Saturday, October 31, 2015


The Mediterranean is the mother to the rest of
the natural world : the soft shores of wandering 
all seem to end here. Wrapped mornings of water,
and the long afternoons of sun and decay. All these
ruins are growing inside me  -  tourists may come,
but no one can stay. I want your fleeting body with
me here. We can tender what we can touch.
Some broken Jesus again, at the end of the world.


I look up at the stars and I see the quiet
desolation of only Mankind making fire.
At home in the night, my dreams return me
somewhere I have known. I cannot translate 
what it is I already know  -  for I have been
there too long already, and these languages
and forms are long forgotten. We know too
much as we know too little anyway. Fierce,
fierce are the ways of the demon black sky.


When they are out whaling, there's no
bringing them home. Slant the shaving
knife at the neck. No fuzzy trans-gender
Adam's Apple coif can still these men
a'marching. I have a cemetery on my right,
and  -  to my left  -  the vast crematorium
of the living. We all are centered beings.


This is it, oh beleaguered land. I am so uncomfortable
with my world today :  not in the manner of the old,
no, when butter got soft and sugar and salt clumped.
Those were simple things, things with a fix. This is
a black darkness, descended upon me. The unfixable
world that now covers my heart, the vice with the
turnscrew turning  -  pressing harshly down on my 
veins. It's the discomfort of a too-tight collar of
razor blades, or a crown of 10-penny nails 
hammered deep into my skull. And - no - 
alas, I know not what to do but pass.


I went to school with every other little kid in the land.
If we weren't dead blind, we were messing our books :
scratching marks in page corner turns, and writing
kid-names with hearts and arrow. So silly and all
so true. I wished upon a star before I slept at night.
I cried for Beowulf, I hid from Frankenstein.


It's Halloween again oh damn. I knew you
before your disguise, and I'll know you after.
Peel the skin from off you face and let me see
those bones again. Skeletal remnants, like some
geographic land-rim, make this shoreline so clear.
Having a long history of taunts, even we have
bested the beast now of the intense disguise. 
Whoever you may really be, this life goes on

Friday, October 30, 2015

7371. BELOW THE WATER LINE, pt. 59

(pt. 59)
When these items were being experienced, they
appeared as one thing. Of course, now, almost
50 years or more later, in a vague sort of broad-brush
retrospect, nothing is ever as it seemed. Then. There
was one period of time  -  in my brash, over-the-top
stupidity, when I can recall watching The Lone Ranger,
I guess a Saturday morning episode thing, and being
involved in some bizarre Saturday ritual of six, count
'em, six, bowls of cereal, in the sitting. Whatever was
that supposed to be? I remember my mother approving,
in point of fact, acting as a cheering section. I don't
remember any more of that  - except that it was, most
probably, egads, Frosted Flakes, to make matters worse.
The secretly tolerated deadly sin of Gluttony, at home?
The upkeep of a maddening sugar quotient, unchecked?
Funny how ideas of 'quality control' about things only came
later. We never cared. Our Hillerich & Bradsby baseball
bats always came to us already 'up to snuff'. Sure sometimes
they'd break or splinter, but that was that. They were just
all good  - no one needed an inspector to tell us that. And
what kind of brand name was that?  -  the one which sunk into 
my brain as the icon of childhood  - the name of the baseball
bat company was right up there with the five names of God.
Mostly, anyway, like God too, everyone shared  -  we all used
the same bat, often  -  whatever the weight, 24, 28, ounces, I
think it was. Big, fat heavy bats, 32's or whatever they just went
for the big, strong, heavy dudes  -  who were probably, anyway,
already 15 in 6th grade. As dull they were as the bat was dense.
The five names of God, did I say? Now where did that come 
from? No one ever talked about that stuff  -  upside down as 
we half the time were, in those junkyard oil-tanker innards,
half the time expecting to die, no one ever started a God rant.
Anyone who would have done that knew already they'd be
punted out of there like a flat-tire wheelboard down a steep
incline, and with nothing at the bottom. God was what was, 
and for the rest of it all we didn't care. No over-starched
ninny-nun was going to try and set us any better straight
than we could set ourselves. Those half-men who ran
around with clerical collars choking tight their bubbling
red fat necks  -  they too were for all essential purposes
to us, non-existent, a Sunday kind of blast, maybe, only, 
maybe, if the courtyard at the portables and the stolen
Kent cigarettes didn't keep us otherwise detained. There
were two Gods, you see, and we knew it. Straightforward 
too : our God and the God of the rest of that hoary mob. 
That we were supposed to listen to, but never did, nor 
The thing about God to me  -  and none of the other stuff
made much sense, nor did I really care; it was more 
magic-for-money than it was anything else  -  my thing 
was 'evaporation' the 'transformation of water', that's pretty
much what did it for me. I'd wake up in the cool morning
and see  -  on the hoods of all the cars and stuff  -  the
great beads of moisture  -  rain or dew or whatever  -  on
everything. That was factual and present. I could touch it, 
and my hands would get wet, get cold, and stay that 
way for a while. Then after a little bit of time and
even some sunlight, that beaded water, the moisture 
that was on my hands, would disappear, dissipate, 
go away  -  having turned into something else. The
evaporation back to another state  -  no longer water,
not visible, an ethereal gas or something passing through,
going 'round its own cycle until it somehow returned 
again from afar, from high above, as rainwater. That
cinched it for me, That was beyond efficiency; it was
far better than any Mankind based cockamamie 'we can
do it just as much' Science crap. That clinched the God
argument for me  -  it wasn't so much some angry and
mean son-of-a-bitch type God always trying to have it
back at his people, his own stupid creation (for God's 
sake). It wasn't ire and anger and rules and regulations,
no stupid fat-assed haunchy nuns slapping your wrists 
with their Virgin-Mary rulers and Sacred Family crap
(like they knew anything about that) rosary-strap 
sidewinder beads they wore down their ridiculous and 
stupid, crap-happy habits, the black dresses of goons.
It had nothing to do with any of that : that was, or might
as well have been, Nazi shit, by comparison. What caught
God in the fish-net for me was the idea of a perfect and
punctilious efficiency of silent mind and eye and purpose.
Enough said  -  the efficiency and wisdom of the exchange
of water over the course of an hour or five hours or a day:
clouds, oceans, rain mist and dew. Those beautiful beads 
of clear light, in the early Summer morning, clinging to 
blades of grass. That's your freaking transubstantiation. 
That's God, or the God of Avenel, at least, to me.


I wind up standing here in my stolen
venture. Just staring out, to wonder,
now, where I've been. The piano-roll 
is gone, and the church-key the big-wigs 
have lent me has gone missing too. It seems 
I can't do anything right. The newspapers 
mis-quote me, and then they correct the errors 
again incorrectly. How does it all count for 
anything? I don't know. I'm standing in the 
wind at Sea-Bright, looking forward to an 
intimidating day at the death's head casino; 
listening to Roy Orbison, and the 
sounds of the lakefront wedding.
Our lady, Queen of the Sea.


(why don't you quit your low-down ways)
Vestibule in the closet.
Taking a walk downtown.
I haven't entered the wandering 
hordes quite yet and the dollar
is still intact. 'But you seem to have
come back again? Why is that?' I
try to answer but choke instead.
They say to me 'Your car is here, 
sir.' And in that I acquiesce. 'Yes,'
I say, 'yes. Let them know I'm ready.'


That silver penny is now no good - the
one you grew up with and I remember.
Having to put paper in your loafers and
a penny in the slot; look at all you did
and how little you really got. Today, this 
cat meanders like a jazz-boy pencil-face;
he's got the words of ancient wisdom
and the Daily News' disgrace. Those
New York streets were guaranteed
to kill any who walked by.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

7367. BELOW THE WATER LINE, pt. 58

(pt. 58)
I used to walk between things a lot - whenever
I walked, also, I would walk close to the buildings,
as if slowly crawling my way along, outside of the
passers-by's traffic walking by. I never know how that
got started, but I think it had a lot to do with alienation.
I don't know where I got it from, maybe one too many
Kafka books read (man, they were deliberate and
plodding, one sequential, mysterious disclosure
after another). It was a way to 'show' or make
manifest, my 'separate' status. It was a manner
of acting out my inner Kafka. Well, maybe  -  in
any case, it's not the stuff you talk about, so I never
did. But my quirk was no different either than the
quirks mentioned earlier, of my friends : Jimmy
Yacullo reciting back everything he'd just spoken,
and Kenny Kaisen, smelling everything he touched,
pulling everything to his nose (the opposite of my
dog, who pulls her nose to everything). The emotional
equivalent of one of today's 'emo' kids  -  the feelers and
those with complete fearful and soft relationships with
the world. The kind of kids you just want to swat.
You think of it now  -  when we were kids we were
insulated from all that. The place was wide open, and so
were we. I never knew exactly what was going on inside
the heads of the grown-ups. I'd see them on their little
steps, porch-things, stoops, whatever they were called
on those new houses with the minimum of everything.
But I never really knew what they were thinking, or where
they were at  -  and I'm just as sure that they, looking at me,
never thought a second either about 'what' it was I was about.
It's odd. My father used to come home from work, in the
Summer anyway, and  -  after eating  -  it seemed most every
night my mother and him both would come out, she would,
when done with dishes and chores and stuff, and sit. My father
always hosed the lawn ; he'd sit there in one of those metal and
plastic strap lawn-chair things, from Two Guys, the store, and
just hose-spray the lawn, always. The spray would move around
as he moved his arm, and eventually it all got hit with water.
I guess, by planning  -  it was more ritual relaxation for him.
Less about the lawn and water than it was about his 'closing'
the envelope of the day. Neighbor to neighbor, some would 
talk, or shout back and forth  -  hey, hello, what's up...all that
stuff. But they mostly stayed apart too. My father also used 
to get the square cube of ice cream Shop-Rite used to sell, a
large, I guess, half-gallon box. He liked it, we all did. But we
could only get the flavor  -  what he called 'Neopolitan' I think
it was  -  three flavors (vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, or 
their ersatz versions of these flavors anyway) in one box, in
rigid rows, all the way down. He'd sometimes bring that out
too, and sit there with a long spoon and pick at it as it softened.
We'd do the same too, eventually. There'd be these great tunnels
of picked ice-cream by whosever it was who last ate at it, their
favorite flavor. Very weird, but simple and  -  back then  -  like
69 cents or something. In the meantime, we kids would be out
in the street, going bonkers for the evening, playing wiffle ball,
wiffle ball home run derby (which meant beast-fully  bashing the
plastic ball and bat to only hit high, crazed wiffle arcs that we'd 
hope would launch over the opposite curb). Or, the same, with 
Spalding (pink) balls, against the curb. As Fall got nearer, it 
would change over to touch football scrimmages and games,
telephone pole to telephone pole, or sewer cover to sewer 
cover, whatever. Parents watched. Lightning bug, crickets,
mosquitoes, the whole array of stuff. I'm not sure what it 
was that girls did, but I guess they had their own pastimes 
and games. Then it would slowly darken, things would
settle, things would hush, and we'd all be gone. Other
nights, different pastimes  -  hide and seeks, ringolevio
games, 'box' ball (which was a sort of bouncing games 
using three of the sidewalk sections as playing field, and 
slapping some sort of careful corner action on the pink
Spaldeens). I can't really remember. Also, the younger
kids had chalk-lines of Hop-Scotch and all that stuff.
Later on in years, Jim Yacullo, and Ray Szemborski,
both had basketball hoops installed, regulation height 
and size and all, on the telephone poles at their properties.
Ron Napoli, also down the street, had a really nice one 
installed at the top of his driveway, where there was a garage.
It had a nice, dedicated 'dribble' paving area, good range
for shooting, and we'd gather there, for a while, nearly
every night after school. It was funny how habits and
small schedules of time for these things developed 
themselves. We never went without  -  cold and dark, 
or hot and sweaty.
It was chummy stuff  -  when an  outsider arrived you'd
know something was up  -  interest in a local girl, some
connected grudge to work off, or a budding friendship with
an 'outsider'   - which usually meant then that we'd be 'losing'
somebody. It was like family, and when attentions and 
allegiance shifted, everyone knew. Pretty much, anyway,
that's what adolescence was all about  -  expansion, both
of geography and of emotion. Yeah, I can almost remember
falling for someone different, some other girl, somewhere,
in a crazed infatuation, back then, at age 11 maybe, like 
every other week. Now they say it's healthy and it's normal
to experience and evaluate varied kinds of sexuality. Huh?
Had I heard that shit then, I'd have barfed. For me it was,
first and foremost, the feminine aspects of life I wanted,
the opposite of me for sure  -  I was in no way after my
pals. That can be colored a hundred different ways, yeah,
and psychoanalyst stuff will do that to it, but all we ever
cared about was girls. You can talk a blue streak about
anything you want, but that was for sure the truth.
People would move about; even as I grew through the ten
year old and eleven year old level, I can remember things 
expanding. One time, by myself, I took my bicycle all the
way up Route One, up to the Linden Airport area. Just to
see; that was big-time travel. Another time I did the same 
thing all the way up St. George or whatever it is, as it 
threads northward, all the way up the Warinaco Park 
area  -  Roselle or Linden or Elizabeth, I didn't know.
My friend, Robert Shipley  -  maybe two years older
than me  -  was in a sort of awe. He just said something
like 'Boy, you're brave!'. He had a perfectly kept J. C.
Higgins bike he rode around on, really nice, black  -  and
on the back of the rear fender hanging down, like the car
clubs, he had a plate installed, that read 'Black Beauty'.
He'd named and titled and plated his bicycle! Now that,
to me, was more amazing even than running up Rt. One.


If something was asked of you, would you waver before
the light in doing a task - too genial or hapless to truly
work with determination? In looking for a few good men,
many overlook the most useful : the regular giant of a guy.
He who lifts stones and breaks obstacles with his roughened
hands - calloused and sour, fatigued with the drudgery and 
the angst of opprobrium, saddled with a shoulder of doubt.
For such is the man, alone or in groups, married or without,
who gathers at hitching post and tavern, ready for ale or a
brew, sprawling over with good intentions. Later in the night,
after the others and the all have passed, he sees blindly, double
with doubt anew. I watch him try to focus and talk straight on,
to something or someone he deems to remember. That is not a
clock upon the wall  -  it is the very life and foundation ticking
away. For so few are so steady as to be so smart. 
(And right all of the time).


I am walking anew with a camera strap over my shoulder - 
carrying this heave, this weight, this watcher. All eyes, I
scout and scan the deceiving horizon, perhaps hiding from
me something I would have missed - had I not been so alert.
I am hunched ever so slightly. The weight of goodness
covers me like a blanket; the slow pull of such a lens,the
freeze-frame heaviness of the camera's own body. It does
not swing loosely, as I must clutch it carried tightly to my
chest. I am in fear, perhaps, that it may fall, or snag, or
tumble. 'Round my neck, does the broad strap chafe and
annoy? Not for one second.
I have turned the corner now - for that distant rooming
house seems to have caught my eye. Its very old windows
and wood are sagging there with age, and that faded old
parchment of paint and glass, that patina of neglect and
decay, says something to me so right. It mus be captured
now, in this light. I step but back a foot or two to better
frame the sight. This long lens will array the arrangement
nicely through these eyes we share - mine and the camera's.
The noise is silently waiting for too,  for me - as I cannot
capture in light the background sound of the scene. The
very old fire of time and place are singeing me with heat.
I acknowledge where I am by simply snapping the shot.
I am so happy to be walking anew.


Got to thinking today how my dog 
probably eats better than me  - but 
that's okay, and the way it should be. 
I don't take much maintenance, and I'm 
on my own. When I want something to
eat, I get it. Not her  -  she has to be fed, 
lest she'd be scavenging or attacking instead. 
So it's okay by me, the richness I see. 
She sure has some fancy habits.


I haven't closed the book an anything, yet, but
do mostly feel it's closing on me in spite of my
wishes. I belong to nothing any longer : cannot
understand the world I see and am only saddened 
by the piddling mass of Nothing I'm now presented
with. For this we breath and live? I'd have to say
why? There's a dearth of everything today : the 
stupidity of the clowns and people  -  the now
interchangeable remnants of station and situation.
My hands are more mellow than the hands of the
handler -  the face that stares, the flickering image,
the things people say as the walk and they talk  -  
these are integers of the negative, a compound of
the vapid and the dread. I lived in a country once,
where the march of Mankind was applauded. No
longer so, my world has been given over to thugs
and thieves and liars and cheats  -  the bloated factotums
of babies, eating fat porridge while they already line
up for more. never sated, always wanting their false
'enoughs'. Enumerators of the lost, all counter of
the unknowing dead  -  they yet live on, as I traipse
by them, staggering drunk with my shame for them.
For this we live and breath?

7362. YOU CAN

Insensitive to a fault, you can scan this
harbor with my eyes - the way I see it, or 
you can walk away and leave it all at this : 
the monkey on the nautilus string, the men
drinking beer, the outside diners, braving the
damp and the cold. It's all over before it starts.
Unless. Unless you yourself elevate it all.
Take a paroxysm's final crush and let it
bleed you deadly - you'll be back 
before the coming dawn.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

7361. BELOW THE WATER LINE, pt. 57

(pt. 57)
You know how it is about life, how
sometimes things about others flabbergast
you when you think of them later, or sometimes
it's things about yourself that you still can't
believe or understand? I go through that a lot,
in that I spent a lot of my time with with
people I liked  -  other kids around me, with
whom a certain sort of local-brotherhood took
root and grew, and then one day was just gone.
The ones who are gone and dead, yeah I'd like
to talk to them now, sure  -  some sort of local
Inman Avenue area megaphone to the new and
shiny dead. But it can't happen and it's all the sadder.
My friend Joe, who blew his brains out with a rifle
shot (I guess it's never two) and was only found an
afternoon later in his back driveway, in his car, plastered
over as it was with his brain mattter   -  found only
because his dogs were howling and the lights had
been left on. Yeah, you know, Mr. Big Deal, found
dead in his freaking Renault Le Car, the running (but
only sometimes) joke of the later 1970's. Right up there
in Pacer heaven with the rest. Yeah, I'd have a few
things to say  -  and just as much I'd like to hear.
Death by death is one thing  - but death by 'interdiction',
yeah that's another thing entire. It ain't right. How are
you supposed to grieve for someone who only ended
up, selfishly once more, doing what HE wanted?
My other friends who've died. What of it? What can
I do now? Just gotta' move on. Things about myself
that flabbergast me  - my (living) friend Al Zinze, he
tells me about a verbal showdown he remembers me
having with Martha, of Murray and Martha Candy Store
fame. I can't believe it, nor can I remember it, but Al
has it down right. Martha was Jewish  -  I've written
before of that  -  it never made much matter to me. He
says one day she'd scolded me for throwing down some
paper candy-wrappers in front of her store instead of
putting them in the trash can. In the verbal scolding,
evidently I turned to her and sarcastically said back,
after she said something like the old 'do you live in a
barn?' routine  -  I said, 'Yeah, well at least we don't
eat with our hats on.' That's crazy. I tell you, crazy,
and he remembers that like one of my golden,
Oscar-moment lines. I remember nothing of it; nor,
I here swear, does it seem like something I'd say
or even have the gumption to say  -  let alone even
know about (eating with hats on?), yet he remembers
it perfectly. Another time, he says, a few years later
in my later-teen years after all the squibbling and
squabbling problems I'd gone through, he remembers
himself and Robert Stewart seeing me near them on
a bicycle, passing along, and they called out to me
to have a moment, say hello, all that, and that I
simply looked right past them, completely ignoring
them, and went along my way. I don't recall that
either, and again it doesn't really sound like the
'me' of me. For these sorts of things, now, I'm
humbled, sorrowful even, to these people, for
what I've apparently done, and for being a schmuck.
'Flabbergasted' is what I called it, right? I have to
live with it, and can't take anything back. And I
will. What is this life anyway?
Murray and Martha's was a candy store  -  of gold to
us. Cherry Cokes and candy, ice cream, all that stuff of
Summer, after playing stickball in the schoolyard nearby.
It was something like 7 cents for a refreshment. They 
had a million stupid little penny-candy type things in
an open glass case to the left of the register. The register
itself was in a sort of little box-cage corner, but not 'caged'
as in today's security caging, just like 'removed' so it
got to look important and serious, and of course it 
overlooked the open-faced candy trays too  -  glass
display, endless array. My friend Alex tells me the
shoplifting quotient was pretty high -  I don't know, and
it seems like it would be a pretty difficult heist, but he
was tight with the family, so maybe so. I can recall,
in a closed-eye visual of the place, pretty much every
last detail of the interior. Newspapers. Magazines. 
School supplies, rulers, models, hair pins, glue, a
entire array of things. It was something. I had, in my
fourth-grade class, under Miss Evans, a girl named
Patsy Ann Zionce (check the spelling; a guess), and
there was a time, that Spring, when for some reason
the class or the grade was having an 'ice-cream party'
for something. The classroom windows looked out
over Avenel Street, and Miss Evans sent Patsy out to
get the ice-cream order (another time I can recall
Murray himself limping over with the boxes). Anyway
the boxes were plain, gray cardboard, with little round
holes every so often, about the size of a quarter, I guess
for air flow into the interior or something. I can remember
Miss Evans looking out the window with us all, at Patsy,
holding the ice cream, maybe two or three square boxes 
of twelve ice creams each, or something, and she remarked
'Look at her, isn't she a beautiful girl?' And Patsy, was, yeah -
her reputation, for a fourth-grader, was that she was very
pretty. But, hearing Miss Evans say that, aloud, it was weird.
I only think she was a 'Miss' anyway; could have been a 
Mrs., I guess. Don't know.
Murray and Martha  -  I mentioned earlier  - seemed always
to be at war over something, seething and screeching at each
other. Somedays the Cherry Cokes (all made from syrup)
would be made with happiness  -  other days you could just 
feel the anger and animus with which they were made  -  so
much so you hardly wanted to drink it. Funny. I guess they
always made up.
Over on that other side of Route One, right by the light,  our
neighboring family, the Raspitzzis (check my spelling anew),
they moved out from Inman and ended up there  -  a big house,
still there (but not for long, I'm told) behind that little building 
that later became Nelson House Printing, but which at the
time was the original Introcaso Cleaners. Walter and Betty
Fehring  -  with the encyclopedias I mentioned in an early 
chapter, they bought the Raspitzzi house, and moved here
from Elizabeth. The house the Raspitzzis moved to was
nothing like the Inman Avenue houses  -  it was large,
really large, and rambling, and from another time and 
another Avenel day entire. I never really heard from
them again. They had two kids, I think  -  Laurie, the
girl, and perhaps Peter, the younger boy. That's an 
example of the sort of 'layering' that I mentioned  -  in
which Avenel has so many different stratas of housing 
and people  -  the new, the old, settled and recent, all 
mixed into these varied sections. The mingling between 
them all  was just never that much. Things from 'another'
time were always so much more rambling and over-sized.
As was their idea of 'Time' itself, I always thought.
Across from them, there was  -  for a while  -  another
'supermarket, when those started happening. Foodtown
or something, and later then, a 'Fine Fare'.  Now it's
been a print-shop for years  -  my once-friend Steve
Glassman moved it there from Perth Amboy, where he'd
started out in a little dump named 'Business Cards
Tomorrow'  -  which at first was just that; a niche supplier
of next-day business cards to other printers, so they didn't 
have to bother (business card printing was always a pain in
the butt -  small size format, ink washes, etc. The idea of
'gang-running' a bunch at a time actually made some sense).
Near him also was another friend, Louis Schlesinger, whose
father, right there in the next building, ran Schlesinger's 
Hardware, for years. It was a really nice, crowded to the
hilt, with a massively great hardware store aroma, traditional
hardware store. Louie himself, in later life (now) has become
a fairly important psychoanalyst or somesuch, forensic stuff,
etc., with a few of that subject reference type books to his
name. I lost touch years ago. There was, also, just around
the corner there, in a house now right next to the pizza place
there, another friend, and his sister, a twin, Peter Panzarella.
I think I remember his sister's name as Patricia  -  it was one
of those family-deals where the kids names began with a 'P'.
They disappeared early on too. A lot of stuff I just lost
touch with. That older side of Avenel  -  closer to the 
origins  -  also had a number of places, in the middle of the
blocks, that were local stores  -  foodstuffs, cakes and
bread, milk and eggs, stuff like that. They're all gone now,
but one or two of the buildings remain. This was all the stuff
which pre-dated 'supermarkets' -  which eventually wiped
out all these very neighborly and local stores, in one fell
swoop, they came in, got everything consolidated, and
closed up all the little guys  -  because people always went
with the new, the latest, the largest. Go figure, yep, go figure.


I have walked too long in this downpour for
any sense to be made : like hives in a tree,
my feet are dripping. My back is wet. My
hair is matted : celestial feelings bewail me,
calling my wet-head notions down. 'Be careful
where you walk!', and 'watch out for water!'
A vast and treacherous schoolbus plods by -
driven by a demon, loaded by a witch. The
late-afternoon schoolcode kids are jammering :
the cyclic utterings of madness, corralled and
approved. 'This is what we give you now for
children; hordes, and hoarders, alike.
I invite no one into my space, let alone will
I share my water on this great desert hike.


Here the fly on the flower petal dies.
Autumn begins the beleaguering mess.


We hold the screen, and the tiniest things
slip through. Like Lawrence of Arabia,
taunting the sky, my harsh face is a
grimace of pale determination.


Let's demand an Article 5, let's demand 
new sunlight, let's demand a day in the 
dark, let's get this stuff rolling on time. 
We can hang the big guy upside-down, 
only later. Make sure the train whistles 
blow, get those agriculture guys in proper 
order, straighten up these horrid fields
that big guy's riding through.


As if a backwards dictionary entry, I stand about
with one shoe idling, look for the marks the cat
left on my skin. This life is a rigor mortis already.
And most people tell me I'm not even done yet.
You mean? You mean? More New Year's Eves
with those buggers and hats, streamers and glasses?
Yoy mean? You mean, cocktails at eight and oil 
changes and lawn cuttings and thickets of theaters 
and shows? If I can't have it any other way, and if
it's all the same to you, let's just have the theater close.
Some people tell me there's a glory train coming, with
my seat prepared and headed right for the sky.
('My bags is a'packed, I's'a ready to ride.
Oh me. Oh my!)...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


So many people have come and gone : some cashed
out, others walked away, while still others have died
of fever or the plague. I want to say I knew something
of all this, but I didn't really know a thing.
Standing by your sink now, I'm watching the faucet leak
drip. Very pretty drops of water, scattering as they hit.
It's a very pleasant sensation which I don't think is
seen or felt by many people. They'll buy white noise-
ocean sounds for their comfort to relax, but when this
comes about they just get nervous instead.
Oh boy, do I want to tell them a few things.


When we come home I remove
my shoes; you sit back and 
enjoy a snack  -  dog-treat
watermelon milk-bone waffle. 
What a gracious life you lead.

7353. TIED ON

This normal stature just is not me  -  I'm usually
tan feet tall and running free. Now, the legions 
have my shoes and all that's left is quicksand
anyway. The more I move, the more I sink in
the quagmire. Once you learn you cannot
get away, you soon enough stop trying?


A capital means of aggressive behavior  - 
her, but this, and I'll throw in that. 
Something like the sky, in a hurricane,
bringing a gift and wanting no thanks.
The blue glass is twisting the light around;
I watch tendrils on the table and cannot
figure anything out. My chapbook withers,
and my mathematics textbook is dead.
Should I feel here biblical or just strange?
Need I find a language we can speak with,
a set of words to compare? Like bringing
a gift, yes, and wanting no thanks.

7351. BELOW THE WATER LINE, pt. 56

(pt. 56)
Back when we were chasing the Masons,
as just related, it little fell to us to know the
difference. What a world it all turned out to be.
As it is, Masons themselves, in that day anyway,
(I don't know, nor do I care, about Masonry today)
were segregated  - one had to be a 'free-borne' to be
admitted. Blacks were slaves; thus, no blacks. A
roundabout way to get  racism. Then this black
fellow in Massachusetts, 'Prince Hall' was his
name, he charted a lodge but had a very hard time.
The Mother Lodge, in England, of which there were
two, eventually took sides, one or the other, and
'African Lodge' Masonry came to be. 'A. M. E.' is
what it goes by, as title. We didn't know any of this,
and these people were the result of Prince Hall and
his early, groundbreaking work. Little known to us
what we were dealing with  -  essentially a breakaway
of a breakaway, through the lineage of 'ex-slave
freedmen.' So wonderfully interesting.
See, the thing here is you'd want to probably think,
'why is he getting so far afield?', but it's not. It's the real
kind of Americana that would never have been taught to
us in either School 4 OR School 5, and that was the
representation of Avenel by which we got our knowledge.
It's vitally sad, in  a way, to be so localized. But as kids,
we managed. I have no idea what kids in Kansas or Kentucky
do, but I'd bet it's about the same. One time my friend Kenny
Lackowicz and I, we'd go home to his empty house often for
lunch  -   whatever we had, we'd just gobble it down and get
back up the street, eventually. We'd found, through some sort
of 4th grade self-chemistry, that baking soda  - which his
mother kept in the kitchen  -  would fizz up big time if
set-to with water, in whatever concentration it was. Kenny
knew all this stuff, he'd worked it out. I wasn't that way, didn't
care for formulas and prescriptions  -  anyway, he'd set up
some weird thing whereby by letting a certain amount of
water drip into something he'd set up there, it would eventually
load up with water, tip itself over, and fall the water into the
baking soda, also set up, beneath it, at which point this
big (to us) fizzing, steaming oddball pile of baking soda
muck would smoke itself off, or something. He'd had it
figured to take about 4 minutes for the cup to fill and the
smoke-a-mania to begin. We treated the entire zany idea like
we were building an atomic bomb or something. We finished
up, he set it running, the water and all, and we took off
running, high-tailing it back to school, with the knowledge
that, in some four minutes, our little baking soda bomb thing
would have set itself off inside his house. Whatever. That
was our thrill  -  I never did get there to find out what the
damages were  -  but I figure there were none. Also, one
other thing with Kenny  -  in my Kindergarten class photo,
I'm the kid in the dumb little tie and the busted up and
scabbed lower and upper lips. A day or two before the
photo date, I got whacked in the face with the swing from
Kenny's swing set in the back yard, when he launched himself
off of it at high speed  -  sort of like broad-jumping, but
swing-propelled and flying through the air. We'd measure
our landing spots off against each other. Well this time the
loose flying swing went somehow awry and smashed me
big-time, right in the face, busting up my lips and face.
So, in the picture I look just like a pugilist; somebody's
bruised sparring partner, just like my Father was once,
in old Bayonne. Yep, the apple and the tree, falling
again, not too far from one another, like they say.
It's funny how the mind remembers things. Later on, 
far past the time, I suddenly find myself remembering 

things, of no real import, from youth. The stuff I did 
yesterday, still and quite vivid, is always there, but 
this other material seems to float up, through some 
chinks or cracks in the armor, and resurface all these 
years later without any real control by me over or upon 
it. I don't feel compromised by this, it just makes me 
quite curious - what's going on, what's underway. My 
own theory (unfortunately) is that while the mind slowly 
deconstructs itself, begins falling slowly apart, it 
fragments things, sets them loose, and they somehow 
filter up and out, or whatever directional imperative the
mind uses. One of the fine uses of being a writer, after 
many years and much intent practicing of the craft - prose, 
poetry, stories, memoirs, what have you, even drawing captions - 
is that these can be savored, examined, listened to and used 
and re-crafted. It's only the idiot who loses it altogether, the 
babbling old-timer with abstracted and loose memories swiftly 
blasting off into the ether. What is this life anyway, perhaps, 
but an unconscious mixing of all these blasted-off pieces of 
 other people's life re-made into the contortions we then find 
ourselves dealing with - the meanings and definitions of our 
everyday existences. I don't know. I actually don't think it is 
so, but so what? My own memories - a different category - I 
accept and deal with. Luis Aparicio, I believe of the Baltimore 
 Orioles, about 1958, and another Aparicio, a brother, maybe 
a Ken, somewhere else, playing. The two Boyer brothers; Ken, 
a third baseman of renown for the NY Yankees in that same 
period, right up to the 60's, early, and his brother too, Ken, 
playing somewhere else. Minnie Minosa, Moose Skowren, 
\Lew Burdette, of the Pittsurgh Pirates, I think. A vicious 
World Series sometime back about then too, Pirates and 
Yankees, '58, again I don't know, where many of these 
names clashed. Some sort of epic baseball battle. Red 
Shoendienst, Ted Klazewski and Don Clendenon. Like 
baseball card hall of fame, or a gum-flat assortment 
of names and ideas, all this sticks around. I don't know 
why. Names linger. Not just baseball either. Bernard 
Baruch, Adlai Stevenson, dying on the street in London,
 I think; Robert Lowell, dying in a taxicab, I think. Hemingway, 
blowing his brains out. Christine Keeler, some British 
sex scandal, John Profumo. It's a riot. It's upon everything - 
my own life a wild, blown-out assortment of abstracted 
names and beings seen only by a child, but somehow 
absorbed. Marianne Moore at her endless Mets games. 
I could go on; but I'll simply stop myself right here. I'm 
sure you too have your own lists. It's like, as a youngster 
sick in my parent's bed and home from school for some 
days, I'd drag down the huge family bible, all those glossy 
and idealized pictures and stories, and get to portions of 
Genesis and other places which were nothing but lists 
and lists of names and begots and begats. I never 
understood that stuff; wanted to jump and run. But I 
can see the precise, infantilism involved just as much 
as not. A determination to make valid the claims and 
lineages of the people within the story the narrative of 
which you were trying to control. One has to show 
 complete and exact mastery of name and place and 
subject in order to make convincing twaddle instead 
of just twaddle. I read once where novelists, it was 
 said, go through old graveyards finding names for 
their characters. Maybe that's true, there are some 
good ones and some ordinary ones too - but mostly 
they are, in fact, pretty dated. I can't remember the 
last 'modern' book I read with a character named, 
say, Jedediah, though there is Jedediah Purdy to 
reckon with, even if he's not a 'character'. Maybe 
a run through old baseball rosters would work just 
as well. Except for the weird nicknames, things 
like Pee Wee and Speedy and Gopher and Lick.
I always sort of lived my life outside of definitions, 
 and I never knew why. It wasn't the sort of thing 
I could put my finger on. When people died, I never 
missed them. I could never get involved with people's 
 illnesses or sorrows. Just didn't matter to me, wasn't 
real, had no 'necessity'. As a youngster I could blow 
all that off, run right by it; but later on as I grew older 
I started wondering about it, why it as so. I may have 
mentioned already - I actually do forget - by one time 
I somehow managed to say something to my father 
like 'all the good people are dead', or something like 
that. He'd asked who it was that I had regard for, or 
something. He couldn't figure that out at all, but he 
too just let it go. What I meant to say was that it 
seemed to me that any people of real import - the 
ones with the 'ideas' and things by which we'd built 
society, had already all long ago died. He sort of took 
it as an affront to those living, as if I was beholden to 
them, I was duty-bound to respect and select someone 
from among the living with whom to gauge the bywords 
 of my time. He always took everything wrong, and got 
offended by everything, or so it seemed. And maybe, 
just as well, I always said everything wrong. Anyway, 
I hated the world and just wanted to run and hide - 
which is sort of how I ended up in the seminary.
When I got there, everything seemed different. 
It seemed sacred and holy, secretive and quiet, 
reserved and reclusive. It seemed, at the least, to 
be a place which allowed and expected an interior 
life and gave over long periods of time for which to 
have that happen. I'd never seen that anywhere else. 
All the other fictive stuff of which we were supposed 
to believe and fall all over ourselves with, that was 
okay, doing all that was easy enough and passable. 
It was a trade-off that never bothered me. I'd never 
seen anyplace else that didn't mind if you went inside, 
way inside, yourself - and they'd allow you to use any 
excuse of 'religious' purpose to get away with it. It was 
 like a philosophy book always open - no one knew what 
I was ever 'really' thinking; they all just figured I was 
within the program and thinking all that crap through. 
Fact was, I couldn't have cared less for all that rosary 
and Holy Mary and sacred heart and Jesus the Savior 
stuff. They were always going on about something - 
downright pitiful and stupid mostly - but I could just let 
it roll through me without too big a fuss. And it wasn't 
even that I was thinking of girls - that wasn't so difficult 
to forget about, even though I did think about them, in 

a simple way. What can you expect when this place was
way out in the sand-woods of a faraway pineland and 

there'd be girls' underwears and bras and stuff hanging 
from trees, as I did already mention, signifying some local 
boy's Saturday night car-conquest of some girl's virtue. 
The rules of the boy's clubs were that you hung her 
panties on a branch of the tree where you'd had her. 
Weird, frightful custom, but, whatever. I guess some 
girls just brought spares since they already knew this 
stuff was going to happen. We track-team runners and 
meditative walkers and wanderers through the woods, 
or at least me, had a hard enough time figuring out the 
'virgin' in Virgin Mary, and then that difficulty was 
compounded by these spectacles defaming all our 
ideas of what was really 'Life' and its Godly happenings. 
What a bungle it all was. And then, to make it worse, 
we'd have to learn about the 'Passion' of Christ and 
recite 'ejaculations' - what the hell? 
What was a kid to do?