ANYTHING? »

« . . . The Moves . . .  »

NICE GUY

They’re whispering behind my back:

« He could change his underwear
more often
but basically
he’s a nice guy. »

OLD DUDE

Looking at this extremely old dude
on Larry King Live.
He’s the vet of a long-ago war.
Bent over, white beard, white hair,
wrinkles, toothless jaw.

Larry asks him, « How old are you anyway? »
And the old dude says, « Fifty-one. »

Son of a bitch.
I’ll be fifty-two next month.
Is that what I look like?
Some extremely old dude
waiting for the war to die
inside his brain?

DREAMLAND
(Nightmare City)

« Follow me, I know the way, » she said
as we entered the station and hurried
past the sleepers.

We were headed for the ancient city of Nightmare
on the miraculous transport of Dreamland Express.
We arrived in Nightmare City instantly
station to station
like electrons at the speed of light.

We were traveling light
one thin suitcase each.
We had just enough clothes
to leave them overnight
in her girlfriend’s closet.

Back outside
the rain was thicker than blood
and our umbrellas
were covered with gore.
by the time we got to the pool hall
we were soaked to the skin and sore.

We kicked off our boots
and strolled into the warm embrace
of Devil in a Blue Dress
jumping from the jukebox
and dozens of Mad Hatters
doing the boogitie bop
on the tops of the pool tables

« Nightmare City
this is the place for you and me, »
she said as we sipped
Jack Daniels and Jack the Ripper
zipped by the window in a 4-wheel drive
Razorblade convertible
with Studebaker hubcaps.

« This is place for you and me, »
she said as the jukebox stopped playing
and the Madhatters started singing
Devil in a Blue Dress
in 4-part barbershop harmony
and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels
cruised in
and shot a game of 8-ball
at the corner table.

We were lucky to get out of there alive.

Later, we ate tacos and drank Dos Equis
at a stand on the corner of Columbus and Slime
then followed the footprints
in the concrete down the street
into the house of the Movie Stars.

« What a reception, » she said
as the Movie Stars started making love
to the various animals
they found out by the swimming pool.
Ducks and Gila Monsters
seemed to be their favorite targets
tho we saw James Stewart and John Wayne
fighting over a stuffed palomino.

Meanwhile, back inside the Ranch
the cowboys were getting restless.
They hadn’t roped a decent bull
in a coon’s age
so they had to settle for bullfrogs.
I couldn’t watch.
It was just too terrible for words.
She held my hand and led me down
to the corner of Humpback and Broadway
where for just 3 dollars
you could buy a wind-up yoyo
and the stretch pants
(one size fits all)
were tossed in for free.

Again I couldn’t watch
it was just too horrible for words
« Nevermind, » she said
« we got better things to do. »

One of which was to jump in a taxi
and tell the driver we were lost

we saw many sights in Nightmare City
we saw slobs on vacation
we saw oil barons on welfare
we saw the best minds
of that other generation
getting stuck in turnstiles
as they rushed into a tent
to be blessed by a stand-up comic
from Canada with no front teeth
and a microphone in the shape
of a hippopotamus turd

We saw a monk in a blue dress
We saw Jesus Christ
We saw Julie Christie
We saw Ben and Jerry
We saw Dido and Aeneas

We were lucky to get out of there asleep.

PHEASANT HUNTING IN THE LATE 20th CENTURY

each year in November
a bunch of Belgians
get dressed up in hunting clothes
go down to the woods
with cages of pheasants
and shotguns

then they release the pheasants
and shoot them as they try to escape

it all starts at 10 am sharp
they blast away
and the pheasants die
the woods echo with explosions
it’s an orgasm of firepower

some pheasants die
and some don’t
one or two get away

it’s all over
at a quarter past 10
they pick up the dead pheasants
and go to a bar
and sit around for the rest of the day
telling each other
what great hunters they are

the pheasants never had a chance
and the few that got away
are amazed
they’re alive simply because
the men were such lousy shots

I think that’s what gets me the most
and provokes this fantasy:
the men are in the cages
the pheasants have guns
the pheasants open the cages
and the men run for their lives
the pheasants open fire
and the woods echo
with an orgasm of fire power

the pheasants never miss

POOR BILL

I was sitting in a cafe
drinking a beer
a man walked over and said to me
« Are you fucking my wife? »
I said, « No sir. »
And it was true.
At that particular moment
I was not fucking Poor Bill’s wife.
I was sitting in a cafe
drinking a beer.

TWO PUKE POEMS

1.
They gathered around the campfire
under the pines
under the star-spangled sky.
They started singing
« Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore. »
They sang it sincerely with deep feelings
That was me
down by the lake
puking.

2.
« Not all jails have bars, »
he said profoundly.
That was me
down on the stool at the end
puking in my beer.

PURITANICAL MANACLES

I. SHAME
She copulated, conceived,
failed to show the proper amount of shame
and consequently gave birth to a boy with buck teeth.

II. PREGNANT
she conceived
failed to show the proper amount of shame
walked around with her belly button bulging
her bloated body blimping
no shame at all

and consequently
gave birth to a bucktooth bag
and a couple of other bubbles
that almost looked like babies

III. MOM’S ON PARADE
she had that kid
in a bed with no wedlock
no shame at all
roll out the headlock

QUATRAIN

Take a look at this:

It’s an ancient quatrain
from the Hang Tuff Dynasty.
Translated roughly it goes:

I TOOK A BUS TO THE END OF THE LINE
I FOUND MYSELF IN THE MOUNTAINS
I WASHED MY HAIR IN A WATERFALL
AND SON OF A BITCH IT TURNED WHITE

The poet then continues
with another quatrain
because that ancient 4-line jazzamarag
is not big enough to contain
his big idea (or maybe he was just
worried about his white hair):

WHO WILL RECOGNIZE THE WANDERER
WHEN HE RETURNS?
WILL THEY SAY « NEXT TIME, SON OF A BITCH,
DON’T USE SUCH A CHEAP SHAMPOO. »

Here’s another ancient quatrain

This time it’s from the Charlie Chan
and Fu Man Choo Choo Mingus Dynasty
and true, it’s longer than four lines,
but by only just one word (because he ran out
of space) and who’s counting anyway?

I STAND UNDER A BRANCH OF THE ENEMA TREE
WAITING IN THE INVISIBLE RAIN
HOLDING A ROLL OF TOILET PAPER
AND WONDERING: WILL THE WANDERER EVER SHIT
AGAIN

DEAR MR Z (FORM LETTER)

I RECEIVED YOUR PREVIOUS LETTER.
THE REASON I DID NOT REPLY IS (check one)

□ I didn’t ask you to write that letter and I have no intention of replying to it.

□ My dog ate the letter before I had a chance to read it.

□ I don’t answer letters. Why don’t you learn to use the phone like everybody else?

□ I don’t answer letters and I don’t answer my phone. Learn telepathy.

□ You mailed it to the wrong address. How do I know? Telepathy.

□ I’ve got a lot of other things to do which are much more important than answering your letter.

□ I’ve got a few things to do which I think are more important. I’ll let you know when I find out what they are.

□ I’ve been meaning to write back but you know how it is?

□ I really do intend to write back
□ 3 weeks from now
□ 3 years from now
□ 30 years from now

□ I was outrageously insulted by your letter. If you think I’m going to write back you’re outrageously mistaken.

□ It slipped my mind. I really forgot. Sorry. You must be a very insignificant person.

□ I read your letter, but unfortunately I never learned how to write.

□ I read your letter, but unfortunately I broke both of my hands in a yachting accident. I’m learning to write with my left foot, but these things take time. Please be patient.

□ I lost your address. First my cousin who collects stamps stole the envelope. Then I dropped a bottle of black shoe dye (so clumsy of me) on your letter – right down there at the bottom where you’d printed your return address in huge block letters. (Accidents will happen, won’t they?)

□ Who do you think you are? Some kind of important person? I am an important person and I know one when I see one. When I look at you I see nothing but UNIMPORTANCE. Why don’t you do something useful – like selling shoes. People needs shoes, you know.

□ Ho hum. And blah blah blah. I get a thousand letters a week from assholes like you. Why don’t you do something useful with your life – like putting a gun to your head and ending it as soon as possible?

□ I never received your letter. Must be those kids next door. You might hear the rumor that I pay them a dollar a day to steal my mail, but don’t you believe it.

□ You wrote to the wrong person. It’s my brother you want to talk to. Right now he’s on an expedition into the rain forests of Brazil and won’t be back for about 15 or 20 years. I’ll have him drop you a line when he gets back.

□ You wrote to the wrong person. You think I can help you in some way. What a mistake.

□ You wrote to the right person, but if you think I am going to help you. you’re out of your head. I have no intention of helping you or anybody else unless I know what’s in it for me. Name your price and I might consider.

□ I refuse to answer any of the above. What are you trying to do? Make me feel guilty? Do you think everybody is like you? Do you think everybody answers the letters they receive? Mr. Z, you are living in the wrong century. People do not talk to one another these days, much less reply to each other’s letters.

□ Hey! You are one persistent person. This document is proof of that. No – wait! You’re worse than persistent. You’re pushy. You’re aggressive. What do you want from me? Blood? Sweat? Tears? Take a break, Mr. Z. Take a vacation. Put yourself on ice for a couple of years. Then get tuned in. Relax. Watch a little MTV. Drink a case of scotch. Smoke a lot of crack. Shoot some smack. Have a pre-frontal lobotomy. Eventually you’ll completely forget about that letter you wrote me. You’ll say, « Letter? What letter? »

SENTIMENTAL GLUE

I.

« You’re getting sentimental, » he says.

I know what he means. I’m living in memory
almost exclusive to anything else. In memory
is my identity, my shape, my knowledge,
my wisdom.

The aim is to synthesize memory
with the events of the present moment.
The problem is that we lack cultural connections.
Our culture is fragmented, accelerating
approaching self-destruction.

So what is to become of the individual
nervous system? How can one maintain
balance? Keep from breaking down,
becoming fragmented?

Sentimental glue might help.

II.

All this to say:
It becomes increasingly more difficult
to write about the present moment.
The present moment has been shattered.

Or to come at it from the other direction:
The past – memories – are the only solid
complete perceptions we can grasp. It is not
a question of being sentimental
or looking back to the good old days
or some mythical golden age. It is simply
that we inhabit flashing, flickering
realities, like a sequence
of still photographs
played out in the mind’s eye
at 1/10th of second each,
a flashing, flickering reality
out of control, spinning beyond
what the human nervous system
can capture and make sense of.

« I’ll take a dozen bottles of sentimental glue. »

SHIRT OPINIONS

I worked in a department store
salesman
men’s clothing

a pint size runt comes in
he wants a shirt

« A shirt like that one.
Mind if I try it on? »

« This should be about your size, »
I pulled out a shirt
that was about his size.

« Bigger, » he said.

So I pulled out a medium

« Bigger. »

I pulled out a large

« Bigger! »

Extra large

He tried it on
the shoulders hung down
over his elbows
the sleeves hung down
to his knees

« That’s much too large, » I said.

He looked up at me
out of the collar
which was up around his ears
he got his mouth free
from the top button and said,
« Listen, Squirt,
you keep your god damned opinions
to yourself
and leave the driving to me. »

MOVIE STARS

1. MOVIE STAR IN MEN’S CLOTHING

Fred MacMurray walked in one day
« Hey, that’s Fred MacMurray! »

He was taller than I imagined
but otherwise
he looked like Fred MacMurray.

That’s because in his movies
he always played Fred MacMurray.

Now he was playing « Fred MacMurray
Walks into the Men’s Department. »

« Looking for Levis, » he said to me

I pulled out the largest pair we had

« I’ll take four dozen of those, » he said.

Other than that
Fred MacMurray
was just like everybody else.

2. MOVIE STAR IN WOMEN’S CLOTHING

One day Natalie Wood walked in
and headed straight for women’s clothing

I was over in men’s clothing, watching
hoping she would need a pair of men’s Levis
or some suspenders.

But she walked into women’s clothing
and started trying on
women’s clothes.

She tried them on for about two hours.

Watching from across the store
I got the idea
that she was having a hard time
making up her mind.

It was not a choice
between one dress or another
but between a dress
and a pack of buttons
and a swimsuit
and a raincoat

After two hours
she gave up
and bought everything.

All the dresses.
All the buttons.
All the swim suits.
All the raincoats.

« Put them on my charge account, »
I heard her say at the counter.

I guess she was going
to make up her mind later

THE SHOUTER

a man walking down the street
at 4 am, shouting
« AAUUUUUUGH! »

the city is silent, no cars
I hear him approaching
« AAAUGH! »
I hear him outside my window
« AAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUGH! »

he’s either having an orgasm
every 20 steps or so
or he’s in tremendous pain

pleasure or pain?
I think it’s pain
it’s 1986 and it’s pretty dark
out there
I feel I should be
out there too
stomping down the street
opening my mouth
every 20 steps or so
and letting it all hang out
« AAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH! »

THE SINGER

the blind singer limped on stage
the audience got up and walked out
he was hoping
to arouse their pity
but all he did
was stimulate
their disgust

SHRINK (OR 8 REASONS WHY I REFUSE TO SEE A PSYCHIATRIST)

1.
As I’m leaving her office and crossing the crowded waiting room, she appears in the doorway behind me and says loudly, « And if you’d quit masturbating so much – especially with all
those fantasies of 8-year old girls, I’m sure you’ll feel a lot better. »

2.
« Everything you say in this room is absolutely
confidential – except when the FBI and CIA come around to check my files. I can’t do anything about those guys. »

3.
« I used to have this geezer come in here – poor, pitiful motherfucker, working on his twenty-first nervous breakdown. He used to come in here and lie on the couch and cry his eyes out. You remind me a little bit of him. But don’t worry I won’t say anything about you fucking your daughter to
anybody else. I never talk about my patients behind their backs unless it’s absolutely necessary. »

4.
« Hey, I just read about your shrink in the papers. What a mess. She butchered some poor slob on her couch with an ax. They mentioned your name. You were supposed to be her next appointment. »

5.
« Now I know I’m not an authorized medical doctor, » she says, « but this four-foot electric cow prod I am about to inject in your anus will quickly speed up your treatment, I’m sure. Tell me if the straps are too tight. »

6.
« Just ignore that puddle of piss by the couch. The patient before you got a little hysterical when I started slapping her around. »

7.
« This is just a minor matter, » she announces, « But I must sign these papers that commit you to an insane asylum for the next ten years. The daily electric shock treatments I’m recommending will cure you of most of your problems. Think of it as a vacation. »

8.
« I just sold your life story to a publisher. They were impressed by your obsession for sucking on exhaust pipes and your need to wrap various parts of your body in rubber bands. They don’t think too much of your craving for lemon meringue pie sprinkled with thumbtacks – and I don’t either. You won’t see a red cent, of course, because that would violate all the rules of medical ethics. However, this book is bound to be a bestseller. They might even make it into a movie. »

SPITTING IMAGE

« You must be Bob’s brother, »
I said to the kid on the street.
« Yeah, that’s right, » he said.
 » – how could you tell? »
« You have the same problem with your face. »

STRING QUARTET VOLCANOES

There are some string quartets
that play only for natural disasters.
Exploding volcanoes, earthquakes, forest fires.
You see them driving their trucks
– their special string quartet trucks –
into the mountains and losing their way
in the smoke. You see them sitting beside
2000-acre blazes playing Mozart and Beethoven.
Sometimes their instruments catch fire
and get burned up along with the sheet music
and they have to finish their concerts
by whistling from memory.

And there you are in the middle of your fancy
swimming pool in suburban Shangri-La-La-Land
bitching about too much mustard on your hotdog
and would somebody for God’s sakes bring me a
real bottled beer and not one of these canned
urinals of domestic piss.

Go jump in a volcano.
Feel some real pain.

TUBA MANURE

If you want to have some real fun
go down and join the smoking nuns
of the Salivation Army Band
outside the Museum
of Natural Childbirth
take your bugle along
pucker your lips and honk
a hole in the side of the sky, walk
down the street
and march against the beat
of miles of flooded broken sewer
over-flow and tuba manure
thru waves of heat
and wormish glow
join the circus
join the show
check it out
the protest signs
« I PUT MY ASS ON THE BOTTOM LINE »
« I DON’T BELIEVE I’VE GOT A PAIR
OF SUNDAY UNDERWEAR TO SPARE »
check ’em out
chicks with sticks
chicks with tongues and hungry licks
looking for slick romance
a backseat dance upon their bellies
a squirt of jelly in their pants
a gas mask goodbye kiss of death
a final gasp, a blast of breath
shit, you’re right, it’s lots of fun
tomorrow night I’ll bring a gun

TUBES

1. THE MUSICAL TUBES

the trombone player
plays so excellently well
you’d think the slide
is part of his mouth
a brass tube tongue
flicking out
to capture a fly
and slide it back in
that’s why trombone players
never get fat

the trumpet player
is pretty good
the tubes bunch up
in front of his mouth
much too close to his face
he’s going
to have to
breathe out hard
and stretch
those tubes
before he gets around
to making great music
he needs more practice

the French horn player
is just so-so
he’s got his tubes
curled up under his arm
he’ll never make great music
hiding his tubes like that
OK for wedding parties
and rotary club luncheons
hayrides (excellent
for football games)
but no good at all
for the big stuff
lousy on hunts
horn’s pointed the wrong way

the tuba player
is terrible
how he ever got such
an obese set of tubes
is a mystery
why he would want to make music
with those paunchy bulges
is another mystery
only sad, paunchy bulge music
is possible in his condition
no amount of practice
will improve his tubes

2. FAMOUS LAST TUBE

the straw
– a candy stripe spiral
hangs over the lip
of the empty Pepsi bottle

whoever sucked that straw
sucked the shit out of it

WALT

Walt came out to survey the ground
where he wanted to build his Disneyland.
Among the weeds and broken slabs of concrete
lay a corpse, the body of a man the mob
had strangled and dumped the night before.

Walt stood at the corpse’s feet and gestured.
« Over there we’ll put the roller coaster
and over here the Mad Hatters Tea Party.
And by the way get this dummy propped up.
He’ll be one of the spectators.
And remind me to send a note
to the Special Effects Department.
Those guys are getting really good
with rubber and plastic. »

WILD SIDE

Joe and Stella
take a walk on the Wild Side

Stella kneels down
to take a look
at a bum’s stamp collection

Joe is thinking:
« We should have brought along
a few turkey sandwiches
and a 6-pack of beer. »

He waves his cane over the river
hoping a fish will jump up
and nip at the tip

Stella is thinking:
« He has exhausted
all other possibilities »

[ Gig Harbor, October 1996 ]

WHYBIG (1)

The ad said:
TAKE A CHANCE AND GET LUCKY
WIN A BRAND NEW WHYBIG REFRIGERATOR

I got lucky and won.
The men brought the fridge
and put it in the center of my room
They plugged it in.
It worked.
I was delighted.
I said, « I’ve always wanted a WHYBIG. »
The last thing the men did before leaving
was to scrape the word WHYBIG
from the side of the fridge.
« Sorry, » they said,
« Maybe you’ll have better luck next time. »

After they left I got out a thick marker pen
and wrote WHYBIG into the scratches on the side.

My friends came over.
« Hey, that’s a WHYBIG! »
« I see you got yourself a WHYBIG. »
« I wish I could get lucky and win a WHYBIG. »

I stood before it proudly.
I opened the door
and showed them the ice
in the freezer compartment.
« This is MY WHYBIG, » I told them.

« Did he say LIE BIG? »
« I think he said MY BIG. »

I knew then
it was going to be big WHYBIG summer.

WHYBIG (2)

the refrigerator stood
in the middle of the floor
it was 7 feet tall, 4 feet wide
and four feet deep.
painted on one side, in foot-high
stencil letters were these words

WHY
PIG?

they came into the room
and started shouting
« IT’S A MY BIG! » he shouted,
« NO IT’S A LIE BIG! » she shouted,
After shouting this several times
they settled down to watch
the ice water dripping
from the door
and listening to the oinks
coming from behind it.
They knew they were both wrong.
It was a WHY PIG?
and it was too late
to do anything about it.

WHYBIG (3)

TAKE A CHANCE AND GET LUCKY
AND WIN A BRAND NEW WHYBIG TV
said the ad.
She got lucky and won.
The men brought the TV into her room
on one side it was printed
WHY
BIG?
They plugged it in.
It worked.
She was delighted
« I’ve always wanted to own
a Whybig? TV set, » she said.

the last thing the men did
before they left
was to scrape the words
WHY
BIG?
from the side of the TV.
« Sorry, » they said.
« Maybe you’ll have better luck
next time. »

After they left
she went out in the backyard
and smoked a cigarette.
She blew dozens of smoke rings
at the moon
They spelled out two words

WHY
BIG

The moon was delighted.
« I’ve always wanted to inhale
Whybig smoke rings. »

YOUTH IN ASIA

Go ahead,
you think I’m going to scream
if you rip open a map
and start pointing
at all the dusty trails you hiked
when you were but a youth in Asia?

Go head, point to your boots
number the number of times
you had to climb down to the cities
to have new soles nailed on
because of all the hours you spent
in the lava bedrooms
of your mother fucking earth.

Get out your old jeans too,
the ones with the holes in the pockets
and the patches on the knees,
the ones that were gouged by antlers
and plucked by grizzly claws.
Tell me about the sidewinder belt
you used to wear until it slithered away
one night when you were asleep,
and how you carried fishhooks in your fly
when you fished the streams
and built log cabins in your eyes.

Tell me about the campfires
on which you used to roast
entire antelope on toasted loaves
and mushrooms between your toes

I like the part about the gun
when you went shooting elk
and came back loaded down
with a dozen of sacks of groceries.

Go ahead, get out your sleeping bag
roll it out on the floor
and show me how you used to fart in it,
hop around in it when you’d wake up in the morning
while waiting for the water to boil
and how you lowered the zipper
and pissed out the side.

Go ahead, piss on the rug.
It’s not mine.

You can super glue your shoes together
for all I care.

ZEELAND
for Marie Claire

some places have church bells to mark
the passage of time
here they have cows

one mooed in the middle of the night
I looked at the clock
half-past two

later the cow cut loose again
39 moos
I knew exactly what time it was
7:15

CREATURES
(are they really birds?)

you never see them
singing, squawking, whistling
tooting away
they’re always hidden
up in the leaves
of some tree

or sometimes
it’s thru a window
a sound from another planet

a dog barks
and you just assume
from past experience
that it’s really a dog

but after a while
you start to wonder

Let my green book be the river

POEMS 2002-2004  |  TUCKER ZIMMERMAN

THE FAMOUS STRANGER

she was looking at
the famous and not
so famous stranger

I was OK
by the time
I reached Jean-Pol’s house

am I the Famous Stranger?

when I left Jean-Pol’s house
I was still doing OK

I walked down the Dreve
I was all alone
I was the Famous Stranger

I called Bear on the cell phone
to tell her not to worry
as I was walking down the Dreve
she wasn’t home
so I talked to her tape
I forget to mention
that I was the Famous Stranger

then came the Sniffing Circus
the Old Olfactory Factory
huge piles of shit in a row
alongside the Dreve
cow shit
pig shit
bull shit
baby shit
I couldn’t eat
my Famous Stranger Biscuit
the smell was so vile
and sweet mixed in
with all those cow barn memories

Then I saw a man
a runner in a red shirt
he was way up ahead
coming in on the Cemetery Road
he turned up the Dreve
and got smaller and smaller
where will they bury the Famous Stranger?
(where will the Famous Stranger be laid?)

then a kid walked by
with a dog on a leash
I thought maybe the kid
would pull out a knife

it was all those thoughts
about buried Famous Strangers
that was twisting up my mind

the kid was so empty
he wasn’t even there
the dog seemed to be
on the down-side too

neither would have known
the Famous Stranger
if he walked up to them
and bit them on the nose

I got into the village
I walked down the boulevard
like a Sherman tank
full of Famous Strangers

I got home OK
I was feeling better
Bear said, « Oh –
here comes the Famous Stranger. »
I said, « You had me worried
for a while. »

[ Stockay / St. Georges, April 9, 2004 ]
SACRIFICE

Isn’t it amazing
how we sail along
past traumas
and delights of yesterday
right into the dramas
and gesundheits of today
with only a casual
glance back
with only a twitch
of guilt down
in the back row
of the brain box
where a standing-room only
crowd of glowworms
and electric nematodes
are clapping their flappers
and slapping the crap
out of their brothers
and sisters?

reminds me of wolf-face children
(of which I am one)
standing around a campfire
looking down at their father
being roasted alive
on the coals
then shrugging their shoulders
and taking off for the river
for a cool drink of water

[ August 2004 ]

BIKE POEMS 2004

Bike Poem 1

TWO POEMS ON APRIL 24, 2004 AFTER BIKING WITH BEAR AROUND HANEFFE AND JENEFFE LOOKING FOR A FARM THAT SELLS POTATO EYES AND MAYBE SEEDS TOO AND IT’S WHITE LIKE AN OLD BARN ON THE LEFT UP HERE EXCEPT THERE WOULDN’T BE A ROAD COMING IN FROM RIGHT LIKE THAT . . . AND A JUST A LITTLE BIT WIDER TOO

1. Laughter

two chubby guys stopped in a car
windows open
laughing like mad
laughing like nothing else mattered
laughing for the hell of it

they were a jolly bunch of fellows

we should have stopped
and laughed along with them

2. Coming Home

down here there is no wind

Bike Poem 2

ROSES IN MY SPOKES

I go see the repairwoman about my bicycle
we meet in an empty basketball arena
we’re down on our knees on the hardwood floor
facing each other
she wants to put roses in my spokes
I bend over and slap the floor
with the palms of my hands
« I don’t want roses in my spokes! »
She slaps the floor twice.
« Then how about a couple of jokers? »

[ April 27, 2004 ]

Bike Poem 3

SUNDAY AFTERNOON

sunlight glancing, glittering
off car roofs
on a distant highway
that’s Sunday afternoon

[ May 2, 2004 ]

Bike Poem 4

DON’T RUN OVER STRANGE OBJECTS IN THE ROAD

1.
it could be anything
it could be coming at you
or just lying still
a beer can or a hedgehog

last night Kris said
he knows a good recipe
for cooking hedgehogs

Jef said the gypsies
bake them in clay

2.
it could be anything
a mirage or a deep hole

Kris and Jef and I
were talking about
black holes too

slip on the edge of one
you’ll fall in
and you’ll never come back

3.
it could be a bird
or a plain brown bag
or a superman turd
I read in a magazine
about parallel worlds
people who look
like you and me
and Kris and Jef
walking around and doing
things we don’t know about
and once in a while one of them
it could be you or me or Kris or Jef
sticks his foot into this universe and suddenly
there’s this bare foot in the middle of the road
and then it’s gone
as the man behind the foot
launches himself
into another dimension

4.
last night I said to Kris and Jef
I like being inside of me, seeing the way I see
if I get any riper I’ll fall off the tree
who’s that guy lying in the road?

it’s not Mr. Bag and it’s not Mr. Bird
a Superman turd? don’t make me laugh
and look at that bike, it’s turned up absurd
looks like the tree bit it in half

[ May 2, 2004
Two Trees Road – Les Waleffes, Hesbaye ]

Bike Poem 5

ROADKILL TOTAL

one fat black raven
one small hedgehog
ten snails
and a bent can half-full
of Heinekens beer

we will feast well tonight

[ Two Trees Road, May 11, 2004 ]

Bike Poem 6

STRETCH FLAP AND FLY

1. Prolog : Stretch Flap

riding my bike
I like to sit up straight
and stretch my arms
and shoulders
and reach back
and massage my lower back
first on the left side
then the right

what I’d really like to do
is sticking out my arms
and pretend I’m flying

sometimes I come close

there’s a brief instant
as I’m swinging my arm
and reaching back
to rub a back that isn’t sore
when my arm is out there
winging thru the air
just an instant
a flicker of the eye
an image that drops
between blinks
first one arm
then the other

2. Sequel: Flap Fly

I just did it
I even made the sounds
of a plane
vooo – vooo – voooo
with my left wing
yarn – yaaaaarn
YAAAAAAAAARN!
with my right wing

Twice

I did it again
« Joooooooo,! » with my left
and
« Swooooooooooooooop! »
I divebombed Pearl Harbor
the Japanese just watched
the Belgians weren’t there
Swooooooooooooooop! »
with my right wing
as I swooped into the side gate
in the notebook
to say I’ve been wanting
to yarn and swoop
for a long time
and that I don’t think
I’ll be doing it again

once every 65 years or so
is more than enough
for that kind of disturbance
I just set off a hurricane
that will reach
the east coast of Florida
about 10:30 tonight
local time
« Flap flap flap »

[ July 2004, Highpoint Hesbaye Road ]

Bike Poem 7

KILOMETERS

kilometers on the road
squirming like nematodes
kilometers on the road
they’re going to explode
kilometers on the road

mutton on the dike
looking all alike
mutton on the dike
looking at my bike
mutton on the dike

Bear inside a church
I think she’s going to pray
Bear inside a church
I wonder what she’s going to say
Bear inside a church

[ Schipdonk Canal – Sint Rita, July 30, 2004 ]

Bike Poem 8

MOBILITY

Question posed by myself:

if you (plural) were a car
what kind would you (plural) be?

(plural meaning the single entity
of human + bicycle)

I think I’d be a sky blue
mysteriously moveable
total context
solar-powered
lunar inspired
Ecology Mobile

my memory is slightly rusty
and my fenders are stoned
but I still get around
like the Fat Man

I just need a drink of water
from time to time

[ Old Farm Road Bridge
over the Liege-Paris Autoroute, July 31, 2004 ]

Bike Poem 9

LOOP TWO

this is where
I came in

to

the

loop

[The Verlaine Steep
at the Old Farm Highway Bridge
September 26, 2004 ]

Bike Poem 10

HIGH TIDE

hell freezes over
twice a day
low tide

then boiling hot water
comes pouring in
and everybody complains
about the weather

[ Lost Haiku Road, December 9, 2004 ]

BICYCLE DREAM

it’s taken about 5 years
including a couple of summers
of intense daily activity
in a row
but there I am
finally
cruising down a road
that exists nowhere in the world
but in my sleeping mind
and I’m stopping
to give directions
to lost bikers,
« Just go down the hill
and pass thru
the communist regime
until you come
to the academy awards
(if you turn right
you’ll end up
in the slow movement
of Beethoven’s Fifth
Piano Concerto)
so keep going straight
up the hill
and you’ll come
to the last episode
of the Jerry Seinfeld Show
you can’t miss it
you can almost see it
from here way over there
in the patch of sunshine
by that clump of trees. »

it’s taken a guiding hand
from the TV to reveal the maps
but I’m finally out there
riding around in my dreams
on cloud-padded country roads
and getting so completely lost
that I’m qualified to give
other people elaborate
precise directions
to places they don’t want to go

[ upon awakening, Aug. 6, 2004 ]

WHEELS

There were cars in my dreams

Golden Gate Park, hot summer
Sunday afternoon, bumper to bumper
sprawlcrawl with the sun
bouncing off all the chrome
and me, Jesus Christ,
keeping the old religion alive,
with a head full of acid
and not a clue about how
I was going to get
to the other side of the road

my proud 1950 Ford
wrecked it, totaled it out
3 weeks after buying it used
for 400 bucks most of it
I’d earned raising a selling
a yearling steer named Curly.
I rolled it, flipped it,
wrote about it in a song
except it turned
into a Fifty-One Ford
because I couldn’t figure out
how to make music with 1950.

the beat-up ’48 Chevy pick-up
I learned to drive when I was 12
and my feet reached the pedals
since I was 8.

the old green Simca wagon
that carried me a million European miles
from Rome to Copenhagen
and everywhereandthing in between

there are cars in my dreams
but I don’t like them
I don’t like cars
I don’t really turn my head
when a 1932 Chevro-Baker Studelay tools by
I tend to look the other way
when the latest Italian Gizomobile
slides by with a sleazy blond at the wheel
I might gaze upon the sleaze
but I’ll ignore the mobile
SUVs (Urban Assault Vehicles)
make me want to puke in my shoes
as I leap out of them
and go scooting away
like the Road Runner
on his footloose wheels

AND DON’T GET ME STARTED ON TRUCKS
truckers used to be cool guys
now they’re just assholes
hell-bent on taking over the world
by ruling the highways
they’ did it before
in the middle ages

motor scooters?
give me a fly swatter

FOREST

You never hear people say,
« That sure is an ugly forest »
They always say,
« That’s a beautiful forest, »
and that’s because
all the ugly forests are gone

It happened a long time ago

The forests held a beauty contest
and the losers had to walk
to the ocean
and set themselves on fire

[ Kastelenroute, Brugge, July 29, 2004 ]

KITES

the thing about these kites
swooping and dipping
above the sand packed beach
is that after you look at them
for an hour or two
you start to see the wind

[ Rømø, Denmark, September 2002 ]

FACE

The shape of my face
under the mask
of my pressed palms and fingers
is not the same face
I see in the mirror

[ April 11, 2003 ]

GRACELET

This morning
I worked in the garden
and graced myself
with a bracelet
of nettle stings

ARNO, AGE 4
painted for us
a beautiful picture
on the courtyard pavement
out of dried twigs
and palm-size
chunks of coal

later
after Arno went to sleep
we walked all over
his painting
without even thinking
about it

[ Aug. 3, 2003 ]

HELENE

for John Bennett

I don’t like Rachmaninoff
but I like Hélène Grimaud
I like her Brahms better
than hot milk on toast

and brown sugar, cinnamon
hey it’s Graveyard Stew
the bowl’s on the table
places for two

so here’s to you Hélène
keep tappin’ the keys
pumpin’ the pedal
and shootin’ the Bees

[ Oct. 18, 2003 ]

SILENCE IN BELGIUM AFTER 33 YEARS

There are many benefits in not speaking the language.
One of them is learning how to shut up.

DOG’S DOG

I’m sitting outside a Flemish cafe
filling my plastic bottle
from a glass bottle
of cold water and a dog’s dog
comes up and wants a lick
so I pour some ice cold water
into my palm and he laps it up
tongue tapping a coded message
that only hidden parts of my brain
can understand
and I keep filling the cup of my hand
and the dog keeps lapping
until he’s tired of lapping
and then he just walks away

I notice myself lately
becoming more and more
like that dog

[ Hex, July 31, 2004 ]

SHE WAS TOLD

1.
she was told
that if push came to shove
she should fall on the floor
and pretend to be crippled

this was about the time
Richard Widmark
started shoving old ladies
in wheelchairs down
long flights of stairs
in Hollywood

she didn’t have a chance
by the time she got to the city

thousands of men who looked
like Richard Widmark
leaped from thousands
of doorways
and didn’t even hesitate
to use her back
as a welcome mat

2.
she was told
« if slapped in the face
turn the other cheek »
soon she was spinning
in her tracks
as her first three husbands
took turns
keeping in shape
by practicing
Wife-Beating Aerobics

but they forgot to tell her
what to do
when the fourth husband
started using her guts
as a punching bag
and her ass
as a kicking mat

3.
she was told
that someday she would come
to a high wall
beyond which would lie
the Kingdom of Heaven

as it turned out
she got to that wall
a lot sooner
than anybody expected

she climbed a ladder
and peeked over
and saw that the Kingdom of Heaven
was a 16,000-lane bowling alley

the trick was to get
from one end to the other
without being de-footed
by one of the blazing
cannon balls
the gods were rolling
with frantic intensity

if you performed
the Bowling Alley Boogie
and survived
with both feet intact
you were rewarded
with a 6-foot teddy bear
and a free ride
on the ghost train

4.
they told her
she was beautiful
and she made the mistake
of believing them

[ August 2004 ]

SWEET LITTLE 13

She’s 12
and she believes
that good little girls
don’t play with snails
or puppy dog tails
or the fingernails
of greasy garage mechanics
until they’re 13

after that
it’s every grease monkey
for himself
and lord have mercy
on the flunky
who gets stuck
pumping up her tires.

[ Aug. 7, 2004 ]

DUMB

dumb dogs, dumb people
how could it be otherwise?

[ Baraqui Corner / May 2, 2004 ]

MR.GOBBLE DE GOOK

Guy on the phone says,
« I want to speak
to Mr. Gobble De Gook. »

I say, « Wrong number. »

He says, « Are you
Mr. Gobble De Gook? »

I say, « No, I’m not. »

He says, « Are you sure? »

So I say, « I know my own name.
I’ve had it for the past three years
so I should be very familiar with it
by now, Mr. Kafka. »

And he says, « I don’t want
to speak with Mr. Kafka.
I want to speak to Mr. Gobble De Gook. »

MONSTERS

(for Bill Maher)

Why do they show all these terrible people
on TV?
Larry King has them live all the time.
Monsters.
Horrible humans
filled with hate and greed
their faces twisted with evil
their eyesockets empty
just holes thru which you can see
the squirming worms packed into their skulls.
Never answering a question
but always sidestepping it
as if any kind of truth could be a trap
even the time of day.
Deceiving.
Dissimulating.
Faking belief.
Shouting propaganda.
Spouting poison.
Licking hundred dollar bills
and picking their fangs with sharpened claws.

Don’t the networks have somebody else they can put on?
Just one or two maybe?
Somebody funny
Somebody beautiful
Somebody compassionate
Isn’t there somebody in the world
who remembers what love is?
Or have the slow-burn fascists
exterminated them all
and only the Uglies, the Haters,
the Mental Mutants, the Monsters
are available for comment
and expert opinions?

But no, we don’t have the watchdogs anymore.
The watchdogs have been tamed
and shot full of junk.
The media’s been taken over by the Monsters
it’s become an engine of their propaganda machine.

These horrible humans are convinced
that they and their kind rule the world.
What an illusion. Even a blind man
can see that their method of control
is dedicated to the destruction of the world.

Toe the line, Larry, or we’ll put a bullet
thru your head
or we’ll stick you in a 747
and crash you into the Statue of Liberty
or if that flight’s all booked up
with stand-up comics
and leaders of Greenpeace
and Amnesty International
we’ll send you and Bill Maher on a one-way trip
into the south tower
of the Golden Gate Bridge

ASSWIPES

sometimes I get fed up
being around
all these asswipes

there’s nowhere I can go
where I won’t encounter
more asswipes

except maybe the middle
of the Atlantic Ocean
where I’ll probably
bump into a bunch
of asswipe whales

[ May 5, 2004 ]

NUMBSKULL HIGHWAY

it’s gets scary in the city
when you look around
and notice
that about half the people
walking past you on the streets
are imbeciles
halfwits
idiots
numbskulls

but it gets REALLY scary
when you realize
that in about an hour
most of these numbskulls
are going to be out on the highway
behind the wheels of powerful, fast cars
all racing to be
the first one home

SNEAK FREAKS

I’m sitting at my table
sipping tea
when I look over at a newspaper
draped over the armchair.
The headline reads:

BABY – 10 MONTHS OLD – RAPED BY FATHER

Christ almighty! Who invited this freak
into my house?

Nobody.
He just snuck in
like a baby rapist
and plastered his message on my chair

It feels like he shit in my eyes.
Sneak Freaks!
They’re everywhere.
They creep under your fingernails
and crawl up inside your skin
where they wiggle around like worms
and suck on your nerves.

I wish I’d never learned to read.

DRUNK DRIVING OLYMPICS

The cops are pulling cars over
to test the drivers
for alcoholic intoxication
make the them walk the white line
touch their fingertips to their noses
blow a balloon

He stops
pours himself out of the car
manages to stand erect for a second
or two
then passes out
at the cop’s feet
in a puddle of alcoholic stupor

« No need to test this one »
« He gets the gold medal »

The next day the driver
and two other drivers
who’d been pulled over for DWI
now sober
stand on a podium
against the back wall of the town jail
and bend their heads
as the cops loop ribboned medals
around their necks
Gold
Silver
Bronze

Then the police chief
takes out a ping pong ball gun
and shoots their mouths
full of ping pong balls

« Next time it’ll be real bullets. »
« And more ping pong balls. »

[ Old Farm Road, July 28, 2004 ]

THE HUNTER

the cop stops the car
in the middle of the forest

in the car
are four loonies, two in front
the one behind the wheel
is wearing lipstick
and playing with his balls

and the two in back are slapping
each other around like a couple of queers

the cop’d like to get a can of gas
from his trunk and pour it
over the driver’s head
light a match, toss it thru the window

nobody knows what’s going to happen next

after the first explosion
there will be no more screaming
the radio antenna will flip off
and bury its tip in a pine tree

be a good way to get rid of these bums
spontaneous combustion

it could happen at any moment

tongues of fire shooting across the road
and illuminating the eyes
of foxes who have crept up
to the edge of the forest
to watch the hunter
dance around
his campfire

[ May 6, 2004 ]

GRAVY TRAIN

see them riding the Gravy Train
hanging onto the iron sides
their hands crucified
pierced on death nails
their feet dangling
ankles broken
flapping in the breeze

that’s what happens
when you sign up
with the army
and you get a bonus
3-week, all-expenses
paid vacation
in the Bermuda Triangle

HOOKED

we’re all hooked
EVERYBODY
prozac
aspirin
nicotine
speed
junk
coke
crack
coffee
FEEL FREE
TO JUMP IN
AT ANY TIME
whiskey
rum
vodka
beer
wine
exstasy
viagra
opium
methadone
benzodiazepine
DON’T LET ME STOP YOU
FROM CONTRIBUTING
A FEW OF YOUR OWN
PERSONAL POISONS
morphine
absinthe
glue
quaalude
tequila
no-doz
codeine
valium
testosterone
EPO
everybody but me
I’m not hooked on any substance
and just as long as I can have
my three or four puffs
of locoweed daily
I’m sure I’ll be drug free
forever

BRAIN CHEMISTRY

My brain chemistry sucked for so long
really sucked
all that nicotine
all those noxious gases
and lack of oxygen

now I’ve got bananas
and prunes
and peppermints
lots of fresh water
plus the best gravity-defying
perspective-supplying
locoweed
that the earth-mothering
Dutch soil can provide.

[ while riding by the Destexhe farm
in Verlaine on the 16th of April, 2003 ]

SMOKE

I stopped smoking four years ago
or rather smoking lost interest in me
and walked away

How did I do it?
Puffing on all those rolled rice papers
packed full of tobacco
inhaling hundreds of thousands of lungfuls
of smoke
desperately pumping the nicotine
into my bloodstream
and praying it would numb my nerves.

I would have been better off
hitting myself over the head
with a hammer.

[ October 2, 2002 ]

COMA

« I didn’t know what was happening »

I’ll say it now
so when I wake up
you will know exactly what it is
that I’m trying to say

DEAD TIRED

I lie down to sleep
wait for sleep to come
sometimes I wait all night
sometimes sleep never comes

some people I know
drop off in seconds

if I dropped off
in seconds
I’d have to be dead

[ August 2004 ]

HANT WERPEN

If you really need a part of my body
to throw in your river
take my face

I need my hands
I’d be lost without them.

My face?
You’ve seen it before
it’s served its purpose
now it’s just ugly

on second thought
take my feet
they’re really ugly too

[ July 20, 2003
Antwerpen ]

JEF SAYS

I sit on the quay above the Schelde
legs dangling, leaning over
looking down into the wash of the out-going tide.

Jef says, « Can you swim? »

I say, « Enough, but the only way
I’d fall in
is if I passed out first. »

Jef says, « You’re always looking for a challenge. »

[ Antwerpen July 19, 2003 ]

HANDS

rub your kid’s back when he can’t go to sleep
lift a fork to eat
a spoon
lift a cup to drink
a bottle
salt food
pepper
toss another log on the fire
wipe your mouth
saw a log
shave
hammer a nail
put on your socks
shoes
set a screw
tighten a bolt
hold an ice cream cone
butter your toast
scratch an armpit
pour honey on your toast
trim your toenails
fingernails
pull a splinter from your finger
pick your nose
turn the pages of the book you’re reading
fold a newspaper
re-fold a map
punch a button on the VCR
strike a match
flick a lighter
hold a cigarette to your mouth
cigar
pipe
guide your bicycle
pump gas
turn the key
start the car
change radio stations
flip down the sun visor
adjust the rearview
flip somebody the bird
hold hands with your girlfriend
boyfriend
zip up your pants
button
flush toilet
wipe ass
wash hair
hands

wind a clock
shut off the alarm
grip a baseball bat
squeeze a pimple
open a window
shut the door
pull down the curtain
switch on the light
sweep the floor
pick up your mail
remove a letter from the envelope
shake somebody’s hand

slap somebody on the back
punch somebody in the nose
slide your trombone
tune your guitar
play piano
drums
flute
harp
swing a tennis racket
catch a baseball
dribble a basketball
swim
tap your PC keyboard
pick up your phone
dial a wrong number
pick up a pen
write words like these
(pick
one
of the above
or
one of the below
and imagine
doing it
with your feet)
put them in your pocket
hang out the washing
wash the dishes
hang a picture
read braille
pick your teeth
with a toothpick
pull out a handkerchief
and blow your nose
comb your hair
climb a ladder
load a gun
pull the trigger
peel a banana
wave a flag
salute
set a mousetrap
click a photo
mold a pot
weave a blanket
throw a spear
shoot an arrow
do a push-up

manipulate a puppet
apply make-up to your face
rake leaves
scratch your back
if you can reach it
dig up a few potatoes
fly a kite
pet a dog
cat
make your bed
pull out a dollar bill
and pay
pull out a credit card
pull out a coin
and drop it in the slot
pick up a coin
and drop it again
paint a picture
paint a wall
milk a cow
jump rope
pump a tire
peel an orange
roll a joint
roll the dice
deal the cards
hold a winning hand
hold a losing hand
raise the bet
fold
insert a suppository up your anus
suck your thumb
open an umbrella
button your shirt
wipe your glasses
pin the tail on the donkey
spin the bottle
make a shopping list
type a letter
wear a ring
wear gloves
wave
pray

CATHEDRAL

The Age of Aquarius
we’re in it
it’s all around us
it’s out on the freeway
it’s down in the mall
it’s out along the edge of the city
they call it urban sprawl

but here in the center of the city
under the highest spire
Christ still dangles on his cross
fish man, don’t like fire
fish man, hung out to dry
don’t like air, fish man lost

oh Jesus Christ, I’m sad to say
you’re not the number one curse
in the English language today

but they sure knew how to build them
these cathedrals
solid, rooted in the earth
by pillars of marble
stained glass windows
clarion bells chiming
in the tower above

the Age of Aquarius
it’s here
it’s out in the airports
it’s up in the planes
it’s in your living room
it’s electric, impossible to tame
it’s eccentric, hard to name
it’s got its fingers on Mars
and around the Man in the Moon

Hail Mary! Hard to Give Up

my damned Puritan forefathers
had it all figured out
« Got to get rid of the woman
she’s causes too much doubt »

Hail Mary! Hard to give up

and tho they kicked out Mother Mary
she’s hard to give up
Saint Marie, Santa Maria
Madonna, Notre Dame

even as we flash down
the cathedral malls
and the freelove freeways
of the Aquarius Corporation
she’s hard to give up

soft, compassionate
makes you want to cry
« MOM! »

hard to give up

loving, tender
she’ll rub your back
and Christ! she’s a virgin too

hard to give up
you just don’t walk out on a lady

[ June 2, 2003,
of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Liege, Belgium ]

STORM IN A CATHEDRAL

they sure knew how to build them
these cathedrals
solid, rooted in the earth
by pillars of marble
stained glass windows
clarion bells chiming
in the tower above
and beyond
the rumble of thunder
a storm raging
booms of god’s wrath
rain splattering
on the high windows
be just my luck
to be sitting right under
the cathedral spire
highest point in the city
when a huge bolt of lightning
zaps right down and nails me in my chair

« Poet tragically killed
while deep in prayer
by a thunder bolt from god. »

[ June 2, 2003, seated in the nave
of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Liege, Belgium ]

THE AGE OF APARADISO

The Age of Aquarius
we’re in it
that’s why I feel so at home
perfectly safe and secure
satisfied and blessed
if you leave out the parts
about the cities
and the airports and planes
and the cars and the highways
and the fast food joints
and the urban mall sprawl
and SUVs
and machine-manufactured music.

Other than that
I’m in Paradise

FOOTNOTE TO « THE AGE OF APARADISO »

make that all cities
except Rome, Italy
Amsterdam, Holland
Bruges, Belgium
and San Francisco, California

all the rest you can stick in a cannon
and shoot to the moon
tho they say
Barcelona is nice
and I know
Paris has its moments

THE MALL

slick haircut
trim mustache
18 maybe 20
form-fitting t.shirt
from CALVIN KLEIN
strategic macho poses
god, this is all he’s got
no future
no hope
this is the kind of Arab
who could pull out a gun
and shoot his sister
sitting across the table
reading a newspaper
right between the eyes

then you can go into a clean
immaculate pissoire
take a leak
wash your hands
with plenty of pink
liquid soap
blow them dry
in a warm summer breeze
then press 50¢
into the palm
of the white-hair lady
who sits outside
and says
« Tres gentil, m’sieur »
because the sign says 30¢
it’s a wet coin
didn’t leave my hands
under the blower long enough
she handles wet money all day

TEMPLE EMANU-EL

Try to become a Jew.
If they don’t let you in
walk up and down
the sidewalk
in front of the synagogue
wearing a yarmulke
carrying a menorah
in each hand
and singing Hava Nagila
as the Rabbi
comes up the driveway
in his black Cadillac.
If that doesn’t work
get a couple of your friends
to dress up as neo-nazis
go down to the front steps
of the synagogue
and sing Hava Nagila
as they beat you with
rubber truncheons (soft rubber)
while degrading you
with every anti-semitic
insult in the book.
Once you get inside the synagogue
start raving and ranting
about how Christ was a Jew
and soon the rabbis
will be beating you
with their rubber truncheons (hard rubber)
and chasing you back into the street
where the neo-nazis will be real nazis
(not your friends anymore)
and they’ll beat you
with their truncheons (bone hard rubber)
as you crawl across the street
and up the steps
and into the sanctuary
of the First Presbyterian Church.

THE GODS MESS AROUND

1.
they don’t have a sense of humor
those damned gods
who knows what they do
with their time
between apocalypses
between whispers
while shuffling the cards
for another game of 5-card stud
Do they twiddle their thumbs?
watch TV?
torment cripples?
They might think
that a runaway wheel chair
with a cripple
screaming for salvation
is funny.
I don’t.
The gods mess around
but they don’t have
a sense of humor

2.
the gods mess around
and who knows where they get
all those tin foil hats
and fake nipple suckers
maybe they think
it’s some fool’s birthday
maybe they’d like to blow
out the candles
maybe they’d like a piece
of the cake
maybe they think
they’ve got everything
under control.
Have I got news for them.
Everything’s a mess
and nothing is turning out
like they said it would
in Sunday School.
Maybe they think
this is a piece of cake.
Maybe they’re too busy
blowing out the candles
to take a look around
and see that laughter
is not on the menu

3.
Laughter?
You can get laughter
down at Chuck’s Hot Dog Wagon
laughter with mustard
and onions
The gods don’t hang out
at the Laughter Wagon
Chuckle burgers
Funny bones
Snicker bars.
These are not
among the aromas and tastes
that bring out the saliva
in gods
They like bitter burgers
they like sneer cream
in their sauerkraut milkshakes
that’s what they like best
that’s their nourishment
this is how they get fat
you can hear them say
« Nobody ever got fat laughing. »

4.
Divine Comedy?
Forget it.
You’ll never hear Jupiter
crack a joke
or see Zeus
rolling in the aisles.
If Aphrodite is slapping her knees
there must be
a mosquito nearby.

THOUSANDS OF HEAVENS

thousands of eyes
turn skyward
into thousands of heavens

we squint and squeeze
our eyes into the skies
of grey-dust dog-days
and all we get back
is a pack of barking clouds
and a jaw of the north wind
shouting at the moon
« SAY CHEESE »

thousands of eyes
turn skyward
into thousands of heavens

and in one Walt Whitman
sits smiling down
the tip of his long white beard
twitching in time to the blues riffs
Mark Twain in laying down
plucking from the golden strings
of his harp, moaning « Oh Walt,
you Kosmos, of Manhattan the son,
you dirty devil, damn you
your lines slip thru our fingers
like melting rubber bands
give us something solid
give us a word we can hang onto
a word we can eat
we’re hungry
we’ve had enough
of your Trans-Substantial Soup »

thousands of eyes
turn skyward
into thousands of heavens

and some of those eyes
are not human
some look out of pockets of sockets
thousands of light years deep
as they recall how life
in the Horsehead Nebula
was so much more relaxed
until the Tree Toads came along
invented radioactive mushrooms
and blew the place to dust
and now they’re stuck
on this backwater planet
knowing they’ll be rolling around
on two wheels
in a four-wheel civilization
for the rest of eternity

thousands of eyes
turn skyward
into thousands of heavens

and see angels strutting around
striking poses like body builders
with bald heads and oiled muscles
moving in slow motion
while the gigantic face
of Orson Welles
leans out of a cloud
puffs up his cheeks
and blows them all away
with a blast of cinematic wind

and thousands of eyes
look downward
into thousands of holes in the ground
and having seen the face of god
begin to pray:
« Jumpin’ Jehosephat
and Baby Jesus’ Leaky Diapers,
forgive us our passion
for idols with feet of clay
forgive us our blatant display
of Arnold Schwarzenegger ambitions
and Bruce Springsteen feedback
our Lee Marvin melancholy
and our Dennis Hopper hallucinations

no more Max Von Sydow death threat, please
no more Kathy Bates sledgehammers »

WILD GEESE

and we glance over and see
the harvest moon slide-popping up
and the wild geese slide-popping by
flapping out of the north
pointing their beaks into southern breezes
and we say we’ll come back later
and check ’em out
but there won’t be a later
the wild geese have better things
to do than twiddle their thumbs
while we wiggle our toes

and the moon keeps popping
she doesn’t stop for nothing
not even a cloud
you think she’s going to stick around
and get her teeth drilled?
you think she’s going
to pick up a loaf of bread
on her way home?
you think she’s going to wait
for the stores to open
so she can buy a can of cat food
or a bottle of tabasco sauce?

think again

the last time I saw the moon
stop for a bottle of tabasco sauce
she’d run out of gas
and was bouncing across a field
with her hands over her face

PIECES OF CARDBOARD
for Bear

She gave me these pieces of cardboard.

I said, « I don’t need these pieces of cardboard. »

She said, « You never can tell
maybe they will excite you. »

Now I carry these pieces of cardboard
with me everywhere I go.
What happened?
How did I become so attached
to these pieces of cardboard?

They didn’t excite me.
I don’t know many people
who get excited by pieces of cardboard
in fact I don’t know anybody
who even has pieces of cardboard
like mine.
They have other things
like tear-strainers for their eyes
when crying is unavoidable
they have autographed caveman bones
guaranteed to be authentic
but they never told me about
their pieces of cardboard.
Maybe they have them
but keep it a secret.

Not me.
These pieces of cardboard
have become public knowledge.
They stick to me
like rumors.

They don’t improve my life
I tried
but they have nothing to teach me.
Other people have dogs
to teach them new tricks
some people have serious possessions
like marble lion’s heads
to guard their gardens
and sleek watchdogs
that must be fed
the finest tips of sirloin.

Not me.
I don’t have watchdogs.
These pieces of cardboard
are worthless
I couldn’t even get rid of them
at a garage sale for free.

So what’s the big attraction?

I’ve never said it before
but I actually like
these pieces of cardboard.
There is nothing specific
about them that I like.
It’s just the way they sit
on my table and continue to be
pieces of cardboard
in addition to which
I’ve been thinking about them
for so long now
that they have become a small part
of my history.
Who can say
that I will not be remembered
as the guy who had
a few pieces of cardboard?

« Sure, I remember him –
he was always walking around
with pieces of cardboard
when he got home
he’d toss the pieces of cardboard
on the table
and sit down
and stare at them for hours.
How can you forget a guy like that? »

THE BEAR DISAPPOINTMENT TRILOGY

I. TWICE DISAPPOINTED

Bear was just disappointed
for the second time
this afternoon

I can’t remember why
she was disappointed
the first time

neither can she

while trying to remember
I forgot why
she was disappointed
the second time

[ afternoon, Baby Buggy Road, Aug. 4, 2004 ]

II. BEAR’S DISAPPOINTMENT

now I remember why
Bear was disappointed
the second time

it was because
she expected
the bicycle repairman
to be more joyous
(some of the time)
and more thoughtful
(the rest)

the first time
she was disappointed
(I think) was because
somebody else
was being less than joyous
and much less than thoughtful

I used to spend my afternoons
being joyous (some of the time)
and thoughtful (the rest)
Now I spend my time
trying to keep track
of Bear’s disappointments

[ Stockay – evening Aug. 4, 2004 ]

III. BEAR’S FIRST DISAPPOINTMENT REMEMBERED

I just remembered why
Bear was disappointed
the first time

she just remembered too
in fact
she was the first to remember

it was about an internet message
in Chinese
that appeared on her computer screen
this morning

it said, « Coming from China, »
and it promised many new
adventures

it said, « Click here. »

Bear clicked
and the whole thing disappeared

not a trace was left behind

I understand why she was disappointed
I understand why we both forgot

[ Stockay – night Aug. 4, 2004 ]

LOSING THINGS, MISPLACING THINGS,
CAN’T REMEMBER WHERE YOU PUT ‘EM

for Marie Claire

It all comes back and down
to when you put them down
and where you put them down
to the exactly spot
where you were thinking,
« I don’t really
have to bother my head
with such a trivial detail
I’ll drop by and pick it up later. »

And that’s exactly what happens
if you’re not in a hurry
next day
a week later
a year later
you’re just strolling along
past that exact spot
and you pick up your earring
and you say,
« I wonder where I put
my cell phone? »

[ October 12, 2004 ]

TIME

As time slips by
I find myself dating
past events
in a gradual
escalation of years.
25 years ago.
30 years, 40 years.
How did it get to be
44 years since
I started doing
adult-like things?
How did my son
suddenly become 27?
What happened?
Did I miss something?
Or is this the way
it’s supposed to go
when you lead
a normal life?
Good thing I didn’t
go in the Marines.
I might have missed
it all. That was 45 years ago.
I’d still wandering around
a jungle in Vietnam
smoking dope
and thinking it was still
1964. Good thing I didn’t
become a college professor
I’d still be wandering around
the gardens of some west coast
campus, smoking dope and thinking
I was in heaven.
When you get to heaven
time stops.

[ October 2004 ]

LUCK
to Marie-Claire

Have we run out of luck at last?
When you fell on the steps
of Place St. Lambert
and twisted your ankle
and broke your bone
and clawed a fingernail hole
in the front of my new Greenpeace sweater
to keep you from falling farther
and breaking more bones
I was quick to ask myself:
have we finally run out of luck?

When I got my head smashed
by various pieces of hard wood
3 times in the same day
my first thought was
have we run out of luck?

Then I went and knocked on wood
and smashed the table

Have we run out of luck?

« Absolutely not. »

We’ve been blessed
by 3 years
of amazing days of grace

and you say
« You’re much too quick
to say we’ve run out of luck. »

Our guardian angels
are backing off
and giving the earth spirits
a chance to run the show
all we have to do
is carry on
and never fool ourselves
into believing
that we might be control

[ November 2003 ]

LUCK SEQUEL

a year later
and we’ve been blessed
by nights and days of grace
many more than I can count

luck never had anything to do with it

the guardian angels
have turned their jobs
over to the spirits of the earth

it’s our pleasure now
to keep our doors and windows open
so those spirits can come in
and join us at the table.
We have a large bowl of wheat.
I gathered the grains
from the fields this summer.
The gods have plenty to eat.

[ December 2004 ]

BEAR SAYS ONE

Bear says :
« I saw enough of Egypt when we were in Tunisia. »

[ Feb. 29, 2004 ]

BEAR SAYS TWO

Bear says :
« I don’t think I would like to be an animal. »

[ Oct. 20, 2004 ]

BEAR SAYS THREE

Bear says :
« I feel protected when I eat onion soup. »

[ Oct. 28, 2004 ]

BEAR SAYS FOUR

Bear says :
« I’ll call you when the plates are smoking. »

[ Oct. 28, 2004 ]

BEAR SAYS FIVE

Bear says :
« I’ve got to stop looking at people. »

[ Oct. 30, 2004 ]

BEAR SAYS (speaking of our son)

« It’s almost one month since Quanah was born 28 years ago. »

[ Nov. 7, 2004 ]

BEAR SAYS (ten miles down the road) :

« I’ve been holding my breath since we left home. »
[ Celtic Twilight Road – Nov. 7, 2004 ]

BEAR SAYS EIGHT

« If the strikers from the post office come and take our
mailbox and try to burn it I will pull out their testicles. »

[ Nov. 9, 2004 ]

BEAR SAYS NINE

« When I think about life after death I get the hic-cups. »

[ Nov. 12, 2004 ]

BEAR SAYS TEN

« When it’s dark we don’t see anything. »

[ Nov. 19, 2004 ]

BEAR SAYS ELEVEN (Part 1)

« Everything is happening in September. »

[ Amsterdam, Nov. 20, 2004 ]

BEAR SAYS ELEVEN (Part 2)

« Everything is happening in September – almost. »

[ Amsterdam, Nov. 20, 2004 ]

BEAR SAYS TWELVE

« That’s what we’re here for – to fall apart. » *

[ November 29, 2004 ]

* implying : we’re here to provide entertainment for each other as we stumble blindly into old age

ONE

what happens when you put
two and two together?

[ Smugglers Road, July 30, 2004 ]

SYLLOGISM

if money is the root of all evil

and money can’t buy you love

then evil is the root of all love
(or he would like to be
if he didn’t have so many
coins to jingle around
in his pockets
while fighting off waves
of happiness)

[ August 2004 ]

SPINOZA

some sit by the river
reading Spinoza
others sit
reading a fashion magazine

I saw Spinoza
sitting by the river
reading a fashion magazine

she had blonde hair

[ Belle Isle to Esneux by bike, Sept. 2, 2004 ]

THE KISS

watch out for her kiss
she might bite you instead
she likes to do that, they say
just reach out and snap off
your nose
or dig up a chunk
of your lower lip

more than one good lover
had lost a tongue
to the Girl from Tusk-a-Loosa

GIRLFRIEND

1.
I was ready for anything.

When I came racing around the corner
motor roaring, tires squealing
kicking up shoulder dust
I was ready for strange adventures
ready for whiplashes of wild roses
and werewolf parties
ready for lost weekends and leap years.

But I wasn’t ready for her.

She was standing by the side of the road
and she wasn’t sticking out her thumb either
She was flagging down rides with her chest.
I stopped. She got in.
I said I’m ready for anything
and I was
I was ready for rude romance
I was ready for magnetic encounters
I was ready for supernatural paranormal
ultra-metaphysical moments
but I wasn’t ready for her.

I was never like the brown bear
who sat on a hill and watched
a mysterious woman
drop a mysterious box
into a river.
He looked at the woman
for a minute
then he looked at the river
for another
then he turned and trotted away.
Not me.
Every time a mysterious woman
drops a mysterious box
in the river
I have to jump in
and open it up

2.
I didn’t have a chance
when she turned to me
and said, « I’m lost. »
She blinked her long lashes
and I didn’t have a chance

I was helpless
when she asked me
if I knew my way around.
The maps in my head
crumbled to dust
and I was helpless

I was already curled up
in the palm of her hand
when I said, « Sure, just follow me. »
But it was me who followed her
it was me who was curled up
in the palm of her hand

I was completely in love with her
by the time we came to the office
two doors down the hall
the professor looked up
« Can I help you? » she said.
And I said, « She needs your signature
and I’m completely in love. »

And I fell in love again
after the girl left
with the signed paper
and the professor locked the door
and said, « This happens all the time. »
I said, « I know what you mean.
This is the second time today. »
Then I noticed a photograph on her desk.
« My daughter, » she said
and I fell in love again

3.
I never liked it when she started talking
about old boyfriends.
She ruined their names by pronouncing them.
She told me later, « The names have been changed
to protect the guilty. »

Girlfriend.
What a strange social and biological
set-up like ducks in a shooting gallery.
Girlfriend.
Not just any old friend
not a pal or a buddy or a chum
or someone you’d tell your deepest secrets to.

Fact is : she never knew anything about me
as I knew next to nothing about her
yet we got along
Just fine.
Most of the time.

4.
Some girlfriends become wives
and some girlfriends become the girls
the wives become jealous of

I never gave her reason to be jealous
but she didn’t need reason.
Strange how we never need reason
when it comes to all the important stuff.
The stuff that shapes your life.

5.
« The secret of poetry, » she said
« Is to use only a few words to describe
a whole bunch of stuff. »
Sounded good to me.
Bunch and stuff are good words
especially when you’re dealing with
poetic weights and measures.
« And how about love? » I asked.
« What’s the secret of love? »
« Same as poetry, » she said,
« only you leave out the words. »

6.
We meet again after 40 years
all that sweat seems impossible now
nights of held breath
mad dashes from one hiding place
to the next stopping the car
in the middle of midnight
to race on foot thru a dense forest
shouting OVER HERE strolling on mist
shrouded beach at low tide
curled up in a cubbyhole by the stove
on cold linoleum floor at 4 a.m.
no buses running paralyzed by visions
of love lost, losing it moment by moment
dripping like water from a clenched fist
seeping, helpless, leaning elbows
on windowsill to witness the dawn fade in,
letting her go, giving in,
hearing her bus hiss in the distance
as I stop in the street
to stare at the sex-shaped cloud
of lust and perfume
that surrounds this secretary
trot-clicking on high heels
late for work
and following this cloud
onto another hissing bus
where I fall in love with an elf
with large glasses and long straw hair
on her way to school.

7.
Leafing thru my yearbook
I can’t believe it.
The cheerleaders loved me
(and my trombone)

Class re-union 40 years later
she asked, « Do you still play it
(your trombone)? »
I said, « Do you still shake
your pom-poms? »

8.
We took a walk along the river
twilight I skipped flat stones
out across the water
showing her my skill
letting her know I was clever
and could be counted on
to protect her from the fierce mountain lion
and the devious rattlesnake.

9.
I said to her husband,
« I’m going to borrow your wife
for a few minutes. » We talked
about books we’d read, we talked
about the movies we liked the best
and for a few minutes
we were back in 1950
we were 7 years old
and she was the girl
the teacher said
I had to hold hands with
in the cafeteria line

old girlfriends don’t change
they just wear different masks
and costumes
when they get past 55.

10.
Her words become a blur.
They’ve been fuzzy from the start.
« Hurry up. »
Her body is a blur
saved up since birth
for this moment
for me and my desert boots
and my London Fog raincoat
now lying innocently
in a heap by the bed
while I gaze down upon
my conquered territory of flesh
and flex thousands
of nude muscles
and wonder what kind of ape
has suddenly got inside my skin
and started to yodel.

11.
But who were we kidding?
Only ourselves.
A widow with a year and a half
of empty arms
and a good-hearted cowboy
who needed a broom horse to ride.
« Just dropped by to see
how things were going »
see if she had a light bulb
that needed changing
unplug the sink, maybe
adjust the TV.
Who were we kidding?
Nobody. Not even the canary in the cage
or the cat up in the rafters
snapping at his tail.
Not when she broke the seal
on a fifth of vodka and said,
« A small drink, perhaps, before going? »
Not when I took off my boots
and said, « Just one for the road. »
Not when she came over and sat in my lap
and said, « It sure feels good when you tickle me. »
Not after we’d finished the bottle of booze
and started another
Not when I took off my pants and shouted,
« Where’s the fucking bathroom? »

By then we were way past
trying to fool the cat and the canary.
We had other fish to skin
and mud puddles to fry.

12.
Back in the days of vinyl discs
the girlfriend didn’t get up
to « turn the record over. »
That was the boyfriend’s job.
The girlfriend never drove.
She never paid.
She would chew gum
and sometimes smoke
But basically her job
was to look good.

I couldn’t do anything
about the way she sounded tho.
Her earrings were miniature maracas
and her ears seemed to be hissing
every time she turned her head.

13.
Riding the crest of a wave
LOVE IS A SURFBOARD
Slicing thru pedestrians
on a crowded sidewalk
LOVE IS A ROLLERBLADE
Girlfriend is the other blade.
Girlfriend cuts and slices
chops and dices
spreads like butter
on a slice of warm bread
and tastes like strawberry jam.

14.
Peanut butter and jelly
that’s all I want tonight.
As for breakfast
bring me peaches on pancakes
the salt of the earth
and tequila on lemon

Girlfriend is food
she’s a stick of liquorice
a sprig of wild garlic
a shot of Tia Maria
a cup of cappuccino
hot wine with cinnamon
cherry cobbler with whipped cream

15.
They say you can see her coming.
Not true. Never true.
She always catches you by surprise.
She always sneaks up when you’re not looking
« Boo. »
« Boo to you too. »
« Catch me, I’m falling. »
« Gotcha. »
« Boy, meet girl. »
« We already met. »
« You’ve already dreamed of her? »
« She came in the back door. »
« I see. You’ve already drunk her milk of amnesia. »

16.
I’m starting over
from « Scratch my back »
and working down to the fishing permits
of « Seven down, four letters, starts with L
and rhymes with dove. »
and « What can I get you for your birthday, big boy? »

17.
I see her clearly now
but it’s too late.
She’s here to stay
until she’s gone
until she’s danced on my tail
dusted my ragged edges
winked my dreams
and dreamed my sleep.

18.
Girlfriends and Farmerwives.
Don’t ever take them together on vacation
in a car with no back seat.

She lived next door.
She was only 17, divorced, sort of
almost innocent
asking nothing from life
but an honest break
and maybe a chance to laugh
and chase the blues away
once in a while.
We were just sitting at the piano
playing a Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltz for 4 hands
when the Farmerwife walked in
whistling « Pop goes the Weasel »
and cut off our tails with a carving knife.
Did you ever see such a sight in your life
as two myopic musicians
and one clairvoyant Farmerwife dancing
around the piano as severed tails
and popped weasels whipped and flipped
in the air and the bust of Brahms
gazed down from above
whistling « La Cucaracha »
and the blues crawled back
thru the open window
on yellow-spotted salamander feet.

19.
We lay in a hollow of grass
in a public park past midnight
huddled under a blanket
listening to the footsteps
of perverts shuffle thru the leaves.

20.
I had the force of ten men
I could leap over small cliffs
and large motorcycles
I could run marathons
and circles around the sun
I could play the piano with 8 hands
and 14 feet
I could hold off the rain
with one raised fist
and paint rainbows across the sky
with the tips of my fingers
I could breathe in ocean storms
and blow out candles in the Amazon.

I could lift her in one arm
and myself in the other.

Sometimes a girlfriend
can do these things to you
and then sometimes a girlfriend
can turn you into a mouse
begging for a chunk of cheese
begging, « Please let me stick my head
in your snap trap, » pleading
for a drop of holy water
and a sharp stone
from the Roadrunner’s slingshot

« Say cheese, » she said
and snapped a picture of me
that I would never see.
A photo she kept hidden
in the bottom of the bottom
of a bottomless bus station locker
and refused to show anyone
except her mother.

21.
We were going to have lots of fun.
We were to grow up and go to Paris.
We were going to learn everything in school
then march around collecting money
and giving everyone with polio a dime.
We were going to read every book in the library
out loud
to each other
We got up to page 15 of the 7th book
and switched to diving.
We were going to master the jack knife
and win gold medals in the Olympics.
We were going to run the mile
and break the world record.
of broken hearts
We were going to go fishing
and catch the last of the Mohicans.
We were going to sit in the Red Dog Saloon
and drink each other under the table.
We were going to teach each other
how to play the guitar
then go out and join a country band
and pretend we were Waylon Jennings
and Tammy Wynette.
We were going to give dance lessons
to all the animals in the zoo.
We would teach koala bears
how to do the Alligator
teach turtles how to do the Monkey,
teach the hippos how to do the Camel Walk,
and flamingos how to Walk the Dog.
There were hours when we were invincible,
invulnerable but nobody ever noticed us
not even the street sweepers
and we never got to Paris either.

22.
She sent me a postcard from Hawaii.
She tried to convince me it was her picture
on the front, the girl in the grass skirt
playing a ukulele.

I sent her a postcard from Reno, Nevada
with a picture of the snazziest hotel in town.
I put an X on a window of the top floor
and printed THIS IS WHERE I LIVE
tho I was camping out in back of a cheap motel
on the other side of town.

23.
She wanted me to be her Mark McGwire
and hit a 70-homerun season.
I bunted into a double play
and hung up my spikes.

She wanted me to be her Popeye
so I ate some spinach and my skin turned green.
She told her friends I was becoming a shrub.
When I started losing my leaves,
she left me out in the garden at night
with all the other bushes.

24.
I wanted her to be my spice girl
She tried cinnamon and she tried cloves
She tried curry and soya sauce
She spread a pint of rum-soaked ice cream
on her face and lost her smile an hour later.
She jammed chilli peppers under her tongue
and went for the super-hot goodnight kiss
that left me with blistered lips
and glowing teeth.

25.
She wanted shirtless Australian surfers
with 20-year old sun-tanned muscles
but instead got a geek with glasses
and a scrawny body covered with sand

She wanted a smooth-talking, longtall Texan
and she got a broken-down brakeman
from the Rhode Island Line.

She wanted a suave, debonair soap opera announcer
the man who did the voice-overs by day
and at night was a contrabasso, bari-tenortone
in the real opera downtown, who sang lead roles
in Tannhauser and Rigoletto,
but instead she got me
the kid who used to sprint
the length of the pasture
with a half-size football under his arm
and dodge the cow pies
as if they were real
vicious tacklers from Notre Dame
trying their best to keep him from scoring
a windmill touchdown.

26.
The crowds we lost ourselves in.
Throngs of lost lovers.
Flocks of fleeting Memory Ducks
paint-brushing us into a corner
with weathered wings.
Names nibbling at our nerves
with numbered teeth.
Herds of Rumor Cows,
stampedes of Story-Stallions,
a gang of Gossip Gorillas,
heavy-booted Reputation Goats
running roughshod
over our most populated areas.
27.
She was my biggest city,
my favorite metropolis.
She was filled with movie theaters
and art galleries, planetariums,
jazz clubs and Mexican restaurants.
Her streets were perfect for skateboarding.
Her streetcars ran on time.
Her taxi drivers were polite and courteous.
I climbed her skyscrapers
and rode her elevators to the top floors.
I shopped in her department stores
and I robbed her banks.
I was caught trying to escape
into the labyrinth of tunnels
in her subway system. Her cops
dragged me off to her jail. Her courts
condemned me to 30 minutes of hard labor
as an ambulance driver for her hospitals.
She let me off after 30 seconds
of good behavior. I promised never
to rob her banks again.
Then I hot-wired the ambulance
and turned a joy ride into an exodus
and ended up in one of her smaller towns
in the south.
I was a total stranger there.
I lived at the Green Iguana Motel
I bowled a perfect game at her bowling alley
I ate the blue plate special at her greasy spoon.
Her local newspaper wrote me up
in her gossip columns, and her Sheriff
finally caught up with me
as I was shooting a losing game of pool
in the backroom of The Swamp.
It was the ambulance that did me in.
I shouldn’t have tried to pass it off
as a milk truck at her used car lot.
« Milk trucks don’t have sirens, » she said.

28.
She looked good wearing the river
as a pair of liquid shoes
which flowed together and spread
from shore to shore.

She looked good wearing that mask
thru the eyeholes of which
you could see the sky.
« Cloud Passing » was an expression of hers
I liked a lot.
« Full Moon » was bizarre
since it appeared in only one eye,
and the red of the setting sun
was too orange to look at when it was in both.

There were moments when a bee
or a butterfly flitted thru a hole
and turned her face
into a pastoral landscape.
You could hear the chirp of crickets
in her ears

29.
« O Garbanzo bean, baby
You were my chick pea
you were my crossed fingers
you were my fountain faucet
and my C major arpeggio
my ticket to the mainline
my tumbling knucklebones
my straight flush and full house
my new moon walk
you sang in the Mute Muse Choir
you gave away eye drops to the blind
you were my borderline
and city limit sign »

She kicked the winning goal
in the World Cup Soccer final
and we all watched in amazement
as the ball turned into
a cloud of exploding confetti

30.
She was my fortune cookie.
She could slip into my future,
put it on like a sock,
then come back and tell me how it fit.
« What about breakfast? »
« I see toast and jam, » she would predict,
« and cream in your coffee. »
tho I never ate anything but scrambled eggs
and had given up coffee years before.
She was better at lunches and dinners.
« I see breaded veal and frozen peas
on your plate tonight. »
Half of the time she was right,
even tho she did the cooking.
She always had trouble with the frozen peas.
Sometimes they would turn
into tiny crystal balls
into which you could stare
and see dozens upon dozens
of different tomorrows.

BOBOLINK POEMS
(for Lawrence Ferlinghetti )

1.

it all started when Bobolink
gave an interview
and told the world
that his number one influence
was Lawrence Ferlinghetti
the journalists jumped all over Bobolink
(whose real name was Robert Boblincoln)
they wanted to know
who this Ferlinghetti character might be
and what was his real name
and why wasn’t he standing up in the back of the crowd
peeking over shoulders
waving « Hi, mom » to the cameras?
Bobolink ignored the last question
and went into details about influences
« He put swim flippers in my heart beat »
« He got into my nervous system
and repaired the broken lines »
« He tossed rhyme out the window
and hauled in a fresh truck load of alliteration »
A journalist raised his voice.
« Oh – you’re talking about POEMS
I thought you were talking about swimming pools
full of telephone
wires »
Bobolink said, « I’m talking about Tea for Two
with Tim Buck too
and twisting your teeth with his tickling toe. »

2.

it was about the time
that Bobolink’s poem
Saturday Night at Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s
came out
and a little outfit down south
picked it up
They said Bobolink
(whose real name was Robert Boblincoln)
should have called his poem
Saturday Nights at City Lights
they thought
Bobolink’s poem pulled up too quick
at stop signs
and was much too tight
on the u-turns

« People are getting tossed out in the road »
is how they put it
nor did they like
the way Bobolink’s poem
smiled
when it should have grabbed them by the shirtfront
and shook the living daylights out of them
or grabbed them by the testimonials
and squeezed
and shook
the wrath
of god’s own family jewels in their faces
or at least
snapped their suspenders
to let them know that he was sweat serious about all the
hypocritical hijinks
and the lustful lowblows
and the schoolyard capers
and the white house motel peccadilloes
and how magazines subscriptions were going to the wrong
addresses
INTENTIONALLY
such as the one that advocated
the overthrow of the King of Rock and Roll
sometime
within the next year or two.
« Let’s flood the sucker, » were his exact words,
« and let’s take out the C of Cuba
while
were at it. »
« You just make jokes out of those morsels of meat »
is how the boys down south put it.

Bobolink came back with a poem with a frown.
They ate it up.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
watched from down the block
he cast an amused eye
upon the scene
then went back inside his shop
He had a late-night customer
who wanted a copy of Jaime Angulo’s Indians in Overalls.

3.

they came out of the dark
carrying a Bobolink poem
strapped to their backs. They’d been walking
for miles
thru the snow and hard rain.
The poem FERLINGHETTI’S CAPE
was soaking wet
they came
to a girl’s apartment in the city
and they put FERLINGHETTI’S CAPE in her oven
to dry out
then they went
in the other room and sat around smoking and drinking wine
for the rest of the night
and when they came out
to find out
if FERLINGHETTI’S CAPE
was dried out
THE KITCHEN WAS ON FIRE
flames were shooting from the oven
FERLINGHETTI’S CAPE – a black blanket of ashes –
had already done the damage
there was nothing they could do to save the house
the fire department arrived too late
« How did this thing
get started? »
the Chief wanted to know.
« This ain’t the first time we’ve had one of them
poetical spontaneous combustions
with my own eyes
I’ve seen poems like this
blow up in people’s faces
you’re lucky to be alive »

4.

When they changed Price Row
to Via Ferlinghetti
Bobolink
came up with a poem
about how
it was a shame
they chose a short
dead-end
alley
to honor the poet

Bobolink’s poem was called VIA FERLINGHETTI
« They should have given him a big street, »
he writes
« Columbus Avenue would have been about the right size
they got delis and coffee shops
on Columbus
they speak Italian on Columbus
you stroll into Washington Square from Columbus
to see how the Columbus
pigeons are doing
are they starving?
or are they rolling around on the grill of the hot sun
sidewalk? »
Broadway is out. Everyone agrees.
what would Ferlinghetti do with a tunnel
at one end
and all those sex dives
at the other?
Kerouac
got short changed too
it’s an alley
without a mailbox for five buildings
three of which
are already condemned and slated for demolition
they’ll sneak in some night
put up some high
rise
monstrosity and call it Herb Caen’s Castle
(Herb Caen was a
newspaper columnist who dealt with rumors and liars
he had a
cynical way of poking fun at Bobolink’s poem COIT TOWER and he
didn’t like any of Ferlinghetti’s poems either)

« What do you have to do
to get better than dead-end alleys?
Bobolink
wanted to know.
« Did he have to write the I Ching
to get Grant Avenue?
or would they have given him Geary all the way to the beach
for coming up with Homer’s Odyssey? »

5.

PITCHFORK was from the countryside. Hayrides
under a full moon, filled with girls
ready to explode
under the pressure
of harvest hormones
of male bodies
prone to procreation.

Let’s make this clear.

Bobolink (whose real name was Robert Boblincoln)
didn’t pull punches when it came to birth control
« Let them get pregnant as porpoises »
runs the first line
of his poem PITCHFORK
« Let them get impregnated
BY porpoises »
which is the line
that gives the poem its exciting end
nobody knew about
the pregnant chip monks
the pregnant polar bears
and the pregnant pauses when zoo keepers
looked around and saw Bobolink standing
in the shadows

« Who knocked up the kangaroos? » is what the Chief
wanted to know.
It was the last straw.
« I’ve got connections, » writes Bobolink
pumping up
his word power
and squirting it into the right passages

The Chief was irate. « I don’t believe it. He can’t be verbally
acquainted with outside conspirators. They do not walk poetic
paths. And look at all the destruction they left behind. »
No one suspected that the sudden increase
of lady bugs
daddy long leg spiders
and limpets
would soon be sending shock waves around
the Bay Area
these were followed by hordes of flat worms
fire ants
and bdelloid rotifers
all of Bobolink’s friends
jumped in their French sports
cars
and headed for the hills
and soon the city was deserted
and Bobolink sat alone
on the beach
looking up at the cliffs
where one of his quadruped abalone
sat perched on a rock
banging out poems
on a two-finger typewriter

6.

DRUNKEN SAILOR
is a busy poem
that criticizes
the ads
that made Aerosmith
Microsoft
and CNN famous
it goes: The Coney Islands of Our Minds
have been torn down
and
Chernoblys
have been
erected in the bottoms
of our brain pans
along with : « breaking news »
« read my lips »
and
« weapons of mass destruction »

the poem
invites
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
to join in
he says, ‘What are you gonna do with a drunken sailor? »

Bobolink seldom
writes poems
like this
he prefers
poems

with titles like: Chuck Wagons of the Wild West
Balloon Chronicles
Turtles and Other Forms of Perfect Balance
Rip Van Winkle’s Trombone Technique
The Encyclopedia of Magnifying Glasses
Translations from the Tremors
(and its sequel)
Five-O-Nine on the Richter Scale
and We Still Haven’t Got
to the Scary Part

tho he is grateful
to Ferlinghetti
for coming up
with a title
for his poem

7.

it was an homage to Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

They came
with their umbrellas, kitchen doors, car doors
and City Light Bookmarks

Bobolink came with his suitcase
on which he’d
printed his poem years ago
and had since packed twice
around the world
His real name
was Robert Boblincoln
but nobody had heard of Bobolink
either
first they read their umbrellas
and their kitchen and car doors
and City Lights bookmarks.

then Bobolink read his suitcase, both sides:

Where is the shaman to lead us out of our misery
and aching
teeth?
Where is the teacher to lead us out of the low-down
high-schools and away from those barracks on the other side of the
university library?
Where is the poet to lead us out of nursery rhymes
and Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall?
Where is the monk from the animal fair who sat upon the
elephant’s trunk while confused, desperate kids stood on Twin
Peaks and waved to him and chanted « and that was
the end
of the monk the monk the monk the monk the monk the monk
the monk »?

« Here’s right in here.
Inside the suitcase, » said Bobolink
Bobolink opened the suitcase
which contained
every poem that Lawrence Ferlinghetti
had every written
« Take your pick, » said Bobolink.
« And don’t forget to take your time. »

soon the poems were scattered all over the floor
and everybody thought the suitcase was empty
but a voice
chuckled out from one of the side
pockets
and laughter
filled the room with contagious giggles
and snickers
and soon
the whole gathering was laughing their fool heads
off
for how long?
who cares?
and when the last titter died away
the voice in the pocket said
« There is no Beat Scene, man
only the wisp in the willows
and the plump in the pillows
the dream of a scream
and the fireflies
at the bottom
of your garden. »

[ written after reading Ferlinghetti’s Pictures of a Gone World
for the first time in 40 years.
6 am – 6 pm April 21, 2004 ]

WIPERS
(in memory of Allen Ginsberg)

we’ve seen the best
windshield wipers
of our generation
sticking fingertips
into their nostrils
and ripping their noses
from their faces

« Smell that! » they cry
waving their noses
under our noses
and wiping their lips
on stumps
of bloody teeth

« Blow that! » they shout
flinging their faces skyward
to a flock of crows
shooting overhead
who pluck their noses
out of thin air

And the crows jaw and jabber,
« You’ve just seen the best
of this Generation of Wipers.
Now get ready
for the Snotrags from Moloch
who’ll piss in your gas tank
and take you out behind the garage
and beat the shit out of you
if you mention their weird
East European accents. »

BEATNIK BABIES

you can see them after midnight
slouching along the avenues
in raincoats and shades
picking thru garbage cans
for scraps of cabbage
slinking off into alleys
when they hear a car coming

looks like I’ll have to get out
my drumsticks
and whip a few of these wild cats into line

COMPUTER VIRUS

there’s a lot of pissed-off
unemployed geniuses out there

they have the brains of twin Einsteins
and the emotional maturity of baboons

you can see them after midnight
prowling along the avenues
in their raincoats and shades
picking at garbage cans
for scraps of cabbage
and slinking off into an alley
when they hear a car coming

looks like
I’m going to have to get out my copy
of Beowulf
and whip these nematoads into line

[ May 5, 2004 ]

ORDINARY DAY

I’m going to say
it was just an ordinary day
then I remember
all the weeds I pulled in the garden.
For them, it was a momentous day
It was the last days of their lives.
I killed them all.

[ July 5, 2003 ]

PUNCHING THE CELL

with the cell phone
you can’t slam down
the receiver
like you used to do with the old
dial phones
get pissed off and
stick that old horn
into the fucking cradle
and beyond.

not that I ever did.

the closest you can come
to reviving that out-moded
social custom
is to toss your cell phone
up in the air
and punch it
right on the fucking cut-off button
with your fist
as it comes down

it will sail about 10 yards
and you might have to buy a new phone
but think of your name
in the history books
the first man
or woman
to punch a cell phone
you will have invented
a new social custom
known as « Punching the Cell »
you’ll see people standing
out along the edge of the road
tossing their phones in the air
like tennis balls
and punching the cell shit
out of them
stop
smile
take a bow
after all you were the first
manorwoman
to « Punch a Cell. »

enjoy your celebrity
but don’t forget the guy
who told you all about it.

[ High Road, July 28, 2004 ]

PAPER PLATES

the violence of the kitchen sink
the rips and slashes
of gushing water
the saber rattles
of knives, forks and spoons
the smashing clatter
of cups and saucers
these are not paper plates
these are not sponge rubber pots
these are instruments of torture
these are annihilators of sanity
this is total war
on the Battlefield of Tinnitus
and these are weapons of mass destruction

COLUMBUS DAY

Columbus was a butcher
alive today
he would be convicted
and executed
for crimes against humanity
he chopped up the Indians
and fed them to the crocodiles
they were in his way
he wanted the gold
he wanted
ocean front property

Happy Crocodile Day

ROADSIDE

I just saw a dead baby
by the side of the road
and that’s all I’m going to say
about that ¹

¹ or it could have been
a couple of bloody diapers ²

² or a towel somebody used
to wipe their bloody ass ³

³ and that’s all I’m going to say
about that

SMILE

you’d look a lot better
if you stopped
picking your teeth
in public
and just let the cabbage
hang out
when you smile

[ August 2004 ]

PITY IS A CRIPPLING DISEASE

Pity is a crippling disease
a cracked mirror, a trick tongue tease

If I felt sorry for poor old me
I’d always be down upon my knees.
There is no prayer that’ll save your face
wrinkles, smiles or that empty place
between your teeth

up against the wall, the wall of pain
all fiddled out, no one’s to blame

there’s nothing like walking on glass
with yesterday’s bullets up your ass
while saying nothing but, « Howdy Folks! »
and flexing your belly and popping jokes

Up against the wall, you fortunate son
it’s your turn to dance the Son of a Gun

PRAISE

Praise is a good thing for all artists
painters, poets, novelists, sculptors,
film-makers, composers
it keeps you going
it keeps the channels open
it provides nourishment
and surprise.
There’s nothing wrong with someone saying,
« You do good work, » or, « Hey, that’s great. »
or, « You might even be a genius. »
There’s only one danger to beware of :
you’re in for a boatload of trouble
if you start to believe it.

PRIZES

Medals of Honor
Oscars
Pulitzers
Nobels
Grammy Awards

Are we supposed to believe
that these various industries
are doing anything more
than applauding themselves?

WHAT’VE YOU GOT

what’ve you got
for me?

what’ve you got
that I can stick
in the neon tubes
of my brains
to stir up
a thunderstorm?

what’ve you got
for me?

what’ve you got
in the pouches
of your secret kangaroo?
fireflies?
ladybugs
with lightning rods?

what’ve you got
in the hand
behind your back?

what’ve you got
for me?

I ENJOY A GREAT DEAL OF FREEDOM

having said that
I’ll probably come home tonight
and find that Saddam Hussein
has taken over the country
that my house is occupied
by the ghosts of nazi soldiers
and that my wife has become
a Brittany Spears fan

NEW COUNTRY POEMS

1.
Cruise controlled
on the high desert roads
of Eastern Oregon
New Country on the radio
knowing that
the most horrible thing
in the world
could happen to you
at any moment

2.
washing dishes
in Northern California
New Country on the radio
knowing that at any moment
a 30-foot albino alligator
could come ripping up thru the plumbing
smash thru the sink
and bite my head off
with a snap of his razor-sharp teeth
or I could go kung fu on the beast
punch him in the jaw
kick him in the balls
and there we’d be
surrounded by broken dishes
and thousands of ceramic
chunks of sink
with Hal Ketchum on the radio
singing
howl at the moon
shoot out the lights
small town Saturday night

TO JACK CODY, IN SALEM

Salem used to be a small cow town
I know
I was there in the summer of ’53
I spent my time
dodging raindrops
and milking cows

Now Salem’s just an ugly shitpile
what are you doing there, Jack?
why have you tied your hands
to that yahoo TV movie cowboy town?

pack up your sorrows
and get over to Bend
where the real cowboys live
you can walk into
another Rockin’ Rodgers
with your baseball cap
on backwards and Twist Again
Like You Did Last Summer
any time you want

so pack up your sorrows, Jack
and get your twisting ass
over to Bend
waste no time

[ Old Churchyard * Aineffe, Belgium
1st day of September 2004 ]

* and when I say « old » churchyard
I’m talking about an eglise romaine
of the 11th century ]

OLD MAN IN BOOTS

The old man
wore a new pair of work boots.
They were stiff.
His body lacked the vigor
and flexibility to break them in.
His feet lacked the spunk.
It would be a long time before
they were even half broken in
and even then they would not
bear the scars and wrinkles
of a younger man.

This old man’s shoe style
was Soft Bedroom Slipper.
Still he persisted and wore
only these new work boots.
They swallowed his feet
like leather eggshells.

GEEZER QUARTET

1. GEEZER DEATH

you drop by
to see a pair
of geezers
you haven’t seen
in a few years

and you spend
the next half hour
watching them die

you don’t get to see
the end
that’s somewhere
down the road
beyond today

what you get to see
is how hard
they’re working at it

it’s like watching
a lizard lick the face
of a rotting carved pumpkin
illuminated only
by the flickering
candlelight inside

2. GEEZER BEACH

« Come on down to Geezer Beach! »

That’s what they say
in the back pages
of the geezer magazines
with colored photographs
of naked geezers
most of them dead
others dying slowly
lying on the hot sand
waiting for a wave
to roll in and wipe them out

Why would anyone
want to go down
to Geezer Beach?
Unless you’re a geezer
and even then
you can probably come up with
a few better places
to kick the bucket
than a bed of sand
with a wild surf

I know a good place
up in the mountains
there’s a little stream
and it flows out of a rock
you lie down
and float
all the way
to the Lake of the Juvenile Delinquents

3. THE GEEZER LEAGUE

I say, « I’m out on these farm roads
almost everyday
rain, snow, ice, wind, sometimes sunshine
twenty, twenty-five miles »

and he says, « How old are you? »

And I say,
« I know I was getting close
to thirty in 1969
but after that
I just sort of stopped counting. »

and he says,
« How’d you like to race for our team? »

« What team is that? »

« The Bike Racing Team. In the Geezer League.
For racers over sixty. We’ll pay you 20, 000
dollars a month. Ten races a season. April
to October. The Geezer League. »

« You don’t want me on your team.
If some other bike bum got ahead
I’d catch up and stick a crow bar
in his spokes. If that didn’t work
I’d slash his tires with my six-inch
steel blade. »

« You’re just the kind of geezer
we’re looking for. »

« And sometimes I have to stop
and write a poem. »

The man jams his car in gear
and drives away
without looking back.

[ July 2004 ]

4. GEEZER TEETH

the less said about that
the better

[ Old Farm Barn, Oct. 14, 2004 ]

GRANDMA’S AGE

« I ain’t getting any younger. »

That’s was grandma’s age
when people asked her
how old she was.

Actually she used the words
« I am not –  »
and actually the person
I have in mind
was a man in a barbershop
in 1949
with a bald head
and a great fondness
for girly magazines.

Couldn’t the gods have given me
just one uncle
like that?
Why do I have to heap
all the memories
of these life-defining moments
on poor grandma?

GRANDMOTHER’S FAVORITE LAMENT

we barely have time to get used to it
before it starts going the other way

that’s life
that’s summer
that’s acid
and all the other ears and eyes
that open minds
like Beethoven’s Ninth
Bach’s B Minor
and Hieronymus Bosch

that was my grandmother’s favorite lament

we barely have time to go the other way
before it starts getting used to us

UNCLE

I was raised by an uncle
who felt only contempt for me.
I was too skinny
I was blind in one eye
and couldn’t see out of the other.
I refused to slaughter the rabbits.
I refused to skin the deer he shot.
In my photos
I’ve got lumpy cheeks
like a chipmunk.
I’ve got pink, plastic rim glasses
I’ve got a cherubic crewcut
I look like a dork
you’d like to smash the face
with your fist.
My uncle did that
once in awhile.
He whipped me with a belt too.
He boxed my ears because
I listened to music.
He died of lung cancer,
a nasty, old man.
Who knows?
I may end up the same.
But this much is for sure :
I’ve dug potatoes
he never heard of
I’ve tuned guitars
he never imagined
and I’ve made love to women
a hell of a lot more beautiful
than his waspish wife
and a lot more willing
than his robotic 9-year old son
he used bugger in the barn
on Sunday afternoon.

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A PRINCE IN EXILE

PART ONE :
I sure grew up
with a screwed up
lot of people

Uncle Howard : « What are you? Some kind of pansy? » (Any graceful male was a pansy)

Aunt Alice : « I swear those UFOs are out to get us. They want us for their Christian Scientist experiments. »

Cousin Ken : « I wonder what’ll happen if I put these baby kittens in the milk can and then set the barn on fire? »

Aunt Joyce : « We don’t talk about your dear Aunt Grace. She lives in Chicago and she’s in a mental institution. And that’s the last I want to hear on that subject. »

Uncle George : « Your Aunt Grace? She’s a dingbat. Nuttier than a fruitcake. They keep her locked up because she goes around seeing things that aren’t there. »

Gene Toad (Sophomore year, Driver’s Ed, pulling out a pre-rolled joint of grass from the glove compartment) : One puff of this and you’ll be addicted for life. »

Jerome (one of Mom’s buggy boyfriends) : « I saw some beatniks the other night and I will say this for them : they were clean, their shirts were ironed and their pants had a crease in them. »

Larry, the high school bully – the senior who picked on sophomores : « You called me a bastard? You called ME a bastard? . . . No? . . . you called me a fucking son of as bitch? You called ME a fucking son of a bitch? YOU called ME a fucking son of an asshole? »

Grandpa Balder : « Don’t worry about me. I’ll be around until kingdom comes. »

Grandpa Ben : « Now here I have all these shoeboxes and they’re all labeled. Short pieces of string. Shorter pieces of string. And pieces of string too short to be useful – but you never can tell. »

Grandpa Lena : « I think I’m coming unglued. »

Uncle Hugh: « I don’t want to hear any nonsense about gravity. It’s your own dad-blamed fault. All that music you play. Life is not supposed to be fun »

PART TWO :
I sure screwed up
with a lot
of grown-up people

« Cut your hair! »

« Cut your beard! »

« You can’t come in here. »

« The Divine Comedy by Dante? Don’t even bother. You’re not smart enough to understand something like that. Stick with the Saroyan. »

« Who stole that collection of dimes I was saving for the little polio kids? »

« I never saw anything like it in my entire life. You are only seven years old. And she’s at least twelve. What were you thinking of? »

« Playing music by those perverted Beach Boys in your class is strictly forbidden. One more caper like that and you’ll be out of this music department in an instant. What were you thinking of? »

« I think I’m pregnant. »

« I think you’re going to find your draft notice in the mail within the next week. »

« Your draft notice is in the mail. You should expect to receive it within the next two days. »

« Did you say you hate Chopin’s music and the reason you want a renewal of your Fulbright scholarship here in Rome is because if you can’t stay here, you’ll have to go back to America, and if you go back they’ll draft you into the army and you will go to Vietnam where you will probably get killed. And you don’t want to die. »

« Look, kid. You just hold this sack open right here and I’ll go down to that barn, down in the field, and you stay right here in the forest – don’t move and don’t make a sound – and I’ll chase all the snipes up this way. »

« I’ll see you later. »

« Don’t call me. I’ll call you . . . maybe. »

« Here’s ten bucks. Get your hair cut. »

« Let’s see if I got this right. I just go straight down this street, then turn right, then left, then right again, and I’ll come to a small piazza where I’ll cut across and take the southeast alley leading out, then immediately turn left and left again, then right and go straight for about 200 yards, then you think I’ll pass a bakery. That’s where I’ll go left and right and left and right again, then straight ahead until I come to a V and you think it’s the left fork. I can’t miss it? »

THIS SUMMER

I promised I wouldn’t cry
if we had another rainy day
this summer

but that was six weeks ago
and I’ve been walking in mud
ever since
and sitting around in damp clothes
looking at cloud-boiling grey skies
that sneak in a patch of blue
once or twice a day
then snatch it back
before the sun can make me squint

and then the wind
starts smashing thru
at gale velocities
and the river floods
and this is NOT
how a summer is supposed to be

[ September 2004 ]

TWO SUMMER POEMS AGAIN
[ 44 years later ]

1. The Summer of the Sky

The sky whispers down
The sky shouts
rumbles, rips
this is the Summer of the Sky
it blasts down
it raves and rants
it drops wet muzzlings
and damp dumplings
as it tumbles and cries
this is the Year of the Sky
it speaks, we listen
we watch the clouds float
and we cannot predict
the sky’s desires
storms build up in minutes
stir up in a black soup
with a spoon of unpredictable
wind and all we can do
is stand around with our hands
in our pockets, chins lifted
eyes lost in the white infinity
between the ragged, rolling
black bombs and forget
we have feet
and forget the earth
we are standing upon
at which point the sky’s
got us right where
it wants us
right in its hammerlock eye

[ Highpoint Hesbaye, last of days of August 2004 ]

2. That Way

I tend to lean that way
– just blow the fucker up
and get it over with

I’m talking about the world
– the earth and how badly humans
have treated it

I’m talking about rich
white humans with greedy guts
who cannot think past
the ends of their own lifetimes

I was raised to lean that way
the H-bomb could drop
at any moment and wipe out
us kids beyond imagination
in the blink of an eye

Curl up under your desk
and you’ll be saved

none of us believed it

Put your arms over your head
and don’t open your eyes.

we’d seen the photographs
from Hiroshima and Nagasaki

You have nothing to fear
You are in the safest place
in the world : an American
elementary school classroom

and 20/30 years later
we learn that our ceilings
were packed with asbestos
which sifted and drifted
down over our angelic heads
like devil’s dust
while we sat and slurped
up every morsel
of Fake American History
they could dish up

Toss it out the window
I don’t want any of that crap
littering my back seat

so we littered the gods’ garden
with plastic and scrap metal
and tissue and tires
while the fat frogs
in their white skins
tossed out radioactive wastes
and chemical wastes so diabolical
they could breed
(and did breed) plagues
of monstrous
crippling
obliterating
disasters

All you can eat for $1.50
and some of us got fooled
and waddled out of the joint
weighing 300 pounds

Come to Marlboro Country
and some of us
walked a mile and got fooled
right out of our filter tip souls
and came limping home full of holes

and now the wheat has failed
and I want to shout at the sky

but the sky has been suffering
all summer whipped and tortured
by those grasshoppers
in California who’ve been
flipping out and freaking
around and creating
windstorms of microscopic
dimensions which disturbed
the buzzards and hawks
in Arizona who flapped out
and slammed into telephone
poles and stop signs
in New Mexico and blew up
those windstorms of major
proportions which were cheered on
by the farts of those frogs
in white skins in Texas
and now the hurricanes
and the cyclones
and the tornados
which have been banging around
the American skies all year
are bumping shoulders
with Belgian skies and French
and Dutch and German skies too
and given us gloomy days
and fuzzy cotton-cloud
curtained sunsets
with rainbows
chopped by thunderclouds
and waterlogged nights
in which every plant
attempting grow
(save the corn and the beetroot)
has been flooded in its tracks
and drowned to death

so bring on the thunderclaps
and broken rainbows
bring on the lightning strikes
and tornados
let’s get it over with
let’s clean house
with a clean sweep
of fresh air

I was taught to lean that way
and some days
I lean
HEAVILY

so it comes as no surprise
to hear that bees
are dying out
(pesticides this time)
tho it is strange to think
that in 20/30 years
there will be born
the first of thousands
of generations
who will never know
the taste of honey

[ Highpoint Hesbaye, last days of August, 2004 ]

SUMMER’S GONE

and not even a tribe of Indians
can bring it back

[ October 20, 2004 ]

BEDTIME PRAYERS

1.
now I lay me down to sleep
and I pray the lord
won’t bounce me out of bed
in the middle of the night
with a rat attached to my toe

2.
and I pray the lord
doesn’t come in
and fill my floor
with sand
then drag in a big barrel
of salt water
and make me walk around
and around it
in my bare feet
like a shipwrecked sailor
with my eyes
on the horizon
and no hope of rescue
in my heart

3.
I pray the lord
doesn’t invite a crowd
of rubber necks
from another planet
into my room
and speaking
like a tourist guide
say, « And here
is a typical human.
Observe the way
he babbles and burps
rumbles and farts
you will be amazed to know
that he has no control
over his body functions
in this state of hibernation. »

I won’t mind
the rubber necks so much
if they don’t start
popping flashbulbs
and taking pictures.
but Lord, I pray
don’t let them crawl into my bed
and start demonstrating
love practices from alien planets
that’s something I do NOT want to know about

4.
And I pray the Lord
won’t short change my dreams
with square nickels
and pyramids of pennies
won’t tooth pick my
threadbare pockets
and please no smiles
with curveball screams
that go in
under the fingernails
and come out with a wink

PORTRAIT OF THE COUNT AND HIS WIFE

the gate was open
there was no one in the castle
we wandered around for hours
looking for the count

my wife liked the paintings
I looked at the statues
there was immense garden in back
with trimmed shrubbery
and Baroque fountains

then a bus arrived
tourists poured out
and swarmed thru the castle
they looked at the paintings
and the statues
and the suits of armor
standing in the halls

they all ended up at the kitchen door
looking for a bite to eat

we invited them in
we had lobster cocktails
we told everybody
« We don’t live here.
We just wandered in. »
but nobody believed us

they kept saying,
« Hey, Count
where the hell’s the bathroom? »

LONGSTORY SHORT

to make a longstory
short :
no matter how heavy your name
or the way it grows roots
and keeps you chained
to rocks in the earth
just remember
we all think
we’re in one place
while we seem
to be somewhere else

4-PLAY

I’m sitting in Gary’s Muffin Shop in Amsterdam, eating one
of his muffins and thinking maybe I just might have turned
into Harry Haller – the hero of Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf.

I’m a stuffed teddy bear
who needs a new life
at the age of 60 or something
and he sees this poster
promising him everything
from soup to nuts
Paradise, the Garden of Eden
Shangra-lee and Shangra-la.
The Magic Theater it’s called.

So what have I got on the wall at Gary’s Muffin Shop?
What kind of posters? I got one that announces 4-PLAY,
that’s the name of the event at the Exit. 4-PLAY

Live Strip Sex Shows
Special Acts
Bigger Darkrooms

Sounds like the Magic Theater to me, this 4-PLAY. I like the
bigger darkrooms. The ones they had before are were so small
you couldn’t even turn around.

We NEED bigger darkrooms.
We need room to stretch out
We need room to relax
and boogie the way our
rock ‘n roll ancestors
defined the act, the way
our genetic code glows
when it gets close
to the source of the fire
and demands the ultimate boogie.

Now all of this happens from 23:00 to 4:00 AM every
Wednesday night, please note, every Wednesday night.
And if 4-PLAY isn’t enough to sate my ageing appetite,
I’ve got EASTER BANG at the Cockring.

Sunday Night, April 20
After hours till 12 AM
check that out
that’s noon the next day

And the main features of the EASTER BANG
are the LIVE SHOWS BY INTERNATIONAL PORN STARS

all of which is a little more
than I bargained for
Which is to say
Harry Haller never had
this kind of invitation.
He never went to the Cockring.
He went to the Magic Theater.

But over here, down in the corner is a poster that even
Harry Haller could clap his hands over.

Easter Bunnies
A Party for Playboys
Sat. 19th of April

That’s the one I’ll go to. I want to see the Easter Bunnies.
Maybe I’ll score an Easter Bunny and we’ll go into the
bigger darkroom and bounce around for awhile, except the
bigger darkroom is at 4-PLAY, so the darkroom at the
Easter Bunny place might turn out to be a little cramped

But there’ll be good dancing tho
DJ GAP is coming
all the way from Berlin

And that’s good news because the last time Harry Haller, the
late middle-age teddy bear, was in Berlin, he became friends
with DJ GAP.

DJ GAP must be 90 years old now
but I’m sure he still spins
the toe tappers
the hand clappers
the knee slappers
the jaw snappers

and the total iconic cyberworld brain dissolvers. Gary’s
Muffins. They’re not bad at all. Drop in and have one the
next time you’re in Amsterdam.

[ April 3, 2004 ]

LOVE JACKET

bought this jacket
in the Amsterdam flea market
for 15 euros
burgundy red
with orange and black flannel lining
it keeps me cozy and warm
as I bike the canals
and then I notice
that tho it zips up normally
it buttons from the wrong side
I take it off and look at the label
it says : WOMENS OUTERWEAR
it’s a woman’s jacket
it’s a used woman’s jacket
but it’s not very used
only slightly
and so now I have to wonder
about the woman who used it
only slightly
she had to be pretty big
or else she was tall
and wore a stack of sweaters
and now I recall
that when I tried it on
at the flea market
the cuffs of the sleeves
were rolled back
twice
so now it looks like
we’re talking about
a rather smallish woman
a girl perhaps
this is not turning out
the way I wanted it to
I wanted her to have blond hair
long, curly blond hair
I hoped she would look like Aphrodite
I hoped she was a big blond Dutch Amazon
I have to stop thinking here
or I might just start falling in love

[ Amsterdam, April 4, 2004 ]

GUN LOVE & GIRL LOVE

1. GUN LOVE

I remember
age 10, 11
hot summer day
laying belly down on the bed
leafing thru the Monkey Ward catalogue
and dreaming over the pictures of guns
rifles
pistols
pages full of shotguns
were my favorites
I loved the pump-action 12 gauge
I prayed I would own one someday
I would love it more than any girl
more than any of the loose women
hiding in the catalog’s secret pages
wearing nothing but white satin
bullet shell bras

2.. GIRL LOVE

a year later I’d left the guns behind
I was going straight for the girls
in the secret, hidden pages
the 36-C cup blondes
with fluttering eyelashes
and pouting lips
to the hell with that pump action 12-gauge

good thing I didn’t put the two together
I might have joined my name
to the long list of perverted serial killers
who were brooding and festering
in those days of glorious rebellion
in those days when Jerry Lee Lewis
married his 13-year old cousin
and started busting down High Society doors
and kicking Bing Crosby in the balls

FOUR MEMORABLE LEAKS

1.
Fourth Grade. New kid in school.
First day. Scared shitless.
First class after lunch.
I make it half way before
the need to take a piss
hits my body. I hold back.
Afraid to raise my hand.
What am I going to say?
Everybody will laugh.
I’ll be shamed. Outcast.
The need hits like a flood.
I stare at the clock on the wall
the minute hand clicks slowly
a quarter to two
clicks another notch.
I’m not going to make it.
I can’t hold back.
I feel the warm liquid
leaking down my leg
I look down and see
a small puddle gather
around my shoes.
I’m frozen with fear
swamped with shame
I can’t move a muscle
The bell rings
and everybody jumps up
and scrambles for the door
I get three invitations.
Miss Petray told them this morning
to make me feel welcome.
“Come on, Tucker – Let’s go outside
and play marbles.”
I can’t move. The classroom is empty.
Here comes, Miss Petray
She’s going to shove my face
down in the puddle and make me
lick it up. “Oh I see,” she says.
“Don’t worry about that.”

And I head for home early
wondering if this was just the first
of many days to come
when I would piss in my pants
and eventually erode Miss Petray’s
compassion and I would float
thru the next 8 years of school
all the way thru high school
scorned and mocked as I sat
in my daily puddle of urine
and I would be known as THE PISSER

it was just that one time
but I feared many more
and Miss Petray is long gone
and I never went back
to thank her for being so nice
that day and opening my heart
for the first time in my life
and showing me that there was
absolutely nothing
to be afraid of.

2.
age 14, drunk on cheap sauterne
staggering around the catholic school gym
new years eve, my first party
drooling at girls, propping up the wall
trying to figure out
how I’m going to have some fun
thinking at the stroke of midnight
I’ll jump on some girl and suck
the tongue right out of her mouth

lulled to lethargy
by the soggy-bread dance band
I stumble down to the basement
and I’m pissing out my soul
when I hear up above in the hall
the twelve toots of midnight
from the trumpets and saxophones
and I know this is going to be
the story of my life

and it turned out to be true
I pissed away almost every chance I had
at being a successful lover

3.
longest leak ever?
I didn’t time it
but a hundred of the world’s best
long distance runners
would have turned a decent time
in the marathon
while I stood hunched over
in the window’s dim rainlight
barefeet freezing on the floor
white plastic bucket
getting heavier and heavier
in my hand as by body
grew lighter and lighter,
thinking : if Marie Claire wakes now
she’ll think : since when
did we get a sink installed
in our bedroom?
and why doesn’t he shut off the tap?

4.
November 12, 2002, 2 am
standing in the pitch-dark field
tilted downhill
knees bent
taking a leak
and thinking :

if somebody were to come along right now
and shine a light in my face
they’d say, « Hey, that looks like Celine Dion. »

HANG DOG

Piss dog piss against the lamp post in passing
Gertrude Stein, Everybody’s Autobiography

hang dog hang from the gate
above the path to the Lamp Post Park
hang down hang down
your tail dipped in blood
don’t look don’t look
into my eyes
with your dead dog eyes
don’t look I don’t need
those dead dog eyes
those teeth dripping blood
I don’t need I don’t need
your permission to pass
I pass I pass on the path
into the Lamp Post Park
I stop I stop looking
into your dead dog eyes
as I pass I pass and touch
your dead dog tail
dipped in blood I pass
and I piss against
the lamp post in passing

BACK IN 53

when the president
was playing around
with mushroom clouds

when I was listening
to Fats Domino
and James Brown
on Oakland
black ghetto radio
and my aunt believed
I would burn in hell
and everybody else
thought I was crazy

I was 12
I wrote elaborate
philosophies
in notebooks
and I haven’t written
a decent thing since

tho I came close back in ’68
when I wrote a talking blues
called NORTH NORTH AFRICA
which recalled my hapless
miserable trip to Tunis
and Algeria that nosedived
into Marseille where I
with empty pockets
begged for pennies and mercies
from a neck-tie-choked
rubber face burgocrat
at the American Consulate
and got chewed out
for my wayward ways
and poetic student urges
a conversation
that ended with him saying:
« you can’t go around looking
at all the sunsets of the world »
and me replying:
« I’ll figure out a way. »

But back in 53
I was milking cows
morning and night
and thinking about Shirley
and Suzie and Patti
and Jeanie and Betty
squeezing those tits
and thinking about Betty
and Jeanie and Patti
and Suzie and Shirley
from morning to night

and all I had to do
was stick my head out
the milk barn window
and take a good look
at the beat-up tractor
under the walnut tree
to know that my future
was all mapped out

[ 1st day of September 2004 ]

THE PAINTER

at first I was just an ordinary housepainter
the year was 1961
and I had a night job
re-painting the walls and the ceilings
of about a dozen old apartments
in the Haight-Ashbury district

the hard parts were the ceilings
up on a ladder with my tray
of white latex paint and sponge roller
I got loose and inventive
swoops, swirls I slopped it on
before my arm could cramp

a few years later
the hippies took over the Haight
and I’ve often wondered
about those ceilings

I’m sure that at least one
had to be the landscape
of some poor kid’s first acid trip
I can see him lying on the floor
his eyes locked and lost for hours
in the swoops and swirls of dried paint
I can hear him say it,
« Wow – that painter was a real artist. »

at first I was just an ordinary housepainter

by 1958
Playland at the Beach was deserted
no more flashing lights
girls screaming from the roller coaster
no more white-capped U.S. Navy sailors
staggering drunk down the midway
with their arms around fat bar girls
who were clutching kewpie dolls
blowing pink bubbles of gum
and scattering the shells of peanuts

the Fun House was shut down
the Laughing Lady frozen
between a giggle and chuckle
Laff in the Dark boarded up
its tunnel full of real cobwebs
the Octopus and the Tilt-A-Whirl buckets
were sacked in canvas
it was so quiet
you could hear the ocean waves
breaking over on the other side
of the Great Highway
so quiet you could hear the wind
whistling thru the mirror maze
and tumbling scraps of newspaper
past the salt water taffy pull
and the tracks where Caterpillar
used to hump around the bumps

only the Pie Shop survived
open until midnight
mug of coffee
best blackberry pie in town
Pete and I were just out of high school
just into college
the Pie Shop
was the best place to go
late at night
we sat and smoked
ignored our reflections
in the mirrored walls
and decided what we were going to do
with the rest of our lives

he was going to be a Bum
I was going to be a Dirty Old Man

That was 45 years ago.

I can’t speak for Pete
but I know I haven’t come close
to fulfilling those high hopes
I had for myself back then
– back in those midnights
of Lucky Strikes, blackberry pies
and our baby face reflections
in white neon-flooded mirrors

other than that
things have turned out
pretty much as I expected

[ December 8, 2004 ]

TWO MORE BIKE POEMS 2004

for Pete Petersen

when your bike takes over
and starts controlling you
two explanations occur :
you’ve been riding it too long
you’ve come too far
(time to pull over
and peel a banana
or take a big bite
out of an electric wire fence)
OR
you’ve actually entered
a parallel universe
where man and machine
have traded places
and you soon will be
chained to a post
outside a news agency
while your bike pops in
to buy a copy
of this weeks’ TV Guide

after a few seconds
of wisdom-inspired thought
you conclude
that you’ll be a lot better off
if you drop the idea
of trying to explain anything
and just ride on

[ Oct. 21, 2004 ]

You’re headed home
aimed east of the rising moon
with the sun setting down the line
of your right shoulder.
If it gets any better
you’ll have to stop screaming
at the freezing wind
sliding up your nostrils
and chewing away at the gopher holes
behind your eyes

[ Oct. 21, 2004 ]

OLD BIKE

today we took the old bicycle
out to the recycling lot
and tossed it into a bin
marked METAL with all
the scrap iron, water heaters
busted, rusted plumbing
deck chairs and lunch pails
the bike belonged to Bear’s dad
He gave it to me
when I first came to Belgium
I rode it to pick up my boy
from kindergarten
at the village schoolhouse
then it lived
under the chestnut tree
for 22 years
with all the rain
the snow the fog
and a few squirrels
it was a mess
when we tossed it in the trailer
and hauled it away

I stood looking down into the bin
at the old bike in its new home
with all the other forgotten
scraps of metal
thinking that when I first rode it
we were living in a house
less than 200 meters away
across the field
and down the road

all I had to do was lift my head

the house was still there

34 years ago this spot
was in the middle of an apple orchard
I remember seeing the blossoms
from my window
I rode the old bike
past this spot many times
coming and going
and I never once thought
it might end up lying rusted and busted
in the middle of an apple orchard
that wouldn’t be there
when it came time
to say goodbye

[ December 3, 2004 ]

HOUSEWARMING

heading out, down Old Farm Road
(a narrow, concrete slab tractor road
between two vast fields)
I heard a voice say, « Someday
all of this will be built up –
a wide, two lane black top
with spillover houses on both sides
garages, driveways, mailboxes
as far as the eye can see. »

another voice said, « Take a good look
appreciate what you’ve got. »

I said, « I do appreciate.
I’ve been appreciating for a long time.
I’ve appreciated for hundreds of long times
and hundreds of long times more I will appreciate.
Nobody out here can out-appreciate me.
I’m an Appreciator of Appreciators. »

coming home, back up Old Farm Road
less than two hours later
I find my way blocked
by six plastic sacks, large, black
full of garbage, some slobs
tossed off the back of their truck.

I said to the voices, « The Spillovers
are already moving in. »

[ Dec. 11, 2004 ]

IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD, 2004

In the year of our Lord, 2004
the sky was be-deviled
with tin pan alleys
and raindrops the size
of hot air balloons

the sun gooned around
with the clouds and the clouds
gooned around with the moon
in the mud

In the year of our Lord, 2004
Mug Face and Chin Nobel
played poker with a loaded deck
Chin Nobel won
with a pair of queens
over a bed of hot coals

Mug Face went back
to fucking up as many peoples’ lives
as needed
as possible
as were there.

Chin Nobel was last seen
trying to have oral sex
with the Statue of Liberty.
He’s now being held
on federal rape charges
in Guantanamo
without a lawyer
without a beard
without a shrink to tell him :
« This idea of yours –
that you’re the President
of the United States.
Did you ever hear about delusions?
Did you ever have hallucinations
when you were a kid
over there in Vietnam
crawling thru the jungle
with a reefer glued to your lip?
it might take a few years
But don’t worry
but we’ll get this ironed out. »

Meanwhile the Mugwumps
and the Goonbuds who’ve really been
running the show since 1776
(thru great great grandchildren’s
great great grandchildren and maybe
tack on another great or two
to make sure we’ve got ’em all nailed down)
are pulling invisible triggers
and sucking up the oil

In the year of our Lord, 2004
the folks who live up near Sirius
who bumped off Alpha Centauri
and were about to cruise
right into our troposphere
took one look
at all the crazy shit
we were doing to each other
with bullets and bombs
and loads of religious manure
turned around and headed back home.
« See you next year, »
were their parting words.

In the year of our Lord, 2004
I sat before a blazing bonfire
in my field and got this all down
on my son’s 28th birthday
with a breeze stirring
the leaves of the maple trees
and fire sparks popping out
and floating to extinction
in the dampness of the dark
and everything else
was just there
no literary trick or treaters
no stone face stone mason
from Big Sur
peeking over my shoulder
and pecking on the page
with his hawk beak nose
humming, « Hmmmmm –
I really like that title. »
no bullshit jokes or junkyard jingles
no blabbermouth burps or iconoclastic blasts
no far away echoes
but those of an owl.

In the year of our Lord, 2004
you could hear Leadbelly singing
« Oh LORDY, pick a bale of cotton! »
you could hear me singing
« Oh LORDY, pick a bale of hay! »

you could hear Leadbelly singing
« LORDY, LORDY OPEN YOUR DOOR!
LORDY, LORDY OPEN YOUR DOOR! »

you could hear Leadbelly singing
« Then along came a gray goose
LORD! LORD! LORD! »

In the year of our Lord, 2004
you didn’t hear
too many other people singing

they had other things to do
like lip reading silent Houdini movies
like milking their horsecows
and petting their cowhorses
and running off to market with DNA
nipping at their heels *

[ thus ends our fireside chat ]

*Remember that word: DNA. It someday may denote a wide range of fanatic religious persuasions The Church of Deoxyribonucleic Acid Heads, The Temple of the Double Helix Crossers, The Cathedral of Saints Watson and Crick, The Born-Again Chromosomes

IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 2004 REPRISE

In the year of our Lord, 2004
November slid over into December
on thin ice
and we all held our breath
until it began to snow.
After that it was easy
we could see the footprints
and we knew
where everybody was going

BICYCLE POEMS

2003  |  TUCKER ZIMMERMAN

for Kris De Meyer

PREFACE TO THE BICYCLE POEMS

These poems were written on the run, Spring, Summer, Fall of 2003. I was out almost everyday on my bike. 3 to 6 hours, sometimes more, riding the farm roads of the Hesbaye. Most of these roads, tho unnamed and unmarked, became my home in the long afternoons and evenings of summer and thus acquired names that only I am familiar with. Someday I will provide a map of these roads, the hidden and secret byways of the Hesbaye. It was here I lived thru the entire cycle of the seasons, the plowing, the planting, the crops as they grew, the harvest – and beyond. Wheat, barley, betraves, corn, flax, potatoes. Thousands upon thousands of acres of farm land. These poems came from the earth, up thru the rolling tires of my bike, thru my hands, arms, neck and into my brain – then back again down into my fingers and into my notebook. As always, the trick was not to get in the way.

Bicycle Poem 2

BICYCLE WEATHER

warm, hot patches
slight wind
white t.shirt soaked
blue denim workshirt open
flapping behind
warm breeze
sweat
cool breeze
bicycle weather

Bicycle Poem 4

FLUTTER BIRDS

Curlews. Black and white swoopers
I meet them out cycling the farm roads
springtime summer they’re waiting for me
in the wheatfields.

At first, when they fluttered
and swooped around me
and my moving bike and piped
their tiny seagull croons
so far from salt water
I thought they were just glad to see me.
I would shout,
« OH MY FRIENDS!
« HELLO, MY FRIENDS! »

Now, 2 springs later,
I understand why they flutter for me.

It’s the mama, protecting her babies.

I stop and watch her fly east, south
north and west hoping to lure me
into following her across the field
away from the nest

I wait until she comes around again
then start rolling my bike down the road
sure enough
she flutters past me and down the road
in front of me. I follow.

What genius.
All this from the brain the size of a pea.

About 200 yards down the road
she whirls back – towards her nest.
She’s not crooning now
she got me out of her territory
I’m already forgotten.
I watch her glide, swoop
back to her nest.
She hovers above it
gives her babies a piping croon
then flutters down over them

Bicycle Poem 5

HEADER

on my bike
when I hit one of these headers
I don’t need my fingers
to feel my face.
The whole world is doing it
with the wind.
[ April 14, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 10

THIS AFTERNOON

Biking the streets of a Belgian village
this afternoon
I pass an old man, withered in a wheelchair,
being forked-lifted into the back of a van
a half-dead piece of meat
being transported from one place to another.

And a mile later
down the road I realize
I could become that crippled monster myself
this very afternoon
blind-sided by a motorcycle
rear-ended by a bus
side-swiped by an old lady
in a Suburban Utility Vehicle
who thinks the line of white dots
down the middle of the road
is a decoration that needs to be observed
from both sides.

Where are the angels?
The beautiful maidens
of romantic intensity
who used to leap out of the wallpaper
and make me fall in love with them?

my chances of getting sideswiped by an SUV
this afternoon
are much greater than
ever falling in love again

[ Vingt Ponts, April 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 17

SURPRISE

Life is full of surprises.

One minute I’m riding along on my bike,
gazing into a heart-breaking
earth-quaking sunset
and existing in an absolute state of grace.

The next I’m choking to death
on a life saver.

[ Two Trees Road, Hesbaye, May 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 21

THE DEEP RAVEN WALTZ

cavemen crossed the river
in boats of straw
and upon the shore
they broke the law
when they danced the deep raven waltz

gypsies are gathered
down in the valley
among the thorns
among the legends
they dance the deep raven waltz

bounty hunters are scattered
out on the bridge tonight
their rifles twinkling
in the moonlight
they’re loaded for skunk
they’re loaded for convict
while in the river below
fish are dancing the deep raven waltz

she has a feather in her hair
she’s Raven Girl
the new baby sitter
the baby’s asleep
she closes her eyes
and with only the toes
thru her barefooted sandals
she dances the deep raven waltz

down on the Barbary Coast
the ragtime whores did their worst
they tommed, harried and dicked
until they were sick
but they saved their best
for the man in the vest
the velvet hat and the green silk coat
they always saved
the last dance for Jesus
Christ he could do the deep raven waltz

They scared up a storm
up on bald mountain
the witches the warlocks
on Walpurgisnacht
they slaughtered the sheep
raped the young virgins
then drank to the bottom
of their skins, fell asleep
and when they awoke
the virgins were dancing
spinning on tiptoes
gracefully spinning
like slow boats to hell
their steps were not false
they were true, unforgiving
spinning for satan and the deep raven waltz

the hangman nails the scaffold
the rope dangles down like lace
the bars of the jail cell window
frame the tears on the poor sucker’s face
his neck is already itching
he’s tapping his feet as he weeps
he’s practicing like mad, this is for keeps
tomorrow he’ll dance the deep raven waltz

beware of the Irish fiddlers
they know every tune in the book
they dwell in cool shady places
they live on fish from the hook
at night they tune up their strings
and plucking surround you with sound
they’ll take you aside, whisper your name
and whistle the tune of the deep raven waltz

they dance the slow crow polka
they dance the green goose jig
but they always come back
from their twists and fandangos
and dance like ghosts to the deep raven waltz

the blue turkey tango?
« we’ve heard it before. »
the wet wing of pigeon?
« play something else. »
the hot pipe of horn?
the slow trot of foxes?
« we have only feet for the deep raven waltz »

some ravens are lost
some ravens are slow
and others are just fast asleep
but the ravens I know
they dance with the thunder
they waltz in the raven black deep

[ Onderdonk Drive, June 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 22

OLD POEMS

1. Wild Roses

It’s that time of year
when the wild roses are in bloom.
I read about stuff like that
when I was a kid.
It was in all the old poems.
It didn’t mean doodley-squat.

Now I squat before them
and do what I then didn’t dare
I sniff the air
I mumble a prayer
teach me to care
teach me to care

2. Corn Scorn

It’s that time of year
when you can see clearly
which farmers are nice to their crops
and those who are not.
On one side of the road
the wheat grows knee-high
on the other the wheat struggles
to put down roots.
On one side the spuds
are singing Verdi operas
on the other the spuds
are screaming for affection.
On one side the farmer reads aloud
the old poems to his field of corn
every day at sunrise and sunset
while on the other
the corn is scorned.

3. Old Poems

It’s that time of year
when you start to wonder
about the old poems.
Which ones are old?
Do they have grey hair?
Missing teeth? Arthritic bones?
Grandchildren who sit on their knees
and piss on their pants?

Or are they stuck in a corner
of a rest home
where no one comes to visit
and only the cagiest and most clever
escape from time to time
and run amok on the grass
of manicured lawns
and hide in the sprinkling water
of the Japanese Gardens
before being captured
and hauled back to captivity.
« I saw Ode to a Grecian Urn
down at the bowling alley last night. »
« That’s nothing. I saw Homer’s Odyssey
at the ballpark today
running the bases naked
during the 7th inning stretch. »
Beowulf on the high road
hitchhiking
to the nearest city
where he intends
to get lost on skid row

4. Moonlighting

And what do old poems do
in their spare time?

The Divine Comedy
tries to do stand-up
at the local laughter pit.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
is out on the highway
behind the wheel of a big semi
hauling a load of pigs
coast to coast
while sniffing coke
and listening to Neil Young
on his quadraphonic audio system.

The Wasteland continues to rob banks
and never gets caught
tho he leaves behind
a pertinent quotation
on each job.

Howl sneaks a smoke
late at night
out behind the garage
and once a month
when the moon is full
he lets loose a wail
that chills each sleeper
in his bed for blocks around.

The Spoon River Anthology
vacations once a year
in the Swiss Alps
arriving in June
for the last few days
of ski snow
then hanging out with the shepherds
in high alpine meadows
until September
when the Canterbury Tales
come slouching around
and driving everyone nuts
with their phony English accents.

Don Juan and couple of the boys
from Browning
have gone hunting Jabberwock
up in Wonderland
while Evangeline
sits around watching TV
at the Star Dust Trailer Park
waiting for Don to come home.

Fra Lippo Lippi tends his 40-acre
crop of genetically engineered
megamarijuana
down in the Mexican jungles
and at night
swinging in a hammock
under mosquito netting
he reads a few
of the old poems himself.

[ up from Warnant-Dreye to Highpoint Hesbaye, July, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 24

HARVEST

August first the wheat comes in.

Say it again.

AUGUST FIRST THE WHEAT COMES IN

I rode by the field when the earth was bare
cold, windswept, snow-drifted, iced.

I rode by the field
when they were planting the seeds
and leaving behind smooth, fine dirt
in organized, harmonious rows
that erased all memory
of the scrabble chaos
of the winter-frozen earth.

I rode by the field
when the wheat was sprouting
and birds were nesting
in their harmonious rows
and darting up like rockets
shout-cheeping, saving their babies
by stealing the show

I rode by the field
when the sun was burning
and the tops of the wheat
bent over in the wind
Came back the next day
in the still of the heat
the wheat tops were brown
but standing again

and for two months the wheat ripened

now they’re ripping it down
with their big machines
spouting the grain into the trailers
and kicking up a cloud of dust
you can smell a mile away

I see the tractors
lined up at the granary.
That farmer there
he’s just holding on
and he’s grimly proud.
His life savings
is in that trailer behind him.

Sundown
they’re getting ready to make a lot of noise
it used to be called the harvest feast
now it’s just scattered excuses
get a few garage bands
and call it a Rock Festival
fill the parking lot with sand
and get a few local teams in
and call it a Beach Soccer Tournament
and the Model Airplane Society
hosts their annual convention
and keeps at least three
of those pesky mosquito buggers
buzzing around at rooftop altitude
while just across the road
the Lions Club hosts their annual Skeet Shoot

The fires grill meat all day and night
2000-watt speakers pump out techno
from noon until way into the middle
of your dreams.

There used to be a village here.
Everyone’s lives depended on the harvest.
Now there’s too much city here
The farmers are being ignored.
This year it was good
the best harvest in 25 years

You could feel it in the air today
you could smell it from a mile away.

[ August 1, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 25

HARVEST MOON

there was this mound of manure
about 9 feet high
ceiling high
dried dung and straw
in the twilight
so I climbed up and sat down
and watched the full moon rise
across the stubble
of a thousand-acre wheat field

it was a harvest moon
it marked the turning of the seasons

I watched it turn blue
then I couldn’t watch anymore
everything was getting too symbolic

[ August, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 26

MELODY LANE

Melody Lane
where never a sour note
is played
Melody Lane
that’s what I call
this one-lane blacktop
that drops
down thru the thistles
and nettles
down past driveways
that lead up to no houses
Melody Lane
where a sweet tune
is playing
and tree branches are swaying
and all that I’m saying
is that no dogs are barking
and no car radios
are telling me
the time of day
in Rap City

[ Melody Lane, August 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 27

MEATHOOK MAMBO

the meathook mambo
that’s what I’m doing
out riding my bike
smooth road, flat
slightly uphill in a few patches
headwind
3rd gear all the way
I’m dancing the meathook mambo
that’s what I came out here for

when I was 17 I wrote
« animal blood
thru animal heart
pumping
stops »
it seemed enigmatic at the time
now it seems obvious
I have not heard
in the 45 years since
a better definition of death

gotta keep the animal blood
thru the animal heart pumping
gotta keep dancing
the meathook mambo

[ Chapon Road, August, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 30

THE HUMMER

he’s just a kid on a bicycle
you watch him pass by on a country road
a chubby kid in red shorts
humming
a slow, innocent tune.

hey hey, whata’ya say?
ho ho, whata’ya know?

at the last moment
you glance over and notice
a hatchet attached
to the back of his bike.

a few miles down the road
you hear someone humming
coming up from behind.
It’s a slow, innocent tune
but it’s coming up fast
and it gets closer
with each accelerated
pump on your pedals.

hey hey, whata’ya say?
ho ho, whata’ya know?

[ Rue de Tambour, Jehay ]

Bicycle Poem 33

CARROTS

carrots are big orange roots
that turn out to be edible
that’s what carrots are

and what am I?

I am a big chunk of meat
waiting to get rained on

[ August 25, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 34

FOOTNOTE TO « CARROTS »

Being a big chunk of meat
is not my only quality.

I have pace.
I have rhythm.
I am not unfamiliar with
or unsympathetic to
the notions that we are not
alone in the universe
or that telepathy is
a common occurrence
or that there is more than
one race of humans
on this planet
(and I’m not talking about
the color of your skin)

I like to laugh

I keep an eye on the sun

I can imagine a time
700-800 years from now
when every creature on this planet
has learned to get along
more or less
and a peaceful harmony
rules the world
like a sky full of everyday weather.

I dream of a world
with less gravity
where the illusion
of being able to fly
is a lot more convincing
and I’m a reasonably good storyteller too
(if the light is right
and the moon is in Capricorn)

[ Aug. 26, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 35

HARES

Biking a Belgian farm road
wheat fields on both sides
and out steps a pair of hares
I’m 20 feet away when they start
strolling across.
I’m 10 feet away when I say,
« Howdy, folks. »
I hit the brakes
They stop. Stare at me.
Continue strolling.
Hares?

Bicycle Poem 36

DUCKS

ducks of plastic bags
are walking around in the wind
or maybe they’re geese
they can’t fly
their bellies are full
of beer bottles

Bicycle Poem 38

SPILLOVERTOWN

that’s what I call them
the Spillovers that collect
and gather together
to live in perfect spillover harmony
the surplus of our over-population
The Spillovers
Every town has them
spilled over at the city limits
those fancy new houses of brick
and peerless gardens
but inside live the Spillovers
trapped in their born belief
of Spilloverism
it does not occur to then
that they could escape

so listen up, Spillovers
this is your last chance
you can stay here
in your swimmingpool fishbowl
or you can bust out of this place
and see what goes on beyond
the limits of Spillovertown
Spin your wheels
and keep them spinning
and for gods sakes
don’t stop and visit
another Spillovertown
even tho they got the best booze
and the best-looking babes

SPILLOVER SPILLOVER

Rise up, you Spillovers!
And stop spilling over!

Bicycle Poem 40

SLOBS

I pass a pile of junk
tossed from a car
alongside a freshly-plowed field
I shout
(tho nobody’s around)
« YOU SLOBS!
YOU DIRTY, FILTHY SLOBS! »
I add something about « ignorance »
then I pedal away
saying loudly to myself
(tho nobody’s around)
« THERE IS NO HOPE FOR THE EARTH!
THE PLANET IS DOOMED! »

Then I say softly to myself,
« I better shut up.
I don’t want to be known
as that crazy man
who rides around
on his bike
shouting. »

And I realize
that I better REALLY shut up
I don’t want to be known
as that crazy man
who rides around
talking to himself.

I want to be known
as that crazy man
who never
speaks
a word.

On the other hand
at least I have a self
to talk to.
Jung says that’s important
discovering your self
and hanging onto it

I’m not going to argue with Jung

Before
I had nobody to talk to
It’s much more fun this way
and besides
when it’s all down on paper
a lot of strange people
can listen in.

[ from Tuck’s Woods past Bear’s Woods to Willow Fork – Sept. 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 42

STUD & SEQUELS

1. STUD

she was out bouncing around
on the lawn in a pair of shorts

I glanced over

he was sitting in the shade
bald head shooting bullets
from his eyes into mine

that was his piece of ass
nobody looked at his piece of ass

2. STUD SEQUEL

she wasn’t outside today
on the lawn, bouncing around
she was inside
he was inside too
the door was open
he was shouting,
« YOU DIRTY BITCH!
YOU WHORE! »

maybe she’d seen me
coming and said,
« I think I’ll say hello
to this beautiful stranger. »

The Stud keeps
his Piece of Ass
in line
no smiles for strangers

3. THE STUD STRIKES BACK

the next time I passed the house
she was out, sitting in the swing
motionless, hands in her lap
black bruises on her jaw.
she wore dark glasses
she didn’t look up as I pedaled by
the outside world was off limits
the Stud makes the Rules.
the Stud keeps the rules.
the Stud knows
exactly how much punishment
his Piece of Ass needs.

4. THE SON OF STUD

a week later
I passed the house again
A kid was outside on the lawn
kicking a soccer ball around
he nudged it over to the edge
as I pedaled by.
I said, « Hi there. »
and he kicked the ball
as hard as he could
at my head.
The Son of Stud.
It had to be
some Piece of Ass’s
Son of a Bitch.

5. THE CURSE OF THE STUD

The stud’s house is white
with a black door
and black window frames
and windows
with black curtains.

6. THE LAST STUD

The last time I passed by
the house
there were two cows
on the lawn
humping.
No kid.
No soccer ball.
No piece of ass
with a bruised face
Just those two lesbian cows
and the Stud
standing in the shade
of the tree
with a whip in his hand
and the satisfied smile
of a man
who has just taught
those two cows
how to do
the Life & Death Boogie.

I’m out of here.
I can’t take anymore.
I quit. I stop.
The Stud surpasseth
all understanding.

Bicycle Poem 44

ORDINARY MAN

he was just an ordinary man
your average
stupid human

what did I expect?
a literary genius
with the reflexes
of a formula one driver?
An organizer of space
and the taster of expensive wines?
a Zen monk
and a lifetime member
of Amnesty International?

I’d’ve settled for a zookeeper
with a couple of ballroom skills
a librarian in a wolf costume
or the runner-up
in an Aunt Jemima look-alike contest
who moonlights as a fortune teller

What I got
was a one-lobe baboon fucker
with emotional rabies
whose primary ambition
was to be a shoesalesman
to blind amputees

I was just hoping
he’d give me a chance
to keep on living

Just your average moron
behind the wheel
of a thousand horsepower
Splat Mobile
with thousands of others
just like him
all lined up waiting
to run me down
and turn me into a dead
hedgehog by the side of the road

Bicycle Poem 46

VIRGIN

She’s on a horse
riding high
my virginal destroyer
take me to your house
feed me fried potatoes
sausages and beer
give me a blowjob
then bash out my brains
with an ax
what haunted desperado
could ask for more?

(written on an isolated wheatfield road with the sound of horse hoofs clopping like distant thunder, growing louder and louder, coming up from behind (they’re always young virginal maidens astride these horses) I jump off my bike without daring to turn around and begin to write this poem as fast as I can to ward off the power coming up fast at my back and as I write the final line the horse thunder-clops past me and yes indeed the rider is a virginal maiden and right behind her are two more virginal maidens astride two more thunder hoof horses and at that moment they all three veer off the tractor lane and set off across the field at a gallop kicking up clouds of dust and escaping the intentions of this evil-minded oracle who is fearfully hunched over his bicycle jotting his prayer in a notebook)

[ Sept. 19, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 47

THREE VIRGINS GOING AWAY

which immediately inspires
a going-away prayer :

O three virginal maidens
take me with you
to that barn over yonder
we’ll lay down in the straw
and chew the fat
you’ll tell me you love me
then you’ll split my skull open
with an ax
and feed my brains
to the bulls.
[ Sept. 19, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 50

FAST CARS

« AND YOUR BIRD CAN SING »
but you can’t see me
– Lennon & McCartney

[ to Patrick Ferryn ]

you think I’m just some maniac
on a bike
riding around
looking for a fast car
without your permission?

you haven’t seen anything yet

you haven’t seen me
dancing naked
in the middle of my room
in front of the TV
and pretending to jack off
on the weather woman
as she points to an electronic map
full of cyclones and tornados
or maybe not pretending
after all

but you haven’t seen anything yet

drop by sometime
and I’ll show you
how I keep my face
in place
how I stand
in front of the mirror
with a rolling pin
and work on
my aesthetic ascetic look

nor have you seen me
strolling around downtown
in my Chinese dragon
that’s me up front
holding the stick in the head
but unfortunately
nobody ever volunteers
to give me a hand
with the tail
so it just drags along
in the street behind me
sweeping candy wrappers
newspapers and coke cans
while sopping up
the puddles of oil
and drunken puke

and you never show up at the annual
Blindfold Chainsaw Sculptors Convention
so I have to tell you
last year we attacked a grove
of Redwoods in California
and one guy carved up
something (we think) that looked
like a leaning tower of pizza
as for the rest of us
we just came up with a lot
of tooth picks and amputated limbs
then we all got drunk
and finished off the party with our
annual Blindfold Marathon
along Highway 1
and I assure you
the winner
was one lucky son of a bitch.

but you haven’t seen anything yet

you’ve never seen me stand still
and let a lot of strangers
walk around and touch me
which is the first step
in the natural process
of becoming a legend

but that’s not all

you haven’t heard me
on the phone
in my Sean Connery voice.
soliciting contributions
for the Teeth for Two Foundation
also known as the False Dentures Fund

nor have you ever seen me
in action in my lightning glasses
standing out in a storm
as bolts of lightning
strike the metal frames
of my glasses repeatedly
until my eyes are glowing
and my brain is
is white with fire
and my thoughts
are not of this world

and you’re never there
when the landlord
comes around
to get paid in prunes
and my back room
is stacked with sacks
of dried figs and apricots
and everything but prunes
and I have to slip a sack
of walnuts in his hands
and he pretends to be
too drunk to notice
tho later when I go to sleep
in my back room
I find my window
smashed and my sacks
of apricots and figs
gone and the floor
is littered with the shells
of walnuts with little
smiling faces painted upon them

and you’re never there
when the shepherds
come down from the mountains
with their bagpipes and sheep
and I have to build hundreds
of wooden pens for them
down in the pasture
and turn the place into
a pastoral parking lot
Let me tell you about it
let me tell you how I bring in the girls
who used to dance at the Moulin Rouge
in all their feathers and sequins
and tho they might be old and stiff
I get them up in a line
and get them doing a decent Can-Can
while all the shepherds in their pens
go wild and start fucking
their sheep and blowing
their bagpipes
and let me tell you
I have to walk up down
in front of the pens
flicking a whip
to keep them in their cages
and what with all their moaning
and groaning and all
their bagpipes whining
and wheezing and all
their sheep bleating
and bellowing and all the girls
squealing and shrieking as they hoof
to the technorap playing
thru their headphones
let me tell you
my strength is stretched
to the limit as I flick
the whip to keep them all
under control in which moments
I know I am the greatest
orchestra conductor of all time

tho you’ve never seen me at my best

you’re never around
when the pole vaulters
arrive from Poland
and the Acro Bats
come flying by
in their Batmobiles
and the Gang Greens come hopping
in from Greenland
humming Greensleeves
and a fat fish
named Marlin Brando
swims up and flops
into my swimming pool
and I turn up the heat
put a lid on it
and soon I have enough
slumgullion
to fuel the entire
gangster ghetto team
with their tattooed basketballs
enough at least to
give them the energy they need
to crawl up the hill
for their big game
at the School of Fools
where the albino players
are all genetically mutated
8-foot tall monsters
with 4 legs, 4 arms,
and no heads each
and their armored tails
make them more dangerous
than alligators
the School of Fools
(need I remind you?)
is where you are obliged
to bring a greased palm
to every handshake
and the parking meters
give change for thousand-dollar bills

but that’s not all.
I can also think of a number
between 1 and 1000
and you’ll never guess what it is *

* it’s 692.67672
if you got 692
that’s close enough
so I’ll give you two more chances **

** The first was one
and the second was two

but that’s not all.
I can count
from 1 to 21
without thinking
of anything else
but the number at hand
after that
I get distracted.
22 reminds me of a rifle
23 is the Illuminatus password
64 used to be worth a lot
in million-dollar questions
and 104 is the original
metronomic marking
of Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto
first movement

but that’s not all
for many years
I coached a crucifixion team
we mastered the art
of nailing serpents to the wall

in fact, you haven’t seen
the half of it

I’ve got an 85-year old back
and 25-year old heartbeat
you figure it out

so let’s forget about the fast cars
with or without your permission
I’d probably mess up the lives
of a lot of friends and relations
beyond recognition
including that of the driver
who’d turn out to be
some little old lady
who can barely reach
the pedals
who can barely see
over the steering wheel
who would be so shattered
by the experience
of smashing me to a pulp
with the grillwork of her Toyota Civic
that her 40-year old son
would have to quit
his job as a bulti-billionaire
in the city
and come live with her
in Spillovertown
and have to do all the cooking
and the sweeping
and washing the dishes
and washing the clothes
and going out shopping
and all they’d have in common
would be a couple of hours
of TV everynight
where eventually the ads
would remind him of all
the things he couldn’t buy anymore
after 6 months of which
he’d murder his mother with an ax
then drive down to the mall
and start chopping up customers
shopping for shampoo
biscuits and Hallmark greeting cards

besides
the fast cars
are always on the other
side of the road

[ September 23, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 51

STOP BREATHING

Like I said
forget about the fast cars
it’s too messy that way.
Today I tried to give myself
a heart attack
head wind
third gear
pumping uphill all the way.
It didn’t work.
My legs asked for more
and my knees started
to come unhinged
I don’t want unhinged knees.
I just want out.
I want out of this whole
fucking shitload of crap.
Fast cars have only spontaneity
to recommend them.
Much better, I’ll go into Tuck’s Woods
lie down in the grass
and swallow a box of sleeping pills
and never wake up.

But that takes planning.

You know what this reminds me of?
The list I made about 10 years ago :
20 good reasons to stop smoking.
5 years later I stopped smoking
and it didn’t have anything to do
with any of those reasons.

I just stopped.

[ September 24, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 52

TOMBSTONE

[ being a footnote to STOP BREATHING ]

So if I had stopped breathing today
I know what the engraving
on my tombstone would have said :

Bryan Tucker Zimmerman
February 14, 1941 – September 24, 2003

That’s what it would have looked like.
Imagine that.

Bicycle Poem 54

LEAVES ARE FALLING

leaves are falling
this is the springtime of winter
jungle vibes are dying
and bending to touch the earth
this is the springtime of winter
wasps are going underground
spiders are headed
for the 4 corners of the room
mice are sneaking off
with parts of my straw basket
to add insulation to their nests
in the ceiling
this is the springtime of winter
the corn I thought would last
until Halloween
is gone
the potatoes I thought would be gone
by Labor Day
are still rotting in the earth
and all that’s left besides the spuds
are fields full of tractor tire tracks
this is winter of summer.

Bicycle Poem 55

GLASSES

My eyeglasses are special
not only do they make things
less blurred
but they also magnify the light.
Not everybody has the chance
to see magnified light

[ written while hunched over my bike with my back lumped by a backpack that contains one box of muesli two packs of chocolate chip cookies one dozen apples and a dozen brown eggs right up there at the top on Sept 24, 2003 – as was the previous poem LEAVES ARE FALLING ]

Bicycle Poem 56

SPUDS

we eat the earth
yes we do
I pick up the small spuds too
I’m not going to turn up
my nose at good food

[ Sept. 25. 2003 and tonight I’m bent over the bike with a back pack full of potatoes I’d like to say 25 pounds but it’s probably only 15 kilos ]

Bicycle Poem 58

IVAN THE POMME DE TERRIBLE

and who is Ivan the Pomme de Terrible?

give me a minute to make up my mind.
I knew him in school
he was last in the class
now he’s out riding
the Deep Purple Line

you can see him at night
when your TV stutters
and a program drifts in
from out of the blue

he’s got his own talk show
Jivin’ with Ivan
they play Spin the Bottle
with bottles of glue

his guests are extreme
they’re punctured and pounded
they scream when they can’t
find just the right word

they crawl on the floor
punch holes in the door
they’ve got scores to settle
their faces are blurred

and then Jivin’ Ivan
will show you an ad
for phone sex with robots
from the planet of Sad

intergalactic girls
with no front teeth
tentacles on their tongues
and tar pits beneath

hey hey, it’s your lucky day
Jivin’ Ivan will make you pay

he’ll slap your face
with a glove of lace
he’ll say that love
is out of place

« In here we cater
only to freaks
druids and dreamers
and kids who can’t speak »

ho ho, be the first to know
tune in to the Tater’s Late Late Show

he’ll show you the wheel
of his pimpmobile
he’ll show you the hole
in his rubber boot sole

he won’t give you a chance
for a second glance
he’ll pinch your eyes
and call it romance

he’ll unzip your lip
with his boarding house reach
he’ll tell you your fortune
with a figure of speech

he’ll pepper your pot
with a garbage can lid
he knows what the green
and the grey people did

he’ll yellow your belly
he’ll tickle your pink
he looks like Toscanini
with a Frank Sinatra wink

he looks like a Z Z Top
after a Burger King Whopper
he looks like Burger King
and Burger King’s daughter

at night he looks like Stephen King
til 3 AM or so
then he starts to look like Larry King
he’s Jivin’ Ivan, the Talking Potato

he’s got a couch and a camera too
he’s got a crutch and wheel chair
but those are just props
like the eyes and nose drops
and the Batman wings in his hair

he speaks his mind
in greeting card rhymes

he’ll give you a ride
on the sawdust side
of his chain saw blade
I’m afraid, I’m afraid
it’s Ivan de Spade

and who the hell is Ivan de Spade?
his dad was de Sade
his mom was the maid
they danced the moonlight serenade
they played one on one
in the slam dunk parade

their only child
grew up alone
he played with his teeth
and a slide trombone

he ran with the geeks
his name was Bud
we called him Ivan
Ivan the Spud

[ from Highpoint Hesbaye to Four Bulls Corner, Sept. 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 59

CANDY BAR

I open the candy’s bar silver wrapper
into the dark brown chocolate
of the candy bar’s reason for being

RIDER DIES IN STORM
It was the silver candy bar wrapper in his pocket
that attracted the lightning strike

Having written the last lines
I stuff the pen in my pocket.
It rubs against something.
The candy bar wrapper.
What the hell?
oh yeah, I just wrote a poem
about it

I bite off a chunk
wrap the rest of the bar
in the silver foil wrapper
and stuff it back
in my shirt pocket.
It bumps into something
what the hell?
oh yeah
it’s the pen I just used
to write a poem about it.

I chomp down on the last chunk
stuff the empty wrapper
back in my shirt pocket
What the hell?
What happened to the pen?
That’s right
I put it in my other pocket.

and somewhere in the middle
of all that
I ate the candy bar
but it wasn’t until
the last chunk
that I realized
I’d better start tasting it.

[ Sept. 28, 2003, under the willow tree at Willow Tree Fork in the Hesbaye rain ] *

* p.s.
What the hell is only
the top of my pen
doing in my shirt pocket
with the empty candy bar wrapper? *

* ps
Six months later
I bump into something
in the pocket
of my purple plaid flannel shirt
as I’m stuffing an arm thru a sleeve.
What the hell?
It’s a silver foil candy bar wrapper
Oh yeah
that was the day
I rode into
illuminated rain *

*ps
I should have stopped
writing this a long time ago.
I should have stopped
around verse number four.
You shouldn’t be reading this.
Go back and start over.
Stop before you come to the part
where I start eating the candy bar.

Bicycle Poem 60

CARS

I don’t like
people in cars

and when I’m in a car
I don’t like ’em either.

[ written in the last days of summer in the shade of the red brick ruins of the railroad bridge
in Horion/Hozemont ]

Bicycle Poem 61

MYSTERY

I get run off the road
once a week average
(cars, trucks, jeeps
machines with 4 wheels)

I’ve been shouted at
cursed and insulted
and today I got spit at
a mouthful of beer
from the passenger window
of a passing truck

why do I stir up this hostility?
this fear?
in what way do I threaten
these people?
I’m just riding a bike.

It’s a mystery to me.

[ September, 28 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 62

JACK THE RIP

people ask me
aren’t you afraid
to be out there all alone
on those deserted farm roads?
aren’t you scared you might meet
one of those weird characters?

And I say
the most dangerous man
out on those roads
is me
I’ve got a six-inch blade
and a short-fuse temper
I’m a Jack the Ripper
I’m Attila the Nun Killer
I’m Genghis the Cannibal
You better hide you tan
cause I’ll tan your hide,
Doctor Jackal
if you fuck with me
you better be ready
to take a big bite
from the potato of death.

[ Sept 30, 2003 on first run for spuds
at Mystery Spud Field ]

Bicycle Poem 63

SUNDOWN

backpack stuffed with potatoes
on the back of my bike
fender sagging over back tire
front wheel a-wobble
heading into a southwind
big smile on my face
my jacket pockets
a-bulge with spuds
this is the last
I’ll be taking
from the Haneffe field
there’s another over in Jeneffe
it’ll be the last to go

[ sundown Sept. 30, 2003, Cross Road ]

BICYCLE TEACHINGS

PREFACE TO THE BOOK OF BICYCLE TEACHINGS

Up ahead I see a rose garden
in full bloom
and out in the middle of it
sniffing the roses
are two old ladies
rosy-cheeked
curly white hair
cute in an old-fashioned way.

Thinking I’ll be gallant
and generous and thought to be
and all-around charming gentleman,
I stop my bike
look over and smile into their smiles
and say, « Beautiful, Ladies. »
I point to the roses.
« Very beautiful. »
I wave my hand in their general direction.
« And you too. »

A moment later
a bald octogenarian
bursts out of the house
limping and leaping
brandishing an ax
and shouting,
« You leave my wife out of this!
Go find your own piece of ass! »

BICYCLE TEACHING NUMBER ONE

The bicycle, when well-ridden,
can teach us many things

such as

never go faster than 120 mph
while coasting down a hill
unless, of course, you’re stoned
in which case
the speed limit should be 95

BICYCLE TEACHING NUMBER TWO

The bicycle, when well-ridden,
can teach us many things

such as

never argue
with human-controlled machines

beware of them
but do not challenge them

they’ve got 4 big tires
they’ve got bumpers and headlights
and windshields and exhaust pipes
and sometimes they weigh 16 tons
and sometimes they have drivers
with little or no intelligence

open one of their skulls
and you’ll find it completely empty
except for a couple of rusted wires
and an exhausted 9-volt flashlight battery

BICYCLE TEACHING NUMBER THREE

The bicycle, when well-ridden,
can teach us many things

such as

BEWARE OF THE RIGHTEOUS
they love to kill people
just to prove their point

dogs are OK
FEAR NOT THE DOG
they are gentle creatures
and the worst they can do
is nip and untie your shoelaces
except of course
when the dog
is bigger than your bicycle
is snarling viciously
and slavering blood
from its foamy lips
and its razor-sharp teeth
are clicking like castanets
in a drunken cantina
in which case
STOP
and find another way home
EXCEPT OF COURSE
when there is no other way
in which case
you just pedal like hell
and hope the mutt ignores you.

BICYCLE TEACHING NUMBER FOUR

The bicycle, when well-ridden,
can teach us many things

such as

if you ride around long enough
and start thinking about books
your bike will teach you
how to simplify the classics

Simplified Classics Number One :
« Orpheus and Euridice »
HE LOOKS BACK

Simplified Classics Number Two :
Homer’s « Odyssey »
SON OF A BITCH

Simplified Classics Number Three :
Homer’s « Iliad »
ALL THE CRAP THAT GOES ON
WHILE GETTING READY
TO KICK THE SHIT
OUT OF EACH OTHER

Simplified Classics Number Four :
« The Book of Revelations »
A BUNCH OF BEASTS SHOW UP
AND KICK THE SHIT OUT OF EVERYBODY

Simplified Classics Number Five :
« Waiting for Godot »
HE NEVER SHOWS UP

Bicycle Poem 64

HIGH

I want to get high
and higher
and higher
and higher
I want to get high

I want to get low
real low
deep down and dirty below
like a low blow to the scrotum
I want to get high

I want to go sideways
slip, slide, sideways
onto parallel world highways
I want to get high

I want to go around
around and around
I want to ride
the merry-go-room
I want to see
the backside of the womb
I want to get high
see the dark side of the moon

Bicycle Poem 70

THE ULTIMATE BICYCLE POEM

this cannot always be

someday
I will be somewhere
else
doing something
else

however

that does not stop me
from hoping (crossed out)
wishing (crossed out)
praying that I can
float out here
between these wheatfields
these corn and snow fields
forever
and ever

and don’t forget
the crossed-outs.
they are not only the most
important parts of this poem
but of your
whole
life
story
too

praying’s for sinners

Bicycle Poem 74

KNEECAP

this pain will pass
they always do
sometimes it’s a muscle
sometimes it’s a joint
right now it’s the right knee
have patience, relax
keep pedaling
ride it out slowly
stop
stop pounding your knee
it won’t make it any better
STOP
it might make it worse
STOP POUNDING ON YOUR KNEE
OH JESUS, LOOK WHAT YOU DID
YOU BROKE YOUR KNEECAP

[ Oct. 8, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 76

ROADKILL
(a tribute to the Werewolf of London)

male pheasant struts across the road
in front of me
beautiful blue-green plumage
I say, « Nice coat, » and quote
Warren Zevon
« I’d like to meet your tailor. »

[ Thunder Road, Hesbaye, October 9, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 77

CORN’S DOWN

Corn’s down
damn it
I was hoping
to be talking to it
until November

« I guess you won’t be around
for Halloween
I’ll carve you a pumpkin »

[ Old Farm Road, Hesbaye, October 9, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 78

MORE CARS AND THE RAISED MIDDLE FINGER

I never challenge the cars
on these narrow tractor roads
I pull over and stop on the edge
of the grass with my foot on the verge
and wait for them to pass.
I am not being polite.
Yesterday a driver smiled
and waved as he rolled by
inches from my bike.
I gave him a sneer
and felt like flipping him
the bird.
If it’s a farmer
it’s my duty to get
out of the way.
If it’s just some asswipe
taking a short cut
I’m not taking any chances.
He’s against the law
and his insurance won’t protect him
if he runs me down
but I don’t feel like
testing his insurance policy
and I don’t think it’s a good idea
to get involved
in the Raised Middle Finger Syndrome.
There would be no end.
I’d be jabbing my fist in the air
so frequently
my fingers would fall off.

[ Tuck’s Woods, October 10, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 79

SPUD DIGGER

I’m in the middle of a vast
field digging up potatoes
when I get caught by the rain.
Soon I’m covered in mud.
I look like one of those guys
in the Van Go painting
The Spud Eaters.

I’m a spud digger.
I’m a spud nigger.
I’m a spud eater
look – my feet’re
mud slides on the pedals.

[ Spud Road, October 10, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 80

THIS ROAD

I like this road
I like this road a lot
I knew you were here
I saw you on the map
here I am
and I’ll be back

[ This Road, Oct. 11, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 81

A GUIDE TO SENSIBLE BEHAVIOR

Do not attempt to waltz
without a partner.
Do not ride a bicycle
that isn’t there.
Do not smoke
an imaginary cigarette.
Not only will you look
silly and stupid
they might lock you up
if you persist in your behavior.

However, there are a few things
you can get away with.
You can (and must)
throw caution to the wind
especially when the teeth
of the wind is at your back
and caution is standing
in front of you making
nasty comments about your family.
You might be able to get away with
strumming an invisible guitar
if the neck is as long as
a giraffe’s and you have to climb
a ladder to hit the low notes.

[ written on the backside of a Mcdonald’s burger sack with which some fastfood idiot has decorated the roadside. ]

[ Old Farm Road, October 12, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 82

TWO LITTLE OLD LADIES

Two little old ladies
out for a stroll
along a country road
at sunset.
I say, « Hi there, ladies »
as I zip past on my bike
and at that very moment
I realize these ladies
are no older than sixty
younger than me for sure
I saw geezerettes EXACTLY like them
at my 40th class reunion.
And in that blink of an eye
GOD DAMN, SAM
I see that any fantasy
of me giving them a quickie
WHAM BAM THANK YOU MA’AM
has long since vanished
from the empty cellblocks
of their desiccated brain tubes
tho there’s a twinkle in their eyes
for only an instant
a cellular memory
directly from the tongue
that remembers a kiss
stolen and sudden
forbidden and hidden.

Then the twinkle’s gone
and they’re just a pair
of frightened old ladies
cringing from the light
of the setting sun.
And as I flash past
they look into my eyes
and see the other end
of the gangplank.
They look into my eyes
and see the spinning blade
of my chainsaw soul.

[ Rum Road, Hesbaye, Oct. 12, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 83

GARBAGE

I am constantly amazed by the garbage
that idiots toss from their car windows
because I know they would never toss
all this crap in their own backyards.

I refuse to pick it up.
Even on one self-designated road
I will not begin to be their janitor.

The back of my bike would be sagging
with bulging garbage bags.
I would disappear behind a mountain
of beer cans, pop bottles
burger bags and cigarette packs.

And when I’ve made my weekly run
down Old Farm Road
I’d start thinking about Thunder Road
and Rum Road and Power Line Road
and Spud Road and Two Trees Road.
How could I ignore them?

You get the picture.
That’s me, at home
in my backyard
down at the bottom
of a pile of garbage
that now rises higher
than the roof of my house.
I’ve been buried alive
and no one can hear
my cries for help.

[ from Tuck’s Woods to Bear’s Woods,
Oct. 12, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 85

DRINK AND DRIVE AND DRIVE AND DRINK

Talk about DRINK AND DRIVE
if you start counting the number
of empty beer cans, beer bottles,
gin bottles and fresh empties
of whiskey and coke alongside the road
then you’ve got to conclude
that these roads
are full of drunk drivers.
Behind the wheel
of each mobile
sits a man with tears in his eyes
and a gut full of puke
shouting, « If I only had a hammer
I’d’ve beaten my brains out years ago. »

[ Two Trees Road. October 15, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 86

EXECUTION ON THE HIGH ROAD

I held a gun to his head.
He was on his knees
trembling with fear.
I said, « I bet you didn’t
know when you ran me off
the road back there
that this would be
the last day
of your life. »
He began to weep.
I pulled the trigger
The bullet blew his brains
out the back of his skull.
I said, « Take that along
with your petty fears
and hypocritical tears. »

Shit!
I don’t have a gun
I hate guns
I’ve got a knife tho
wood handle
for peeling apples
so that means
I’ve got a big surprise
for his throat
and his petty fears
and his hypocritical tears.

[ High Road. October 15, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 87

HARMONICA WIND

Brought along a D harp today.
Held it up in the north wind
as I pedaled straight into it.
Got a nice D major chord
going, got it up to my ear.
No human could play that long.
Think I’ll make some
harmonica headphones
D major in the left ear
A major in the right
turn your head from side to side
and hum along
and we got the makin’s
of a Beethoven Spaghetti Sauce

[ Onderdonk Drive / October 15, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 88

EARTH

Except for the farmers
I’m probably the only guy
out here who spends
so much time
looking at the earth.
I’ve seen millions of acres
some of them hundreds of times.
I’ve prayed for the crops.
I’ve talked to the corn
while it was growing
I cried for the flax
when it got bent over in the wind.
I rejoiced in the harvest
and I gathered spilled grains of wheat
on the road with my hands
and brought them home
and put them in a bowl by the door
to honor the spirits of the earth.

Then again I’m probably
the only guy out here
on a bicycle flying high
on good mother
earth-grown wonder weed.
I can’t speak for the farmers.
You never can tell about them.

[ Farm Road East, Oct. 16, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 89

FARMER AND SON

mongoloid midgets
out in the middle
of an empty field
with shotguns in their hands
blasting away at an empty sky?

No. It’s just a farmer
and his son
shooting at a pheasant
that flew by about
an hour ago

[ Winterfrost Road, Oct. 16, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 90

THIS ROAD REVISITED

I still like This Road
especially with the wind
at my back and the sun
in my eyes and my hands
reaching all the way down
thru the handlebars
into the front tire
where my fingers
can almost touch
the black top.

It’s a perfect road
except for one small detail:
that drainage ditch
across the road up ahead
covered by a rusted, busted grill.
I hop over the danger
hit high gear and shout
at the sky, « I want
this repaired
immediately
not tomorrow or the next day
or whenever it’s convenient
for you, but RIGHT NOW
and I want it done before
I reach the top of the hill. »

And as soon as these words
are out of my mouth
lo and behold
a convoy of bulldozers
back hoes, shovels and rollers
plus a troop of men comes
swarming over the hill.

When I reach the top
I look back
and there below
in the dip of the road
a brand new wooden bridge
spans the drainage ditch.

I like this road a lot.

[ This Road, Oct. 16, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 91

THIS ROAD REVISITED AGAIN

I went back to This Road
to try out the bridge.

The bridge was gone.

Phantom American bombers
from W.W. Two
destroyed the bridge last night
also wiping out
a phantom battalion
of their own troops.
Then a phantom of the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers
moved in and restored
the drainage ditch
to its original form
according to the antique codes
in the authentic style
of late 18th century grills.

I hop over it, hit high gear
and head for the top of the hill.
I still like this road a lot.

[ written on the Hundred Acre Woods Road, Oct. 16, 2003, hoping that what I just wrote about the bombers and the soldiers and the engineers won’t come true ]

OCTOBER 17TH POEMS

OUR LADY

The chapel of
NOTRE DAME DE DOULEURS
a roadside sanctuary for dead leaves
about the size of a bus stop
paint peeling, plaster chipped away
Mary herself black faced
with dust and grime
with her dead boy
sprawled out across her lap.
Hanks of hair, lockets in plastic bags
children’s mostly some from ten
twenty years ago
tied to the grill with faded ribbons.

Good place to come
when I feel like crying.
Good shelter for a match
when the north wind is blowing
and I feel like taking
a few puffs of Our Lady of Sorrow’s
weeping weed.

Ride back out
into the bright sunlight
thumbing snot
into the slipstream
of the hard north wind
with my soul purified
and my heart beating
in the right direction again

[ Power Line Road, Oct. 17, 2003 ]

SORROWS

I mean, there’s got to be
a place where you can take
your sorrows
even when you don’t know
you have any

[ Power Line Road (right under the power lines)
Oct. 17, 2003 ]

FANGS

The dog splayed out in front of me
yapping, growling, snarling
showing me his fangs

The fat lady
blocking the middle of the road
won’t get out of my way
I stop. We’re out in the middle
of nowhere, surrounded
by plowed wheat fields.
I say, « Please step aside. »
Then the dog leaps
sinks his jaw into my calf
and all three of his fangs
fall out.
I say, « Jesus Christ, lady,
you better keep me on a leash. »

[ Spud Road (thinking about Power Line Road and why I had to stop at the wayside chapel to recover my balance), Oct. 17, 2003 ]

THE DOG

The next time I saw the dog
he was riding a bicycle.
He wanted to have
leg muscles like mine.

[ Spud Road, Oct. 17, 2003 ]

BICYCLE PRAYER 1

Earth to earth
tomorrow we part
pump me up
with a bicycle fart

[ Oct. 17, 2003 ]

BICYCLE PRAYER 2

Ashes to ashes
dust into spud
I’m gonna be
a bicycle stud

[ Oct. 17, 2003 ]

BICYCLE PRAYER 3

Peanut to butter
peaches to cream
don’t wake me up
it’s a bicycle dream

[ Oct. 17, 2003 ]

THE BRIDGE

Back on This Road
coasting down the hill
from the south
ahead in the dip
I see the bridge
that spans the drainage ditch
with planks of carved oak.
I fly over it
like a moon-shot monkey.
Look back over my shoulder.
No bridge.
Just that rusted, busted grill
over the drainage ditch.
I’m going to have to talk
to someone about
the scenery here.

[ This Road, Oct. 17, 2003 ]

REFLECTIONS ON « THE BRIDGE »

Nothing that happened in « The Bridge »
is real. I imagined it all.
I didn’t write it on This Road either.
I wrote it on an eastbound road
that doesn’t have a name yet
but from which This Road
runs north, after I zipped
right past the turn
and continued on the east-bound
road that doesn’t have a name yet
until I came to This Other Road.

[ This Other Road, Oct. 17, 2003 ]

THIS OTHER ROAD

This Other Road
runs parallel
to This Road

You can actually see This Road
over there to the west.
You can see the barn.
You can see the fence posts.

[ Not written on This Other Road but a little farther along on a road that doesn’t have a name yet but which I’m tempted to call This Other Road Over Here, but if you back up a few hundred steps or so you’ll be on This Other Road / Oct. 17, 2003 ]

RUE DES CHAMPS (BAPTISM)

Out here on this road
that doesn’t have a name yet
but which I’m tempted to call
This Other Road Over Here
but which I won’t
tho I will now give it a name.
The French speakers
call it Rue des Champs
so I’ll stick with tradition
and baptize it
Three-Horse Virgin Road.

[ Three-Horse Virgin Road (because this is the exact spot where I was standing when those 3 maidens came riding by in Bicycle Poem 46) / Oct. 17, 2003 ]

FRENCH SPEAKERS

French speakers?
There’s a few
near where I live.
In fact, I’m surrounded by them.
In fact, everywhere I go
I’m mobbed
by spillover* French speakers.

[ Thunder Road, Oct. 17, 2003 ]

* for more information about the Spillovers see Bicycle Poem 38 (SPILLOVERTOWN) in which I urge the Spillovers to rise up throw off their chains burn down their houses and purify the landscape so I can plant more spuds

BURNT OFFERINGS

As for those tokes
of wonder weed
in the wayside chapel
consider them
burnt offerings
to the goddess
Our Lady of Sorrow.

Oh Goddess of Sorrow
Goddess of Pain
hand me down
my walking cane

Lady of Sadness
Lady of Tears
give me back
my wonder years

Lady of Spain
Mother of Ra
you better start wearing
a big wonder bra

[ Power Line Road, just having come up behind the wayside chapel and passed it for the second time today / Oct. 17, 2003 ]

BICYCLE PRAYER 4 (OUR LADY REVISITED)

Lady to Mary
sorrow to joy
let’s see your bouncing
big baby boy

Bread to fish
rip to rap
get that man
off your lap

he’s married to Mary
Magdalena you know
he pimps for her
at the Palestine Bowl

he’s got a string of whores
he makes big bucks
his motto is
Jesus Christ Sucks

From famished to Spanish
rice a la mode
no need to panic
I’m not blocking the road

From soup to nuts
with pheasant between
slap me with
a fat magazine

there’s a picture of Mary
dressed up as a nun
she rips off her habit
and son of a gun

it’s that female singer
from northwestern Maine
she once lived in New Nashville
it’s Shania Twain

I say, « Howdy, Shania
get off your knees
and sit down beside me
have a toke with me, please

we sip some rum
we talk of pain
she gives me back
my walking cane

I walk around
in my new Levis
thirty-two waist
that’s my size

Thirty-six leg
it’s all lean meat
Stop right there, Miss Twain
I can’t take your heat

Get off my lap
get back in your cage
Hail Mary, Sweet Jesus
I’m all the wrong age

My back’s eighty-five
my mind’s in a dream
good golly, Miss Molly
I’m sweet seventeen

and you’re just a statue
covered with dust
and the hinge on your gate
is squeaking with rust

it sounds like the voice
of a long-lost gal
who once sat on my lap
and sang Bach chorales

we sang all the psalms
and the holiest hymns
from the Book of Job
and Huckleberry Finn

so wipe that smile
from your mouth, Miss Disgrace
take a look in the mirror
you got smoke on your face

[ Onderdonk Drive, Oct. 17, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 93

DOG SNIFF DEATH ROW

Riding west
on the east-bound road
that connects
This Road
and This Other Road,
thinking I should
give it a name too.
A hunting dog
in the middle
of a beet field
comes over
and sniffs at me.
I think I’ll call this
Dog Sniff Road.
No, that’s no good.
There’s a hunter
with a shotgun
behind the dog.
Maybe he’ll shoot me
Maybe I’ll call this Death Row.
The hunter comes over
« What are you gonna call it? » he asks
« I haven’t decided yet, » I reply.
« Then get the hell out of here
and don’t come back
until you’ve given it a name. »

[ Dog Sniff Death Row, Oct. 18, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 94

DEATH ROW

Dog Sniff Death Row?
That’s a stupid name
Where were you born?
On Dog Sniff Death Row.
Where did you grown up?
Dog Sniff Death Row.
Where do you live today?
On Spud Field Road
not far from
Dog Sniff Death Row.
Why don’t you move?
Why don’t you get a dog
and go sniff
at your own Death Row

[ Oct. 18, 2003 ]

BLUES ONE

You can’t win for losing
the Beet für Elise
the Shake for the Spear
and the Numb of the Beast

You can Dance the Milk
with the Forks of your Feet
but don’t Mambo with Sambo
on Treasure Card Street

[ Treasure Card Street, Oct. 18, 2003 ]

BLUES TWO

Don’t Mambo with Sambo
on Treasure Card Street
Don’t Groucho with Marx
or Harp on his Feet

You might Fight with Might
or Collide with a Scope
but don’t Limbo with Jimbo
that’s my cat, he’s a dope

[ Treasure Card Street, Oct. 18, 2003 ]

BLUES THREE

Don’t Dexter with Gordon
or Park with the Bird
don’t Rack with Jack
or Ginsberg the Word

don’t Hawk with the Coal, man
or Kroop in your jeans
or Fiddle with Castro
or Elbow the Scene

Don’t El Dorado
Collar your Butt Downs
Touchdown. I’ll give you
these green, greasy dollars.

[ Treasure Card Street, Oct. 18, 2003 ]

BLUES FOUR

You can put on the dog
you can take off the fat
you can stick in the mud
of green greasy dollars

But you can’t wash the tons
of grief-sodden grime
from the face of the future
with March of Time dimes

[ Oct. 18, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 96

THAT BEER

empty can of Tuborg
lying by the side of the road

a rare individual drank that beer

the man who has the good taste
to drink Danish beer
usually also has the good sense
not to litter the landscape

not this guy
he just cruises by in his 4 by
pops the top of a Borg
chugs it
and tosses the can out the window
into the largest garbage can
in the universe

that beer
is long since pissed away
but the can remains

NEXT DAY

I biked past the Borg again
it was still there
Jesus fart in heaven
what did I expect?
that it would biodegrade
overnight?
it’ll be here
for another 50-60 years
long after
the man has pissed
his last beer

NEXT DAY

Jesus fart in heaven
make that 5000-6000 years
it’s stainless steel

POSTSCRIPT

the « it’ referred to
in the last line
is of course THE BORG
an empty can of beer
carelessly discarded
by the roadside
by some mindless jerk
However
when I biked past it
the next day
I saw it was can of Carlsberg
but I didn’t want to go back
and change the poem
because I had already become
attached to THE BORG

LONG LIVE THE BORG!

Bicycle Poem 98

TWILIGHT ZONE

there’s a moment
just before dark
when you can’t tell
if the light is coming
from the sky
or from the earth
thru a transparent road

then comes a few moments
when it’s almost dark
and you can’t tell
if you’re moving over the road
or the road is moving
under you

you have just entered
the twilight zone
keep pedaling
this is where you want to be

[ Two Trees Road, October 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 99

LOOP

this is the loop
this is where I came in
you’re headed for home
the moment you leave your doorstep

[ Old Farm Road, October 2003 ]

BICYCLE TEACHINGS

Teaching No. 10

you can get a flat tire
at any moment
when you least expect it
usually
this is true about
of the rest of life too
so don’t fall in love
with the 16th of an inch
of rubber that rolls
between you and annihilation
with every turn of the wheel

Teaching No. 9

Headwind, tailwind
they all even out
they become the same
sail on the tail
rejoice in the head

Teaching No. 8

Stop and have a snack
whenever you feel like it
peeled apples are good
besides, you can wander around
with the wood-handled knife
in your hands
and a menacing look on your face
to impress all the other cyclists
who are slouched on the bench
and won’t slide over
to give you a place to sit.
One flick of the knife
in a northerly direction
and you’ve got the whole bench
to yourself
in 3 seconds flat.

Teaching No. 7

There is no Teaching No 7.
You already know it.
It’s the one about
Moses when the lights went out
Where was he?
In the dark.

Teaching No. 6

Never leave your bike
where wild animals can get at it
The most untamed beast of all
is, of course, the human brat
He comes in all sizes
from Peanutbrat to Geezerbrat.

I never had any trouble
with the wolves and badgers.

If push comes to shove
with the Peanut Brats
snarl loudly
and show them your fangs

Teaching No. 5.

The bicycle is a musical instrument.
And the only time you can hear it
is when your mind wanders.

Teaching No. 4.

Next to rollerskates
rollerblades and skateboards
this is the closest
you’ll ever come
to know what it’s like
to be a machine.
Cyborg.
Android.
The phenomena
of man and machine
occupying the same shifting
spots of space
at the same time
or if you prefer
the delicious
discontinuous
blend of bone and metal
grease and blood
and air everywhere
inside and out.
this is possible
because the bicycle
is a perfect machine
(maybe the only perfect
machine ever invented)
It has no flaws
and I have no complaints
about its design.
It’s impossible to say
at certain elusive moments
where the foot ends
and the pedal begins
where the hands stop being hands
and the handlebars take over

Teaching No. 3

Each breath you take
could be your last.
Bicycles do not have a monopoly
on this morsel of knowledge.
You can learn it
while operating a power drill
with one hand
and a chain saw with the other.
You can learn it playing poker
with guys with guns.
You can learn it in a bar
dancing with a 300-pound Mexican whore
while her jealous husband
watches from the shadows
honing his knife blade on his belt
and she, pointing to the room upstairs,
reminds you that no less than 14 men
have died in her arms
including her 6 previous husbands

This lesson can also be taught
by a guy named Gus
who drives a school bus
and chortles with glee
each and everytime he swerves
out of the way to smash
a rabbit or a skunk
a chipmunk or a squirrel
a dog or a cat
a frog or a toad
into the tarmac
while his busload of kids
scream with delight
each time a tire bumps
over a lump of squirming meat.

As for the kids
they know how to chortle
and scream with delight

Conclusion:
avoid schools and buses
and maybe some of those
screaming kids too

Teaching No. 2

keep your mouth shut

there are too many asswipes
driving around in cars
to start getting verbally excited

Teaching No. 1

« I’m feeling lucky today »

don’t EVER say that

you’ll fall into a deep
dark, dirty, deathly hole
and you’ll never come back

Bicycle Poem 100

VIDEO GAMES

in video games
you stand still
and it’s the scenery
that moves under
and around you.

This can also happen
in real life
like when you’re riding a bike
on a smooth, straight road.

Attention!
DO NOT ENTER!
You don’t want to go
into that parallel universe
where you have no control
over your nervous system
and the dimmest of understanding
resides in that cluster of cells
on the other side of your brain.

[ Two Trees Road / Oct. 21, 2003 ]

ONE LAST BICYCLE TEACHING

the wind
it’s either there
or it’s not

Bicycle Poem 101

THE WIND

sailors cursed the wind
when it turned against them

cold wind can lay you low
leave you exhausted
lying in the weeds
behind a round brick tower
the only shelter for miles
and a piss poor shelter it is
against the deathcreep chill
leave you staring up
into the deep blue sky
at the white vapor trail
cross of two planes
thinking : this is it
this is where it ends
your body is empty
you can’t pick it up
and take it home
and right up there
between the arms
of the vapor trail cross
is a rainbow
so faint
that it can only be seen
by the swimming eyes
of a dying man

all you have to do
is close your eyes
and float up
into that rainbow

I wonder if the sailors
ever saw those tiny rainbows

[ High Point Hesbaye, under the huge oak, in freezing cold wind, Oct. 28, 2003 reflecting on BLUES ONE and TWO of October 18 when I lay in a patch of dried nettles on Treasure Card Street, clutching my notebook, staring at these two poems and wondering if they would be the last words I would ever see in this life ]

Bicycle Poem 102

LAST BICYCLE POEM OF THE YEAR

this may be
the last bicycle poem
of the year

take off wool gloves
to write
fingers freezing
too numb to hold the pen
feet frozen
no good
for mind-wandering poetry
no good
for pipe puffing
which often kicks off
mind-wanderings
tears on face
cold wind
no good
for poems
no place to fit in
the man or the beast

[ Old Farm Road, Oct. 28, 2003 ]

Bicycle Poem 104

FIRST WINTER POEMS

1.

There is no fall
out here on the farm roads
out here in the cold wind
riding directly into the setting sun
blinded by the light
riding into some kind
of resurrection

these Flanders bike paths
don’t have names
just numbers

[ Haspengouw 158, Nov. 5, 2003 ]

2.

Leaving 158
heading south into
French-speaking Hesbaye
why am I in a hurry?
thinking that darkness
will catch me
and eat me alive?
I’ve got the setting sun
on my right
and the rising full moon
on my left
plenty of light

3.

I climb south
into the Hesbaye
and when I emerge
from the cool, steep tunnel
of trees and rise above
the high banks I find
the sun perched
on the horizon
half down
its arc of light
like a neon sign
at a burger joint
next to the church
in the distant village

4.

I hate to lose the sun
don’t mind keeping
that full moon in my eye tho
I’m not going to lose the moon
tonight

5.

Rolling down into twilight
the moon’s light not yet
strong enough to take hold
I’ll be home in time
to see Celtic Glasgow
play Anderlecht

I’ll be rooting for the Celts
I don’t like Belgian soccer teams
and besides I came so close
to being a McCullough
it isn’t funny.

6.
I don’t know anything
about those German ancestors of mine
I never knew my father
I grew up in the shadow of Scotland
The McCullough clan
you don’t mess with the McCullough clan
ask any Englishman
ask any Belgian

[ Celtic Twilight Road, Nov. 5, 2003 ]

7.

The moonlight has taken hold
enough to give me a moving shadow
but not enough
when I stop to write
I’m only guessing

Nothing left to do
but pedal home
and thank my bike
for taking me this far

[ This Road, Nov. 5, 2003 ]

AFTERTHOUGHTS ON FIRST WINTER POEMS

there’s nothing like
a moonlight ride
over those deserted farm roads
across the fields
and down thru the dark woods

I can hear Marie Claire:
« I couldn’t do that
I would be afraid. »

I say : What could be
out here at night
that isn’t out here
in the daylight?

Besides I still consider
myself the most dangerous
animal around.
I can strip you of your mind
in seconds flat
I’m so fucking crazy
you’ll think it’s contagious
and you’ll run the other way
to keep from being contaminated

There’s nothing like a midnight ride
for talking to the moon
and practicing my Scot’s accent:
« Goodness gracious, great balls of fire
that’s one extraordinary
celestial
apparition. »
It works best with words
with lots of Rs.
« Goodness gracious
great balls of fire. »

There’s nothing like a midnight ride
right into the twinkle
of Sirius
dog star companion
of Orion

[ Backyard, Nov. 6, 2003 ]

The dreadful gate

POEMS & ESSAYS 2004 |  TUCKER ZIMMERMAN

This is a completely different summer. Completely. East is west and south is down the back of my neck. Last day of June 2004. Who’s going to bring in the wheat a month from now? Same guys as last year but this time they’ll be wearing masks.

(ital) Well, that’s something I didn’t know.

Who said that? See what I mean? everything’s different this summer south wind down the back of my neck nothing’s complete and this is more of a notbook – that’s NOTEBOOK – to be read with silent eyes in silent nights when the lines have shut off and the wind has stopped humming no space notebook last summer it was poems there’s not many poems out here these days and that’s all I need to say about that. So there – that’s decided. Didn’t know which way this was going. Been pondering the exit for a month and I didn’t even notice this gate. It just crept up out of the wheat field and jumped into my lap. The Notebook Gate. [Carrot Stop]

 

Let’s just let the wind blow you down here and see where it takes you and as much as I don’t want to admit it I’ve got my cap on backwards.

(ital) I never wanted to be a catcher.

Who said that? you see what I mean? but it’s either backwards or get blown off the south wind is chewing up my face think of what the north wind does in winter tho now we’re two miles down the road and a hell of a lot wiser. And I’m curious as hell to see where this goes. [Chapon] and the road goes on in memory of the great Jack Kerouac (pen fade, I’ve got another in my old burlap Vincent Van Go kit bag which is just the right size for painters with brushes and tubes of oils with a heavy leaning towards the impressionists the great Jack Kerouac I cry when I read his books he’s the only writer who makes me do that [Chemin Des Parapluies] Jack would have loved that name. Chemin Des Parapluies. Elderly elegant ladies strolling in the rain, in the hot sun, Jack jumping out from the corn (knee high) and snatching them umbrellas away. Anything you’ve ever wanted can be found on Chemin Des Parapluies. Nobody in sight. I wanted that. Just a leaky airplane up there above the clouds a million and a half betraves a broken soccer ball a mile of sunshine a graveyard a hedgerow with sparrows and a tree full of songbirds but not a crow in sight. I WANT A CROW.

[Chemin Des Parapluies] a mole hole and a car in the way [Chemin Des Parapluies] That car. It was a big black SUV the driver had his door open and his naked legs propped thru the open window and from the passenger side drifted the aroma of sweet perfume and a few strings of a romantic melody. I know what it was. It was a bordello. A cat house on wheels. Special service for midgets [High Point] I left my bottle of water down on Chemin Des Parapluies last stop when my pen ran out of ink and I had to delve into my kit bag for a fresh one, then the rolling bordello rolled by and I forgot to pick up the bottle so now the Chemin has everything including a whore house and a drink of water [High Point].

 

I came back and got the bottle. My 75cl Vittel with the squirt pointed top that I never use it was still there I could see it from a hundred meters away from the crossroad as an elegant elderly lady on a bicycle turned in from the side road and disappeared down Chemin Des Parapluies. There it was standing up straight on the paving stone edge in a pale of sunlight how many people had passed it by? perhaps only that elegant elderly lady or perhaps somebody came along and spiked it with acid. That’s all I need right now, a brain full of LSD and that lady heading down Chemin Des Parapluies doesn’t know about Jack Kerouac in the corn and she sure a shit doesn’t suspect that she’s about to get involved in a midget prostitution ring. Before I got down here I was up the hill on High Point and looking around and seeing that High Point had many things to offer too but then I discovered my missing water bottle and those marvelous things all went out the window in a hurry so I phoned Bear and told her about my first day with this notebook and how I’d left my water at the Chemin Des Parapluies crossroads. « Maybe some people who are thirsty will come along and be glad to quench their thirsts, » I said but I could hear it in her voice that I was willfully littering the landscape. Nobody in four seasons was going to take a drink from that orphaned bottle and besides I was getting THIRTSY but first I had to stop and contemplate the road up to High Point. It has a name. Rue Cinq Bonniers. What does that mean, Jack?

(ital)It means five good men.

« Bullshit. It means five bonnets. »

« OK, Five Bonnets. I’ll settle for that. »

So now I’m here back at the crossroads of Chemin Des Parapluies and a motorcycle and a car just jammed thru like suddenly this is the city and not a deserted fork in the road facing an old brick castle wall. So which way do I go? Back around again past the floating funhouse? I’m pointed the other way back towards home the way I came and that’s the way I’ll go.[Chemin Des Parapluies ] NO IT ISN’T. Now I’m halfway along Chemin Des Parapluies to check out the mobile bordello and that last car that passed me at the crossroads was full of very small prostitutes I think. But the bordello is gone. Where is that load of very small prostitutes going? There only one place down at the end of the road. The graveyard. That’s where all the elegant elderly ladies from past times are buried. Take another drink of water and I’m headed home. [Chemin Des Parapluies]

 

Closing off the mind of my thoughts about Day One here at the end of Two Trees Road. We met Jack Kerouac today. That was a good thing. I needed him. I hope he comes back tomorrow and I wonder if Jack’s wasn’t the first voice I heard saying something about not wanting to be a catcher. I also did not mention the house I passed where lives a potential love affair if only would be foolish enough to stop and ring the doorbell. I passed the place coming back thru Chapon and that’s where I heard the crows. They were not to be seen. They called down from the cloud above the house and their opinion on the potential love affair was to be expected. « Stay away from the house with the red trim door and the flowers in the window. » I wanted a crow and I got a baker’s dozen. Two Trees Road was a dream. Floated all the way down with the south wind nipping at my back in winter I came down here thru a field of snow a road with no borders just a wide expanse of frozen white across which I took my bearings from distant trees and it took me a half hour or more today a couple of zippy minutes at the most. This is what happens when you mix a puff of weed with two wheels. Take another puff and let the south wind chew off your collar. [Two Trees Road] *

 

* Rule number one: no writing when you get back home. This Notebook Gate is only for what happens in the collective mind of that creature of me and two wheels and moving parts of the most wonderful machine that man has ever invented. The symbiosis of my muscles and bones and the bike’s rubber tires rolling up the road and it’s sensitive metal frame which supports my weight while transmitting its messages into hands and butt and thus up the channels of arms and backbone to my neck and my skull and into all the interior tractor roads and two lane blacktops of my brain with an occasional N65 and N64 or N637 with their high speed double suicide lanes to cross. And of course I am breaking this rule as I intrude it upon the freehwheeling spin of this gate. However I will keep these Home Thoughts from Folly* contained in footnotes that can be ignored or meditated upon when the rest of the notebook gets messy or starts going to sleep or gets plain hog wild incomprehensible. The puff shall be optional. The Two Wheels the most essential.

 

* Who’s Folly? I knew I was going to say that.

 

(ital) Who’s that writin’?

Jack’s back. I’d recognize that voice anywhere.

Same thing as yesterday, Jack. Wearing my Sunday-go-to-meetin’ jeans, the last pair my mom sent me before she died in a supermarket in Salem, Oregon, maybe shopping in the Levis department for 501s button front 33 waist 36 leg, falling and whacking her head and maybe it was upon the 33/36 shelf? Denim shirt loose open in front black t.shirt solid sneaks black good on the pedals and a beige with aquagreen bill baseball cap that says I play on the Forma Lingua team. This pair of levis and another arrived in the mail a week after she died. They are now starting to wear out and I am starting to wear out too. I can only take so many washings it seems. This pair is at that soft, peak-of-arc stage just before the fade.

 

First puff of the ride under the giant willow where the road from Bear’s Woods forks into Cross Road. I’ve been wanting to say this for a long time. leaning against the rough bark of the tree, shoes and socks off in the receding hairline of grassy knoll, south-west wind whipping around making a light impossible, sifting thru the willow leaves and it’s time to be moving on – north east – sandwich eaten, apple half devoured, puff performed before the eyes of the wind and the willow and Little Mother Mary down in her tombstone altar get my socks and shoes back on and head out * into the most unknown and least expected. [Willow Fork]

 

* « Thread up, » as Dylan used to say.

 

Mother Mary she is small. Need binoculars to see her face down here at the end of the gravel aisle at a distance of what would be the world’s record in the long jump. She is small. We are all small.

« Thread up! » Oh shit. It’s Dylan. How’d he get in here? I was hoping Jack K would show up today which is Day Two of the Notebook Gate on the last day of June (two in a row, how about that?) [Willow Fork ]

« Thread up! »

« Shut up! » I don’t mind Dylan being in here, it’s just that he’s been in so many other of my writing events lately and not so lately I thought he let me have this one alone with Jack.

(ital) Face it. You’re just an old man on a bike. Why don’t you start acting like one?

Jack’s back. I’d know that voice anywhere. I bid Jack to hop on my left shoulder. « Watch me work. I’ve got pace. »

(ital) You got face, man.

And I feel Dylan in the shape of a mystical butterfly fluttering down and trying to land on my right shoulder. I WANT A CROW. I WANT TO HEAR WHAT THE CROW HAS TO SAY. [ High Road ] « Thread up! » I knew I shouldn’t have listened to all those Basement Tapes [ High Road ]

(ital) Not bad, man. I’m impressed.

« I’m best on deserted roads, » I say. And High Road is the best of deserted roads and that’s why I call it High Road nary a car in sight and on harvest days only a tractor or two. Due west and flat. High Road. Enormous flax field on my left I can’t see the end, over the hill and dipping down into a valley and betraves and betraves by the train load on my right. I’m not a betrave fan. So I’ll spend most of my time gazing at the flax.

« Thread up! » Dylan just landed. [ High Road ]

Looks like I’m cutting this trip short because of that damned butterfly. I was hoping to go face to face with Jack Kerouac today, but now I’ve got these faceless fluttering wings to contend with.[ High Road ]

Up Pissing Road. The first to be named. Bear : « Where can I take a leak? » and I say, « Over there in that clump of trees.. » Pissing Road. It was inevitable. This was 4 or 5 years ago, one of our first trips together. After that came Two Trees Road and Onderdonk Drive and Bear’s Woods and Tuck’s Woods and Power Line Road and all the others. We needed names, Bear and I, to recall the places we’d been and the places I’d gone on my own. A storm chased us up THUNDER ROAD and we sheltered in the chapel of the Madonna Dolorosa. Thunder Road. It was the second to be named.

And I just got my crow. He didn’t like me coming around and disturbing the heat of the flat concrete tractor road flowing up into his claws. He could smell me too. So could his 5 companions. « Let’s get the hell away from this guy, » they said, and this was from a hundred yards downwind. [ Pissing Road ]

« Most likely you’ll go your way, I’ll go mine. » It’s Dylan, of course.

« Wouldn’t have it any other way, » I reply.

(ital) Who is this damned mysterious butterfly?

« Cool it, Jack. He’s the bright elusive butterfly of destruction. Let’s all have a toke and shake hands. » I take my puff on the peace pipe but I don’t see what happens to it after it leaves my hands. I hear sharp pucking noises coming from my right shoulder, soft and professional. Then I hear massive gasping and gulping on my left. Jack’s going for the big impression, carburation plus chatting while holding his breath. (ital)I was really looking forward to that face to face with you. Jack’s disappointed. It’s enough to make me cry. « We’ll get around to it another time. »

(ital) Is that a promise?

« It’s a threat. » [ Give This Road a Name Road – which veers south west from the Verlaine Speed Road and bisects with Apple Cart Road ](ital) So if we come out here tomorrow you’ll probably say « It’s the last day of June » again. How many more days do you have past the 31st?

« But that’s not likely, Jack. Tomorrow, if it doesn’t rain, Bear and I will go on a faraway bike ride, load up the wheels and drive to some enchanted island of Flemish bike paths. These are the trips I like the most. [ Give This Road a Name Road ] And I got my solitary crow too. He was with a companion on (Let’s call it Hard Luck Road – just gave it a name) Rum Road. They flew straight ahead down the road 100 yards then swooped up to the telephone wires to perch. They waited for me to pass underneath. Then he spoke. He said « Caw! » four times. In crow that means « Keep moving, man. Don’t stop here. » I didn’t stop.

[ Steep Road – the sweep and swoop hill up from the Rooster Farm-a-See ]

 

We didn’t get around to some of the topics I wanted to explore today * but they can wait for another day. Saw a couple of things I didn’t mention. Cows. I learned that cows are stoned all the time. It’s in their brain chemistry. Nature’s way of keeping them amused, perpetual injections keeping them riding high and spilling milk. I also did not mention that I heard the Voice of Folly calling to me as I passed thru S-le Chateau, calling down the 2-mile road from Chapon, « Come to me, my little species. » Or maybe she said « feces. » She had a Japanese voice. [ Farm Road South ]

 

* such as that comment Jack made about me being just an old man on a bike

 

Alone at the fountain 1st day of July not even Jack Kerouac showed up. (ital) Take another look, buster, and what’s with those three bottles of water? « For my wonder weeds. They get moody, restless, sometimes downright nasty if they don’t get their fix of pure spring water. Rain won’t do for a steady diet. » (ital) Well, man, you got some dynamite dope. I saw that yesterday. Dylan the mystical demolition derby butterfly hasn’t shown up and I’m sure he won’t. (Ital) I’m not one hundred percent certain about that cat. He’s got fragile teeth. « Yeah, and I’ve got a stiff neck today, Jack. Go flop somewhere else. » [ Fountain Road ] (ital) You say it’s the first day of July but how do you know it ain’t another extra last day of June? « You’re drunk, Jack. » (ital)I’ve been drinking for sixty-three years – scotchkavock – vockasnotch – one them hundred proof remedies for the wagon wheel tongue you get from rolling out all them noms and

verps as you lap up the miles. Better’n what’s in these here damned bottles back here. I hate sitting on these things. Water, man. I can’t stand the sight of it. It’s against my religion. Look, let’s make a deal. Let me flop back on your shoulder and I’ll shut up.

I can see now that this Notebook Gate is not going to be written on the run. Not like last year’s poems, scratched out while hovering over my bike. whipping the wind onto paper with my whistling pen. This Gate needs repose. It needs restful verbs and it wants to take a good look at all the adjectives too. *

(ital) Gate. I like that. It’s a pretty good title.

« It started out as a door. »

(ital) Gate’s much better.

« We had a deal. » [ Carrot Stop – which is where this gate got started a couple of days ago on this exact spot tho today my first puff was at Ditch’s house. And I feel it’s too far between stops, finding a place where I can park my butt. The voices and the verbs pile up, spill out and get lost forever which means that much of this will be written in the pasture bedtime type of tension. I got a C minus in English IV, teacher said I’d never amount to a hill of beans, caught me in the library thumbing thru Dante’s Divine Comedy. « You’ll never understand this book in a million years. Stick with the Saroyan. » And it’s true. I’d messed up looking for the Saroyan and got sidetracked in Dante’s puzzle and 10 years later I’m in Rome on a scholarship composing my Dante Oratorio (in Italian, Teach) and let me introduce you to Jack Kerouac ]

 

The nouns have it : green upon green with yellow-tip wheat and flax clouds bouncing around, dueling with rain hard, sharp sunlight south-west wind shifting around to the south. I made a wide swing around Chapon in case I’d hear the siren song coming from the far side. Taking no chances today. But I didn’t hear any singing, didn’t hear her saying, « Come to me, my little feces. » Or maybe it was, « Come to me, my little Teazee. » Her name isn’t Folly. It’s Molly and I swear she had a Japanese accent. [ Carrot Road ] And Jack’s keeping quiet. I think he passed out. Scodfavotch. Flopped out over my shoulder. It’s enough to make me cry. [ Hard Luck Road ]

« I SEE YOU DIDN’T TAKE THAT FAR AWAY BIKE TRIP WITH YOUR BEAR. » Shit, it’s Molly. And she does have a Japanese voice.

« How can you see something like that? You’re two miles away. »

« TWO AND HALF. »

« Buzz off, Molly. Get lost. » All further enquiries are being postponed until tomorrow. [ Hard Luck Road ]

 

* the gate swings both ways and it opens into many different roads and shrines and woods of various densities. The subtext could be « Gate Notebook. » All these names. We’re going to have to talk about them sometime. Hard Luck Road. Used to call it Rum Road, three years ago returning from Les Waleffes with the last pint of rum from the shelves of the village shop going out of business, drunk at twilight and not knowing it until I started rolling down Rum Road. The Verlaine Speed Road has other names too. The Mean Machine Road from when Quanah was a kid and the huge rusted iron cow shit claw over the slop pit reminded him of mechanical monsters that do not hide their human nature, also known as Treasure Card Street. Last year, thought I was a dead duck in the cold, hard-hitting late October east wind, lay down to die behind the squat brick tower, lay down in a patch of dried nettles, sheltered by the tomb tower, and stared into the setting sun and up into the crossing vapor trails of jet planes an X right above me and in the center of it all a tiny rainbow only a few inches long and I heard this rainbow calling to me to come up and join in the fun and I knew then that the sky is always filled with tiny rainbows if there’s moisture up there then there’s a rainbow it just depends on the angle of sunlight dozens maybe hundreds of tiny rainbows filling the sky above your head at this very moment if you know where to look and I think you get the general drift of my message about choosing the right moment to wave farewell (take a final bow) and so knowing this rainbow was nothing special I cellphoned Bear and she came and rescued me from my day of death. Dog Sniff Death Row, This Road. This Other Road, Thunder Road, Power Line Road, Old Farm Road, Two Trees Road, High Road, Winterfrost Road, Onderdonk Drive – named after my friend and teacher Henry Onderdonk because that was where I came to cry the day I heard he’d died. High Point Hesbaye. Four Bulls Corner (and they’re still there, all 4 frisky studs, this year), the Mystery Spud Field. Bear’s Woods, Tuck’s Woods, the 100-Acre Woods, Spud Road, 3-Horse Virgin Road, Melody Lane. I’ll have to draw some maps to go along with this gate.

 

I used to think cows were dumb. They’re not. They’re high. Stoned out of their horny heads. (ital) I heard you say you used to be a cowboy.* « I grew up around cows, milked them morning and night for ten years. I was a boy. So I guess I was a cowboy. I don’t know shit about horses, never been on one. I wore a baseball cap and I drove a pick up truck.

 

* That was Jack. He sounded sober today, the 2nd day of July

 

I thought he heard a marching band, but it was an ambulance walking across the land on two lumpy feet, dragging one, sliding, slurring it along thru the dust. (ital) Yeah, I heard that too. I thought it was Gerry Mulligan Quartet tuning up. You dig Mulligan?

« Mulligan was a genius, Jack, and so was Bird and Trane, and Miles and Monk, but I’m not interested in playing like those cats. » (ital) Bop prose.

« And I’m not interested in writing like you either. I come from a weird place, from between the Sons of the Pioneers and Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. » (ital) I’d feel sorry for you if you wouldn’t get pissed off and kick me out.

 

They say the cuckoo wobbles when she flies. They say she doesn’t fly until the 4th day of July. (ital) Have we come to the 4th yet? « Yesterday. » That’s where I come from. The cuckoo’s nest. One flew east.

(ital) And one flew west.

Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. Somewhere between Moondog and Leadbelly. (ital)I’m hip. Between the dog and the belly. Not bop. Jimmy Reed high harmonica. That’s in here too with a Glenn Miller muted trombone, a Yogi Berra swing, a Jesse Owens sprint, a Jim Thorpe high jump, a frog man flipper, crawfish holes, fishing poles and buck shot 4-points and if I ever got one of them beautiful beasts in my sights again I’d beg for forgiveness for being a brainwashed teenager who allowed himself to be tempted into almost pulling the trigger.

[ from between the crops – flax on my right, betraves on my left, on a road yet to be named, but which deserves a name a few hundred yards south of Rouleaux « puffed and took off » to Winterfrost Road « From between Burl Ives and Fats Domino the fox went out on a chilly night and Annie had a baby Zane Grey is more my style » to the Viemme Roundabout ]

 

I was ready for a face to face with Jack today but he took off with Neal in an ’02 Packard that looked like a ’48 De Soto, headed for the coast, and then I was ready for a face to face with the sun at Tombstone Tower on Treasure Card Street but when I get here there’s a strip of wheat plus poppies planted between the edge of the road and the tower and no way in without crushing the crops so I guess I’ll have to wait a month or so before I get out there on the other side with the nettles and the sun is too far off to the north anyway and with a quick glance I see there are no rainbows overhead. Face to face with my death. But this ain’t October 18th that was long ago.

 

you can shack up with Jack

you can butter the Fly

but don’t fuck with Tuck

when he’s high as the sky

 

on Treasure Card way, high, some people like my writing but what they don’t know is that I’m reasonably stupid. I don’t know one word from another. If I knew, I wouldn’t use any words at all. * I’d ——– ? [Treasure Card Street, also known as the Verlaine Speedway and the Mean Machine Road ] Between the Grand Ol’ Opry and Bouncin’ Bill Doubleday on KWBR Oakland California and I don’t want to press the black skin too hard. Mine’s white and even if I could sing like Ray Charles I’d still have to sit in the front of the tub. Red gold setting sun reflected in the rims of my glasses. This is not face to face. The Verlaine town limit sign is a blazing mirror against the dark line of distant trees, a flaming square window into another universe, a sign that says « Welcome to the Solar system, population many and good luck of you’re looking for privacy. We got pig iron. We got John Lee Hooker. We got —— * and all god’s chillun got dem golden slippers and the backbone is connected to the headbone and the setting sun now fits right into the right frame of my glasses

 

[ THE REMAINING PAGES OF THE NOTEBOOK GATE ARE STILL TO BE TRANSCRIBED ]

On the side of the angels

POEMS 2005 |  TUCKER ZIMMERMAN

LAST NIGHT

last night
I landed a job
as a piano repairman
for the Boston Redsox

the pay was good
they liked my work
they really needed
my repaired pianos

I told them, « Of course
they will have to be re-tuned
when you get them to Boston »

they understood
they knew all about
how pianos
need to be re-tuned
when they get to Boston

tonight I’m going straight
for the Steinway Corporation
they’ll make me Vice President
in Charge of Spitballs
The audiences in symphonic halls
in London, Paris, Vienna, Milano
New York and thousands of other
places all over the world
from the Pacific Rim
to the Atlantis Tribal grounds
will be delightfully surprised
when Hélène Grimaud
punches out the first chord
of the Brahms’s Second
and a Pedro Martinez fastball
flies out of the piano
and scores a 95mph
on the radar gun

[ December 19, 2004 ]

THESE MOMENTS

THIS MOMENT (1)

I’ve got Hélène Grimaud
playing way down there
at the other end of the hall
in the glass room
under my table

it’s Brahms tonight
solo piano

just thought
you might like to know

that’s what’s happening
right now

THIS MOMENT (2)

If you squint your ears
she could be playing bar music
in the atrium lobby of some fancy downtown hotel

Brahms might have enjoyed that

THIS MOMENT (3)

there are more dark moments
in the longest night of the year
than in the shortest

about three times more
or two

the longest day moments
are harder to see
and by the time
you get to the short night moments
it takes you about an hour
to really believe it’s dark
another hour
to get used to the darkness
then another couple of hours
to pull on your boots
and get outside
to do some serious counting

but by the time you get there
it’s dawn
the sun is rising
and the longest day moments
are pouring over
the eastern horizon
like an invisible waterfall
and you completely forget
if it was two
or three

THIS MOMENT (4)

photo of Brahms
inside the CD box
he looks just like
Scott Joplin’s
music sounds

a German Scott Joplin
is in town tonight
playing down at the end
of the hall
in the glass room
under my table
where waiters waltz around
on rollerskates
with bottles of champagne
balanced on their silver platters
and some girl
with a string of beads
is trying to do the twist
even tho that dance step
will not be invented
for another 40 years

that’s what’s happening
tonight

[ December 20, 2004
midnight of the longest night of the year ]

FLIP A COIN

flip a coin
and hope it comes down
on the side of the angels

I’m not so tall
that I can’t bend over
and pick up a book
that fell to the floor

I’m not so fast
that I can’t stop on a dime
the skid marks on the dollar bill
are from much smaller feet
don’t look at me

flip a coin
and hope it comes down
on the side of the angels

butter your bread
on both sides
and hope it comes out even
balance is essential
gravity keeps us honest

flip a coin
and hope it comes down
on the side of the angels

they came to the crossroads
he pulled over and stopped
she got out and watched the sunset
they waited all night
for the moon to rise
the calendar told them
the moon would be full
the sky was filled
with sparkling stars
they learned later
that the moon
was in total eclipse
and it would stay that way
until someone went up
and fixed it

flip a coin
and hope it comes down
on the side of the angels

we make most of our decisions
without even knowing
choices are made
flashing thru the room
on beams of red and blue lights
while we sit and watch TV
choices are dancing
behind us in the dark
waltzing around like lunatics
and we don’t even know
they’re there

flip a coin
and hope it comes down
on the side of the angels

we’ve all been lost
we practice in the mirror maze
when the fair comes to town
then we go out into the night
and stumble down dark alleys
until a bull emerges
from a doorway
and blocks our path
with nostril smoke
and twitching tail

flip a coin
and hope it comes down
on the side of the angels

tell me it’s a dream
pinch your skin and squeal
this little pig
goes oink all the way home
oink sliding down greased skids
right back into the slaughterhouse
where the butcher boys
wait with sharp knives
and a sharp appetite
for pork and beans
floats over the town
like a dirty joke
and just as the ax
is about to fall
the phone rings
you pick it up
it’s your mother
she says, « flip a coin
and hope it comes down
on the side of the angels »

ignore my advice
and you will risk losing
your last chance
to get your whims
in line with your impulses
of getting your sighs
spelled out in proper language
so you can study them
in your free time

I’d hate to be the one
whose name comes up
in the mountains
as the man
who disrupted the class
with demonstrations of violence
on the day
we were supposed to learn
how to read maps

flip a coin
and hope it comes down
on the side of the angels

you think your sack
is better than mine
because you got an extra pouch
on the side?
but I want you to take a look
at the interior decorations
on mine and how they blend in
with the universal harmony
of my afterthoughts

come over here
I won’t hurt you
take off your sack
take off your shoes
and put your feet
under the neon light
I think it’s amazing
that we have the same
shape of toes
and a tendency to tap them
when the music gets lost
between the first little pig
and last little porker

slip thru the crack
but don’t forget
where you came from

tie your shoelaces
to Bach’s Locomotive Fugue
and go skidding down the tracks
with sparks flying from your heels
into a Beethoven tunnel

but don’t forget
where you came from

flip a coin
and hope it comes down
on the side of the angels

[ December 24, 2004 ]

POETIC FISH

HEY PETE
give me that kayak
and a pipe of mild
homegrown weed
and I’ll show you where
the poetic fish are hiding
in that lake of yours

rum’s no good
for poetical fishing
as you can see
right about here

rum’s good
for biking down
snow-slushed roads
mid-winter
and blinking away
the sunspots

long after the sun
has gone down

[ Rum Road, Dec. 29, 2004 ]

THE SHRIMP

He wanted to sleep
he wanted to dream
a dream of impossible dimensions
so vast he could walk
from one end to the other
and discover he was back
at the beginning of his life
and that his dream was identical
to his life – tho backwards
and not once
did he have to repeat
a single moment

for all this
the shrimp moved heaven
a few inches to the right
if you’re going up
a few inches to the left
if you’re writing down

he wanted to dance
a dance of unexpected emotions
a dance of demonless delight
he had perfected the windmill arms
and the deep knee bends

and for all this
the shrimp moved heaven
right off the map
and into the side pocket
of his lap
along with the keys
the coins and the cards
the fleas and the ladybugs
who tapped out messages
in his loveloins
and told him he’d better
take the bo-demons
and their dancing dust
along with the muses’ mouthful
of verbs and verbal abuse
and bake them all into an encyclopedia pie
or go around for the rest of his days
in a night without light
looking like a misplaced definition
of homesick fever

he wanted his sad little bookmark
to grow up into a tree
he wanted to be found and free
from all the aches and pains
and cold winter rains
and cold winter winds
that haunted him
with their whimsical ghosts
and made him hope
that for just once
they could skip the bullshit
and go directly to the leaves
and the flowers, the grass
and the birds, the trees
and the bees and the way
they jumped out every year
without a springtime doubt
in a sudden sigh of surprise

and for all this
the shrimp moved heaven
and when the angels
popped out the front door
for a night on the town
they found themselves
on another street
in another city

[ January 14, 2005 ]

ANTICIPATING SPRING

burnt my fingertips in the fire
first thought :
butter
bag balm
aloes

then I remembered
I had everything I needed
at my feet

I bent over
and pressed my fingertips
into the wet earth

the earth was cool
and refreshing

I pressed my palms
onto the moss
and the dead leaves
still half-alive
with the evening dew

and I could feel
creatures moving around
down inside the earth

getting ready to jump out
for the springtime chivaree

they spit on my wounds

I had everything I needed
in the earth beneath my feet

then I went for the Bag Balm

[ Feb. 4, 2005 ]

IN THE POST-CAMBRIAN

I think I was the fuel-gathering guy
in a previous life
back in the Cave Man Ages

I was the designated camp warmer

at first I was alone
out in the woods
breaking branches

then I invented the ax
and the trees fell like rain

then I had a dozen sons
and I put them to work
making axes and felling trees
we went into the logging business

and we got so big
I had to hire help
– a few Brawny Boys
from the next cave

and they did their job
just fine
until slavery was discovered

so I got a few slaves
and a few more
until I had about ten thousand
and I fired the Brawny Boys

and soon I had the slaves
taking down entire forests
from Scotland to Spain

we showed a big profit that year

maybe you’ve heard of me?
Henri De Lescaut

Lescaut & Sons Lumber Yard

we spoke French

I was the richest guy
in the Post-Cambrian

[ Feb. 4, 2005 ]

SOCCERTEAM (THE PHILOSOPHY OF)

« Hey, officer
what’s your first name? »

« Sil. »

« Hi, Silofficer,
do you read
the works of Soccerteam? »

with Marie-Claire, on the road, coming home after a Wizz Jones concert in Holland, passing thru Maastricht in the night, March 17, 2005

JEF SAYS TWO

I came off stage
and they told me
the pope just died

I say, « Probably while
I was singing Miracles. »

Jef says : « Are you sure
you want to take on
that kind of responsibility? »

[ Oudenaard, April 2, 2005 ]

TOUR OF FLANDERS
(the day I didn’t see Lance Armstrong drive by)

we stayed overnight
after the concert in Oudenaard
old hotel on the main square
and walked out Sunday morning
into the Tour of Flanders
the biggest bicycle race in Belgium

we dropped by to see Herwig and Minelle
and from the window of their apartment
we saw the lead cars and motorcycles
of the race pass by in the street below

we went down to watch

they told me later
that I was standing less than ten feet away
from Lance Armstrong
as he flashed by at 90 mph

he was in the pack

they were trying to catch
the leaders who were 2 minutes ahead
going like bats out of hell
and as silent too

later we talked about Crete
I think I’ll go south
next winter
south coast of Crete
rent a cabin
write a book
eat a lot of sea food

[ Oudenaard. April 3, 2005 ]

YOUNG NUN’S TONGUE

and the communion wafer
on the young nun’s tongue
is a peppermint Life Saver

[ European Highway 40, somewhere
between Oudenaard and Liege, April 3, 2005 ]

NICO

So what happened to that guitar?
Did you learn to play it?
Did you become a second Segovia?
Or did you smash it against
a chair after coming home
from a Jerry Lee Lewis concert?

[ Brugge, April 5, 2005 ]

POPE OPINIONS

pope dies
pilgrim on TV says,
« He was the greatest man
of the 20th century. »

that’s what’s called
having an opinion

[ April 6, 2005 ]

A MAN DRIVEN INSANE
by the sound
of his own farts

it’s not difficult
to conceive
this possibility

he hears voices
people talking about him
behind his back
saying nasty things
with stinking connotations

I wouldn’t want to be that man
there’s nothing about him that’s funny
those voices are not telling jokes
their Woody Allen imitations
are not begging for laughter
they don’t care if he lives or dies

they’d like to see him go out
and strangle a cat
they’d like to see him bend down
and kiss his own toes
they’d like him to punch his fist
thru the wall
and let a little fresh air into the room

they don’t care if he walks around
with his penis in a mousetrap
just as long as he keeps the gas
pumping out the hole in his ass
as long as he keeps
those people talking behind his back
it’s not funny at all

[ April 2005 ]

ANIMAL POETRY

CATS

what if cats wrote poetry?
alley cat poetry
tom cat poetry
domesticated poetry
wild cat poetry
persian cat poetry

Ton says, « There would not be any
wild cat poetry
because they’re too busy
doing other things. »

Amsterdam, April 13, 2005

WILD CAT POETRY

I like wild cat poetry
it does exist
they write it
when they’re not busy surviving
but survival takes
only about 10 minutes
per day
and then they spend about 4 hours
fucking around
(and some will say this should be included
among their survival activities)
and they spend another 12 hours
sleeping
the rest of the time
their minds are filled
with blinding visions
and hallucinigenized distortions
they speak with William Blake
they chat with T.S. Eliot
and then they come back
with mouthfuls of savage charm
fancy-footed violence
carnivorous grace
wild cat poetry
don’t miss it

Amsterdam, April 13, 2005

BASIC WOLF

here is some horse poetry
« room »

I don’t speak horse very well
as you can see
I don’t speak lemur at all
it has a Madagascan accent
but I would like to

usually it’s basic wolf
I’ve been speaking it
for 60 years
west coast accent
but I understand Canadian
and old European
don’t let them talk you
into the tall-tale
about how wolves used to sneak
into French farmhouses
and eat the babies
I know the true story
I learned it from the Old Wolf
that’s been hanging around
in my dreams
since I was 4 years old
he says the farmer’s wife
took the baby out to the edge
of the forest
and left it on a tree stump
it was either the wolves
or the hawks
and little red ridinghood
didn’t have a chance
the minute she stepped out her door
and forget about the grandma
the grandma was a producer’s idea
spice up the shadow show
little red was long gone
before she was half way
to any kind of old lady’s house
and don’t get started
on some lame-brained speech
about child pornography
and pedophilia
the minute she put on
her bright red bonnet
she knew exactly
what she was doing
she was asking for it
she got it
no tears for red

Amsterdam, April 14, 2005

MORE ANIMAL POETRY

JAGUAR POETRY

it’s clawed into the barks of trees
and the living hides
of water buffalo

it’s like Wild Cat Poetry
but with a jungle flavor

[ April 2005 ]

RATTLESNAKE POETRY

rattlesnake poetry is very rare
so far in the history of the earth
only three rattlesnake poems
have appeared

the first was hissed
at a Mayan
15,000 years ago
unfortunately
the passing Mayan was deaf
and the poem went unheard

the second was heard
by an Aztec
3,000 years ago
unfortunately
the snake bit the man
and the man died
before he could repeat
the poem to another human

the third poem was rattled
into the ear
of a sleeping Hopi
about 300 years ago
unfortunately
this Hopi belonged
to the Badger Clan
and could not speak rattlesnake

nevertheless
he repeated his dream
to the chief
of the Snake Clan
who spoke fluent rattlesnake
unfortunately
most of the lines
were lost in translation

nevertheless
the chief of the Snake Clan
repeated the poem
to his grandchildren
and they repeated the poem
to their grandchildren
and down thru the generations
the poem was repeated
unfortunately
each generation made a few changes
and in the version
that survives to this day
there is not one word
that makes any sense at all

everyone agrees
that it’s not worth repeating

[ April 2005 ]

TRAIN POEMS

1. YOU GOTTA HAVE SOMEONE TO TALK TO

you gotta have someone to talk to
you feel good
you gotta have someone to tell it to
you feel sad about leaving Amsterdam
and you don’t have anyone to tell it to

you gotta have someone to tell it to
you miss your train by 3 minutes
you’re gonna be in Maastricht
and hour later
than Bear thinks
and you don’t have any way
to reach her
cellphone isn’t connecting
not one pay phone in the station
she’s gonna wait for an hour
wondering where I am, worried too
and she won’t have anyone to tell it to

leaving Amsterdam, 16:28 (not 15:28)
April 15, 2005

2. BEAR WAITING IN MAASTRICHT

she could
(have some one to tell it to)
she could invent someone
she could pick any stranger
he could be an old guy
sitting on the bench next to her
he sort of looks like me anyway
she could pretend the old guy is me
« Boy, I sure am worried. »
the old man doesn’t even look up
but that’s OK
she had someone to tell it to.

somewhere between Eindhoven and Maastricht, April 15, 2005

JUNK MAIL

when I stepped over the branch
of the fallen tree
I did not expect
to step on a rattlesnake
coiled and ready to strike
on the other side

and indeed I did not

people here in Belgium
wouldn’t know what to do
if they opened their mailbox
and a rattlesnake popped out
along with the junk mail

nevertheless
I stepped over the log
as if there was a rattlesnake
coiled and ready to strike
bury its fangs in my ankle
and send me on my way to Hades

some things are printed
so deep
in your rural California
childhood mind
that they make even less sense
than junk mail

[ Highpoint Hesbaye, April 18, 2005 ]

GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JON – PART ONE

note to the listener :
don’t stop listening *

[ April 28, 2005, Maastricht ]

* it gets better in the end

GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JON – PART TWO

note to the composer :
don’t put them to sleep *

[ April 28, 2005, Maastricht ]

* they’ll wake up for the last part anyway

GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JON – PART THREE

(if there ever was a PART THREE it has been long forgotten and is now therefore useless. Personally I don’t think there ever was, tho if there was you can be sure it had something to do with Maastricht. Jon can’t remember. All I can say is you’re lucky to have PARTS ONE and TWO. So stop complaining. Two out of three is not that bad. If we were playing baseball I’d be leading the major leagues in batting average.)
[ April 29, 2005, Stockay/St. Georges ]

RIVER BARGE
for Patrick Riguelle

come on down to my river barge
come on down and we’ll float away
float away down to the tide-turning towns
float away tomorrow today

I don’t live in the city anymore
I live alone on the river barge
I lay my head in river barge hay
I make my bed on River Barge Bay

come low tide, I’ll take you for a ride
out in my River Barge home
River Barge food
River Barge beer
music by River words by Ear

[ April 2005 ]

MOTHER, BABY, BABY BUGGY

she pushes her shame
thru the crowded street

you didn’t want to have that brat
last year god damn it
but things got all fucked up
on the ranch
when the bull sitter
ran off before you could slap
a paternity suit on him
and by the time you got around
to the abortion it was too late

and now you push
the baby brat
around the city
showing him the shop windows
you had to sacrifice
for his skinny, shitty little soul

[ Liege – April 30, 2005 ]

DEATH TWICE

1.
it makes no difference
if I laugh or cry
go insane
or come to my senses

it makes no difference
if I live or die
no difference at all
you’ll see

2.
if I had any sense
I’d blow my brains out
right now
any fool can see
what lies ahead :
more suffering and pain
more misery and disease
lies and deceit
more betrayal and bullshit

but I keep hanging on
and I don’t know why
maybe I’m hoping to catch
a wisp of smoke
that’ll burst into a flame
or see a mote of light
that’ll blow up into a sun
and make it all worthwhile
in the end

or maybe I’m just too stupid
to know that I’m already dead

[ May 4, 2005 ]

WHEEL CHAIR 1

I can walk from building
to building up and down
streets, I can go anywhere
I want and I don’t have to think
about how I am going to get there.
Boy, am I lucky to have legs.

[ May 6, 2005, Autoroute E-40 * ]

* speeding along at 80 mph and wondering what it would be like to be in a smash up that would leave me paralyzed from the waist down and change my life is such radical ways that I’d have to make elaborate plans and devise clever schemes to get from the English book shelves in the shop over to the classical CD department (I’m still looking for that simple, elegant recording of Bach’s Third Orchestral Suite) to say nothing of how I’d manage to get my god damned wheelchair across the traffic-jammed avenue, thru the electronic gates that x-ray your innards to a crisp everytime you pass thru them, and up the god damned escalator and into the mobs of greed-possessed shoppers who are trying to get something for nothing. All I can say (again) is, « Boy. I am lucky to have legs. »

WHEEL CHAIR 2

a woman runs
past
a man
in a wheelchair

she trips
and falls

the man
laughs

ONE OF YOUR FRIENDS OR MINE?

he got out of his car
he was all puffed up
he was all puffed up
on his car

one of your friends or mine?

the girl dropped dead to the floor
shot in the breast
« thank god for that, » she said
« I’ve been wanting to get some rest. »

one of your friends or mine?

he was an extremely fat man
surrounded by many other
extremely fat people
fat women, fat mothers,
fat children, fat brothers
fat sisters and fathers
It was a fat convention.
And by his side on a leash
trotted the tiniest dog
you ever did see.
It weighed no more
than a pint and a half
it got a few smiles
got lots of laughs
300-pound laughters
tons of belly jelly
rolling and trembling
shuddering, slobbering
it went on all day
it continued at night
the little dog bounced
and yipped with delight

one of your friends or mine?

he was talking about Happy, his boss
and how Happy had invited
the entire crew of Happy’s Recap Shop
over to his house
for drinks and entertainment :
« We just sat around and took turns
fucking his wife. We had to hold her down
at first but after a while
she stopped kicking and screaming
and we had some fun. »

one of your friends or mine?

she said she was from Peruvia
but nobody tried to find it on the map
she said she was 4.7 years old
in dog years
but nobody bothered counting
she said she knew every answer
on the millionaire show
she said all these things
whether we were listening or not

one of your friends or mine?

she was over six feet tall
she swung her arms by her side
some said she was enthusiastic
she looked like a hysterical maniac to me

one of your friends or mine?

he has a quirk
an annoying habit
he can’t walk up a staircase
without trotting his fingers
along the rail
like a long-legged mouse
he says it’s a mouse
but to me it looks like two fingers
pretending to be
a tiny, amputated man
running up hill to meet
his missing upper half
which he already knows
will not be waiting for him at the top

one of your friends or mine?

she gave all her love
(and her money)
to an idiot she saw
on TV one night
accidentally

one of your friends or mine?

she came out of the dark
with blinking eyes
she had an umbrella in one hand
« Let the rain fall, » she declared
but you were seated in a Chinese Restaurant
« It’s not raining in here, » you said.
« That’s what you think, buster.
There are so many things
happening in here
you wouldn’t have time
to write them down. »

one of your friends or mine?

she believed in keeping her real name
a secret. « Call me Pogo Toes, »
she said. « If you are desperate
to tag me with a name
call me Limp Chimp
the Girl with the Glass Eye. »

one of your friends or mine?

why did she start chewing
on her hair?
chomping it off in clumps
and acting surprised?
soon her mouth
was full of golden curls
that looked like coils
she found impossible to swallow
so she spit them out
in the soup
and now no one in the room
can take their eyes
off the celestial apparition
with hair and drool
hanging down over her chin
with hair and drool
bobbing up and down
as she explains the plot
of a Mel Gibson movie
in such a way
that no one in the room
will ever have the desire to see it

one of your friends or mine?

He wears his hangnails and mosquito bites
like trophies from glorious battles
he says, « Take my advice –
put your mouth where your monkey is
and loop before you leak. »

one of your friends or mine?

an incomplete chuster with a grim (not a grin)
out taking his forklift for a spin
on a Sunday afternoon

one of your friends or mine?

white knuckles
beer belly buckles
chicken stickin’
outta his corner pocket
layin’ eggs like bath tub bubbles
he says, « Hey, get your liver lovin’ lips
around one of them saw tooth burgers
with whistle blow sauce to go »

one of your friends or mine?

lest we forget
he came out of a Bavarian
mistake factory
hated the world he wanted to rule
hated himself and invaded Poland
murdered Jews and saluted swastikas
screamed for Cro-Magnon supremacy
and ended up gassed
in his own farts
underground in a hole
like a mole in a bucket of mustard

one of your friends or mine?

he shouts « Ho-La! »
as I pedal past on my bike
is it the blue bandana
rolled and knotted around my neck?
what does he think I am
a gypsy or something?

one of your friends or mine?

and who is this freak in the mirror?
I’ve never seen him before
he’s got my number, he’s got my mouth
he speaks
and all his words
pile up inside my mind

one of your friends or mine?

[ May 9, 2005 ]

REPLY TO PETE WHO DECLARED THAT I FINALLYMADE IT INTO THE BEATLES’ SONG « 64 »

at 19
I thought
I’d be a goner
by 30

[ May 9, 2005 ]

MORE FUNK

Pete’s right
I didn’t want to be
a dirty old man
when I grew up
I wanted to be a FUNKY old man

now I’m 64
and I’m on my way
haven’t shaved in 25 years
shower once a week
change my socks twice a month
never comb my hair
keep the same pair of jeans
until they stand in the corner
while I sleep
wipe my ass casually
and change underwear
when I can’t stand the smell
and who needs sheets on the bed?
or pajamas?
or underwear?
hell, who needs a bed?

my bike looks like
it’s been thru the war
and I’m so stoned
most of the time
my wife doesn’t recognize me

current personal evaluation :
NOT FUNKY ENOUGH *

[ Poppy Road, May 9, 2005 ]

* tho this actually sounds more like a description of a DIRTY old man.

conclusion : less dirt, more funk

TV

every time you turn on the TV
you get someone acting stupid
and saying stupid things

occasionally you get
a ring-tail lemur from Madagascar
but only because
he’s going to be extinct
in a couple of years
because of a lot of stupid people
are doing and saying a lot of stupid things
to him

once in a while
you get a naked lady
and she’s OK
until you realize
that what she’s doing
doesn’t have anything to do
with the reproduction of the species
but is rather some idiot’s idea
of seeing how many other idiots
he can humiliate by paying them
as little money as possible
while making them perform
degrading deeds

so finally the naked lady
is just another stupid human
greedy for money
and a chance to be in the spotlight

and once in a while
you get a volcano
with all that red hot lava
flowing downhill
and you wish it would flow
right into the cameras
and down the cables
into that TV station
destroying everything in its path
until eventually
it flows out of your own TV set
and burns up the rug

for the first time ever
you won’t have to go searching around
for the clicker to turn off
your stupid TV

[ June 16, 2005 ]

KEYCHAIN BEEPER

if you push the big button
on your keychain
the car doors lock
automatically

if you want to open them
you push the small button

what does this tell us?

it tells us
they want us
to stay out of the car

it’s better than letting us in

they’re a lot happier
when you’re not inside the car
less problems
less court appearances
with all those lawyers
hanging around the garages
these days

KEYCHAIN BEEPER REPLY

the news that the beeper buttons
on the keychain
favor the lock out
doesn’t disappoint me at all

I prefer being outside the car

[ June 17, 2005 ]

BUG-SPLATTERED T-SHIRT FOR PETE

you ride your bike
thru a swarm
of the little buggers

they’re splattered all over
your white t-shirt

when you get home
take off the shirt
toss it on a chair

in the morning
you won’t even have to
get out of bed

just whistle
and the t-shirt
will come crawling
to you

all you’ll have to do
is lift your arms
and close your eyes

[ High Road, June 30, 2005 ]

THE WRATH OF THE BARAQUI WHELP

Marie Claire picks up the phone
and calls a married couple
she hasn’t seen in 30 years.

the wife’s immediate reaction:
« How the fuck did you get this number?
We told the publisher never to give to it anybody
not even my dying mother we don’t want
to be bothered and we’re sick
and we hate living and we think about
killing ourselves everyday and my husband
sits in his room upstairs and writes poems
about his piles and his heart attack
and his brain tumor and he can’t be disturbed
and we don’t have a computer
and we don’t have a cell phone . . .  »
and on and on

and on

Marie Claire would have been better off
phoning the baraquis down on the corner
and exchanging a few words
with their wild dog

[ Mystic Frites, July 28, 2005 ]

BOOKS – 1

1.
it’s an old paperback copy
of Trout Fishing in America
by Richard Brautigan
I’ve had it for 33 years
published in 1972
by Pan Books Ltd
33 Tothill Street, London

riffle the pages
with your thumb
while holding them
up to your nose

it smells like chocolate
it must be a good book

2.
the best books
have delicious aromas
they make you want to eat them
sometimes the pages
cook up a lot of strawberry jam
and sometimes
it’s barbecuing bacon
they make you want to
take a bite
a few of my books
have chewed corners
I tell people
« It’s the mice
they build nests
with the parts
I’ve read too many times. »

we all know it’s hopeless
I won’t be re-reading them
no matter how hard I stare
or how loud I shout
as I read them
in my Edgar Allen Poe voice
they won’t stick
it’s easier to talk about
the mice
none of my friends want to know
about a shotgun-blasted memory
and even fewer friends
want to hear about
how I eat my books
how can I explain
that the aroma
and the taste of each
is usually different?

3.
there was this book
I thought it was going to be good
at first it smelled
like baking bread
but it tasted like shit
I could only eat
a couple of paragraphs.
I had to spit them out.

4.
John Steinbeck
in his 40-year old
25 cent Bantam paperbacks
always smell good
I’ve never tried eating one

5.
one bite of Shakespeare’s Sonnets
and the stench of Elementary School
cafeteria baked beans
wafts thru my head
and I have to toss them
in the trash
in with the Chopin banana peels
the Marilyn Monroe nutshells
and the Elvis Presley
fungus-coated tuna on toast

6.
I had a cold
when I read Bukowski
so I can’t say how he smelled
between sniffs
I caught a distant odor
of burning rubber
but I can’t be sure
if it was Bukowski
or me
I was barefoot at the time
it might have been my toes

[ July 30, 2005 ]

BOOKS – 2

I could spend all my time
reading books I enjoy

Greil Marcus
Jim Harrison
Robert S. Parker

I have to be careful
not to get carried away
and get too stuffed

Jack Kerouac
Michael Ventura
Neal Stephenson
Larry McMurtry

look, my mind is becoming obese

Tom Wolfe
John Irving
Carl Hiaasen
Leslie Marmon Silko
John Nichols
Richard Brautigan
Charles Bukowski

watch my eyes fall out

IT HAPPENS ONCE IN YOUR LIFE
(AND IF YOU’RE LUCKY IT HAPPENS WHEN YOU’RE YOUNG)
to Marie-Claire

we keep doing it
over and over
going into crowds
where people are shouting
where each of us is alone
hoping to be seen
hoping to be heard
hoping to hear just a word
that will touch our heart
just a word
that will send us home
with the warm illusion
that we’re not alone

and then she sits down next to you
and tells you her life story

and you know
you will never
have to go
into a crowded room again

[ August 3, 2005 ]

LEAVING A DREAM

leaving a dream
I hop over a stream
and land on my belly
in bed

that’s one way to wake up

[ August 10, 2005 ]

TORONTO ONE
(to Phil and Janine)

stuck in Toronto
in the lap
of luxury
and just when I thought
there were no voices
in Canada
to fill my head
to buzz my ears
just like that
I want out
back to the farm
to no more voices
no more noises
please
with no disrespect
to your Lap of Luxury
and your hospitality
and your generosity
but Toronto’s not my town
it makes my back ache
and I could say
I just can’t wait
to get out

but that’s not true
the waiting’s easy
I’d just rather be
somewhere else
end of buzz

[ September 8, 2005 ]

TORONTO TWO
(to Phil and Janine)

not so bad in the morning
I’m not going to make any promises
like I’d like to
come back
and celebrate everybody’s birthday
and I’m not saying I love it
(like those coffee mugs
with their red hearts
in the shop windows of Queen Street)

but up here on Maple Court
under the trees
far from the busy street
and the slop scramble shuffle
of money buggers
it’s not so bad

especially when the sun
shines down thru the trees
and the breeze
bounces the leaves

[ September 9, 2005 ]

TORONTO THREE

leaving Toronto
I’m not exactly weeping
and stomping on the floor
boards especially after
all this urban scrawl sprawl
you have to reshape yourself
into deformed sizes
just to get in and out
of the city, the neon slums
the freeway tangle, tunnel sucked
like a baby being dragged
thru a polluted birth canal
just to get to the edges
of what the wiggling worms
of lost tribal dimensions
call the fish hook of survival

I just don’t feel like
being reborn that many times

[September 9, 2005 ]

TORONTO FOUR

I looked back at the room
where I slept
in Phil’s stained glass
window house

you’d have never known
I was there

isn’t that the way
it’s supposed to be?

[ September 9, 2005 ]

FARM HAIKU

back on the farm
nothing happening
the way it’s supposed to be

[ Mount Forest, September 9, 2005 ]

JAW HAIKU

one blackjack cat
one fresh chicken egg
dripping from the jaws of a hungry dog

[ Mount Forest, September 9, 2005 ]

BARN HAIKU

one bug
two claps of silence
no clocks ticking

[ Mount Forest, September 9, 2005
– in my room at the top of the barn,
getting ready to go to sleep ]

ARE WE CRAZY
or what?

bum scraping for dimes
along Queen Street
White Buffalo Woman
banging the tribal drum
to bring back mother earth’s
spice box of laughter
all on the same day

pip squeaks lip speaking
goats belly-aching
dogs ripping holes
in the sky
with barking teeth

and some blog-eyed
devil-drunk hag
wants my pocketful of change
or the rags from my back
or christ’s phone number
for christ’s sake
and White Buffalo Woman says,
« It’s just the way the night
falls down around our shoulders
and catches some of us
by surprise. »

are we crazy
or what the hell’s happening
out there on the edge of the world
that they’re not telling us about?

out there, just over the rim

thousands drowning
by the thousands
looting and shooting
in New Orleans
fans screaming
for some joker
in a Johnny Depp mask
when he sticks his head
out of a broom closet,
grins, and waves, « HI. »

while farther down Queen Street
the used-refrigerator dealer
scrapes his shoe
over another cigarette butt
on the pavement
and puffs out his last
smoke signal of the day

are we crazy or what?

and what I want to know
is not what I get

and what I get
is not what I expect

and what I expect
doesn’t have anything to do
with what I want to know

are we crazy
or what?
I’m not

[ Mount Forest, September 9, 2005
– in bed in the barn, waiting for the owls to hoot and the ghosts to start bumping around ]

ONTARIO DARKNESS

the flashlight dims
for 6 days
it dims
until I’m groping around
in the Ontario Darkness

so today I buy
new batteries
and when I’ve got my back turned
Phil gives the flashlight
to Tom the Framer
to find his cow
and I’m still groping around
in the Ontario Darkness
with not even a dead flashlight
in my hand to sweep away
the spider webs, squinting
at the stars
trying to get them to squirt
their dust down
on my path
so I won’t piss
on the flowers.

[ Mount Forest, September 9, 2005 ]

WHITE BUFFALO WOMAN DREAM

1.
what do you do
when you’re born
with this guilt?

I don’t know

I don’t try to hit
every pot hole in the road
I don’t bark back
at the dogs
I breathe the air
and try not to keep
too much for myself

that goes without saying

but I just don’t know
where to pump the bad blood
my ancestors dumped
into my heart

I’m not asking
for forgiveness

I wouldn’t dream of it
it can’t be given
it’s not even possible
for me to forgive myself

the stupid men’s deeds are done
the dumb act is over
long ago, long gone

and they left me out here
to pick up the bones
pay the organ grinder
pull the curtain

I could never pull a curtain
on you, White Buffalo Woman

I love the earth
as best I can
tho I know
it’ll never be enough

[ Mount Forest, September 10, 2005 ]

2.
they white washed my brain
with Jesus
but Jesus never cared
about the shadows
lurking in the shadows
Jesus doesn’t save
he just casts millions
of chunks of stone
to hoodwinked blinkers
and talks them into believing
it’s raining rainbow trout

the best that Jesus can do
is keep us away
from the real dirty stuff
otherwise he’s useless
and I will never turn to him
and his other cheek
again
truth is, he doesn’t give a shit
about what my blood-thirsty
fear-screaming, crucifix-thrusting
ancestors of mine did
when the murdered
the land
Jesus was on the side
of the land killers
when they raped and butchered
and burnt when they lied
and stole a toothpick
and by the time they stopped lying
they had whole trees in their mouths
and their feet firmly planted in the soil

Jesus, you approved
Jesus, you were out there
in blue and grey uniforms
(it didn’t matter – they
were just clothes to you)
up in the saddle
on the lead horse
slashing your sword
stroking your mustache
and laughing like a maniac
as you counted the scalps

[ Mount Forest, September 12, 2005 ]

3.
I’ve seen pictures of the barns
I’ve heard there’s a curse
upon this land
the pale face condemned himself
as he unrolled his maps
and chopped the land
into square pieces
using a ruler
and his flat-sided mind

I’ve seen pictures
of your people trudging north
to barren lands
to farms where the soil
would not even grow a whisper
of a thistle

I have seen my dreams
and my eyes have been damned
forever
there’s no escaping it
in this life
to die in shame
and I really don’t want that
I’d like to have a few years
of land-blessed days and nights

I’m trying my best
but I don’t think
I’m getting thru
old mother earth
is a tough woman
I’m sure you know her
and how tough she can really be
White Buffalo Woman,
so could you put in a good word?
tell her, « That blue man
who played the drum
his heart is still beating. »

you might mention
that the drum
was blue with a bite
of white lightning flash

no matter what mother earth
decides to do with me
and my tangled mind
may I live to see you again
may I stand once again
in your circle, White Buffalo Woman,
and listen to the thump
of your white buffalo drum

[ Mount Forest, September 12, 2005 ]

ORION

first view of Orion
each year catches me
by surprise

this year I’m out taking
a pre-dawn leak
in the Ontario pasture
I look up
and OOOOPS
there it is
the jukebox of stars
with my 3 favorite tune buttons
right in the middle
waiting to be pushed

it’s tilted above Phil’s house
getting ready to spill
music down his chimney

and where is Sirius,
the trailing dog star?

she’s riding the edge
of Phil’s rooftop

« Too soon, too soon, »
I say, « It’s only September 12. »
much too soon
for the first lamplights
and the approaching skidmarks
of winter

[ Mount Forest, September 12, 2005 ]

ORION AFTERTHOUGHT

watch out for the dog
she brings chaos and calamity
they knew it in Nile-flooding Egypt
they’re learning it down
in hard way New Orleans
« the dog can come on strong. »

and of course she’s been leaving
her footprints on the land these days
tongue blood dripping from the trees
the maples this week going from
solid green Cadillac wooly mammoths
to used Toyota convertibles
left by the side of the road
with graffiti painted on their sides
in tongue blood red
and vitamin-enriched urine yellow
that only crows can decipher

wait’ll the dog cuts loose
in a couple of weeks
we’ll be begging for Halloween

I’m not complaining, Orion
it’s been a wonderful summer
may I live to see another
please

[ Mount Forest, September 12, 2005 ]

GASPS AND GULPS OF GEESE

geese gathering
in gasps and gulps
getting ready
to fly south

geese gathering
geese honking
and gathering
over the river
found a place
to sleep tonight

geese gathering
preparing
to join the chorus
the ten million voice choir
flapping, floating chorus
singing songs about the north
all the way south.

me?

I’m just wandering around
a little but lost
looking for the shortest
way back home I guess

walking thru screen doors
and hallucinating black cats
sneaking into the steaming sauna
waiting for the golden half moon
to tip over
and spill out
an ocean
of alien alphabet soup

and gazing at the sunset sky
where gulps and gasps of geese
are gathering, getting ready
to fly south

[ Mount Forest, September 12, 2005 ]

ANYTHING

I can say anything
I can say
hum I can cay
humdinger
I can say it
so loudly
you will almost
see it in print
ham bunker
rim runner
gum bummer
plump numb
deaf and dumber
anything

[ Mount Forest, September 13, 2005 ]

BARN
(Let’s Humiliate the Bum)

wind whistling
thru the slats
of the barn
but where is the hay
to dry?
no hay

two girls whispering
back in the corner
of the bank

sun slanting
thru the gaps
of the grey barn boards
tell time
like a sundial
turned inside out

one girl comes back
to the counter
« Sorry, Sir
but we cannot serve you. »
(all I wanted was 100 Canadian bucks)
I get on my rusted bike
and ride away
like a funky old man
I have firmly arrived
in heaven
and I can now tell you
what it looks like

it looks like West Ontario

It is here that I have finally
attained Funky Old Manhood

imagine her reaction
if I had turned out to be
a Dirty Old Man

she would not have been sorry

sounds floating
thru the gaps
between the boards
goats rumbling
tractors strumming
wire-strung guitars
wind whistling
and straw dust hanging
and drifting
as the sun keeps slanting

[ Mount Forest, September ? ]

ANYTHING TWO

I can say anything I want
I can say hump
for example I can say
Bump and Blimp
listen to me say
Lump and Limp
went out in a Pumpo Bean,
built a leap across
Lake-on-Terrible
with a lick warm puke box
and a charmed arm load
of J.S Bach’s « Wart Slammed
Clamper Fear Bugs –
Volumes One thru Once
while Oliver and Oiler
paddled their hullaballoon
cocoon pantaloons
up the Passamappie Lapper
with only a pair
of spit-a-cartoons
and a whole log
of hope dope
in their pucking pock markets

they saved the fig logs
and ate the mooze
and the big meat
and the fag peat
and they desserted upon
the pleasant pizzicato ant
as they roped the rataloup
and crooned
to the bat-a-loon

(just reminding you)

and when they got back
to Lump and Limp
who were now driving
a Humble Bee
that ran on ear wax
they were so full
of eye-wig manure
they couldn’t tell a Limp
from a Lump
let alone trying
to colonize everybody’s brain
with piggyback scratches

[ Mount Forest, Sept. 7-14, 2005 ]

SEQUEL TO « BARN » (a story)

What were the two girls whispering about in the back corner of the bank?

They were talking about me.

« He looks like a bum, » said one.

« He IS a bum, » said the other.

« And he smells bad – like smoke and mint. »

« Cigarette smoke? »

« Woodsmoke. »

« Well, you can be sure he’s not wearing deodorant and I wouldn’t be surprised if he hasn’t been smoking one of those illegal weeds they keep talking about in the newspapers – the weeds that make you wacky. »

« I could smell it on his clothes. He reeks. He hasn’t had a bath for weeks. »

« And did you see his front teeth? »

« Dentures. »

« Cheap dentures. »

« It looks like they’re ready to fall out. Right on the counter. »

« He’s some kind of American but he lives in a place called Euro. He’s got this funny kind of money that comes from there. »

« Euro? I never heard of it. »

« I suspect it’s counterfeit. And look at his passport. It’s counterfeit too. »

« Definitely a forgery. »

« And he’s ugly too. He never combs his hair and that black t.shirt he’s wearing – food stains up and down the front. Disgusting. »

« And that worn-out denim shirt he’s wearing. He’s probably had it for 40 years. »

« With all the wrinkles. »

« It hasn’t been ironed in ages. »

« He probably sleeps in it. »

« And his shoes – all that mud. »

« He’s up to no good. »

« And his eye glasses. He hasn’t cleaned his eyeglasses in years. There must be an inch of dust on the glass. »

« Plus fly specks. »

« And dandruff. »

« And the look in his eyes. »

« It’s mad. »

« I know. He was leering at me. »

« He’s some kind of pervert. »

« Ugh! »

[ victim’s interruption : sorry, sister, but don’t kid yourself into believing that you were worthy of a leer. I’m blind in one eye and according to my other you were about as attractive as a wet dishrag in a cold lasagna pan.]

« He might be a Wandering Jew. »

« Yeah, look at the name. One of them Jews that steal our money. »

« He gives me the creeps. I’d rather jack-off an Ojibway. »

« UGH! »

« Sorry, sir. but we can’t serve you. »

[ September 14, 2005 ]

LEAVING TORONTO

scratchy dead neon sky
we drive down Airport Road
Phil and I
into the zone
into the numb tunnel
that stretches from Toronto
to London loops around London
and spills out in Brussels

bright light fast chain-food
where lost and losing souls
sleep in their cars
in the back lots
until they step out for a leak
and some other losers
steal their cars plus
all the paranoid conspiracy
documents piled up in the backseat
and leave them with nothing
but a paper cups of coffee
and a fatal heart attacks

the lost sound of their voices
shouting past my open window
a blinking neon Dante sign

LASCIATE OGNI SPERANZA

curving rainbow overhead
as we slide into the zone
and up the ramp
into hell

goodbye Phil
goodbye old dog
my soul’s attached to you both
it begins to stretch
as I back away slowly

I’m running on thin
the plane rumbles, whines
dawn comes up on the east wing
4 hours too soon
London Heathrow
lost souls by the pound
lost time snagging
in my beard like cobwebs
as I get shoved thru security
passport clutching
border control snooping
bus fuming
escalator grinding
steps clattering
rolling walkway to forever
and I’m back in another smile face
and another bumpy landing

I call Bear on my cell phone
back turned to the baggage carrousel
I turn around
there’s my bag
first off the plane
« Bet that’s never happened to you, »
I say to Bear on the phone.

I’m the first out the door.

she grabs my hand
and pulls me out of the zone
now all I’ve got to do
is wait for my soul
to catch up

hope it took a shortcut
around Heathrow
it gets tangled up
in that confusion and scramble
of lost souls and mindless machines
up there
I might never
see it again.

[ Brussels Airport, Sept. 15, 2005 ]

ONTARIO POSTSCRIPT

a few hours later
my soul comes snapping
down the ethereal hot line
dreaming at the speed of sound
convinced that humans
must evolve to a speed
that approaches light
or face the consequences

(the planet earth
covered with squirming worms
sparkling souls mixed up with brooding bodies
that don’t belong to them)

I take bite out of the do-nut
Bear just brought to me
from the village baker
while I waited in the car
staring at the door
of the village church
and listened to its bell
bong out the hour

It’s been busted for years
always off by six hours

in Toronto it’s ten o’clock in the morning

the bell is ringing Toronto time.

[ Verlaine, Sept, 15. 2005 ]

NEW RADIO

on my new radio
the Cleveland Indians
lead the Chicago White Sox
4-3 in the top of the 7th

on my new radio
the Indians score again
5-3

on my new radio
the Indians and the Sox
go into extra innings
6-6

on my new radio
the White Sox homer
in the bottom of the 18th
and beat the Indians 7-6

everybody in Chicago
is excited
and the announcer is shouting
and fireworks
are popping off
in the background

fireworks!

that’s why I bought
my new radio

[ Sept. 20, 2005 ]

HOLE IN THE HEAD

he leaned over me
at the wedding reception
he was huge and skinny
his face a bag of knobs

he held a drink in one hand
I knew it was whisky
(I’d heard somebody giggle
and whisper « whisky, » earlier)
I knew WHISKEY was a big deal.

He leaned over, looked down at me
marbles pouring from his eye sockets
he held out his drink
and said, « Boy I need one of these
like a hole in the head. »

I was about five
I had my hands stuck in the pockets
of my shorts which were hooked
over my shoulders with elastic
suspenders
I had my hair slicked over
with a wet comb
(this is before they found out
I needed glasses)
I was leaning back, looking up
into the blurry, blurred eyes
of the brooding drunk
and laughing and laughing
HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!
forcing it
real hard
scared shitless
that he would think
I didn’t like his joke
that he was going to get mad at me
and put a hole in my head
just to show me
how much fun you could have
at a party

[ Sept 22, 2005 – for Marie Claire to whom I started out explaining a common American phrase ]

THE MATERIALISTIC BUMPS

there once was a couple
of 60-year old bumps
and in one year
from October to October
they bought the following :

one central heating system
one audio mixer
one CD recorder
one couch
one piano
one stereo stack with speakers
one refrigerator
one washing machine
one dryer
two printers
one laptop
one radio
three bicycles
one heavy duty bicycle rack for the car

all new

one day they didn’t have a penny
not even enough to buy a 40-watt lightbulb
for the kitchen table
« That’s it! » they shouted
« From now on we live in the dark. »

[ September 28, 2005 ]

BACK TO YOU, DAVE

to Dave Evans who sent an e-mail to Marie Claire on October 30, saying,  » Tell Tucker, gently if you can, to try & straighten up a bit . . . he seemed to be bending over like he was rehearsing for old age. »

thanks for noticing
I’d be walking around someday
and I’d find myself
looking up at Marie Claire

I’d still be 6 foot 3
but only the lower half
would be vertical

RHYMES

when the crack in the sidewalk
wiggles around for a little while
then you know you’re
right where you want to be

IN THE CENTER OF THE WORLD

and now you can clearly see
and understand and ignore
all the chaos around you.

all the willful destruction
and the threats to body and mind
all the entropy
all the reasons without rhymes
all the rhymes without reasons

then the half moon slides
over in front of a mirror
and now you’ve got two of them
hanging there in the twilight

that’s where you want to be

[ November 7, 2005 ]

EYES

freeze your eyes
and give them away
to a peeping tom
400 years from now
when everybody else is blind

[ Nov. 22, 2005 ]

WHISPERS

they say he didn’t have a chance
with all these dadless daughters
coming in from France

how to be true to Maggie Boogaloo?
how to be faithful to Soft Shoe Jane?

all these girls with their aimless accents
letting him correct their mistakes
so he could tell them
what they were trying to say

boyhood romance didn’t have a chance
against these whispers from France

they dance, they glide with wheels on their feet
smoke spilling from the sides of their mouths
you can’t run and hide, repeat or retreat
they fill up your mind these whispers from the south

AFTER DINNER

(leaving Bear after dinner, going down to my studio)

I think I’ll go
be real
someplace else

[ Dec. 28, 2005 ]

ALPHABET BLOCK SOUP

A is a good letter
it really works a lot
it appears in a lot of words
(like « appear »)
and it doesn’t complain.
What more can you ask?

O is a zero. Omega. Oh my.
No amount of persuasion
will ever get it to lie down on its side
It just rolls away
and comes back again
It connects the Irish.

I sings.
What a burden.
What confusion.
It gets in the way.
take it out
hang it on the line
see if it’s wet.
Does it still get in the way?
You know what to do.

W
Don’t talk to me about the double U.
Double me. Don’t get me started.

Y is an old hippie trucking along
thinking about thinking
and taking it easy does it, man
not bothering to bother
to explain why or what
and where are we anyway?
someplace between
here and there
yesterday and everywhere.
Give him space.
He’s just trying to make one end meat
and maybe cop a vegetable
for a two o’clock lunch.

Z
oh what a snooze.

P
don’t piss me off
don’t pull my daisy
don’t put all your eggs in my basket
I’ll mind my Qs but not all the others
they’re green and they roll off my fork

Q
I said I will mind them
I’ll give them a U
I’ll give them an answer
from the tip of the poolstick

V
from the tip of a pitchfork
the victory sign
from the end of an arm
dona nobis pacem
But what’s in the crotch
in the split of the fingers?
traces of feces and sperms all a-glow
bacteria and unwashed juices of love
crabs and lice and everything nice
that’s what little girls are made of

K
is for Kafka
he made it his own

OK
is ours
but we have to share
half with Citizen Kane

T
take a T to dinner
give him some meat
a t-bone steak
grilled mean streaks

take him for a drive
let him sit behind the wheel
in the fur-tickled pinkish
catbird seat
and watch him turn the corner
at the end of T-Square Street

get him all dressed up
in a whopping white t-shirt
and take him out behind the backstop
and flush him with toilet jokes
stomp him with stupidity
punch him down with pokes
and waves of steaming heat

but no matter what you do
he’ll pop back up again
flexibility?
it’s printed in concrete

trees that bend with the wind
he grows them in his backyard
he takes them for a spin
see them cluster like pinpoints
around the foot of his feet

T’s a treat
he can’t be beat
don’t cross him out
just cross him indiscrete

G
gut smoke
rolls right over into gas
its goes whiz
its goes gash and god
and gobble around the gooseberry gush

J
Jerry Lee Lewis sat on this fish hook
and it’s never been the same since.
Elvis never influenced language like Lee
he flopped around in it
slopped around
shopped around
but he never bent a C
not like Jerry Lee
Jerry Lee sat on a C
and kicked it around
he limped from Tennessee
with a C wrapped around his knee
Oh Suzanna, don’t cry for me
just bless the soul of Jerry Lee

C
as explained above
C has had a hard life
road torn and ripped with strife
rolled out of rock
and rocked out of love

after all the shock and sewers
when the people shouted for a middle C
they were shouting into an empty sky
some of them settled for less
some of them settled for an S

S
it’s obvious

E
Rimbaud said it’s white
blanc
he wanted the translation rights
but he and everything else he wanted
got lost in translation
in Amerenglishican
E’s just an excuse
a nudge of the tub
in a 3-point earthquake

L
is going to fall over
if J doesn’t move in
next door
soon

F
hovers above you
like something bad
you might do
heavy and heartbroken
shivers over you
like a sinbad fingersnap

H
trembles the pocket of air
in which your head is trapped

when you get back from Europe
tell me about H
how do the Germans exploit it?
how do the French explain it?
how do the Italians skip it?
Spanish sweep with it?
Greeks sleep with it?

M
entire book shelves have been written
with the help of M
You might need a B
once in awhile
and a D will do just nicely
in a pinch when you come
to the last paragraph

U
is it something you want to keep?
find it in a battered cigar box
40 years later in your bottom drawer
with a dried-up tube of brylcreme
and an empty bottle of wildroot
smear it in your hair
right now
get it over with
bust the bubble
let its grease pour down
over your ears
and drip from your lobes
onto your padded shoulders

Q
I said I’ll mind them
I’ll give them a U
I’ll give them an answer
from the tip of the poolstick.

But I won’t answer those questions
if I hear Q’s wheels
crunching in the gravel
trying to trick me into thinking
it’s got a flat tire

CANNIBAL CAT

Jimbo Jimbo
the cannibal cat
grab his tail
feel his heart beating

call him mister
he’s as wild as a weasel
he’s lean and mean
he would not make good eating

BEAST (another Jimbo)

foaming and farting
and feisting a path
thru my tumbledown teeth
dripping with drool
I come to the edge
of the rain rotten pool

I’m an un-mommed mammal
I’m parasite fuel
I spit in the soup
of frozen leaf mold
I hit all the bumps
I crawl thru the dumps
my fangs are a-dangle
my bones are banging
I’m a thousand years old
my teardrops droop

I slump, I sleek
I slink with my feet
I claw and cheat
watch me snatch
and catch a batch
of wild and wingless
menacing meat

[ December 18, 2004 ]

CNN : FACT AND FICTION

1. FACT

we’re watching CNN
the man reporting the news
signs off
« I am Chimpanzee. »

there must be some mistake
on the tele-prompter
at the start of the program
he said, « I am Jim Clancy. »

Now he’s somebody else

2. FICTION

does CNN have more surprises
up its virtual sleeve?

of course it does
for 25 years
it has been moving slowly
in a direction
from truth to lies
from fact to fiction
it’s become a huge
propaganda machine
within the next 25 years
you can expect to see
other animals taking over
replacing the humans
they’ll slip them in
discretely
blink one night
and you’ll see an alligator
snapping out the sports news
blink again
and he’s back in human form
« Thank for watching,
this is Ali Gaytor –
and here’s a weather up-date
from Crock O’Dial. »

MORE HANDS
(Sequel to « Hands » in Bicycle Poems)

1.
chin-ups
grip the rail when you start to slide
scatter seeds for the birds
tie an angel to your christmas tree
give up your guns when they say « Hand them over. »

2.
pump water
slingshot a rock
jiggle coins in your pocket
comb your hair
do exactly what they say when they say
« Handle with care. »

3.
and don’t hesitate to co-operate when they say,
« Could you please point him out? »

NOTHING

there’s nothing all around us
there’s nothing where you stand
there’s nothing in the morning mail
there’s nothing in your hand

there’s a whole lot more nothing
out beyond the moons of Mars
there’s nothing in your glass
or the gas tank of your car

there’s nothing in your cigarette
there’s nothing in your stovepipe hat
there’s nothing in your way
if you’re on your way to getting fat

there’s nothing under your umbrella
nothing new in the news
and when you go to bed at night
there’s nothing in your shoes

« What did you do at school today? »
« Nothing »
« What did the teacher say? »
« Nothing »
« How about lunch? No, wait let me guess –
– nothing . . . . . yes? »

SHORTSTORY LONG

his name was Chain Gob Smoker
and he lived between
Any Truth in a Rumor
and Fear of a Tumor
and why shouldn’t his name
be Chain Gob Smoker?
because he took chances
with his teeth
and his body language
was a mess?
or is it because
he couldn’t put
two and two together
and come up with something
between a push and a shove?

  

his name was Benjalopy Spoke
and he was stuck between
the boys smoking dope
in the doorway
and the parking meter
which had just swallowed
his last thick dime

  

her name was Sardalina Prawn
and she lived between
Courage and Stupidity
she never gave up
until the chain gangsters
jumped out of the bushes
and stuck her head
in a bucket of blood
after that she was
good for nothing

  

he said his name
was Garsopholist Crump
he drove the turnpike
between Peace and Perplexity
until he came to the bordertowns
where all the good songs were born
and nothing else got out alive

  

he said his name
was Solipsistical Crunch
and he lived between Prosperity
and the Penultimate Question :
« What’s the Capital of Punishment? »
down in Death Valley Row
down among the cactus cries
the gila monster tears
down by the Busted Border
where love has the life expectancy
of a firecracker
and a firecracker
has the life expectancy
of a finger snap

  

he said his name
was Carsophagus Bump
and he lived on the mainline
between Comfort and Confusion
nobody believed him

  

her name was Gloss-o-Lalia Beef-A-Jerk
and she was hard to pin down
she lived in a pretty town
but there was nothing pretty
about the way she sang
« Pop Goes the Squeaky Weasel Wheel »
it was all Sturm und Drang
her voice was stuffed stewed prunes
that bubbled to the surface
and left no tongue unturned
they thought she might be Russian
but there were rumors of Aztec
vocabularies in her speech
she shifted from an Elton John
effete face-slapper
to a Bruce Springsteen
semi-automatic
convertible, 4-wheel drive
at the click of a tooth
we’ll talk about the minor
details later, about the way
her hands and feet
were nailed to her bedroom wall
and the word « crucifix »
was being tossed about
in whispered gossip
we’ll talk about all that
at a time when she is not
around to feel the backlash
of our pity.

  

her name was Lipmood Chapstick
and she lived between Nervous Breakdown
and Lip-Drooling Servitude
between a swarm of sweat flies
and chin-drooling bustatude

  

His name was Pugnacious Presley
and he lived like a kink
between the blink of a blind eye
and a tongue pop in a pig’s ear

  

His name was Rawberry Cod Liver
and he lived between a mumble
and the suck of a needle
he was nourished from the drip
of a slippery spoon
and they thought he was long gone
until the day he showed up
making movies on the Champs Elysses
and chasing fashion models
around the Musee de Louvre
they didn’t expect him to be there
and neither did he

  

His name was Bo Fiddley Flop
and he lived between Hysteria
and a state of Boredom
between the devil
and the deep blue sleep
who knows how many times
he had to sing
before they opened his cage
and let him flop around
on the floor

  

His name was Meataphysical Mix
and he lived from drag to drag
with one foot loose in the Fancy Free
and one boxcar fist on the gravy train
you never saw him come into town
without his neck in a knot
dragging a noose
and a hot-wired battery cable
snaked thru his belt loops
and stuck up his ass
where it sparked
and ignited each puff of gas
with a muffled explosion
that brought a distant look
of nostalgia to his eyes

  

His name was Zimmer Mangoose
and he lived between
a Moment Too Late
and the Next Best Thing
he was so sensitive
he was worthless
everytime he looked up
he was climbing down

  

his name was Portable Jug Whipson
and talk about boats!
by the way he cruised on ragged sails
thru the Tunnel of Love
from the turnstile
to the Wedding Chapel
by the way he fell in love with the darkness
you know he had to be a troubled sailor
eventually he bowed out singing,
« I wish I wash a Washy Wish. »

Her name was Bustagutta Grundge
and she was famous
for rolling around on the table
until one day she rolled off
(the table) and it was so far
to the floor that she is still
falling at this very moment
suspended, so to speak,
between the table’s edge
which has long since disappeared
and the floor that has yet
to come into view

  

and she had a boyfriend
his name was Honky Tonk Tim
he lived in the boondocks
on the borderline between
of tip of his hot tongue
and the flames of his cane
he grew up believing
that the clock
measured the beat of his heart
he prayed along with every tick
until he pushed a button
and time started going backwards
and he found himself in the middle
of the Middle Ages
between a peasant staked
in a pile of straw
and a grey shrouded monk
sneaking up with a match

  

to make a longstory
short
no matter how heavy your name
or the way it grows roots
and keeps you chained
to rocks in the earth
just remember
we all think
we’re in one place
while we seem to be
someplace else

DEAD OR ALIVE?

take me down
when I am dead
flip thru my pages
see what I said
did I get it right
or upsidedown?
did I dig deep enough
or just scratch around?
did I hit your heart
or your funny bone?
or both or neither?
did I slide your trombone?
did I get in your way?
did I cramp your style?
did I make you walk
an extra mile?
do you see what I saw?
do you hear what I heard?
until then, my old friend
don’t say a word

THE GOLDEN ROAD
TO UNLIMITED DEVOTION

THANKS

to Jerry Garcia
gratefully dead
to Jack Kerouac
who slept under my bed
to Bob Dylan
you fucked up my life
to Waylon Jennings
you fucked my wife
to Shawn Philips
you taught me how to ride
my 12-string guitar
to the other side
to Tony Visconti
you drew deep lines
into my underground songs
and made them all rhyme
to Derroll Adams, banjoman
I followed you out into the land
of quicksand and roses
whiskey and wine
the trail goes on
you left me behind

Elevation

POEMS 2006 |  TUCKER ZIMMERMAN

I. CYRPUS POEMS

CYPRUS POEMS
for Marie Claire

I walk around
from room to room
I look at the clock
almost midnight
I listen to the rain
on the roof
I walk around
flicking light switches
quarter to one
I’m still here

I push a button
on my cell phone
to see what day it is
23.01.2006
this is my third day
here in Klonari
and I’m still waiting
for the word waves
to come washing in

I haven’t become reckless
in my mental wanderings yet
rain on the roof
I walk from room to room
I’m still here

no windows in this house
the Old Mill House
except in the end room
I never go into
sliding doors everywhere
if you want to listen
to the rain
you slide open a door
and let the whole world in
from head to toe
they say it rains 10 days
a year
down here
one down
nine to go

I’m still here
down here
couldn’t be anywhere else
and If I was
I’d be there

I was in Belgium
numb feet on frozen ground
then I was in the air
riding the thermal bumps
then I was sitting in a car
zipping down the left side
of the highway
no steering wheel in my hands

now I’m here in Klonari
blowing my nose
walking from room to room
picking up a book
looking into the fireplace
flushing the toilet
trying out the light switches
wondering what my new routines
will be, they’ll sneak up on me
I’m sure and I won’t even
notice that I’m just tossing
orange peels in the bucket
by the door like I’ve been
doing it for years
I won’t even notice
until it’s too late

I carry my notebook
around the house with me
everywhere I go
just in case the word waves
come crashing in and catch me
standing on one foot
like a long-legged water bird
who lives on mosquitoes
and thin air

I’m still waiting
I’m still here

now I notice at last
I’m writing
how did this happen?
and what does it mean?
am I getting comfortable?
am I becoming reckless?
am I starting to forget
that I’m here?

don’t think about it
just write it down
start anywhere
stop when you’ve had enough

a thousand moments
in a minute
a million miles an hour
I’ll never catch up
sitting propped up in bed
almost 2 AM
I’m still here
tho a couple of times
I almost wasn’t
like a long-legged water bird
that lives on mosquitoes
and thin air

sleep sneaking up
creeping in
breathing thru both nostrils

[ Klonari, Jan 23, 2006,
this could be called, « Alone » ]

let’s call this one NOISE
they said it was going
to be quiet here
« Silence like you’ve
never heard before. »
first morning, 4 AM
the rooster cuts loose
he’s sitting on the rail
of my courtyard
outside my sliding door
roosters all over the village
begin to chatter
this goes on for 3 hours

second morning (Sunday)
shotguns blasting
up and down the valley
hunters shooting birds
and maybe rabbits too
and anything that moves
with their double barrels
not a good time to be out
walking in the dawn
this goes on until noon
I guess the hunters
go home to eat the birds
and the rabbits and the mice
if I were an old dove
I would not migrate to Cyprus
beware young geese
and all you other long-legged
waterbirds who live on insects
and rare air
they’ll blast your socks off

third morning
chainsaw
right outside the door
this goes on from daylight
until they’ve got enough wood
to build a house

I’m still awake

[ Klonari, Jan 23, 2006 ]

you know you’re not completely
settled in
when you open the bedroom door
and half-expect to find
Goldilocks and the 3 bears
sleeping in your bed

you know you’re not
feeling right at home just yet
if you keep looking at the clock
and expecting a cuckoo to jump out

how can you be at home
when it’s not your home?
when it’s not your sink?
not your stove?
when you don’t know the name of the cat
paw-patting across the roof?

you know you’re not
even close to feeling at home
when the most familiar things
in the house
are the characters
in the novel you’re reading *

[ *Jim Harrison, « True North » ]
[ Jan 23, 2006 ]

rain on the roof again
I slide open the door
and hear it splattering
on the bushes
(two down
eight to go)

I step out
into the courtyard
barefoot
the rain’s not
tapping on the roof
it’s clicking like a clock
pounding the round metal table
I left under the eaves
like a giant drum

back inside, door closed
(table moved)
I couldn’t say
if it’s raining or not

[ Jan 26, 2006 * ]

* 1:30 AM when everybody else in the village is asleep and unaware of the rain, so who knows? maybe it rains 300 nights a year in Cyprus and nobody’s awake to count

returning on the dirt road
from Akapnou
at dusk today
shotgun shells
litter the side
the creaky cry
of a pheasant
down in a gully
a sly one
who escaped the slaughter
yesterday

got back home at dark
with an olive branch
over my shoulder
made it just in time
another 10 minutes
and I would have been out there
all night sweeping the branch
back and forth
from side to side
in the dirt
trying to find the edges of the road
and hoping I wouldn’t
step off the mountain
and slide
into tomorrow morning

rain
and this time
it’s really on the roof
AND in the bushes
the white cat hiding
under the round table
under the eaves
scoots away
when I open the courtyard door
pretending
he wasn’t there at all

raining hard now
2:30 AM
splattering
on the courtyard stones
waking up the whole village
(all 12 adults, children plus dogs)
again glad I got back before dark
I’d be out there
in a gully with that pheasant
and I would be shouting,
« Those shotgun shells are not mine! »
and he’d be creaking my hinges
and having the last laugh.

[Jan. 24, 2006 ]

yellow-white lizard
on the bathroom wall
(almost transparent
and about 6 inches long)

several reactions possible
1.
Oh look. Another creature of god
I’ll leave some food
and we’ll become friends
2
that’s the last time
I’ll be walking around barefoot
around this place
last thing I need
is squashed lizard
curling up around
the sides of my feet
and oozing up
between my toes
3
jesus christ
there’s a serpent in the house
I’ll never sit on the toilet again
the monster drops from the ceiling
right down the back of my neck
and takes a bite out of my butt
4
maybe if I just ignore him
he’ll go away

5
he’s probably been there
all the time
these past 6 days
and I just didn’t notice him

Bobby says
« That was a gecko –
good for the house –
he eats the flies and the mosquitoes
– much good luck. »

Bobby says
they got some black snakes
on the island
« about 3 feet long
big as my wrist »
(shit, I’m moving out)
« Harmless tho, » Bobby says, »
« You wouldn’t want to kill
one of those. »

(Bobby’s from Scotland
and sounds like it
his is the Voice of Klonari)

more rain
make that four and five down
with six and five to go

I skipped the 4th downpour
tho its water turned
the steep alley by the house
into a creek

Bobby says, « Only a teaspoon of water
up in the reservoirs. »

I can picture the people
climbing the mountains
with a spoon in one hand
and a shotgun in the other
be interesting to see
who gets the last drop

[ Jan. 26, 2006 ]

there were jaguars
prowling around
the house
last light
moving slow
they could have
come inside

this morning
they’d turned back
into cats
lounging in the winter sun
we all have our reasons
for becoming jaguars
or geckos
or beasts of bear
and boar dimensions

we all have our reasons
for being here

sometimes late at night
I go for the lemur
don’t ask me why

[ Jan. 28. 2006 ]

I just want you to know
I’m moving slow

not as slowly
as the gecko
that melts into the butter
on my yellow bathroom wall

but much slower
than the white cat
who sneaks slices
of corned beef
I leave for him
on a cardboard
in the courtyard
when I’m not looking
that’s fast
I never ever moved that fast
before I started slowing down

[ Jan 30, 2006 ]

what’s that tapping
on the leaves
of my mind tree?
could it be rain?
slide back the door
hold out my hand
one drop, two drops
does that count?
– one more –
equals three
and that’s getting serious
six down
four to go

I saw the darkest of clouds
building up all day
but the slysky waits
until after midnight
to sneak ’em down to earth

[ Jan 31, 2006 ]

he picks up the clock
shakes it hard
he wants to get
more time out of it
an extra hour or two
at least
maybe a day
« Give me another January! »
he shouts and he shakes
until all the ticks
spill out
and he’s left holding
an empty salt shaker

[ Jan 31, 2006 – 2 a.m.]

bust the Gut
of Mortalicity
droop apart
drag the dust
you’re just a guest
with just a guess
of a doubt just a ghost
with just about nothing
nothing to say
and not a leg to stand on

what’s next?
another drop of rain?

[ Jan. 31, 2006. 2:30 a.m. ]

talk about tinnitus
loud and sharp sounds
and I have to be tired
(which I am right now)
then the Tinnitus Hellways Bus
drives thru my head
with Knifegut at the wheel
grinning
and all the other seats
are filled with
philharmonic phantasmagoria
slow tempo quick castanets
in one ear
and out the other
where Blast Mouth Fuller
with his brush whistles
goes rag-mopping
from door to door
selling bubble gum pops
and whipcrack snaps
while the monophonic mob
in the center aisle
with Buzzcut Nicolodeon
behind the baton
goes out of control
and the best that Buzzcut can do
is keep those rat-raped woman
squealing and screaming
like iron wheels
on rusted railroad tracks
while slapping my head
(that’s Buzzcut Nicolodian we’re talking about now)
while slapping my head
with flabby rubber tubes
and telling me
this will be music to my ears
and I will say, « Who gives a gooey Louie? »
and slap him right back
with a busted rubberneck tune
of my own

[Feb. 1, 2006 ]

goundhog day

no sun, no shine
grey wind, no shadow
the groundhogs
are dancing
on the empty shotgun shells
by the side of the road
goofing off
and singing about spring
just around the turn
of next weekend
and ignoring the distant
shotgun blasts
from over the hills
which seem to be proclaiming:
« Fresh, hot groundhog chops
coming up for supper night. »

[ Feb. 2. 2006 ]

the wind drives by my door
like a car
nobody at the wheel
it crashes
head-on
into a wall of silence
and vanishes

it’ll be back
next year
about this time

[ Feb. 2. 2006 ]

you start walking
and soon
you’re someplace else

[ Feb. 3. 2006 ]

I feel like
I’m one of those ancient
wandering sages
seen from a distance
he climbs a dirt path
on a barren hillside
the knapsack
over his shoulder
becomes a bundle of sticks
(kindling for the fire tonight)
illuminated by a single beam of sunlight
thru the hazy clouds

if I were to meet another
like myself on this dusty path
he would say, « Shut up!
You talk too much! »

[ Feb. 3. 2006 ]

I sit on a mountain top
peeling an orange
and eating it
like an ordinary wandering sage
looking down into the next valley
and wondering if I’m looking for
nirvana or am I looking at just another re-run
of the orange-peeling scene from Aida

[ Feb. 3. 2006 ]

quatrain: the sage’s reply after returning from the misty
mountains.
« Where have you been? »

« Gathering firewood
for the orange-peeling
scene in Aida »

[ Feb. 3. 2006 ]

rip-off strip

he walked into the nose-noise
of Rip-Off Strip
into the disguise of joys
into the rise of loaded lips

past the fastbuck junk
past the short-change punk
of the Double-Dealing Dream
and the bubble-popping machine

he walked until he crossed paths
with a bouncing baby boy
staggering and stumbling
across the broken sidewalk
into the arms
of his father
whose sudden smile
was the only wisp of perfume
in the panoramic toilet

from then on, each step
he took deeper
into Rip-Off Strip
was as if he were
placing his feet
in wet concrete
and the prints would last
for years beyond
his own lifetime

[ rolling back to the afternoon and evening
of Jan 31, 2006, Boulevard Cristodolou
Chatzipavilou, Limasol, Cyprus ]

ΥΨΩΜΑ ΣΙΝΟΑΣ
ΣΗΜΕΙΟ ΘΕΑΣ
(ΥΨΟΜΕΤΡΟ 770m)

(elevation 770m)

now I know how to say « elevation » in Greek
upsometro

camp ground sign

STRICTLY
DO NO FIRE

and wouldn’t you know it?
a couple of rusted bullet holes,
one dotting the « i » of « fire »

in Greek that’s

ΑΠΑΓΟΡΕΥΕΤΑΙ
ΑΥΣΤΗΡΩΣ
ΤΟ ΑΝΑΜΜΑ ΦΩΤΙΑΣ
(no bullet holes)
αραγορυεται

[ Feb, 4, 2006 ]

woke up
went outside
held my face
up to the grey sky
3 drops of rain
one on my nose
one on my lower lip
one on the right eye
of my glasses

it was not a deluge
the cats were not scampering
for cover
in fact the drops
were drying as they hit
the flagstones
(vanishing salamander spots)

the village folk
were not rushing up the hills
to the reservoirs
with their buckets and spoons
and I cannot claim
that it ruined
my Sunday afternoon hair-do

but I’m still going to say
seven down
three to go

[ Feb. 5, 2006 ]

I might remember
coming to this place
and staying a month
in these mountains

roads with funny names
chickens and goats
phones that don’t work
and shotgun blasts in the hills
on Sunday morning

take a picture?

how could I take a picture
of the single sliding
silver goat bell
ringing on the hill
after midnight?

or the roaring canned laughter
from a late-nite TV show
seeping thru the weatherbeaten
boards of my neighbor’s
stone house shutters
followed by Maria’s real
3-tooth cackle of delight
that stretches out
for 3 short blasts
then the blue light
goes back to flickering
thru the cracks
like fingers of ghosts?
(that was a question –
how do you take a picture of that?)

[ Feb. 5, 2006 ]

restless
wandering
from room to room
from hill to hill
up dirt paths
looking for the place
where I can begin
to wander

[ Feb, 6, 2006 ]

Chopin’s Nocturnes on the CD player
lightning snaking up
over the mountains
popping up to flash in the clouds
climbing in from the west
until it has Klonari surrounded

then the thunder hits
from all sides
echoing off the mountains
bouncing off the hills
and the rain pours down
where I wandered
gathering wood this afternoon
flooding the paths I walked
washing the gulleys
setting off landslides
grab a flashlight
let’s go see
are you nuts?
nobody halfsane
is going to poke his nose
out into this skull crasher

[ Feb, 6, 2006 ]

and then it’s gone
the storm
and you can see them
the village people
climbing to the reservoirs
in the hills
flashlights in one hand
spoons in the other

[ Feb, 6, 2006 ]

« I think I’ll take a nice hot shower. »

[ Feb 7, 2006, 00:00 AM ]

it’s hard to be funny
living alone
for two weeks

humorous remarks
bounce off the walls
like deflated balloons
and laughter
is just plain weird

[ Feb 7, 2006, 4:30 AM ]

I saw the sky
this afternoon
I walked out
under it
I saw the snow
sprinkled on the mountains
to the north
I stood and watched
as fog swirled in
around the snow
until the mountains
were completely hidden

[ Feb 8, 2006 ]

the snow is gone
from the mountains
the mist wiped it away

[Feb 9, 2006]

I feed the birds
out under the olive tree
every morning
two slices of brown bread
(they like it)
I pick up an extra loaf
at the bakery
I prefer the white

[ Feb 9, 2006 ]

sometimes I feed
the cats in the courtyard
slices of corned beef

and sometimes they just sit
waiting for me to feed them
all six with their eyes closed
thinking maybe the orange
I’m eating
will turn into a chunk of meat

[ Feb 9, 2006 ]

we find different ways
to get thru the winter

start anywhere
stop when you’ve had enough

started drinking ouzo today
(small bottle: 10cl)
(but on an empty stomach)
I biked up the hill
(into the wind) to Kallaki
I walked a few kilometers
into the hills
collecting firewood
(and observed the three-quarter moon
drifting up from the east
over the mountains
to wash the melted snow away)
now all I need
is a flooded valley
to swim across
and I would be in
the Ouzo Triathlon

[ Feb 9, 2006 ]

hail on the roof last night
like dozens of pigeons
with thimbles on their claws
tap dancing around
as my CD played « Caruso »
this was it
the limit
ten rains down
zero to go
from now on
tropical weather
sweating in the heat
swatting flies
fanning your face
with newspapers
in the shade

[ Feb 9, 2006 ]

it’s a quiet night
I switch the lights off
crawl in bed without thinking
sit up reading Jack Kerouac’s
Memory Babe
and don’t hear the roosters
crowing at 3 AM anymore
I knew it would come to this

[ Feb 9, 2006 ]

I step out the front door
the flagstones are dry
the moon (almost full)
scoots along behind
the clouds and I feel
a pinch of spring in the air

I go inside
walk thru the house
go out the backdoor
into the courtyard
and it’s pouring rain
my clothes on the line
are soaking wet
I twist their tails
and squeeze out the winter

I can see now
why some people
might get a little confused
about how many days it rains
in Cyprus each year

it all depends on
which door you go out

[ Feb 10, 2006 ]

Cyprus Bike Poem

I sweep around Eucalyptus Corner
slow, stop to pick up a branch
blown down by the storm last night

and there’s this man
coming up the road at me
and I say, « Hello there. »
and he growls, « Hiss! »
(or maybe it’s « Yiss! »)

I looked it up
in the dictionary
when I got home
« Hiss » in Greek
means, « don’t pick up
the Eucalyptus branch.
It belongs to me »

« Yiss » means nothing
the man was having a hardtime
getting the word
out of his mouth
he was trying to say
« Eucalyptus. »

either way
I kept the branch
and brought it home with me
on the bike
and it now stands
in an empty milk bottle
in the middle of my table
I fill the bottle with water
so it won’t fall over
I look at the branch
once in a while
it belongs to me
I say, « Yiss! »

[ Feb 10, 2006 ]

the great thing about
living alone
in an isolated house
is that you can wash the dishes
at 3 AM
and nobody will say
« Wow! You’re doing the dishes
at 3 AM. »

there might be other great things
about living alone
in an isolated house
but I can’t think of them
right now
and they’re probably not
worth mentioning either

[ Feb 10, 2006, 8:30 PM, thinking of my friend Pete Petersen
for no particular reason ]

I did the dishes
at 3 AM
and there was nothing great
about it
maybe I should have waited
until 3:30
when the fun really starts

[ Feb. 11, 2006, 3:15 a.m. ]

or maybe the fun starts
when you build a fire
in the open fireplace
you stick up your feet
to warm your toes
and the heat melts the soles
off the bottoms of your sneakers

[ Feb. 11, 2006, 4:00 a.m. ]

everyday
(as always)
I feed the little birds
that fly down
from the olive tree
chunks of brown bread

a couple of days ago
one asked,
« Do you think
we could have it toasted? »

no problem
I toasted the slices
diced them
and tossed them out

that was yesterday
that’s when one of them asked,
« Next time, how about
a little butter? »

no problem
this morning
I buttered the toast,
diced the slices
into tasty squares
and scattered them across the grass

everybody was happy
except one bird
« How about some
strawberry jam? »

now I know why
the hunters come out
on Sunday morning
and shoot these birds
they started asking
for cream and sugar
in their coffee

[ Feb 13, 2006 ]

tonight I’m eating
a Linda McCartney Country Meat Pie

who the hell
is Linda McCartney?

isn’t she dead?
didn’t she die of some
kind of horrible
infectious disease?

what is this crap
I’m eating?

[ Feb. 16, 2006]

from one week away
I can see how this journey
will end

flying down the highway
on the wrong side of the road
to the airport

rolling down the runway
and lifting into the air

to the end of dreamtime

to the end of this songline

[ Feb 17, 2006 ]

  

II. PARIS POEMS

PARIS POEMS
Part One

cold windy day
in front of the Louvre
dropped a glove
on the cobblestones
went back, picked it up
put it on
the fingers were still warm

[ March 2, 2006. Paris ]

Hotel Henry IV

this old hotel
the walls so thin
you can hear Henry IV
burp in the next room

the bed so narrow
you bump into Henry IV
every time you turn over

the steps so steep
you feel like Henry IV
by the time you reach
the fifth floor

the floor so old
you can feel your feet
sinking thru the carpet
into the thousands
of footprints
in the wood beneath
only a few of which
were made by Henry IV

most are much older
from about the time
the Hunchback was ringing bells
down at the other end
of the island

[ March 2, 2006, Place Dauphine, Paris ]

Paris

it’s the same city
that made Henry Miller
jump for joy whenever
he walked its streets
and got caught up
in his senseless philosophizing

the bums under the bridges
are long gone
30 years now

the bookstore at 224 Rue Rivoli
is still there
as elegant and English as it was
when soldiers of the British Army
took a break from Napoleon’s retreat
and went shopping for the latest
Alex Pope and Popular Mechanics

it’s the same city I walked
30 years ago
and got lost in its maze
of streets which really
didn’t matter to me at all
and still doesn’t

I pass more people
than I count in a year
and tho none of them
are jumping for joy
neither am I

we’ve all agreed
to skip the cheap philosophizing
too
and concentrate on the essentials
like keeping your eyes open
all the time
like avoiding parking posts
and dodging cars against the red lights

we will hop for joy
only when it’s really necessary

[ March 2, 2006, Paris ]

Conversation in a Crepêrie

« What city do you have to see
before you die »

« Venice! »

« Venice? »

« Naples. »

« No, not Naples. »

I hope nobody is listening
to this conversation

[ March 3, 2006, Paris ]

Mooving Bar

« ladies and Gentlemen
Thalys and the Caterers
have the pleasure
to invite you
to the MOOVING BAR
situated in the middle
of the train . . .  »

where are the cows?

[ March 4, 2006, train from Paris to Liege ]

PARIS POEMS
Part Two

And Don’t Forget Paris – 1

the old man
in Le Chien Qui Fume
corner of Boulevard Montparnasse
and Rue du Cherche Midi
alone at the table by the door
« Can I ask you a question – ?
I’m writing a book
takes place in Paris
late sixties, 1970
and maybe one of the characters
is going to live around here. »

the old man is nodding his head

I ask my question :
« Can you see the Eiffel Tower
from the 6th floor
of any of these buildings? »
I wave my hand around
to include the entire quartier
the old man waves his arms around
and says (in French)
La Tour Eiffel can be seen
from any sixth floor balcony
at least and I hope
it will be a love story.

« They always are. »

« That’s good.
Love stories are the only kind
of stories worth reading. »

he’s probably right

And Don’t Forget Paris-2

Rue Rivoli
I see her coming
old lady in faded levi jacket
and Gyspy hair
she bends over
in front of me
and picks a coin
from a crack in the sidewalk
I say, « Go for it, »
and keep walking

but Marie Claire
who’s 2 steps behind me
stops
when the lady
holds up a gold coin
I stop and look back
oh shit, the lady’s
got Marie Claire hooked
and it’s not a gold coin
it a golden ring
and she’s telling Marie Claire
that because of her religion
she can’t wear this ring
but maybe Marie Claire could
and maybe Marie Claire
could give her some cash –
she’s a little short today –
maybe 10 or 20 euros
would be just about right
so Marie Claire exchanges
some euro money
for this ring of pure gold

she catches up
« It’s probably not real gold. »

« She put it on the sidewalk
and waited for us to come along. »

they know all the con games in Paris
and I guess we look like
real live suckers

And Don’t forget Paris – 3

down on my knees
in the back corner floor
of Shakespeare & Co
sorting thru stacks of
contemporary fiction paperbacks
W – Z
displaced and dumped
while they’re repairing
the shelves at the front of the store
looking for William Wharton
they’ve got a few Tom Wolfes
lots of Wodehouse
(P.G.. – Picadilly Jim
Right Ho, Jeeves , A Damsel in Distress)
no Wharton (William)
but a handful of
Wharton (Edith)
nothing worth reading
until I come to
David Foster Wallace
this one looks good
The Broom of the System
I’m going to read this one
David Foster Wallace
is a kickass storyteller
David Foster Wallace
plays tennis
with the molecules of your brain

PARIS POEMS
Part Three
(Two Months Later)

UNEXPLAINED MYSTERY N˚ 1

passengers
start talking louder
and faster
as the train gets closer
to Paris
they’re standing up now
and shouting

by the time
we hit the suburbs
they’re so excited
they’re ready
to piss in their pants
or is it all
included in the price
of the ticket?

they’d be jumping
from the windows
if they could open them

May 4, 2006

UNEXPLAINED MYSTERY N˚ 2

if you lean hard
on the handrail of a down escalator
your hand slowly creeps
forward, ahead of your feet

if you keep leaning hard
you’ll soon be vertical
and by the time you reach the bottom
your clutching hands
will be stretched out straight
in front of you
and the toes of your shoes
will be thumping down
the steps

May 4, 2006

back in Paris
back at the Henri IV
and for the first time
in educated memory
I don’t have a book to read
when I go to bed
no biography of Chaucer
to sing me to sleep
no Jim Harrison
or Robert B. Parker
to strum the lobes
of my restless brain
no Bruce Chatwin
or Greil Marcus
to assure me
that my dreams
will be simple, peaceful
and harmless

tonight
I’m stuck with a map
the back pages
of « L’Indispensable de Paris »
telephone numbers
for cinemas and museums
piscines and patinoires
addresses for parking lots
detailed maps of cemeteries
du Père Lachaise
and Montparnasse
I know where Baudelaire
is buried
at number 4

they planted Serge Gainsbourg
at number 22
and Jean-Paul Sartre
at 41 right next
to Simone de Beauvoir
at number 5

meanwhile over in Pere La chaise
they got Oscar Wilde
at 19
Marcel Proust at 26
and Balzac at 30
but no sign of Jim Morrrison
they’re keeping the lizard man
under wraps and his whereabouts
a big secret

then for light poetic reading
I’ve got the complete pharmacological
run down on my sleeping pills
Lorazepam
to calm nervous tension
to suppress exhalation
of psychoneurotc origins
can cause vertigo
should not be taken
while driving a car
or drinking alcohol
with extended use
can cause psychic addiction
and even physical dependence
great literature
fascinating reading
cuts right thru my insomnia
like a wet sock
thru a bucket of oatmeal
and sends me off
to neverland
with images of junkies
dancing in my head
and if that’s not enough
I’ve got some idiot
out in the hall
slapping up and down
the steps
in swim flippers

and while pissing
in the sink
the Sinkpiss police bust in
« We warned you! » they shout
(they didn’t, I’ve never
seen these beanheads before
these wobble gut hair brain buckets
with SINKPISS patches on their shirts)
« We’ll have to take away
your sleeping privileges! ! »
they gather around my bed
kicking at the edge of the mattress
bouncing off the corners
and making sure I don’t get
a single snootful of snooze

May 4, 2006

a man and a woman
with three little daughters

the man bends the woman
over backwards
as if they’re performing
a tango
and kisses her on the lips

the three little girls
dance with joy
they jump and squeal
as if they have
hot chili peppers
in their toes

all this just on the other side
of a bed of orange flowers
all this right in front of
the south side fence
of Notre Dame Cathedral

May 5, 2006

on the other side of the flower bed
(and I’ve been waiting all winter
to see these yellow and orange
flowers, waiting so long
I feel like crying)
a young woman is pushing
a five-month old child
in a baby carriage
down the gravel path

she’s running as fast
as she can
the baby is smiling
with delight
the baby doesn’t know
who’s pushing the carriage
all she knows
is that the wind is fast
and she’s having fun
she doesn’t know
she’s being kidnapped

May 5, 2006

UNDER THE SIGN OF THE HARP

under the sign
Rue de la Harpe
I stand singing
« You are my Sunshine »
with the Lonesome Gamblers
in a high lonesome voice
so high I don’t think
that it’s a real harmony line
it’s so high (my voice)
that I realize
what a sad song this really is
« please don’t take my sunshine away. »

Paris, May 5, 2006

And that’s when a cop steps up
and asks me if I have permission
to sing under the Sign of the Harp

and that’s when I notice
she’s beautiful
(lipstick, eye shadow and
a touch of perfume too)
what’s going on?
what is she going to do with me
in that uniform?
take me in a back alley
and beat me senseless with a truncheon?

but she’s nice
respectful
sweet voice
I say, « No, ma’am. I don’t have permission »
and she says, « Then you must stop singing. »
(all this is French)
I say, « Right away. »
she holds up a white gloved finger
« Just one more song. »

she was probably enjoying
the music and felt bad
about making us stop

but in the back of my head
I’m still face down
on the cobblestones
of a cul-de-sac
and the beautiful cop
is beating the shit
out of me with her nightstick

why do they do this?
the French
they ruin everything
with one blow

May 5, 2006

QUAI DES FLEURS

a flock of a thousand bikes
or more at midnight
lights blinking
pedals churning
ghost riders
in the dark
floating down Quai des Fleurs
(Ile de la Cité)
above the river
like metal moths
hovering, fluttering
smoothing the pavement
everybody silent
tiny red eyes winking
is this a race?
or is this just a new type
of Parisian After Midnight
Public Transportation?

where can I get a bicycle?

I want to ride
I want to float
thru Paris
down the Quai des Fleurs
after midnight
I want my tiny red eyes
to wink and blink
I want to smooth out
all the roads
all the way
thru Place Dauphine
and across Pont Neuf
and all the way
to the Brooklyn Bridge
and back

May 6, 2006

I feel a vague
Mother Mary fixation
coming to light
here in Paris
when I park my butt
in the side alcove
with the madonna
just standing there
waiting to drop
her alabaster cloak
and I start crying

is this how I spend
my Saturday afternoon?
at St. Jean of Montmartre
made of brick
at Place des Abbesses?

VIETNAM VET

and on Saturday evening
it rains
sprinkles at first
I tempt fate
walking thru the Tuileries
instead of hopping the metro
it starts pouring
as I cross Pont Neuf
and duck into the Henri IV
with wet spots
on the bill of my cap
I climb to the 6th floor
lie on my bed
and listen to the rain
drip in the lightwell
drops pinging off metal tubes
past my barred window

I was looking forward
to a long walk tonight
but I end up across the street
« A Ma Salle à Manger »
with a few more drops
on the bill of my baseball cap
first customer
for the two girls
(one sexy tough
to keep the boys in line
the other angelically
and plumpishly blissful
as she creeps up the stairs
peeks over the rail
and gives me a heavenly smile)
eating hot camembert
and soft sausage slices
drinking Grolsch
(best beer in the world)
and listening to brainless
Americans just come in
powdered and flattered
Americans
pampered and silver-spooned
at the next table
talk about NEXT to nothing

I wish it would stop raining
I want to walk
I want to see
the wet lights of Paris
it’s at times like this
I feel a long way from home
for all they knew
I might have been
a Vietnam Vet

May 6 (10pm) 2006

COP FLASHBACK

about that cop last night
I still can’t believe she was real
when she walked up
and started talking
she looked like
she was getting ready to kiss me.

SHAKESPEARE & CO

Paris Saturday night
dampened with showers
keeps the yahoos inside
shivering in shelters
only a few careless cruisers
out under wrinkled umbrellas

my cap spotted with a few more drops
my grey Kimberly Festival cap
given to me by Phil
in Ontario last summer

Paris is sensational
at night in the rain
like a spinning top
a gyroscope
filled with tiny lights
that will never fall over

written in Shakespeare & Co
Saturday night, May 6, 2006

LA RHUMERIE

Saturday night
approaching midnight
the place is packed
with Parisians
alcoholics
like me
Havana Club 3 years
goes down like silk
stockings
on a Bukowski whore

who walked these streets?
Kerouac
Ginsberg
Derroll too
me
how about that?
all these dead alcoholics
and I’m sitting here sober
pouring white rum
down my trap
touch of coke
back to the Havana Club
I got a lot of catching up to do
who said I was clean?
all my aunts and Uncle Gene
all dead and gone
buried in the earth
or ashes scattered
to the wind
I’m just getting around
to being born

May 6, 2006

I can write anything
when I’m feeling like this
write it now
throw it away later
who’s keeping score?
Rimbaud and Rilke?

May 6. 2006

RIMBAUD & RILKE

Rimbaud in his drunken boat
give me an oar
give me an onion
it’s hard to be alone
in a crowd
sometimes

back on the street
I got Rilke’s solitude
of childhood days
tracking me like a ghost

May 6, 2006

WALKING POEM (May 7, in the a.m.)

I walk Paris at night
brain-flipped stoned
Rue de L’Abbaye
Passage de la Petite Boucherie
Rue Cardinal
Rue de L’Echaude
am I ever coming back?
or will this be the last time
I’ll see these streets?
Rue Jacob
the labyrinth
of the Left Bank
I’ve been avoiding it
for 3 days now
here lives the minotaur
and I don’t know
if I’ve got the muscle
or wit
to take it on

I should stop
and recite this
to passersby
like a true beat poet
I can’t take two steps
without stopping
to write down another line
here comes a car
missed me by inches
and I wasn’t even looking
was that a minotaur?

Le Petit Prince
is a shop
do they have any stuffed squirrels
behind their darkened window?
please, Bear, don’t go out on me
I couldn’t take it
I’d cry all the time

back on Rue de Seine
two-legged minotaurs
glide past
whispering, whimpering
one male
one female
I’m drunk as a skoot
Rue Visconti
lost in the labyrinth
Rue des Beaux Arts
getting close to the river
I can feel it
wonderful to be wandering
lost in the labyrinth

I come out right in front
of a domed palace
and Pont des Arts boardwalk
35 past midnight
on the dome clock
who can contain me?
Rilke? Rimbaud?
no way
Ginsberg & Kerouac
no chance
a mermaid from the river
with long wet kisses
and a 6-pack of beer?
she’d have to be really smart
or I’d drink her river
for a midnight snack

crossing the bridge
looking upstream
to Pont Neuf
a pair of bridges
four lit arches each
with a pointed
island between
that’s where I live
if a bad man
should come up with a knife
and ask for my 550 euros
I’d open my knapsack
take out my blue bandana
and whip it around
in front of his face
saying,
« You’re gonna have to deal
with my badger first. »

DEAD BADGER CODA

back in my room at the top
room 22
6th floor
not enough room
to swing a dead badger

I place my fingertips
against the wall
over my bed
and flick my bandana
at the opposite wall
almost touches
the back of the closet
the other direction
is a snap
fingertips above my pillow
my bandana flicks out
between the bars
of my open prison window
what can contain me?
nothing
not a small hotel room
6 floors up
never
not even a city
as large as Paris
I’ll eat its rooftops
for breakfast

And just as I pull
up the leg of my shorts
and turn on the hot water
the SINKPISS police
knock down the door
and bust me for pollution
where is my beautiful
white-gloved loitering cop
when I need her the most?
What a way to end the day.

JIM HAYNES

back on the bed
leafing thru the books
I bought today
I linger over one called
Whitewashing Fences
a celebrational tribute
to Jim Haynes
who let me sing in his Arts Lab
in London in 1969
for absolutely free
and my sagging, drooping eyes
latch onto one final fact
as I fall asleep:
Jim Haynes lives right here in Paris
been here 25 years
out on the Tombe Issoire
I think I’ll drop by
tomorrow

SUNDAY AFTERNOON

it’s a good time to drop by
and see if Jim Haynes is still around
I knock on the door
he’s there with 5 or6
medium-aged creatures
preparing a dinner
for 100 tonight
I wash my hands at the sink
sit down behind a wood block
with a perfectly-sharp and thick
butcher knife
and begin to chop onions
(« Give me an onion »)

I chop about 30 onions
then I peel and chop a few gingers
and skin and slice a dozen cucumbers
all the time Jim is talking to someone
and sometimes it’s me and sometimes
I’m talking to someone else this goes on
for three hours and the onions give me time
to listen, to refrain from speaking
I didn’t have anything special in mind
I just dropped by to say hello
and Jim invites me to dinner.

LATER SUNDAY AFTERNOON

I like irony a little too much
from the Cité looking across
the river to the right bank
I see a strange skyline
to the left
the obelisque with the golden angel
perched atop
at Chatelet

to the right
the tower of St. Jacques
now shackled in scaffolding
under repair, towering
dominating, all boarded up
waiting for resurrection

and between the two
(the angel spindle
and the St. Jacques blockhouse)
I see the blue and silver
tubes of Beaubourg

where would we be without irony?

on my way back to Jim’s
for dinner at 8
(I must say I had a couple of
puffs on the pipe
before I left the hotel
and the cars in the street
tho they’re staying in their lanes
are testing out suddenly appearing
ramps and trampolines)
the digital clock
in the bus stop
says it’ll be a 12-minute wait
for the 38 Porte D’Orleans
and my first thought:
« These will be
the most terrifying 12 minutes
of my life. »

the bus stop
is the Palais de Justice
on the Ile de la Cité
between two rivers
the ramps and the trampolines
have suddenly stopped appearing
and the cars are just growling by
like disgruntled metallic dogs

now the clock says
6 minutes
nothing has happened
and I’m halfway there
on my way
to the most terrifying
12-minute bus ride in Paris

the bus stops
on Pont St Michel
beautiful girl
propped against the parapet
of the bridge leaning
on her bike
it’s Naomi, age 23,
40 years ago 1966,
long blonde hair
jeans, leaning forward
touching her bike
I keep staring
thru the bus window
the glass between us
is 20 feet thick
I keep staring
she sees me staring
she smiles
she waves, « Come here »
I can’t stop looking
she waves again
she wants me to get off the bus
and go with her

a boy and girl appear
from around the back
of the stopped bus
they trot up to the girl
with the bike
she’s smiling at them now
her head’s turned
and she’s listening to them.
they’re glad to be together
and I’m back in Paris, 2006

There is a generous man
and his name is Jim Haynes
he lives in an atelier
on the Tombe Issoire
he feeds 100 people
every Sunday night
he brings people together
that’s his theme
bringing people together

she peeks out
like an unnamed nocturnal animal
from eyesocket tunnels
from darkness to darkness
we’re not dealing with a machine here
this is a live human
with a history
and hopes
smashed and survived
what makes me think
I’m so special
as I dish out another mask
of left over freckles
pale skin
and wounded black crow hair
from my theatrical mind
I can’t do it
go thru the pain
of getting to know
another woman
intimately
not again

please?

thank you

I chopped the onions
I peeled the ginger
I sliced the cucumbers
it was a delicious dinner

I am very lucky
I experience unbelievable
moments of grace
I must be careful
I don’t want to start thinking
I’m a holy man

I walk from Jim’s house
out into the night
I feel I am glowing
that people can actually
see and feel a ball of light
around me as I pass by

I like it
when the ball of light
pops up
and covers me

but I love solitude more
4 days in Paris
is my limit
it’s time to go home
back to my cave.

May 7, 2006

I LOSE MY CAP

I lost my baseball cap
somewhere
between Jim’s house
and the hotel

the old grey Kimberly Festival cap

none of the young dudes of Paris
are wearing baseball-type caps
side ways or other ways
this time around

I was the only bum
in my Kimberly Festival

so I’m thinking
maybe caps have gone out of style

and I’m thinking
or maybe there’s a shortage
of baseball-type caps in Paris
they’re not being manufactured
anymore and all the young dudes
are looking at me with envy
and waiting for an opportunity
to snatch it

so I can assume
that the whole Sunday
evening dinner on Tombe Issoire
was a set-up
by Jim Haynes
and his beautiful woman
to keep me distracted
while some sly fingers
dipped into my knapsack
and plucked out my Kimberly
(the cap a gift from Phil
in Ontario last summer)
sad to see it go
perfect fit
Bear said I looked good in it
can’t beat that
I’ve never been to the Kimberly
Film Festival
neither has Phil

if Jim is wearing the Kimberly
the next time I see him
I’m going to have to say something
LOUD AND CLEAR

I might be the first bum
to wear a baseball cap
off the field in Europe
1976 or so
San Diego Padres
burnt brown and yellow
no adjustable strap in back
I wore a cap to keep the sun
out of my eyes, still do
a good rain break
for glasses too

I’ve been thru many baseball-type caps
major leagues
language institutes
film festivals

I’m going to be pisssd off
if Jim starts strutting around
in my old grey Kimberly

« you fucked my woman
once in London
and that was enough.
Now I’m getting tough
this baseball cap is the limit. »

PABLO PICASSO

before catching the train
I walk over to the Pablo Picasso museum
on Rue Thorigny

it used to be Silvia Monfort’s
Theatre Carré

« J’ai chanté là, »
I tell the postcard man
across the street
« Il ya trente ans, »
I say and join
the crowd at the gate
pay my 9½ euros
and make a bee line
for the toilets in back
that’s why I really came in here
to take a shit
I wander around after
up and down stairs
thru galleries filled
with Picasso’s drawings
half-blind
not really looking

my critical opinion
remains the same:
Picasso is hardly worth
three turds
and a long fart
he hangs decent wallpaper
but I wouldn’t let this guy
feed my cat

Rue Thorigny, May 8, 2006

TRAIN

I’m going home
back to my cave
right to the end
of my Paris trip

second beer goes down
smoothly, sundown sunshine
slanting thru the window
at every turn
we deal with human life
not flesh-covered machines
will I ever
get this thru my head?

sunlight flickers
thru the passing trees
at 300 miles per hour

it feels like we’re standing still

May 8, 2006

PARIS POSTSCRIPT
(Buddy Holly in Paris)

oh yeah
while I was under the Sign of the Harp
busking with the Lonesome Gamblers
I had a mint in my mouth
I never do this – have anything
in my mouth while singing
and all the time
I was sucking on it
flipping it around
from cheek to cheek
clamping it between
my front teeth
and grinning
so everybody could see
the white circular edge
blink and it’s gone
the mint’s back behind my lips
getting tucked away
behind a seasoned toothless gum
while I hit the next line
of Summer Days

the night before going to Paris
I saw a bio feature
on Buddy Holly
he was always singing
and chewing gum

I must have been impressed.

May 15, 2006

  

III. BICYCLE POEMS 2006

TWO APRIL POEMS

1. Bicycle in the Key of F Sharp

crosswind thru the spokes
singing thru them like strings
of a harp
in the key of F sharp
low note
jumping up an octave
with each swift slap
of wind
gets me singing
C sharps
and A sharps
and E naturals
as I go sailing
between a short-shooted wheat field
and a fine-tooth plowed field
waiting for seed

some people pay
good spiritual money
to have a choir like this
as a backing group

April 7, 2006

2. Prayer to the Young Shoots of Wheat on Farm Road East

may we have a perfect spring
(with just the right amount of rain)
and may we have a long, hot summer
that goes all the way to the first of November
and then tapers off into a mild autumn
that lingers until early January
at which time we might have a couple of nights
of frost, maybe a snowfall or two
which brings us around
to another perfect spring
(with just the right amount of rain)
followed by a long, hot summer
that goes all the way
south
and stays there
for a hundred years or so

Easter Sunday, April 16, 2006

THE FIRST REAL* BIKE POEMS OF 2006

scads of them

* when tears aren’t streaming from the corners of your eyes and down your cheeks as the north wind cries thru you

when the white-knuckle grip on your handlebar
can be seen thru your black wool gloves

and when you’re wearing so many clothes
you’re actually thinking of switching to a motorcycle

I came skimming around the corner
and the kid kicking the soccer ball
said, « I hate you. »
and I said, « That’s OK
I’ll just do my best
to stay out of your way. »
(and when I can’t
I’ll just have to get out
my marker pen
and give your fat lips
a thick, black moustache)

plum blossoms falling
now I know why
the old Japanese felt sad
it’s the beginning of the end

back from Switzerland
Bear heads for the garden
with shovel and gloves
I grab the bike
and head out into the Hesbaye

second conversation:
little girl screeching
at the edge of a lawn
as I slow and almost stop,
« I will waaash squibby! »
I shut my jaw
go, « Grr-  »
she screeches,
« I will squibby sendup! »
I say, « In that case
I’m sorry, »
and get the hell
out of there

coming back from Switzerland
last night we stopped
at the Luxembourg
autoroute gas pumps
and duty free stuff shop
booze, smokes.
« I’ll have 10 quarts of Jack Daniels
20 cartons of Marlboro lights
and 30 cases of Heineken
(that sort of thing)
(you can also get
teddy bears for you baby
and sex mags for
the autoroute maniacs

riding around on my bike
I never get to see their faces
– the drivers –
they’re just machines
with sky-reflected windshields
now I could see
what they looked like
I could see their faces
the warehouse was filled with them
running up and down the aisles
screaming, foaming at the mouth
grabbing and groping
and I could see what they wear
(and don’t wear, especially
from the waist down)
I saw their knees
I saw their feet
such horror has not been seen
since Stephen King retired

today I’m back on the road
with them, machines
with sky-reflected windshields
and solid steel doors
keep those knees hidden
keep those feet to yourself

I’ve always said it’s 50/50
asswipes vs those humans
who seem to have control
of their machines (more or less)

Jim Harrison says it’s 80/20
4/5s of the people do the right thing
the other fifth make a mess

the Dalai Lama said the cause
of all this is
IGNORANCE
I think the translator was cheating
what the D. Lama really said was
« Dumb assholes. »

entering and leaving
a large stage
of a darkened auditorium
full of curious people

there’s nothing like that walk

I come in carrying my guitar
trying to remember how Richie Havens
walked on stage with his guitar in 1972
and I pretty sure I’m not carrying mine
the same way

then the people start to clap
and I sit down

And I stay seated until it’s over
and time to leave
so I stand up
holding the guitar neck in my left hand
like a cooked goose
wire harmonica rack
hooked thru my middle finger
G harp hanging down, all blown out
I hold up my right hand
I’m not sure what I do with it
it’s not a wave
or a salute
it’s some kind of subtle gesture
I wouldn’t even recognize my self

I turn
and start walking
towards the dark slots
in the curtains
and the people
are still clapping
and that’s how
you leave a stage.

coming home (last lap)
my legs always tired
on the first day
of warm weather biking
and I’ve pedaled 20 km more
than my body was ready for
welcome to suffering spring

all poems were written, between Borlez, Les Waleffes, High Pont Hesbaye, Two Trees Road and Rue Vingt Ponts on April 25, 2006

SECOND REAL DAY OF BIKE RIDING

coming home
legs a little tired
like yesterday
I’m amazed
I kept in such good shape
over the winter
at least my quadriceps
are not bulging down
over my knees
like sacks of fat

riding between two worlds
on my left the autoroute
25 yards away thru the trees
a field of dark green
mustard plants
already knee-high
on my right
a crow glides
over the field
and dozens of tires
scream their highspeed notes
on the tarmac
the less said the better
tho now I’ve said too much
(too much, too much)
(where does it end?)
the birds warble
deep in the field
they’ve found a nest
of worms, the drivers
flash thru the trees
they don’t want to be late
for their depression lessons

Old Farm Road Bridge
over the Liege-Paris autoroute
April 26, 2005

but of course up here
on the bridge
it’s one big mess
for the ears, the eyes
the nose and the throat
(crow and wormbird forgotten)
the soles of my sneakers
swept by the roofs
of the west-bound traffic
I think I’ll go to Paris
next week

April 26, 2006

KNOCK TO BE-YUMS

« Knock to be-yums, »
growls an oldster
from the sidewalk
to his ancient wife
crossing the street

which is further proof
that the aliens have landed
and live out on rue Vingt Ponts

they brought along their old folks
and sometimes the old folks
can’t help blurting out
in the ancient tongue
of a far-flung galaxy
as nostalgia sweeps
thru the tubing
of their rusted brains

there is no reply to this geezer

I keep wheeling
I’m headed for the wheatfields
to talk to the birds

May 9, 2006

RAY CHARLES’ FACE

lured and lulled
down a cul-de-sac
in Flanders
where the wheat
is already 12-inches high
I saw Ray Charles’ face
in the mud
as I was pissing
on his shades

lost in the Haspengouw, May 10, 2006

MUD PUDDLES

and just when I think
I’ve seen it all
but for the shape and size
of the mud puddles
here comes one of those
murder monsters
behind the wheel
of a speedy death machine
to keep me
entertained

Lost Haiku Road, May 18, 2006

WAR ZONE

riding my bike
down these old familiar
farm roads
after a storm
like last night
with thunder-rattled skies
and lightening-blasted fields
is like driving
an old familiar jeep
thru a war zone
the day after the big battle
both sides wiped out
and all that’s left
are the fertile fields
pumping up vegetable-type plants
and an occasional mud puddle

Chemin des Parapluies, May 18, 2006

MONSTER CHICKENS

the cars headed this way
down the road
are in such a hurry
you’d think
they’re running from something

can’t be the huge black
thundercloud looming
over head
they’ve got roofs
and besides
I’m not scared of that

I am scared of the drivers tho
and their speed
and their recklessness

they must have seen a monster
farther down the road
something so horrible
every atom in their bodies
says, « FLEE! »

monster chickens
let’s go see

(later, back home)

I was lucky
to get out of there
in one piece

about twenty mud puddles
down the road
I saw the monster

I barely had time
to drag my bike
into the field
and out of its way

it was a huge ice cream truck
and it was devouring the road
and everything upon it
and spitting everything
left over out the back
in various flavors
of ice cream
I saw people’s faces
down in the chocolate
screaming to be released
I saw babies writhing around
in the pistachio
I saw car fenders
(the unlucky drivers)
being dissolved by vanilla

and right behind it
stood a 9-foot statue
of Shakespeare
wimpy beard and all
that someone had sculpted
out of a mud puddle
and it was muttering
dumb Shakespeare-type things
such as « Hark,
and york the pork! »

it’s the last time
I’ll call a crazy driver
a monster chicken

Thousand Pear Tree Road, May 29, 2006

WEIRD

to be biking around
and wearing hunting gloves
on the 29th of May
is just plain
weird

Onderdonk Drive (May 29, 2006)

FREAKY

to be biking around
on June 1st
NOT wearing gloves
and risking frostbite
is just plain
freaky

Farm Road South, June 1, 2006

RIDICULOUS

to be biking around
on Purple Potato Road
on June 2nd
wearing a t-shirt
a sweat shirt
a wool sweater
a long sleeve flannel shirt
my winter vest
and my yellow windbreaker
and remembering
it snowed in France last night
is just downright
ridiculous

to Dave, an Existential Poem

not every day, Dave
you don’t go thru all that
rigamarol
and ambiguous
stultiloquence
everyday
killing yourself
hanging
slicing
swallowing or whatever
it is
you do
when you have
the suicide blues

I go thru it
once
or more likely twice
a year
and I barely
have the strength
to pick myself up
from the floor
after each event

every day?
come on, Dave
let’s be fair
and we’ll make a deal

I’ll go thru it
bi-annually
and you go thru it
on weekends
and holidays
that should give you
plenty of time
between
to drink a few Guinness’s
swallow a few balls of honey
pluck a few notes
on your guitar
play a few games
of chess
with your computer
and entertain fantasies
of a few women
my wife included
if you wish
(tho you’ll have to check
with her on the details)
before you sink
back into the miasma
of bleak despair
totally hopeless
but animate existence
and absolutely
no reason
to carry on

on the Meuse River bike path
between Huy and Andennes
June 13, 2006

RIVER ROAD INCIDENT

biking along the old tow path
between Huy and Andenne
I meet a gang of yoots ¹
wearing only swim suits
muscled and crew-cutted
they stand with arms crossed
legs spread
blocking my path
and tell me
that for one hundred dollars
they’ll let me live
and continue on my way

« Are you crazy? » I shout
waving my arms at the river
upstream
downstream
« Do you see that water?
it’s mine
I own that river
and everything in it. »

I point to one of the yoot’s
naked chest
« See those drops?
that’s my water
and they’ll cost one hundred dollars
each and at a glance
I can see that you already
owe me 931 –
no, make that 932 –
hell, let’s call it even
one thousand bucks
and I’ll keep the change. »

the boys are backing off now
astounded and amazed
at how insane I am
they fear insanity
is contagious

I remount the bike
kick off in 1st gear
« And don’t forget, »
I shout back
as I pedal down the path
« Every time you jump in the river
it’ll cost you an automatic
135,000 dollars
so you better keep track
and have your money ready
when I come back this way
in a half hour. »

when I return
an hour later
all the yoots are gone
not even a wet footprint
I’ve got the gravel pits
to myself
I might as well strip
and go for a quick dip
nothing like a $135,000 dip
for free

June 14, 2006

¹ Joe Pesci’s pronunciation of « youths » in My Cousin Vinnie, directed by Jonathan Lynn in 1991, co-starring Marisa Tomei

HESBAYE BIKE POEMS 2006

I ride into a swarm
of bug soup
and they’re all over me
the little buggers
they don’t bite
or sting
or even tickle
they’re just THERE
all over me
my white t.shirt
my blue denim shirt
my beard
in my ears
up my nostrils
in my eyes
I’m covered with little buggers
they don’t die
they just ride along
then drop off

swarm after swarm

a parachute
glides overhead
above the wheat fields
man suspended below
with a motor
strapped to his back
leaning how to fly
another one, way up high
like a bug against the sky

Bug Stop Road, June 28, 2006

random molecules
of my body
(my shirt included)
are becoming black holes
stick your finger into one
and you’ll come out
at the other end
of the universe

swarms of black holes
appear on the lenses
of my glasses
I peek into one hole
it’s nighttime in there
they are not celebrating
the second day of summer
in there

June 28, 2006, Bovinistier Road

in there
they are performing
everyday chores
that would look like
miracles to us

in there
they breathe in waltz time
and let their eyes
do the dancing

June 28, 2006, steps of Bovinistier Church

in there
their eyes are not roasted
on atom-blast sunsets
in there
they don’t have machines
in there
they walk around on their tongues
and let their belly buttons
do the talking

Hay Bale Road, June 28, 2006

kids on bikes
circle around me
curious
I swerve down
down a tractor road
field of flax on one side
wheat on the other
roll over and stop
drink of water
pull out my notebook
here comes one of the boys
on his bike
rides past, shouts
« BONJOUR! »
pretends he’s not curious
about what I’m doing

he returns to his gang
down on the corner
mumbles and whispers
I hold up this notebook
hold up this page, shout,
« THIS IS WHAT I’M DOING KID! »

Hay Bale Road, June 28, 2006

dusty red sun
hanging on the horizon
light not strong enough
to cast a shadow

I’ve got it behind me now
in the left lens of my glasses
like a rear view mirror
a tiny red dot
mixing in with all
the bug black holes

Hay Bale Road, June 28, 2006

the things I see
the things I imagine
in there
they don’t have eyes
in there
they don’t have imaginations
I’m not even sure
they have a THEY
shapes of recognizable substance
thoughts with musical curves
and mathematical memories

I think they have love
in there
or some thing that looks
like the love we know
and maybe that’s all
they’ve got
unconditional love
with ghosts riding
around on bicycles
and warm pockets of air
and plenty of places
to take a piss
and maybe a couple
of mosquitoes

Thunder Road, June 28, 2006

the sun is down
just a blanket
of golden light
over everything

the bugs have stopped
black holing
and everybody’s going home
to get a bowl
of real soup

Thunder Road, June 28, 2006

I came home
in the dark
walking my bike
thru a swarm of fireflies

BIKE POEM (RACE)

a cluster of boys
on bikes
circling around me
teasing me
silently putting me on
this happens
occasionally
when I pass thru a village

I weave a path
thru the carrousel of bikes
one kid rolls along side
he has that « wanna race? »
look in his eyes
(he’s 10 years old – maybe)
« How far? » I say
he points to the light post
at the end of the street
I shake my head
point out across a dozen wheat fields
to a water tower
on the horizon
« Beyond that tower, » I say
« about ten miles or so
there’s this –  »
but the kid’s already gone
u-turned back
to join his buddies
and their circle
of village bikes
 » – there’s this little chapel
full of Mother Mary
and grief
but sometimes if you sit there
with your eyes closed
long enough
you’ll feel someone
tugging at the cuff
of your jeans
Mother Mary does not always
have, spiritual intentions
of the purest flavor –  »

July 8, 2006

AROUND THE WORLD IN 2000 HOURS

out on the speed road
from Maastricht to Tongeren
the bike track a red-orange strip
adjacent to the highway
a large screen attached
to a radar gun flashes
a message as I approach it
« Your current speed is 21 kph »
I back off
stop pedaling
coast
the number drops to 20

at 21 kph
it would take me 2000 hours
to bike around the world
but I could take another week
or two and coast
around the world
with a lot less effort
just sit back and float
thru the various scenes
mother nature and her strange
human cargo have shaped
for all of us
over Swiss Alp mountains of molehills
across Parisian rivers
alongside number 38 buses
under the surface of streets
thru tunnels of love
around the corner
and into a mirror maze

I hear a car
coming up from behind
fast
from the corner of my eye
I catch a last glimpse
of the flashing sign
the number shifts to 120 kph
the car blasts past
leaving me with a cloud of dust
and a temporarly-shattered brain

so many drivers
are in a hurry
they want to be the first
to get around the world
or maybe they just want
to get home
and get a bottle of wine
whiskey, rum or whatever
under their belts
before they have to face the fact
that today was another total bust
best not contemplated

July 12, 2006

BIKE POEM (AMERICAN)

walking my bike along
Deep Rut Dirt Road
the other day
talking to the old boy
with the dog
hearing myself say,
« No, I’m from California. »

when did I stop being
an American?

a long time ago

almost 40 years now

Two Trees Road, July 17, 2006

BIKE POEM (MY BODY)

the only attractive parts
of my body that remain
are my well-tanned
muscular forearms

the rest of me
is white and horrible
sagging gut
and legs that look like
a plucked free-range
rooster’s

so I roll up my sleeves
and keep pumping

Two Trees Road, July 17, 2006

HESBAYE COWBOY

I can’t ride a horse
but I can ride a bike

Hesbaye cowboy
what’re y’doin’?

I bless the barley
I pray for the wheat
I tell the corn
to grow up sweet

I squeak my door
with the partridge
I coo with the dove
I hoot with the owl
we hoot about love

RUE DE BLUES

this is where I came
2 years ago
to nest down
in the wheat
eat my lunch
puff my pipe
and watch the sun set

now it’s a field
of green corn
higher than my head
and smelling
like a forest of goats

Rue de Blues, August 1, 2006

MIRACLE BOMB

I’m packing around
a $300 camera
on the back
of $150 bike

also in Derroll’s
old canvas painters’ bag:
this 85 cent notebook
I picked up in Canada
and a plastic flask
of green shampoo
I just bought
in a supermarket
along with 2 bottles
of Spa water
and a light bulb tube
and 4 Ultimate
Energizer batteries
plus (been in here a long time)
a red terry cloth sack
with a zipper
containing
a Swiss pocket knife
a small white plastic
canister (used for film
negatives) half full
of toothpicks (broken
in two) a roll of
medical tape
a wooden clothespin
a small phial
of Systane eyewash
(expired in 2003)
an emergency notebook
golden yellow
as wide as my clothespin
as long as my pocket knife
a short green pen
for emergency writing
in the small notebook
(not quite out of ink)
3 thin jewelers screwdrivers
to fix my glasses (in case)
2 small Allen wrenches
one stubby socket wrench
with 8 different sizes
for various nuts and bolts
plus one third
of a roll of peppermints
also in the canvas bag:
a thin wool
light blue
knit cap
a blue and white
Mexican bandana
4 pens (including
this one) long
with yellow and black stripes
a box of kitchen matches
(half full)
3 sealed sacks
of eyeglass wipers
containing moist papers
a worn plastic CD sack
from Concerto
in Amsterdam
containing a flat roll
of toilet paper
and an age-worn wash cloth
a bright blue plastic covered
steel loop chain
for locking my bike (with key)
a spare blinking
battery powered red light
for the back of my bike
and one rusted
Marine Band harmonica
in the key of D
not to mention
the blue denim shirt
that could be on my back
and not counting
what’s in the 4 pockets
of my jeans
which I don’t feel like
talking about right now

if a miracle bomb
should fall
and explode
and wipe out
everything
and everyone
on the earth but me
these would be my entire
worldly possessions

Ginsberg Woods, July 20, 2006

GINSBERG WOODS

Kerouac Forest
has been around
for a couple of years

and Ginsberg Woods
was dreamed up today

and that’s it
I’m not turning the Hesbaye
into a beat memorial

there will be no
Burroughs Roman Burial Mounds

there will be no
Ferlinghetti Creeks
or Neal Cassady Speedways
or Gary Snyder Zen Mountain Molehills

tho I’m thinking about
starting a late Baroque
section over there between
The Art of the Fugue Footpath
and Water Music Ravine

Leg Knee Road, July 20, 2006

HESBAYE HAIKU
(in which the tradition of Japanese-flavored brevity gets tossed out the window)

twilight
cool and damp
in the wheatfield village
the husky aroma
of freshly-thrashed wheat
hanging in the air
like thick ropes
of sweating animal sperm

and here comes
an ice cream truck
speaker on top
blasting a taped tune
on a warped cassette:
« jingle bells  »

Limont, July 28, 2006

THE HANDS OF THE ANGELS

blinding sunlight
in my eyes
the wind whipping the bill
ready to rip the cap
off my head
cars whizzing by
in both lanes
some of them
only inches away
while the cobbles stones
bounce up under my tires
like fat frogs
in army helmets
and suddenly and momentarily
I am in the hands of the angels

the angels can handle
more than a moment
take a look at those huge crates
being unloaded down
at the docks, from ships
that have sailed
the seventeen seas
all those crates
are packed with photographs
portraits of people
long dead
a century ago
or more
and notice the writing
on the sides of the crates
stencil-mopped black:
« all in the hands of the angels »

the wind is sculpting
black clouds
on the horizon
huge translucent blobs
with god’s own
glorious whiskers
poking thru

deep twilight
I approach the Hundred Acre Wood
men with shotguns
running around
down there
shouting curses
at rabbits

I freewheel down
the road
into the forest
and into the hands of the angels

a rabbit comes
barreling down the road
straight at me
peels off to one side
at the last microsecond
held in the hands
of the angels

Derroll’s Corner (Dommartin) August 1, 2006

PSYCHOTHERAPY ROAD

kids at the edge
of a village
riding bikes
circling around
staring at me
I say, « Bonjour, »
silence
I might as well have said
« fuck you » in Chinese

they’ve all seen me before
they all think I’m crazy
if they could see into my head
they’d stop smirking
and start screaming
and racing their bikes home
like baby deer
in a lightning storm

« It’s OK, boys,
I’ve just had a little bit
too much locoweed today. »

they would drop their bikes
in their barns
and never ride them again

« Don’t worry, boys,
I’ve got everything
under control
see this pheasant feather
sticking out of my bell?
it tells me everything
I need to know
except when it flies away. »

the boys would scream
and run to their rooms
and hide under their beds
and never come out
for the rest of their lives

this is not what I had in mind
when I started out today

Psychotherapy Road
(Horion Hozemont) August 3, 2006

FARM ROAD SOUTH

entrance to Farm Road South
old boy out in front of his house
where 4 iron grills
cover a drainage ditch
that crosses the road

he’s messing around
with the heavy grills
banging them with a hammer and chisel
« they forgot to put them
back in the right place
cars go over all night
whomp
whomp
keep me awake, »

I lent a sympathetic ear
the hammer and chisels
were useless
just a way to knock out
his frustration
there was nothing I could do
to help

as I turned to ride away
he said, « Mer-theeee!, »
and I saw from the corner of my eye
his upper dentures
squirt out of his mouth
bounce off the grill
slither between the bars
and drop down into the drainage ditch
like a pink, slimy slug

I pretended not to see
and I kept on pedaling
he wasn’t going to get
any help from me there either
not even a sympathetic ear
for his toothless mouth

Farm Road South, August 7, 2006

WEIRD WEATHER 1 ( BIKE POEM)

refrigerated ride
as my t-shirt grows
damp with sweat
and the north wind
sticks his snout
in my belly
and gives me
a frozen blow job

August 9, 2006 (Hesbaye)

WEIRD WEATHER 2 (Bike Poem)

it’s raining
polar ice caps

Aeolian Road, August 11, 2006

WEIRD WEATHER 3 (Bike Poem)

crossing under the powerlines
electrified drops of rain
bounce off
my shoulders
and sizzle
in my ears

Old Farm Road, August 11, 2006

WEIRD WEATHER 4

one lone harvester
out in the field
kicking up a cloud of dust
trying to reap
the rain-soaked
weather-bent wheat
3 weeks too late

they’ll be eating
pumpkin pie
before they’ll bake
their first loaf
of bread

GA Road, August 19, 200

MORE WEIRD WEATHER (NICOTINE JUNKIES)

people standing outside
their house
smoking
in the rain

they’ve had 25
straight days
and nights of deluge
and they can’t wait a minute more
for the next cigarette
after hearing
the weather report
on the radio
that said we can expect
a steady downpour
for the next 2,999 years

that’s much too long
between hits
for these nicotine junkies

August 25, 2006

DRY LEAF

a dry leaf
chases me down the road
tumbles alongside
for a few seconds
(« Hello, dry leaf »)
then tumbles ahead
and out of sight

the west wind
at our backs
pushing both of us
into the last days of summer

Sept. 15, 2006

CYCLISTS

we’re all out here
alone
inside our bike bubbles
of personal silence
pedaling away
heading out
coming home
just running around

some drunk
some pumped on cocaine
some stoned
some just biking off the blues

(plus various combination
of the above)

some old
some young
some so young
they think they’re immortal

mostly male
a few female
and most of them
try to look like men
they pass me by
SNAP
in their bi-sexual spandex
and their stargate skid-lids

some are crazy
some are sane
and some can’t wait
to take this road
all the way
to the end
where it turns
into pain

somewhere in the western world, Sept. 21, 2006

DON’T GO DOWN THAT ROAD

don’t go down that road
it leads to a pack
of snarling beasts
in a circle
around the fat bald man
who passes out
the Prizes of Peace

some get it
some don’t

« Thou shalt have peace
thou shalt not »

don’t go thru that door
it leads to where they’re
whipping potato salad babies
into shape
running them thru the ropes
teaching them whore love
and expensive passion
while in the distance
and English explorer
stands on a snowy
mountain top
with an erect penis
like a 9-inch frankfuter
that projects like a telescope
thru which he (one-eyed)
peers at the babes
and wonders how soon
they’ll grow up to be
teeny bopping Grateful Dead groupies

don’t go thru that window
there’s traps on the other side
baited with dice
and mechanical mice
baited with breath
and tongues of kisses
premonitions of death
and other near-misses

don’t go down that path
it’s blunt and blind
it’s full of dead-end sacks
it’s a sucker of wrath
a ticker of time
a tricker of tracks

don’t go thru that door
it leads into miserable meatpie-hood
to a wolf-infested Grimm Brothers’ woods
where under a dome
the mushroom mainliners
gnaw on the bones
the coal-black bones
of the one-armed forty-niners

don’t go thru the Ragmop
Automated Milking Machine

don’t go thru the wrist-slap
family dinner scene

don’t go thru the mind-bending
empty mailbox view

don’t go mainline junkie
with only a chunk
of tobacco to chew

don’t go thru the motions
of a sad-face smile
and don’t even think of trying
the 10-prong walker for juveniles

don’t go near the water
when the mermaids swim to shore
and sing out your name
and show you how to play
their games of peace
and war

don’t go down that road
it leads to a snarling dog
on the end of a leash
attached to man
who says, « all women are freaks »

it leads to Moses and Abraham
and many biblical verses
it leads to the preacher who speaks
in obvious religious curses

it leads to where the man
steps out of a van
points a gun
and shoots you completely dead
and you only have time to say, « Shit! »
and touch a strange part of your head

you only have time to forget
to breath as you take
another gulp of air
you only have time
to think of Jeannie
the babe with the light brown hair

so don’t go down that road
unless you’re feeling mean
and couldn’t care less
about the mess
when the lady with roses
starts to scream

they’re taking away
more than her flowers
they’re taking away her smile
and her passions minute by minute
her love dreams hour by hour

they’re giving her a scrape job
without ether or novocaine
it’s just a slice in the pie of life
down in the factories of pain

where the Land of Magic is erased
and all you have left in the end
is a beat-up, empty face
and a memory of an empty-handed friend

somewhere in the western world,
Sept.21, 2006

  

IV. DORIS, PAMELA,
HELMINA, JAMES
AND OTHER MEMORIES
I CANNOT LEAVE BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD

PEACEFUL PASSING

they say (of a man
who died in his sleep)
he had a peaceful passing

« the best way to go »

how do they know?

maybe he was trapped
in a nightmare
of a multitude of dimensions
too horrible to imagine

or maybe he was simply
inside a dream,
dreaming he was awake,
in which he fell to sleep
and dreamed he was climbing
a vertical stone wall
naked, with greased fingertips
with ten thousand rats
scampering up the wall
behind him
their teeth snapping
at his balls
getting ready to rip
them off and turn them
into strings of raw meat
at which point
he awoke
back into the first dream
and thought he was awake
and looked into a mirror
and saw that the hungry rats
had done a complete job
on his entire body

but all that was tolerable

he didn’t freak out
and give up the ghost
until the man in the mirror
began doing somersaults
spinning faster and faster
until he turned into a glazed do-nut
which was about the time
the man outside the mirror
felt two gigantic fat fingers
pluck him up
and dunk him in a cup
of boiling hot coffee

[ March 26, 2006 ]

ALBATROSS
(WHY THE ANCIENT MARINER SHOT THE ALBATROSS)

and why did I shoot the pecker of wood?
I already knew I was going to hell
for kicking the cows
in the bags
after milking
when they disobeyed my whims
and were slow leaving the barn

and now I stood with the dead
but warm body of a woodpecker
in one hand
and a BB gun in the other
it was a freak shot
right thru the head
from the front porch
to the telephone pole
a drop of blood or two
and a huge hole in my soul
and I promised the bird
I would never do it again

tho years later
in the U.S. Forest Service
at dusk we stood around
the back of a pick up
shooting at bats
(impossible to hit
by the way they flit)
and I grabbed a .22
pointed it at the sky
pulled the trigger
and a dead bat fell at my feet
shot right thru the head
the fire crew was awed
called me a crack marksman
the best shot in the entire
Pacific Northwest
and all I could think of
is how I kept killing animals
even when I didn’t want to
even when it was impossible

I haven’t touched a gun
since that day
I’m too good
I pull a trigger
and dead animals fall out of the sky

you do that more than twice
in your life and your life
will get messed up beyond recognition

[ March 26, 2006 ]

TIME

a few minutes ago
it was
3 seconds
past 1:02 am
of May 4, 2006

and we had these numbers
lined up :
01.02.03.04.05.06

we’ll have to wait a hundred years
for this one to come around again

THE WEST WIND BREEDS FANTASIES OF A MOST BIZARRE CHARM

in loving memory of Pamela Coffee, wherever you may be (dead or alive) these 50 (give or take) years later

1.
the wind is blowing so hard from the west
it’s boosting boats
out of the water
and onto the coast of France
onto the mainland
and in some cases
blowing them clear across France
and into Belgium

one just landed
next to me in a wheatfield
it’s the U.S.S. Nautilus
the first atomic sub
I didn’t know it had been sunk
dredged from its depths
and rocketed thru the air
to this wheatfield

the hatch opens
a guy steps out
it’s Sgt. Coffee
recruiting officer
for the U.S. Navy
I dated his daughter in high school
I almost fucked her
he was afraid of that
me too

he salutes
steps down the ladder
shakes my hand and says,
« Want to join the Navy? »

2.
the west wind is blowing so hard
the vanes on the windmills
are spinning around
like air-conditioning fans
too fast to see

one breaks loose
and comes tri-podding my way
like a rogue UFO
jamming the tips
of its vanes
in the mud
as it rolls

it stops beside me
a hatch opens
a small man
(the illegitimate child of Pam and I
45 years ago)
steps out
it’s plain to see
he’s an idiot
he says, « I’m one of the guys
who lives inside the vanes
and on calm days
I have to run up and down
inside the vane
to keep the aeolian turning

Carrot Stop, May 24, 2006

3.
the west wind is blowing so hard today
I have to walk my bike
DOWNHILL into a header

4.
the west wind is blowing so hard
that it blows my bike
off the road
and we go skimming sideways
across green wheatfields
where cows are turning cartwheels
and a stone church steeple
bends over like rubber
and kisses its cross tip
to the top of a gravestone

5.
the wind whips so violently
thru the telephone wires
that it stirs up
ancient conversations

« Hi there, this is Sgt. Coffee
former crewmate of the U.S.S, Nautilus
now recruiting agent for the U.S.N.
does anybody in Belgium
want to join the U.S. Navy? »

Les Waleffes, May 24, 2006

6.
Sgt. Coffee must be long
in his grave by now
maybe Pamela too
they’re dropping like flies
all around me
it’s getting harder to find
a beautiful
sexy
intelligent
chick
over 65
these days

7.
the wind peels away
the layers of the landscape
and first you get leather
tanned, age-stretched hides
from all the humans
who fell and died
on this field
(wars, feuds, accidents)
in the past million years

then the hides blow away
and you get the bones
with a lot of dead teeth
scattered around
millions of dead teeth

and the wind blows the bones
and teeth away
and all you have left
are the screams
and the howls
and the wailings
and the weepings
that have been blocked up here
forever

some days I wish the wind
wouldn’t blow so hard

Farm Road East, May 24, 2006

HELMINA

skinny old baldy
slides out of a rented van
shouts back inside
« God damn it, Helmina!
If they don’t have that kind of water
I’ll get you another! »

he slams the door
limps away
shouting
« Fuck you, Helmina! »

on the edge of Reims, France,
June 18, 2006

RESPONSIBILTÉ

for Jean-Baptiste

the guy who hammered in the nails
what a responsibility

the girl who looked
Hitler in the eye
and told him to go
fuck himself

the doctor who climbed
the Eiffel Tower
and held up a tiny pill
between his fingers
and declared,
« I have just discovered
the secret of birth control. »

quelle responsabilité

LEAVES DANCE IN THE SPACES BETWEEN US
for James Emanuel

newly-mets
lovers
close companions
walk thru the park
joined
side by side
holding hands
arms around shoulders
around waists

other partners
walk apart
they seem to be married
to each other’s ghost
by accident
it’s been far too long
since they’ve touched

kids run up
and down
the alleyways
between them

sometimes no kids
just the space
with the wind
blowing back
and forth
scattering leaves

maybe they’ve fallen
for the illusion of
WE’RE GOING TO LIVE
FOREVER

June 26, 2006, waking from a dream of James Emanuel whom I met a couple of days ago in Namur and whose poems I was reading this morning before going to sleep. This poem is not about James tho I see the scene in Paris (Jardin des Tuileries) and I hear the sounds of French in the air along with the rustling of the leaves

DORIS »S THOUGHTS OF ME
ON THE EVENING OF JULY 6, 2006
AFTER RETURNING HOME FROM A CHINESE DINNER

did you notice?
the only time he stopped
moving around
is when we listened
to the blues

he sure is a good looking fellow
I’d like to hop into bed
with him – hop
like a rabbit

oh no – he can’t sing
he has a terrible voice
and that damned harmonica
he keeps playing
that damned harmonica
that he doesn’t know
to play

oh no – he’s going
to sing another song
I asked for only one

my 14-year old boy
could do a better impression
of Chuck Berry
than that

he sure is vain
he doesn’t look in the mirror
and he brags about it

but he’s good to Marie Claire
you can see that he really
really loves her

he said I looked beautiful
when I got dressed up
for the Chinese dinner
or at least
that’s what I think he said
I’m amazed that he even noticed

he was attracted to my red sequin shoes
he said it several times
« red spangled shoes »

I guess that’s because
he’s always looking down

and always moving around
looking for something
he lost a long time ago
and he can’t remember
what it was

maybe he’s a nomad
and doesn’t know it

he took us on a bike ride
and we went down a road
he called « Lost Haiku Road »
is that what he lost?
a haiku?
what’s a haiku?
sounds like a Japanese disease

all those books
on the shelves
all around him
he must think I’m stupid

but I’m not
and he knows it

if he keeps looking
at me like that
thinking I’m stupid
or something
then I’ll hit him
over the head
with my Castle Story
« I lived with
Chris de Burgh’s Father
and Mother in a castle
in Ireland
for a long time
and Chris de Burghe
is REALLY famous. »

I actually love
cute disabled
white American men
who want to win an Oscar

seriously tho –
if I could figure out
his weird sense of humor
I’d have to say
that he is the most intelligent
most amazing man
I’ve ever met

actually

except Prince Edouard

RED JAG SLAPSTICK
for Prince Edouarde and Doris

Miles Davis
steps out of his private jet
and into a red jag
and drives away

years later
I arrive by jet
for the Montreux festival
I step out of the plane
get behind the wheel of the Jag
(roll down the roof
to make room for my guitar)
I fire up the Jag
drop it into low
pop the clutch
hit the gas
and drive straight
into a luggage truck

July 7, 2006

DRIVING LESSON NUMBER ONE

I used to crank up
the old tractor
and drive it up
the country road
a mile or two
to see my friend Jim
on a hot afternoon

too much trouble
to climb the hill
and fire up the Chevy pick up
(keys always in the ignition)
and there was no question
about taking my uncle’s
brand new 1957 Ford Fairlane
two-tone, white wall jerk mobile
(the keys always in my uncle’s pocket
and don’t even think about
sitting behind the wheel)

(and the ways in which my uncle
discouraged me from fooling around
with his privacies
is a story for another day)

I was 15
the following year
I was driving the pick-up
into town, to school

a week after graduation
I totaled my 1950 Ford
at 120 miles per hour
unbanked left turn
flipped it twice
rolled it about seven
times, dug a ditch
in the freshly-plowed
prune orchard
and came to rest
up against a tree
upsidedown

and some people think
I can’t drive

DRIVING LESSON NUMBER TWO

1960 San Francisco
a speeding English sports car
took me out
one night on Lake Street
I was sliding into the street
at 15 mph
he was going 115
over the hump
headlights and all
and smacked into the driver’s post
just behind my head

the cops came
I was driving with an expired license
I didn’t bother
getting it renewed

I haven’t sat behind the wheel
of a moving car
since

MISERABLE CRITTERS

Jimbo
my black and white
wild cat
trotting up the wood chip
path, the concrete
steps ahead of me
in the dark
in his furry golf pants
and lemur tail
I say, « You poor miserable
critter walking down
among the snails and slugs, »

and then I look up
and see god peeking out
from behind a half moon
and he smiles
and whispers,
« Poor miserable critter
yourself. »

Farm Road West, Sept. 27, 2006

IT

this is it

it’s not around
the next turn
or over
the next hill

it’s right here
right now
this is it

I don’t know why
but the thought
makes me so fucking depressed

Haspengouw 157, July 10, 2006

NOTHING IS CLOSE TO NOTHING

what? you’re asking me
to pass that off as a tooth of wisdom?

it does create a certain perplexity

it creates a huge vacuum

but at least it’s uncontestable

incontestable

that too

all nonsense is incontestable

but you have to admit
that it has a definite flavor
of infinite knowledge

« nothing is close to nothing? »
it’s garbage
and don’t give me that ragmop
about « nothing »
being separated
from « nothing »
by only 3 words
I’m way beyond that

I count 8 letters

3 words, 8 letters
who cares?
they’re separated
by a bag of eels
and high-flying jumbo jets
spilling thousands
of parachuters
from their doors

it’s a charming conunudrum tho

look, I got a 4.0 BA
in the History of Philosophy
a masters in aesthetics
with a minor in logic
and a black belt in metaphysics
and your cute conundrum
doesn’t speak
any language I know
I also know that your precious
gold tooth
ain’t gonna raise no eyebrows
around the faculty coffee table
and it sure as shit
ain’t gonna raise
any helium balloons
at the knight’s last round table
in the pentagon

but it has a particular VIBRATION
if there were any hippies here
from the 60s tonight
they’d’ve picked up on the buzz
and they’d be saying things
like « Far out! » and « Groovy! »

(maybe he’s right
I know he is
he’s COMPLETLY correct)
TRUTH IS NEVER CLOSE TO THE TRUTH

« NOTHING! »

TIME

« NEVER! »

FAR OUT

«  »FAR OUT YOURSELF! »

in the same way
SINCE is never close
to ALMOST

but not quite

« BUT ALMOST!' »

July 14, 2006

TRIVIAL THINGS

I used to be impressed
by what I now consider
trivial things
bow ties and buttons
baseball caps and cards
buicks and brass horns

crewcuts and white suede shoes
buttondown shirts and shocking news
the commies are coming
we’re all gonna die
they’re gonna drop the bomb
we’re all gonna fry

now I’m impressed
by what I then called
trivial things

the sun
the moon
the stars
the sky

the sun
the moon
the stars
the sky

I say them twice
so they won’t go unnoticed
I say them again

the SUN
at sunset see the ring of fire
the exploding SUN
it doesn’t sleep
even on cold days

the pale half MOON
in the afternoon sky

the STARS bending their light
around thousands
of upraised thumbs

the SKY stretching out
cracking open
then healed by a flash
of lightning
and a clap of thunder

SUSAN SONTAG

Susan Sontag says
when you see a beautiful
landscape you see it
as a photograph

I disagree

you can’t see the wind
and I’m sure not
looking around any frames
right now

Rue de Blues, Aug. 1, 2006

« JACK KEROUAC  »

Jack Kerouac never
invented a better
fictional name for himself
than « Jack Kerouac »
tho he tried

Sal Paradise? Who’s that?
Some beachcomber
in a seersucker Hawaiian shirt
which doesn’t quite cover
the bulge in his gut
as he nails the sign
VACANCY
back to the post
with the arrow
pointing to
the Shangri-La Motel

Leo Percepied? Why didn’t
he just come out and say
EARWIG. Call him EARWIG
and get it over with.
Pierced feet belong to the Indians
and Leo belongs to Peggy
and if you ever meet Peggy
you’ll know why she calls him
EARWIG

Ray Smith? Now there’s a clever
moniker. Shove him in
with the groceries
and send him home
to watch TV.

And of course
Jack wanted to boil
all these names down
into one and call the pot
JACK DULOUZ

could you say that again?

Deloose?
De Louse?
Dee-louse?
Dee-lose?
toss it a scrambled egg
and maybe the dog’ll eat it
Doolooz stew

but some of the others
didn’t get off easy either

Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassidy, On the Road)
What was that all about?
Rebel without a Cause
meets Sherlock Holmes’
arch enemy?

and I’m sure Allan Ginsberg
has had a few words to say
about Irwin Gardens
and the imaginary monopoly game
playing in Jack’s head
when he tossed that one out

« Jack Kerouac »

the best name of them all

can’t beat « Jack Kerouac »

so why did he keep changing it
from book to book?

cause he was writing fiction

and he didn’t like the idea
of a becoming a fictional character

I don’t mind

that’s where I’m one up
on Jack Kerouac
I’ve known for years
that I’m a fictional character

and I like it

Old Farm Road in the rain, May 20, 2006

LIEGE CITY TALK

« Coo’tree swee. »
(an old boy at a bus stop
each of his words
smelling of stale
cigar fumes)

« The squid and the whale. »
(woman sitting across
the table from ne
at the coffee bar
wearing dragonfly
earrings)

« Missus see alla teebo. »
(overheard while waiting
in the check out line at FNAC)

« That’s really a quelque chose. »
(that was me, mumbling
at a shop window
my voice bouncing
back from the glass
as I stared at a pair
of mannequins wearing
silver thermal underwear
and don’t ask me who I was talking to)

« BAA TA TA . . . BA-BAAA-TA TAA. »
(guy on a cellphone
on the street
8 floors below)

« we weh we nuh. »
(also from the balcony
8 floors above
heard thru the motor
rumble of traffic
a couple of pedestrians
waiting for the light
to change)

« chut . . . . .  »
(two sidewalk strollers
heard momentarily
from the open window
of a passing car)

August 2, 2006

RODEO
for James Emanuel

I was never a rodeo rider
like you
the closest I ever came
was when we’d drive down
to the city
to see the Grand National
at the Cow Palace

they had everything
bull riding
bull dogging
calf roping
bronco busting

back on the ranch
after a visit to the city
one year
I decided I’d become
a bull dogger

I practiced
on a 6-month old steer

I’d run him around pen
get him excited
then jump on his neck
and drag him to the ground

this was about the time
he was getting stronger
everyday

one day I closed the gate
but forgot to slide
the heavy bar
back into place

I jumped on Curly
grabbed him around the neck
and he took off

he dragged me across the pen
butted thru the gate
then dragged me down the hill
thru the pasture
and thru a barbed wire fence

slashed my left hand
wide open
in the web
between the thumb
and the first finger

wrapped my hand in a rag
didn’t say boo to nobody
no stitches

I still have the scar
a small half moon
that’s almost faded
into my sun-baked hand

I didn’t think of it then
as an initiation
but I do now

passage into manhood

I didn’t have a shaman
or a medicine man
or a witch doctor
but Curly the steer
did a pretty good job

I know, James, you know
that these days
you take your initiations
where you can find them

churchyard cemetery of Jenneffe,
August 5, 2006

POSTSCRIPT to RODEO

went into a cemetery
to eat lunch
and maybe write a poem

walked in
said to all the graves,
« Hello there, Dead. »

sat down
ate my lunch
wrote a poem
and the dead
kept on being dead

Aug. 6, 2006

OUTLAWED DREAMS

nobody should have
the kind of dreams
I’ve been having
innocent people
down on the ground
whimpering
in heartbreak pain
as their killer
keeps machine-gunning them
in the head
these kinds of dreams
should be outlawed

August 16, 2006

SONOMA COUNTY COWBOY YOUTH

I milked the cows
separated the cream
slopped the hogs
dreamed a dream
of a dream
of a dream

PRAYER (LAST SUNSET OF SUMMER)

come, sun
into my head
fill it with shine
fill it with hot fingers
from the last day
of summer
stuff it full
of atomic flames
that will keep
my skull bones
warm all winter

September 21, 2006

WHAT THE FUCK?

do I really know
what the fuck is
going on?

by doubting, I do

Les Waleffes (altitude : 157.8m)
Sept. 30, 2006

FROG LIGHT

lean my bike
up against a bridge rail
and the white blinking light
on the handlebar
pops off
like a startled frog
and plops into the canal
below

it lies on its back
floating on the water
blinking

and it blinks

I come back
a half hour later
it’s still there
under the bridge

blinking

Amsterdam, Nov. 14, 2006

INCIDENT AT OWL CREEK BICYCLE RACK

1. THE EVENT

I pull into the supermarket parking lot
roll the front tire of my bike
into the rack, two girls sitting
on the ledge next to me, watching
sexy clothes, make up
12-13 years old
« Hey, Monsieur! »

at first I don’t even realize
they’re talking to me
« Hey monsieur? »

« Oui » (I’m still reluctant to speak)
« Comment ca va? »

« Bien. »
« Hey monsieur? »

« Oui. »
« C’est le bon temps aujourd’hui. »

« C’est froid la bas, » I say
pulling my bike out of the rack
I’m not lingering in this pocket
of danger another minute

”Hey, Monsieur? »

« Oui. »
Tu fumes? » (meaning: do I smoke
grass or hash) (or maybe asking me
if I’m stoned)

« Non. » (tho it doesn’t sound
too convincing to my stoned ears)

I jump on my bike
can’t get out of the parking lot
fast enough

they sussed me out
the two girls
one thin and dark,
other blonde and chubby
they spotted me
a stone head freak

I’m not as invisible as I thought

then I remember
their last words
the blond girl
pointing a finger
at her nostril
saying. « Parce que . . .  »

that was it
they sniffed me out
they could smell the cannabis smoke
on my clothes

I’m not going back
to the supermarket
near the high school
until sometime next century

2. ALTERNATE SCENE (Prelude to Owl Creek Bridge)

« Hey, Monsieur? »
« Oui? »
« Tu fumes? »
« Meet me down on the Dreve
in a half an hour. »

and a half hour later
I’m dealing dope
to two Belgian jailbait
who want to see if it’s true
all the things they say
about pedolphiles
ten grams of purple locoweed
at ten bucks a gram

and three hours later
the girls have dropped by the house
and brought along 5 more girlfriends
and they’re all lying around
in string bikinis
slouched out on the couch
in our straw chairs
one’s got her feet on the table
painting her toenails
and Bear’s slaving in the kitchen
to keep them all fed
and we’re all so stoned
we can’t remember
our own names
and I’m sitting hunched up
in a corner thinking
I can see the end
of this huge mistake:
me swinging free
on the end of a rope
off Owl Creek Bridge

muttering : « Jesus Christ!
how did I get into this mess? »

and the thin dark girl says,
« Don’t worry about us
we’re not underage
we’re almost FOURTEEN! »

November 29, 2006

LOCOWEED

if I smoke a puff
of locoweed
and stumble
don’t worry
the path
is just a little wider
than usual

today

LOCOWEED CODA

riding along
for a couple of hours
pause astride the bike
in a sheltered spot
fire up the pipe
I’ve already loaded
at home
take a couple of puffs
pedal on
about 10 minutes
later I start thinking
I would mind getting high
right about now
might be a good idea
to stop right here
and take a couple
of tokes on the pipe
and get things started

then two things happen
at the same time

my bike starts to float
and my mind starts humming
(that’s one thing)

and I remember
(poke me with a pig snout)
that I’ve already toked
and if I get any higher
I’ll have to call in
a shaman to get me down
out of this tree
which I seem to have climbed
with my eyes closed
it could be a cherry tree
but it doesn’t have any cherries
and each branch
is a farm road
that shoots off
in different direction
each one curving off
and dipping and rising
into delightful distances

so I head for the sun
which is just above
the bill of my cap
and the next time I blink
the sun’s behind me
and I’m coasting
into my shadow
and there’s a hare
a huge brown
Belgian hare
almost as big
as a kangaroo
bounding away
thru the dirt
of a beet root field
kicking up clouds
of dust that get
smaller and smaller
until they become
puffs of dust
and I look and look
until I can’t stand
to look anymore
because the puffs
are becoming tiny
vaporous people
who seem to be
crying out
as they disintegrate
in the wind :
« Coo – coo – roo
raw – roo – too
PLOW! »
this is not a concert
for the ears of an innocent
child such as I
but by then
I’m headed back into the sun
which is playing
hide and seek
with the bill of my cap
and by now I’m on my 6th
or 7th branch road
and the sun is starting
to revolve around the earth
you can see it
down in the deep forest
below the road
where doors are opening
on squeaking hinges
this is where the peasants
live tho some of them
call themselves pheasants
but no matter
their doors are opening
and they’re speaking
in squeaking voices
as they head off
to the underground pub
at the end of the forest

and the next time I turn around
the sun’s slamming
right into my eyes
and I can’t see
a damned thing
and that’s just to show you
how things can go
out on the Locoweed Highway
on any particular day
especially
if you’ve been
reading between the lines

TREATISE ON MORALS

A brief apologia about my occasional use of the words locoweed, grass, pot, etcetera (there is no individuality apart from the tribe this is what worries me the most as the world tends towards tribal living the individual the eccentric the artist belong to the international cosmopolitan spread of city life that is disappearing (no place for the rebel) (suggestion one if your high seems to be taking the elevator to the basement groveling around your solar plexus and fucking up your mechanical operations hit it with a pint of Guinness the stout will lift it (the high) back to the brain where it belongs) which I’ve mentioned from time to time in the pages of these poems and in previous poems and stories (or if you feel like you’re walking on air) which in all cases is the homegrown female flowers of the plant known as cannabis sativa, the flowers themselves sometimes referred to a sensimilla (and sometime can create an illusion of over-confidence) at the age of 60, having had tobacco abandon me 3 years previously and thinking my system could handle a few tokes of the weed for a change (combined with Belgian laws relaxing their grip on certain aspects of this victimless crime) I decided to grown my own and give the devil a chance. Why not? I’d kept him bottled up for 40 years (the previous stringent Belgian laws were just not worth the risk (I wouldn’t be too concerned about the light foot feeling but I would be concerned about the over-confidence you can get 5 bottles of Guinness stout shoved up your ass from the back rack of your bike (broken glass and all) by an errant driver (most drivers are errant 20 percent of them are pure asswipes who would run you down if they could get away with it) (suggestion two smoke only on warm days locoweed likes the sun in your eyes it wants you to have a shadow avoid the hard north winds if you can’t avoid a chilly day) and which I have enjoyed in small amounts while bicycling around and writing poems I also enjoy puffing on the pipe at home while working on my stories (suggestion three if you think you’re lost don’t worry you’re not lost you can’t be the road you’re pedaling goes somewhere trust the instinct that put you on this road in the first place) (suggestion four take off a few days now and then to recover a constant dose of locoweed day in day out month after month will turn you into a monster (« if you smoke a joint every day, you will gradually become a different person. » e-mail: wernard @xs4all.nl) proper studies of the long term effects of THC (tetrahydrocannibinol) have not been carried out on the age group 65 to Death tho I’m sure they’d be as worthless as any other study about anything else I mean who wants to know how many brazilions of Brazilians some old lady saw on her windowshade after inhaling five hundred kilos of what the Mexicans call potaguaya and the Jamaicans call ganja and the swinging hipsters of the forties call Mary Jane (second suggestion continued confidence that’s the word be confident act confident otherwise those drivers will roll all over you if you start to wimp out they’ll get you for sure bang your fist on their fenders as they drive by do not hesitate to use or be sparing in the usage of the upraised middle finger shout « fuck you! » as often as possible and carry a sharp blade knife with a wood handle at all times) so where’s the morality? where’s the good and the bad? I’ll tell you they don’t exist there is no good there is no bad just a huge pile in between a pile of scrap metal and orchids velvet curtains and pesticides raw meat and romantic novels oil slicks and Gordon Lightfoot lyrics rainbows and toilet seats and other items of doubtful value too numerous to mention which nobody knows what to do with tho everybody spends most of their time climbing around in digging holes in naming and blaming and getting pissed off at for example according to the US government MURDER is a GOOD thing if you’re a soldier busy invading a foreign country whereas and more to the point the possession and smoking of pot is a BAD thing and hence illegal and punishable by arbitrary laws that favor the righteous the rich and other assorted boneheads and spongebrains too numerous to mention tho it is a humble weed that grows naturally by the side of the road and which none of the above too numerous to mention (including great green gobs of greasy grimy greedy guts) can make money from not a red cent and certainly not the millions of billions they cannot stop dreaming about but wouldn’t know what to do with if it jumped out of a doorway like a Doberman and bit them in the pockets for example in the bible it is writ THOU SHALT NOT TELL A LIE mendacity is a BAD thing according to the GOOD book yet if everyone were to start telling the absolute truth all the time every minute of every day there would be broken friendships violent divorces fist fights on street corners stabbings in elevators shoot outs in supermarket check out lines planes would fall out of the sky and the total destruction of the planet would follow for example Jerry Garcia holding up a joint at Woodstock and declaring « Marijuana – good for you, » or something simple like that which is to say that I’m neither advocating nor condemning the puff of smoke that drives some men mad and makes other just mellow it’s up to you not me and if you think there are such things as good and bad then that’s your illusion (suggestion five forget the continuation of suggestion two lie low be inconspicuous banging the fenders of cars and flipping drivers the bird is senseless and can only lead to grief and above all forget the blade and do your best to live in a peaceful world despite it being very unpeaceful despite the mad machines and their drivers who seem determined to destroy it if any of them should stop their cars and ask directions shrug your shoulders and say, « I’m lost, » tho it’s a bald face lie (see suggestion three) and send them on their way wondering why they thought they could get reliable information from a pothead with a slapstuck shadow let the current of the world flow thru you like a river and if you think for one minute that you’re in control – well that’s another illusion.

THE SYLVIA PLATH THESAURUS WITH XMAS LIGHTS
you ransacked thesaurus in your poem about it
(« The Earthenware Head »
Ted Hughes : Birthday Letters )

you see these Walloons
slinging haphazardly
strings of xmas lights
around the outside
of their houses
framing windows
and doors

mostly yellow-white
sometimes all green

not a straight line in sight
bumps and sags
dips (and if Sylvia Plath can do it and get away with it why not I?) and CLUMPS

and then you start to wonder
maybe they’re being precise
maybe this really is the way
they see their windows
and doors

Walloon Republic,
December 19, 2006

SYLVIA PLATH RELAPSE

head for the Thesaurus
for a COLLIDED alternative
come on, Sylvia
this can’t be the reason

crash 283.12

the word I want is CANCEL
equalize 30.6
neutralize 178.7
obliterate 693.16

the word I think I want is neutralize
neutralize. nullify, annul, cancel
out, negate, negative, negativate, invali-
date, vitiate, void, frustrate, stultify,
thwart, come or bring to nothing, undo,
offset, counterbalance 33.5 buffer

I don’t want any of these words
negativate?
How about you, Silvia
did you ever run into
negativate?
Did you ever use it?

come on, Sylvia
THAT can’t be the reason

SPROCKET & DUMB DRIVER ESSAY

there’s nothing like
the dry-click sound
of a well-oiled chain
biting into the teeth
of a top-class sprocket

but that’s not what I really want to talk about. I want to talk about Dumb Drivers. I know, I said I wouldn’t mention them again, but these are so dumb they’ll have to erect monuments to their studipity, They run me off a bikes-only road and they wave as they go by, as if I’ve done then a big favor. I want to yell at them, « You’re driving on a bike path. » I want to ask them how they’d feel if they were driving down a cars-only road and 16-wheeler semi came barreling over the hill straight at them at a hundred miles an hour – and ran them off the road. Would they wave back? I can’t wait until the world runs out of oil.

Rage Road (Farm Road East),
October 10, 2006

PANDEISTIC

(an essay on the various powers that guard the Gates of the Metaphysical)

There’s a mystery in the previous poem – god peeking out from behind the moon, whispering etc. It was not THE god, simply because there is no THE god. It probably was the God of the Moon, and god knows I’ve seen him hundreds of times, tho I always get him confused with his wife, the Moon Goddess – which doesn’t seem to make much difference to them and their peaceful marriage. It could have been the Sun God, and tho I’ve seen and talked to him thousands of times I can never look him in the eye without being blinded, so I don’t know what he looks like in his street clothes, especially when he’s wearing shades.
The point is: that god could have been any one of the numerous Gods and Goddesses that guide our lives and hope that we can hear their advice. The Gods and Goddesses of Grass, and Wheat, and Apples, and Corn. Don’t confuse them with Angels. They only thing the Gods and Goddesses guard are the Gates of the Metaphysical. (The Angels have other things to do.) You’re always welcome inside, but they’re there to make sure you’re not carrying a gun or a bomb, or any other destructive device – like Descartes Dictum or Occam’s Razor.
Animistic Fallacies are allowed, even encouraged, and if you take along your cat you’ve got a lifetime membership without debate.
As for the Angels, they sometimes get a little out of line and get playful, and tempt you into dangerous waters. « Just having fun, » they’ll say. « See how far you can swim. »
You must know they won’t let you drown. How can they? They too have a social life and must have a news update every night around the dinner table – around the old round Metaphysical Table.
I’m only wondering where all those Gods and Goddesses were a while ago when I got into that discussion with one of the Angels about Miserable Critters.
No, don’t tell me. It was Goddess of Love, masquerading as an Angel- a trick she likes to play on all gullible souls

Carrot Stop, September 28, 2006

PANDEISTIC TWO

(in praise of all the God and Goddesses who guard the Gate of the Metaphysical and guide us poor, miserable critters around one bend in the road after another)

I guess it all started in biblical times
the old testament, some goon
mistaking himself for ALL of you.

He must have been blind.
He had to be blind.
Even I, a much less powerful
and influential fool than Moses
can tell the difference
between a Sex Goddess
and a Thunder God.
All you have to do is look.

The Thunder God is the guy
who runs around ripping up the sky
with his fingernails.
The Sex Goddess – well, like I said
all you gotta do is look.

Dream me a spinning wheel

POEMS 2007 |  TUCKER ZIMMERMAN

RULE OF THUMB

driving into dark
rule of thumb:
click on the blinkers
back and front
red and white
when the street lights come on

until today

today the thumb
was not reliable

today it got dark early
and the drivers had trouble
seeing me

so I hopped off the bike
and punched on my back blinker

and at that same instant
all the street lights came on

so that’s how it works

I’ve been in control
of the universe
for years and I didn’t know it

that explains
EVERYTHING

January 8, 2007

STAIRCASE

I made the spiral of stone stairs
and the curved roof tunnel
above them
ten feet wide

what use are my words
as you descend
deeper in the earth
if you cling to the inside wall
and look straight down
at your feet
for the next step?

I could have made the steps
only two feet wide
I could have made
the curved ceiling
so low you would have
to duck your head

Jan. 27, 2007

ONE BOOK

loss of memory?

less expensive
just need one good book
read it over
and over
keep being surprised

Jan. 28, 2007

JUNKIE

I shake the monkey
off my back
kick him into a corner
turn my head
he jumps up
sinks his teeth
into the back of my neck
gives me fuzz gloves

gives me spin brain
gives me empty tunnel
eyesocket train rides
hair mouth
ice foot

I kick him back
behind the door
I’ve got him busted
down in the dust
and all he can give me now
is a sick grin
and a monkey middle finger

Feb. 5, 2007

MY COLLEGE EDUCATION

they say some students’ characters
are marked for life
by the universities they attend

Harvard
Yale
Stanford

and so forth

the way they slide into oxymoron
when the conversation becomes
too tense with the present
the way they leap
with a grim smile
into irony
when seduction
and satisfaction have failed
the way they eat their peas
with a knife
when no one is looking

I knew I would not be mistaken
as one of those students
martyred by privilege for life
when I graduated
from San Francisco State

until two years ago
I did not know the meaning
of oxymoron
I could not tell irony
from the knees
of other primitive metals
and the way I ate my peas
bowl tipped to my lips
as I scraped the little green balls
into my mouth with a spoon
fooled not a single professor
with a final grade
that would change
the direction of my life
and send me spinning into galaxies
of light-trap stars
and cheese-dipped moons

I married foreign
I speak French
like a tongue-tied ox
like a mud-splattered moron
and irony mixed with green peas
has kept me from starvation
in many imaginary situations

I dip not into denial
about my degrees
from S.F. State
tho I keep them hidden
in a thin membrane
that covers my skull

who could guess
that I’m a genius
who shaped his life
from scraps of knowledge
that have no value
to anyone but himself
and a few friends
who run alongside
and keep him supplied
with vivid dreams
and pointless jokes?

April 2007

FAST TRAIN FROM AMSTERDAM

toss a timetable
in my path
and my nervous system
goes berserk
train schedules
airplane departures
arrivals
connections
add a couple of pieces
of luggage
and I have a metabolic
breakdown

alarm clocks
should be outlawed

May 9, 2007

CATHAR COUNTRY POEMS

WINE

there is something
aristocratic
about driving thru the fields
of the famous vineyards of Languedoc
Fabrizan
Fitou
Tautavel
Rivesaltes
and all the other
celebrated wines
of the Corbière
while sipping from a bottle
of cool Dutch beer

Abbey of Fontfroid, May 17, 2007

(BEAR SAYS)

« We’re going uphill
– that’s a good sign. »

Road D613 (to Fontfroid), May 17, 2007

first crickets of the year
along the road from Carcasonne
to Lagrasse
one here
one there

frogs at night
after dinner
in Lagrasse
down by the river
one in each
open car window

Lagrasse, May 17, 2007

I knelt down on a slab
of stone by the River Lot
and cast my raisin bread
on the waters
for the raisin bread ducks

I dipped my hands
in the River Lot
I splashed the fast moving
water on my face
I did not drink

I walked along
the River Lot
I saw nettles
I have not seen nettles
in the south
for one week

nettles
and crickets

Les Salelles, May 18, 2007

easting goat cheese
and olive toast
at the Café de Gare
in Chanac
along the River Lot
dozens of crickets
coming to life
I will miss them
when we drive north

Chanac, May 18, 2007

climbing away
from the River Lot

in Badaroux
we drive north
up the slope

across the valley :
the hills
floating
pockets of mist
escaping from pine forests
lightning
thunder
then the rain

clouds of mist
spreading out
pretending
they just got back
from China

May 18, 2007

I didn’t dip my hands
in the River Loire
so nothing happened
they didn’t even get wet

then I went down
from the bridge
and dipped my hands
in the River Loire

I touched a nettle

Goudet, May 19, 2007

a pictographic sign said
(if translated into ordinary English)
BEWARE OF LEAPING DEER

we did not see
a leaping deer
but we saw a sign
that said
« In 200 meters
you will change
into a bus. »

we did not change
into a bus
but later
we turned into a gas station
and filled our tank
with stuff
that will eventually
destroy the world

Dorne, May 19, 2007

VIRTUAL REALITY ONE

you know you’ve been watching
too much TV
when you wake up
and you’re hanging over
the edge of the bed
holding the zapper

you can feel its weight
and its shape
in your empty hand

May 29, 2007

VIRTUAL REALITY TWO

you know you’ve been
sitting too long
in front of the TV
when the face on the screen
reaches out
grabs the zapper from your hand
and zaps you back
into a French Comedy
where everybody laughs
at you because
all you can do is stutter
and point to the English subtitles

May 30, 2007

EARTH FILL

radioactive earth fill
grass growing
on the earth fill
cows climbing
the earth fill
chewing the grass
cows glowing
in the dark

fireflies?

June 2, 2007

THE SECRET OF LIFE – PART ONE

I saw it on American TV:
a bunch of humdrums
and show boats
fly halfway around the world
to India
to meet a swamp-gut guru
who knows the secret of life
(longevity, immortality
and beyond)

after ripping them
for $3000 each
he gathers them around
in an ashramic circle
and tell them the secret:

« Breathe deeply, » he says

that’s it
the secret of life
breathe deeply

so they all took
a deep breath
and only Buddha knows
what happened after that

June 5, 2007

THE SECRET OF LIFE – PART TWO

I could do that too
at no expense to you
(in fact
I probably spent 6 or 7 dollars
for print, copy and binding
of this gift
so
in fact
I’m paying you
to learn the secret of life)
but without hesitation
or further delay
I say unto you
TAKE A DEEP BREATH

that’s it
the secret of life

doesn’t do much for me
out on the bike
hundreds of these deep breaths
and all I get is high
(tho I must say
that a couple of deep breaths
from a small pipe
filled with smoldering
wonderweed
will help you get prepared
for what may follow)
(and only Buddha knows
what comes next)

so it looks like
I’m paying you
to learn the secret of life
longevity, immortality
and what lies beyond:

let’s start with
interstellar galaxies
and forces of gravity
waiting to suck you
into a hole
of such blackness
that you will become detached
from your fingernails
and never find them again
so watch out
for those suckers

then there’s all those
metaphysical wrinkles
in the 27 dimensions
(11 of which are invisible)
(tho you might catch a whiff
of garlic bread from one
and I’m certain
I heard the high reed
of a faint harmonica
humming on the breeze
from a gopher hole
(a gopher BREATHING OUT
between his harmonica reed teeth)
one night as the full moon
crept into the circular window
of the owl house
while the owls were out
horsing around)

and beyond that
not even Buddha will speculate
unless it has something to do
with those creatures
whose DNA structures
are built upon 100 million different genes
and who put them thru
their military band formations
100 million times per second

also helpful advice
concerning longevity:
throw away your clocks
and calendars
then one day
you will die
and you won’t know
the time of the day
or the day of the year
all you’ll know
is that it’s been
a long, long time

June 6, 2007

DOG BARKS (Bicycle Poem 1)

A guy laid back
in his back garden
relaxed in a recliner
straw hat
dark glasses
pina colada in one hand
joint in the other
smile on his face

sounds coming from
the speakers of his boom box

dog barks

his old dog
recorded in this same backyard
20 years ago

dog barks

while at his feet
lies his old dog
long dead
long decomposed
now nothing more
than a rack of bones

dog barks

June 7, 2007

DOGS BARK (Bicycle Poem 2)

dogs bark
that’s how they talk
imagine that
what a limited conversation

they better have ESP
because their discussions
are beyond banal

Carrot Stop, June 7, 2007

LOST (Bicycle Poem 3)

three times it happened
three times today
as I was riding along
my mind went so far away
that when I came back
I didn’t know which road
I was riding on

now I’m lost again

and I’m pleased to know
that my mind can now
go so deep again

after 5 months
of bouncing off the surface

oh yeah, Pissing Road, June 7, 2007

WHAT AM I DOING HERE? (Bicycle Poem 4)

after all these years
I still haven’t done
what I’m supposed to do
yet

and I can’t even imagine
what THAT might be

June 7, 2007

OUTSIDE

don’t be alarmed, dear Bear
when I’ve got my nose
poked out the door

I’m not ignoring the vast
kaleidoscopic scenes
behind me, moving displays
paintings
photographs
poems
maps
stained glass windows

I’m just curious

I like to stick my nose
out the door
to see what’s going on

I guess my curiosity
doesn’t include
getting close
to other women

June 7, 2007

BIRTHDAY PARTY (Bicycle Poem 5)

I come to a T-junction
in the village
off to my right
– raised lawn –
a bunch of little kids
playing around
– a birthday party –
they’re wearing
shiny paper witches’ hats
and one’s got a horn
– a reed blast
that sounds like a constipated oboe –
honk honk honk honk

I turn left
from behind my back:
« honk – honk – honk – honk. »

I keep pedaling
« HONNNK! »
they’ve spotted me
I shift up a gear
pump down hard
escaping
« HONNNNNNNNNNNNNNK! »

Chapon, June 9, 2007

MOIST PLACE

waiting in a bus stop
in Verlaine Deep
thunder overhead
buckets of rain in the road
plastic sack with 6 snails
in my backpack
taking them to a new
moist place

Bear calls
she locked herself out of the house
she’s down in the barn
counting last year’s potatoes

lightning
thunder
what am I going to do
with the snails?

Verlaine Deep, June 11, 2007

SLAM DUNK

flashes on the TV screen
(few lasting longer than one second
many no more than one-tenth)
stressed faces
angry faces
gigantic black men
with tattoos covering their arms
and shoulders
and necks
sweat dripping from their faces
close-ups of their shouting mouths
and intimidating attitudes
running, slamming
into each other
shoving, grabbing
poking elbows in eyes
this is Game 2
of the NBA finals
it goes on for 3 hours

I’m not sure
I should he watching this
just before going to bed
if I hope to have a chance
of a peaceful sleep

June 11, 2007

VIRTUAL REALITY THREE

you know the TV set’s been on
too long
when
you walk into the empty room
and it’s playing over in the corner
pock -pock
pock
some kind of tennis match
pock
pock
pock
and you turn your back
to the pock
pock
pock
and bend over the table
and write in your notebook
kaleidoscopic scenes
moving displays
paintings
photographs
poems
maps
stained glass windows
which you punctuate
with a big blast of free fart
which is followed by
a massive explosion
of applause from the corner
and you’re saying
what the hell?
what the hell?
what the hell?
until you turn around
and realize
that Justine Henin
just scored the winning point
in the Roland Garos final

what a charming coincidence

June 13, 2007

ARISTOCRATIC

I keep getting surprised
I keep forgetting
that I’m not the same
as everybody else
in the world
I keep forgetting
until an idiot
on the sidewalk
(5 feet away)
bellows, « UGGGGGH! »
as I ride past
« UGGGGGH! »
and I jump

I keep forgetting
that there’s a vast difference
for starters
I’ve got about 80 IQ points
on the idiot
for kickers
I never open my mouth
that wide in public
(even when I’m singing)
and for closers
I’ve got more creativity
in my middle finger

but I don’t want
to get too carried away
and start acting aristocratic
because some fat, bald
mustache fucking moron
might run me down
in his Suburban Attack Vehicle
then release
his Malamute
from the passenger seat
and chuckle
while the dog
slurps up my warm blood *†

Two Trees Road, June 13, 2007

* which of course all comes from
(and feeds back to)
the 3rd grade
in San Francisco
(Lagunda Honda
between Judah and Irving
on 7th Ave.)
and a half dozen 8th graders
decide to end the first day
of school
by grabbing me
outside the 6th Ave. gate
holding me down on the sidewalk
and letting their German
Shepherd dog
lick my face

I piss in my pants
and this goes on
everyday for about a week
until my grandma
comes down with a broom
and sweeps them all away *

Lost Haiku Road, June 13, 2007

†or the slobs
who live down on Baraki Corner
(who sit around
drunk chain smoking sawdust
and candle wax
and discussing
sub-atomic physics
the history of meta-fiction
and the more esoteric polarities
of the nature-nurture paradox
while their monster slob of a dog
that lives in a cage
they keep right next to the road
comes to life
every time I pass
leaps up
and tries to claw down
the bars
dying to clamp his slavering jaws
around my liver
but always giving up
and just barking
barking
barking
while the slobs
guzzle around
with their guts hanging out
and chat about exploding galaxies
the metaphysical dangers of neo-existentialism
and the stainedglass windows
of Chartres
and who think
their barking dog
is some divine creature
speaking a language
too subtle for human understanding)
might come rolling out
of their courtyard
on their spare tires of tub-a-gut fat
barking like their dog
and grind me into the ground

Baraqui Corner, June 13, 2007

TWO CLOCKS
(the Longest Day of the Year)

two quartz alarm clocks
one on each side of the bed
one slightly faster

one day they’re exactly
half way apart
perfectly synchronized
left right
in stereo
click – click
click – click
click- click

3 weeks later
the left click’s moved up
until it’s limping along
almost touching the right click
ca-click
ca-click
ca-click
I go to sleep
listening to the stutter
ca-click
ca-click
ca-click

when I wake up
into the longest day of the year
they’re both in tune
CLOCK !
CLOCK!
CLOCK!

June 21, 2007

BIRDS’ DREAMS

I walk out my door
stand in the dark silence
only moments before
the light breaks
and listen
to the birds wake
tuning up to sing
preparing to chatter, warble, twitter
all thru the woods
from east to west
to pop out of their sleep
and whisper their dreams

June 21, 2007

SUMMER 2007 (Bicycle Poem 6)

looks like
it’s going to be
an overcast summer

grey skies
a confusion of clouds
flooded beet fields
flax flattened
by the rain

the sun pokes thru
the mist
from time to time
and gives me a fuzzy shadow

I’m not quite sure
if I’m here
or not

June 21, 2007

CURSES

now I know why
I fear landing
in an airplane

every time I see one
fly over the house
I curse silently:
« Why don’t you go crash
in a cornfield? »

so when I’m actually in one
I know there must be
at least 100 people
down below
doing their best
to curse me into eternity

June 21, 2007

GEEZE TUB

I look like a geezer
I feel like a geezer
I must be a geezer

where did all this geezer
come from?

I geeze
you geeze
we geeze

I was just geezing along
when I geezed
into another geezer
he shouted:
« You old geezer. »
so I just
geezed by

it was too complicated
to explain
that he was so full of geeze
I would have to spend years
soaking in the geeze tub
to equal his level
of geezerability

June 21, 2007

ARISTOCRACY

he said:
« Some people around here
think their shit
smells like perfume. »

I said:
« Mine does. »

July 25, 2007

JUNK MAN (Bicycle Poem 7)

big truck coming down the street
speaker on top
man behind the wheel
shouting into a microphone
saying he’ll haul away
all our junk
« Lumiere! »
« Jeunes Femmes! »
« L’eau de veau!’
« Nuages Vides! »

he must be drunk
or maybe I’m flipping out
losing my grip
on the French language
« Coupe de grace! » (glace?)
« Blagues court-métrages
« Champs (chants?) des oiseaux! »
« Pistage mignon! »

the back of the truck is heaped
with unstable molecular structures
that defy identification
his words are distorted, blurred:
« Lazy loozion! »
(I’m translating now)
« Mug shots! »
« Moose scatter! »
« Heuristic quests! »

he slows as he passes me
looks over into my eyes
shouts into the microphone
« BICYCLES! »

rue Grevesse, June 30, 2007

CHILE
(Avignon Revisited)

walking around Avignon
I bought a map
sat down to look it over
started curiously wondering about
the word « chile. »
(pronounced « sheel » I suppose)
obviously designated a church
or a temple
Chile des Pénitents Gris
Chile de l’Oratoire
Chile des Templiers

the word bounced around in my head
sounding like it rhythmed
with « mile, » « style, » « guile. »
(or maybe it should have been « chilly »
– like the country)

two months later
at home
I take out the map
and study it
with a magnifying glass
and I see it’s not « chile »
but CHLLE
in short
an abbreviation for Chapelle

did I really walk up to a stranger
and ask him
where I might find
the Chile des Templiers?

he didn’t know
and I’m not surprised

June 30, 2007

CLOSURE

« closure »
what’s that?
another weasel word

is it something
you lock in a room
then throw away the key?

and years later
here comes a gang of boys
they break into the room
and stagger out a minute later
looking like old men
(wrinkles and bent backs)
« They breathed too much
stagnant closure. »

or is it something
you seal in an envelope
and send off
to a broken lover
he opens the envelope
and stabs himself
to death forever
with the letter opener

« What happened? »
« He got a sniff of closure. »

June 30, 2007

BUSINESS NEWS

I saw it reported on CNBC:

Coca Cola buys Air France
Air France buys Microsoft
Microsoft buys Coca Cola

and that’s the way the money goes
pop goes the Wealthy Weasel

July 6, 2007

DREAM SCREAMS

I’m taking a beating
in my sleep
strange people
walk into my dreams
and I don’t know
a single one

a man comes up
shakes my hand
and his hand comes off
and (what else can I do?)
I stick it in my pocket

girls with two heads
one saying, « Yes. »
the other saying, « No. »
walk circles around me
while I shout
« Do I have a single friend
in the entire world? »

arrogant animals
growl and bark at me
dog-headed cats
giant toads
slurp and snap
jack rabbits
with impossible
enormous teeth
snarl and burp
while I shiver with fear
behind the bars
of my cage

I walk on stage
with my guitar
look down and see
I’m not wearing pants
I say, « They’ll be along
later, »
nobody laughs
I say, « No pants?
this is a lot worse
than forgetting to button up. »

children come running
children go pouring
over the cliff
like a waterfall
of blood and bone raindrops
I don’t know a single one

I don’t have a chance
the moment I close my eyes
the circus behind my lids
starts to jump
and flash
« Here we go again, » I say
« another losing round
with the hard-fisted punchers
and the suck-tube plungers
of my toilet brain. »

as a kid
I called these disturbing
mind movies
nightmares
now I just sit around
and watch
and wait for the dream
to collapse
into its own
destruction

July 25, 2007

FOOTNOTE TO A FOOTNOTE TO A FOOTNOTE

I enjoy stopping
to read the posters
of the local rock festivals
names of bands
that nobody’s ever heard of
which at best will become
a footnote
to a footnote
to a footnote
to a cultural history
of north-western Europe
in the early 21st century

Bouldou & the Sticky Fingers Plays the Rolling Stones
Nehäl Coldshot
Tommy Plays the Who
The Ignition
Acta
Yew
Free Launch
Bleach plays Nirvana
Cedric Gervey
The Dancing Naked Ladies
Kat’s Boys
Trez
Jakob Maerks
Parallax View
You Peace
The Only Room
Ios

maybe I should go
and check out Sticky Fingers
they probably sound better
than the Stones ever did
before they started lip-synching
to their own studio-recorded
digital playbacks

then again Bouldou’ll probably
miss the accent by a mile
I can just hear it now
« Joo-pang Jacques Flush! »

Burnt Picnic Table Road, July 27, 2007

TEENAGE MANIACS

they dump on a can of gas
toss in a match
and the fire explodes
flaming up into the trees
as the picnic table melts

that’s what happens
when you make tables
out of plastic

that’s what happens
when desperate drunken
teenage maniacs
take over the world
and decide what’s best
for everyone
like where you can sit down
and eat a sandwich
and where you cannot

Carrot Stop, July 28, 2007

MORE TEENAGE MANIACS

on the other hand
I remember well
the night 51 years ago
when Tom and I
and a couple of other guys
got drunk
went for a drive in his pick up
and ripped up every stop sign
on 25 miles of road
ending in Dry Creek Valley
where we chucked all the signs
we’d collected
from Wine Creek Bridge

I remember being elated
I guess I was striking back
at all the conformity
the hypocrisy
and social deceit
but I wasn’t thinking
with those kinds of words
back then
I just remember the elation

unfortunately
Tom dropped his wallet
on the bridge
and the next day
the cops dropped by
to see his dad

our punishment
was to take the truck
back to the bridge
climb down into the creek
into the brush
the thistles and briars
and retrieve every one
of those damned stop signs
and take them back
and plant them from where
we’d uprooted them

it wasn’t easy sober
and I remember I was not
elated

as for symbolic acts
who knows
who got the better deal?
Tom’s dead now
and wherever he is
I doubt if he’s blowing up
power stations or stealing
doormats

July 29, 2007

WHO’S GROWING OLD?

I don’t hate growing old
it just keeps catching me
by surprise

teeth
bones
bladder
blood
it seems like they’re working
for somebody else

eyes
ears
toes
testicles
refusing to work
for lower wages
tired of abuse
they’re walking off the job
leaving the barbarians
from the south
to do the dirty work

my teeth don’t speak Spanish

July 29, 2007

A HERD OF TURTLES

a plague of locusts
a school of fish
a swarm of bees
a flock of sheep

an army of ants
a leap of leopards
a pack of dogs
a pod of whales

a skulk of foxes
a sloth of bears
a pride of lions
a hover of trout

a murder of crows
a gaggle of geese
a flight of doves
a risk of rain

July 29, 2007

A MONTH OF SUNDAYS
(A Herd of Turtles – part 2)

a giggle of girls
a fraud of Freudians
a flex of muscles
a trumpet of jazz fans

a telescope of stars
a wagon of anonymous alcoholics
a paved road of good intentions
a pool of cars

a keyboard of pianists
a string of violins
a shadow of doubts
a ghost of chances

a grapevine of rumors
a chain of smokers
a sleeve of aces
a march of dimes

July 30, 2007

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
(hidden haiku)

the moon is so full
it’s about
to spill over
into the trees

July 30, 2007

STRIP POKER

and so I pulled the Fool
from my Tarot deck
and tossed it down
with my two deuces
remembering at the last moment
that in the game
of deaf & dumb
dead & done
jokers aren’t wild

August 11, 2006 (Hesbaye)

HALLUCINATION SNAKES

it starts with
the little red
hallucination snakes
as thin as spaghetti
darting into the earth
the moment your flashlight
shines them alive
in the blink of an eye
they’re gone as if
they never were there

after that
you will see ANYTHING
that comes along
ANYTHING that most people
overlook such as
the little red
hallucination snake’s
big brother
the huge green
hallucination snake
that leaps out
of a tree top
and smashes into your eyes
or the little red
hallucination snake’s
fat mother
the obese yellow
hallucination snake
that rolls out of
the high grass
and flattens you
liking a hissing
protoplasmic steam roller
or the little red
hallucination snake’s
enormous father
the monster black
hallucination snake
that jumps out of the night
and swallows you whole
after crunching you
between its venom-dripping jaws

after that comes
the gargantuan spiders
the mutant alligators
the two-ton slugs
and the gigantic rats
with deformed human faces

but all that’s for later
right now
all you have to worry about
are the little red
hallucination snakes
and make sure they don’t slide
under your toenails
as you slop barefoot
thru the wet grass
at midnight

or maybe they’re just fast worms

August 12, 2007

NIGHT & DAY (LIFE & DEATH)

each night
I go to bed
for the last time

each day
I wake up
surprised
to be alive

this has been
going on
for 60 years

how much longer?

I wouldn’t
be surprised
to find myself
saying the same thing
100 years from now

Old Farm Road, Aug. 24, 2007,

SMASHED JAM SANDWICH

I’m snacking on
smashed jam sandwiches

strawberry
raisin bread

that’s the flavor
of these days

try one
and you’ll know
exactly
how I’m perceiving
the world
right now

High Point Hesbaye, Aug. 24, 2007

DRIZZLEHEAD

some drizzlehead
has spray painted
FUCK
MY
WIFE
in the middle of the road

is that a loose translation
of a traditional
French expression?

or does the author
of those words
have absolutely
no fucking idea
what he’s talking about?

Aeolian Road, Aug. 24, 2007

CHAIN LINK FENCE

all the great men
have been paid off
in supermarket prizes
and run out of the world

or sent into the next room
to wait
for some trivial event
that’s never going to happen

Aug. 24, 2007

THE LITTLE BUGGERS (Bicycle Poem 8)

this is a bug day
I ride into a swarm
of the little buggers
until the front
of my white t.shirt
is covered
from top to bottom
with tiny black dots

I shake them off
keep riding
and collect another population
of insect hitchhikers

I swallow
one of the little buggers
and the beast spends 10 minutes
trying to crawl back
up my throat
I cough up a storm
to help him
but it’s no good

so I gulp down
a half bottle of water
and send him sliding
into the deadly
gastric juice swamp
of my guts

fresh meat

on a day like this
keep your mouth open
and you won’t go hungry

High Point Hesbaye, Aug. 24, 2007

POEM

I’ll say it once
and get it over with

I don’t like to read
poets who write poems
about writing poems

having said that I see
I’ve become a clown
of my own criticism

please forgive me
I promise I won’t
do it again

go read the next poem
and forget that you
got sucked into this one

Aug. 27, 2007

CROW FEATHER

wind singing
in my bike spokes
the caw of a crow
over the field

two crows

my old crow feather
is bent and ruffled
looks a little
like I feel

I stick it back
in my front blinker
but I’ll always remember
where I almost
buried it in the wild weeds

Crow Feather Road, Aug. 27, 2007

GEESE

small flock of geese
flying low due south
thru the dusty beams
of the setting sun

they’ve seen enough
they’re headed for a winter
in Spain
it’s been a lousy summer
for them too

Old Farm Road, Aug. 27, 2007

GEESE (THE SAME ONES)

38 geese
exactly
headed south

in a couple of hours
in the dark
they’ll bounce their honks
off the earth
and know exactly where they are

then the moon will rise
and they’ll keep on honking
anyway

Old Farm Road, Aug. 27, 2007

MORE GEESE – 1

and here come the geese
flying north?
into the wind?
are they lost?
did they decide to go back
and hang out
at the Norwegian Goose Pond
and work on their suntan
for a few more days?

another flock on the horizon
headed in the same direction

Pissing Road, Aug. 30, 2007

MORE GEESE – 2

geese honking
wings flapping hard
glide by above my head
above my outstretched hand

the tears in their eyes
are they from the cold wind?

or are the birds sad and lonely
because all their goose friends
in Spain
kicked them out
and told them to get lost?

they sound sad to me
I think they’re lost

Pissing Road, Aug. 30, 2007.

MORE GEESE – 3

it’s the same pack
I saw 3 days ago

28 of them
what happened to the other 10?

Pigeon Toe Joe
Pheasant the Peasant
Crow Feather Weather Man
Duck Bill the Dope
Stork Raving Mad Mike
Peckerwood Woody
Screamin’ Blue Jay Hawkins
Swan Lake Bullet
C. Gullible
Owl Pacino

I think the boss goose
down in Spain
didn’t like the way
they were honking
and told them to get lost

The Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion, Aug.30, 2007

CROW FEATHER REVIVAL

crow feather miracle
unruffled
unbent
(just gracefully curved)
all in the night
when no one was looking
crow feather is still alive

High Road, Aug. 30, 2007

TALL

Bear’s old French teacher
drops by after 45 years
takes a look at me
and says to Bear,
« Oh my, he’s tall. »
and I say to myself,
« Not as tall as he used to be. »

these past ten years
I’ve lost an inch or two
all that cartilage
wasted away
at the bottom of my backbone

time was, age 17
I grew to 6 foot 3
I might have grown
a couple of inches more
if I hadn’t lifted all those
bales of hay
and 100-pound feed sacks
when I was 10
and put a crook in my spine
x-ray looks like
a curved swan’s neck without feathers

but it’s just as well.
I’ve slept in a hundred
European beds
I couldn’t stretch out in
and there’s a hundred scars
on my skull
where I’ve whacked it
on low doorways

Old Dove Road, Aug. 29, 2007

LOW DOORWAYS

one is at the bottom
of the stairs
into the bathroom
another on the other side
into the kitchen

I don’t even bother
straightening up
in between

these two doorways
are so low
they’d take my head
off at the neck
if I didn’t duck

I enter the kitchen hunched over
looking like a caveman
only recently evolved from
a floor-knuckle-dusted ape

Old Dove Road, Aug. 29, 2007

TOOTH GOD

god is not perfect
he gave us fantastic
bio-mechanical bodies
but for one flaw

teeth
he could have done a much better job
on the teeth

imagine a life
free of dentals worries
and cares
eating anything you want
anytime you want
from age zero
to age omega

but since I am god
it’s all my fault
next time you’re in the dentist chair
and his drill hits a nerve
point your finger at me
I’ll take the blame for your pain

Water Tower Road, August 29, 2007

STUBBLE BURN

why do the farmers
fire only one corner
of the wheatfield stubble
the day they bale the straw
and haul it away?

is it because they’re lazy
and hope the wind
will do the job for them?
(it never does)

or is it an old superstition
– a good luck gesture –
to keep away the evil spirits
and prepare the field
for an abundant
harvest next season?

I’d like to believe
it’s a ritual that dates
back to the last ice age
when the first farmers
were discovering the secrets
of the earth

but it’s probably
just plain gut flab laziness

Pissing Road, Aug. 30, 2007

SCARF

« Hey foulard! »
the boys shout as I bike by

I think that means « scarf »

I didn’t know I was a scarf

I thought I was more of a
creepy old fartbag

Rage Road, Aug. 31, 2007

MAD PORK

or maybe it was fou lard

which means « crazy bacon »

that’s me
Crazy Bacon the Bike Bum

Rage Road, Aug. 31, 2007

MORE MAD PORK

the old hog
comes grumping, snuffling, mumbling
over to the fence where I’ve stopped
« grump – snuffle – mump – grunt –  »

she touches her snout
to the electric wire
leaps in the air
and scampers away
squealing like they do
at the slaughterhouse

now that’s real crazy bacon

Old Farm Road, Aug. 31, 2007

SUNSHINE SUPERMAN PARANOIA

what happened to the sun?
I haven’t seen my shadow
for 3 months

wait. I know.
it’s a conspiracy.

first THEY blanket the earth
in a permanent cloud cover
then THEY shoot a few astronauts
to the sun
who chop it up
into little pieces
and bring them back
so THEY can shoot
the little pieces of the sun
into our brains
when we’re asleep
so THEY can locate us
at all times
and hear what we’re saying
and know what we’re thinking

they can even spy on our dreams

now that’s serious paranoia
you say

and you’re right
because that’s what’s REALLY happening

Carrot Stop, Aug. 31, 2007

MORE OBSCURE ROCK FESTIVAL POSTERS
(and these are for real)

Donceel, September 22:
Stereo Jacking
Dexter’s Truancy Problem
Colored Mind
Citizen Jack
Blue Mojo
Castle Road
Hotel California Plays The Eagles

Wanze, September 1 & 2:
Sylph
Lost in Moscow
Milky Tits
Les Vaches Azteques
Kill My Drummer
Doktor Caligari
Next Exit to Nowhere

Oreye, September 1:
Stereo Jacking
Dexter’s Truancy Problem
Dawn Nation
Rock You Daddy
Blinded Head
Klimax
Zone-A
Bouldou & the Sticky Fingers Play the Rolling Stones

in a few years
there’ll be revivals
of revival bands

Clorox Plays Bleach
Holiday Inn Plays Hotel California
Bidule & the Athlete’s Feet Play Bouldou & the Sticky Fingers

August 2007

GARDEN PATCH

little old lady’s
got a tiny vegetable patch
down on the corner
(I’ve never seen her
so I don’t know if she’s old
and little, but the garden patch
is small)

sitting in her side window
above the patch is a speaker
quietly playing music
24 hours a day
barely audible as I ride by
in the street if the wind
is right I hear a distant
melody and a sound
that might be an orchestral chord

after 5 years
I’ve finally figured it out
she’s playing music
for her plants
to make them happy
and to grow up dancing

so I stop to listen
get right down next to the fence
and finally hear the music:
some kind of Las Vegas
cha-cha-cha

no wonder her spuds
look like sagebrush
and her corn
looks like dead fox tails

Carrot Stop, Sept. 3, 2007

GARDEN PATCH SEQUEL

her spuds, parsley and corn
might look like they’ve been pre-cooked
with a flame thrower
but her cannabis
is flourishing
(then again the old weed
will dance to anything)

Carrot Stop, Sept. 3, 2007

RAINBOW STUB

I’m thinking
about nothing at all
except a left-over observation
that’s followed me
down the road (the dozen
pheasants that refused
to fly away as I approached
trotting down the road
ahead of me
looking like they had
pickles stuck up their asses)
as I ride into a stub
of a rainbow
that can’t quite
get itself off the ground

Rainbow Stub Road, Sept. 3, 2007

RAINBOW STUB GAP

riding back
into the rainbow stub
it’s not connected
at the other end either
(over in St. Georges)
(I saw the pheasants
on Thunder Road
again and still
they refused to fly away)
and into the blue sky gap
between the horizon
and the rainbow-painted
black cloud
from north to south
fly a flock of black birds
thousands of them
like specks of dust
flickering in the light
of the setting sun

Rainbow Stub Road, Sept. 4, 2007

RAINBOW STUB MIRAGE (Bicycle Poem 9)

plunging thru
the rain water puddle
that fills the road
I see a rainbow
reflected in the muddy water

waves from my front tire
flow out and make
the rainbow wiggle

then the upsidedown rainbow
trembles and falls apart

Rainbow Stub Road, Sept. 4, 2007

PLANT LIFE

chubby woman
walking along
with a transistor radio
hanging from her neck

she thinks she’s a plant
and the music will make her grow
bigger

but it’s not music
she’s listening to the news
and she grows smaller
and smaller
with each step

Jean-Baptist Boulevard, Sept. 6, 2007

(YOU MIGHT SAY) TOO SOON

pockets of mist
hang over the fields

breath rises from my nostrils
and steams my glasses

the sun burns down and out
in a sharp pie slice of neon blood

you might say
it’s that time of year

High Road, Sept. 6, 2007

SAD SIGHT

there is no sadder sight
than that of an old hippie
(after all these years)
getting confused
about his uppers
and his downers:
« Let’s see – blue is UP
and red is DOWN
cause we reversed it
in 1967 to confuse the fuzz.. »
and then paying the price
of his own confusion:
« I thought I was going
to bike out to the beach
walk barefoot in the surf
silently seduce a couple
of bikini-clad 50-year old
teeny boppers
then end the night
atop Twin Peaks
jacking off
for Old Mother Nature

« Now look where I am –
in this deep hole
out in the corner of the yard
where the dog comes
to bury his bones
and that’s what I am
a bag of bones
ready to go into one
of these holes

« Oh shit! here comes
Wavy Gravy, my yellow
Labrador mutt
he’s going to bury me
alive – no – he’s going
to eat me first . . .  »

like I say
nothing sadder

Verlaine, September 9, 2006

DREAM DICTATE

no need to try not
to do something
you’re not going to do

just don’t do it

Sept. 10, 2007

KIDS

I can’t help it
but I still see us
as kids
playing house
and digging holes
in the earth to China

the old games
mud pies
hide & seek
tag, you’re it
king of the mountain
post office
spin the bottle

strip away the pretense
and other masks
of arrogance
and sophistication
and we’re still
a bunch of 7-10 year olds
hiking thru the woods
stoned
looking thru the shadows
hoping to find the ghosts
of innocence
and spontaneity
we lost 60 years ago

Sept. 10, 2007

(haiku)

crash in the bathroom
and here comes Jimbo
mouse in mouth

September 12, 2007

(haiku)

the sun comes out
from behind the clouds
and it’s autumn

September 12, 2007

BEAR BEHAVIOR

Bear coughs for awhile
and then she yawns

that means
the coughing is over

Mamma Mia’s Italian Restaurant
(Engis)
September 13, 2007

HOOT TO YOU TOO

I slam the spade
into the slug
and from above me
in a tree
an owl gives a HOOT

September 13, 2007

THE HUMAN APE

the human ape
has a horrible belief

he believes he is superior
to all the other animals

what arrogance
what stupidity

so he can walk on two feet
he has opposable thumbs
he can invent languages
and speak them

what good are words
if all he can babble
is hateful insanity?
what good are hands
if all he can do
is throw rocks?

the human ape
has been fighting wars
since he’s been on the planet
he hasn’t given us animals
a moment of peace

now I ask you:
does that sound like an intelligent species?

September 13, 2007

BICYCLE POEM

you may ask:
why do you wander
the farm roads and fields
of Hesbaye and Flanders?

and I will tell you:
I don’t know

you may ask:
will the wanderer
ever return?

and I will reply:
I hope so

September 14, 2007

THE NEW AEOLIONS

I.
in old Japan
they used to enjoy
going out to see
the cherry blossoms
fall from the trees
they liked to look at
the harvest moon rise too
they enjoyed this much more
than going to hear
Yama’s Kamikaze Godzilla
with their tattooed eyeballs
and frontal lobe rings
(grab a ring, pull hard
and a brain falls out)
sing brutal lyrics
from the Kojiki:
UTITE SI YAMAMU!
UTITE SI YAMAMU!
UTITE SI YAMAMU!
SAKERU TO MË!

II.
in modern day Belgium
I enjoy going out
to the new Aeolians
and watching their wings
slice thru the sky
as the swift wind
rustles thru the cornfields

who’s playing tonight?
me?
if I were not me
I wouldn’t go

Frozen Eyelid Road,
September 16, 2007

ECCENTRIC

sometimes I think I’m eccentric
and sometimes I think
that scares people

how can that be?

I’m just an old geezer
cruising by
with inner tubes
wrapped around my legs
and a black crow feather
sticking up from my handlebar

eccentric?

I don’t think so

now if I ate smashed jam sandwiches
talked to myself
puffed on my harmonica
held my harmonica up
to a strong headwind
and sang along with the endless
D major chord
and hopped off my bike
at unexpected moments
whipped out a notebook
and scribbled down the words
that have been piling up
in my head – now that
might be considered
slightly unusual

but you’ll never see me
riding to the end
of a dead end road
and stopping to stare
at the pale half moon
rising in the sky
as if it could be viewed
from this particular place
and no other

that would be eccentric

Dead End Road, September 21, 2007

OBSCURE POEM & ANNIHILATING EXPLANATION

leaving on Old Farm Road
and seeing the vast delicate
network of spiderwebs
covering the furrows of the plowed field
shimmering in the setting sun
I know I must return
on Two Trees Road *

Old Farm Road, September 21, 2007

* In old Japan the poets often gave their poems deeper meaning and beauty by referring to lines of traditional poems, sometimes quoting a line that all cultured people knew. I, having no tradition but my own, must refer to moments in my own past poems to achieve the same effect; to be specific, several years ago I was biking up Two Trees Road at sunset and I stopped to be amazed by the delicate network of spider webs etc. – you get the idea – and which I captured in a poem at the time. Or maybe I didn’t. Maybe I talked that poem out before I had a chance to put it down on paper. Or maybe I just forgot. Which makes this poem, based on a non-existent poem, even more obscure. *

Carrot Stop, September 21, 2007

*And it now occurs to me that if I return home on Two Trees Road I’ll be going the wrong way to be amazed by the shimmering webs of etc, because I’ll have my back to the setting sun and I’ll have to keep looking over my shoulder to enjoy the scenery.

Carrot Stop, September 21, 2007

LESS OBSCURE & NO EXPLANATION

and so I come home on Two Trees Road

but most of the fields
are scattered with pigshit
and other nameless manures

and none of the fields
are plowed with neat
winter furrows in which
spiders can build their webs

so I guess the spiders
have packed up and moved off
to another field

and besides the sun
is behind a cloud
and I wouldn’t be able to see
the spiderwebs
shimmering even if
they covered the land

but I do get to stop
and count the number
of huge carrot boxes
fork-lifted and stacked
along side the road

4 x 13 x 8
+ 2 x 4 x 8

530 boxes and no spiderwebs

I think the boxes are empty

Two Trees Road, September 21, 2007

ONLY SLIGHTLY OBSCURE

and so I came home
on Two Trees Road

Lost Haiku Road, September 21, 2007

NOT OBSCURE AT ALL

the corn is still standing
on Lost Haiku Road

BLACK CLOUD

« I’m deeply disappointed, »
I say to the black cloud
pouring rain on my head.
« We were trying to get
a summer started down here. »

but it’s too late
we both know it
most of the birds
have flown and the leaves
have already turned
and started to fall

September 24, 2007

THE FUTURE OF BANKS – 1

when I moved to the village
30 years ago
the two main banks were called
G-Bank
and
Credit Communale

about ten years ago
they changed names
now they’re
Fortis
and
Dexia

(quite a difference
in linguistic implications
– poetic, semantic
symbolic or whatever)

30 years from now
there’ll be more changes
new names
ئ ؤ خ ف
and
ل ن ض ق

come back in a hundred years
and you’ll see
╬╧╗╚╡│╞╬╤
and
╞╝╚╦╗╔╛╢║

September 2007

THE FUTURE OF BANKS – 2

Man walks into a bank in Amsterdam, says,
« Can we speak bluntly? »

Girl behind the counter says,
« Of course
I speak fluent bluntly. »

« Indeed you do. »

« I studied bluntly in school
for twelve years. What
can I do for you? »

« I wish to deposit
eighteen million. »

« Eurotics
or Dobros? »

« Dobros. »

« Mexican
Canadian
or Bluntly? »

« Bluntly. »

« I’m afraid
the exchange rate
is not so favorable
this year.
The value will come to –
let’s see –
.00000008 in Eurotics. »

« About what I expected. »

« Plus it will cost you
a service charge
of twenty million. »

« Tics? »

« Of course. »

« About what I expected. »

« I love doing business when I get to speak bluntly. »

POETS

reading Yeats
I find my mind drifting:

ah, but the Americans
are such a rough
and tumble bunch

October 3, 2007

THE ROUGH AND TUMBLE BUNCH

Whitman
Jeffers
cummings
Patchen
Roethke
Ginsberg
Snyder
Ferlinghetti
Harrison
Brautigan:

when they get on the bus
you don’t know
if they’re going to ride
to the end of the line,
get off at the next stop,
or hijack the driver
and take everybody
on an unscheduled cruise
around the world
at 2000 mph

October 3, 2007

WINDOW SHOPPING

shop window in Liege:
an Arturo Toscanini fountain pen
for only $505

that makes for a few
expensive autographs

who’s Arturo Toscanini?

Liege, October 24, 2007

CROWDED EMPTY CITY

the stench of humanity
the women’s perfumes
failing to mask
3 weeks worth
of legpit sweat
the men farting
into stinking clouds
of cigarette smoke
while burping up
last year’s beer

why do we come to this place
this crowded empty city
if we don’t want to feel so lonely?

Liege, December 26, 2007

THE MECHANICS OF CELESTIAL HARMONY

razzle-dazzle music
on the lamp-post speakers
on Christmas Street

a car pulls up to the curb
honks
loudly
and according to the mechanics
of celestial harmony
he’s perfectly in tune
with « Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer Mambo »

G major

so he honks again
just to make sure

Liege, December 26, 2007

Lightning written in puddles of rain

POEMS 2008 |  TUCKER ZIMMERMAN

I. Cannigou Poems
II. The Seven Days of Spring & Other Poems
III. Rome Pomes
IV. The Seven Days of Winter & Other Poems

Cannigou Poems
RIVER TECH (1)

there must be
a 67-year old
Iraqi man
sitting by a river
right now
watching the wind
ripple the water
listening to the ducks
splash down
around the bend
and thinking
this is the way
it’s supposed to be

Le Pont de Reynès
Feb. 3, 2008

RIVER TECH (2)

I wish I was
a Labrador Retriever
and a man
would come along
and throw a branch
in the river
so I could jump in
splash around
grab the branch
in my teeth
and drag it up
on the leaves
where I would lie down
and chew it to shreds

Le Pont de Reynès
Feb. 4, 2008

CADAQUÉS

1.
getting there’s a hassle
once across the Spanish border
we’re mired in crap
driving thru an endless
row of junk brain high rise
fast food cheap barns
rubber, oil, plastic
built yesterday
and already
falling
into ruin

tomorrow this land
will be a trash heap
with weeds growing
thru broken concrete
and birds starving
if they linger too long

not even birds
shit in their nests
and a bird’s brain
is no bigger than a pea

2.
ten years ago
I would have biked it
up over the hill
and down
into the white town
cliff-trapped
sea gull bay
old water lapping
onto old sand

we pass Frankenstein’s monster
and his black wing girlfriend
escaping from the Mardi Gras parade

3.
two drunken jokers
pissing on the beach

I pet a crippled man’s dog
feed cheese
to a wild cat

and the boys and girls go
to and fro
talking about Pablo Picasso

and I can’t get my mind
off all that junk
stacking up
and spreading out
over on the other side
of the hill

Cadaqués
Mardi Gras
Feb. 5, 2008

RIVER TECH (3)
for Maya

wavy reflections
of ivy trees
and bare branches
in the slow flowing water

this river musty have
looked the same
1000 years ago

so why
did we have to wait
for Monet
and Cezanne
and Utrillo
to come along
and paint what they saw?

was it the camera
that didn’t lie?

or maybe
the painters
were not looking
in the right places

Le Pont de Reynès
Feb. 7, 2008

CHEW STICKS

it’s a good game

first you grab a stick
and then you sit down
and start chewing on it

ask Roxie
she’ll tell you everything
you need to know
about playing
chew sticks

River Tech
Feb. 7, 2008

MT. CANIGOU

Mt. Canigou
got more snow
last night

it rained soft
down here
but up there
it turned white

25 years ago
I would have
climbed Canigou

just a foot trail
up thru the rocks

and on a night
like tonight
you would have seen me
a small campfire
on the pic
winking and blinking
over Vallespir
as I sipped
from a bottle of wine

Le Pont de Reynès
Feb. 7, 2008

A SMALL COUNTRY IN CENTRAL AMERICA
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter – T.S. Eliot

and now I’m doing both
escaping the ice age
frost-bitten feet
back aching from packing
around a pair of sheep
on my shoulders
hibernating like a wolf
in wool cap and gloves
and trembling with joy
if the sun should poke
a stingy nose
thru the grey sky
for only a few moments

now I’m down here
in the south of France
next to the Spanish border
le Pays Catalan
where the sun shines
24 hours a day
and it’s much easier
to read much of the night
without gloves

and Belgium
what’s that?
and where is it?
a small country
in Central America
perhaps?

Le Pont de Reynès
Feb. 9, 2008

RIVER TECH (4)

duck flying
above the tree tops
neck stretched
against the sky

Roxie gnawing
on the stub
of a wet tree branch

waterwave reflections
shimmering on sunlit
rock wall

is it possible
that somewhere
in the world
somebody
is crossing off
a number on a calendar
and saying,
« there goes one more day. »?

Le Pont de Reynès
Feb. 8, 2008

REWARD

this is my reward
for sitting patiently
by the river
and waiting for the sun to set

and that was my reward
for riding deep
into wheat fields
and watching birds
fly out of the setting sun

Le Pont de Reynès
Feb. 10, 2008

FEAST

a couple of crumbs
from last night’s toast
anything more would be greedy
anything less a blessing

Le Pont de Reynès
Feb. 10, 2008

MEDICATIONS

the trick with meds
is not to confuse
the stuff you put in your nose
with the stuff
you put in your eyes

and the stuff
you put in your ears
doesn’t taste too good
either

Le Pont de Reynès
Feb. 10, 2008

I’D WALK A MILE FOR A PACK OF CAMELS

I wasn’t going to tell
this story on myself
but I can’t resist
nobody saw it from
my point of view

Collioure
sunny afternoon
not much left of the day
when I climb the stone steps
to the sea wall

old boy sitting
with his face to the sun
« Avez-vous une cigarette? »

Mediterranean high tide waves
crashing on the rocks
behind us

I shake my head
« Don’t smoke. »

he nods his head
I walk away

back in the narrow
streets of the town
I find a tobacco shop
buy a pack of unfiltered Camels
(been 10 years
since I’ve done this)
and a mini Bic lighter
head back to the stone wall

the old boy is still there
waves crashing higher
on the rocks behind us
red face squinting
into the red sun
half down over the hill

« Avez-vous une cigarette? »
I say, « Oui, » and take out
the Camels and the lighter
give them to him
he’s speechless
« Pour moi? »
then he’s speechless again
he thanks me in French
I say, « Avec plaisir. »

I walk away thinking about
spontaneous acts of kindness
but I can’t get that sign
out of my head
the white square
bordered in funeral black
that covered half the pack
I saw as I handed it to him
FUMER TUE

how about that?
I just gave him a gift
that will kill him

Le Pont de Reynès
Feb. 11, 2008

STONE ON STONE

two ducks
cruising upstream
motionless
like small motor boats
past a white rock
in the middle
which could be
flood-washed trash
so I throw a few stones
one hits
and clicks off
not plastic
click
stone on stone
click
Roxie thinks it’s a game
and plunges into the river
going after invisible ducks

Le Pont de Reynès
Feb. 12, 2008

GRAVITY

I fell out of bed
this morning
I haven’t done that since ever

and so
on the day before
my 67th birthday
a new phase
of my life begins

falling down
falling in love with gravity

Céret
Feb. 13, 2008

DOG FEEDING
for Roxie

« What is this?
« What can this be?
« What can this possibly be?
« Can it be?
« Can it be something good to eat?
« Is it possible?
« Yes, it’s possible
« It really is!
« I think – yes, I think it really is! »

Le Pont de Reynès
Feb. 14, 2008

TWO CATALAN PORTRAITS

1.
his laughter sounds like
car tires running over
loose gravel
in a parking lot

2.
his hair line
starts an inch above
his eyebrows
we saw him long ago
in a werewolf movie

Céret
Feb. 14, 2008

LE PAYS CATALAN

people still hitchhike
down here
even old ladies

gazing at the stars at night
the only things
that get in the way
are a few unpolluted clouds

nobody throws their trash
alongside the road

listen –
no boom box cars
or planes flying overhead

no power lines
nothing to get excited about

it’s easy
to feel good down here

Le Pont de Reynès
Feb. 15, 2008

SOMETHING & EVERYTHING
for Laszlo

we’re always leaving late
to visit someplace
like Prats-de-Mollo

Laszlo thinks
(I think)
that we’re missing out
on something

but how can that be?

I see everything

even after dark
I see many interesting
things

Prats-de-Mollo
Feb. 15, 2008

SAINT CAMELOPARD

long bone
hanging out over the church door

leg bone of giraffe
it could be

the faithful don’t kneel down
when entering this church
they scream their prayers
while jumping up
to slap both hands
against the Holy Camelopard

Prats-de-Mollo
Feb. 15, 2008

CHAGALL SOUNDTRACK

out of the pandemonium
and confetti storm
of the Mardi Gras parade
and into the cool rooms
of the museum
where Marc Chagall waits
for our eyes

and as we look
at his ceramic
pots and paintings
our ears are tickled
by far-away drum beats
and brass band blasts

this usually happens
only once in a lifetime

Musée d’Art Moderne
Céret
Feb. 16, 2008

PHOTOGRAPH
(Pablo & Marc)

Pablo Picasso
and Marc Chagall
photographed
making ceramic plates
in Valllauris

Marc is smiling
because Pablo just said,
« I like to take off my shirt
when the ladies come around

do you think
some ladies are hiding
inside that camera? »

Musée d’Art Moderne
Céret
Feb. 16, 2008

NEITHER HERE NOR THERE

neither here nor there
the mind moves ahead
long before the body
and imagines
what it’s going to be like
look like
feel like
tho it never turns out
like that at all

and what’s more
after the body catches up
and the eyes see
what it really looks like
the mind can’t remember
the old imaginary pictures
it drummed up
to keep it from being
surprised

Le Pont de Reynès
Feb. 17, 2008

AFTER CANIGOU

1.
I’m gazing up
at the fireball
of the setting sun
thru the branches
of the young sycamore

and he starts
talking about
the branches

Lamanon
Feb. 17, 2008

2.
sign language:
leaping deer
falling cows
rolling bulls
snailing oysters
crocodile farms

what else
do they have down here
that I don’t believe
really exists?

Autoroute du Soleil
Feb. 18, 2008

3.
romantic love
is wanting to be as close
to some one as possible

sometimes you almost
get there
but not quite

after which the world
goes back to being
full of wonderful
white elephants

Suresnes (Paris)
Feb. 20, 2008

  

The Seven Days of Spring & Other Poems

THE SEVEN DAYS OF SPRING

on the first day of spring
we get the first snow of winter

the second day of spring
full moon and snow flakes
the size of butterflies

the third day of spring
the owl is hunting
for her frozen easter eggs

the fourth day of spring
I get out my snow boots
and roll a snowman down the hill

the fifth day of spring:
which are the cherry blossoms
and which are the snow flakes?

the sixth day of spring
only 231 shopping days ’til christmas

on the seventh day of spring
the sun comes out
the birds start to sing
and everybody forgets
about christmas

March 27, 2008

FEATHER FENCE POST ROAD & SURPRISE
(BICYCLE POEM & SHORT STORY)

first bike of the year

I bury last year’s feather
on Apple Tree Road
(plant the tip in the pointed top
of a rotting fence post
let the wind carry it away
someday)
which will now become
Feather Fence Post Road
and with the shifting winds
humming thru my spokes
head for home *

Carrot Stop, April 22, 2008

* what happens next is so weird that it refuses to be puffed into the above bag of air, so I’ll try to squeeze it into this box of unblown bubble gum down here at the bottom: I’m bent over the back of my bike, writing the above in my notebook, when suddenly – and I do mean suddenly, I’m surrounded by kids on bikes. A swarm. 40 or 50 of them in red white and black racing gear, skid lids, and MIRACLE printed on the backs of their jerseys. 3 or 4 older guys teaching them how to race in a pack. I think they’re going to move on, but no, they take a break while I sit on the verge and eat a banana. It’s as if the cycle gods in the sky spit them out of the exhaust pipe of winter saying, « Take that, bike bum, see what you get for waiting so long to get out here on the road this year. » I’m amazed and stunned of course because I never – and I mean almost never, see anyone else on a bike out here on these remote farm roads. And I’ve certainly never seen such a pack as this. Weird too because they all have a completely different reason for being out here than I. I do not intend to accelerate and stick close to my teammate when I come to the next corner. Also half of the boys look like they’d rather be home watching TV. If a film crew had snuck up on me and shot a scene with a troop of monkey escaped from the zoo I wouldn’t have been more surprised.

Two Trees Road, April 22, 2008

COOL IN CARS

I took a walk around the village
this evening
and saw people
trying to act
cool in cars

peeling out
from the bakery
driving around with their heads
hanging out of windows
with the boom box
turned up to max

then one swerved by
but missed the cat by inches

and I said, Holy Saint Pitiful
this is the best they can do
this is the high point of their lives

Stockay, April 22, 2008

CHERRY BLOSSOMS

in old Japan
(so I’m told)
they used to organize
elaborate expeditions
to watch the cherry blossoms fall

in northern Europe
we do it differently:
we take an umbrella
and a flashlight
and go out at night
and watch the rain
beat the blossoms
off the branches

April 24, 2008

THREE SECONDS IN THE LIFE

a cherry blossom
lands on the table
a single small petal

a fat fly lands next to it
and the petal flies off
on a whistle of wind

April 24, 2008

THREE MORE SECONDS IN THE LIFE

another petal lands
on this page of my notebook

I close the notebook
and promise the petal
I will never open it again

April 24, 2008

23 HOURS, 59 MINUTES & 57 SECONDS LATER

the wind blows
the notebook open
and the petal flies away

April 25, 2008

AGE

she asked, « Are you really 67? »
« That’s what they tell me, » I said,
 » I don’t remember much of 1941″
« I thought you were my age. »
« Which is? »
« 58. »
« Now that’s really old. »
She didn’t even smile.

Heerlen, April 24, 2008

FISH ON BICYCLES

Amsterdam is a flat city
it is not famous
for its hills

most cities have hills
some are famous
for their hills
and rivers

not Amsterdam
it is famous
for its canals

we’re underwater here
swimming around
at the bottom
of an invisible sea
everybody you see
is a fish

Amsterdam, May 1, 2008

DEFINE ASSHOLE

a man or a woman
who is totally
insensitive
to the feelings
and needs
of others

and goes around
making a big deal
about how proud he is
of being that way

the cure : yet to be discovered

but who cares?
there’s enough kind,
gentle, intelligent
generous,
compassionate
people in the world
to keep us supplied
with good vibrations
until the end of time

Mighty Jericho Road
May 4, 2008

CHUMBAWAMBA

I get knocked down
I get up again

I get so excited
when I hear Tub Thumping
for the first time
ten years after its release
(on BBC Four’s 100
most annoying pop songs)
that when I finally
track down the CD
I put it on repeat play
and listen to it 30 times
in a row

I get knocked down
I get up again

I get so excited
that I stomp around the room
doing a Cheyenne shaman dance
punching my fists
in the air
and shouting along

I get knocked down
I get up again

I get so excited
that I want Marie Claire
to hear it

he drinks a whiskey drink
he drinks a vodka drink
he drinks a larger drink
he drinks a cider drink

she sits
with her hands in her lap
and listens patiently
to the end
then she gets up
and finishes
drying the dishes

May 20, 2008

SLIP & FALL

stepping out of the shower
(precarious moment)
I was thinking of Jean Pol
who is getting married today

one day last week
I was thinking of Adam Sandler
I remember one time
it was Bela Bartok

which is to say
if I’d suddenly slipped
& fallen & killed myself
those would have been
the images
I would have taken
into the afterlife
the pictures
I would have carried around
in my head for eternity

or until I was reborn

I’m glad I didn’t slip
& fall today
Jean Pol is OK
but I don’t want to carry
his picture around forever
and I’m sure glad
it wasn’t Adam Sandler
he thinks he’s funny
but he’s not
somebody told him
when he was small
that he had a great
sense of humor
they lied

but this is not about
Adam Sandler
this is about the last picture
which will be my eternal future

it might not be a shower
it might be a plane
falling on my head
or a man with a knife
sneaking up from behind
I just hope
it isn’t Adam Sandler

St. Georges, May 27, 2008

CAT LUCK

Wei Wei says in China
if a cat comes into the house
it’s bad luck
somebody will die

I think of Jimbo
who’s been in and out
of our house
day and night
for seven years

and before that
there was Moon
and Shortstop
and Breakdance
and Chunga
and Lumberjack
in and out of the house
night and day
thousands of times
for 30 years

now I know why
the political-industrial
American war machine
had to invade Iraq
and murder a lot of people

it’s all my fault
I should have known
that Jimbo and his brethren
were serial killers

May 28, 2008

LOOKING FORWARD TO THE 2008 OLYMPICS

something tells me
that this year
the Olympic Gold
will mean half as much
as it did in Barcelona
Atlanta
& Sydney
which already was half
of what it had been in Tokyo
Mexico City
& Munich

for the silver
it’ll be a toss up
between a runner-up sash
in a Miss Sasquatch beauty contest
and the green silk ribbon I won
in the hop, step & jump
in junior high

as for the bronze
it’ll be worth about the same
as a boy scout merit badge
in wood burning

May 29, 2008

HOP, STEP & JUMP

junior high, 1955
the Sonoma County Track Meet
I’d practiced all year
for the high jump
but didn’t even come close
to 4-feet

somebody said
« Hey, they’ve only got
2 guys signed up
for the hop, step & jump »
nobody knew how to do it
so I watched, figured it out
and scored third place
with a jump of 11-feet, 3-inches

first time I tried it
never tried it again

I went on to become
a famous musician

WAITING FOR BEAR

outside the glass door
looking back inside
at all the people
who came to the wedding
walking about
and talking
and dancing
I’ve already said goodbye
to everyone
can’t go back inside now
but
I can see
they’re going to get along
quite nicely
without me

Les Awirs, June 7, 2008

KEEP DANCING

and so maybe I think
too much about death
after five beers
it’s on my mind

Dave says I’ll live
to be a really old man
and by then
I won’t be thinking
about anything at all

Les Awirs, June 7, 2008

JAMES BROWN COW

I rode out today
and I saw Al Gore
walking along the street

I saw Chris from the Eggheads

I saw James Taylor
and I saw Jason Lee

I thought I saw Luciano Pavarotti
but he turned out to be
a brown cow

the people around here
keep me busy
trying to figure out
which celebrity
I might look like

Watertower Road, June 19, 2008

WHEAT, BARLEY & RYE (BIKE POEM 1)

today I rode out
between the fields of wheat
and barley and rye

I still didn’t know
which was which

the corn?
was that really corn?
or was it me?

Old Farm Road (heading out), June 24, 2008

EVERYBODY KNOWS WHERE THEY’RE GOING
AND EXACTLY HOW TO GET THERE
(BIKE POEM 2)

people stop
and ask directions
as if any old geezer
on a bike
knows these roads
which I do
every inch
except my head
is usually somewhere else
on birds for instance
or (for instance)
when I’ve got the four
windmills lined up in a row
in the distance
blades whirling
it looks like they’re all
feeding off the same
wave of wind

or
hey, the poppies
are being picked
to extinction

or
I’m carrying on an imaginary
conversation with Pete
about bicycle poems

or
I’ve got 4 or 5 lines
of a bicycle poem
stacked up in my head
that needed to be unloaded
into this notebook

(I’ve got 4 or 5 lines
of a bicycle poem
stacked up in my head
that needed to be unloaded
into this notebook)

« Can you please tell us
how to get to Rue de Heppelette? »
and suddenly we’ve got another problem

« I know that one
except I call it Mudslide Road –
and to get there you go down to the end
and turn left onto Frozen Eyelid Road
then you go until you come to a junction
and turn right on John the Baptist Boulevard
go for about two miles on John the Baptist
past the Mystic Frites
past Jawbone Alley
and take the next right –
no – that’s Mambojerk Lane
you don’t want to go on Mambojerk
cause that dead-ends in Twilight Zone Avenue
take the next right – Busted Chain Guard Road
you should be able to see the Chocolate
Watertower from there
and follow Busted Chain Guard
until you come to a fork
fork right and you’re on Mudslide
can’t miss it. »

they nod and drive away
they know exactly where they’re going
and so do I

Aeolian Road, June 24, 2008

MORE DIRECTIONS

I know where I am
and exactly where I’m going

I’m here
and I’m going over there
what more can you say?

nothing

because it’ll get all twisted
and mixed up if I start
talking about this being
my first visit to High Point Hesbaye
this year and look at the huge gnarly
tree stump that got blown down
a couple of years ago
and when I stepped over a branch
I thought if I were in California
I’d have to watch out for rattlesnakes
but all I’ve ever seen in Belgium
serpent-wise
are a few sliver gliders
but don’t get me started on the BUGS
they’re everywhere
fruit flies, horse flies
dragon flies, fire flies
wasps, mosquitoes
hornets, bumble bees
fire flies, gnats
ticks, bo-hicks
plasterboles, groo-munsters
swarks, snides
figglestabs, pesterbuggers
juggergnots, nasty jasters
mellowsmellows, jimbohooks
farthersomes, mugsomes
bildersnags and pink winks
there must be a million species
and most of them don’t have names

like I said before
what else can you say?

nothing

Rainbow Stub Road June 24, 2008

THE SEVEN DAYS OF SUMMER

on the second day of summer
hail fell from the sky
stones the size of my thumb nail

who’s calling the shots up there?

on the third day of summer
the sky is so true blue
that when I touch it
I leave a thumb print

the fourth day of summer
while Bear cuts my hair
a bird in a tree overhead
tries out for the soprano part
in La Traviata

on the fifth day of summer
it rained so hard
that there were mudslides
all over the land
people everywhere said:
« This is not summer –
this is the end of the world. »

on the sixth day of summer
the rain fell so lightly
the snails in the garden
thought they were on vacation
in an old Chinese painting

on the seventh day of summer
after 40 years of marriage
I bought Bear
a wedding ring
from a bubble gum machine
in a supermarket
it was made of precious purple
and I made her very happy

you might ask:
what happened
on the first day of summer?

and I might say:
I really can’t remember
I was still thinking about
the last day of spring

June 27, 2008

SLUGS

going up to bed
I find a slug
trying to crawl
into my flannel shirt pocket

one of these moonless nights
a slug will be waiting for me
above the doorway
when I come home
it will drop on my head
and suck at my brains

I will fall to the ground
the cat will come up
and lick my face
but it will be too late

the slug will have consumed me

there will be nothing left
except my clothes
a 6 foot 3, 180-pound
slug in a flannel shirt
jeans sneakers
and baseball cap
crawling away
towards a moist rock
in the forest

I haven’t mentioned this yet
but I don’t like slugs

and neither will you
when they drop on your skull
and suck out your brains
in the middle of the night

July 10, 2008

HARVEST

mid-July
and the wheat’s coming down

2 weeks too soon

the farmers are hungry
they haven’t had a loaf of bread
since last year about this time

Carrot Stop, July 12, 2008

THE MINI GREED
OF THE MATERIALISTIC BUMPS

today, July 24, 2008
the Materialistic Bumps bought
one lawn mower
one French fryer
one watering can for the flowers
one big plastic bucket for the garden
one fly screen of plastic strips for the front door
four 20-watt halogen light bulbs
two ordinary 60-watt light bulbs

a remarkable trend
can be noticed
in the purchasing habits
of the Materialistic Bumps

their greed has diminished

everything they bought
could fit into the trunk of their car

plus
after 3 years
of living in darkness
they will be able
to see what they’re eating

NEW JUNK

first we loaded up the trunk of the car
with an old broken lawnmower
a broken plastic garden chair
a bagful of frigolite cubes
a basketful of empty bottles
and a burnt out French fryer

then we took them over
to the recycling dump
and dumped them

on the way home
we stopped at a couple of stores
and filled up the trunk
with more stuff
that someday
we will have to load
back in the trunk
and haul off to the dump

you know what I was thinking?
why don’t we drive the new junk
straight to recycling center
and save us a trip later

July 24, 2008

TOUR DE FRANCE

who watched it?
nobody I know
who won?
who cares?

July 27, 2008

ACRONYM

isn’t there anybody out there
who’s as alarmed as I am
about this hyper-acronymic world
we’re living in?

it started with « OK »
and quickly escalated thru « PDQ »
and « ASAP »
to « NAACP »
and now there is no end in sight

MTV
VCR
DVD
BVD
CIA
FBI
DAR
EMI
CBS
NBC
ABC
CNN
GSM
GNP
PSA
PTA
TWA
BBC
BRT
RTB
RCA
PLO
HMO
CEO
DIY
FYI
FCC
FDA
UHF
UVL
UFO
RAI
SMS
USA
USO
NRA
TVA
VAT
RTL
WWW
SOS
CHU
DNA
RNA
DDR
COD
HIV
TNT
DDT
GOP
KLM
KIA
HRE
EUR
THC
BMI
MRI
JVC
NBA
MLB
NFL
IOC
IBM
IOU
LSD
LDS
PhD
UPS
BSA
GTO
GMC
AFL
CIO
OBE
AKG
DWI
DOA
ARD
ZDF
IRS
IRA
EEG
RSA
PVC
MVP
VIP
PGA
PMS
HBO
HMS
ETA
ELO
CPR
DMZ
GMT
BLT
BTU
SAC
SAT
SUV
USC
MGM
MiG
MIT
TLC
TKO
MIA
PAT
FDR
JFK
ERA
DST
SST
KLM
KKK
AAA
IPS
BIA
SOP
SOB
MPH
RPM
REM
RBI
FFA
MLK
RKO
LBJ
LFO
LPG
BMW
RAF
AMA
APO
CPA
QED
NCO
PTO
RIP
WWF
AFN
LPG
STP
PCP
ICU
ATM
VSO
VFW
POW
KLA
KRO
NPR
AEC
CNS
ESP
OED
XTC

give us another hundred years
and we’ll have our language
reduced to 3-letter words or less

ID
CD
MP
KP
KO
TB
BO
MS
MA
DT(s)
PC
DB
DA
DH
PO
CV
JC
JD
JG
BP
OD
TA
AA
CC
UN
LA
RV
RN
FM
AM
TV
TD
BM
JV
RV
DP
HP
CB
PR
PG
PS
PA
VD
VC
UC
PI
PJ (s)
OJ
PE
BS
CO
DM
GP
LP
MC
NB
QV
SF
WC
VW
IV
IQ

and we’ll be stumbling around
speaking like first graders
trying to learn the alphabet

Feather Post Road, July 31, 2008

END QUOTE

Bear leaves me a note that says

« Writing is the only space
of total freedom. »

which means
that it can no longer be

because from now on
writing will be
(quote)
the only space of total freedom
(end quote)

which means
if you think about it
you’re screwed

good thing I don’t think about it

August 16, 2008

BEAR SAYS

« I don’t mind
having grey hair

except it makes me look tired. »

August 16, 2008

QUADS

snow mobiles
jet skis

I hate ’em

quads are worse

wheel chairs
for mental parapalegics

every time one goes by
I wish him a solid
& fatal collision
with a power pole
an impact so total
that every molecule
of his body
will become so deeply enbedded
in the concrete
that not even a cyclotron
will be able to pull them out

August 31, 2008

EAST OF CARROT STOP

sitting on a bale of straw
(that won’t be here the next time
I ride down Pony Cart Road)
in the middle of a field
(which I seldom get a chance to visit
because of winter and spring mud,
spring wheat planting, summer
growth and harvest)
facing west into the setting sun
into the wind
watching the windmills turn
and the silver rain
slant down from black clouds

in less than an hour
everything here
will be soaking wet

I’ll be somewhere else
down the road
across the fields
getting soaked
in a different place

August 31, 2008

SWEET SPIT

strong cross-wind
from the south
I spit north

and the glob sails
way out
into the field
of sugar beets

for that special touch
of Hesbaye Bike Bum flavor
in someone’s coffee
on a cold winter morning
next year

Blinking Light Road, Sept. 2, 2008

FALL

the poplars
are the first victims
of the winter chill

I stop to watch
the leaves falling
and I realize
that I’m already
looking forward to
the cherry blossoms

Jean-Baptist Boulevard, Sept. 8, 2008

EGO-GEOCENTRICUS

what we have a habit of forgetting
(ego-geocentricus)
is that when the sun goes down
it keeps on turning and burning
turning and burning all night long
and it’s still
turning and burning
when it comes up in the morning
and it’s been turning and burning
for six billion years
(as a matter of fact)
tho neither you nor I
can comprehend the idea
of six billion anythings

even one million is impossible

I have trouble
with a thousand
years
dollars
balloons
wishes
pages
people

but of course the sun
doesn’t bother counting
it just turns and burns
and someday
in the blink of an eye
it will burn out
and we will be
all alone
with no light at all

Rage Road, Sept. 27, 2008

THE SEVEN DAYS OF FALL

on the first day of fall
I find myself bundled up
in scarf, sweater, flannel jacket
and wool cap
thinking today might as well be
the first day of winter

they say that today
– the second day of fall –
is shorter than yesterday
that might be true
but I don’t know about the night

the night is capable
of doing anything

it’s been creeping up on me
earlier and earlier
these past couple of weeks
with such obscure determination
that I have started
to take it personally

on the third day of fall
when I switched off the light
and lay down to sleep
it was still dark outside the window

for the first time in 6 months

no birds were singing

this is not good news
if I’m not awake to make sure
the daylight will return
and bring back the sun
we all might get tricked
into years of perpetual night

think about that

it’s not a very nice thought
is it?

and now, at last
you can understand
the importance of my work
and if I started falling
to sleep on the job
I won’t blame you
if you get someone
to take my place

what can I say
about the fourth day of fall
that hasn’t been said before?

we all know about
the soft thump of ripe apples
falling in a distant orchard
we all know the cool
nostril-tingling
scent of fresh apples
gathered in boxes
in the woodshed
filling the air
with wood stump perfume
that makes us want
to linger and sniff
until our noses grow dull
and seek out the last rose
of summer still swaying
atop it’s long stem
in the garden
stealing light
from the wind-chilled sun

but I bet you didn’t know
about the 3 million, 575 thousand
sub-microscopic creatures
that cover your body
strolling around on your skin
climbing around in your hair
shopping in the malls of your armpits
and feasting on picnic lunches
in the public parks of your legpits
who are now growing long noses
and burrowing down deep
into your pores for a long
period of hibernation
give ’em a scratch
with your fingernails
and stir up a riot

there is something about
the fifth day of fall
that is difficult to talk about

for instance
on the fifth day of fall
I listened to the weather report

they said we were going to have
more weather

and they were right

while mowing the lawn
on the sixth day of fall
you can tell yourself
that this won’t be the last time
this year, tho you know
when you roll the mower
into the shed, drain the oil
and cover it with a plastic tarp
you won’t be seeing it again
until sometime early April

watching the leaves fall
on the seventh day of fall
we can console ourselves
with the fact
that we live longer
than a leaf

SUICIDAL COWS
for Amandine

she says in France
they have to put up
fences along the edge
of the sea cliff
to keep the suicidal cows
from jumping over

I say I’ve never seen a cow
who was not depressed

QUATRAIN

he lays them all away
on the lay away plan
try to stay away
from the Slam Hammer Man

QUATRAIN

he never looks up
at the vulture in the sky
he will always be
Once Bitten Twice Shy

  

Rome Poems
EAR-POP TUNNELS & MIST-COVERED HILLS

lifting the curtain
& peering out at the dawn
as we roll out
of a night tunnel
from Paris to Bologna
into ear-pop tunnels
& mist-covered hills
wondering what Italy
looks like after 40 years

pine forests with bulldozers
& earth-cut road construction

looks like Northern California

Castiglione
October 23, 2008

BARBARIAN INVASION HEADACHE

and here I am
on a train
returning to Rome
after 40 years
looking forward
to the old ways
of ancient civilization
getting ready to float
in warm memories

and instead
I come face to face
with a pair of hostile
loud-mouth, obnoxious
black-skin barbarians
from the south
who insult me
with their noise
and egotistical pollution

I call him an asshole
he calls me a racist
I tell him to shut up
he shuts up

and if any of you think
I might be a racist
let it be known
that I just voted for
Barack Obama
(and Otis Redding
and James Baldwin
and Ralph Ellison
and Jesse James
and the Temptations)

Arrezo
October 23, 2008

OPEN MOUTH

sliding down the rails
towards Rome
Bear across from me
asleep with her mouth
wide open

it looks like
she doesn’t have any teeth

it looks like
she’s trying to catch a fly

it looks like
she is trying to sing

Orte
October 23, 2008

COMING BACK TO ROME

coming back to Rome
I didn’t know what to expect
but I wasn’t expecting
to see picture window billboards
spray painted graffiti
huge red & green balloons
holding up entire
flatroof supermarkets

bright white taxis

the blue flashing light
& siren blasting police escort
streaking across the Gianicolo
with a fox-face politician
on his way to a cage
full of plump chickens

or to get crapped on
by a seagull
while eating an ice cream cone

or to see 100,000
migrating blackbirds
as fine as mist
dancing over the rooftops
of the city
from Piazza Navona
to the Spanish Steps

and this is only
our first day in Rome

River Tevere
October 23, 2008

HOW DO THEY DARE

how do they dare
build a city like Brussels
when there’s Roma
waiting for the whole world
to drop by for a visit
& to see exactly how
a beautiful city should be created

Piazza San Egidio
October 23, 2008

I NEVER EXPECTED

on our second day in Rome
I didn’t expect to see
grey-robed nuns
with backpacks
trudging thru the church
in Santa Maria in Trastevere
and peeking into
the chapel of the Madonna

I expected to see
a barbarian invader from the south
but I never expected
to see one walking
thru Trastevere
with a stack of white sweat socks
in a plastic sack
under his arm

I expected to hear
a few church bells
(and so far I’ve heard
more than a few)
but I never expected
to hear Bear say
she’d like to drive a streetcar
down via Arenula

and I never expected
to be sitting in a waiting room
of the ER
on Isola Tiburina
waiting for a doctor
to pull out a tick
from my belly

and I never expected
to go down the steps
of Piazza Argentina
to the cat sanctuary
where 300 cats live
or have one of them
jump up on my lap
and go to sleep

I half expected
to get another flavor
when I ordered a blackberry
ice cream cone
so I wasn’t too surprised
when I got cherry

from Trastevere to Piazza Navona
October 24, 2008

STORNI & ZECCHE

« Storni, » says Francesco
slowly pronouncing the word
which describes the migrating
black birds which flood the skies
of the city at sunset
and settle in the trees
along the Tevere
« Storni, » he says
(almost rolling the R)
« Storni »
(putting the word
in a delicate box)

« Zeccha, » says Marion
sharply pronouncing the word
which describes the tiny beast
with its claws buried in my bellyskin

starlings & ticks
they sound better in Italian

via Mattonato (Trastevere)
October 24, 2008

POLITICAL RUMORS & THUNDERSTORM

when I came to Rome
I expected to hear music
& bump into a few
political rumors

but I never expected
to find myself
surrounded by thousands
of rumors in Circo Massimo
in the middle of a political rally
for the partito democratico
while live television
beamed pictures on the wide screens
next to the festival stage
of a million more rumors
50 abreast in a mile-long parade
clogging the streets of Rome
& waving red and white flags
while the speakers pumped out
5000 watts of Bruce Springsteen
singing « Born to Run »

when I came to Rome
I expected
some weather
but I never expected
a lightning
& thunder storm
over Piazza Colonna
in the late afternoon

from Circo Massimo to Piazza Colonna
October 25, 2008

LOOK

Bear has a favorite word:
« Look! »

she says « Look! »
and I look

she says, « Look! »
and I look over there

then she says, « Look! »
and I look to where she’s pointing

she says, « Look!’
all the time

I’ve never done
so much looking
in my life

vicolo del Leopardo (Trastevere)
October 25, 2008

ITALIAN ELVIS

and I never expected
to see an Italian Elvis
walking around Trastevere
with a rock-a-billy haircut
sideburns, shades
and a cane

vicolo del Leopardo
October 25, 2008

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS

set back the clocks
last night
one extra hour in Rome
which I put to good use
this morning
by walking around
our rented apartment
in my bare feet

via Panieri
October 26, 2008

PILES OF RUINS & ERODED STONE STATUARY

walking around Rome
in a single day
the city builds up
piles of ruins
and eroded stone statuary
in my nose and I spend
an hour each night
before going to bed
tearing them down

don’t get me started
on the other
nostril

via Panieri
October 25, 2008

UNIFORMS

Romans are a bunch
of decent, friendly folk
until you put one
in a uniform
cops
doctors
nurses
museum guards
then look out
he turns into a puffed up
(and don’t forget stupid)
piece of stronzino maiale
and will try to spread
his turdness
all over you
if you give him
half a chance

Campidoglio
October 26, 2008

MORE STORNI

thousands of birds
in the trees
along the river
at night
sleeping & chirping
in their dreams

I emerge
onto Ponte Sisto
covered in bird shit

I thought it was raining

Ponte Sisto
October 26, 2008

INSTANT DREAM MEAT

the psycho-docs
will have you believe
that dreams contain deep
arcane messages
from the underground tombs
of the mind
which can be instantly
recognized & reduced
to simple explanations

for example
getting bit by a dog
in a dream
« simple-izes » your own
animal nature in rebellion
against arbitrary restrictions

I say; bullshit
if you get bit by a dog
in a dream
it means that you got bit
by a dog in a dream
and the reason for this
will remain
mysterious & impossible
to explain
forever

via Panieri
4:30 am, October 27, 2008

INSTANT FREUD & JUNG

Bear wakes up
and asks
« who was the first
to interpret dreams? »

I say, « Wait til you hear
what I just wrote down
– and if you tell me
that you just got bit
by a dog in your dream
I’ll start barking. »

via Panieri
4:45 am, October 27, 2008

CRAPODASTRO

there was a single hair
from Bear’s head
sticking to the end
of the glycerin suppository
when I stuck it in
for my morning crap

now can say
with pride:
I have a wild hair
up my ass
via Panieri
October 27, 2008

DIALOGO

Bear asks:
« Do you think you can die
from too much happiness? »

I say:
no
you keep on living
whether you like it or not

via Panieri
October 27, 2008

NEW ITALIAN DIALECT

after a few days in Rome
strange combinations of words
pop into my head:

sposati regionale
mango tastro
glossferatu
fanccio ribasi
spiradiamo questini
tulicamoli
sublancianta rodulgo
pacolacio giropappo

stay here a few more days
and I’ll have a lexicon
of useless expressions

ralentondi garseppio
arancimbolo astro lunchi
luzzabilio dulla bardunna

with a map of street names
nobody’s ever heard of:

via Pergovaldi
vicolo della Pagastrina
piazza Carbonasto
corso Gacchio

after the study of which
the citizens of the city
will be lost & frustrated
& reduced to uttering
foul oaths & colloquial curses:

« Verboclappo! »
« Zagonistra! »
« Fungopretondo con fongusto! »
« Vogliolesciutto! »
« Grasto la basto!’
« Che sicorpo! »
« Hosta paduto! »

in a few years all these spontaneous words
will become the foundation
of a new Italian Dialect:

Io grimo decombotato crusti spizzico la nano barsevi scruffiamo mimolisti.
Caperno campofasti mistimo rivopallo pochi.
La tigrata porti nello lustopiggerasto de lupisto formigianna e dei fighetti collaborundi soni quilla quodo pastorano.

PALAZZO RICCI & I SUOI LEUTARI

violins hang from hooks
in the wood dust air
a glass case of violas
a row of cellos on the balcony
their red wood glowing
in the shadowed light
from the high, barred windows

dozens of string quartets

their silent music
fills the workshop
and the thunderous applause
they will gather someday
is overwhelming

Piazza Ricci
October 27, 2008

THE HISTORY OF THE ROMAN STRINGERS
to Claude Lebet

when I came to Rome
I expected to bring back
a couple of extra pounds
of books
but I never expected
to be bringing back
two centuries
of violins & cellos
that weigh more than
all the cobblestones
of via Leutari

Piazza Farnese
October 27, 2008

THE HUNCHBACK CRONE SPRAWLED ON THE STONES IN THE DOORWAY
OF SANTA MARIA IN TRASTEVERE

she can get expensive

she gets you coming
and going

October 27, 2008

FRIENDS

I hope we see some friends
when we get back to Belgium
so they can say:
« You sure picked up a lot of sun »
and
« You got a great tan »
and
« It looks like you’re feeling pretty good. »

UMBRELLA

sorry, Claude
a dead-hearted thief
stole your beautiful black umbrella
in the Paris metro
while we were going
from Gare de Lyon
to Gare du Nord

I was looking forward
to many rains
under that umbrella
of having it over my head
keeping me dry
while thinking about you

now I’ll have to go back
to wearing
a baseball cap

Gare du Nord (Paris)
October 30, 2008

MAPS &PHOTOS

now all I’ve got
are old street maps
and a few fuzzy pictures
to confuse my memories

Belgium
October 29, 2008

  

The Seven Days of Winter & Other Poems

PERFECT EVENING

I step out
into the autumn twilight
leaves falling
fallen apples perfuming
the cool air
a perfect evening

then I look back
and see the half moon rising

is it possible
for an evening
to be more than perfect?

November 8, 2008

T. ZIMMERMAN, HERMIT, AGE 67

I hear the boys
shouting in the woods

I go out and lean
in my doorway

and here they come
a half dozen boy scouts
tramping in the ditch
along the fence line
kicking up the knee-deep leaves

they’ve never been here before
hardly anybody ever comes here
because there’s no place to go
a dead-end up the valley
but they hike on by
intent on getting
out of the woods
and not getting lost

none of them see me
50 feet away
except the last boy
trailing behind
alone
he looks up
I slowly lift my hand
shoulder high
– a half wave
he slowly lifts his hand
and half-waves back

I’m sure he’ll remember
this silent encounter
with the old hermit of the valley
for the rest of his life

and with a little luck
the old hermit
will remember too

November 8, 2008

T. ZIMMERMAN, POET, AGE 67

I never look in the mirror
and I hadn’t looked closely
at a photo of myself for 10 years
until Bear brought back
all these close-ups of my face
from Rome

wrinkles, grey beard
missing teeth
holy shit
I’m an old man

crazy thing is
everybody has seen me
this way
for 10 years or more
and all the time
I thought I was still 25

November 8, 2008

T. ZIMMERMAN, POLITICAL ACTIVIST, AGE 67

I got this candle
from Amnesty International
red-brown, 4 inches high
with a spiral of barbed wire
printed on the stubby cylinder
from bottom to top
the idea being that with every
link of wire I burn
another prison fence
in the world will fall

I wish it could be that easy

still, I give it a try
I let the candle burn
down past the first barb
and a half hour later
the TV tells me
that a Canadian journalist
had been released
from a hostage prison
in Afghanistan
holy cow!
it really works
give me more candles
thousands of candles
I’ll light up the world
and put the sun to shame

November 9, 2008

T. ZIMMERMAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, AGE 67

everybody knows
that poetry and politics
don’t mix.
(ask Ezra Pound)
but I can’t help myself
on this one:

five days ago
we, the American people
elected Barack Obama
as our new president
and I still can’t believe it

for the first time in my life
I voted FOR a candidate
(and not against one)
for the first time in my life
I’m almost proud
to be an American
(been ashamed for so long
that I’ve grown weary
of avoiding of my own face
in the mirror)
for the first time
in my life I can actually
believe that something
good can happen
when people get together
and try to alter
the disastrous slide
into oblivion in which
we the people of the world
have been headed
for the past 50 years.

for the first time in my life
I’ve heard good news
when I switched on the TV:
« Crowds all over the world
are celebrating! »

maybe this time, folks
maybe just one time
for the first time in my life
and not the last

November 9, 2008

SLEEP

sleeping has become
such hard work
I should be
getting paid for it

by the hour

November 11, 2008

CRUISER

a PT Cruiser
with an electric purple
paint job

I would look good
behind the wheel
of one of those

highway to Liege at twilight,
November 12, 2008

THE FIRST DAY OF WINTER

the trees are empty
the leaves are all down
summer lying dead
in small pieces
around my studio

this looks a lot like
the first day of winter

Nov. 12, 2008

WASHING MACHINE BELLY

I eat a couple
of soft boiled eggs
then crawl back into bed
and feel my stomach
working on them
like a washing machine

first it goes:
« THUMP – THUMP – THUMP »
then it settles down into:
« YUMMY – YUMMY – YUMMY »

at the end it shifts up
into the spin-dry cycle
and I fall to sleep
spinning around in the funnel
of a whirlpool
and drowning
in my own dreams

November 16, 2008

WEASEL BASKETBALL

last winter
a couple of weasels
got under the roof
and into the attic
they scratched around
at night, bit each other
and squealed

I went up
to chase them away
but they were hidden
under a pile
of 30-year old junk

I latched onto
some sports gear
my son left behind
from his childhood:
a red and yellow
basketball
and an orange and plastic
t-ball bat

I beat the half-deflated
basketball
with the bat
and the weasels
went away

now they’re back
thumping around
biting and squealing
so I guess it’s time to go up
and pound on the basketball
again

November 21, 2008

THE FIRST DAY OF WINTER – 2

snow
and
more
snow

look familiar?

looks like
the first day of winter
to me

November 22, 2008

WINSTON CHURCHILL DREAMED

Winston Churchill dreamed
he’d discovered
the secret of the universe:
THE SMELL OF TURPENTINE

I wake up
and find out what it really is:
THE TASTE OF RHUBARB ICE CREAM

November 22, 2008

FIRST DAY OF WINTER – 3
(Frozen Worms)

blackbirds pecking
at the crust of icy snow
starving

don’t look now
it might be
the first day
of winter

November 23, 2008

QUEEN WITH MOUSE

saw a documentary on BBC
about a painter who painted
a portrait of Queen Elizabeth

she was sitting royally
back straight, hands in her lap
with an « off with his head »
kind of smile
curling her stiff
upper lip

too bad I never became
a famous portrait painter
who got a commission
to do the queen
I would have put her
on a toilet
with a roll of pink paper
in her hand
and the tail of a mouse
dangling from the corner
of her mouth

November 24, 2008

ORIGINAL FOOD

how did we ever
get roped into eating
broccoli?

the original tribe
must have had a human
guinea pig
a food taster
he’d nibble on a chicken egg
find out it tasted better boiled
and without the shell

then he’d chomp down
on a mushroom
puke and go back
to sucking on carrots

stick his nose
into a bee hive
slurp up a bellyful of honey
get stung a few times
then go back for more

he’d scoop up a handful
of rotten peanuts
declare it to be peanut butter
and soon all the moms
would be sending
their cave kids
off to school
with peanut butter & jelly sandwiches

but what I want to know is this:
what was he thinking
when he approved of
brussels sprouts?
he must have had
a bad cold that day

November 26, 2008

JIMBO THE SNOWMAN

stepped outside
to see if the cat
wanted to come in
from the cold

I bent over
and said softly:
« How about it, Jimbo
want to come in
where it’s warm? »

no reply

I took a step closer
and found I was talking to
a pile of snow

December 3, 2008

FOOTBALL GAME

each Christmas
when I was a kid
age 8 to 11
my namesake uncle
Charles Tucker
who once upon a recent time
(before the war)
had been first string defensive guard
from Wake Forest
would give me piles
of football gear
hoping I’d grow up
to become a famous
football player

fat chance
I was skinnier than a goalpost
with no promise of bulky muscle
on my physical horizon

I never used the gear

tho sometimes I’d put it on
the shoulder pads
the pants
the helmet
and sit on the edge of my bed
and listen to football games
on the radio

December 5, 2008

DYLAN’S WHITE BIRDS
(« What do you think of the white birds? »)

some will turn black
before they come back

some will still be white

some of them might
but they won’t be white

some won’t come back at all

December 4, 2008

THE SEVEN DAYS OF WINTER

the calendar says
it’s the First Day of Winter
but as far as I’m concerned
we’ve been here a couple of times
already
so let’s skip ahead to

the Second Day of Winter
when Jimbo (bless his primitive soul)
blesses our barren landscape
with his black and white ball of fur
as he sits on the snow-bleached grass
contemplating a pile of dead leaves
and wondering where all the fat
tasty field mice
are hiding

on the Third Day of Winter
the nights are already getting shorter
(or so they say)
I don’t know if this is true
I think the nights are getting faster
and so are the days
they been getting
faster and faster
for years
the average length of a day
is 17 minutes now
and as for the night, alas
it’s down to 6½

on the Fourth Day of Winter
(Christmas Eve)
I prepare my holiday spirit
with my annual repeat play
audition of the Pogues
Fairytale of New York
(the most beautiful
Christmas song ever written)
and it’s comforting to hear
that the boys in the NYPD choir
are still singing
Galway Bay

it’s the Fifth Day of Winter
(Christmas morning)
and for the first time in my life
we don’t have a tree

no big deal

I didn’t even notice
until Santa Claus
pulled up
and didn’t know
where to park
my new PT Cruiser

on the Sixth Day of Winter
(the day after)
we drive into town
and walk thru masses
of humans waving
shirts and sweaters
and underwear
and necktie gifts
trying to get the stores
to exchange them
for a different size

not us
we buy a 40-pound turkey

the check-out girl
stares at it for a long time
and I know what she’s thinking:
some people just can’t get enough
of that Christmas dinner

on the seventh day of winter
I look out the window
and I see the sun shining

the sky is blue
and birds are flying

I know about the window
and how I’m not supposed to believe
everything I see on the other side

I know that it’s 45 degrees
below zero out there
cold enough
to freeze the tears in my eyes

but let’s pause for a moment
and forget about the window
let’s just say (you and I)
that from where we’re standing
it looks like the first day of spring

I read much of the night and go south in the winter

Canigou Poems – Series Two – January – March 2009 |  TUCKER ZIMMERMAN

PARADE

driving the freeway
you join the parade
you just plug in mentally
and flow along
with the collective amoeba mind

only you might know
where you’re going
but how you get there
is everybody’s business

near Arlon
on the highway to France, Jan. 9, 2009

HUMAN SUITCASE

packed car
heading for the south of France
Bear takes out the food
and eats a couple of sandwiches
« Making more room
in the back, » she says
using her stomach
for storage space

near Troyes
on the Autoroute de Soilel, Jan. 9, 2009

PUNCH LINE

the curious punch line
of staying in a luxurious
3-star hotel for a night
is that when you sleep
(the reason you came here in the first place)
you could be anywhere
(in your humble bed back home
or wrapped in a dirty blanket
in a skid row doorway
or buried in pelts
in the back of a mossy cave)
and the dreams you enjoy
or suffer (your meeting
with the doctor
who gives you 24 injections
in the wrist
or listening to a radio
where some slope artist is talking about
the nostril police
or trying to take a picture
with a camera full of whipped cream)
would emerge
from your interior landscape
no matter where you might be
in the world

St. Quentin-de-Poterie, Jan. 10, 2009

ALIEN AEOLIANS

many aeolians
in the south of France

recently one was found
with a broken
and melted blade

folks say
it got hit by a u.f.o.

the aliens thought they saw
an old friend from back home
and dropped down to say hello

now we know
what the men from outer space
look like

they look like windmills

Autoroute du Sud near Perpignan,
Jan. 11, 2009

BACK AT THE MAS TRILLES

Canigou covered with snow
the River Tech a foot higher
than last year
Roxie a pound or two
heavier
with a few more grey hairs
and a little slower

about the same as me

Pont Reynes, Jan. 11, 2009

GRANDE CAFÉ DE PARIS

sit down by the window
order a hot chocolate
the friendly and charming
waitress younger than I
(but not by much)
sets the cup down in front of me
saying: « Voici, jeune homme. »

I hope Bear
in the cyber cafe up the street
finishes her messages
and comes down to join me
before I finish
so the waitress can see
what a great « jeune femme »
(friendly and charming
and younger than I
but not by much)
has chosen to be my lifetime companion

Amélie-les-Bains, Jan. 13, 2009

TWO NO FOOLS

sitting by the River Tech
after sundown
Roxie chewing
on a wet branch
the chill of wet leaves
seeping up thru my jeans
both of us
just letting the river flow by

I’d be a fool
to ask for more

at moments like this
I’m not so foolish

Pont Reynes, Jan. 13, 2009

DOG & HOG

Roxie smells something
along the river
maybe an animal

I get down on my hands
and knees
and stick
my nose
in the pile of leaves

what can this be?

yes it is

wild boar

Pont Reynes, Jan. 13, 2009

NOTHING

I spent the whole day
doing nothing

then I came home
and did nothing

then I read for a while
after which
I didn’t do anything
at all

Pont Reynes, Jan. 14, 2009

MORE NOTHING

Marie Claire says
that doing nothing
doesn’t mean anything
unless you’ve been doing
something
before you started doing
nothing

doing a lot
of something
can be followed by
doing a lot of nothing

we are both prepared
to start doing
a lot of nothing

Pont Reynes, Jan. 14, 2009

LIGHT

light falls
and drops into the river
like tiny pebbles

light flows
and sweeps up against
the snowy southern slope
of Mt. Canigou

light stands still
frozen
and I sit inside
its icy bubble
eating a Spanish orange

Pont Reynes, Jan. 14, 2009

PERPIGNAN

Bear does not drive
on her birthday

we take the bus
into the big city
(one euro each, one hour)
and spend the day
prowling around
searching in bookstores
for line 18
of T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland
in a French translation

I’ve got this idea
that it would make
an appropriate title
for this collection

we find the poem
in the public library
(the mediateque)
but only in English

I read, much of the night,
and go south in the winter

Bear says, « Why French?
It’s much better in the original. »

and so it is.

Perpignan, Jan. 16, 2009

CATHEDRAL ST. JEAN IN PERPIGNAN

Perpignan was OK
empty back streets
and total silence
until we went into the Cathedral
thru the back door
dark and gloomy
need a flashlight
to find your way
to the Madonna shrine
and an extra battery
to see her face
I mean that could have been
any old hag up in the shadows
and the whole place
creepy and spooky
ripping at your fingernails
with Spanish inquisition
pain wave memories
I mean we couldn’t get out of there
fast enough

so we walked out
the front door
into a changed city
thousands of Perpiggers
banging around
like billiard balls
in the narrow streets
thugs with attack dogs
hysterical youth
elbow-in-the-rib pigs
with no eyes and green skin
we couldn’t get out of there
fast enough

jumped on the bus
and rode until
the windows steamed up
then we forgot about the city
and remembered
it was Bear’s 65th birthday

Perpignan, Jan. 16, 2009

SATURDAY MORNING STREET MARKET IN CERET

we stroll down
the traffic-closed street
lined with stalls, crowded
with shoppers
we buy sweatpants & oranges
a pillow & a book
a chicken & a mouse pad
then we slide
into a side street
over to the Places dels Nou Raigs
to an outdoor café
where I eat an after-shopping omelet

we are already
falling into a ritual
and we don’t even know it

Céret, Jan. 17, 2009

SATURDAY EVENING MUSSEL DANCE IN AMELIE-LES-BAINS

Bear’s birthday dinner
at the Grande Café de Paris
dozens of geezers
under a mirror ceiling
gulping down moules & frites
while the soccer teams
jump around on the big screen

we eat
we drink

I give Bear her presents
then all the geezers
go into the back room
and start dancing

Amélie-les-Bains, Jan. 17, 2009

SMOOTH STONES

river going down
after the snow melt
the big stone
in the middle
its water-polished top
just emerging
into sunlight

all the round-top stones
near the shore
how many years
of gently-flowing water
has it taken
for them to become so smooth?

hundreds
thousands
millions upon millions
of drops

who can imagine a million
of anything?
I can’t

Roxie lifts her head
and looks at the river
then goes back to chewing
on the wet stick
covered with a thousand
grains of sand

Amélie-les-Bains, Jan. 19, 2009

SAD SIGHT IN VALLESPIR

drove up to Arles-sur-Tech
to check out
their Wednesday morning
street market
and there in the shadow
of Mt. Canigou
were 4 tables set up
in front of a burnt-out factory
a few spuds
a few bananas
a couple of t-shirts
and no customers
droopy faces wrapped in blankets
standing knee-deep in snow
looking like kids
playing lemonade stand
alongside the road
makes me wish
we hadn’t driven up
to Arles-sur-Tech this morning

Arles-sur-Tech, Jan. 21, 2009

HOME

pot of cold soup
in the corner of the bedroom
feels like home

Jan. 22, 2009

WORST DRIVERS IN THE WORLD

six years driving around Belgium
in our Citroen Saxo
not one single dent
on door or fender

three weeks in the south of France
two dings

I know where these people
learn to drive:
in the bumper car arena
of the village fair

Jan. 22, 2009

MACHINE-SPED METAL

standing squinting
into the sparkling
sun-filled pool
below the high bridge of Reynes
sensation of falling forward
mouth open
splashing down
my body filling with water
is this the place
where I will someday die?

or will it be
in the twisted wreckage
of machine-sped metal
on a fast-lane highway?

or in my backyard
mauled by a hungry tiger
escaped from a traveling zoo

or maybe I’ll choke
on a spoonful of honey
while watching an episode
of Family Guy

or get stabbed in the back
by a cloak & hooded monk
in an alley in Venice
dead-ending in a canal
while reading
a Daphne du Maurier novel

or get crushed under the weight
of a 747
I had refused to fly on
afraid it might crash

or watching my body
flop around in the dust
of a chicken yard
thru the dimming eyesight
of a head lopped off
by the sword
of a fanatic barbarian

or maybe the ground
will crumble beneath my feet
and I’ll tumble into the deep hole
of an abandoned mine shaft
older than Van Gogh’s ear
while walking across
a grass field to a stage
with my guitar
to perform at a Hesbaye folk festival

or maybe I’ll be up on that stage
singing the « K-9 Blues »
and the whiskers of my beard
will brush against
a short-circuited microphone
and I’ll make an exit from this life
doing the Spastic Electric Laugh Dance
while the smoke of my brain cells
pours from my ears
and a tiny black cloud
puffs up and pollutes
the air above my head
for an instant or two

if we knew
we could avoid the time & place
and live forever

Jan. 22, 2009

WORDS

How easily we toss these words around
love
life
death
when not one person
in a quadrillion
knows what they mean

Jan. 22, 2009

DARKNESS

darkness everywhere
the big wind comes
and blows out all the lights

blows down trees
blows away the leaves
bounces off the house
and rattles the shutters

blows under the door
and shivers the candle flame
oh lord, can this be
the big bad wolf?

Jan. 24, 2009

THE LORD’S REPLY

oh wicked
and unrepentant sinner
I speak to you
from this whirlwind
so hark & behold
& heed my words

there shall be no TV tonight
no reading from the novels
of Jim Harrison, Mervyn Peake
or Willa Cather
nor shall you gaze upon
landscape paintings
portraits or photographs
or postcards or maps

so go to bed
close your eyes
and don’t let the bedbugs bite

and if you should die
before you wake
I’ll be glad to drop by
and take your soul
and put it in my pocket
with all the other
dog barks
duck quacks
and owl hoots
I’ve collected tonight
and when Mr. Doomsday
drives by in his black Cadillac
I’ll toss you up in the air
and you and all your friends
can go and whip up
the biggest windstorm
the world has ever seen

Jan. 24, 2009

STRAIGHT FROM THE BEAR’S MOUTH ON JAN. 24TH

« I’ve never seen anything like that before. »

Jan. 24, 2009

STORM DAMAGE

total damage at le Mas Trilles:
one fallen ivy-choked tree

which is nothing compared
to all the bent power poles
and broken power lines
and the 28,000 people
still without electricity
in Languedoc-Rousillon alone
four days later

try explaining that
to the 3,283,521 microscopic
wood bugs who live
in the wind-fall tree
who will be without electricity
water & food forever

Jan. 27, 2009

SHORT MOUNTAIN

from down here in the valley
with my view of the mountain
cut off by local hills
I wish Canigou
were a few inches higher

I wouldn’t even mind
if it sprouted up
and became
the tallest mountain in the world.

Jan. 27, 2009

DOG STAR
for Roxie

dog barking at the night sky
into the millions of stars
maybe the sound is traveling
into the universe
for hundreds of light years
and the creatures living on K-9
in orbit around Sirius
are picking up their pointed ears
and saying to each other
« It’s that Labrador retriever again!
The one down in the Vallespir. »

« Which one? »

« Sounds like Roxie to me. »

Jan. 27, 2009

REYNES-CASTLENOU, ALLER-RETOUR

1.
and we go sailing over the mountain
blithely mispronouncing
the names of the villages
Llauro
Fourques
Terrats
Llupia
Thuir
as if we were never coming back

2.
and we come back
over the mountain
thru all the mispronounced towns
as if we have a reason
for being here

Jan. 28, 2009

TWILIGHT

the end of the day
the beginning of the night
somewhere between
the last slide of sunlight
and the blindfold of darkness
pin-pricked by stars

this is about the time
the dogs start howling

this is about the time
our grandfathers
crawled into their caves
started their campfires
and prayed to the Gods
of Good Dreams
and Short Summer Nights

any god would do
as any god today
will do

this is about the time
we close the door
pull the curtains
fix our eyes
on the dancing dots
of our TV screen
and try to forget
our sanity could be wiped out
in a moment
by a single scream
of a wolf at the window

Jan. 30, 2009

ENGLISH BOOKS

walk down
thru the Saturday morning
street market of Céret
and there at the bottom
are the ENGLISH BOOKS

used paperbacks
spine-broken
dog-eared
with rumpled covers
shuffled on cardboard boxes
spread out on tables
under umbrellas

makes me feel
like we’re eight years old
playing shop
she should be selling me
dusty Looks and Lifes
and I should be paying
in acorns

Jan. 31, 2009

COTTON EAR

when I was a kid
I used to think
that a man walking around
with a wad of cotton in his ear
was the coolest thing
on earth

I wanted to try it
but was afraid
they’d laugh at me –
a boy trying to be a man

now I’m mostly a man
and I’ve got a wad of oil-soaked cotton
stuck in my left ear
and let me tell you
there’s nothing glamorous
about having an ear
plugged up with wax.

Jan. 31, 2009

EPITAPH

I fooled them all
went to college
got a few scholarships
wrote a thousand poems
wrote a thousand songs
recorded a couple of albums
managed to hold my own
with an occasion certified genius

imagine their surprise
when they found out
I was a simple-minded idiot

Jan. 31, 2009

CARNIVAL

it’s carnival day
in Arles-sur-Tech
Fete de L’Ours
(Festival of the Bear)
15:00 : chasing the bear in the streets of the village
(grande chasse de l’ours dans les rues du village)
17:00 : shaving the bear & dancing
(rassage de l’ours et sardanes)

but it was raining today
and we didn’t go

which is probably for the best
our imaginations being
much better than factual reality :
some fool in a ratty bear suit
running around in the streets
being chased by kids
getting caught & held down
while people rip off his buttons
and pour beer on his head
after which the fool stands up
grinning
and starts to dance

our imaginations?

a 10-foot grizzly
from the Canadian Rockies
runs amok
wipes out half of the spectators
with his claws
chews up
hundreds of kids
spits out the bones
and goes out of control
until the big guys
get out the spears & knives
and go to work
stabbing & scraping
reducing the beast
to tail and tongue

big feast for all
bear chops
bear ribs
bear stew
mixed in with a ton of potatoes
a truck load of onions
a wheelbarrow of garlic
and a bucket of walnuts

now that’s something
to get up and dance about
that’s the way they did it
in the old days
when bears were bears
and men were such excitable savages
they didn’t care if one of their own
fell into the pot
and got boiled up with the onions

Feb. 1, 2009

WALKING THE DOG

on a long peaceful walk with Roxie
she has her head down
sniffing here and there
filling her head with smells
of other dogs
other animals
and who knows what

just as I am filling my eyes
with mountains & rocks
mist in the valley & trees
with sunlight thru their leaves

and just as I have names
for these things
and note their changes
« Hmm – Canigou
picked up a few inches
of snow last light. »
she notes the changes
of odors with a language of her own
« Hmm – somebody’s been
putting pizza crusts
in the poodle’s food. »
and she comes back home
with her head full of scent images
always eager
to go back and pick up more

I’m sure glad I learned how to read

Feb. 4, 2009

BOOKS

when I was 19
prowling thru the stacks
in the basement of City Lights
I thought, « It might take me
25 or 30 years
but eventually I will have read
everything that has ever been printed. »

25 years later
I had to admit
that each book I read
suggested 10 others

like
my grandma telling me
that every time she learned
something new
she only discovered
how much more
she didn’t know

they say that 2,500 books
were published in France alone
last year
and I can’t even read French

I have also discovered
that I really don’t really understand a book
until I’ve read it
at least 3 times

at this rate
I’ll need about 500 – 600 years
to make a small dent
in the classics

Feb. 4, 2009

FLOWERPOT SNEAKERS

the trouble with age’s
failing eyesight
is that you become
unspeakably filthy
in the eyes of others

walking around
in flowerpot sneakers
with a dried dose
of last week’s vegetable soup
hanging from your beard

« Get that bum outta here.
He looks like warmed-over garbage. »

Only then do you realize
that you haven’t taken a bath
for six weeks
and bugs fly out of your hair
every time you pop off your cap

« Kick that drool fool
out in the street where he belongs
he smells like wet dog fur. »

and when you catch
an accidental whiff
you have to agree
that your nose
has not been keeping up
with the latest news either

Feb. 4, 2009

YONDER HILLS

all the wild plants
and sprouts & brushwood
that line the narrow footpaths
on Yonder Hills
above the River Tech
have names

but I don’t want to know them

I have my own:
Scrapewhistle
Holler-Me-Yellow
Yeller-Me-Hollow
Slow Poke Slope Oak
Haze Purple
Glasstronomy
Bambaloo
Rollpops
Big Lip Loopers

and you won’t find
the Yonder Hills
on any roll map either

Feb. 5, 2009

DOG & LOG

Roxie’s two favorite things
when we sit on the shore
of the Tech:

look at the river
chew on sticks

I have only one
and I’m not about to start
chewing on wet wood

Feb. 6, 2009

WEST WIND

full moon midnight
west wind whips the trees
on Yonder Hills
the yipnip of a coyote
drifts thru the sky
from 9000 miles away

Feb. 7, 2009

NO WIND

full moon 3 a.m.
still night
not a whisper
from Yonder Hills
so quiet
I can hear
from the other side of the planet
thousands of people
(sitting on California coast sand dunes)
holding
(above the Pacific Ocean)
their
(as the sun goes down)
breath

Feb. 9, 2009

CONVERSATION WITH A DOG

questions to Roxie
while taking a walk along the River Tech :

What are you thinking?
What are your thoughts
at this particular moment?
What can they be?
Are you thinking about
jumping in the river?

Roxie’s telepathic replies :

What is this?
What can this possibly be?
Is it a stick?
Yes, it is a stick.
Is he going to throw the stick in the river?
I hope so.
Yes! He’s throwing it in the river!
Am I going to swim after the stick?
Yes! I am swimming!
The water is wet and cold
just the way I like it!
I am grabbing the stick in my mouth.
Am I going to bring it back to him?
No, I am not.
I’m going to take this stick
over here
and chew on it
Hmm – this tastes good.
Now what?
Am I going to swim across the river?
Yes I am!
I think I see a duck.
or a fish
or something alive
over there
Am I going to float down the river
like a duck?
No, I am going to float down the river
like a dog
And I’m going to give him the impression
that I might float all the way to the sea
like a duck
like a dog

Feb. 10, 2009

THE HONKER

there is only one road
in and out of the valley
two lanes from Céret
to Prats de Mollo
and it runs a hundred yards
from where we sleep

cars zoom by at night
headlights flashing
a motorcycle hums east
in the key of B major

in the morning & afternoon
packs of racing bikes
riders shouting
a ping pong ambulance
rattle-door vans
honking, fender-dented cars
speed demons
daredevils
hot dogs
speedballs

a big bus every hour or so
with disgruntled drivers
stacked up behind

it is here you will find
the honker
impatient
reckless
arrogant
dangerous
half the drivers on this road
are honkers
the kind of driver
that would make me ashamed
to be riding around
in car with French plates

Feb. 10, 2009

OLD FOLKS

a lot of old folks
in sweat pants & sneakers
strolling around Amélie-les-Bains

I might be
the youngest geezer in town

some of them look like
they came here to die

I hope I don’t look like that

I might buy a cane here
for later use
but that’s it

Feb. 10, 2009

WEREWOLF CANE

what kind of cane
do I have in mind?
nothing too conspicuous
just one of the carved wooden jobs

one with a werewolf head
with red flashing eyes
(runs on batteries in the shaft)
which emits snarling noises
from drool-dripping fangs
with a tip
that turns into a claw
at the touch of a button

a fearless beast
to guide me down
the final paths of my life

maybe I’ll get two
one for each hand
go out in ferocious style

Feb. 10, 2009

GAMBLING IN AMELIE-LES-BAINS

we dropped into the casino
to see how they were doing

flashing light machines
electronic beeps in the dark
with vacant-eyed lost Vegans
pushing buttons
pulling handles

they were betting on the rat races
rat number seven was ahead
but everybody had their money
on rat number one

Feb. 11, 2009

THE MOSS CANAL WOODS

(in memory of Jack Kerouac upon reading
his On the Road original scroll)

today the dog & I
hiked up to the Moss Canal Woods
where the beer bums
come to guzzle
and cast their bottles
into the Sinister Pit
of the great Catalan Wilderness
where we were surrounded
by Belgian-type atmospheres
and stopped by
electrified waste wires

defeated by rock scramble slides
and gloomed out by dead tree shades
we returned thru fading beams
of sunlight

we were lucky
to get out of there alive

take my advice
do not venture
into the Moss Canal Woods
if you want to hike another day
without broken limbs
into limbo, Jimbo

Feb. 12, 2009

STRAIGHT FROM THE BEAR’S MOUTH ON FEB. 13TH

« I’ve never seen anything like this before. »

Feb. 13, 2009

VERTICAL CLOUDS

I.
lying on the bed
after sunset
looking out the small high
square window
at the damp blue sky
no mountain, trees or clouds
in sight
like looking at a framed painting
of a single color
for a long time

we watch the painting
slowly turn
from luminous blue
to ice pipe blue

suddenly
a thin grey horizontal
cigar-shaped cloud
floats thru the painting
from right to left
it’s gone in less than a minute

we wait
no more clouds
we’d like to see
a vertical cloud
a thin one
shoot up from the bottom
and disappear into the sky
above our window frame

or how about a round one
dropping down from the top
like a ball of black cotton candy
sinking below the bottom
of the frame
then bouncing up & down
a few times
before vanishing forever

II.
would that be a welcome sight?
or would it wipe out everything
we know about the atmosphere
above the earth’s surface
and stick around all night
waiting for the moon
to drop from the sky
and bounce off Mt. Canigou
like a sponge rubber ball
then rise again in the night sky
flip over to reveal
its dark side
which would be covered
with a network of orange,
yellow, green, red & blue
flashing neon letters spelling out :

COME INSIDE & SEE
THE SECRET OF THE UNIVERSE

Céret, Feb. 14, 2009

BIRTHDAY POEM

68 years ago
at this moment exactly
I was an ugly, squirming
screaming wad of pink protoplasm
2 hours old

who could have dreamed
that I would grow up to be
such a handsome man?

Céret, Feb. 15, 2009 (4:30 a.m. local time)
(in San Francisco it’s 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14)

BEETHOVEN

they played Beethoven’s
5th Piano Concerto
on the TV last night

the piano man was handy
with his fingers
but his piano was a bust

out of tune it was
and the top end notes
sounded like seagull heads
being smashed with a hammer

everybody was suffering
almost as much
as Beethoven suffered
when he wrote the piece
with live seagulls
pecking at his ear drums

Feb. 15, 2009

RESURRECTION DAY

old church graveyard
at the foot of Yonder Hills
tombs packed in rows
covered boxes full of bones
awaiting Resurrection Day

and what a day
that will be
I can see it now
millions of skeletons
standing, walking around
dancing in discos
shopping in supermarkets

driving by in cars
I think I just saw one
down the road
with a dog skeleton trotting
on the end of a leash

Feb. 15, 2009

LEVIS

been wearing 501 button front
since I was 7

when I was young
they were great
for working on the ranch
tough durable
a pair would last a couple of years

later and since
in the cities
they’ve been great
for sitting anywhere
and not showing dirt

a few years ago
I noticed they were selling them
pre-faded
so you could pretend
you’d been out
riding the range all day long
punchin’ cows & bustin’ broncos

more recently
I see they’re selling them
pre-wrinkled
give everybody the impression
you’ve been sleeping in your jeans
and kicking around
the wide-open spaces
of your dreams

Feb. 19, 2009

SUN WORSHIP

walk along
the old railroad bed
from La Forge to Amélie-les-bains
pause on the bridge
in the day’s final field of sunlight
before crossing into the cold
shadows of the town

turn around and discover
dozens of silent people
young old male female
scattered everywhere
on benches & stone walls
high & low
all facing the sun
eyes closed
smiles on their faces

I turn back
and smile at the sun

Amélie -les-Bains Feb. 19, 2009

RIVER DREAM

I like to lie in bed at night
with the window open
and listen to the river
roaring and white-noising
down below the woods
this is tame country
not at all wild
like where I grew up
but when I close my eyes
the river takes me away
down past the fishing hole
and the catamount paw prints
down past the rock rapids
and over the waterfall
into the whirlpool
which sucks me down
into the cave where the bears
toss me around
from claw to jaw
and the coyotes drop by
to watch the action
and grin
until I get snagged
in the whirlpool again
and get sucked up
thru the vortex
and spewed high in the air
along with a million burning
cinders of lava
and projected over the forest
until I’m grabbed at last
in gravity’s clutches
and tumbled into the sea
where sharks attack me
and dolphins glide by
at the last moment
and snout-nose the sharks
tho they cannot prevent a whale
from swallowing me
and plunging to the ocean floor
where he spits me out
into a prehistoric darkness
where neon lantern jawfish
and electric crabs
pinch me into a riot
of screaming pain

but that’s enough excitement
for one night
time to shut the window
go to sleep
and take my chances
with a dream or two

Feb. 19, 2009

GHOST BONES

I’ve never known
what I really look like
how could I?
I don’t live
in my muscles and bones
I live in the ghost
that dwells in the muscles and bones

as I grow older
and begin to lose my force
the flesh gets thinner
and I begin to see
the outside world

from time to time
I get a glimpse
of what I look like
to those outside

who is this man
with his memories
on the tip of his tongue?

Feb. 20, 2009

STREETCAR EYESIGHT

1.
age 7
I stood at the front
of the Market Street street car
next to the stand-up brakeman
with my nose pressed
against the glass

while turning to talk to me
– « Hey, sonny boy,
want to grow up to be
a streetcar man someday? » –
we ran smack into the back
of a car
crumpled metal
and broken glass everywhere

I ran back and sat down
next to my mom

a few weeks later
they decided I needed glasses

2.
a few weeks later
down in the Forest Hill station
inside Twin Peaks
waiting for another street car
(the modern green & white
streamlined kind)
when it emerged from the tunnel
my mom asked
« Which one is it? »

I had three choices
K
L
M
I squinted and guessed wrong
the next day
I was wearing glasses

Feb. 20, 2009

POSTCARDS, NEWSPAPERS, PAPERBACK BOOKS

you can get a lot of stuff
at the Maison de la Presse in Céret

such as a Bob Dylan
« Blowing in the Wind » bookmark

such as a battery-operated
Zen fountain

and if that isn’t enough
how about a porn mag
featuring a babe with boobs
that weigh 20 pounds each?

Feb. 20, 2009

GATHERING MIMOSA ON YONDER HILLS

what did you expect?
we gathered mimosa
on Yonder Hills
and then we came home

Feb. 21, 2009

(WHY I’LL PROBABLY NEVER EAT ANOTHER) McDOGSHIT BURGER

down in the park
Roxie shit out 6 or 7 turds
on the patch of ground
where they play petanque

I dig down in the trash bin
and find a faded red and yellow
Golden Arch french fry cone
(large portion)
take a twig
brush the shit balls into the cone
and toss it all in the woods

if you’re looking for
a hidden meaning here
you don’t have to look far

Feb. 20, 2009

SOMETHING WE CAN DO
TO SURPRISE LASZLO & MAYA
WHEN THEY GET BACK FROM HONDURAS

soak Roxie in a bathtub
full of peroxide
until all her fur is blonde
(even the tail)

CARNIVAL FUNERAL

we stop outside the church
as they carry a coffin
down the steps
and slide it into a van

the cortege passes us
and heads down the hill

when all is quiet
except for the tolling bells
we go over to the church

all the cobblestones
around the bottom of the steps
are covered
with confetti

St. Laurent-de-Cerdan, Feb. 26, 2009

FOR BEAR ON THIS DAY WHEN OUR MOTHERS WOULD HAVE BEEN 96 & 94 YEARS OLD

I rise up at the crack of noon
and go looking for my faithful friend
and long-time companion
the Bear

is she down in the woods
trimming ivy vines
from the wind-fallen tree?

no she is not

nor is she over
on the other side of the villa
pulling weeds

where can she possibly be?

oh here she is
up the drive by the gate
raking leaves

hello Bear
how’s it going?

Feb 27, 2009

TIME

« How old is it? » she asked
« Half past ten, » I said
looking at the clock

Feb. 28, 2009

HOW OLD DO YOU WANT TO BE?

coming down the far side
of Cabanassa Mountain
I run into the Cabanassa Mountain Man
who saw me climbing
the steep firebreak

« Hola. » he said
« How old are you? »

« Seventy, » I lied
adding two years to my life
to make my climb seem more impressive

I remember a time
when I was twelve
I took a girl in the woods
« How old are you? » she asked
« Fourteen, » I said
trying to impress

about the same time
I fell down and bruised my knees
big boys don’t cry
I started crying
guy came along
« How old are you? »
« EIGHT! »

March 1, 2009

ODD JOB

on a cold day
I run around the house
clapping my hands
stomping my feet
and picking up a few extra bucks
as a room warmer

March 2, 2009

PILGRIMAGE

on the road to Santiago di Compostela
we climb the steep path
to the Abbaye of San Martin di Canigou
we stop for a few minutes
on the steps of the church
and pretend we’re pilgrims
from the faraway Kingdom of Wallonia
then we turn around
and head back downhill
to our parked car
at the bottom of the canyon

March 3, 2009

ALMOST SILENCE

inside the high & thick-walled
medieval village of Villefranche
empty streets
absolutely alone
sitting in mist-filtered sunshine
on a bench in the village square
trying to imagine
what it must be like
here in the summer
packed with tourist-populated crowds
the shouts of drunks
the deafening blast
of drumbeat music

now
just a gentle gust of wind
and the tinkling reply
of delicate wind chimes
from the balcony
above our heads

Villefranche-le-Conflent, March 3, 2009

ONE HOUR & A HALF

Céret to Ille-sur-Tet
via Llauro & Thuir
ONE HOUR
to Prades
ONE HOUR & TWENTY MINUTES
onto Villefranche-de-Conflent
ONE HOUR & A HALF

return
Villefranche to Céret
thru Perpignan & Le Boulou
ONE HOUR & FIVE MINUTES

Y.B. Yeats
would have never approved
Charles Bukowski
but in a drunken moment
might have turned a blind eye

March 3, 2009

FURTHER FLORA & FAUNA ON YONDER HILLS

Scrumflex (also known as brutalis bastardo)
Spoonerino
Stellocate (a tree)
Snigger (a bird)
Chookroot (another bird)
Rassletoms (trees)
Skeetlewheet (another bird)
Froster (a lizard)
Bruce
Fingle Buzz
Persiphaliphia
Mascalitos (a species of mouse)
Methuslash (more trees)
Thumbpatch (a very small bird)
me (a very small human)

March 5, 2009

CLOSE TO HEADING HOME

car packed ready to go
Bear sweeping the floor
nothing left for me to do
but sit out here in the sunshine
and pet the dog
and pick the largest chunks
of last night’s soup
from my beard

March 6, 2009

ALMOST HEADING HOME

strong west wind blowing
Bear mopping the floor
I’m still out here
sitting in the sunshine
but my mind’s already gone
down the road
tumbling past Perpignan

March 6, 2009

REALLY HEADING HOME

sailing past Perpignan
on hurricane winds
around Beziers
across the bridge at Millau
up hills
and down hills
the wind left behind
the wind forgotten
and down into Le Puy-en-Velay
and up to a 2nd floor hotel room
to a wide screen TV
on which we watch
a live rugby match
from Perpignan
where the wind is so violent
they players think twice
about kicking the ball
afraid it might sail
out of the stadium
and into the sea

Hotel Ibis, March 6, 2009

ABSOLUTELY HEADING HOME

driving north
from Le Puys to Vichy
to Moulins
to Nevers
to Auxerre & Troyes

from sunshine
into cloudy skies
and rain

from spring
back into winter

Arlequin Hotel, Troyes, March 7, 2009

ABSOLUTELY & DEFINITELY HEADING HOME

driving into pouring rain
from Troyes
to Reims and Charleville-Méziers
across the big bump border
into Belgium
and a rotten road
packed with pot holes
large enough to swallow a car

March 8, 2009

ABSOLUTELY & WITHOUT A DOUBT BACK HOME

wake up in a strange bed
mine
for a minute I think
I’m in the Arlequin Hotel
getting ready to re-run yesterday from scratch
with a Road Runner on the wide screen

Bear says, « What’s new? »
I say, « It snowed last night. »
« Tell me some good news. »
« It melted as soon as it hit the ground
and now there is nothing but sunshine
everywhere. »

March 9, 2009

ENVOI

that was that
and this is this

March 9, 2009

Sky dive & parachute poems

March – December 2009 |  TUCKER ZIMMERMAN

I WILL SOON GRADUATE FROM LEVIS

a sky dive & parachute poem for Pete

I will soon graduate from Levis
I do believe
I’m down to the second button now
When I won’t be able to get up past the third
I’ll be forced to wear old man pants

old man’s pants are the kind
that make you look like a pear

I want to look like a banana
until I’m too ripe to stand

DOMESTIC DRUM BEATS

the flash of full moon
in the gap of the curtain
as I pass thru the dark room
on my way to bed
water dripping
from the leaky faucet
drums the sink

March 14, 2009

DOMESTIC PUNCH LINE

for 31 years I have lived in this house
I never imagined I would ever live
in one place for so long

the boy who lived 8 years
here & there
a couple of years up & down
a couple more in & out
would say that 31 years
is a long time

the man who was that boy
cannot believe how fast
time has passed
31 years is a drop of rain
on a shaggy dog’s fur

he shakes it off
and tells another endless joke

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

I can’t believe the TV movies
I get sucked into
and all their talk about marriage
what’s the big deal?

it’s amazing how many people
still feel the need
to get stuck together
with a piece of paper

and when the gun appears
it’s the same thing

I get up and walk out

March 15, 2009

DOMESTIC SILENCE

she complains
about the way he chews his food
about the way he slops water
on the floor when he brushes his teeth
about the way
he leaves his socks
on the couch
after watching TV

but everybody
(even he)
knows it’s all about something else

she just basically hates his guts

THE GOLDEN AGE OF CHAUTAUQUA

somebody’s been stealing the CDs
I’ve been mailing out to friends
been doing it for years
he’s got a big collection now
probably works for the post office
right here in the village

THE BASTARD!

looking at the thin
bright side
it just may turn out
that 500 years hence
after the big atomic wipe out
one of those CDs
will be discovered by archaeologists
and become the only piece
of evidence of civilization
in our time

scholars will devote
their lives to the study
of the Chautauqua Culture
each line of each song
will be analyzed
and vast, profound theories
will be constructed upon each phrase

the entire vocabulary
of the Golden Age of Chautauqua
will be based on those lyrics

within a couple of centuries
the words will have been distorted
to fit dictatorial political laws
and reactionary, fanatic religious doctrines

the original meaning of my songs
will have been twisted beyond recognition
and I will be reviled
as the most hideous monster
in human history

THE BASTARDS!

April 3, 2009

IMMORTAL SPARK

despite factual evidence
and all reasonable logic
I know deep down inside me
there is a spark

it glows in the dark
it sings in a whisper
it dances like a candle flame
in a soft breeze
thru an open window
filled with moonlight

it will burn forever
beyond the limits of my flesh
beyond my ashes
far beyond the day when
I have been completely forgotten
and all memories of me
have faded to silence
and been wrapped in the arms
of mother earth

without it
I might as well be dead

March 16, 2008

NORTH WIND (BICYCLE POEM 1)

first bike ride of the year
turned around and came back home
too much cold wind

down on the Spanish border
they say it’s 24° in the shade
and the cyclists are humming around
in t-shirts and shorts

next year
I think I’ll stay south
until early November

down south
where the north wind never blows

March 18, 2009

MEMORABLE QUOTATIONS FROM THE BEAR

MEMORABLE QUOTATION N° 1

« We were up there for two hours
– and so was I. »

Radio Seraing, March 20, 2009

MEMORABLE QUOTATION N° 2

« But do you think your grandfather
would have been appalled Butterfield? »

September 30, 2009

MEMORABLE QUOTATION N° 3

(replying to my statement: That man is so karmically screwed up he’s going to have to come back as an animal.)

 » . . . he’s going to have to come back as an adult. »

Rome, October 15, 2009

MEMORABLE QUOTATION N° 4

« I was looking at that warehouse window over
there when the curtain lifted and an old woman
looked out at me. »

Rome, Oct. 17, 2009

MEMORABLE QUOTATION N° 5

« We’ll soon be at the border between Pakistan
and India. »

on the train from Rome
to the Leonardo Da Vinci airport,
Oct. 19, 2009

MEMORABLE QUOTATION N° 6

(while driving thru the village down by the river)

« A family of rabbits live here. »

Oct. 27, 2009

MEMORABLE QUOTATION N° 7

« She’s going back to December
on the 21st of Australia. »

Oct. 27, 2009

MEMORABLE QUOTATION N° 8

« It’s amazing that when it starts to get dark
nobody screams. »

Oct. 30, 2009

MEMORABLE QUOTATION N° 9

« When you work at a round table
there’s always a corner missing. »

Nov. 30, 2009

THE INVENTION OF FOOD

while dipping
into the brown sugar jar
I accidentally
(and unknowingly)
dribble some over the bowl
of onion rings

later I snack on the rings

delicious

I wish I’d been there
when they invented
peanut butter and jelly
and tuna on toast
and spaghetti and meatballs

I wish I’d been there
when they invented
peaches
and cream

March 29, 2009

COMPUTER ENGLISH

« windows is shutting down »

that’s what my computer tells me
when I switch it off

OK then
I is going to switch off the lights
and I is going up to the house
where Marie Claire’s got supper waiting
and we is gonna sit down
and eats dinner

April 4, 2009

COMPUTER GLASSES

broke my computer glasses
last night
bent over
and they slipped off my face
like greased pigskin
hit the corner of the table
cracked a lens

looks like I got shot
in the left eye
with a bullet

had a headache
all night

April 5, 2009

SECOND FIRST RIDE
(BICYCLE POEM 2)

pumped up the tires
and took out my two wheels
to see which way the wind was blowing

it’s cool when I’m moving
stirring it up
glad I brought along
my blue and white bandana
and yellow windbreaker

the rat-ass dog
at Baraqui Corner
still barking at me

new wheat
pushing up green
on Old Farm Road

fields on Lost Haiku
plowed but not planted
(I’m not too far behind)

new houses being plotted
on Hemp Road
being resurfaced
to accommodate
the fat cat BMWs
and the gas-guzzling
air-polluting UAVs
(Urban Attack Vehicles)

5 new Aeolians
sprouted up on Two Trees Road
saw them from Lost Haiku
and figured this is where they’d be
closer to home
so I don’t have to go so far
to worship the wind
the 7 over in distant Aeolian Park
are not turning either
none are waving
no wind

eat a banana in Chapon
the limit of my short loop
flock of doves
hooting from the church roof
put on my windbreaker
and head for home

pause at Carrot Stop
for a drink of water
and a gaze at the half moon
overhead

pause on Rum Road
to worship the sun
setting, burning thru the mist

walk the bike
up from the Verlaine Deep
on rubber legs
gazing at the pale half moon

give Bear a call on the cell
tell her I’m doing OK
(don’t mention the rubber legs
she might worry)
(don’t mention my empty
hypoglycemic stomach either)
(or that I just hallucinated
being attacked by a pack
of wild dogs
and that the sun
just exploded in my eyes)
(keep it smooth and simple
this is just the same, ordinary
short-circuit ride I’ve taken
a hundred times)

back into the village
on Rue Vingt Ponts
thru barbecue smoke

coast down into the courtyard
ring the bell twice
so Bear inside will stop worrying
and walk the bike to the shed

my muscles feel
like they’ve been soaked
in pickle juice

April 5, 2009

OBAMA CAP
in memory of Bill Dobie

my old friend Bill
died in January
age 82
cremated in his Obama cap

he was a long time
waiting for the man
long before the time
he had a black cat
named Stokley

those were the longest years

April 10, 2009

CHERRY FLAVORED SMOKE

coal smoke pours
from the steel factories
along the river

and thru the smoke
the trees on the far hillside
covered in cherry blossoms

April 10, 2009

EASTER SUNDAY EVE

for only a few short days
and nights of the year
can I walk under the cherry tree
loaded with blossoms
and feel that they might all
suddenly fall
and I will be buried under
an avalanche of flowers

I walk on in the dark
feel something
crunch under my foot
an easter egg?
nope
the first snail of the year

April 12, 2009

THE WAY I FEEL

all this talk
about children and adults
and the difference between
(as if you climbed
over a wall
to get from one
to the other)
is bullshit

I can’t speak for you
but I don’t remember
any wall
I never had to jump
a ditch or swim
a river

it was just day
after day
one day
at a time
and now I’ve lived
68 years of those days
and who I was back then
and who I am now
is the same

the envelope changes
(yes)
but what these eyes see
these ears hear
and how this mind
understands
and misunderstands
the complexities of life
has not changed
will never change

and I’m not going to say anything
about the spirit
in fact, I’ve already said too much

April 14, 2009

FINAL FLING

I found a small
blue-grey and yellow
bird lying dead
in the courtyard
(flew into a window
and bashed its brains out)

I flung the bird
on its final flight
into the orchard

later, at night
I’m standing on the path
above the orchard
taking a leak
I switch on the flashlight
look down
and oh shit
I’m pissing on the bird

April 14, 2009

HASPENGOUW 181
(Bicycle Poem 3)

cherry blossoms drifting down
onto a wet patch of the road

I ride thru them

and for the next two miles
I have spring snow
sticking to my tires

April 16, 2009

DREAM MAPS

I wake up
with a network
of dented lines
on my left arm
the print of t.shirt wrinkles
grooved into my skin
when I slept on the arm

I don’t think they’re accidental lines
I think they’re the maps
of my dreams
the road I took
to get to the haunted house
where I ripped at the wallpaper
and shouted at god
and blamed him
for creating me in human form
the path thru the field
where I jumped into a hot air balloon
and sailed off
into the limitless sly
tapping out a farewell melody
on the octave of my front teeth
with a giant Q-tip
and humming behind them
a harmonic background sigh
to god’s great and quiet reply
« Let’s Not Get Too Carried Away. »

April 17, 2009

BOB DYLAN’S FAMILY TREE

Marie-Claire’s brother
is 4 months older than me
and I am 3 months older
than Bob Dylan
so maybe Marie-Claire
is Bob Dylan’s long lost
little sister *

April 21, 2009

* Does this need an explanation? If yes, then I’ll just say that since I’ve been taking my songs on stage these past 40 years, I’ve been plagued by the absurd question: Are you Bob Dylan’s brother? My answer is obviously: impossible – unless we have different mothers, tho somehow I can’t imagine my mom with Bob Dylan’s dad.

AEOLIAN COMPLAINT
(Bicycle Poem 4)

don’t get me wrong
I’m all for the windmills
but the row of new Aeolians
that line Two Trees Road
are visible wherever I go
on my local runs

they mark the landscape
I can see them all the way over here
on La Cucaracha Road

I liked it better before
when Two Trees Road
(if I thought about it at all)
was off in some distant
invisible land
beyond the horizon
where the buffalo roam
and the skies are not cloudy all day

April 21, 2009, La Cucaracha Road (where the mythical lion lies down with the proverbial lamb and the skies are not cloudy all day)

PURPLE MOONRISE ROAD
(Bicycle Poem 5)

I’ve got a pair
of incredible & miraculous feet
who push the pedals of my bike
and who are attached to a pair
of incredible & miraculous legs
who supply the muscle power
and keep me rolling

above the legs
there’s not much worth mentioning
especially that knot of noodles on top
which sometimes gets the wild idea
that these feet and legs
will last forever

April 21, 2009, Purple Moonrise Road (where the clouds lie down with the sky and seldom is heard a discouraging word)

BEER-SPLASHED FORGIVENESS
(Bicycle Poem 6)

nothing like cruising down
Two Trees Road
sipping from a can
of Glock Pils
and gazing up
at the high and mighty towers
of the new Aeolians
having forgiven the bastards
who planted them

April 21, 2009

SPECTACLES

more and more
I find myself
taking off my glasses
and setting them aside

I remember grandma
used to do this
past the age of 65
(« Has anybody seen my spectacles?
I seem to have misplaced them. »)

occasionally
when taking off my glasses
I have the desire
to take out my eyes
and give them a rest

it hasn’t happened yet
but I’m sure
there’ll come a day
when I’ll wish
I could take out my brain
toss it on the floor
next to the bed
and get a few hours
of decent sleep

April 23, 2009

BIRTHDAYS

past the age of 65
we should stop
celebrating birthdays

we should start
punishing them

then again
each extra year
is just that much more
punishment

April 27, 2009

DREAM DEMONS

everybody has their dreams
and I don’t mean
wishes and aspirations

I’m talking about
the humbugs and the hobgobs
that come boiling out of your head
when you sleep
the demonic creatures
you love
in ways you didn’t know
you could love
in ways you wished
you didn’t know
how to love
so well

I just wish
I didn’t know these gob bobs
so well
I wish they were strangers
and I really wish
they wouldn’t still
be hobnobbing around
my bed
when I wake up

April 28, 2009

ROAD KILL BELIEVERS
(Bicycle Poem 7)

not many pheasants
lying in the road
these days
have died a natural death

a bloody, smashed head
is not natural

unless the pheasants
themselves
believe in cars
like we believe in the gods

they sit around
their campfire at night
drinking from hub caps
full of beer
and toasting their dead comrade

« It was the gods’ will. »
they say
and
« the gods work in mysterious ways. »

Onderdonk Deep, May 7, 2009

PLUMAGE
(Bicycle Poem 8)

I still haven’t found
this year’s feather
to stick on my handlebar

I’m tempted
by one of the road kill pheasants
maybe I’ll just go over
and rip off a wing

but no
a feather from that bird
would not protect me
the beast couldn’t even
avoid a car
and he could fly

then I realize
that all the different feathers
I’ve had on my bike
the past 10 years
have come from dead birds

Jean-Baptist Boulevard, May 7, 2009

THE FLIGHT OF THE COOPER

Ton, Bogusia and I
sat up late
watching the Flight of the Conchords
on TV
we laughed
and we laughed
it felt good to laugh

then Ton put on a DVD
of Tommy Cooper
and we laughed some more
we laughed so hard
we forgot
we were in the same room

Amsterdam, May 15, 2009

BEDTIME STORIES

last night
we were talking about
reading in bed

Ton said
« Long ago
I taught myself
that beds were for sleeping. »

not me
I like to read in bed
I can’t go to sleep
unless I’ve read at least
part of a book
a chapter or two
a few pages
a few lines
(sometimes I read
until the birds
start singing)

I write in bed too
I write
and I write
and I write

I do lots of things
besides sleep
I drink in bed
and once upon a time
I smoked in bed

imagine that

Amsterdam, May 16, 2009

LOUD RAIN

rain pouring down
over Amsterdam
over the Ij
over the ferry
everybody is so quiet
and wet
the windows
are steamed up
and I can’t feel
if the boat is moving
or not

then the front doors open
and we all get off

Amsterdam, May 16, 2009

AMSTERDAM WHEELIE

it was accidental, I swear

crossing a canal in the Jordaan
I slowed for a concrete ramp
to the sidewalk beyond
a dozen pedestrians
stopped and waited
on either side of the lane
for me to pass between them

as my front tire
touched the ramp
I stomped down hard
on the pedals
and my bike leaped up, tilting
front wheel in the air

I said « Oops! »
the dozen spectators said, « Wow! »
and watched in amazement
as their favorite
68-year old bicycle acrobat
zoomed off down the alley
on his back wheel

May 24, 2009

KANGAROOSTER

a rooster lives next door
his companion is a pheasant
the rooster sounds like
he’s got a sore throat
the pheasant sounds like
the rusted hinge of a barn door

they go at all day long
croaking and whinging

I’ve never seen them
so I can easily imagine
that it’s just a single animal
a mutant beast
that croaks and whinges

what does it look like?

a monster dragging his balls
thru a swamp of foggy mud
filled with blackberry vines
and thorny bushes
and trying to convince himself
that once upon a time
he dwelled in a land
where the ground was covered
with cotton candy
and the most dangerous creature
he’d ever encountered
was a cross between
a custard cream pie
and a swimming pool
full of cottage cheese
with a dozen poached egg eyes

Onderdonk Deep, May 23, 2009

DRUMBEATS FROM THE GLOBAL VILLAGE

thump! thump! thump!
coming down the valley
from the village
on Saturday night
thump! thump! thump!
drums
electronic drums
the music too far back
to hear – just
thump! thump! thump!
the new tribal
drumbeat
for the new tribal
dance
thump! thump! thump!

time to send up a few missionaries
with rifles and diseased blankets
convert the backsliding heathens
turn off their drum machines
before it’s too late
and civilization
(as we know it)
disappears forever
into a hypnotic swamp
of mind-numbing
thump! thump! thump!

May 31, 2009

WE WILL IRON OUR BRITCHES NO MORE

we were doing just fine
cruising along
brushing our teeth
watching Desperate Housewives
surfing the net on our PCs
listening to our Andrea Bocelli CDs
snacking from the fridge
loafing like untoasted
slices of white bread
in front of our air conditioners

then the lights went out
no more electricity
forever
and within three days
we were unwashed cave men
crawling around in our ignorance
stealing candles and flashlights
biting each other’s feet
sweating like pigs
bitching about the weather
and worshipping Satan

June 1, 2009

CHOCOLATE-FLAVORED APPREHENSION

the lights went out

and here comes
the ice cream man
mopping up
on everybody’s insecurity

June 1, 2009

PASTORAL

beautiful day
late afternoon
Bear says, « I wish
I could push the PAUSE button. »

I say, « I’m going for the REWIND. »

June 1, 2009

THE MOUSE

mice in the kitchen
we set up a trap

in the morning
the cheese is gone
and so is the trap

I think we’re looking
for a beast much larger
than a mouse

July 17, 2008

THE RAT

let’s face it
the mouse is a rat
he’s walking around
with the trap clamped
over his nose
telling his friends
about his adventure
in our kitchen

his friends
all want to have
a piece of nose jewelry
just like his

he’s laying low
waiting for the day
when Marie Claire’s
old French teacher
will drop by for a cup of tea
then he’ll pop out
from under the stove
with that slab of wood
clamped to his nose
he’ll say « Howdy, ma’am »
and she’ll shit in her pants

July 17, 2009

THE WEASEL

let’s face it
it’s not a rat
it’s a weasel

he’s lying low for now
waiting for the moment
when we least expect it
then he’ll come walking out
from under the stove
with a mouse trap
clamped to each foot
he’ll say « How do you like
my new wooden shoes? »
and we’ll all shit in our pants

July 17, 2009

THE WILD BOAR

let’s face it
it’s not a mouse
or a rat
or a weasel

it’s a wild boar

and some night
when we least expect it
he’ll knock a hole on the wall
come roaring in
with dozens of mouse traps
dangling from his tusks
and shout into our shitless faces
« When will you people
ever grow up? »

July 17, 2009

SPA CASINO

the high priests
in their black apron-robes
on invisible feet
float around the Rose Room
with glasses on their trays
some full of wine
others empty
they’re the only people
who seem to know what they’re doing

the rest of us just stare
at each other
and wonder why we came

then a politician gets up
behind a feedback microphone
and blabs about this
and that
and more of this
and more of that
and I’m still looking around
wondering why I came
all the faces are a blur
wouldn’t recognize anybody
even if they walked right up to me
and dropped an earwig in my ear

recorded barbarian noise
chipping, rap-hopping
from the speakers
trying to break down the gates
from audible distances
which are neither here
nor there

we finish our drinks
and I follow MC back home
still wondering why
I had to get up so early
drive 50 miles
to the Rose Room of the Spa Casino
and stand around with fuzzy eyes
and stare at a bunch of people
who had no business
being neither here
nor there

July 20, 2009

TOOTH TALK

I say to my dentist
« God was a genius
when he invented the human body
except
he really messed up
when he came to the teeth. »

and my dentist says
« Ah, but it is man
with his bad habits
and lousy food
who ruins his teeth. »

I never thought
this would turn into
a theological discussion
about teeth

Aug 3, 2009

HARVEST
(Bicycle Poem 9)

haven’t been out
on the bike
much these days
figured I’d missed
the harvest

but no
Bear and I
ride right into the middle of it

all the thrashing
the dust blowing
the chaff flying
the tractors humming by

looks to me like
they’re just getting started
the lazy bastards

Aug. 4, 2009

PIG LATIN QUATRAIN

we used to speak it when we were idskay
trying to disguise all our irtyday ordsway
but what I want to know is who the uckfay
invented a language and called it igpay atinlay?

Aug. 4, 2009

TWENTY KILOMETERS A MINUTE
(Bicycle Poem 10)

2½ hour ride

but when we get back
to the village
all the people outside
are doing the same things
they were doing
when we left

which leads me to believe
that our 20-kilometer ride
took only
one minute

Aug. 4, 2009

TWO KINDS OF STORIES

everything causes cancer
brown sugar
white sugar
apple pie
peanut butter
toothpaste
dog shit
oysters
public transportation
Broadway musicals
string bass solos
moonlight
mirrors
rumors
jazz
sperm
dark glasses
ear plugs
Tibetan chants
maps
and stories that begin:
« There are two kinds of stories:
(1) stories that end: there are two kinds of stories
and
(2) stories that begin: everything causes cancer. »

August 9, 2009

WOULD THE PATRIOT WITHOUT SIN
PLEASE STAND UP AND THROW THE FIRST STONE

opening day of baseball season
the president was eager
to throw out the first pitch

he tossed it into the batter
who realized when it was
halfway to the plate
that it was not a baseball
but a bull’s testicle

the batter swung anyway
and connected
and splattered the bull’s ball
all over the field

everybody cheered
even the cheap seats
in the centerfield bleachers
some of whom
were covered in bull sperm

the game started
and by the 3rd inning
all the bull seed in the grass
had begun to sprout
and thousands of tiny bulls
were trotting around
in the outfield

by the 6th inning
the bulls were knee high
and the players
were tripping over them

by the 9th inning
the bulls were fully grown
tens of thousands of them
and they had chased
the players from the field
the game was over

then they sent in the matadors
it took the matadors
hours to kill all the bulls
and carry them away
and when they were finished
all that was left
was a baseball field
full of bullshit

« Excellent job, »
said president’s toadies
« You’re a real magician. »

the president waved away
their compliments
« Nothing to it, » he said
« Don’t forget I organized 9/11
and paid a couple of my boys
to fly their planes
into the World Trade Center. »

« You are truly a genius. »
replied the toadies.

« That was nothing, »
said the president.
« But getting everybody
to believe that the Arabs did it –
now that was a stroke of genius. »

August 14, 2009

GOD’S EYE
(Television Poem One)

saw a cripple on TV
wheeling his wheelchair
up a mountain trail
in the High Sierras
backwards

tough haul

he hit a rock
and tipped over
he lay in the dust
looking up at the sky
like he was wondering
if he was going to get rained on
or get hit
by a shower of meteors

I can’t have been
the only one watching the show
who knew he wasn’t alone
that there were all those people
from the television crew
standing around and staring
with their cameras and microphones

I said, « Why doesn’t somebody
help the poor fuck back in his chair? »

but they all had to pretend
that they weren’t there
that only God was present
and we were looking at the scene
thru his one good eye

August 14, 2009

FRANK BUCK’S GRANDCHILDREN
(Television Poem Two)

the TV vampires
are like the old-time animal trappers
who went into Africa
and brought back gorillas
and white rhinos
and spitting baboons
and wrestle-exhausted snakes

Frank Buck
« Brings ‘Em Back Alive. »

these new Frank Bucks
travel all around the world
capturing people
and putting them in our TV cages

starving children in Africa
weeping survivors
of a hurricane in Florida
a black motorist in LA
down on the pavement
while the white cops
beat the shit out of him
a courtroom close-up
of guilty faces
being acquitted by corrupt judges
and paid-off juries

animals in our cages
sometimes they’re alive
sometimes they’re dead
sometimes they stick
to the insides of our eyelids
and we can’t blink them away

August 14, 2009

THE SHAMAN’S GIFT

some kid stole
the eagle feather
from the handlebar of my bike
last year
the eagle feather
that Job blessed
and gave to me
to protect me on my rides

I just found out
what happened to the kid

an hour after swiping
the eagle feather
he drove his bike
into a hole and broke
both his legs
then his bike caught fire
and burned off half his face
after which
a flock of crows
swept down from the sky
and pecked out his eye balls

so take heed
you thieving magpies
don’t steal
the gift of a shaman
or mess around
with his sacred magic

non-material things
can happen to you
in your material world
that you will not believe

August 14, 2009

THE REVENGE OF A LESSER SHAMAN

this year I ride around
with a pigeon feather

nobody wants to steal
a pigeon feather

and if some kid does
what’s the worse
that can happen?

the pigeon flies by
and shits on his head

August 14, 2009

CREAM OF CONNUBIAL SOUP

big wedding reception
at the old farm house
they converted into a fancy
catering restaurant

the odor of high-class
expensive perfume
mixes with the aroma
of cowshit
and wafts across the field

the perfect blend

ahhhhhhhhhh
cream of connubial soup

August 14, 2009

37° IN THE SHADE

hot wind blowing in from the west
lightning flickering on the horizon behind it
what happened to the grasshoppers?
where are the leaping lizards?
where are the hummingbirds hiding?

down deep in a weeping willow hole
in a bubble of melted butterflies

August 20, 2009

37° IN THE SHADE
(Japanese version)

hot wind blowing in from the west
lightning flickering on the horizon behind it
ho! look at the glow worm

August 21, 2009

WHERE WERE YOU ON AUGUST 24, 2009?

I was home
thumbing thru my address book
and watching the ink fade
from my friends’ telephone numbers

NOSTRUMS & PANACEAS

checking out my medicine cabinet
for nostrums and panaceas

Efferalgan
Dafalgan
Osteo-Rhumal
Vioxx
Celebrex
Calamine lotion
Temesta
Loramet
Sinutab (extra strength)
Di-Antalvic
Sipralexa
Perdolan
Parodontax
Nexiam
Feldene Lyotabs
Audi-Sspray
Ex-Lax
Arcoxia
Zyrexa
Trafloxal
Hextril Spray
Systane
Otravine
Rad Salil
Baum Kamol
Aloe Vera
Bag Balm
Bio-Magnum
Hyabak
Sofrasolone
Docranti
Acetylcyteine
Rhinathiol
Inhalo Rhinathiol
Rhinargion
Nyogel
Fenigel
Nasonex
Unisept Otic Drops
Serulyx
Scheriproct

excuse me while I try
to stop getting old

SUMMER WITH HIBERNATION ON THE HORIZON

early Sunday morning
I pop a half pill
and wait for sleep

outside the window
the dawn is still dark
the birds haven’t awakened yet
the nights are sliding
into the days
and it gets harder
to stick around
to make sure
the world will turn
and be folded again
into the sun’s light

the calendar says it’s still summer
but I can feel winter
sticking its cool finger
down my throat

come on, birds, sing
sing me to sleep
sing me back into summer

August 30, 2009

CHILI PRIDE

I fail to understand chili pride
« I make the HOTTEST chili in Texas, »
he boasts strumming his suspenders
as if he’s getting ready
to play Camptown Races

how much skill does it take
to dump an extra pound of peppers
into the pot?
what kind of culinary finesse
does it take to stir them around?

and I’m still trying to figure out
the attraction of the hottest chili
in the world
all it will do is rot
the lining of your stomach
beyond repair and eat holes
in your intestines as it works
its way down to burn you
a double-wide anus

these chili boasters would be kinder
to promise you something better
than a lingering death
« Drop by tomorrow afternoon, sir
and I’ll cut out your heart with a knife. »

Sept. 2, 2009

FUNNY BONE

talk about the cosmic giggle
that tickles your toes
and rises up to make your hair stand on end

it’s that great gulp beyond laughter
that crushing of the heart
close to love
and you don’t want it to stop
(to laugh would stop it)
so you hold your mouth
and let the fluttering moths
build up inside
until you’re ready to rip
to stomp your feet thru the floor
and never come back

Sept. 2, 2009

TRAIN STATION

you can skip the part
where you wait outside
on the track
and wave goodbye

once I’m inside the train
I’m in another world
halfway to where I’m going

you and your waving hand
outside the window
are in a country
I’ve already left behind
a distant memory

stop waving
go home
and wait
I’ll be back

September 8, 2009

YOUTH BRIEFLY

raised on a ranch
electric fences
windmill thunder storms
miles of irrigation pipe
milking machine handshakes
country music on the cow barn radio

raised a 300 pound
white-face steer
traded it for 400
slaughter house dollars
traded that
for a blue 50 Ford
totaled the Ford
and moved to the city

September 9, 2009

FIREWORKS

he went up to the village feast
he wanted to see the fireworks
he found a low chair
next to the tennis court
and settled back to wait
in the dark

at 10:30 they shot off
the first cannon
it tilted sideways
and the rocket shot across
the tennis court
and pierced his heart
then it exploded
and he disintegrated
in a shower of dazzling sparks

everybody went, « Ahh! »

September 13, 2009

FIREWORKS AFTERMATH

later they said
it was no accident
the higher powers of the universe
had his death arranged
from the moment he was born
he might have been in on the secret
knew exactly where to sit
and was looking forward
to having his body blown up
into shattered streamers
of white light
while his mind expanded
in a flash of dazzling luminescence
as millions of brain cells
popped off like microscopic firecrackers
until he was nothing but
a delicate puff of smoke
in the sky that floated
over the village, down over the river
and disappeared into the deep forest
on the other side

September 13, 2009

BEOWULF OF THE UNGULATES

the deer come out to graze
in the meadow at sunset
I watch them from my studio window

mother, father and two young ones

twenty years ago I found a female
tangled in the fence
that borders the meadow and the woods
and with much care
and soft words I set her free

now the story of my deed
has been passed down
from generation to generation

I am the hero of the deer’s
favorite bedtime stories

« See that man watching us
from the window, » the mother
tells her children –
that’s him
the man who set us free. »

I am the Beowulf of the Ungulates

September 14, 2009

THE FAMOUS MAN

and when it comes to drugs
the famous man says
« Of course I don’t
take drugs myself
but when others around me
take them I always say,
« To each his own, »
I always say, ‘If you want
to destroy your mind and body
that’s your business
that’s your money
I won’t stand in your way
it’s a free country. »

I’m glad he told us that
we can see right away
what a superior man he is
how tolerant
how special

he is also a liar
I say to my TV screen
where his proud face
is producing hypocrite words
« Shut up, you stupid famous man. »

September 15, 2009

THE SECOND FAMOUS MAN

the famous man says,
« I invented electricity,
« I sailed around the world in a hot air balloon,
« I climbed the highest mountain in the world
« I can do anything I want
« I stuck my finger in the dike
and kept the land from flooding. »

and we say
« Oh what a famous man he is.
When I grow up I want to be a famous man. »

and then we go out
and becomes bank clerks
and garbage collectors
and dead soldiers

September 15, 2009

DARKNESS

they got all kinds of night time darkness
waiting for you out beyond the campfires
graveyard darkness, under-the-log darkness
monster spider movie darkness
bat cave darkness
wrong-side-of-the-moon darkness
fuzzy interstellar darkness

the accordion’s breath wheezes
in musical darkness
the computer toils
in digital darkness
the crowds cheer
but inside the football
there is only battered darkness
as kicking feet
try to puncture its skin

and down inside your body
where the muscles shuffle
and jiggle their joints
it’s pitch dark
close your mouth
and your teeth start chattering
and your tongue flicks around
trying to find the light switch
your turds pop out
rubbing their eyes
blinking in the blinding brightness
before drowning in the deep-sea darkness
of the sewer
down where the lamp fish
glow in the dark
and the sharks in shades
with phosphorescent white canes
are no joke

and how about the brain?
inside its black-as-night skull
with all those sparkling neurons
and the cells flashing out
neon signals that say:
« IT’S ONLY A STATE OF MIND. »

September 18, 2009

AMERICAN OPINIONS IN THE DARK

they opened the new train station
in Liege last night
the biggest in Europe
40,000 people showed up
to see the Prince of Santiago Calatrava
cut the red ribbon
then we had fireworks
and light works
and sound works
(with subsonics that vibrated the gut
and made everybody fart)
and we had dancers
and wild horse bareback riders
with sweeping Apache hair
and stilt walkers
and trampoliners
and bungee cord bouncers off the roof
and a man on a string
buzzing in circles above the entrance
with a propeller fan

we sore-footed back to the car
in the distant dark parking lot
2 young Americans arrived at the same time
at the car next to ours
« How was it? » asked the young American driver loudly
« Disappointing, » said one young American (loudly)
« Boring, » said the other young American (loudly)
then they got in their BMW and drove away

the jaded youth of America
they were expecting the Incredible Hulk
they were hoping for lions
ripping virgin maidens apart
and feasting on their organs
they were hoping for atomic death blasts
that would wipe out the city

but I’m making an assumption
maybe they weren’t at the inauguration at all
maybe they were around the corner
sampling the gay flesh
at the homo whore house
and had good reason to be disappointed
and bored
the Incredible Hulk
wasn’t there either

September 19, 2009

THE DIRTY SNOT RAG JOKE
(A STORY OF A STORY)

a true story I’ve told many times
on my old friend Dan
back in Rome in 1967

he steps out for breath
of fresh air
crowded sidewalk of via Cavour
what is it? why all these people?
it’s the pope, the pope is coming
and he comes
walking along the street
kissing the handkerchiefs
that people hold out
here comes the pope
Dan roots in his back pocket
and hauls out his snot rag
holds it out
too late
it’s crumpled, soggy
and full of nostril crap
the pope kisses it

at this point
when telling the story
(how many times?)
(too many)
I always reach in my back pocket
and (without thinking)
haul out my handkerchief
and always it’s crumpled
soggy and full of dried snot
(sometimes it’s at the dinner table
over fresh food)
too late
it’s not funny
loss of appetite

last night it was over
a fine buffet of shrimp
even I was disgusted

September 19, 2009

SONS OF ANARCHY

I don’t believe it
a Hells Angels’ soap opera?

will the 6-month premature baby
with half a stomach
and a hole in his heart
survive?

did the junkie mother
start foaming at the mouth
because she’d OD’d
in her hospital bed?

tune in next week and find out
the solutions to these and many other
burning social puzzles

such as
will the dirty Mexican gang
take revenge
on the pure white Caucasian gang
who got revenge
on the dirty Mexicans
for stealing their guns
and burning down their warehouse?

were the Korean tourists
at the night club
disappointed when they didn’t get
an Asian Elvis
and got a pure white
Caucasian Elvis instead?

thing is:
I probably will tune in next week
no, I lie
I most certainly will

Sept. 22, 2009

ROMAN ON THE RIVER

he always gets his rock music wrong
Cosby, Stills and Nash
The Velva Tunderground
Brittany’s Pierce
War and Zevon
Fleetwood Mag
Joe Jet and the Blackheads

he sings along with his old favorites
Let’s Spin the Night Together
Shake, Marilyn Monroe
In a Garden of Eden
Roman, Roman on the River

tell him he’s wrong
he’ll close his eyes and keep singing
Lazin’ on a Sunday Afternoon by the Kings
Give Peas a Chance by John Lemon
R-E-S-B-E-C-T by Uretha Franklin
Ho Lotta Shapin’ Goin’ On by Larry G. Lewis
Go Tell California by the Beagles

but what the hell
maybe he’s right
not even the singers themselves
know what they’re singing half the time
When a Man Loves a Walnut
Sitting on the Duck of the Bay
A Whiter Shave Appeal
How Could I Dance with her Mother
When I Saw Her Standing There?

Sept. 22, 2009

CHANGE
(Bike Poem 11)

see the potato pickers
in yonder field
think: hey I better go do that
it’s been 2 or 3 years since

see a pheasant feather
in the path
stop pick it up
stick it in my handlebar lamp
it’s old and moldy
walk 2 steps
toss it away
another feather
this one’s white
same thing

leaves starting to fall
it’s that time of year again
but it’s never the same
I’m in a completely different place
than I was the last time
the season started to fall
and so too is nature
a puzzle
I’ve been trying to figure it out
for a long time
change
I don’t have time
to catch up

Power Line Road, Sept. 23, 2009

PHEASANT FEATHER
(Bike Poem 12)

a hundred yards down the road
lies a long slender
pheasant feather
looks like the eyelash
of a tiger
flickers lightly in the breeze
bends towards me
as we pick up speed
as I pedal into the rest of autumn

Power Line Road, Sept. 23, 2009

POTATO
(Bike Poem 13)

a hundred yards past the point
where I picked up the pheasant feather
lies a single potato
about the size
of a pregnant golf ball

I stick it in my pack
that’s my harvest for the year
should see me thru the winter
if I take small bites

Onderdonk Drive, Sept. 23, 2009

POTATO STEW
(Bike Poem 14)

a hundred yards later
there’s a squashed hedgehog
in the middle of the road

conclusion:
there is a new adventure
waiting for you
every time you blink your eyes

all you have to do
is keep your eyes open

Onderdonk Drive, Sept. 23, 2009

PARAPHRASE
(Bike Poem 15)

Proust once said (paraphrase)
go out
keep your eyes wide open
and live one day to the limit

then come home
and spend the rest of your life
writing about it

that’s what I’m doing
that’s what I just did

now I’m ready
to go back out
and do it again

Rooster Pharmacy (Verlaine)
Sept. 23, 2009

THANKSGIVING
(Bike Poem 16)

population explosion
people everywhere
cars whiz by on Two Trees

cars were backed up
at the gas station
when I stopped for a drink
long line at the cash
when I got to the front
I said to the girl (in French)
« Il ya du monde. »
and she said (in French)
‘You noticed. »
and I said « What’s happening? »
and she said, « I don’t know. »
she gave me my change
and said, « Merci – merci –
beaucoup – beaucoup – beaucoup. »
I looked back at the waiting line
of dead fish faces
she was not thanking me
for buying a drink
she was thanking me
for speaking to her
she’d been looking at
an endless line
of dead fish faces all day
she was happy to see
a lemur face for a change

Two Trees Road (idem)
Sept. 23, 2009

THE ODORS OF AEOLIAN
(Bike Poem 17)

sitting in the spinning shadows
as the blades of the Aeolians
slice thru the setting sun

the world is different
every year
every day
every minute
every second

so listen up, lunk head:
stop getting your neurons
and your synapses
all stirred up
because nothing’s the same
as it was last time
because
because
what’s that smell?

Parisian pachyderm perfume?

pipe smoke floating in
from the 14th Century?

a Chinese dinner of steamed
prawns and special fried rice
sliding onto a table for four
at the Shanghai Gardens
a hundred miles due west?

Two Trees Road (idem)
Sept. 23, 2009

VEGETARIAN VIOLENCE

« I think I’ll have a taste
of something nibblish, » he said
and she slapped his face so hard
the olive popped out of his mouth
went squirting across the room
and the hit the wall so hard it stuck
looking like the small eyeball
of a beast who had bored
thru the plaster to watch
the final round of nightly violence
in the Lunatic’s Vegetarian Restaurant

Sept. 24, 2009

BOOK REVIEW

as I mentioned before
at the age of twenty
I set out to read
all the books in the world

by the age of thirty
I lowered that number
to all the important books
in English

age 40 I gave up
on important
and narrowed my ambitions
to only books that interested me

age 50 I realized
that many interesting new books
were being published every year

age 60 I gave up
and just kept reading

soon I’ll be 70
I’ve got over 5,000 paperbacks
on my shelves
I’ve read most of them
but lately I’ve been nagged
by an annoying question:
where am I going to find the time
to sit down and read them all again?

Sept. 28, 2009

OBLIGATORY OBLIGATOS FOR VIOLATED GITAR’N CELLO
IN NINE MOVEMENTS

Lethargy

In Tonation

Urination Plus

Flatulenza a l’Americana

Parallel Fifths in a Parallel World

Give me a break, my shoes are too tight and my toes are squeaking

One more of these tunes and I’ll have to start punching my guts in 5/8 time while my nose wiggles a waltz

This better be the end cause, if it ain’t, I’m gonna set off a fire alarm and the trucks’ll come and pump everybody full of water

Oh no they’re coming back for an encore – this could be the end of everybody’s aural sanity when they get going fast up in the high parts where bird’s nests are full of disoriented crickets and grasshoppers beeping and burping in the night, waiting for the curtain to come down and plunge the whole world into total everlasting darkness

Waremme, Oct. 8, 2009

THANKSGIVING BLUES

« NO MORE BIRDS, »
he said throwing a steaming stuffed pheasant
out the window daring it to sing into the jaws of a storm

EATING DISORDER

you’ve got one
if you find yourself
sitting on the toilet
crapping out last night’s dinner
while slurping from a bowl
of breakfast cereal
loaded with peaches, fresh cream
and a couple of slices
of left-over salami

Oct. 9, 2009

ROME POEMS

INTROIT

expect the best and you’ll be disappointed
expect the worst and you’re bound to get it
expect nothing and you’ll be surprised
beyond your wildest expectations

Oct. 13, 2009

THIEF (LADRO)

he got away with my knapsack
he got away with a folder of notes
on a work in progress
a current notebook with poems
a small notebook I had for 25 years
my address and phone number book
dating back to 1975
a hardbound copy of Nick Hornby’s
Juliet, Naked
a paperback of the new Robert S. Parker
cell phone plus charger
Canon Sure Shot plus pictures
baseball cap
eye drops
headache pills
sinus pills
all my pens but this one
my bed side clock
my reading glasses
(no more reading for a week)

so if you see him lurking in the shadows
of the entrance at Stazione Trastevere
hang onto your knapsack
he’ll be wearing a blue and green
jogging suit and black sneakers
he’s fast (10 seconds
while I had my head turned
to see if Marie-Claire was having any luck
flagging down a taxi)

he’ll be squinting thru a pair
of thin tortoise frame reading glasses
that makes his left eye
twice the size of his right
and holding Juliet, Naked
open to the first page, trying to read
he’ll be struggling
it’s not easy to learn to read
on such short notice

he’s going to ruin his eyesight
with those stupid glasses
and he’ll never be a poet
no matter how fast he runs

Rome, Oct. 13, 2009

A LOTTA GOTTA (GONNA WANNA)

one day in Rome
and my head’s already full
not an extra cubbyhole
for another cobblestone
not a single corner
for a haircut to hide in

gotta go to sleep
and dream a lotta dreams
unplug a few holes
toss back a few musical chairs
for a new game
we’re gonna have a bunch
of new faces coming up
tomorrow and they’re not
gonna wanna take no
for an answer

Rome, Oct. 14, 2009

BARBARIANS IN ROME

rhinogutts in my nose
muggentwerps on my wall
a pair of schulmplugs in my ears
what kind of place is this?
I thought we was in Rome
where the barbs gave up long ago
trying to knock off the mamas and papas
and the girls a la la
and the boys a da da
no more ja ja
no more yo yo
no more spigott spitz
no more zigzag mouth graffiti
German should be outlawed in Rome
French acceptable only under
special conditions (if spoken softly)
like if you’ve got an earwig in your ear
or you want to take a shower
but don’t know how to get wet
send them to Florence or Venice
if they want to ümlaüt the air
with kroots and krauts

and while we’re at it
no more Arab parasites
crawling around clawing
at you with their Kasbah crap
and cheepo street clog
send them all to Napoli
where they can scratch out
each others’ eyes
while scoring fantastic bargains
over chunks of junk
that have a half life
of less than a minute
and will fall to pieces
before you get home

and while we’re at it
– but no, we’ll leave
the self-satisfied, duck quack
pigeon toed, pinch face
squeegee brain Americans
for another day

Rome, Oct. 14, 2009

ROMA PAZZO

people walk around
with cell phones glued to their ears
talking loudly

you can see them anywhere
but how about the recent models?

ear plugs with microphones

they’re all over Rome
a crowd of lunatics
walking around
waving both arms
apparently talking to themselves

apparently hell
the ear plugs
are just for decoration

Rome, Oct. 15, 2009

THE TRASTEVERE COWMAN

and here he comes
an old guy
with six or seven
big cowbells in each hand
clanging, banging
you can hear him
from a block away
and you wouldn’t be surprised
to see a herd of cattle
following him down the street

here he comes, passes by
the clang and bang so loud
the pigeons start to moo

Rome, Oct. 16, 2009

THE WORLD IS SUCH A COMPLEX THING
to Marie-Claire

the world is such a complex thing
we can only dream to hope
to understand a very small part

having said that
I know that what holds the world together
is love
laughter
friendship
and compassion

without these
you and I would fall
between the cracks
and we would have to spend
all of our time
hopelessly trying to catch
each other

Rome, Oct. 16, 2009

THERE’S NOTHING LIKE

1.
there’s nothing like
a drunk bellowing in the street
at 2 a.m.
and you lean out the window
and see him pissing against your door
and you’re so surprised
all you can do
when he looks up
is reach out and tilt
the can of beer you’re drinking from
and watch it spill down
like a stream of urine
into his open mouth

2.
there’s nothing like
crossing an intersection
and having an impatient driver
ease his car up against your leg
and push you out of the way
and you’re so surprised
all you can do
as he shakes his fist at you
as he drives away
is to lift your hands in the air
and shout, « Come back here, bastard –
and we’ll talk about it. »

only to see him a minute later
as you continue down the sidewalk
coming around the corner
and pulling up to the curb
next to you and shouting
« Do you speak English? »

and without reply
you slowly walk over to the curb
and he is so surprised
that he panics, thinking
you are about to destroy his car
his mind and everything else
that he hits the gas
and squeals off down the street
on piggish tires
and all you can do
is to jab a middle finger
high in the air
and hope he sees it

this only works in Rome
where words speak louder than actions
and a man values his front teeth
his testicles and his sanity
far above a breakdown
in communication
that is just about (Oh holy son of a bitch!)
to turn into pure atavistic violence

no young Italian hot shot
is stupid enough to cross horns
with a stoop shoulder
70-year old American geezer
with a bad back and no teeth
especially if the geeze is 7 feet tall
has less to say than Clint Eastwood
on a bad day
and has his hands in his pockets
(perhaps) clenched around a pair
of venomous salamanders
which he can throw with deadly accuracy
thru an open car window
into a face that hopes
to look at itself in the mirror
on some near future occasion
without screaming

3.
there’s nothing like
a young woman triple-parked
on a busy corner
trotting across the street
to a bank’s money machine
where she tries to score
a couple hundred euros
while traffic piles up
behind her car, buses twisted
out of shape, taxi horns blasting
motorbikes scooting along
the sidewalks, drivers shouting
the sun blasting down
and whipping up extreme emotions

and this small episode
of street theater
would conclude perfectly
if the woman could score her loot
trot back out to her car
waving 3 hundred euro bills
in the air to the clamor
of a hundred car horn salute
hop in her car
and drive away
with the Beach Boys
blasting on her radio
« I GET AROUND! »

but of course
the gods of drama
have other ideas
about this triple-car-park scenario
and therefore nothing goes
as she had planned

she stands at the money machine
punching numbers
and nothing happens
she looks around
walks up and down
in front of the machine
punches more numbers
still nothing
three things are possible
(1) she’s forgotten her pin code
(2) she has no more money in her account
(3) she’s not using her bank card but a plastified business card that says: EAT AT JOE’S –
BEST PIZZA IN TOWN
she tries the numbers again
no dice; no free money today

she rushes into the bank
and hops out a minute later
with a plastic sack
full of hundred euro notes
in one hand
and a water pistol in the other
she squirts one car in the windshield
and it stops honking
she slides into her BMW
drives away
holding the gun to her head
she pulls the trigger
and the radio starts playing
OH HAPPY DAY
as water dribbles down
the side of her face
and off her chin

4.
there’s nothing like an exhausted
brain-dead tourist lunging your way
down the street on Frankenstein
monster feet that don’t bend
at the ankle, hypnotized eyes
that see nothing but vague shadows
squirming around in the last traces
of the illuminated world, swimming
down the lines of his sight
powergliding into his eyeballs
then with intolerable explosions
blasting up the tubes into his skull
where the sponge is already
soaked to the maximum

one sure thing you can say
about this man:
he’s not exactly enjoying his vacation
at this particular moment
in fact he’s given up trying to figure out
what kind of thousand-ring circus
he’s fallen into

where is he?
he might be back in Po Dunk
on the wrong side of the tracks
in the dark gloomy mind of the night

or in a 19th century mining town
on the edge of the American West
where gamblers play with bent corner cards
and will shoot you between your crossed eyes
if you accuse them of cheating

tell him he’s in Rome
and he’ll break down and cry
and wonder how he got here

5.
there’s nothing like
24 cop cars
blocking the bridge
2000-volt blue-white
flashing lights
120 decibel choppers
hovering overhead
waiting for a horde
of barbarians
to come charging down
the river road
shouting insults
throwing cobblestones
intending to turn the city
upside down
and create a riot
that will be imprinted
on the minds of all
who witness it
as a memory of chaos
that will be passed down
thru the generations
to the end of time

and thru the crowd-packed streets
comes a high-soprano choir
of little girls
waving big plastic pink hands
their thin melodic voices
floating over the madhouse mess
and delivering everybody
to the heaven of their choice
whether they like it or not

6.
there’s nothing like a sip
from an empty tea cup
when you’re expecting
a mouthful of Sir Winston
and all you get is Sir Winston’s
peach-flavored breath

7.
there’s nothing like
the beggars of Trastevere
stumbling along
from one foot to the other
limping on rubber legs
smiling thru twisted teeth
eyes burned out
by the hot Roman sun
faces heated by years
of hot red Roman wine

they all want money
for their boozed-up blood
but what they need
is a bar of soap
a toothbrush loaded
with peppermint-flavored yogurt
and a real sharp spanking

Rome, Oct. 16—19, 2009

PIGEON FEAST

a small round table in the sunshine
outside the Cinema Café
four people, having finished
get up and leave their mess behind
crusts of bread
edges of pizza
cake crumbs
the moment they’re gone
the pigeons attack
hopping up and swooping down
they go hog wild
pecking at the scraps
flapping their wings
and slapping the water glasses
and coffee cups to the ground
the sound of breaking glass
and broken pottery fills the air

then they fly away
leaving their mess behind
like spoiled children
on their way
to conquer the world

Borghese Gardens, Rome, Oct. 16, 2009

A SCARLATTI SONATA
for Francesco

he hammers the keys so hard
the elephants back in Africa
lift their trunks
and trumpet a requiem
for their dead ancestors

he taps the keys so softly
the feathers of the crows
in the Canadian snowlands
are ruffled by whispers of wind
from the north
that tells of their vacations
in the tropics

and down thru the centuries
come the notes of music
nobody really remembers
because all he’s left behind
are a few bubbles of ink
on a river-floating page
that rise and drift away
as they pass by only
if the hand of an angel
reaches out with his fingertips
and sets them free

Rome, Oct. 16, 2009

THE HONOR SYSTEM ITALIAN STYLE

free tram rides
all over Rome
buses too
best value in the city
you buy one ticket
make sure you don’t punch it
as nobody else punches theirs
(this is called the honor system
Italian style)
and you can ride forever
everyday, all day long
and pray that the ticket police
won’t come around
and throw you in tram jail

Rome, Oct. 17, 2009

CAMPO DE’ FIORI SATURDAY MORNING

Campo de’ Fiori
Saturday morning
Bruno on his perch
looking down on all the wealth
of the world
heads of lettuce
bunches of grapes
persimmons
gigantic pumpkins
flowers
carrot peelers
I ♥ Roma sweat shirts
fountains
motorcycles
flashing cameras
2-wheel pushcarts

looking down
upon all the people of the world
poets
pickpockets
backpackers
scam artists
movie stars of no future
garbage collectors
in neon orange jumpsuits
old babies in luxury strollers
small old ladies with big ear rings
dogs trotting around in red wool sweaters
cell phone addicts who use the entire piazza
as their phone booth
North American bible belters
with bite-mouth voices
white glove smokers
with ivory cigarette holders
dog-pulling sandwich stuffers
map-reading Orientals
and shave-head heretics

looking down
upon
the
world

Rome, Oct. 17, 2009

FLEA MARKET
(Porta Portese in the rain, 7 a.m.)

not much
some stuff
you see
on the street
multiplied by 1000
maybe a few
extra fleas

Rome Oct. 18, 2009

BLACK DUST COWBOY

the Black Dust Cowboy
of Piazza Navona
covered in liquid lead
sitting in the dirt
leaning up against a lamp post
waiting for the next train
into the Wild West
leather jacket and jeans
cowboy boots and outlaw hat
tilted down over roll-up smoke
dangling from the corner
of his mouth
quick-draw pistols in holsters

kids approach, sit by his side
to get their pictures taken
a shy woman tip toes up
and drops a coin in his tin can

the Black Dust Cowboy
jerks awake
quick draws a gun
and squirts water
in her face

I stroll over
drop a few coins in his can
he turns his head
hawk-eyes me leaving
winks
and goes back to sleep

Rome Oct. 18, 2009

FAMOUS QUOTATION FROM THE ROMANS

SELF BAR SELF BAR SELF BAR SELF

Rome (Stazione Trastevere) Oct. 19, 2009

SAY GOODBYE TO THE PEACEFUL MADNESS

leaving Rome
with a headful of heartbeats
sad bent knees and sorrowful feet
with eyes full of a thousand-counted cobblestones
ten-thousand faces we’ll never remember
and a million dots of dust on our backs

leaving Rome
with two new knapsacks
and a week-old Roman haircut.

Rome Oct. 19, 2009

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR EMERGENCY WINDOW REMOVAL

1. pull down on lever
2. lift up the handle
3. rip out the window
4. throw it out the door
5. jump out after it
6. scream
7. pretend you’re wearing a parachute
and float to the ground like a feather

34,000 feet over the Alps, Oct. 19, 2009

CAOUTCHOU

« Lady, if you go round
coughing in people’s faces
you have no more intelligence
than a caoutchou. »

« What’s a caoutchou? »

« A small mean animal
that walks around on three legs
because it hasn’t figured out
how to operate
the other two. »

Liege Oct. 21, 2009

THE LITTLE TYKE
(Bicycle Poem 18)

I see a little tyke
in a red anorak
trudging up the road towards me
holding his mom’s hand

I slow as always
they move over to make room
and I get the wild idea
I’m going to give the kid
a thrill

so just as I’m about to slide by
I ring my bell
(Grandpa Clown at the circus
entertaining the kiddies)

the little tyke doesn’t react
but his mom does
her mouth drops open
her face stretches wide
her eyes bulge in horror
and she begins to whimper

then the kid begins to wail

and so ends my career
as a child entertainer
word will get around:
watch out for the lunatic
with green teeth
with a pheasant feather
bent into the shape
of a grim-reaper finger
if he points it at you
scream and run the other way,
don’t wait for him to ring the bell
you may never recover
from its evil vibrations

Old Farm Road, Oct. 21, 2009

HUNCHBACK PHEASANT
(Bicycle Poem 19)

before going to Rome
Bear tossed a wool blanket
folded double
over my handlebar
ignoring the tall, proud
pheasant feather
sticking up from my light

now, after a week
of violent suppression
the feather is bent in half
tortured into a relic
of a hunchback pheasant

I turn it around
so that it points ahead
and pray to the wind
to straighten its spine

the wind hasn’t done
much for me and mine
so I don’t have much hope

Rum Road, Oct. 21, 2009

COLD WIND TUNNEL
(Bicycle Poem 20)

blink your eyes for a week
and all this year’s food
has been harvested
brought in, stored
or thrown away
(or whatever)
corn
potatoes
beets
even the apples
the fields are empty
deep ruts in deep brown mud
from the tractors
with an occasional
spliced spud
sticking up

across an empty wheat field
aeolian blades
spin unobstructed

I can see it coming
in the distance
the cold wind tunnel
reaching out and sucking
at the earth as it glides
our way in slow motion

must get home before dark
the night’s another tunnel
that runs ahead of the cold wind’s
shutting down the day
tossing up a sign that says:
do not enter –
unless you want to get
into a boxing match
with Mother Earth
who wears gloves
loaded with horseshoes
and all you’ve got for protection
are a few mistaken ideas
about how to improve the climate
in these northern lands

Carrot Stop, Oct. 21, 2009

MONSTER TRUCKS
(Bicycle Poem 21)

two black monster trucks
rolling down the tractor road
between two empty wheat fields
towards me
8-wheel drive
smoked windows
spinning blades under front bumpers
to chop up human road kill
huge hooks in back
for dragging bodies
until they forget that laughter
has ever been an essential
part of their lives

I know who they are
gangsters
child molesters
rapists of Romanian girls
they’ve got victims
in the back
blindfolded and gagged

I turn my head
and close my eyes
not because I don’t want to be
a witness
but because I don’t want
to get dust in my eyes
from their fat tires
as they speed past

Two Trees Road *, Oct. 21, 2009

* It used to be a nice neighborhood, without neighbors, but since they put in the aeolians not even the imagination can keep up with the horrors that lurk in the hearts of these occasional inhabitants

CAT & OWL & FALLING LEAVES

the click and the clatter
of dead leaves falling
in the night breeze
sounding like a herd of tiny deer
racing up the hill thru the woods

and there’s the old owl
who is he up to
on a night
when the moon
is humming down thru the trees?

and the cat’s paws
ticking on the window glass
as he pedals at his reflection
trying to reach
the paw-pedaling creature
on the other side

and out of the half moon
booms a monster jet airliner
the roar of its engines
blotting out all sounds
but the shout of my voice
as I curse it out of the sky
with a rude and lonely
« YOU BASTARD! »

Oct. 27, 2009

HALLOWEEN FALL

we’re having a gentle fall
this year
soft breezes blow
from time to time
and a leaf falls
from a tree
from time to time

then Bear slips
on a rotten apple
falls
and breaks her ankle
in three places

a breeze blows
a leaf falls

two

Oct. 31, 2009

BOSCH

used to be an insult
in Europe
during and after
World War Two
« Them dirty Bosch. »

now it’s the name
of a fine fridge
the name stares out
from a million Belgian
refrigerators
into six million
pairs of eyes
everyday
Bosch!
Bosch!
Bosch!

that’s the name
of our new fridge

I’m looking forward
to our next new stove
it might be
a Goering & Goebbels

« I cooked my goose
on a Goering & Goebbels »

don’t tell me
language ain’t funny

November 4, 2009

A TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE THING TO SAY
TO A MIDDLE-AGED LADY DOCTOR

Bear (in a wheel chair recovering from a broken ankle) says,
« It’s at times like this that I’d like to have a sister. »

The Lady Doctor says, « I have four. »

And I say, « Are they all as sexy as you? »

November 6 2009

END OF A DREAM

I shut off the computer
and wake up

curious dream

so what happens now?

go down to my studio
switch on my real computer
and start dreaming again?

pick up where I left off
in my sleep?

and where did I get the idea
of a virtual computer?

Nov. 19, 2009

THIN WAIL
for Garrett List

what can I do
to make it new
can I make it fast
tho it may not last

can I make it slow
with a sky full of snow
make it cry
with a poke in the eye

can I make it old
by making it cold
then thawing it out
with a tickle and a shout

I don’t want to make it cold
or cry or slow
I want to make it smile
at least for a while

I want to make it run
make a shadow in the sun
I want to make it warm
in the pit of my arm

can I make it hot
will you like it a lot
will you still love me
if I make it for free

can I make it hum
like a tribal drum
can I make it dance
right out of its pants

can I make it wail
can I twist its tail
can I make it spin
right out of its skin

can I howl like the wind
will you still let me in
will you love me more
if I break down the door

what can I do
to make it come true
can I leave it alone
with my old trombone

can I make it new
by painting it neon blue

can I make it sing
can I make it grow wings
can I make it fly
away
and never
come back again

Liege, December 7, 2009

FOLDED NOTE

the kind you pass
across the room
in the 6th grade
to the girl by the window
and hope none of kids
in between will open it
and sneak a peek

Bear, you broke your ankle
six weeks in a cast
six weeks in a wheelchair
six weeks of bellyshots

cast comes off
and you’re walking around the house
that same day not even glancing
at the crutches

next day you’re in therapy
and driving the car

four straight days
you’re up early driving to the clinic
on your own
for the painful therapy

I woke up this morning
you were not sleeping on the couch
where are you, Bear?

oh, I know
you’re over at the clinic
for more therapy

you’ll never sit down
and let the world kick you around
I love you for your determination
I love you for everything
I love you so much

December 30, 2009

I wake to sleep and take my walking slow

Canigou Poems – Series Three | January – February 2010 |  TUCKER ZIMMERMAN

GOING SOUTH

driving out of snow
into more snow
driving south
into France
snow all over the place
frozen aeolians
colder than Belgium

where is the south?

the famous L’Autoroute du Soliel
is packed with ice
looks like Norway on a bad day

past Troyes
snowflakes falling
snow drifting across the road
snow plows poised
by the side of the highway
yellow lights flashing
ready to jump out and stop an avalanche

driving south
into snow and more snow
speed down to 50 kph
nobody’s driving in the fast lane
overhead signs blinking
« Trucks get off the road! »
(SORTIE OBILGATOIRE)
but some trucks keep driving
blocking the road
traffic jam
snow flakes dancing
in the low beams

driving south
into snow
and more snow

Dijon Jan. 8, 2010

INFLATION RATTLESNAKES

when I was a kid
in San Francisco
I saw an ad
a painted poster
of a fat rattlesnake

in had a word
printed on its side:

INFLATION

somebody from above
was holding it down
with a forked stick
but you could see
it was writhing around
rattles buzzing
jaw open
fangs dripping venom

I understood the message
but what could I do
to hold down the inflation rattlesnake?

I didn’t even know
what inflation was

today I found out
at a Mac’s in France
bought a burger
a muffin
and a small bottle of Evian

20 years ago
it would have cost me
a third of what I paid today

with cigarettes a $12.50 a pack
the smoker with a serious
nicotine problem
has to fork out at least
25 bucks a day to keep
his addiction rattlesnake pacified

that’s 85 bucks a week
that’s $350 per month
and $7,700 per year
cheaper to be hooked
on heroin

and I still don’t know
what I’m supposed to do
to keep that inflation rattlesnake
from jumping up and biting me
refuse to pay?
grab the burger and run?

they probably got a whole team
of inflation rattlesnakes
hiding in the parking lot
waiting to attack
those who grab and run

I think I just saw one
slither back into the sewer

Dijon Jan. 8, 2010

SLIPPING THRU THE CRACKS
OF THE STAGE
AT THE LAST CHANCE CAFE

the drummer crumbles

the lead guitar grows thinner
and thinner until
he’s down to skin and bones

the bass player’s pulse
has been stolen by the crowd

the piano player’s fingers
hit only the black keys
he can’t stand the sight of white

and the lead singer
is confused about who he is
and the words of his song
are not helping

I looked in the mirror
and my face disappeared
the first of April came after
October the ninth this year

my hand and arm are not attached
cause I don’t have a wrist
I thought you loved me
but you do not exist

the crowd is not a crowd
it’s just a mob of drunks
some of them are bastards
and some of them are punks

there’s only one girl
but she be won’t one for long
she has no mouth
but she tries to sing along

I thought you loved me
but you do not exist
I can’t dance the tango
I can only do the twist

I’ve been laid from end to end
but seldom kissed
I thought I loved you
But I do not exist

the night grows long and fat
someone’s sucked up all the air
the beer has gone dead flat
but no one seems to care

it’s just one more night
down in Satan’s Cage
the band keeps playing
but there’s no one on the stage

we thought we loved each other
we thought we would be missed
but no one even noticed
when we vanished in the mist

so you give me the finger
and I’ll give you the fist
no one’s looking, no one cares
and we do not exist

Dijon Jan. 8, 2010

GOING SOUTH QUATRAIN

Lyons?
snowed under
where is the south?
the south is snowed under

Lyon Jan. 9, 2010

GOING SOUTH HAIKU

SIGN:
EXTREME BREAKING CONDITIONS AHEAD
USE YOUR IMAGINATION

Autoroute A7 South Jan. 9, 2010

GOING SOUTH & GETTING RIDICULOUS

these truckers are killers
someday they will be tried
for war crimes

« Were you driving
a Scania 16-wheeler
German license plate BORT GK 421
on the A7 freeway going south
between Valence and Montilimar
on January 9, 2010? »

« I was just doing my job, sir. »

« Condemned!
Execute the bastard! »

« It wasn’t my fault, sir.
It was the truck’s. »

« Execute the truck too! »

Valence, Jan. 9, 2010

GOING SOUTH & GETTING SLIPPERY

Avignon snowed under
streets sidewalks
a skating rink
worst storm
in a hundred years

back then
they did not have cars
or maps
or boots
or gloves

they had prayers
sometimes the prayers worked
and sometimes they didn’t

Avignon, Jan. 9, 2010

AVIGNON 1910

back then they didn’t have
a lot of things
not even the idea
that they didn’t have
a lot of things

they only had
what they could scare up
from the cellar
when the going got tough

they mostly had people
and a few dogs and cats

Avignon, Jan. 9, 2010

AVIGNON 1911

by the following year
they had a few more things
they had some memories
and they had something to talk about:
the worst snow storm in a thousand years
the city under a blanket of snow
20 feet deep

but back in 910 AD
they didn’t have very much at all
not even much of a city
ramparts
a few cannonballs
aimed at removing
your digestive system
from front to back
and a couple of fanatic priests
warming up their tongs
for the Inquisition

this is a complete history
of Avignon 911 – 1911
all other details
are irrelevant
and should be ignored

Avignon Jan.10, 2010

LEAVING AVIGNON

the sharp snap ice crack
of snow heavy tree branches
overhanging courtyard walls
in the night

in the morning
olive trees in the snow

on the road to Nimes Jan. 10, 2010

COLD WISHFUL THINKING

if only we could
get away with
building a fire
in the sink
and using the bathroom window
as a chimney

Mas Trilles, Jan. 10, 2010

HOT WATER BOTTLE FEVER

dedicated to the memory of Richard Brautigan

the Bear wants to buy
a sleeping bag
I think we should buy
five sleeping bags
and one hundred
hot water bottles
fill up the bottles
with hot water
and stuff them into
the sleeping bags
make a nest to sleep in
lie down with our heads
on hot water bottle pillows
and pull hot water bottle blankets
over our heads

or how about hot water bottle pajamas?
and if we get warm enough
we could read hot water bottle books
or watch hot water bottle television

sometimes we’d stop
and sing hot water bottle songs
about hot water bottle people
and their hot water bottle problems

we are staying
in a hot water bottle hotel
in the south
of hot water bottle France
not far from the Spanish
hot water bottle border
and we are dreaming
of hot water bottle heaven
where hot water bottle angels
fly around
on sleeping bag wings

Mas Trilles, Jan 11, 2010

HOT WATER BOTTLE EPILOG

also dedicated to the memory of Richard Brautigan who invented such people as Trout Fishing in America Shorty and places such as Watermelon Sugar

actually all these hot water bottles
are getting us ready for the day
when the world gives up
no more gas
no more electricity
and we’ll have to go live
in contemporary caves
of wrecked cars
and rusted house trailers
at night we will gather around
the campfires
where we will boil
huge bathtubs full of water

and in the morning
we will slide down the hill
to the Hot Water Bottle Emporium
where we will buy
a lot of hot water bottles
with hot water bottle money
then we’ll climb back home
to our hot water bottle camp
and when we get hungry
we will eat dead hot water bottles

and when we give up hope
we will take out
our hot water bottle guns
and shoot our heads
full of hot water bottle bullets
then we will go
to air-conditioned heaven
where angels in bikinis
will fly around
on sun tan lotion wings
and somebody will tell
a hot water bottle joke
and we’ll all laugh
because we will not
want to remember
what life was like
in hot water bottle hell

Mas Trilles, Jan. 11, 2010

MOM & DAD

phone text message
from Quanah
he’s happy we’re down here
in the south

Bear thinks he’s happy
because mom & dad
still have the courage
to travel around the world
when the spirit moves them

I think he’s just relieved
to know that mom & dad
are not so stupid
that they would stay home
suffering and complaining
and forgetting to put on their shoes
when they wander outside
into the snow and ice

Mas Trilles, Jan 11, 2010

MEMORABLE BEAR QUOTATION FROM THE CATALAN Nº 1

« When you start passing trucks on this highway
you have to believe in the future. »

Autoroute du Soleil, Jan. 9, 2010

MEMORABLE BEAR QUOTATION FROM THE CATALAN Nº 2

« I got cramps in my pira-knees. »

Céret, Jan. 10, 2010

MEMORABLE BEAR QUOTATION FROM THE CATALAN Nº 3

« I feel like a hard-boiled egg. »

Mas Trilles, Jan. 24, 2010

MEMORABLE BEAR QUOTATION FROM THE CATALAN Nº 4

« It’s a butterfly that can’t fly. So it must be a butter. »

Perpignan, Feb. 3 2010

MEMORABLE BEAR QUOTATION FROM THE CATALAN Nº 5

« If I looked at my wool sleeve under a microscope I would see a lot of small snakes and worms with dripping noses. »

Mas Trilles, Feb. 16, 2010

MEMORABLE BEAR QUOTATION FROM THE CATALAN Nº 6

« My biggest discovery was Switzerland. »

Mas Trilles, Feb. 23, 2010

MOSQUITO DREAM

and so we went out
and bought a sleeping bag for Bear
(we already have a hot water bottle)

now she’s sleeping in a sleeping bag
and she’s as warm as toast

the bald man on the TV
is talking about
more snow and ice
in Brittany
and avalanches in the Alps
but the Bear smiles
and sleeps on dreaming
deeper into the tropics
where she’s swatting
mosquitoes and looking
around to see where I might be
« One hundred and twenty two –  »
she says from her sleeping bag
(counting swatted mosquitoes)
« One hundred and twenty three »

but I’m back here
looking out the window
at snow-covered Mt. Canigou
and eating cold toast

Mas Trilles, Jan. 12, 2010

BOSS MAN & BOSS WOMAN

it’s taken us a couple of days
to find our balance
and get back in tune
with nature
even the weather
is obeying our wishes
and is warming up

soon we will take control
of the sun
and the phases of the moon
will be at our command

Mas Trilles, Jan. 13, 2010

BIRD LIVES

a bird flits by
between me and the hedge
just three feet away
she doesn’t even see me
sitting here in the sun

she was a small bird
I was a small human
who has collected
so many memories
that sometimes he thinks
he will go crazy
and sometimes he wishes
he had a pea-size brain
like the bird
who has completely forgotten
the branch in the tree
on which she was resting
only a moment before

Mas Trilles, Jan. 13, 2010

IN TEN WORDS OR LESS

in memory of a conversation with Garrett List

the mind goes out the window
and we talk
keeping our hands busy
as the mind goes out the window

« In ten words or less, » laugh
pick up the glass, drink
keep the hands busy
as the mind goes out the window

« Hand over hand
along the rope of life. »
drink, say, « Yep. »
as the mind goes out the window

« You put ideas in my head. »
as the mind goes out the window
tap a finger on the table
move the can of beer

a half inch to the left
to match the ring of light
« I didn’t know I knew that. »
and the mind goes out the window

Mas Trilles, Jan. 14, 2010

RED BERET

sometimes she wears her red beret
I can spot her across
supermarket aisles
or driving by
in her new Berlingo
my eyes are giving up
but I can still see red

Mas Trilles, Jan. 14, 2010

LABRADOR DESIRES

who knows what a dog wants?
maybe not even the dog
she sniffs my sleeves for crumbs
licks the pebbles
after I finish toasting

time to take a walk?
she leaps in the air
races back and forth
across the lawn
down the steps
into the woods

I unlock the gate
and she rushes out
into the park
there she sniffs
at everything
except me
she ignores me completely
I do not exist

until we get back home
and she sniffs my hands
and licks her chops
because she can smell
the do-nut I was eating
while we were walking in the park

Mas Trilles, Jan. 14, 2010

BIRTHDAY SNEEZES

yesterday
Bear sneezed
one hundred times

OK – so maybe
that’s a slight
exaggeration

let’s say
between 80 and 90
with the arrow
leaning towards the high 80s

OK –
make it the low 80s
or
the high 70s

on second thought
it was probably
down in the low 70s

wait
I got it
66 times exactly
she was practicing
a fancy way
of blowing out
the candles
on her birthday cake

Mas Trilles, Jan 16, 2010

NO BIRTHDAY

today
on her birthday
she sneezed 5 times
no cake
no candles no gifts
nothing
the next 61 sneezes
will be cries
of deep disappointment

Mas Trilles, Jan. 16, 2010

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

they’re running
the Paris-Dakar
in South America this year

what’s next?

the Tour de France in China?
the Indianapolis 500 in Samoa?
the Kentucky Derby in Alaska?
Wimbledon in Viet Nam?

I say put the Boston Red Sox
and the L.A. Lakers
in the Superbowl
and see what happens

that’s enough to think about
for the moment
no need to mention
tennis players pole vaulting
golfers in boxing matches
or marathon runners
playing ice hockey

Mas Trilles, Jan. 16, 2010

THE VANISHED MOUNTAIN

Canigou disappeared
into fog
last night
and it’s been gone
all day

now the fog has lifted
and we know the mountain
is gone forever

they came in the night
with their big trucks
and took it away
piece by piece

where did they put the snow?
what will the goats do?
they could have left a flag
or something
but there’s nothing there
not even a sign
that says:

COMING SOON
CANIGOU HOTEL
1,898 METERS HIGH
4,201 ROOMS
WITH SWIMMING POOLS
BARS AND RESTAURANTS
ON EVERY LEVEL
VISIT OUT MILE HIGH SOUVENIR SHOP
AND BUY POSTCARDS
WITH PICTURES
OF THE VANISHED MOUNTAIN

NEXT YEAR
WE WILL TAKE THE RIVER
AND GIVE YOU BACK
A 150-MILE LONG
SHOPPING MALL

Mas Trilles, Jan. 17, 2010

THE UNVANISHED MOUNTAIN

bright sunshine
Canigou’s back
some of the snow is missing
and as far as I’m concerned
they can keep it
and while they’re at it
they can stop fooling around
with the fog and the mountain
I don’t trust them
they make mistakes
they’ve been known
to misplace mountains
put rivers back in the wrong places
loan lakes to other parts
of the world
and never get them back

there is a well-known story
of how they borrowed an ocean
misplaced it for a couple of days
only to see it reappear
on the moon
astronauts say it’s doing fine
its fish are happy
whale and dolphins
have no complaints
but I don’t believe them
when I was a kid
they took the purple light
of a sunset
from one of my favorite hills
and I didn’t see it again
until 20 years later
when it appeared
on television
as a character
in a cop show
his name was Shingle
he was old and bent over
and faded around the edges
it was a violent story
and Shingle died
before I could figure out
if I still liked him or not

Mas Trilles, Jan 18, 2010

ARIE MUSICALI

the lingering melodies
of Frescobaldi
and the echo
of a birthday sneeze

and so ends our first week
in captivity
and so begins another

Mas Trilles, Jan. 17, 2010

IN THE SHADOW OF THE 20TH CENTURY
(IGGY POP IN CATALONIA)

Lazlo 65 years old
from Hungary living down here
in the South of France
for many years
couldn’t believe his eyes
when they put Iggy Pop
on his TV one night

Iggy Pop really got to him
disturbed his psyche
upset the balance
of his world

I think Iggy Pop
is probably a decent guy
I don’t like his music
or the way he performs it
but that’s just my oblique taste

on the other tattooed hand
I suspect Iggy is an interesting human
and I wouldn’t mind sitting down
and spending an evening
chatting with the guy
we’d probably smoke a joint or two
drink a couple pints of rum
but that’s the way it goes
when you’re living in the shadows
of the 20th century
I’d probably mention Lazlo
and Iggy would say “Wait
until he meets Marilyn Manson. »
that’s an encounter guaranteed
to unloosen all of Lazlo’s psyche knots
and set him loose swimming
in a boundless sea of 20th Century shadows
that would wash over into the 21st
and steal his soul forever

Mas Trilles, Jan 19, 2010

TIME TRAVEL

they say time is the 4th dimension
what a noodlebag of crap

it’s not a dimension at all
it’s a creature so far beyond
our understanding
that our teeth would fall out
and our brains spin so fast
they’d exit from the top of our skulls
in a twisted mass of protoplasm
if it actually appeared to us
in all its magnificent glory
and manifold shapes
and said, « Hey, people
step over here
and take a look
at my new salt and pepper
Cadillac convertible
hop in
and I’ll take you for a ride

and we’d hop in
and we’d never come back

they say that over 100,000 people
disappear, vanish without a trace
every year
in the U.S. alone

Mas Trilles, Jan 20, 2010

ELECTRONIC SMILES AND FROWNS

coming into town
they’ve got an electronic
speed limit sign
numbers below
to tell you how fast you’re going
a face above
two eyes and a mouth
if you’re under 50
the face smiles
over 50
he frowns

not good, that frown
you don’t want that face
to frown at you
ruin your day

but if they really want
to ruin your day
they could have that face spit

over 50
the mouth opens
and out comes
a stream of water
like a fire hose
soak your car
from front to back
and too bad
if your windows are open
be especially effective
on speeding convertibles

Céret, Jan 20, 2010

BIRTH OF THE BLUES

ice age caveman
sitting outside his cave
soaking up sunshine
back when summers
lasted only one day
the 5th of Mugwump
(snow yesterday, snow tomorrow)

I am that caveman
the sun lighting
a thousand microscopic
fires in my skull

ice age caveman
fires burning inside his skull
gets an idea
he picks up a deer hoof
and starts thumping
on a buffalo skull
he opens his mouth
and out comes
a voice wrapped
in vibrations of smooth
sinus frequencies

« what’s that racket? »
says the nextdoor cave wife

his voice floats out
over the valley
dogs begin to howl
the caveman adds words
to his vocal wailing
woke up this morning
heard the weather news
I think I got
the summertime blues

people gather around
to listen
what’s he doing?
what’s that noise
coming from his mouth?

« I like it, » says a girl
and she begins to wail
and soon everybody joins in
all the open doors of the caves
are filled open mouths
warbling and trilling
basso profundo booming
scatting and riffing
crooning and yodeling
syncopating and counterpointing
sharping and flatting

and across the valley
the residents of Pithecanthropusville
sit listening
and shaking their heads
« Last week, » says an old timer
« They invented painting
– and now this –  »
« What’s next? » asks a young timer
« Who knows? » says a visionary sage
« Poetry?
Theater?
Musicals?
Opera?
Photography?
Cinema?
The sky’s the limit
with those folks. »

I sit in the mouth of my cave
the sun burning fires in my skull
remembering how it used to be
and humming an ancient tune

Mas Trilles, Jan. 21, 2010

THE KING OF CATALONIA

the donkey is the totem
of Catalonia
many people here
have small donkey decals
on the backs of their cars
we got one yesterday
4 inches high (with ears)
black with a white nose
we are slowly becoming Catalan

the next step will be
to get a real donkey
and put him on the back of our car
build a platform
he can stand on
sticks out 6 feet
with rails so he won’t fall off
give him lots of hay
to chew and sleep on

and when we drive around
people will come out to look
the children will pet the donkey
we will become popular
in Catalonia

soon I will become
the leader of the Catalonia
Separatist Movement
I will wear a yellow beret
with red stripes
we will declare independence
from France and Spain
I will become a brave
freedom fighter
I will win a Rebel Peace Prize
for my efforts in the resistance
and for having killed
that noxious dictator
Karposy Sarcoma

Spain will give back the land
they stole from us
people will cheer
when I go out with Bear
she will wear a big bear claw
on her head
and I will wear
donkey ears on my beret
I will be elected
by overwhelming popular vote
the King of Catalonia
Bear will be the queen
we will rule over Catalonia
with a friendly but firm
bear claw and donkey hoof
there will be donkey farms
everywhere
our athletes will enter
the donkey-riding contests
in the next Olympics
and win all the gold medals
I will be remembered for centuries
as King Tuckeroo
– the Donkey Dictator

Mas Trilles, Jan. 22, 2010

FIFTEEN OBVIOUS MINUTES

I was mistaken
for a Belgian today
the old guy in the park
was a little hard of hearing
and didn’t hear my accent
so maybe that explains it

for 15 obvious minutes
I was a Belgian
the setting sun was in my eyes
the dog was sniffing around
in the grass
I wiped my dripping nose
with a white handkerchief
and I thought:
so this is what it’s like
to be a Belgian

the old guy said Belgians
were kind people
« Very friendly, » he said
« Some of my best friends
are Belgian. »
I kept my mouth shut
I didn’t want to say
something obvious
and let him down
I had the idea
that Belgians do not disappoint

Pont de Reynes, Jan. 23, 2010

WESTERN CIVILIZATION ON THE ROCKS

when you see old folks
stumbling around town
in sweat pants
you know this is the end
of civilized civilization

when I was a kid
in Smalltown, California
a geezer wouldn’t be caught dead
running around in his pajamas

Céret, Jan. 23, 2010

THE GUSTAV MAHLER WOOL CAP

late last night
Bear’s fingers growing tired
eyesight blurring
as she knitted towards
the final knots
of my black wool watch cap
said « I can’t make it –
too much counting. »

so I fired up the Sound Machine
and put on Mahler’s 10th
also unfinished
(too much counting perhaps)
thinking tomorrow morning
I will walk down
the streets of Céret
thru the Saturday morning market
with a cool head
and paw thru the CDs
on the blues man’s table
looking for Vivaldi’s
« Four Seasons »
or something equally finished

but surprise
an hour later Bear comes in
with my cap
finished
(Mahler had also finished his 10th)
and I was so happy
I slept in my new cap
had the best dreams ever
and when I woke up
it was much too late
for the street market

who needs Vivaldi
when you have a deep black
warm as a polar bear
basking in the midnight sun
Gustav Mahler wool cap?

Mas Trilles, Jan. 24, 2010

OCEAN PINECONES

as soon as we get down
to the sea
monster waves crashing
on the beach
Bear starts picking up
sea shells
she’d rather be
in the mountains
picking up pinecones

Argeles-sur-Mer, Jan. 24, 2010

EYEBALL SONATA

feeling under the weather
today
focusing on the world
outside my skull
is like trying to play
a rubberneck cello

Mas Trilles, Jan. 25, 2010

THAW
(IF IT ISN’T ONE THING IT’S ANOTHER)

just getting thawed out
wake up with a nose ache
never had one of these before
tooth ache
ear ache
head ache
belly ache
heart ache
« Oh my aching bones. »

but a nose ache is nothing
that can’t be chased away
with a couple of sneezes

and just as I’m chasing it away
I look down
and see
that way beyond suspension of belief
my toe nails are on fire

Mas Trilles, Jan. 26, 2010

LE VOILE INTÉGRAL (COMPLETE VEIL)

a pair of eyes
peeking out on the world
from a slit
in a black hood
much discussed in France
clash of cultures
who can it be in there?
and elephant woman?
Madam Zorro?
a dumb-ass suicide bomber?

it’s anti-biological
as far as I can see
no animal in the wild
would ever voluntarily
block its hearing
cut off its sense of smell
limit its peripheral vision
and expect to survive

then again
it’s just as well
they keep their faces covered
they’re probably nothing
but a bunch
of real ugly chicks

Céret, Jan. 26, 2010

UNTIL THEY TOUCH OUR EYEBROWS

I roll up the curtain
mid-morning
« What’s it like out there? »

« There’s nothing there
– just a couple of trees. »

I know I should have stayed awake
they never sneak in
and steal the landscape
when I watching

they caught me off guard
I snoozed and now this –
nothing but a couple of trees
no land, no sky
no sun, no mountain
no river, not even a rock
just a vast foggy wilderness
with a couple
of transparent trees
and they can go at any minute

what am I going to tell Bear
when she steps outside
and has nothing to stand on
I’ll grab her
before she disappears
into the shapeless cloud of fog
puffing against the doorstep
but I won’t be able
to give her a weather report
of joyous dimensions

looks like another day
inside our bubble box
cups of hot chocolate
crossword puzzles
mystery novels
lentil soup
wild honey wine
and raisin bread
Mahler’s 6th
and Fauré’s Requiem

could be could worse we could be
stuck in a land where smoke
has replaced fog
where on bare feet we’d dance
on the tips of flames from below
to the music of Elvis the Pelvis
while bats flutter around
and brush our teeth
with leather wings
and leaping lizards
improve our smiles
by latching onto the corners
of our mouths
and stretching them out
until they touch our ear lobes

Mas Trilles, Jan. 27, 2010

ILLUSION UPON ILLUSION

setting sunlight
reflected from trees
across the river
bouncing back
from the water
into my eyes
a double sunset

the river runs backwards
upstream
back into the mountains
the wind blowing
ruffled waves
across the surface
(while deep down
the water rumbles to the sea)

a double deception
my eyes are tricked twice
in the same moment

River Tech, Jan 28, 2010

SCARECROW

a few days ago
I was hanging out with Thomas Sanchez
in Key West Florida
the next day I was in southern Sweden
with Henning Mankell 1990
the day after with Tony Hillerman
on a late 20th century
Navajo reservation
a couple of weeks back
I was shipwrecked
in Antarctica with Ernest
Shackleton in 1917
and after that I was wandering
around the Texas Panhandle
in the depression years
with Will Ferguson
the past couple of days
I’ve been in L.A.
in the middle of the late 60’s
stoned madness with Thomas Pynchon

J.D. Salinger died on the news tonight
at the age of 91
memory kicked in
and I was back with Holden Caufield
catching children
as they were coming thru the rye

I realize now that Holden
was the catcher trying to grab
my entire generation
and keep them from tumbling
over the cliff

did he stem the tide?
looking forward to where I’ll be
in a couple of days
with John Irving
In New Hampshire, Boston
and Toronto climbing around
on a ladder of years
in the last half century
of American history
it looks like (according to the blurb
on the inside of the dust jacket)
it’s going to be the same old story
told and retold
over and over again:
some of us are going to tumble
some of us will stop
at the cliff’s edge
and others will turn around
and run the other way

Salinger will catch no one
tho he’ll be standing there
for another century or two
arms outstretched
like a scarecrow
catching nothing more substantial
than a mouthful of wind.

Mas Trilles, Jan. 30, 2010

WEATHER REPORT

rain today, rain tomorrow
and in between
a full moon at midnight
that will do tricks
it picked up
since the last time around

watch it spin slowly
listen to it sigh loudly
see it grow a face
hear it whisper
« Do not be surprised. »

do not be surprised
to see it spin quickly
and throw off sparks
that turn into a multitude
of stars that quickly slide
together in clusters
of constellations
never before seen
in the history of the human eye

do not be surprised
if the face puffs up
and smiles and says,
« You’re looking at heaven, sir
– now take a peek at hell? »

do not be surprised
if a woman steps up beside you
to watch the spectacle
and grabs your arm
and squeezes it
until your hand
is bloated like a rubber glove
full of water

do not be surprised
if you turn your head
and see that the woman
is not your wife
but a stranger
you’ve never seen before

do not be surprised
if she spits at the moon
and the moon’s smile splits
wide open
and tiny planets spill out
some covered in green grass
some covered in blue water
others covered with tiny people
playing ping pong and poker

and when the strange woman
shoves you into a pit
which opens at your feet
you can say, « I’m not surprised. »
not even when you tumble forward
and roll down the hill into the pit
where a cloud of moths
is hanging over a microphone
and giving the weather report
(Rain today, rain tomorrow etc.)

you will say you are surprised
but when you hit bottom
and you see a blinking neon sign
that says WELCOME TO HELL
and beside it you see and hear
a band performing
Ludwig Van Beethoven on piano
J.S. Bach on organ
Paganini on fiddle
Gustav Mahler on bass
Marvin Gaye on drums
and Jerry Garcia on banjo
while all around
Albert Einstein and Mae West
George Clooney and Jackie Kennedy
Leadbelly and Emily Dickenson
Johnny Depp and Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Woody Allen and Ella Fitzgerald
Luciano Pavarotti and Dolly Parton
Gertrude Stein and Jackson Pollock
Marlene Dietrich and Marcel Marceau
Virginia Wolff and J.D. Salinger
dance the mambo
tango the tarantella
jiggle the jig
leap and spin the boogaloo
wooly bully the waltz
and trip the light flamingo
then you can look at the moon
and say, » I never thought
it was going to be this good. »

Mas Trilles, Jan. 29, 2010

SARDANE

one left hand piccolo
with wrist drum
two soprano mountain oboes
two alto mountain oboes
two trumpets
two baby tubas
one valve trombone
one string bass
this is the band
this is Principal de Roselló

they play mountain goat music
with bullring Oles!
and Catalonian Holas!
and Charlie Chaplin
jazz-age cadences

the dancers gather in circles
holding hands
they stand on their toes
and shuffle their feet
the piccolo player goes « Hey! »
and the dancers lift their arms
and keep their toes shuffling

these are the dancers
they dance inside the church
for a couple of tunes
then they go outside
and dance in a vague whisper
of sunshine

the band gets lost
in the cloudy sky
but they find their way back
at the end

where do they come from
these mountain goat musicians?
these tiptoe dancers?
they come in cars
they dance up to the stars
and then
they’re gone
with
the
wind

Reynes, St. Paul’s Chapel, Jan. 31, 2010

CRASH BLOSSOMS

headlines noted by Ben Zimmer
in the International Herald Tribune
Monday, Feb. 1, 2010

VIOLINIST LINKED TO JAL CRASH BLOSSOMS

« McDONALDS FRIES THE HOLY GRAIL FOR POTATO FARMERS

GIANT WAVES DOWN QUEEN MARY’S FUNNEL

EIGHTH ARMY PUSH BOTTLES UP GERMANS

SQUAD HELPS DOG BITE VICTIM

RED TAPE HOLDS UP NEW BRIDGE

BRITISH LEFT WAFFLES ON FALKLANDS

GATOR ATTACKS PUZZLE EXPERTS

STUCK AT 3:30 PM

stuck in Corsavy
(Cortsavi in Catalan)
car won’t start
high above the River Tech
in the Vallespir
surrounded by mountains
a lot of old stone houses
a church with one rusted bell
a café with bottled beer and bananas
and a few friendly people
I can think of worst places
to be stuck
I can think of a thousand
a hundred thousand
in fact it’s like
not being stuck at all

Corsavy, Feb. 1, 2010

STILL STUCK AN HOUR LATER

on the outside wall of the post office
is a heart attack machine
Fibrilator it’s called
if someone is suffering
from a stopped heart
you take out the fibrilator
apply it to the suffering heart
and push the button

I think we should try it
on the engine of our car

Corsavy, Feb. 1, 2010

UNSTUCK AT 5:00 PM

car starts
just like that
I pay up at the café
(beer and bananas)
step outside thinking
about Kurt Vonnegut’s dictum

unexpected travel arrangements
are dancing lessons from god

we head down the mountain side
dancing on our toes
dancing the Sardane

Vallespir, Feb. 1, 2010

MANKIND’S TIME

and so we slide into February
not that the moon
sliding out of full phase
into its third quarter
or the river
sliding downhill
to the sea or the fog
sliding off the sides
of Mt. Canigou
have any idea
about the way we choose
to measure time

not even the groundhog
getting ready to climb
out of his hole tomorrow
has any idea about
the six more weeks of winter
he might burden humanity with
if he sees his shadow
what’s a week?
is it something you can eat?
is it something you can ride?
how much is six?
groundhogs don’t have fingers
is it a philosophical matter
as deep as the earth?
as profound as gravity?

a groundhog in his right mind
will scamper back into his tunnel
and sleep thru another full moon
the wise groundhog
avoids contact
with that crazy species
of animal known as human

I agree
I avoid as much contact as possible
and still I’m a nervous wreck
everytime the full moon
rolls around

Mas Trilles, Feb. 1, 2010

THE YOUNG GROUNDHOG
(THE LITTLE GUY)

the young groundhog waits
in the tunnel below
his burrow hole
like an actor about to make
an entrance on stage
waiting for his cue
to pop up
and get freaked out
by his shadow
or not

he’s young and inexperienced
he’s nervous
this is his first time
above ground
he can’t imagine
what the sun will look like
he doesn’t know
what a shadow is
tho the old folks
have been getting him prepared
all winter

the moment arrives
there’s light at the top of the hole
the young groundhog holds his breath
and pops up

his small eyes are blinded
by the light
his small brain
is shattered by the light
he screams
and dives back into the hole

« Did you see the sun? »
the old folks ask
the young groundhog shakes his head
he doesn’t know what he saw
he cannot speak
« Did you see your shadow? »
the young groundhog breaks down
and begins to babble
he can’t remember what a shadow
was supposed to look like

the old folks pat him on the shoulder
« You did good, kid –
real good. »
and they lead him down
into the tunnels
down to the deepest part
where he will remain
for the rest of his life
strapped to the roots
of a tree
freaked out
insane
mute
his brain shocked into silent screaming terror
everytime he dreams of sunlight

the old folks shake their heads
did he really see the sunshine?
did he really see his shadow?
no way of knowing
the little guy could have seen anything
« Let’s play it safe, » they say
as they curl up
into tiny balls of fur
and go back to sleep

Mas Trilles, Feb. 2, 2010

FROM THE ALCOVE OF THE MADONNA

this is the 2nd funeral
we’ve witnessed
in Céret this week
BANG! WHANG! BANG!
the funeral bell
of the church
stabs me in the heart
WHANG!
stabs me in the back
BANG!
an old rusted bell
with a cold iron tone
that vibrates my foot bones
WHANG!
that vibrates my skull
BANG!

then the doves take over
coo
coo
softer than their feathers
coo

St. Pierre’s, Céret, Feb 4. 2010

TWO CAT LUNCH

a rough and tumble bum
shaggy beard and dirt-smeared face
garbage-stained orange surfer shorts
bent over trying to touch
a small cat passing in the alley
he looks up at Bear
and says to her,
« I ate a cat for breakfast
and I think I’ll have another
for lunch. »

« Why do strange men
tell me these things? »
asks the Bear

I suggest she slap back
with strange replies:
« Thanks but I’m already married. »
« Try up the street, they have a telephone there. »
« Once I took a bus to Syracuse
but I didn’t know where to get off. »

Amelie-Les-Bains, Feb. 4, 2010

OMS (MANTRA)

it’s a village called OMS
and it’s not a strange name
to the people who live here
they say it all the time
« I come from OMS. »
« Welcome to OMS. »
« Where do you think you are?
– in OMS? »
« When will you be coming back
to OMS? »

but I don’t think
I’ll be coming back to OMS
I wouldn’t want to live
in a place called OMS
and I don’t think
I even like visiting a village
with such a name

OMS?

on second thought
I’m starting to get used to it
OMS?
it has a certain hum to it
OMS
I like it
OMS
I’m going to live here
OMS
I’ll buy that house over there
and I’ll be able to say
« Welcome to OMS. »

OMS, Feb. 5, 2010

BIRD IS A WORD

irate driver
honking horn
everytime we slow down
for a roundabout
tailgating us
impatient and rude

I turn in the passenger seat
to observe the impatient
rude driver
it’s a young woman
another one of those egg-laying assholes
who think they rule the roost
the face of a hag
hair flying all over
she sticks out her tongue
and wiggles it around
I slowly crank up a bird
she goes crazy
jabs her middle finger
at the windshield
pounds on the steering wheel;
jabs another bird
So I flip up my other middle finger
and she goes berserk
screaming (tho I can’t hear her)
spittle flying from her lips
both of her birds
pumping up and down
both hands off the wheel
she can do nothing more
(except drive off the road
into a ditch
which I wish she would)
she’s depleted her arsenal
of hysterical insults
I turn back around
lift my left hand
and wiggle my fingers
she honks again
I wiggle my fingers

what a conversation

Feb. 5, 2010

FENDERBENDERLESS

up to Ile-Sur-Tet
and the Organ Pipes
and back home
thru Thuir, 4-Q et al
thankful to have survived
another day
of reckless French drivers

Feb. 5, 2010

WIND, RAIN, OBNOXIOUS PEOPLE & ME

we can’t do anything
about the things we can’t
do anything about
but that doesn’t stop us
from wondering what would happen
if we could

for instance the wind
knocking at the door
I’d grab it, twist it around
my little finger
take it down to the river
squeeze it into the shape
of a butterfly
and toss it to the fish
who would leap out of the water
snap it out of the air
and gobble it down
as they keep leaping
straight up into the sky
where they would puff
into huge balloons
and float around
pretending to be
trout-shaped clouds

for instance the rain
sometimes I would invite it in
for a cup of hot chocolate
othertimes I would not feel
so hospitable
and I would chase it
up the hills into the mountains
where it would bump into
a host of falling snow flakes
which would teach it
a thing or two
about rude news
(you just don’t go dropping
on people’s heads
when they’re not wearing hats)

for instance obnoxious people
there’s just too many of them
to send them over
to the highway
where they could spend
the rest of their days
in the fast lane
dodging speeding cars
and 40-ton trucks
so I’d lock them all together
in some football stadium
and give them lots of things
to throw at each other
like
transistor radios blasting hip hop
and the raving voices
of fundamental christianity preachers
bibles of various organized religions
(for those who are deaf)
enema bags
with STICK THIS UP YOUR ASS
printed on the sides
stuffed owls
chicken heads
bull testicles
and a lot of good, old-fashioned
rotten tomatoes
then I’d drop a football
filled with laughing gas
in the middle of the field
and say, « May the best
obnoxious man or woman win. »

for instance myself
I’d have to be strict
and severe about this one
he can be kind and tolerant
on certain days
but on others
(and especially at night)
he can be a real drag
telling me to go to sleep
much too soon
hour after hour
telling me to shut the book
page after page
so I’ll stick him in a bottle
with a swarm of mosquitoes
that should keep him busy
until the birds start singing
and this neck of the woods
if safe for another day
at the races

Feb. 6, 2010

PESTER BOUNCE
(PESTER ROOF BOUNCE)

VESPERS
LADDER
where do we get these words?
what do they mean?
SKILLET
LAMPOON
two syllables each
where do they come from?
the throat of man?
his tongue?
his jaw?
GOOFY
say it over and over
GOOFY GOOFY
and you too will start to feel
GOOFY
STICK
just a sound we stick
into our speech from time to time
CHEESE
it could be a kind of fish
a noise in the dark
a number
one two three CHEESE
it could be the big thumb
counting
how many fogs am I holding up?
3 fogs and 1 cheese
PESTER
could be your left foot
a Cro Mag sitting by his campfire
one night pointed at his left foot
and said « PESTER. »
BOUNCE
could be your right foot
PESTER BOUNCE PESTER BOUNCE
the first marching song
PESTER BOUNCE
I could be YOU
and YOU could be THEM
and WE could be a secret
that neither of us
would want to talk about
NICE could be BAD
and GOOD could be GUILTY
and what a moral pickle we’d be in
if MORAL meant NORMAL
and PICKLE meant TICKLE

ROOF
PANTHER
CRYSTAL
BUBBLES
SOON
FOG
THUMB
where do these cumb frumb?

Mas Trilles, Feb. 7, 2010

CATERPILLAR

walking slow
never thought I’d come
to this pace’s place
charging around
for 68+ years
here & there
up & down
side to side

now I’m cruising
taking it easy on my back
no hurry
going to get there
just the same
no pot of gold
I’m going to miss

me & the caterpillar
one day I’ll turn into a butterfly
but I can wait
no hurry
sit on this bench
and let the world
come to me

Amelie-Les-Bains, Feb. 8, 2010

PALM PSALMS

so what does the world
have to offer me?

it holds out its fist
unfolds its long fat fingers
and there in the palm of its hand
is a miniature city
with miniature people
walking around
and miniature cars
driving by
sunlight bouncing from glass rooftops
time escaping from old wrist watches
goldfish bowls overflowing with coins
trees in the shape of artichokes
there’s a bus full of rascals
a pair of wicked villains
a postman quoting Pascal
a butcher quoting Dylan
there’s a one-legged doctor
performing two leg imitations
a three-footed jogger
doing one-foot improvisations

there’s a song on the loudspeakers
along the windpipe streets
the tune is late baroquish
and it goes like this:

could you »? would you?
hey not I
put the birds back
in the black bird pie

take all the food
and all the watery stuff
and put them in a place
where they don’t have enough

not I, not me
how about you?
scrape the 20th century
from the bottom of your shoe?

and there I am at night
gazing up at the stars
where angels cruise around
in astronomical cars

and the longer I gaze
the more I see
a thousand pair of eyes
gazing back at me

Amelie-Les-Bains, Feb. 8, 2010

TOMORROW

scraping the 20th Century
from the soles of our shoes
and chasing after a creature
called TOMORROW
is like following the trail
of a beast that’s been extinct
for a million years or more
whose footprints in stone
are the only traces left
of its ferocious passage
on earth

Feb. 9, 2010

INTELLIGENT SNOW

TV weather report last night
said snow at 900 meters

and today all around
the mountain tops
are capped with snow
at exactly 900 meters

conclusion:
the weather is more intelligent
than we guessed
it may not know
how to read and write
but it’s learned how to watch television
and fall down at the feet
of those with the biggest paycheck

Céret, Feb. 9, 2010

SLOW TAKE ON THE FAST SHOW

« Did you get everything
we need in Perpignan?
Bread? Milk? Eggs? »

« Even better –
I got a ticket
for a free hour
at a cyber café
called Games Bond. »

Mas Trilles, Feb. 10, 2010

MUSIC ON THE BUS SPEAKERS
FROM PERPIGNAN TO CERET

first a song that goes
« Shake Shake Shake. »
repeated a thousand times
« Shake Shake Shake. »
every other word
(and sometimes less)
is « Shake Shake Shake. »

then comes a song that goes
« Snake Snake Snake. »
repeat 100 X

after that one that goes
« Easy Easy Easy. »
repeat 100 X

then they give the news
about enriched uranium in Iran
which means they take
a gallon of uranium
and pour in a pint of ketchup
a pint of milk
a bar of chocolate
and a jar of honey

then it’s back to music
« Duh Duh Duh. »
(a French song)
« Buh Buh Buh.’
(another French song)
and it’s back to
« Shake Shake Shake. »

I don’t know if you’re counting
but I am
that’s five different songs
more or less
that sound the same
which is a big surprise
I thought Western Civilization
had invented only four different songs.

Feb. 10, 2010

SIXTH SONG

as long as we’re counting
Western Civilization songs
how about a sixth?
it’s one I just made up
it goes
« EEE-YOW! »

Feb. 10, 2010

CHAOS

in the corner of the bathroom
the wastebasket lies on its side
paper spilled out onto the floor

outside our front door
tiny bits of cardboard
lie scattered around in the gravel

in a small village
in the south of France
chaos rules
things fall apart
entropy has become
a way of life
that no one wants to talk about

the future looks grim

Mas Trilles, Feb. 11, 2010

I LIVE AT OP. 50 AVENUE GABRIELLE FAURE

I repaired the motor
of the boat that carried
music across
the lake to the other shore
by taking both apart
and putting them back together
with a few pieces missing
« Works better that way, » I said

the people were happy
they let me rename the streets
of the town:

Quai de Canard Enchaînées
Place des Chaises Musicale
Rue Rageous Gratoon
Avenue Gabrielle Fauré

they even let me rename the town
if life is but a dream
then we should all live
in Roxieville

Roxieville, Feb. 12, 2010

ORANGE PEEL NOTEBOOK

we toss everything in the back of the van
luggage and garbage
and we head for the hills
stop at a bin
I toss out the black plastic sack
and the white plastic sack

back in the car
I’m pretty sure
I tossed the garbage
and kept the luggage
but I’m not completely certain
some days I forget to remember

a year from now
I’ll probably be tossing out
Bear’s computer and my knapsack
and driving home with the trash
and who knows? by then
I might not be able to tell the difference
between a handful of orange peels
and this silver-tongue notebook

Amelie-Les-Bains, Feb. 12, 2010

BIRTHDAY GREETINGS

and as I enter my 70th year
I wish myself
another peaceful
turn around the sun
a life free
from fear of myself
and a lot of empty pages
in notebooks
shouting to be filled
with words

I’ll be listening and writing
even if they’re whispering

Mas Trilles, Feb. 14, 2010

O SOLO MIO

how far have I come?
not far at all
how many footsteps?
one or two more
than I expected

the planet earth is small
the nights are short
the days are shorter
and what am I going to do
with the people
who look at me
as if they expect to see
a cuckoo clock bird
pop out of my forehead
and sing « O Solo Mio » ?

Amelie-Les-Bains, Feb. 15, 2010

VANCOUVER 2010

winter Olympics
they ski
they skate
and the winner goes home
with medals of enriched uranium

Feb. 15, 2010

WINTER OLYMPIC INSOMNIA

I stay up late
watching winter Olympics on TV
then I go to bed
switch off the light
close my eyes
and there they are
hundreds of them
snowboarding the half pipe
speeding skating with hockey sticks
slapping pucks at goalies
downhill skiers
twisting and turning
they’re all dressed in red
wriggling and squirming
hundreds of them
flashing past
jumping up and down
faces hidden inside
bubble helmets and goggles
darting back and forth
like fish in an aquarium
I flip over on my other side
and they’re still there
going the other way
skiing and skating
snowboarding from left to right

I let them play
until they get tired
and go home
then I go to sleep
and dream about nothing
worth mentioning

and wake up wondering
what it would be like
to listen to Beethoven’s Ninth
with earplugs

Feb. 19, 2010

MIDDLE EAST GOLD MEDALS

there are no athletes
from Iran this year

too bad
if there were
and they won
they would get gold medals
with enriched Iranium

Mas Trilles, Feb. 16, 2010

DUFFER

we met a duffer in the park
walking his peanut-shaped dog
stopped and heard his whole sad story
summed up:
« Life is a pain in the ass. »

he lifted up his jacket
and wanted Bear to feel
some kind of implanted
black box under his rib skin
push a button
or rip a zipper
and the box blasts
electric vibrations and relieves
a pain in the back

good thing we didn’t
invite him back to the house
for a cup of tea
he’d’ve taken off all his clothes
and showed us all
of his black box lumps
arms, legs, feet, toes, ass
push a button
and a sack in his back
injects a shot of morphine
into his blood stream
push another and his brain
gets energized with a dose of coke
too much speed?
push another button
and opium smoke
pours from his eyes
all kinds of remedies available
at the touch of a button
whiskey meth junk LSD
we would’ve never got rid of him
he’d still be dancing around
our apartment
hallucinating
singing
squeezing the buttons
in his balls and showing us
the ultimate miracle
of modern medicine

Mas Trilles, Feb. 19, 2010

I AM NOT A FISH

I have to bounce up and down
to button the top of my old levis

Bear says,
« Soon we’ll need a crane
to move you around. »

I say,
« What?
you think I’m a beached whale? »

and she says,
« No –
more like a tuna. »

Mas Trilles, Feb. 20, 2010

MIDNIGHT HALF MOON

slow setting moon
cupped to catch
falling stars

occasional flash
of a headlight
up on the road

some of them
are going home

behind me
the dog scratches
an imaginary flea
then groans from old bones
and settles back down
to sleep

Mas Trilles Feb. 21, 2010

90 WINDS

strong winds today
– up to 90 they say

I wake up early afternoon
as the 36th wind
rattles my window

sitting by the river
mid-afternoon
dog and I watch
thousands of leaves
ripped from trees
by the 47th wind
bobble by
dog thinks
they might be small ducks
or a new species of fish
I think dog might be right

back home
the 49th wind
blows open my paperback
of Ogden Nash verse
to page 155
it wants me to read
the one about the turtle

late afternoon
the 53rd wind
blows open my notebook
to a blank page
I wonder what the wind
wants me to write
I wait, watching
the page remains blank
the wind has writer’s block
I sneeze 6 times
and the wind backs off

twilight I doze off
while reading
I miss the momentous passage
of the 65th wind

early evening
I walk out in the field
with a flashlight
and find 2 puffs
of the 77th wind
lying in the grass
I don’t know
what to do with them
so I leaving them puffing

late evening
I hear noises outside
I go out with the flashlight
and see a wild boar
streaking across the field
in the moonlight
the breeze of the 82nd wind
whistling thru the bristles
of his back

before midnight
still waiting for the 83rd wind
I go outside and look around
see only the footprints
of the wild boar
in the dirt
no wind

after midnight
switch on the TV
weatherman says
the last 8 winds got lost
3 swallowed by cyclones
and 5 got talked into tornados

so I zap over
to Vancouver
Olympic ice hockey
and watch Team USA
beat team Canada
5 tornados to 3 cyclones

Mas Trilles Feb. 21, 2010

FAREWELL FEAST
to Laszlo & Maya

a pear pie
of couple bottles of cider
a few ghost stories

it’s a wild night
at the Mas Trilles

Feb. 22, 2010

LAST MINUTE

car packed ready to go
I lie on the bed
blanket over my head
and listen to Bear
do the last-minute cleaning
and sweeping of the apartment

slosh slosh
that’s Bear
filling the vacuum cleaner
with hot water

snip snip
now she’s clipping clothespins
to the dog’s fur

rattle rattle whang
she’s trying to get a bicycle
into the refrigerator

amazing all the last minute
touches needed
to get the place
back in its original shape

Mas Trilles, Feb. 23, 2010

ROUTE D115 PAST CERET

leaving Canigou
heading back to Belgium
looking forward
to see my old cat Jimbo
and my new friend Gary

Feb. 23, 2010

EXPENSIVE ANGEL

stuck again
at a rest stop
on the highway between
Montpellier and Nimes
car won’t start
(minor theme of this trip)

and here come Joseph Delacre
from Liege
we’re from Stockay St. Georges
Bear’s name is Marie Claire
Joseph is from Esneux
his wife died
in a memorable car accident
in Jehay 3 or 4 years ago
Joseph says, « Take out the key
lock the doors with the clicker
then unlock them
– and start the car. »

it works
the car starts
Marie Clair is smiling
Joseph says, « Short circuit. »
Marie Claire is happy
Joseph says, « Give me 16 euros
I have to get back home.. »

I give him a 20 euro bill

he says, « Marie Claire,
I will call on Saturday
and return the money. »

I don’t believe him
watch him walk away
across the vast parking lot
thinking we’ll never see him again
thinking it was worth it
to see Marie Claire smile

and now I pass it on
for free

Feb. 24, 2010

HOTEL AT NIGHT

in the Hotel Ibis
in Nuit de St. Georges, France
you can get:
100% Zen
a questionnaire that asks
(check one)
at the bar
I had a drink
yes □ passable □ no □
and liquid soap
enriched with white-dead
nettle extracts

in the restaurant
you can get
thigh of crystallized duck

I ask:
are we still on Planet Earth?
or did we take a wrong turn
back at the crossroads?

Feb. 24, 2010

DAYLIGHT HOTEL

8 am
wake up
with workers pounding
on the floor above

but are they workers?

no they are not

they are special agents
of the establishment
who have been sent up there
to take care of the guests
who refuse to pay their bill
hammering on their skulls
ripping off their jaws
power drills in their teeth

the message is clear
pay up right now
or we’ll unleash the gorillas
with the chainsaws

Nuits-de-St.Georges, Feb. 25, 2010

LEAVING FRANCE

road signs with pictures
of fake deer
white license plates
with red letters and numbers
pothole highways
man running across
the 6-lane freeway
chasing a tire
fewer cars with dented
fenders and doors

reminds me of Belgium

Feb. 25, 2010

Twenty ten

POEMS MARCH-DECEMBER 2010 |  TUCKER ZIMMERMAN

PERFECT WORLD

« What would be the first thing you would do
if you woke up in a perfect world? »
(Garrett List)

same thing I always do
sit up on the edge of the bed
grab a notebook and pen
and write down the words
in my head shouting to get out

where in the perfect world did you get
the paper for your notebook?
where did you get the pen?

OK – skip the words shouting
to get out

then I’d put on my glasses

and where did you get those glasses?

OK – skip the glasses
I really don’t need to see
all that much

then I’d go outside and piss

but only if you had a plot to piss in

OK – skip the leak
and go straight to breakfast
OK – skip breakfast
go hungry

I don’t think I want to live
in a perfect world
skip the perfect world
go back to waking up
open my eyes
sit up
let out the shout
lay down
go back to sleep
and dream about
a world less than perfect

March 1, 2010

BOOKS

it was the first place I went
when I was a kid
where nobody could bother me

into Steinbeck country
into Zane Grey’s Nevada
Jacques Cousteau’s Silent World

and it was a silent world
nobody shouting
only my imagination turning
sometimes spinning
sniffing up the flavors

I went to the center of the earth
with Jules Verne
and climbed the White Tower
with James Ramsey Ulman

the writing came later
first the poems
then the stories
when I had shapes
to imitate

March 2, 2010

PIGEON HOLES

it used to be called Experimental Music
it used to be called Modern Jazz
it used to be called Contemporary Music
it used to be called Progressive Jazz

what the hell was that all about?

some dull-witted dopes
with college degrees
digging more pigeon holes

jazz was already
a crowded pigeon hole

so was music

« Pigeon Hole »
was the smallest
pigeon hole of them all

March 4, 2010

BACK TO THE TV

back to the Eggheads
(BBC 2 weekdays at 19:00)
back to the endless re-runs
of Family Guy
back to TIVO recordings
of movies we may never watch
back to an occasional symphony orchestra
that is compulsively obsessed with Mozart
back to searching CNN (from time to time)
and finding it’s still a huge ball of crap
(owned by the Arabs and propaganda programmed
by the same)
and back to last moment late night
surfing of 112 channels
trying to find a friendly face
to switch off on

March 5, 2010

BEARD

I’ve heard it more than once
these past 35 years:
« Why do you grow a beard? »

and my reply is always the same:
« The beard grows itself
I just don’t cut it. »

March 6, 2010

AND WE WILL HIBERNATE NO MORE

it’s been a cold winter
for everybody
next year
I’ll gather all my friends
(and their musical instruments)
and we’ll go down
to the Canary Islands
and get a job in a nightclub
playing bongo music

we will dress up
as Quaker pilgrims
and appear nightly
at the Lizard Lounge
and rock the house
with our Junior Walker favorites

thousands of frozen loggers
will fly in from the icy regions
of North America and Europe
they will line up in the street
and dance to our music

we will shotgun
we will do the boomerang
and we will hibernate no more

March 7, 2010

LITTLE SOLDIERS

a troop of boy scouts
swarming over the hillside
in the woods
shouting
learning
how to become good soldiers
screaming
learning how to torture prisoners
and rape their women

March 20, 2010

ANIMALS IN THE NIGHTGARDEN
ON THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING

owl (1)
hedgehog (1)
cat (1)
moss eating deer (2)
pheasant with insomnia (1)
dart worms (now you see ’em now you don’t) (2½)
migrating geese (between the treetops and the clouds)
(going the wrong way) (2, possibly 3)
squack bird as loud as a seagull
(but is probably some kind of grey pigeon) (2)
insects
including lady bugs
misguided butterflies
sour milk moths
(100,000,000)

March 21, 2010

BELGIAN NEWS

in the interval of 30 seconds
the Belgian TV (French speaking) news
attempted four English words
and got two of them wrong

Big Bang became Bing Bang
and Soul Kitchen turned into Soul Chicken

at least they got the stories straight

the origins of the universe
did not begin with an exploding chicken
and the most glamorous glutton
of soul food in Harlem
was not Bing Crosby

March 30, 2010

WAKE ME WHEN IT’S OVER
& TIME HAS BEEN RESTORED

used to have a groovy travel alarm
quiet it was, fold up out of sight
slip it in a shirt pocket
like a half pack of cards

it sat by my bed
wake up, see what time it was
go back to sleep
wake up, see what time it was
get up and go down stairs

got stolen last year in Rome
traveling in my knapsack

still haven’t replaced it
I’m trying something new
trying to get along without time

wake up, no clock
go back to sleep
wake up, no clock
go back to sleep

St. Georges, April 13, 2010

OVER THE HUMP INTO A CRACKPOTHOLE

I’m almost over the hump
just need a gentle push
and I’ll be among the eccentrics
stumble bumming the streets of the city
waving my hands around
carrying on elaborate conversations
with people only I can see

got a solid start this morning
humbling along mumbling
singing softly, « T’was brillig and the slithy toves . . .  »
talking to myself making
editorial comments
and meta-linguistic observations

and found myself saying aloud:
 » . . . and found myself saying aloud . . .  »

St. Georges, April 13, 2010

NOISE FOR ETIENNE BOURS

Etienne is a man
of few words

so why are we
inviting him to supper?

to listen to
his silences?

May 7, 2010

« Scotch-scotch! »
goes the early morning bird
outside the bedroom window
daylight glows thru the glass
and reminds me that night
did no more begin
than day will ever end

after reading e.e. cummings
from midnight to summer-time dawn
May 10, 2010

HOMAGE TO THE AVATARS

e.e.cummings & T.S. Eliot
W.B. Yeats & Walt Whitman
the poets who were there
when I was growing into creativity
Allen Ginsberg & Kenneth Patchen
I grew into the mysterious misty deeps
between Their lines
what did I know? I had no guide
what did I care? They became my guides
They took my mind in hand and carried me
across the threshold of puritanical grubhood
into rooms full of sky and roomfuls
of electric bodies
Robinson Jeffers & Theodore Roethke
They showed me the way
into a half dozen possibles of many ways
I followed Their footprints large in the sand
and hot in the ice I followed
Their handprints on stone and I have never
regretted my voyage into Their loosely mapped
explosively-charged territories
I homesteaded land in Their forests
I landgrabbed the very earth
from beneath Their feet
They never missed it
(or were too kind to complain)
« There’s enough for everybody, »
They said, « And many more to come. »

May 10, 2010

THE BIG BAG HYPO-THESIS

I am a bag
full of food and liquids
who’s invented a body
of bone and muscle
and skin and hair
to carry me around

they call me the Big Bag
the Big Belly Boy
what a glut of a gut I am
junk food and foul liquid
undigested indigestion

I’m thirsty
gimme a beer
fill me up to overflowing
rub-a-tub-a-dubba guts
let me show you how we do it
down in Bubble Land

May 10, 2010

WATCH POCKET MEMORY

45 years of writing –
11 novels
9 journals of autobiographical fiction
14 collections of poems
35 short stories and
859 songs
all fit onto one memory stick
that fits into the watch pocket of my jeans
with enough space for another
225 years

May 13, 2010

OLD PISS POT

he’s so lazy
he doesn’t even bother
to zip up his pants
between urinations

May 21, 2010

TAB LLOYD CANDORLANDO

Dave plays beautiful pieces
on his guitar composed
by a blind harpist
from Ireland

Turlough O’Carolan

must remember the name
write it down
so I won’t forget

Turlove Carpoland

late 17th century
early 18th century

Turbo Carvercap

hung out with the Scarlatti’s
Alessandro and Domenico

Turploo Capperdoom

hey, can’t forget about that CD
from Francesco in Rome
with all those cembalo
sonatas by Scarlatti

Turf Bob Cadillac

pieces in harmonic
suspension dance
forms like the jig
the bourée and gavotte

Turbash Cannonball

that blend in with
the dance suites
of Rameau and Couperin
and of course
J.S. Bach

Tugboat – ?
Totebug – ?
Tabloid – ?
what was that guy’s name again?

May 23, 2010

FLY NOW PAY LATER

for Dave Evans

1. JUNKIE WORLD

ah look at all the junkies
see how they run
see how they slide
from today
into tomorrow
fly now pay later

credit card junkies
wristwatch junkies
labor junkies
lust love and luck junkies
beer bible and baby
rum riddle and religion
movie money marriage
fear fuck and fun
talk tobacco television
newspaper paranoia
number muscle make up
on-line poker junk food
fly now pay later

2. COLD TURKEY

my brain feels like
a greasy goose
sliding around on a platter
my fingers feel like
they’ve been dipped
in candle wax
my feet are trapped
in glass blown boots
full of dried tomato juice
laced with tabasco sauce
teeth tangle
as I try to speak
my tongue pokes a hole
in my cheek
I wiggle it around
in the breeze
somebody screams
(a girl I think)
my eyebrows hang down
into my eyes
I want to pick my nose
with a pair of pliers
water goes thru me
like a drain pipe
gulp in one end
it gushes out the other

3. MAGIC POTION

there is no magic potion

4. DANG GOOD DOPE

I fly you fly
we fly and crash
smash our faces in the mud
crawl back out of the slime
like prehistoric fish
breathe air swear
« God damn give me more
Dang Good Dope! »

we can’t resist
we all want to fly
we all want to rise
leap beyond our limits
who can blame us?
it’s built into our blood

what’s that you say?
fly now pay later
someday we’re going to fly
and never come back

THE THINGS SHE HAS TO DEAL WITH

she asks me to pick up a bread board
on my way back from the kitchen
so I go outside and bring in
an 8 by 4-foot slab of plywood
rainsoaked
and spiderweb infested

she says
« The things I have to deal with. »

I get a high-pitch jingle
dancing around in my head
and think it would be a great idea
to translated it into falsetto
and share it with the world

« Tee tee zoo-zeee! Tee tee zoo-zeee! »

I repeat it until she says
« The things I have to deal with. »

she’s not going to hear the end of it
every chance I get, I say
« The things you have to deal with. »
which now includes
« The things you have to deal with. »

May 26, 2010

WORTHLESS CENTIMES

stop at the rest stop
by the highway
to buy a bottle of water
that fits my bike rack

the cashier rings up the cost
1 euro and 1 centime

I hand her a five
pick a sou out of the bucket
that says: Tips for the Cashier
and say, « Last time in here
I tossed in four. »

she says, « It doesn’t work that way. »

so I toss the sou back in the bucket
and she gives me my change:
3 euros and 99 centimes

and now I see the greedy reason
why she doesn’t want me using her tip jar
as my personal bank

she wants those 4 worthless centimes
she just gave me
she wants me to toss them in the bucket

June 16, 2010

WHILE UNLOADING
SOME OF THAT EXPENSIVE WATER

stop to take a leak
at the edge of a wheat field
look down and see
a pile of dried puke
christ I’m pissing on somebody’s
$25 dinner

June 16, 2008

MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S CELEBRATION

now who would ever think
of going into a battle camp
the night before
an enemy attack?

the soldiers are sitting
in the dirt playing poker
the officers in the tents
have brought in the girls
they’re drinking
and dancing
they take off their clothes
and keep dancing

the boys outside
hear the music
they take off their clothes
and start dancing
leaping around in the moonlight

and that’s when the enemy attacks
they crawl over the wall
with knives in their teeth
machine guns in their hands
lobbing hand grenades
into the celebration
of a midsummer night
turning it into
a Nightmare at the Hamburger Hop

June 21, 2010

OPTICIANS IN THEIR OPTICAL SHOPS

do opticians in their optical shops
realize that their place of business
is also the shrine of great goodness and hope?
that they are witness to miracles?

a new pair of glasses
« Amazing! I can finally see! »
« Yes – isn’t it wonderful? »

or is it just another pair
of humdrum specs
and another 150 bucks in their box?

« Oh what colors! What reds! What blues!
Look at all the sparkling glass! »
« Yeah – far out – whatever. »

Lost Haiku Road, July 23, 2010

STRANGER’S STRANGER

going and coming
you leave
and come back
and everything’s different
(it happens every day)

all over the world
people are coming home
and going away
nobody knows where
they are anymore
or who they are
some stranger
that other strangers
almost recognize nothing’s
changed

so you keep coming
home and leaving
because that’s all
you know how to do

it happens every day

IN ABSENTIA

we leave
and life goes on
where we used to be
even tho we’re not there
goes on and on
almost
as if we never
had been there at all

SMILE

a smile with a curveball scream
you don’t want a smile like that
on a grinning face
a smile that sneaks up
under your fingernails
and pops out of your belly button
nine months later as a child
with laughter problems
who wiggles his tongue
waves his ear flaps
and is gone with a wink

GENERAL MACARTHUR DRIVES ON
DEEPER INTO BELGIUM

recently uncovered
the teddy bear I was given
back in ’41
when I was one week old

they named him General Macarthur
and as I grew up to speak
that’s what I called him
it was just a short string of sounds:
(« gen-ral mac-ar-thur »)
that stuck in my head
for the next 2 or 3 years
(and what does a 3-year old kid
know about the Philippines?
and « I shall return » ?
and diabolical plans
to cobalt bomb Korea?
or the madman’s private ambition
to become the next president?)
to me General Macarthur
was just a small brown and white
teddy bear with missing eyes
(I’d pulled them off
hoping to get a glimpse
of the inside of his skull, I guess)
until he went down
into the limbo
of the childhood memory box
not to resurface
until 66 years later

Marie-Claire who knew him
only as a rumor
got his name twisted around
in her head
She held him up and said,
« Here’s Murphy. »

my head took a spin dive
« Murphy? »
I grew up speaking the name
attached to that bear
and the name was not « Murphy. »
« Macarthur » might have been
one of the first words I ever spoke
(it was certainly among
my earliest vocabularies)
Murphy?

the feeling was like looking into a mirror
seeing your mouth move
and hearing your voice say
« Hello Tugboat. »

Aug 16, 2010

PETE’S PICTURES

Pete and I walking down
a dirt road
in the valley above
the creek
seen from the back
we’re two old bums
geezing along
just like we’d dreamed we’d be
back in our college years
for 60 years we’ve been friends
grew up in the same valley
where the creek was much larger
and dry in the summer
my oldest friend

two glasses of beer on a table
Pete behind one
me behind the other
Pete’s smiling
he likes being here
me too
crazy thing
in all our years together
we’ve never had an argument
never had a fight

close up of our faces
Pete listening to
me telling one of my
fact-fiction stories
Pete laughing
he understands
it’s mostly bullshit

shot of Pete
getting on the train
that will take him away
God I hope he comes back

Sept. 20, 2010

LONDON POEM

BBC Delaware Road
down to Warwick tube stop

hot house chickens
& free-range sheep
can’t find their way home
without stepping on a few toes
dancing around in front
of a huge blower
drying their wet underwear

Sept. 22, 2010

WHEN I WAS A SLAVE (AND SHE WAS A CHICK
HOT ON THE TRAIL OF LADIES’ LIBERATION)

she said please
with her knobby knees
while I swept the floor
with my paint brush beard

I promised much more
as we crawled out the door
she on her knees
and me on the seat of my pants

Oct. 1, 2010

PERFECT TOUCH

I don’t know how I do it
reach back as I’m passing thru
the bathroom to go upstairs
give the door to the kitchen
a casual push with my fingers
and the door, riding smoothly
and silently on its oiled hinges,
always swings shut behind me
and stops perfectly in its slot

OK so I’ve been doing it for 30 years
and with all that practice
(5-10 times a day)
I had to get good

but even when I finally noticed
I had this perfect touch
(even now when I think about it)
I can still swing the door shut
perfectly, just the right amount
of pressure (and the error for margin
is a fraction of an inch)

I wish I could teach myself
to do this trick
after perfecting my touch
on a hundred other swinging doors
both literal and figurative
I could rule the world
without even trying
or caring

Oct. 15, 2010

ALL HALLOWS EVE

we passed a poster that advertised:
HALLOWEEN: OCT. 23

that’s a new one on me
but here in Belgium
anything is possible

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn
that Christmas will be on Dec. 11
and that New Years Eve
will be postponed to Jan 3rd

why waste a week day
when you can celebrate
for a whole weekend?

America, take note:
from now on
all Thanksgivings will fall
on every Saturday
between June and November
and the 4th of July
has been stretched
from Memorial Day
to Labor Day
(continuous fireworks
not only permitted
but vigorously recommended)

just so you know

Oct. 21, 2010

THE JOY OF LOOKING

the How-To-See recipes

Visibility Soup
Eye Spin Pie
Lingering Gander Salad
Quick Glance Barbecue Sauce
Hypnotized Cupcakes
Myopic Fudge
Tunnel Vision Sandwiches
Peripheral Scrambled Eggs
Observed Onion Rings
Peek-a-Boo Mashed Potatoes
Scrutinized Tuna on Toast

have a bite of
Voyeuristic Venison

AUTUMN ROSES

autumn roses
growing out into the path
waist high
brush against me as I pass

you can hear them whispering
« Here he comes
– I hope he rubs against us. »

these are very friendly flowers

November 11, 2010

IT GETS BETTER AFTER THE DREAM

first I was playing
a baritone sax
and tearing up
pieces of paper
with my toes

then I woke up
and I knew I had to go
downstairs
and eat an avocado

Nov. 29, 2010

MOUSE TRAP CHEESE

I don’t like to talk
about my dreams
I like ’em
but there’s nothing
I can do with ’em
once they’ve been dreamed

they’re like old chunks of cheese
that escaped the jaws of mice
which escaped the jaws of the trap
there’s not a chance in the world
that some dumb mouse
will come back
and try to take another bite

Dec. 3, 2010

BEAR’S SLIM KNOWLEDGE OF THE REBEL

Bear says she knows what I was like
as a kid because this morning
I had my sleeping feet sticking out
from under the blankets
and when she covered them
I kicked them off again
and when I was sure she was looking
I kicked the blankets higher
right up to my knees
and wiggled my feet around in the air

Bear thinks she knows
but that foot wiggle was nothing

she should have seen me
when they told me
I had to go to church
that was no mere foot wiggle
I assure you
if they’d put footballs in front of my feet
I’d have scored the winning field goals
in all future Super Bowls
even from dozens of years
and thousands of miles away

I’m not going to mention
what I did with my middle fingers
when they told me
I had to go to school

Dec. 8, 2010

SATURDAY NIGHT

when I was a small kid
the main event on Saturday night
was a bath
I had to take it
whether I wanted to or not

about age 13
I heard rumors
and started thinking:
oh boy, some exciting
Saturday nights
that don’t have anything to do
with taking a bath
are headed my way:
getting drunk on cheap wine
chasing after chicks, smoking
cigarettes, stealing door mats etc.

at 15 I was still waiting
for Saturday nights to improve
we had the wine and cigarettes
the girls were there
and the door mats too
but I knew it had to get better

by the age of 23
I knew I’d been tricked
not much was happening
on the social scene
bowling, ball games
driving around aimlessly
getting drunk and smoking
cigarettes

it took me 30 years
to admit I’d been tricked
nothing could compare
to that Saturday night bath
when I was a kid

now I’m almost 70
and I don’t have a bath tub
I have a shower

showers don’t quite cut it
for that warm Saturday night
wet feeling
showers fall somewhere
between driving around
aimlessly and bowling drunk

Dec. 13, 2010

WASHING MACHINE

being essentially a lazy man
and dumb when it comes
to mechanical matters
(as well as being too busy
to wash my clothes)
I am now inventing
a new kind of washing machine

I say why take off your clothes
and put them in a machine
when you can get inside one
and let the machine do the work
while you go about your business

my prototype is the Waist-Down Model
since I have only one pair of pants
(which I also sleep in)
I’m working on a thick plastic sack
with two legs and a battery pack on the back
it circulates the hot water around
between your skin and your pants
stirs up the dirt
spin dries it
and flushes it out the bottom of the legs

and you get to take a bath
at the same time

I’m working on it right now
it’s almost done
there!
it’s done
hop in!

December 4, 2010

TOES

I look at my toes
and I know I can’t go back
not that I want to go back
forever or even
a long time
just for a few minutes
would be fine
and see the lively toes
of the small barefoot boy
who hopped around the rug
and bounced on the bed

I look at my hands
and know I can’t go back

Dec. 14, 2010

LOST NEIGHBOR’S LOVE

I dreamed I took some LSD
and that was nice
as long as I was walking around
in an overgrown garden
with weeds higher than my head

then it got really boring
when we had to shoot
at the neighbors
with machine guns

Dec. 15, 2010

NO CHEESE DREAMS

I’ve been reduced
to talking about dreams

I once had a rich life
full of action and surprises
full of drama and romance

now my life is in ruins
all I can do
is close my eyes
go to sleep
and dream about the most
boring things in the universe

my mind is still a mousetrap
but I’ve dreamed away
all the cheese

Dec. 15, 2010

THIS IS NOT A DREAM BOOK

I can see where this is going
it’s already got a title

DREAM BOOK

don’t let me do it
don’t let me write a dream book
I hate the idea of a dream book

can you imagine a dream book?
thousands of pages
filled with second-hand stories
dug up from the sludge of my brain
and polluting the minds of everyone
foolish enough to read it
but so powerful and persuasive
in its imagery and narrative style
that soon everybody will be dreaming
and writing all their sludge down
in their own dream books

and that’s all, folks
the end of the world
no more civilization
culture or communication
everybody will be sitting around
in their shells dreaming
and writing dream books
that nobody else will ever read

on the other hand
writing a dream book
is better than no book at all
which is just about
where we’re at
in this day and age
as we slide into the pit
with our bottles of Aristotle
our poses of Moses
and cheeses of Jesus

Dec. 15, 2010

GIFT FOR BEAR

you got me over a barrel
and the barrel’s full of monkeys
and the monkeys are hanging up
xmas decorations

they’ve set up a small pine tree
at one end of the barrel
and strung it with blinking lights
wrapped gifts are scattered beneath
and the stockings have been hung
by the chimney with care
of course the chimney’s a fake
just pictures of bricks
painted on the inside of the barrel
nothing worth sliding down
tho there is a bung hole in the side
and Santa might want to crawl thru that
if he is extra small, about the size
of a mole

one of the monkeys’ favorite games
is Port Hole TV
they peek out the bung hole
to see what’s going on in the world
while the barrel is rolling down hill
the monkeys hang on tight as their eyes
get confused beyond comprehension
by what they see flash past

when the barrel stops rolling
they look out and see
my eyeball staring back
we look at each other for long minutes

then I start rolling the barrel again
down the hill and into a lake
and the monkeys inside
get seasick and start screaming

it’s the best I can do, Bear
I wanted to get you an xmas gift
of profound dignity and tenderness
but I couldn’t think of anything else

I roll the barrel out of the lake
up to our door and into our house
I roll it under the xmas tree
and there it is. all for you
your own barrel of monkeys
don’t tell me I don’t care
don’t tell me you would have preferred
a bucket of perfume
you’ll see I made the right choice
after keeping the monkeys inside
for a few years you will open the barrel
and discover that they have all evolved
into tiny humans
you will find that all the rumors
about Darwin’s Law of Evolution
are true

boy, are you going to have fun

Dec. 16, 2010

FILM STAR WARS

« Film stars such as Shirley Maclaine and Woody Allen spoke against the war in Manhattan. »
Peter Doggett, There’s a Riot Going On.

I know I’ve been out of touch
with recent events for the past 40 years
but I never suspected
that things were so serious in New York

December 22, 2010

AND THE SNOW KEEPS FALLING

cat footprints
leading off into places
I didn’t know existed

and the snow keeps falling

and there goes my trip
to Amsterdam
can’t see myself
sliding around the icy streets
on a bicycle

and the snow keeps falling

it piles up around the house
loads down the branches of the trees
the birds are hungry
they wait for me to hang out
the balls of seeds

and the snow keeps falling

I scratch my head
and dandruff flakes drift down
onto the front of my black sweatshirt
the doctor said it’s a yeast thing
and it might RETURN!!

and the snow keeps falling

moles and gophers
dig deeper into the earth
as the freeze comes creeping down
deeper into tunnels and soon
they will be scampering around
in ancient diamond mines
abandoned and forgotten
and they will be wearing
rings on their noses

and the snow keeps falling

the barbed wire fences
are hidden under
a foot of white powder
don’t grab
nails sticking out of boards
are hiding too
don’t be deceived

and the snow keeps falling

climate change
we’ve created our own hell
the world is going to look
like the 9th circle of hell
– a lake of ice
with the bodies of the worst sinners
the men who are responsible for this
cold state of affairs
frozen into the ice
with only their heads
sticking out
we’ll all skate around the lake
and most of us will do our best
to avoid the suffering heads
but not me
I’ve already got a few picked out
who could do with a good spanking
all the power freaks
and war mongers
from the past 60 years
all the greedy guts (I do not
wish to pollute your mind
with their names)
you know who they are
you know their deeds
watch me skate close to their faces
skid right up to the heads
and spray ice in their ears
slap their noses
with my blade
watch their broken noses
flap back and forth
scare the shit out of those bastards
and never stop reminding them
that they will be here FOREVER
« And after forever stops being
forever
there’s going to be another forever
that will last much longer
than the first. »

and the snow keeps falling

December 23, 2010

LEAF

is a dead leaf alive?
place one
on a blanket of snow
and watch the snow
melt

then imagine the woods
in high, hot summer
multitudes of green leaves
chattering
tree branches bending
breathing
in a gentle breeze

there’s something going on there, folks
beyond your wildest imaginations

December 24, 2010

WRONG NUMBER

imagine a phone
that never stops ringing
not one that starts
and stops
and starts gain
but one that never stops

you pick it up
it keeps ringing
you say hello
it keeps ringing
you hear nothing
but ringing in your ear

you hang up
it keeps ringing
you unplug it
it keeps ringing

you run out of the house
drive around for a few hours
come home
the phone’s still ringing

you pick it up
it stops ringing
you say hello
a woman starts screaming
she doesn’t start
and stop
and start again

imagine a woman
who never stops screaming

December 25, 2010

BURIED ALIVE

shovel away the foot-deep snow
lift up the 6-inch ice pack
and there, sprouting from the earth
a blade of grass
growing & glowing
& greener than spring

December 30, 2010

I wake to a perfect patience of mountains, I am not sorry when silence becomes singing

Canigou Poems – Series Four | January – February 2011 |  TUCKER ZIMMERMAN

PHOTO CAPTIONS FROM THE ABBEY HOTEL

1. Even on tiptoes his footsteps on the creaking floorboards
could be heard for miles.

2. She made the mistake of waking up in the middle of the night.

3. The TV was so high up on a platform
they got stiff necks watching the news.
So they stood on a ladder to watch the news.
and when they got tired of bumping
their heads against the ceiling.
they brought it down to watch the late show

Clairvaux, France Jan. 7, 2011

A WELL-BALANCED DIET

travel 900 miles
thru blinding fog
flooded roads
and hostile traffic

then sit down
to a meal of one
chocolate covered prune

Mas Trilles. Jan 9, 2011

190 POUNDS AND GAINING WEIGHT BY THE MINUTE

wake up with a heavy heart
heavy feet
a heavy nose
and heavy teeth
everything about me is heavy
there’s a ditch
down the middle of the bed
12-inches deep
and growing deeper by the hour
within the next few days
I’ll be crawling out
within weeks
they’ll have to rescue me
with ropes
they will say:
« He’s one heavy son of a bitch. »

Mas Trilles, Jan. 10, 2011

120 POUNDS OF BLUES

once (not so long ago)
I weighed 200 pounds
five years later I was down
to 120 pounds
it was a hot summer
and I was riding my bike
seven hours a day
and cranking out a song
every hour or so

they were all blues songs
I knew I was in danger
of disappearing

Mas Trilles Jan. 10, 2011

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND

now I am in danger
of re-appearing
people will look at me
when I walk down the street
and say, « Look at that man. »

others will say,
« He stands out like a snowman
in a museum. »

dogs will sniff my feet
they’ll know I’ll be visible
without looking up

Mas Trilles, Jan. 10, 2011

THE SUN’S VOICE

the sun is speaking from the sky
« Hello, hibernating human body
– comb your hair, pack up
your black sweat pants
and sweat shirt pajamas
and join the flow of atoms
in my version of hot reality. »

I’ve never heard the sun speak
in such a loud voice

Mas Trilles, Jan. 10 2011

AFTER THE RAMPAGE
A NATION LOOKS INWARD AGAIN

headline International Herald Tribune, Jan. 10, 2011

and what does the nation see?
more rampage
madmen crawling
out of holes in the ground
their mouths spraying bullets
from automatic tongues
spewing hate
their eyes popping from their heads
and rolling around
like wet marbles

more rampage
button heads singing
« Give me that old-time rampage
that gunned down dear old dad! »

rampage in the cradles
rampage in the schools
rampage in the graveyards

and here come the goons
drinking Rampage Beer
their rampage teeth
glowing in the dark

motorheads driving
rampage mobiles with rampage dogs
growling from open windows

followed by berserkers
just wait til they get inside
your head and show you
their rampage stuff
they’ll make ordinary chaos
look like a ride
on the sweet swan float
in the easter parade

the nation will have to look inward
again
and again
as they watch the berserkers
grow to life beneath their skins
grab innocent bystanders
hold them by their feet
over open fires
and bite off their roasted heads
with dabs of mustard

Mas Trilles Jan 10, 2011

GEORGE & THE PIZZA

lady got her red car stuck
in the exit of a narrow street
front tire up against the steep curb
the other side scraping fender
against a corner stone

she got out and cried
me and a kid and another guy
got behind and lifted
the car off the corner stone
she got back in the car
raved and ranted
jumped and jived
and got her car stuck
as never before

she couldn’t even open
her door to get out and cry
only one thing to do:
stay inside the car
eat a lot of pizza as people
stuffed it thru the window
listen to some entertaining music
(a sad song by Georges Brassens
for instance) on the radio
while pissing into a bucket

later, after the tow truck
rescue team
got out their can opener
and sliced open the roof
she said that the combination
of George and the Pizza
made time fly
like a rabbit escaping
from a magician’s hat
on the wings of a dove

Céret, Jan. 10, 2011

LED ZEP MOON

midnight
Orion perched perfectly
above an olive tree
can of beer in my fist
humming a tune
where from
I can’t remember
a Led Zep riff
I think
but who needs to think
at a moment like this?

Mas Trilles, Jan. 10, 2011

ADVENTURE IN LUMBERLAND

on the outskirts of town
we passed a lumberyard
and picked up a piece of wood
a six-by-eight pine plank
thirty-two feet long
« Could you please wrap it up, »
we said. « It’s a gift. »

we headed
for the center of town
she on the front end
me on the back

we had some trouble
at first
getting on a bus
« It’s a gift, » we said
as the back end
smashed into the driver’s face
up ahead I heard a woman scream
as the front end
knocked out her teeth

in town, out on the street
we got good at going
in and out
of shops
breaking glass doors
knocking over displays
of glass bowls and flowerpots
we got so good
at the end of the day
we hired people
to carry the plank
while we stretched out
on top and rested

after all it was a heavy
piece of wood
(170 pounds)
and we needed a break

we closed our eyes
and fell to sleep
as strangers carried us in and out
of bars and cafes
getting drunker by the hour
until they had to leave us
(still asleep)
propped between two benches
in the park
with the scent of fresh-cut pine
in our nostrils
and moonlight bouncing
from our eyelids

Perpignan, Jan. 11, 2011

DOWN BY THE RIVER – 1

numerous chewsticks
to choose from
dog thinks the first two
are exciting
is less than enthusiastic
about the third

pig riffles in the wet sand
wild boar excavations

the river changes shape
all the time
but not until the 4th year
do I notice

Mas Trilles, Jan. 12, 2011

DOWN BY THE RIVER – 2

where’s me waterboard?
eh?
where’s me waterboard?

Mas Trilles, Jan. 12, 2011

SUN HAIKU

sun today
sun tomorrow
son of a bitch

Mas Trilles, Jan. 12, 2011

50 MILES AND 5 FEET

pondering imponderables
at a great distance
thru a small square window
the peak of Mt. Canigou
outlined again the last glow
of twilight

at a much lesser distance
the knotted round end
of the curtain cord
dangles down
an inch above the mountain peak

both as solid as shadows
as insubstantial as eyesight

Mas Trilles, Jan. 12, 2011

INTERNATIONAL NO FLY ZONES

a fly?
in the middle of the night?
in the middle of the Pyrenees?
in the middle of winter?

I swat it
with a folded copy
of the global edition
of the International Herald Tribune
(Wednesday, January 12, 2011)
with the face of U.S. Secretary
of Defense Robert Gates (left)
listening to the Chinese president
Hu JinTao in Beijing
on Tuesday.

Gates is looking at Hu
as if he might want to buy
an Eskimo Pie from the Chinaman
he will be surprised to learn
that his face just smashed
a French fly

I’ve never killed a French fly before
but it was no different than killing
a Belgian fly
a Dutch fly
an English or American fly

maybe it came from across the border
maybe it was a Spanish fly
maybe Gates is not thinking
about Eskimo Pies
maybe he’s thinking about
life back in the U.S. of A.
maybe he’s saying to himself:
What am I doing here
in China?
and
How did I get involved
in this mess?

or maybe he just spotted
a fly on Hu’s nose
and is wondering
what it would feel like
to swat a Chinese fly
maybe later he will go back
to his hotel room
and wonder
what it would have been like
to swat a Chinese nose

Mas Trilles, Jan. 13, 2011

WILD HONEY

holy snorkle
a bee!

yesterday a fly
today a French honey bee
buzzing around the dog’s nose
looking for nostril nectar

Dog paws it away
and Bee goes looking for
a wild boar

everybody loves wild boar nostril honey

Mas Trilles, Jan. 13, 2011

BREAKFAST IN CALIFORNIA

eating breakfast
at the table outside
down to a t.shirt
squinting into bright sunshine
a southern breeze
bending pine branches

all we need
is a big lake
with a few rowboats
and kayaks tied up
at the dock
and we’d be back in summer camp
1948
swatting mosquitoes
licking suntan oil
from our arms
and jumping in the water too soon

« Come back!
You’ll get cramps!
You’ll drown
and never grow up
to feed the bag ladies! »

Mas Trilles, Jan. 13, 2011

THE DUMMY DESPERATION PARADE

boys going for the jailbone-junkhouse look
girls going for the look-a-hooker look

« Tattoos’ll rule ya! »

innocence drowned
as yo predicted

Perpignan, Jan. 13, 2011

AND SO WE LIVE OUT OUR LIVES IN THE MOST UNEXPECTED WAYS

1.
I worked myself into a spiral
until I was 25
then I turned around
circled back out
until I came to a straight line
followed the straight line
until it became
a dotted line
hopped from dot to dot
until I landed on an island
where few people knew my name

2.
at about the age of 10
I started visualizing time
as a long flat line
I moved along it
from left to right

I still do

if I want to go back to 1972
I slide back to the left
1325 is still on the line
I can slide back that far
but I can only pretend
to be there

time started in 1941

today’s’ a panoramic screen
I step in and out of it
tomorrow’s a nudge
to the right of today
and so we live out our lives
in the most unexpected ways

lately however (in the past 10 years)
the timeline has begun
to rise and fall
like a vaudeville ocean
climbing and dipping
and recently (a few days ago)
it tied itself into a knot
in which I wiggled around
and coiled crawled
into a wormhole
which wormed me to a destination
far distant and mirror-warped
where I peeked out
and saw myself being born

3.
before I was 10
time didn’t exist
my head reached
from my eyebrows
to the horizon
my eyes wrapped around
my head and I saw
the entire world
in the language
of verbalnacular rebellion
and nounish treason
I had no past
I had no future
I was riding on
a big blob of red hot jelly

once in a while
I’d hop onto another blob
it would be green or blue
it would be smooth peanut butter
or cool watermelon with seeds
or a chocolate bar
melted into the shape
of Abe Lincoln’s head
plus beard by the sun
I remember once
it was a submarine-shaped
marshmallow another time
it was a mutated mushroom
that bounced across a football field
and scored a touchdown
and so we live out our lives
in the most unexpected ways

4.
some people live in tipis
some people live in cardboard boxes
some people live in gutted cars
some people live in Arizona

some people dwell in agitation
some abide in Jesus
others go back to their broken bubbles
at night and kiss their asses goodbye

some look forward
to another round of golf
on the tilt-a-whirl
or riding bumper cars
on the roller coaster

some look back in rage
at ruined childhood cathedrals
and remain victims
of a pig-pricked father
until the end of their days

some live out their lives
in the most unexpected ways

5.
some people carry lumber for a living
others carry postcards
from exotic places
like Exelland and Corpse De Ville
and put them in other people’s
mailboxes

some people play flutes
for fun
others have secrets
and leave buried treasures behind
which are never found
others dance in white-face
monster shows
for money

some people crawl
into scenes on their TV screen
and never come back out

Mas Trilles, Jan. 14, 2011

FAUCET FUELS

turn on the hot water tap
light a match
and watch the flames shoot up
from the drain

when this happens
you’ll know you have reached
the end of man’s
surrealistic conquest of nature

nothing can compare
to washing your hands
in a flaming sink

Mas Trilles, Jan. 17, 2011

BONE BACKSLIDE

played trombone as a kid
got pretty good at it
my teacher said
« You must practice every day
– miss one day
and you slide back two. »

I stopped playing the bone
when I was 18
according to his teaching
I am now 37,960 days behind

it will take me 104 years
to get back to my previous
level of accomplishment

Mas Trilles, Jan. 19, 2011

LAPTOP SHOPPING

I want a Mac Pro
with a 15-inch screen
and a QWERTY keyboard
the robo