We stepped into the side lane
behind ‘Old Mary’s Mission Of Hope’
down by the Dock Front
to see what all the racket was about?
Three ‘Buzzies’ had a Bag Lady
backed into a corner.
She was an angry, hysterical,
screeching thing… with a broken bottle
in each hand which she was expertly
zigzagging around in front of herself.
There was what looked to be
a male homeless body upon the ground
a few feet away which no one seemed
to be paying attention to at that moment.
The ‘Bluebottle’ to the left
had his truncheon out
and was snake charming her movements.
Trying to gauge when best to strike
and hit a bottle out of her hand.
Each time he tried and missed she screamed
“Get that horrible cunt away from me!”
Then the Black Maria arrived
like a rushing heart attack to the evening.
We were forced back from whence we came,
to listen from the street corner to the sound
of thumping, banging… then calm returning.
‘I might not be dead by the
end of next week’ she said
referring to a weird
looking dark blemish
under one of her armpits;
‘I’ve no lumps in my boobs,
I got the all clear’ she
said gently massaging
‘That’ll be good if you’re
not dead by the end of
next week’ I said
she smiled and asked
‘What the fuck would you
do without me?’
‘Shit’ I said ‘I don’t know,
but maybe I’ll be dead
by the end of next week
and then what would
you do without me?’
she smiled and then
moved onto laughing,
the way she does when
she is relaxed and
happy and then she said
‘What do you think I’d
do without you?’
‘Not worry’ I offered
and knowing the truth
of it, she nodded her
head with a smile,
‘Yeah and a whole
lot more’ she said
through that smile
He had been warned
that there were no more warnings
and now he found himself chained to a chair
no longer able to count to ten for lack of fingers
a brown shammy cloth stuffed down the throat for silence
flesh hanging from the face like a rare and chunky Warhol
and blood – lots of blood
fading in and out of consciousness
awakened by having gasoline poured over his slumbering body
and soon he would be lit up with false Christmas
and crushed inside a car and lost to some landfill
and never heard from
while the street lights changed colour
and the novelty pet shop
Kids scream outside and the kids who they belong to scream along too
But me, I just sit here thinking
What will it be like when there are only kids?
The kids are running the country and the bastards have painted everything blue because there are just some who are naturally Tory
And they’ve banned votes for people who didn’t attend Eton and the voting age has been reduced to 11 and anyone who is over 65 and doesn’t own a castle gets free euthanasia treatment
“Why would they want to live and not be useful citizens?” asks a cryogenetically frozen Dave Cameron, then aged 48 but now timeless, our new supreme leader
It’s the worst state of hell
There are military roving our streets taking out homeless beggars who in turn are then shovelled into huge waste-bins and taken away
Everyone is rich and young, so very very young and they all have perfect smiles and always look immaculate
And their job, their mind-numbing, soul-crushing job, that is their existence as it would be too much to call it any kind of life
But everyone seems happy with their 128 inch TV sets and their latest clothes, they all just shop or work
All bars have long since shut-down as there was no demand for a pint at just £9 when you could by a crate from the shop for even less
And even then people don’t drink and no one smokes which means the NHS is broke
So all the poor people just had to die for Dave to get his perfectly formed Big Society
Bradford Middleton was born in London in the summer of 1971 but didn’t begin writing poetry until he was 36 when he landed in Brighton. He has a couple of chapbooks available, Drink Drank Drunk from Crisis Chronicles Press (Ohio, USA) and A Life Like This Ain’t For the Faint-Hearted from Holy & Intoxicated Press (Hastings, UK) as well as lots of material available online and in print. Some of the places that have published his work include Zygote in my Coffee, Five Poetry, Ppigpenn, Rapoetics, Chicago Record, Rolling Thunder Quarterly, Section 8 Magazine, Mad Swirl, Your One Phone Call, Dead Snakes and Empty Mirror. He tweets occasionally @beatnikbraduk.
dudes for the gust of some fine moment
there’s always impetus to change
looking into the mirror
for clandestine bodies turn
away before old vision clouds
refined moments of perception
until suspect gods of shallow lines
tell you you’re still bitchin’ enough
to trip the volatile light fantastic
& enter the breed of lingering elite
where your reflection becomes mine
then merging with others waiting
transformed into a greater frieze
of flesh-hued Laocoon frenzy
our limbs multiplying Hindu-like
into one cluster fuck snowballing
across the painted desert’s horizon.
“LOL,” for that moment of eternal splendor
dismantling our prim centuries
some must unleash the salt wounds
tasting of final desire as inevitably
we fuse our sweat in the matrix eye
where the strongest seedling turns to pus
in the open mouth of your wasted Mother
In 1872 Eco-wreck and Engine
hatch carbon Black_swan
from a metallic dirtyshell
offering gifts of production
we stew in hot truth
as denial melts
records breaking like cheap toys
as Arctic poles shrink
Biota fell ill
and is dying
as we suffer and join Biota
Gregg Dotoli lives in New York City area and has studied English at Seton Hall University. He works as a white hat hacker, but his first love is the arts. His poems have been published in, Quail Bell Magazine, The Four Quarters Magazine, Calvary Cross, Dead Snakes, Halcyon Magazine, Allegro Magazine, the Mad Swirl, Voices Project, Writing Raw and Down in the Dirt.
Even the word can rattle windows, stops us short,
Reminds us of the so many times it has invaded
Our quiet lives, like the voice of some angry god,
Summer afternoons we knew it was coming, brewing
In the clouds, or nights when it woke us, a frightening
Familiar growl enforcing the darkness we woke to;
It has become an important part of the mythology of
Our lives, the day it chased us home from the ball game,
The day we pulled over, parked alongside of the road
Hoping it would pass by with its cohort, the lightning,
Wind and rain, or the day we carried the trembling dogs
Back to the car from our mountain hike, ran with them
As if distance and speed could quiet their infectious terror,
The stories have become part of our explanation of ourselves
In our world, something primitive, instinctive, our blood,
Our nerves link us to our ancestry, to a place in the animal
World, the frightened herd stampeding, the black Lab
Hiding under the bed, the world thundering, crashing down
All around him.
Picture Franklin: 30 years old
but some fresh pustules still raging.
Beer gut spilling over the waist band
of his thrift store chinos.
Hair greased back
with original Brylcreem
but still falling out of control
in forehead clumps.
His Bluebird tattoo on his left chest hidden
behind a bold striped sports shirt untucked.
Franklin was doing it up Chinaski.
Taking it on the chin.
The voices in his head kept saying
Do what You are Told
and the commands
were spoken in book titles
snippets of poetic lines
and dialogue from short stories
The voices were legion
and all screaming at once.
It was War All the Time
in the Fire Station of his mind.
Now Franklin was Greyhounding out west.
Destination L. A. for a skosh to soak up
the Terror Street and Agony Way vibe.
Then out to San Pedro
to Bet on the Muse
with the Top Dog himself
to Play the Piano Drunk
with the Master
to Burn in Water and Drown in Flame
with The Legend
Franklin peeled the cellophane
off his pint of Cutty
outside the bus station
and tipped it to the gods.
For breakfast at a roadside stop
he had slammed 3 Tall Boys of Schlitz
but his buzz was fading
like Wild Horses Over the Hills.
He reached down
and adjusted his sore ball sack.
On the Dog Bus
Franklin had tallied up
the parade of Women
getting on and off from city to city.
Women who were begging to be raped.
He had some dull and insane conversations
with a few
and played thigh rubbing and footsie
with a redhead for 70 miles at 70 MPH.
At a toilet break he made his move on her
behind the comfort station
grabbed her by the hair
and pressed her up against the wall.
The redhead kissed him viciously
ramming her tongue down his throat.
She cupped his balls and hissed at him.
“It’s gonna cost you a Franklin, Franklin.”
“It’s Frank, you whore
and I shoulda never told you my given name
and I NEVER pay for it.”
“You gotta pay to play, Frank.
You think I was playing grab ass
on the bus with you
because I was in love?”
Franklin got his forearm up on her throat
and then her knee came up.
Red raised up her free arm
and swung her purse
who was already crumbling.
She caught him a good one on the temple
like that scene straight out of Barfly.
A random pile of broken brick pavers
was strewn about the back grounds
of the shit house
and dumpster area.
Franklin weaving came up
with a good size chunk
and swung a roundhouse right
that caved in the side of her face.
He didn’t stop.
That was Then.
L. A. was Now.
L. A. was Now.
Franklin had survived
the skirmish with the wildcat
and felt Alive.
Christ, he was taking it on the Chin
and he knew The Genius of the Crowd.
He tucked the pint in his pocket
raised his posture up to his full 6’ 1”
fired up a Bidi cigarette
proceeded down 7th Street to Alameda.
He loved the tightly rolled
slim brown Bidis
rolled by lepers in India
and smoked by Henry Chinaski.
There was a light on in the front window
of the front court
bungalow style apartment.
at 5124 De Longpre Avenue
on the sidewalk out front.
Then Franklin was hanging
over the chain link fence
of the tiny front yard.
A cyclone fence.
Drawing a complete blank.
Wondering why and wherefore
and who the fuck talked that way
Franklin was lost in the fugue of years
and English classes at Macomb County
Shakespeare and young girls
in the classroom.
Fuck all that.
Shakespeare Never Did This.
Now he remembered.
He had to meet Hank.
He had to focus.
He was in Los Angeles.
Just about as far as he could go
without leaving the country.
He had just flopped out of a cab
in this neighborhood
alcoholism and madness
in East Hollywood.
5124 De Longpre
where all Chinaski’s poems
All the short stories.
It had been a whirlwind day and night
The Pink Elephant Liquor store
on Western Avenue.
Gulping a cold 40 of King Cobra malt
in a parking lot under the autumn sun.
Drinking Alone until It Just Made Sense.
Then Sweet Wine with street characters
around the Terminal Annex Post Office.
Then Los Angeles Grand Central Library.
Then one shitty bar after another.
Then a former Chinaski writing pad
zapped from the planet
at 5437 Carlton Way.
Then Uncle Vito’s Bar.
It was mostly “Who? Bukowski?”
and if they heard of him it was dull.
“Oh, you mean HANK!”
Royal Palms Apartment.
Then visions of Jane.
Faye Dunaway style.
Ending with getting 86’ed
at Musso & Frank Grill
looking for The Chin
or a blowjob
and asking about buying a gun.
Pour me a cab.
It was suddenly all clear to Franklin now
at 5124 De Longpre
and it was too much LIFE
for him to handle.
He remembered he wanted the cab
to take him to The Chin’s childhood home
on Longwood Avenue
but he didn’t remember the address.
the Ham on Rye experience.
He wanted to connect with Father.
Boxing Glove Beatings.
Locked up in the basement.
A Date with the 5 Sisters.
17 years old and Daddy’s full bar.
Night after night.
His little stereo
with detachable speakers
on the floor with him.
Speaker on right ear.
Speaker on left.
His head filling with the Clash.
Train in Vain.
Straight to Hell.
Those times were the prelude
to the Crucifix in a Deathhand
and a note on rejection slips.
And so 5124 De Longpre
became the unknown Longwood address
in Los Angeles for Franklin
under a moon pretending to be a moon.
Stunned per usual.
Staring into the front window
with the light.
Haiku moment Ham on Rye style.
A fine little Mexican woman
moved toward him
walking a small Yorkshire terrier
wobbling on stiletto heels.
She was more than all right.
Maybe Puerto Rican.
and the dog began jumping his legs
dry humping him.
“Hey! What you doin’ over here man?
You lookin’ to break in?”
“I’m here for my Senior Prom
and I’m a Senior.”
“You are crazy.
You move on or I’m gonna call the cops.”
The little dog was humping Franklin’s leg.
“No I’m here for IT!
I’m gonna make the prom.”
No prom here
and you’re at least 40 years old.”
“Bitch, I just turned 30.”
“Take another step towards me
and I’m gonna scream.”
“No problemo, bitch.”
Franklin freaked in San Pedro at first.
Ocean. Ocean. Ocean.
The clean sand.
Morning sunshine blazing in November.
Mentally revisiting that fucked up movie
with Ben Gazzara as Chinaski drunk
staggering around on an ocean beach.
And Mickey Rourke in Barfly.
He just didn’t get it either.
Finally Franklin wandered into Harold’s Place.
Dirty on the outside.
Dirty on the inside.
An old guy cleaning up.
Punk band played the night before.
Tijuana Knife Fight
advertised on the wall.
Bikers shooting pool and smoking.
Multiple dead animals on the wall
and tuna cans for ash trays.
Franklin went for the cheap
double well whiskey
with a Coke back.
He had a Last Night of the Earth hangover.
3 drinks in and his stomache turned
and he just made it to the crapper.
Coming out both ends.
The restroom WAS spotless.
Great Poets Die in Steaming Pots of Shit.
It was time to hunker down.
Pause for the Cause.
The bikers were settling in for the long haul.
“Fuck Turkey Day. I’m staying right HERE.”
“Hell YES and we always got the fucking
Quarter Pound Hot Dog and Pepperoni Chips
at Godmothers down the street.”
Franklin rang the bell from the front porch.
Some kind of McMansion hidden behind
a 6 foot hedge
blocking the subdivision street.
Two BMW’s were parked
in the big circular driveway.
Someone was in there.
HE was in there.
HE had made IT.
The big house and flashy cars.
The HOLLYWOOD book.
He rang again holding a skosh longer.
I’m not gonna ring
and knock wildly in orgasm.
Not gonna scream
“I know you’re in there!”
I’ll just bust the door down
and come in blazing.
Take him out.
The great shiny wood lacquered door
and took Franklin by surprise.
It wasn’t The Chin
the Box Car jumping
Alky Supremo Juicer
Runner with the Hunted
but a reddish blonde with wild eyes.
She was wearing nothing
but a long T-Shirt
just covering the sweet part
with bare legs and feet.
The T-Shirt had a picture
of a dark haired
mustached greasy guy
with an index finger
shushing him to silence.
Under the pic of the guy
were the words Jai Baba.
The WIFE stared at him.
and raised up his right hand
with his index finger to his lips.
The Wife flung the door open.
“Oh you are SO on time.
This is perfect.
Come on IN.”
Franklin was ushered
into the dining room.
The Wife faded into the Tournefortia
with his eyes following her
and muttering under his breath.
“I’d like to rip off
your god damned panties
and show you some Turkey Neck
you’ll remember to your grave.”
Franklin turned to a table
set out in full cornucopia.
All the trimmings.
The grand centerpiece
the golden brown Turkey
looking to weigh in at around 39 pounds.
The china and cutlery gleaming.
A setting for about 12.
The Chin was seated at the head
of the table with the wine.
About a dozen bottles.
Franklin was transfixed.
There sat The Man
Insane Enough to Live with Beasts
the Dirty Old Man
the Poet chiseling The Word
into the Rocks of Time.
playing in the background.
Just the faint sound of The Chin
from his little Bidi Indian cigarette.
Franklin walked up to him.
The Chin appeared to be glowing
but there was no overhead light
no back lighting.
The shades were pulled
on all the windows.
He was working on a bottle of red.
He dropped the nub of his bidi
into an empty bottle of white.
His face was composed.
Little slits of eyes.
Lips in a position of rest.
He poured Franklin a glass of the red.
Franklin grabbed the bottle and chugged.
Bukowski downed his glass.
Franklin did the same.
“What? What did you say?”
“Oh yes and I’m Frank.”
The lips of Chinaski turned down.
Franklin ripped a leg off the turkey
and tore into it.
He grabbed a fresh bottle
and washed it down.
He went back to the platter
and looked for the Turkey Neck
and finally just ripped off
the other leg and tossed it
on The Chin’s empty plate.
Talk to me, man.
Tell me things.
I want some Non-Horseshit
The Chin simply shook his head.
Franklin sat down with him
and matched him drink for drink
bidi for bidi
filling the empty wine bottles
with the nubs.
The light of day abated
but darkness never came.
Charles Bukowski set the room on fire
simply by sitting in a chair at a table.
about another plane fallen
into an ocean far away,
one moment a dot
on someone’s radar,
a swerve, a mote
curved in virtual air,
and the next a void
filling television screens
worldwide, I sit on the porch
watching smooth arcs
of swallow flight, air space
sliced in violent precision,
beaks mudding a hidden nest,
as if attaching a fist-size
bomb inside the eave
of a luggage compartment.