Tuesday, February 28, 2017


After that I got pretty sick again for a while and at least for two weeks struggled around with a fever and blisters on my lips and face and I tried simply to lay low - staying days on end in the basement spot I'd taken below the Studio School mansion just reading books and reading some more and never really moving except to get something now and then to eat or drink and I didn't much even walk around which was a real switch for me - but time it passed and I recovered and getting my sails back was like being Christopher Columbus having everything and ready and steady and all good to go I wanted to rule the world and when first I poked my head back out it was March and I felt like the groundhog too late for its own party and said instead 'to Hell with Winter this is the Now!' and I ducked back in and got to work and if a groundhog could duck I guess I did that too and all down along Eighth Street it seemed like nothing had changed and really it was only a few days no matter that the French and German kids next door were still piddling around in their leather walk pants and breezy cool French fabrics and they wore hiking boots as rugged as an Alps hill-top and I wanted to walk right over to them and just say 'Hi! I lived and I've made it through and here I am again out the other end' but I didn't know how to say it right in any other language and it even sounded too weird in this one so instead I decided I just wanted to kiss that French girl in a most happy way and lo though she glanced and smiled I didn't and international relations as it were be damned forever and those Youth Hostel* kids I must now forget  -  it was so long ago  -  and there are times when young that a person fears the old fears to be amidst those past the age one experiences for oneself but now I can see it all so differently for they have somewhere somehow aged along with me as well and it's really all the same in the end and I hope they're still alive somewhere and if some few of them are not then bless them by their God as well and if they all are still among the living perhaps then we shall all roll out together.
*1967, American Youth Hostel was right next door to me, and back then operated as a way-station, stay-over hotel of sorts for the kids from Europe, college-age mostly, travelling the USA that Summer. Bicycle, back-packs, hikers and wanderers proliferated right there, in a very informal setting.


I really don't seek allegiance,
it's more like a tendency of 
doubt I want to ask about : 
are you sure all these things
are here which you say are 
here? Otherwise, it's just a
hall of mirrors with faces
laughing back.

9229. FURY

One time my father snuck me through the
gate; we were going to a fire, watching
Staten Island burn. All those oil tanks
and gas flares, something abandoned
had blown up and there were wild
flames everywhere. I could see his
face in the dark red light of the new
black night  - that was no longer
black at all but white. I remember,
at age seven astounding myself at
how I could feel the waves of
billowing heat as that warmed 
along my cheeks, as if the sides
of my face were parts of the fire.
I can't remember where he parked or
how, or why we went or the length of
time we stayed. It must have meant
something to him, and though we 
talked I can't remember a thing. Is
there a point when a force of this
sort becomes a delivering element
for a man entrapped by his own life?
Maybe so, and maybe that's why he'd go.
And bring me along, I guess, just to then
witness his projected fury. I never said
a thing. Just took it in, and learned.
My life was never quite the fury his
became, and, though I may have had
my moments, I never burned. I never 
flamed in such disastrous fashion  -  to
where I had to get away, to where I
needed to see what the fire was like.
By contrast, I'm peaceful;
my soul is all right.


Getting to this life is the easy part :
card games and paradigms, diagrams
and graphs. I got all that within a week,
all down pat. I fell in love with the time
to be. Once recognized, twice shy. You
see? All that goes, like a bad reputation
preceding a thief, like a handler of wagon
horses who doesn't know a thing 'cept
how they whinny and how they sing.
It's a monstrous circumference, this crazy
globe. From the Aral Sea to the Plains
of Abraham, I take what's fit to come
to me, whatever you send or your
judgment be. A cavalcade of Alamos
or a mass of messy Masada's, It's
all okay, it's all okay. 

Monday, February 27, 2017



And I'm sitting on a train watching the land go by me with every hillock and rivulet passing in the light as the vague sun comes up over the horizon in oranges and yellows and reds and the entire scene is crushed by a certain vulnerability which seems to come from the heart and a sadness too which permeates the light and the awakening fields which seem forsaken and forlorn and ripped and neglected as the old industrial foundations now ruined and abandoned too are overgrown with broken weeds and choppy sumacs and twisty winter vines with wiry shrubs of a wild nature and all this while distant houses - set in a row - in whites and greens and yellows and reds can be seen in lines and formations where once these old woods had extended but now are gone : small waterways and sudden pockets of marsh and water in pools are all that are left and only then because they couldn't be drained so as to be built on and it's a sorry world to see so much gone so much removed and taken away like that but this same world runs by me at speed as the train I sit in whizzes over whatever once may have been and cuts through trees which once were and old paths and lanes too now gone and different overlays enact different scenes to the lands and places we pass : once here an armaments factory for WWI and over there an old automobile plant now long gone while to the right the landscape and garden sheds of some hardware emporium coat the land with limes and nitrogens in bags not yet broken apart as the train whistle howls for something and we approach another stop - where distant people wait and hunch with their bodies tribal and overwhelmed with everything they live - three men in suits and newspapers on their arms a woman carrying a basket and a girl pulling luggage and a bag while the conductor surveys his scene and waves his arms in the quiet morning light only now just awakening into some figment of real life - some imagined leap into an imagined reality we all seem so sure of as we walk and settle upon : this Earth - it is thought - knows us enough forever to continually invite us in and back and we fall for the invitation so willingly each time - to what should we owe the honor ? this rumination this new cycle of thought ?


It's only like this once : when the
dark sky pounds like a headache
and the searchers seek silence. Two
feet past the cabin, I turn to look
back. A line of old fir trees watches.
Forty years ago, when I was a young
man, I thought I had control; but
found nothing continues past nothing.
I still hunt Orion in the nighttime sky,
yet it is he who is still hunting too.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


With the furnace yet running they set off to garner enough fuel to continue it so and these basement floods were sometimes more of a pain than anything else but they had to be dealt with for these guys were heavy workers and they knew pretty much just what to do  -  a few more old beams taken from the site being demolished on 9th whether they were coated or not with pitch-pine or tar they'd burn well enough and the rest of the building no matter the wet in the basement could at the least remain something like warm and no one here really cared anyway for there were but a loom and a cutter and the rest now was open floor-way where the sculptor played and the only use for an old abandoned building such as this could be for the taking and the use all other industry having moved out and that's what artists were for anyway  -  use of auspicious space whether legal or not so on it all went and this guy was a broad metal sculptor welding and flaming and cutting and torching so everything had to be watched carefully just in case and the three floors above them were also empty except when people came in to sleep but no one could really live there without water or any further heat especially in this January time but even though that was so people came so they just tried to keep this crazy burning flame fire going in a protected metal pit they'd dropped into the massive wood floor  -  if a fire marshal or anybody in the know like ever came back yeah there'd be a problem bu nothing another hundred bucks couldn't fix they hoped or booze or even a woman for a while and the only law in 1970 was that Soho had no laws everything was abandoned and falling in and if you could get something you should take it  - space place room to work living quarters and the rest the street here had little going on it was amazing what was left  -  and all these grand ancient buildings of brick stone steel and metal had factory windows gigantic street fronts heavy-load floors loading ramps and the rest but everything was gone and vacant with not even a shoe factory left and just rats running 'round it may have been harsh but it was easy too - there was no law and what there was just wound up looking the other way and the real estate guys they were already Long Island mangled and used their decrepit abandoned holdings as loss-holdouts and never much cared except when they had to especially about titles and liens and  insurance stipulations but again all of that could be paid off just another notch up the payoff scale and that's what these guys did for their living anyway  -  money rolling all over the place and things bought and sold for their potential loss as much as for any potential profit and with mob guys needing space and sometimes mob guys needing place to hide or to beat or to cut up other mob guys and get them out this was all great stuff and if they had to have it go down well then it'll go down just try and get the people out first okay and that's what we do the best these sorts of tasks and we can burn pretty precisely just right where and what we want but please just get the people out first I don't care what they say or object to but I won't knowingly start anything unless the people are out first and I have to know that so it's all ready if you say so and once I light this it should take about 3 minutes maybe to run the course and widen out to fan the spread and start climbing the two walls there first and then when the glass blows out that too should perfectly fan the rear corner to more evenly spread the flame over the area I soaked and  -  be sure the people are out  -  I'm gone.


That's me, and that's the way I'll keep it.
Ain't saying much, really. You don't know
me any more that I know myself and I keep
surprising that me with myself, in fact. One
hundred new secrets a minute unfold.
Like Carson McCullers who said, in
her inimicable southern drawl, "Did
ya see my lovely play? Did ya lahk
muh lovely play? Am Ah gonna win
the Pew-litzer prahzz?"
And then, to top it all off, she added:
"Since ah do not unahstand 'Who Ah 
am,' I only know what Ah am not."


The name is backward, but that's how they
read it off  -  from a list, in alphabetic order,
last name first. Danny Hoelle was the real
name. His father was a lingerie merchant,
and his mother had all the money. Her
family name was 'Marchant,' but never
used it. Danny Marchant Hoelle?
This whole doing the future routine was
his idea. He'd invent things, and then he
also invented his own patent office, to
approve them. Yes, all true. The problem
was, then he invented his own reality,
in which to work all these things through,
and they took him away at that point.
As an old TV show used to have it : 
'One Step Beyond.' He had cars that 
would turn into trees with cavities
in them where you step out and enter.
Whatever you wished, he said, that's
what you entered, and he said some
never came back.
I always figured that was tricky;
if not manslaughter, then kidnapping
for sure. But then again, after we talked,
he'd have me convinced of the very same
thing, about Life itself. So weird.

Saturday, February 25, 2017


Housing the homeless and sweeping
the floors, love grows like a carpenter's
hammer in a like-minded store : the
sort of place an old pick-up truck
rattles into. Buying seed-stock,
some old varmint limps in and
says nothing. Everyone nods
and knows who he is. That's
what I want to be too. To
be like Dettmer. Me.


I thought maybe once of getting a tattoo to read 'Beyond Everything Lies Everything Else' but thought better of it because I found they charged by the letter and then I thought maybe BELEE would do but that made little sense and back in those days only sailors or Coney Island freaks had real tattoos and anyone else who maybe did was just somebody's wartime father who got one in Ceylon or something when he was out there in WWII and then came home with it whether it was a star a slogan an anchor or some shining babe in the moonlight and no one ever talked about them because it was all still raw  -  even on Inman Avenue where dads sat around in the Summer evenings spraying the lawns with the water hose from the porch-star seat and if they had on one of those sleeveless tee-shirt things you'd see it but knew better to ask and I always figured every tattoo  -  like a scar really  -  has a story behind it.
One that I found stays with me now but it's a story not a tattoo – it’s a crazy man I know who loses everything he touches can’t find anything nor recall what it was he was just about to do but together it’s all sort of the opposite of that which you’d think – the crazy man so bent and intent on getting his twisted shape done that only his single-mindedness keeps him to it going forward with intent and missing nothing never dropping a beat on his way to getting that done upon which he’s become so crazed – but it’s not like that ACTUALLY it’s the opposite in so many ways SO I lose my way I falter and forget I stumble in madness and walk into things and bruise broken doorways over and over with my head (well well if you know what I mean EVERY SCAR HAS A STORY) : “LOVE TRUTH and expect to be found out – LOVE just stay benighted and give everything you know for what I know about you YOU’VE GOT TO HIDE” and it’s all a recipe for disaster anyway and everything dies but won’t go away and we crowd our poor selves with memory and hurt and we walk sideways to every stupid holiday or celebration we dream up and – like someone just recently said to me – ‘I didn’t want to fall asleep last night I fought it every inch because I was afraid I would die and then when I woke up this morning I wouldn’t get out of bed because I wanted to die’ and maybe I suggested something (for really I’ve forgotten) someone else brought up therapy (which I thought was really rotten) and then later that same day I saw the bedraggled man walking with his strange head down through the rows of the flea market as if looking for something he’d forgotten but knew not to exist (and yes yes even I shared those sentiments with him or at least imagined I did) and the big-girl flower matrons were selling plugs and bulbs and the swarthy Arab carpet-crooks were pushing rolls of rugs and carpets lined with lions or ancient floral patterns of two virgins entwined in lust while lambs watched from innocent sides and the seedy guys from Bellport sold filthy lighters and cigarette cases crusted with nudes and the high-priestess of doom was reading her Tarot cards to anyone who’d listen and incense boomed from loudspeakers spent and over there were old shoes SOLD BY A GENT just released from prison (he’d said) for killing his sister and burying her head - but whatever I knew it all to be crap I watched this poor man as he walked and what was once meant to be a ‘statement’ on his arm - a tattoo of a dripping dagger held in the fist of a shuddering heart - was now just a tired old bruise on his bony old shoulder some place where vanity had punched him hard and the ache lingered on and yeah yeah MAYBE he looked like someone you once had to ‘reckon’ with – strong as a stallion fast and ornery – yet now he looked bedraggled fitful and worn walking lost with his tight black tee-shirt rolled up to show who he was but he’s ONLY another tired old man picking up broken tools and putting them back – HIS HEART GONE SOFT AND BLUE WITH STORIES.


Over and over again, 
the idea of passing pain 
groups me like a burlap 
sack. I hesitate to amplify
the sound I make. This 
acoustic crap has got to 
be better. All around, all
around  -  lanterns light 
nothing but darkness, 
while darkness seeks
nothing but light.


9219. YOUR 'THEN' WAS MY 'NOW', (nyc, 1967-8):
Everywhere I went there was already something to regret but I just kept plodding on past the factory-nurseries where they kept the kids orphans and disowned and forgotten about YEAH that did still happen in 1967 they'd end up in places like the New York Foundling Hospital on 16th and Sixth Ave., maybe 17th, I can't remember, by some soup kitchen around the corner at St. Francis Xavier Church - a really massive looking but sensibly small church from way back - where if you looked the part at all  - really easy for me  -  you could get a good meal handed out for free but first you had to pray and get prayed at and listen to a little bit of something they always said but it wasn't so bad and it wasn't like most people didn't believe anyway  -  in at least a part or all of that stuff and there were always whiskery and cigarette-choked guys lined up and standing around  -  not too many boozers though - I don't think they tolerated that  -  or females either and the only ones there I ever did see were one that would be dressed like men anyway and you couldn't never tell the difference and no matter because seeing a really sad and homeless female woulda' just made me sad and hurtful anyway so I put up with all that but I hated the hymns and anyway I can't sing in that real 'song' way worth a darn so why should my voice anyway insult the heavenly ears of whatever was above ? and I figured we all got something in life we're not good at and that was mine  -  I used to more enjoy actually  -  instead of just waiting in line  -  to go upstairs into the church itself  -  there were about 20 steps of fancy marble to go up to get in and then the line of hungry guys would be stretched out below you in the fence area and that was always creepy or awkward or something all these wizened hungry eyes just waiting and staring at you  -  meaning me of course  -  going up the stairs instead but I liked it inside there they had about 1000 of those flame vigil candles always going and in all that dark light it was really nice and warming and spiritual inside they can keep their prayers but then after time and now  -  and it's really depressing  -  places like this no longer have the open flame thing and instead they have these crappy fake candles that you start after plunking down your dollar for prayer and intention and getting a starter stick this thing you click and it starts some kind of fake flame or something in a little plastic box and that hurts the most the fakeness of it all now  -  why the heck would they get rid of the open little candle things for in the same way is that what they then do with your intentions and hopes and prayers and even their God now is probably some artificial wind-up command-giver because nothing's any longer real anywhere and all they want to do is go through some false motions so you get the idea but that's all  -  no flames on the vigil candle just the IDEA of flame and I didn't now what that could mean for any future because these guys were always hungry and if you try telling them while they're holding a plain empty plate and after doing all that singing and praying 'no food just the IDEA of food' you'll surely have a hungry and homeless riot on your damn hands. Funny thing about that church though because 'fire' was in their genetics and about 100 years then previous their first church on that spot burned when some fool yelled 'FIRE!' during a mass and the resultant stampede killed a bunch of worshipers and took the first structure down (though not from any fire) and they built this later and newer one pretty bizarre looking for NYC.

Nothing ever made sense to me and that was just fine because I wasn't really living between the lines of that notebook paper anyway - watching what transpired in the orderly rows and situations of the hourly determinants I'd see everyday : statues to Admiral Farragut and Benjamin Franklin did nothing to deter me from my errant ways because the only thing those guys did to my mind was highlight the perverse duplicity of all the lies and bullshit which had been peddled at me all the previous years : I knew there was no truth to the effect that rightness and work can make one FREE (there was none of that anyway) or any of that boilerplate stuff they'd throw out every Independence Day and Memorial Day all those sinecures for suckers I'd watch - the Veterans on parade all wizened and wobbly on their bad legs and broken frames and the ancient and pathetic charms of military suits and uniforms of death as they showed them off with medals and ribbons all made me puke and drool at the stupidity of these oldtimers who'd never gotten over anything except their own good sense and the armed elites of cops and soldiers and marine guards and political types filled with their own gut-level ranks of bullshit and squalor and all this everyday military bigwig stuff - General Hershey and Westmoreland and McNamara and Johnson and all the rest - just made me squint my eyes in hatred and wish them dead and twisted and burned over twice : bastards all : and yet the streets were rattled with both sides every day and placards were waved and people stormed and marched and walked all the while shouting their sides one way or the other - no alternative allowed thank you - and the nightly news made its mad-clamp dash for stardom by showing the names of the dead (I watched all this once twice too many times over public-space areas and large-screened enclosures set up as shanties and small towns for the indigent where harried hippies hung and hectored whomever passed) - it was a wild and weird world then so different from anything else and there were folk songs and speakers and preachers and the lost and the lame and those who'd 'been there' and seen the action as it went and they told tales of death and destruction and themselves maimed and twisted they groveled and cried before captive crowds and traffic was stopped and buses and taxis waited while cops kept steady lines or tried and the 'amalgamated fisticuffs of brotherhood workers' sometimes struggled with the crowd (union workers waging for wages the warfare they were told) - it was all dark and maddening and useless and bad but it seemed to go on for a very long time.


When my dog dies 
I'm gonna' take 
myself and
throw me into 
the saucepan.


The man who exalts himself will be
exalted, and the man who humbles,
will be. That's the way it always
seems to go. Red wagon, red robin,
red diaper babies. That's what
they used to call the 1940's and
50's kids who were born here
to Commie parents. Yes. Red
diaper babies. Stunning phrase,
and there's nothing really wrong
with that; they needed to be
called something. In a manner
of speaking, a James Michener
format to all we can learn. You
just make it up anyway, along
along the walking. Think of the
King who sold New York, or the
dolt who purchased Alaska. It
can be called either way  -  wise
guy, dope, or prescient genius.
Remember the French King who
sold 'Louisiana' to Jefferson for
like 25,000 dollars. It doubled
the size of the country overnight,
and they didn't even know what
to call it nor what they'd bought.
Whatever was being sold by
France. 'Unburden me, sir, of
this headache.' Okay and he did.
When I was 10, they were still
making states. I remember when
Hawaii came along. I remember
when Alaska came along. Before
that, Arizona and New Mexico
were 1912. If I said I remembered
that too you'd say I was lying.
But I do. Then we still had all
that Spanish problem stuff, getting
California and Texas, and all that.
Junipera Serra, what was up with
him? Torture-maniac monk for
Jesus, killing and maiming up
the entire west coast. Every where
he stopped and killed more than
thirty, he built a trailside mission.
Now they're mostly all booze-joints
and wineries, but California's like
that everywhere. Get a drunk on
a Chinese junk. Welcome them, as
Joan Baez used to say, when they
come to invade, with open arms
and hearts. We're saved.

Friday, February 24, 2017


Hijacked, the cars and the
wagons of the infinite. All
taken and whisked away by
a modern day. Laggard, 
spinning offshoot of the
dumb and dumber.
Boys, I can read my William
Blake and I can read it well :
the natural world's a lie, and
that is all I'll tell.
So then, you've got your ledger
books and all those little seats at
the large flat tables, so make your
plans and count your gains, at least
as long as you're able. It won't
be lasting forever, sorry friends.
The Lord throws on his vengeance 
coat, just every once in a very great
while. That time is due again, I
can tell and I can see. Not literally,
I mean more a tear in the fabric
of the real, or what we see and
all we assume. There'll be some
changes made. And it will all
come running through.



Back in these earlier days when they were still being called 'Beatnik Days' there was a concept going about (Alan Watts) which set Zen Buddhism into three distinct parts - there was 'Square Zen' the zen of the established tradition which was still foreign and forbiddingly stern somehow and which no one really wanted to adhere to and then there was 'Beat Zen' with its digging of the universe and all that - sheer caprice which almost seemed perfect for these new masses and small coteries - and finally (my most important one this final third) there was what became 'zazen' for want of a better term : 'NOTHING TO PROVE / NOTHING TO GAIN' and that's fairly where I stopped in my pursuit of perfection my slow transformation to hip my own changing of the guard (also grateful for the established and traditional rules of the zendo unquestioned which allowed one's mind freedom within the form).-
And the first words I ever heard were an almost prison-like 'hope you like it here' - 10-inch rails and the mother of kings and worn-out parsons and what Spring brings - new growth perched in trees and shafts of life cutting through soil - the sticky bright-green of a brand new leaf and the freshly moistened smell of morning air and it seemed as if everything conspired to come together at once and move the world along : magnificent murals on the walls of the museum where small groups of curious people walked along engaged in something unknown - the patter of words there too the small steps of adhesion towards understanding and realization the unwritten stories of each of their lives while ten blocks away an old woman handles melons and vegetables at an outside cart - as intent on inspecting the wares there as were the gawkers viewing the art - somehow one day I awoke in a gutter and felt I'd hit bottom and I really wanted out but couldn't bring it forth 'why die when you still can live' an inner voice said so I got up and brushed myself off AGAIN and went forward towards another round of going round - curlicue circles on the grass at old Madison Square and that old clock-tower striking something noisy in the air - Tom Paine again and Washington Irving again and Mark Twain again and Poe once more as I walked around saddled with endless woe but managed to eke out a composure worth every bit of what the city brought forth and it all just seemed always to just go on.
Some things just spring from Nature while other things are as artificial as all get-out : money I figured being one of them the why bother and the who cares all together and down by Water Street and over by Pearl or on along Wall and to Maiden Lane the only thing you'd hear was the swank-scum of money turning hands being thought about dwelt upon and piddled over like it was some great God's come-fest some orgy almighty : I was never understanding of that and hated it too while all those  small local business people along the way there I never figured how they could stay in business but they did and then I realized it was uniform and garb and all these people had to look together look alike only for a means of keeping conflict at bay : wing-tip shoes those fancy black leathers the stuffy Savile Row shirt and collars more like Servile Row to me and along with fancy rich lunches and the endless patter of slovenly talk buttering up the guides and the leaders of all everyone seemed always on the make, digging for more for the problem with money is as much as you get it only breeds want for getting still more.


As I recall, with Jill, we did a lot
more than just kiss down in that
basement alcove. I understand a 
woman's modesty, sure, but still
to this story there's a lot more. 
I'll let it go now, because I am
old, soiled, rusty, and no longer
so well-oiled. Dreams and 
memories now take better 
place on my pillowcase
of station. A votre sante!


'I have not come to bury Caesar,
but to have him in a salad. I am
Tom Colicchio and this is my
stoveside story : I am boring,
but you must listen. I've never
cooked with choice in mind. So
sit you down and eat this, not
so much as a word. Out back,
behind this kitchen, is the old
railyard, where I used to play.


9212. TO CAST A WIDER NET ('what a stupid boy was I') - nyc, 1968:

There's no sensation to entering and even less to leaving and I'd found that out a long time ago - once when my father was holding me high in the air as I dangled from both his hands and it felt as if I was a mile high up to the sky but in reality maybe a slim 40 inches up - maybe - from what I was used to and it made me feel weightless and without substance and almost free like a bird - had I known all that then and even at two what does anyone know of birds and their lives anyway ONE CAN ONLY SURMISE or assume to know something one knows not : simple feed all matter is : and any tomfoolery like that amounts quickly to nothing but you can't goad nothing to something NO MATTER HOW HARD ONE TRIES - and this girl came to me one day with the greatest name I'd ever heard - Alianna Adriata - and she said she was from the Balkans or something she was a Balkan or Balkanese I wasn't really listening because I firstly didn't even know she was addressing me and secondly because with my mind elsewhere I was just ever so casually looking her over top to bottom as she talked - never thinking her idea was to be talking to me - so you can imagine my chagrin when I realized she'd been speaking to me and I'd not really been listening but instead gawking and she'd probably seen my gawking to boot (which is an odd way of referring to what I was doing) but anyway she'd not seemed to mind and was very smiley and talkative and we hit it right off and she really did seem wonderful and happy and exotic to talk to and I knew right away I liked that and we found things to talk about too - like she asked about words which to her were unfamiliar or terribly hard to understand in this language like 'ladder' and 'stepladder' versus 'step' or 'stair' and then she touched my sleeve and said something about the fabric I was wearing some word I cannot recall but which somehow in her mind related to and confused her about 'stairs' or 'steps' or something like sleeve or sheer or something and no matter because all it did was lead to our talking some more about things - how hard translation is and how often between languages things get modified and mis-defined and the troubles she had with her own native tongue and her quest to master English as WE here spoke it and I said I wished I could know her language and she should be proud to be able to take on English while knowing her own language and then she said no no she already also knew Spanish and Portuguese and some French too and I was by that flabbergasted and I asked her if she knew that word 'FLABBERGASTED' and she said she hadn't heard it before nor knew what it meant but figured it meant 'big surprise' or something like that and I said no not really more like stymied or perplexed and she knew neither of those words either so we laughed at that and I asked about her name and she said it had been given to her at her father's insistence and I said it sounded more Greek to me or Albanian or something that reminded me of the Adriatic sea and she said yes well her father doted on things like that and loved the sea and boating and all things maritime and maybe thus the name which anyway I again complimented her on and said it had a magical singsong quality in English that I wasn't sure she'd be able to comprehend or appreciate because to her the 'English' of the name being spoken was not in a native tongue so she probably missed the point but it was truly a wonderfully spoken and sounding name and she did it well by using it and carrying it for her own name which was my own way of a compliment or something at least to pique her interest in my interest but nothing came of it no matter again and I was out as quickly as I was in to use a phrase which had entered my mind about her and I really did I must say at that moment think of her beneath me taking pleasure but I let that pass too and before a moment more it was all pretty much over and we'd each passed on our separate ways and gone off - as any other missed opportunity passed meeting serendipitous exchange along some cobblestoned King Street passage and I thought of my life forever alone and forlorn but figured it couldn't be and yet her eyes had reminded me of the sunlight coming down and her voice had the charm of the morning and the trill of a daytime lark and as she'd spoken to me I'd become engrossed in her smile and the movement of her complete self with every word and sentence uttered - how she gestured and moved her hands and head with each thing she said and how she'd emphasize emotion with something in her movement or face as she talked - it was all very fresh and new and mysterious too and it made me think of the world the rest of the world and how selfishly stupid we are as Americans here thinking it all revolved around us - small-town hoodlum factors of brute force and stupidity in the middle of some sagging Manhattan Island bereft of charm or grace and plundered and paved and broken and all we can think about is to dominate the world with false fields of right and righteousness and indignation about everyone else - but however that all turned out I never did see Aliana Adriata again (and what a stupid boy was I).

Thursday, February 23, 2017


It seems every soldier in this 
old lance-corporal's army has 
shouldered their burden forever.
Now I sit beneath a tree just trying
to think  -  marbles and concussions,
mortar rounds and rounds of drink.
Where was I the day before yesterday?
Where were any of us? Is it a place
like this, that Mount Misery you
speak of? The car's up on blocks,
with two others nearby and a guard 
dog in the fence that only sleeps.
Now that may look like fence but
I mean the dog, and no offense.
The dog, you see  -  note this 
please,  -  only sleeps, and it's
within the fence, the fence that
in turn keeps these cars in
such suspense.
And if all things have their
reasons, then I would never 
know that either : maple syrup 
runs to the boiling sheds each March; 
the farmers in Vermont still speak 
of things in the present sense, 
though I can never know why.
 It all seems past, and we all 
seem like puppets, on 
strings of glass.


9210. THANK GOD FOR MAYHEM ('ABOARD! Bright Marshmallow!')

So from you far I went to strange oh lively city of lights and glimmer with rivers sidewalks and alleys and great Manhattan schist each running full with folk and the scurrying eddies of fiction and feeling as the less than distant river's light was reflected and shown again on its watery top as if some urban past is passing by me slowly one drip after another as NOW once again the hour the liners depart is here : and I look down the east/west street to see a broad bright marshmallow passing and only then later - there/here - amidst a gas station rumble four cop cars arrive screaming and lit and scurrying forth cop bodies emerge holding frantic flashlights and guns and clubs and only one lonely soul hurt on the ground writhes in some pain a real urban pain a sub-lunar pain while they hold him down searching his car's ripped innards and padding and clothing askew as gawkers watch talking and pointing as one swift justice of words amidst jeers for what's happened AND although NO ONE quite knows they're all sure they've seen and alongside such carnage of intention and deed the dire waitress seeds each diner plate with gravies and sauces galore as she watches from the Tunnel Diner window at what's been transpiring and says 'thank God for MAYHEM!' exclaiming aloud what her mind must see - her way I suppose of gaining from the crowd and in that mind she hears : 'let it keep coming and let them eat!' : for those who enter stay and slow like slumber the cops depart and the excitement fades and the darkening fall of the parking lot pavement black advances again and all anyone is left with are the ten-pm lights shining back onto that pavement with few cars as witness and mute and I'm thinking back to the daylight ships passing 'a broad bright marshmallow' and I'm turning it back to 'ABOARD! Bright Marshmallow!' instead and what turns for turning is passing and gone and I look back at the waitress carving ham at her counter and realize she's as angry as I am and listening only begrudgingly to Frank the cook who scours the grease off the griddle while talking of 'later' whatever that is and I try to think of them as a couple and wonder if they are or perhaps their lives together as lonely as this intersect only here but matter not it does so I move on - noticing all the misspelled words on the menu-board 'greaves' for 'gravies' and 'chudder' for 'chowder' and broken epitaphs and menu words all spoiled and rotten and stupid on a broadly errant wall and in the back - along the alcove to the men's room - someone desperately has written on the wall (I swear) 'Repent YE for the KINGDOM of God is at hand!' and someone else has written 'Jesus is coming - will YOU swallow?' and I want to laugh but don't instead noting the phone number alongside it '201 whatever you want NO joke - loves anything' and sauntering on I put that one away and leave past a fat family happy with food and the eyes of one youngster agape and watching and think what has changed ? has everything changed or nothing changed and I decide nothing has changed and that everything I see is what I would have seen anyway and the only change is the constant of movement and growth and gravity ('like endless pylons and seeded housing groaning with growth and taking up their energies solemnly and alive') and then I think then why bother with anything for it is all on its own course anyway and all we can do is watch and needle the world for its being NOTHING MORE than that and echoes conspire to resound echoes like 'THANK GOD FOR MAYHEM' for that is what keeps us going....


By necessity, yes, that pitch pipe just
mentioned brings up a storm of things
to remember. And oh, days of plastic 
redux! I was happy I was gay  -  not
the way it's meant today. One time, 
across the alley from the Stormer
Factory  -  they made collapsible
saxophones for high-school parties
and football rallies  -  we were all
hanging by the too-late table, just
passing the time of day. The supply
truck for Rentson's Restaurant was
leaving  -  a Royal Foods truck that
said Perth Amboy, NJ on the side.
(It was always weird for me to see
a hometown truck in the middle of
New York City. I'd also see trucks
for Economics Laboratories, Avenel, 
NJ. It always made me wonder what
they did. Royal Foods supplies all 
sorts of pre-arranged foods to diners
and restaurants, and Economics 
Laboratories (now known as
Ecolab) supplies soaps and 
cleaners to hotels and restaurants 
too) - both were thriving deals.
Some guy came around the corner,
really fast, on a mo-ped. I'd never
really seen one of those before;
pedals with an engine, and you
start it with the pedals, get it going
like a bike. Back then, it seemed
a really cool thing  -  now it seems
like a joke. There's a scooter club
near here too : about 30 geeks,
most every half-warm weekend,
tooling around like wasps or
buzzards on their little, funny, 
rides. Buzzards, I called them.
I don't mind scooters  -  some 
of the Vespas and things can be
really classic. But now they get 
these, for thirty-nine hundred
bucks, plastic things called 
'Buddies' and other brands. The
old panache is long and gone. 
Purple and pink plastic, the
way of all flesh : one color for 
bruises, the other for sex.  I
don't think these people
know which way to go.


So it was on Albemarle Street and the
man had a dishevelled gun; black guy,
seemed too big for his own opinion
and walking around like that, with a
strut, he already deserved a jail. I'd ask
what was the last book he'd ever read,
but he'd probably not even understand.
Man, we have to put up with his kind
always? Whatever he was doing, it wasn't
for me and I intended to pass right by.
On the other corner, the Salvation Army
Store was busy, black guys too, pushing
carts of clothes across the street from
the receiving room and the offices,
where they checked and cleaned and
then priced the incoming clothes. I'd
guess. Other than that, just a Newark
slum filled with filth and scabs and
now Mexicans too, in little round cars
filled with 7 or 8 people. They pull
in like monkeys chattering, and all file
out together. Whatever they eventually
buy, I guess it's all shared among them.
I can never figure out the poor; I mean
the lousy poor, who shop used clothes
and sneakers. Illegals, and dudes without
money. Landscapers and apartment
painters. Snide bastards too. But I
never complain. They talk in English
when they have to, but mostly use
their local tongue. That's OK. I
don't speak Ciudad Juarez either.
What's with all this anyway? Up above
my head the railroad passes  -  New
Jersey Transit, with those shitty, 
cramped trains and Amtrak and Acela,
with their speed and acclaim. Want to
go to Philly, or DC? Here's your grab.
Metropark or Newark, either one is
fab. But, here and now is Newark,
where everything's broken down :
the culture and the magic are all 
gone. I used to come here, in a
'62 Chevy estate wagon, to pick
up a Spanish guy named Angel.
Now that's all gone  - those old
Spanish types are finished, and
I don't know where they've gone.
Everything's been replaced now
anyways, with cereal kids  -  Kix 
and Cheerios and Alpha-Bits. I've
not met a kid yet named Kix, but
I bet it's coming soon  -  pack the
car enough and someone will have
a baby, right? Look at those old 
stones that make up the wall. New
graffiti for sure -  nifty and modern.
Today's 'brites' got the old colors 
beat, and they get away with this
stuff now easy. It's so simple. No
one draws nudes of their sister on
the wall  -  just weird names in big
fat and goofy letters. 'Tyco 21', 
and 'Mash Omari 3'. What's any 
of it mean; beats me. Along the
McCarter Highway now, in fact,
to combat the graffiti, they have
some guys's painting of white
dresses, repeated like 30 times, 
all down the rock-wall row.
Nothing left for me; I want to
go get drunk in the old Mac Turner's
Tavern that was on the corner, but
it's now gone and I don't care. I can
still go to McGovern's, but that's a
hell-hole now, and the last time I
was there they were holding a union
meeting in the big back room and I
just sat at the bar  -  where this ancient
old lady, probably 70, just stared at
me for half the hour. She had one of
those small grocery carts, the kind
you pull along, and it was filled
with baby clothes, while she wore
a full-length, old tweed jacket. The
whole scene was weird, but they'd 
let her in and she nursed a beer.
Staring at me, enough that I wanted
to punch her out. Somebody's Mama,
I figured; so I just let it go.