‘So, this is what it feels like
the other side of the locked door.’
he thought to himself
as he scraped the words
into the thick paint of the walls.
Right above the Gang Graffiti
and philosophical statements, like
‘Silence Is Golden’
and ‘Say Porthcawl (Fuck-All) Is Best’
“I’m finally getting away from her,
she cannot touch me in here.
No more tears and bullying,
I’ll be free from her now,
the W-W-W-hore!” he stuttered
cowardly whilst looking slyly
over his left shoulder,
still afraid that somehow
she might actually overhear him?
He laughed, involuntarily,
then shit himself uncontrollably,
it was mostly solid & he smiled with glee.
He had not felt so liberated
since safely back in childhood.
“Mother Washes!” he chuckled
and scooping a handful of stinking muck
which was sliding out of his trouser cuff,
he smeared war paint all over his face.
“They’re Coming To Take Me Away!”
he sang in a voice almost not his own
“Ding, Dong The Wicked Witch Is Dead!”
As the Psychiatrist listening at the door
evaluated and made his decision
“He should be reprimanded not sectioned,
forced to face this and not run away from it.
It’s not a breakdown but an escape attempt
away from adult and professional responsibility.
Get his wife here and emotionally shame
and embarrass him until he snaps out of it!”
there are not aliens
there is a woman
in your bed
the same woman
but that is why variety shows
are so popular
game show yellow cars
driven off into
twenty different ways to style your hair
Another day readied for the scrapheap
of forgotten things,
and I’m doing what I can
to keep the fear at bay long enough
to make it through the afternoon,
stockpiling whatever pleasures
I stumble upon, however strange or small.
There’s a pretty girl down in Kerouac Alley
standing in the sun in a purple dress.
She’s posing for someone’s photograph,
as perfect as anything that was ever dreamed.
She catches my eye and smiles,
acknowledging the fact of us
caught together in this moment,
uselessly beautiful and absurd,
her presence a momentary balm
for all the meaner things that forever lurk and hover.
Her smile lingers as I sit with everything
lost and ruined and forgotten,
everything murdered and betrayed
throughout the years
hunched upon my shoulders
like a dirty beast.
I go to the bathroom
and then the bar for more wine
and return to find her gone.
I take a drink for us both
and look around for something
new to dream.
All those bipolar days and nights
locked up in Madison County
with the long haired man
who claimed to have murdered
two people with a shotgun.
Out on bail, grime under the nails,
hadn’t showered in days;
Natalie calling me to come over
to fuck, to argue, to push me out the door
twenty anxious minutes later
with a bottle of two buck chuck
and the empty downtown streets
of Huntsville. Still alive, still human,
still holding out the doomed hand.
A whisper from the boneyard,
sleeping next to Thomas Ellis
who died of the plague in 1903,
and Mary Pollock who sang
religious hymns to children
before her heart burst in 1911.
A little notebook stolen
from a Dollar Store. A pen
ripped from the metal beads
of a bank, the metal clasp still fastened
at the top. Poems, screams,
and holidays otherwise spent
day dreaming. She was still a toddler then,
still a walking music box.
The single crystal glowing
on the broken backs of snow covered
pine trees. I could do no wrong, she still
loved, regardless that I stood in the food pantry
lines. She still sang to me
on the phone after I dipped
my hand into the work cash register.
All those bipolar days and nights
arguing with myself, and walking
up and down Airport Road
from Al’s bar to The Thirsty Turtle,
looking for a way out, or a way in.
Romantic ideas that kept my blistered
feet going, still without a single publication,
without music in my ears. Families
on the their way to Thanksgiving
feasts, their faces gluttonous
with joy and feelings I had never
felt before. And me, on my way
to the nearest bench to sit far
away from it all, wishing I could
remember a time when I wasn’t me.
And I waited, and waited,
for the earth to crack open
underneath my feet and swallow me whole,
but it never did. Instead, the shape
of the world decided to evolve,
it gave me another chance,
embraced me as the forgotten one.
It’s quite remarkable to love, and to be loved.
He looked as if he were the body double
for the original Incredible Hulk gone
Wore a not quite large enough XXL
orange T-shirt that said:
“Florida the Gunshine State”, on the front,
and “Shoot ‘em as you see ‘em” on the back.
Had a chewed-to-mush stogie in the left
corner of his mouth near the scar he got
calling a Cubano drug runner a wetback
greaser in a bar in Miami a man had to have
a serious death wish, or a posse large enough
to talk down the James Gang, even to think
about walking in.
Used to stub out a lit cigar on his forehead
to impress women he wanted to sleep with,
or dealers he did business with once, and once
only, to show how tough he was, and impervious
to pain, a trick that came off as something
only a seriously deranged person would
attempt. This too had its advantages.
That is, until the scarring got so bad,
grown men blanched when they got close
enough to see what he had done to himself.
Whores began charging him double just to be
alone with him, triple of he got near enough
Didn’t have a personality so much as a series
of traits that ranged all the way from vicious to
cruel and everything in between.
Would have looked perfect, if he lived long
enough, outfitted with that metal collar that
got applied to the neck of Brad Pitt as a sleazy
shyster in that Cormac McCarthy scripted flick,
that collar that was a self tightening, vice like
iron maiden thing, that gradually squeezed
the life out of the wearer, severing the head
from the body, as it clicked shut.