Monday, March 19, 2018

10,641. ZERO

Sometimes things amount to nothing at all.
The church on Bardsley Hill, if it sees forty
people a month that's a lot. I don't know how
they keep it going. We all need faith in these
coal-mining towns. Tunnels collapse, people
go down. Things are always apt to happen
beyond out control. That might be the reason
we're all so ready and for keeping that little
church open. Who knows? There's a little
bell atop it, in a small bell tower. My own
great-grandad was the carpenter for that,
and Beryl Waystrup, he forged the bell,
in his very own foundry, that cinder-block
building behind his now-fallen barn. He
died in '87, I think it was. Now there's 
just not much left, but we carry on.


It's thought that maybe by just
getting things underway the rest
will take care of itself : like science
in an asylum for the insane. We leave
things along on the specimen table
and wait to see what grows. Bacteria
or vermin. I can't sit here worrying.
My little girlfriend in the dark blue
coat, she's the one for me. I'd rather
think of nothing else. There are wittles
for her wattles in her non-conformist
ways; and she supplies them all.
I remember one Autumn we decided
on painting the barn. A deep barn-red,
we put it on really thick, and then the
guy from the sign-painting company
came by and did the one whole side 
over for Chew Red Man Tobacco!'
They said they give us sixteen hundred
dollars for the year if we would leave
it up. Sure enough, we said, sure enough.
Turned out to be a good deal, and it had
stayed looking fresh enough so they gave
us another sixteen hundred for year two.
By the third year we were gone, and I
don't know if it's even still up or  -  if it
is  -  who they're paying now. It never
was out barn, but we kept quiet.
They built a new, small supermarket
now, I see, over on Edgemont Road :
all the usual produce; groceries, canned
goods, charcoal, and beer. Stuff these
farmers use after they're done with 
working the ground. There's a guy
there on the good days, selling melons
by the pound, on a table he puts down.

Sunday, March 18, 2018


I'm going it to do it now 
and it's not that I wasn't 
ready until this moment;
it just never had worked out.
Now the stars are calling.
I can hear the fissure of the
deep-space combine sounding.
There's a gentleman somewhere
who is from that strain of two 
headed people  -  and they are
both complex, and seldom seen.
I'm thinking we'll have to run
and hide amid hydrangeas, but
the strain of plant and flower
are too many for me to know.
Instead I'll watch the sand 
wash up the beach : all little
broken bottles and pieces of
surf- polished glass.
Sometimes everything gets too
rough to handle. I guess that's
when it's best to sound retreat.
I back off the precipice and go
to find a seat. These maneuvers
in the dark are killing me.

10,638. 70 GUERNSEY, COWS

The man who destroys things
lives on the street named for
brown cows. How apt is any 
of that? He's milking everyone 
for whatever he can anyway.

10,637. RUDIMENTS pt. 258

RUDIMENTS, pt. 258
Making cars
Since this is all sort of a
look-back, I'm not often
shy about saying what I
say. It is, after all, a
documentation of an
American life. I found
that grime wasn't really
so bad. There was a good,
solid year, in all honesty,
in which I had no washing
of my hair and only the
most minimal of soap.
Including shower and/or
bath. You learn to live with
all that. In addition, there's
a lot to be said for not
having to continually be
changing clothing. What's
serviceable is good, and
it stays on until it's not. A
person soon learns the feel
of things  -  the upper thighs
of pants feeling greasy, the
cuffs fraying, that certain
smell of clothing too. I can't
remember about shoes except
that I do recall once or twice
raiding the left-behind things
of the bound-for-Canada AWOL
escapees we pushed along on
their northward journey. (For
a while it had all the earmarks
of the Underground Railroad,
except being for deserters and
not just runaway slaves  -
even though these military
people were, in essence  -
just that). The food part of
it all was the easiest. My
friend Jim Tomberg could
always be visited at work for
some sort of food, and in the
very beginning, at that ice-cream
and hamburger joint next to the
Fillmore, there was plenty of
junk to eat. But it was a little
difficult being surreptitious.
Plus, the people there were
strangely annoying. I've made
mention before of a lot of this,
but it was all these weird guys,
4 or 5 anyway, who were pretty
vicious dudes, or at least their
cover-stories were. That big
giant Mexican guy in Colorado,
for instance, who'd just run from
killing his wife by throwing her
out from a speeding car on  a
mountain pass. He was running
from the law, hiding out  -  but
blabbing all this too. I never
figured that out. Maybe they
got points in some killer-society
for following protocol about
spilling their own stories.
Some of the sweetest people I
ever met, I'll have to admit,
were these people undergoing
the worst times of their lives.
The runaway military kids,
basically all my age or a few
years older  -  and all just Vietnam
fodder and they knew it  -  had
fear and sadness, and anxiety, in
their eyes. There really was a
time in America when people
made willing choices to flee,
to leave the country, for what
they didn't know. It was just
movement for the sake of that.
Most people would say, 'Canada?
Oh, yeah. I've been there; we
visited Niagara Falls.' This was
all a bit different, This was flight,
and the funny thing was, just a
few years later, by 1972, Canadian
Toronto had become one of the
hottest and hippest cities around.
I often think now about some of
these people I met  -  wondering
what became of them, if they later
re-entered the USA, took up other
lives, maybe stayed in Canada?
Found what they were after? Of
course, at that moment, no one
had a clue as to what they were
after except escape. It's a very
strange feeling to realize your
own 'country' is forcing a situation
upon you, of which the end result
is exile. Nowadays the 'Military'
is a choice and well paid, with
benefits and bonuses and an
entire array of surprisingly
evil means of enticing poor
young minds into service  -
to kill and maim, remotely, or
in person. All that 'employer of
last resort stuff.' It's amazing how
it's not seen for what it is : child
abuse. But, whatever. This was
one's own country, out of the blue,
forcibly selecting you for that
privilege. Death. Murder. Killing.
All skillfully woven into the
propagandistic motivation that
you were saving or defending
your country and countrymen
and 'freedom' too. Quite a crock
of garbage, but a heady milkshake
to be forced to glug. I faced the
same thing myself, except that I
turned criminal, in my way.
Safe-house, stealing, running
people to Canada, formulating
mishaps, 'comforting' people,
putting people up (16 at a time)
at 509, and more. Until it all
became too dangerous and
too much. But that was my
response and I pitched in with
gusto, along with the others.
There was a nerve-gas at work.
None of us knew it, but it was an
almost self-destructive concoction
of pith, spite, and anger. Sitting
in 509 e11th street, there were
some nights I was scared shitless.
I'd just arrived, barely a month
or two in, and was easily and
already up to my neck in trouble.
I'd sit there as an 18 year old, and
realize that in this very place,
this strange, horrible, run-down
tenement, generations of earlier
immigrants had lived, produced
families, probably slaved too, at
piecework, cutting garments and
all, and died (where did people
go, back then, to die, if not at
home?), to raise their meager,
tenement families. Seventy-five
years later, in 1967, there I
was, usurping their holy space,
somehow, for my own pitted
and broken ends. The modern
day, I figured, was really
disfigured, and I was in the
the middle of it. What possible
use was I? From Avenel, NJ
to 11th Street New York, was
a tale of woe and grief, wrapped
in a sort of Wanderjahr* of my
very own. Death and the police
Sometimes now, as I sit and this
window writing and typing, I
see out and it's a moon  -  new, 
full, waxing, waning. Or it's
another of those murmurations
of birds that we often get here
in Spring and Fall. Great swoops
of them, two, three hundred little
birds at a time, noisy with chatter,
swirling and dipping almost as 
one. A great noisy tip of birds,
rolling in the flat sky. And then 
they land, engorging a tree with
birds, like black olives, chattering,
on each limb. I never knew these
things existed; no one teaches
you this stuff, nor was any of it
ever mentioned. Avenel then
knew nothing of it, and of course
my situation in New York gave
me none of that. I don't even
know if it existed in 1967, as it
seemed the entire natural world 
was dead.,
During this time my motto was,
or could have been anyway,
'Remain in Place.' I don't know
why I just didn't disappear, or
kill myself. I always wanted to
hop a freighter and just be gone.
I would have worked my way 
anywhere : Distant lands, faraway
Asia or Africa, Australia, Cape
Horn. California, Maine, or
anywhere. I was solid, dumb 
and stupid, all at once. I
remained stubbornly fixed
in place, a real do-nothing.
My mind was never right;
I never found fit. Girls passed
me by and I was often beside
myself with frenzy. The guy
I was sharing the apartment
with, Andy Bonamo, had 
nearly a different girl a week,
right there, on the floor. It
soon enough became nothing
for me to see nakedness 
everywhere. Immodesty ruled,
also freaking me out. Very weird.
He was dealing drugs regularly,
and the money was everywhere, 
strewn about. People were coming
and going all the time; bodies
asleep everywhere. Andy kept
cowboy boots in the bathroom 
doorway area, one for nickels, 
another for dimes, another for 
quarters. It was sort of 'help 
yourself with honesty, but don't
ever take more than necessary.'
I guess it worked. Hippie bliss.
That sad little apartment was quite
something else. I wish I had it now.
The kitchen sink doubled as a bathtub;
if you wanted. Like in the old days,
there was a hinged piece of plywood
that you could flip down for modesty,
(modesty? what was that?) while you
sat there, naked, in the tub. Three 
plus feet up off the ground. It
was something like you's see in 
an old 'cowboy' movie, with the
trail guy finally getting his back
scrubbed by Mrs. Maytail, the
proprietor of the rooming house.
What they called a bathroom (in 
this place I'd guess it was an
afterthought) was a 2x4 room,
with a toilet and a sink, and a 
pull-chain. Black and white tiled
floor; all ancient. no window, no
air, no venting. There wasn't even
much to do except stand up and
sit. Stand up and sit? What kind
of a command was that, I'd
wonder. I'd just come from a
land of small but new homes,
and even the crummy bathrooms
had dressing counters, mirrors 
and a sliding vanity or medicine
cabinet. This didn't even have a
tray for soap.

* Wanderjahr - German, meaning
'wander year'  -  a post-school period
when Euro-kids took to wandering the

Saturday, March 17, 2018


On Weds. be sure to hand me 
the bushel and the candle. And 
remember that by 5:30 the race 
car should be delivered. We ought
be able to flee like bootleggers of
old at the Georgia State Line.
A few things : Be sure your Will
is updated, and if you've got to have
a Last Testament, write it tonight. 
I guess if you have one already
and wish to write it again, then 
that would be a New Testament?
I've been to Stockton, NJ any
number of times. Once, hiking
the deep woods near some stream
where my dog was in swimming,
I found a painter with an easel,
painting a scene. His name was
Mike Mann. It was all pretty cool
how he had his bicycle rigged:
To carry his easels and paints
and brushes, some things to drink
and any other supplies. It looked
like a real business-bicycle of a 
unique design that I liked a lot.
Another time, also in Stockton, at
the old railway path that's now for
bicycles and hiking  -  one of those
greenway things that run 7 or 8 miles 
between such sacred towns, I took up
talk with an old-time fireman guy. He
was probably about 70, and knew lots
of things about the past. Right there.
Where he'd grown up and cavorted.
Hot rods and cars and girls. The way
the old place used to be, and the paucity
of cops back then  -  and the work they
all used to do when the rail line was 
yet running : Those regular-schedule
freights they all knew about, the ones
loaded with coal from which they'd
steal as the cars rolled along.
The whole world was playful, and
once ran like a song, an easy song
with a very great harmony. And then
he walked us to his house, to show 
us his old T'Bird, from 1955.

10,635. RUDIMENTS, pt. 257

RUDIMENTS, pt. 257
Making Cars
I always knew I was in a heap
of a jumble. I could sense it
from day one. A person wants
to be born at or be from some
place grand, with a massive
name. Mittendrof. Walsingsford,
Abeleck. Moraine. I got Bayonne
which was named after someplace
else, and then I got Avenel. Which
was nothing at all, by name or by
reality. Anyway it always sounded
too much to me like 'a venal place.'
I was talking some to someone
once and they said to me that each
of us are always our first zip code.
That we never leave or outgrow
those origins. I knew it was all
wrong, but I didn't tell them
anything, because it just simply
wouldn't be worth it. Both of
my places (I should have told
the dummy) had been from before
ZIP codes. I remember well, about
1962 or '64, when they came out.
And anyway, curiously enough as
it turned out, Avenel was 07001,
and Bayonne was 07002. So what
difference was there anyway. Logic
like that never makes sense. (By
the way, too few people know that
ZIP codes originally actually did
mean, used as an acronym, 'Zoned
Instant Postal' and it was introduced
with this little letter-man character
named 'Zippy.' True stuff.
Sometimes, being alive, to me,
meant just a pile of hurt. I very
seldom got things to be right. I
little knew back then the things
most people now take for granted  -
ideas like autism and awkwardness
and not fitting in. I knew all about
that stuff, inside, before it was
clinical and discussable. I was
always flitting about, trying to
be funny, enough anyway so as
to glide through situations without
standing out. I mostly disliked the
situations I always found myself
in. The smoke from my fire was
scented with a different aroma,
and I was not sure from where my
kindling had come.
The poor guy who rammed me
with that train, the engineer, was
a guy who lived a few towns over,
in Fords, NJ. He was 49, then, in
1958. I swear I worried more about
him after that than I did anything 
else. I at least wanted him to know
I'd survived, I was alive. Often I
just wished to knock on his door
and, as he answered, say 'HI!' I
still go past that house now and then,
figuring he's long dead, but just, you
know. Things change and alter, and
time goes on. It's all like one of those
kaleidoscope tubes that you look
into, peering while you turn the
tube and all the mirrored glass 
and things inside it move about 
and reflect  -  one, big changeable
nothing. Like life. We move on,
each of us, every day, with each. 
step, killing bugs and anything
in the way. No thought involved;
it's all just events that occur, 
wordless and unimportant. We
guess. Like that breeze in China
that affects a butterfly here in
New Jersey, who really knows?
When you look back over Anglo-
American law, funny things pop up.
Not that most people do that, but
I was always the investigatory sort.
The first patents and copyrights were
issues in the 16th century, although
they weren't 'rights.' They were
'privileges.' Favors granted by the
crown. For Walter Raleigh, on his
'discovery' of Virginia, or in 1611
by King James for the copyright
of the King James Bible, things of
this nature were granted, BUT they
were not understood to involve ideas.
Just 'things.' It was all a cerebral, 
strange concept, as much as
'Incorporation' would later be  - 
an artificial concept, created to
secure safety, and protection, to
the 'business' owner, who, instead
of taking the rap, then had a fake
body (In-Corporo) which had 
been created and was able, legally,
to take the rap. Insurance then arose 
as an 'idea' in turn, to cover for 
and protect, that false 'incorporation'  
-  sued for damages and claims. The
real guy himself never had to pay up,
because what got sued was the fake
'incorporation' representing him/it.
It was accepted, and became legal.
In the same was as money  -  another
purely artificial concept that is of
something simply 'created' out of
thin air. It doesn't really exist. You
have $150,000 in the bank. Where
is it? Go get it? That same 'imagined'
money (multiplied by hundreds of
thousands of people), if called for 
at once, would precipitate world
riots, BUT, that same thin-air
nowhere money, on paper, exists
and is imaginarily taxed, and 
compounded, and then the false 
and imaginary 'gains' are also 
taxed. Huh? And then accumulations
of all that imagined money are,
in thin air, loaned out by banks 
and such for loans and mortgages 
to create still more, which then adds
to the imaginary pile, as it grows and
is taxed. The mathematics here is
'All comes from Nothing at all.'
One of the transformations that 
occurred in the 18th century was
that 'things' began being superseded
by 'ideas.' The ideas about such things
as 'Intellectual Property' began, and
the picture got clouded. Benjamin
Franklin, for one, refused to patent
any of his ideas, saying 'we should
welcome the opportunity to serve
others by an invention of ours,
freely and generously'. (Try that
hat on for size sometime, Mr.
Bighead). Since those days,
ownership of things had been taken
over by corporations. I knew a guy
at Merck (he lives in Arizona now, 
long retired), from Westfield, who 
essentially  created the formulas 
for Rogaine  (hair growth, I think 
it was), and  a form of Viagra 
(boner growth I  think that was) 
and received nothing but his 
normal salary for any of it, with
the 'Corporation' he worked for
owning any and all of his intellectual
rights, by pre-agreement. He also
used to laugh a lot, saying those 
two pharmaceuticals were very 
close to each other, one ingredient 
or overlap away. He always said
he was afraid for the day when,
through lab error, some poor guy
was going to wake up one morning
with a very hairy shaft. (He didn't
use the word shaft).
I spent a lot of time just delving,
Ripping into things. It was a bit
like a wandering death, or a 
walkathon while asleep. Not 
much else mattered  - NY years
lost in the wilderness, in their way,
though now  -  seeing it all back  -  
it's a treasure and I'd not have it
traded for a thing. Uniqueness
counts, even stupid uniqueness.
And, eventually, we each just run
out of time. Too bad.
Here's how it appeared to me :
I was a writer/artist type, and
to me the world looked different.
I somehow was able to recognize
that I was detached from reality.
I accepted that. I knew about life 
and death and love, to my own
small degree. Secrets that no 
'realist' could explain. I was a
fantasist, by those terms. That
kind of stuff either lifts a person
up, or pulls him down and kills
him. I've lost a number of creative
friends, over these years, to their
own self-inflicted deaths. Whether
that's 'success' or failure, only they
could have answered. The drive
of the artist (the real artist, I mean,
not most of the schlubs you find
today), reveals the essential truths
that are buried so deep within but
must come out. Every artist has
that need to find out. To go beyond
the real to a more mystical realm
he or she doesn't know. It's the
equivalent to 'to be or not to be.'
'What am I living for?' Nobody
can really answer that.
Eugene O'Neill, as a for instance,
questions that and his answer is that
you have to go into the ghosts; you
have to go as far beneath them as
you can and discover whatever it is
you can get to or bring out. The
spiritual side of life lets you identify
with the sky and how it meets with
the ocean. If you begin to feel it,
understand and sense it, something
happens to you. Things fall away. 
You are stronger for being free. 
If not, if you do not liberate  -  that 
literal side is where the chaos is, 
and the blindness. Where things 
fall apart; where the broken
lie about. 'The sky and the sea
give you a freedom of identification
with something above and beyond
and apart. The truth is: Mankind
inside has the capacity to be bigger
than it is on the outside; that capacity
to rise higher than his fears and
his material desires. O'Neill has
his characters vomit out the truth.'