Wednesday, August 31, 2016


The steam train runs it backwards : 
over and over again, it seems. My paltry
lily is in your hands once more.

8586. OK NOW

OK now, what I really want to
say cannot be said : there's a
mischief table at the heart of
this world, at the center of 
this Earth, in the soul of this
place. Those Hollywood kids
come here, late at night, washing
the dribble from off their glasses.
They bring their girlfriends along.
I know what goes on, even though
they're stupid enough to think I
don't. I wasn't born yesterday - and
I may be dumb, but I ain't blonde.
I wonder, is that how that goes? 
They each drive shiny cars, and 
I can see this world reflected 
off the surfaces. I think, truly, 
that's the thing they miss  -  that
all this world is that, nothing 
but shiny surfaces with things
reflected. They move around
and then disappear. The world 
is an image of itself, neither far, 
nor near. It just is. Doesn't matter
how many stickers you've got
on your car : college names,
pithy slogans, parking decals.
They're all going away, and sooner
than you'd ever imagine if I had to ask.
If I had to ask, you couldn't say.
But that's OK now, that's OK.


So the mad judge said, coming down
on me. 'At least it's not destitution,'
I said. 'At least not yet.' He wrote
something down. 'At least it's not 
desertion, or nutrition.' Everyone
agreed, but the were still writing
things down. I went home with a
scar on my Adam's Apple. Guilty
of incision? Hey! Maybe that was 
it. No one ever got back to me.
On Marmicoe Street, Landow's
Tree Service was cutting down
trees. A real dis-service, I thought.
But who would know in this day
and age. Their big white truck
has jumped the curb.
Over by the Quick-Chek, the guy
who was eating a sandwich stood
up. Stood up quickly, like it was
an emergency. I couldn't see
anything, but then I saw he had
his phone  -  that was some way 
he used, oddly, of emphasizing
what he'd said. The person on
the other end, of course, couldn't
see, but I did. I guessed the listener
was supposed to get the idea that
he'd really meant business on that 
one. But how would he know 
he'd just stood up? 
A lot of this modern life befuddles 
me; and I don't even do a lot of 
things  -  just mostly hang around, 
thinking, watching all this mischief
take place. Reading Shakespeare in
the car, at lights. I think that's all
been outlawed now. Distracted
Driving, is the phrase they use.
Like Distracted Living has never
been enough. 
So, the crazy judge, he just sat back
down; expects me to care? I call it 
an institution. The infraction of 
traction in a modern day of life.
You heard that? I'm standing up.
While. He's. Sitting. Down.


162. LET'S EAT
I was never untrammelled
or disjointed. Odd words,
right? I tried walking straight,
even when the woe of the
roads was all crooked. Some
things I'd just notice, and
they'd strike me funny, or
as a pose, or they'd stay
with me. It sill happens:
like Tom Wolfe noting,
'It was said that a British
Gentleman could steal your
underwear, your smalls and
skivvies and knickers, and
leave you staring straight
at him asking if he didn't
think it had turned rather
chilly all of a sudden.' See
what I mean  -  a general
tone of nonsense and
nothing, but something is
actually there as well.
You do get the picture.'
Like some old Laurel and
Hardy routine in my head:
And oh how I used to dislike
those guys; I could never
find anything funny in their
humor, and that skinny guy,
Laurel, I guess, the with long
look and that wretched face
and expression, things always
going wrong  -  helplessness,
neediness. No way funny. It
used to drive me up the wall,
much as did the chubby guy's
smug superiority and triumph
and slow burns. Ugh. At ten
years old, I'd be going to see,
like, 'Rocket To Mars' or some
other movie, and I'd have to
sit through, first, one or two
shorts by those two monkeys.
Enough to rip up the seat in
the dark. I'd be wrankled :
'Everything you don't want
to be; dumb, stupid, etc.' I
had to look that up, thinking
maybe I'd coined it or something,
but evidently the word exists.
When I got to Pennsylvania,
the entire world was different.
Number one was the fact that
there, in PA, everyone looked
at you, or in this case everyone
looked at me, not you. I'd never
been in a place where, as in a
dog-pack or among wolves, the
interloper, the new face, was
immediately under suspicion
and scrutiny. It was, yes,
annoying and awkward at
first, but then I realized that it
was, actually, great, just what
I'd want. Like the mob guys,
always out front guarding the
clubhouse on Mulberry or
Sullivan Street in the city,
nothing got past. Of course,
all I had to do was work my
way in, among these people,
and I did that, starting right off.
First night I got there, I arrived
with my car about to blow up
and running on a bare three
cylinders. I went right to work,
asking about, and got a neighbor
guy of mine as a preferred
reference for quick-repair 
mechanical work on the car, and
right there out of his home
garage too. I just knocked on
his back door, said 'Willard
Brown sent me over,' (he was
the guy I had bought the
house from and who had
told me to go 'see Kenny'),
and hit it off with this guy,
and his rather nicely tawdry,
very dry-witted, wife. They
were like, maybe 39 or 40,
to my 24, say, but it hardly
mattered. She was still
'hot' and playful, as they
say, and the guy Ken, he
was an amazingly astute
mechanical wiz, with a
gift for just homing onto
the task at hand. Had me
all fixed up in some three
hours, mostly which had
been spent breaking the ice
and mentally moving in among
them, to be part. I knew my
stuff and what I had to do to
get packed in  -  play a little
dumb here, a little worldly
and wise there, a bit nasty,
a bit nice. It was all falsity,
but I knew what was up. I
was passing muster, and I
guess I did; two days later,
everybody around was cool
with me. That meant, first, I
could be left alone as needed,
but, second, no one would
really hesitate to come my
way either  -  I'd get offers
of help with this or that,
trade tasks. I started hanging
around Warren's barn, learned
all about Ken's family and kin
(they too were mostly all still
around there, in the hideaway
spaces, houses way back
somewhere, ekeing it out).
Warren was great too, about
everything  -  neighboring
farmer, etc. Use the tractor,
take the truck, whatever. I
started playing a real good
L'il Abner, and no one
laughed me off again,
New Jersey/New York
City or not. That might
have been cool, but it
was all important too.
The less to chance, the
better. It was only to
my imaginings maybe,
but I figured still that
at any minute some
'federale' or FBI guy or
 State Police could be
pulling onto my dirt
road in his dusty black
car with some paperwork
in hand to take me back
with him. Now I had a
frontline defense, at least
- or so my paranoia-thought
went. Yeah, a little too
much drama there, but
I wasn't about to be
going with no one.
Uncle Remus, Song of the
South, all that. Everything
began to be represented in
my outlook. I was in new
land. There was so much
richness and so little of it
was taken in by those who
lived there. I go back there
now, sad to say, and at the
top of what once had been
'my' hill  -  wasn't of course,
but it all ended at my dirt
road   -  was a small, fenced
cemetery, from Civil War
days and before. It had been
unused and sort of closed
off long ago by a nice,
spiked, iron fence.  However,
right there now  -   much to my
surprise  -  it's been re-opened,
widened, even, and put back
to use  -  and all these guys
I'm talking about are in there.
Buried. First time I saw it, I
near-abouts wanted to cry.
And I did some, at least
teared-up. Names, wives,
and some sons and daughters
too. Newer style stones, some
even with the crazy, modern
graphics on them  -  etchings
of sun-rays onto barns and
onto tractors. Pretty crazy;
but they're there; including
Kenny, the wrench-wizard
guy I just wrote of.
These people all ate well too,
there was a big, mid-day meal
everyday, plus breakfast and
some evening meal when they
could get to it. Farm-chores are
on a schedule all their own,
and sort of can't be altered or
pushed off. If the cows aren't
properly milked, two times
a day, like 6 am and 6pm,
roughly, there can be real
consequences. They can
develop mastitis, which
can be deadly. They need
to be milked because they're
always producing milk and if
the udders are not drained it
all backs up, hardens, the
mammary gland, bag, bloats,
and some real sickness occurs.
Miserable, sad, leaky cows,
wailing in pain. So, food
and the regular idea of
food-time for people
takes second place. The
big meal is in the center
of the day, like 1pm,
because that's the time
between chores, when
there's a tiny space
for something. Big meals
were never anything I
cared about; still don't. 
I'd rather eat in tidbits, 
whenever, or not. One 
thing I learned from
the streets is how 
engrained by habit
eating is. It's really 
not needed  -  to the
great, bullshit, extent 
it's pushed now, I mean.
Whoever started that 
'three square-meals a
day' stuff is full of shit 
(literally too). I think
they just heard it all 
wrong and, like idiots,
carried through on it 
all under wrong impressions 
and erroneous information. 
Because of it? Just look 
around you  -  everybody's 
way over done, chubby 
and fat all together, pasty,
and always prowling about
nervously for more food.
Instead of 'three' meals a 
day', it's really more like  -  
and I speak from experience  -  
every three days. That's 
pretty much it. With some 
training and mental discipline, 
you can bring yourself  -  
anyone  -  down to that. Eat 
something every third day, 
you'll be fine, and happier 
and lighter for it, and thinking 
more clearly too. Trust me. 
I've done it, and still try to 
now, but mostly don't. It's all 
mental  -  you can train your
body to live on anything , 
and draw nutrition from it. 
Everything is in everything  -  
all that dietary stuff is crap. 
Again, it's all mental. All life 
is.  Get over your attitudes 
about it, and live. All this 
eating just taxes your system,
way overworks organs and
things, becomes expensive, 
and turns into style and 
pride anyway. Every five 
months it's some new, 
stupid chef, some trendy
new food or 'diet' (anything
but), or some super-saturated
crap supposedly ancient and
great for you. Don't be stupid,
just shut your pie-hole, don't 
eat, don't fill with toxins and
factory chemicals, don't be a
fool and, for God's sake, get
away from sugar, in all its
evil, corporate-food forms.
You really ought to eat like
a cow (learned that on the 
farm)  -  masticate, slowly,
standing in one place, like
it's a big, boring chore, staring
straight out, and make it last.
(Learned that on the farm too).


I am solicitous of everything about you:
the buy sell return and use. Get that?
It puts me in a real tight corner, having
nothing to sell but calling myself that.
Where's the corner for this Coleman 
Lantern and all that bright light it
throws? I need some information.
How dwells the infant in its cradle?
Where goes the wagon when it leaves
at night? How many wise men did it 
take to decide there'd be only three?
I grew up in the sticks. I learned my
lessons all on the sly : mountain dragons
and tanker cars, a junkyard, where the kids
played cards. I never left my shouldered 
burden for a minute untended. Maybe that 
is my problem, the way  the Lord intended. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Nothing but the hat brings this fine
boat home : a regatta, and cheerless
howls. The fashion of worms, now
a dictate of fashion. Liz is off to
Kentucky again.
Spoken burdens are the things of
bad speeches : enunciate all your
superlatives, please.  Edgar Alan
Poe was here, just drinking. Now
he's left again. He likes to walk
these treeless streets.
Burnt-candle offerings at either end;
but I cannot send a pledge to your
Mesopotamian efforts. All things 
are my dirge these days, and
people are walking off.


Betting on the ruins.
The chalice of time.
All that; nothing left.


When I got to Columbia
Crossroads, a few years
later, it was like a big
cleansing, a wash-out,
a cleaning of my soul.
By design. I realized it
all had become intolerable
and that the New York City
noose was beginning to leave
marks on my neck : there
were two dead hippie
bodies with which I wanted
nothing more to do. My
draft-resistor lounge-
underground railway
stop for those on the
way to Canada had
been raided. Everything
and everybody had been
carted away. The place, as 
I returned to it, was police 
taped. I had nothing.
509 east 11th Street,
by necessity, had to
become dead to me, as
did all the people, on the
on the above floors and
below. Anti-Vietnam rage
and fury, fires and flames,
were everywhere. Bomb
factories, guns and
hideouts. The Studio
School was it  - all I had
and all I wanted, but even
then I knew it was too
close. I somehow knew,
or my inside voice told
me, that to become what
I wanted, I had to flee.
I needed, once again, to
almost fictionalize my life
and come back with a
different character to
represent me. Short of
being one of those old
noir-movie guys who get
their fingerprints burned
off and some facial
reconstruction done, so
as to become new and
'invisible'. Once again, I
needed to rebuild. I wanted
to stay within myself, yes,
and remain authentic, but
some new and finer tuning
was due. I bought a map
and found an area in
northeastern Pennsylvania
that seemed sparse, lots of
white space between town
names on the map, and called
the phone company and they
sent me (pretty cool) phone
books for the three places
I mentioned. (Bentley Creek,
PA., Elmira NY, and Canton/Troy
PA, which ran down as far as
Williamsport). Everything was
pretty perfectly a nice enough
250 miles away. One of them,
Elmira, NY, just over the border,
had three big print shops listed.
I casually and innocently wrote
to them about employment, one
of them answered, gave me an
appointment for an interview,
and  -  blindly proceeding  - I
went there and was hired for
a sometime 'future' date, as
quickly as I could be ready.
(Odd, lucky, liberal break,
yes. This guy was actually
going to 'hold open' a job
for me, until I could get
there to rightly catch up to
it!). The guy, Floyd White,
who 'hired' me said he did
so because he himself had
'done pretty much the same
thing 25 years or so previous
in leaving Plainfield, NJ
and setting out blindly for
places unknown,' in his
case Elmira, then a
more-thriving little city,
where he'd successfully
started a business, Whitehall
Printing and Mailing, (his
wife's name was Marge Hall,
thus 'Whitehall' Printing, the
combined name). What kind
of gift was all this? Of course,
he only got the most skimpy
version of my own story. Then
a real search began for a place
to live. I wanted deep country,
I wanted isolation, and I got it.
I've told this story before  -
in one of these books I've
written here  -  about the old
walnut grove, the tombstone
etcher guy's place, the Parmenter
farm, etc. (More info can be
forthcoming, I guess. If you care,
ask, or I'll get to it all sometime).
It has to pop up again of its
own accord, as all this boils.
I don't much write by design,
in fact I'm probably crazy
enough to just go with whatever
flows here, as things arise
and come through; if
redundant and over again,
I just tweak a bit and add or
remove factors from the
tale. It's all quite lovely. I've
got a God in the sky, and it's
a Word-God who really works
with me.
Soon enough, anyway, I got
a house, 12 acres, a big
gigantic barn, outbuildings,
etc., a monstrous, crazy place.
I had just enough money for
a small down payment and
a mortgage, from when I
was creamed by the train
on Rahway Avenue in 1958
-  from which I was never
supposed to recover, but
la-de-dah!, here still I was,
and back again, and still
'spinning records.' Moved in,
got started at this Whitehall'
place, and it all settled in
eventually : quiet,
unassuming, I looked
totally different, shorn
and clean, even got
muscular and chubby
a bit. The weird thing
was, really, now, my head
was in a far different
place, still. I was at
heart a writer and artist,
that was never going to
change. It was the way
I saw things, simply  -
and with no alteration.
And I couldn't change that
anyway. These people had
completely no understanding
or awareness of any of that,
about me or about those
concepts in general. Art
to them was a velvet clown
face or a stylized horse, a
bunch a balloons in a vase.
That was fine, because from
their side they had it all over
me in the other directions:
beautiful, clean, white
spaces, wonderful rooms,
the stillness of country
living, placid days and
nights of an ordered and
lemonade-scented, existence.
Compared to any of that,
I was a twisted mumble.
No matter how hard anyone 
ever tries to escape themselves,
it's fairly impossible. We are
what we were meant or put here
to be, and there's no altering 
those fingerprints or noses.
The more I tried to get away, the
more the authentic me would come
back from the core, to the outer shell.
A strange, but good, feeling.
The hard days and the 
calm nights were just 
beginning. This real 
country-living was 
such an eye-opener. 
It startled. I lived next 
to a cornfield, something 
I'd never seen before. 
By mid-June that first 
year, the corn was already 
head-high and beginning 
to 'tassel out'. I loved that
phrase  -  farmers taught it 
to me, when the corn plants 
get that little hairy growth 
that flows out and later 
surrounds the actual corn 
cob. It's a weird, long, 
hairy-wet bunch of strands.
Really cool. The rows of 
cornplants make noise in 
the wind, the tassels blow 
and make a whisper, the
plants sway and blend, and 
their certain 'stiffness' makes 
a tweak and a rigid noise 
all their own, sometimes
almost metallic-sounding.
Animals run between the 
long rows, things try and 
grow, cornplants take 
different heights, the
dryer areas remaining low, 
the stalks in the better 
moisture really thriving. 
Ears of corn everywhere.
That's cattle-corn, not people 
corn, and there's a real 
difference. You don't 
want to eat cattle corn.
Those fields and the 
acreage around me, even 
the unplanted and the 
wooded, and the  ponds 
and the meadow, it all 
went together to bring 
to me a new somewhere, 
totally. My body was 
sound, but my heart 
was in pieces and my 
mind was all over. I so 
wanted all this, and 
kind of knew I could 
manage it, but still, yes, 
there was a void of sorts. 
I guess just the 'city' void 
for what I'd gotten used to, 
the things I used to see and 
do. All gone, right off the 
map. This was aprons, cows, 
and daisies and doilies, 
compared to all that.