My Mind (A Study In How I’ve Disappointed My Parents)
My mind is a used book shop. It is filled up dusty, piled precariously. Packrat, hoarder, floor to ceiling. Unorganized to the outsider, but to me… organized chaos. Just right.
My mind is an old record. Scratched, crackle, pop. Ring wear cover art. Dollar bin. It skips a few songs but plays. Patti Smith, John Coltrane, Lou Reed. In constant rotation. Soundtrack.
My mind is a medicine cabinet. Old needles. Haunted. Demonic. Ghost clang bottles. Glass, shaker. Bad pills traded for good. Prescribed. Still not right. Quite far left. 12 steps…baby steps.
My mind is a part-time bully. Part-time bullied. Fetal position. Fulltime beautiful mess. Scarred. Post-traumatic stressed out. Tired as fuck. Sober, alcoholic, addict. Recovery. Reclusively on call. Ringer off.
My mind works. Day laborer, inconsistent. Sometimes nefariously thoughtful. Vulgar. Tongued whipped truth. Medicated, for my protection. From me. From everyone. The results are varied.
My mind is a collected works. A tattered journal. Bound with string cheese. Lactose intolerant. 44 years. Ginsberg’s madness marked up. Emerging nonconformed. Identity crisis. I’ve disappointed my parents. Again. They’ll be okay.
I fall in love with afterthoughts and the names in playbills. Cast and crew. Nuts and bolts. Backstage busted non-union smoke breaks. Fuck. That’s good. Write it down. Have you cried for a smile that you never saw? A mirage. A dial tone fantasy. The best love never gets to that point. It scorches the earth then moves on. Forever is a badly cooked steak. Chewy and familiar. Paid for with coupons. The conventional version anyway. Soul mate synergy is more of a matrix of hearts. We love in spurts. As Richard Hell would say. Intimacy and multiplicity. Culture crushes called connections. Religious orders. Fast food faithful. One on one with a mirror between. We are wasted on our own selfish wine. I know love isn’t marriage’s possession. I’ve known that agreement. It’s just a subcontracted. Under god or the courts. Love is free. Birds singing duets on multiple wires. Wave length lovers. Moment to moment. Electricity is okay for mass consumption. Live more. Love bigger. Love in ways that defy sheltered norms. Kiss the moon. Kiss me too. Hugs are not deadly. Just infectious. Anyway, I’m going to bed.
Love poems are shit.
Shit. Love. Pray.
Or, was it, Eat Love Shit?
Either way. Struggle.
Ghosting. Window pane
Window into pain.
Ice forms on glass, crackling.
Winters are cold here.
Smoke. ignite. Dissolve
My hands turn red, then blue.
Snow fell. I was falling. Star
Smoke rings into square pegs, ashtray eyes.
She held the cigarette like dart. Aiming it. Bullseye.
The sycamores were full of birds. Song birds. Love birds.
The soup was cold. Served white bowl diner.
Smoke rings. She made them perfect. Open mouth, lipstick cool. Puff…
I rested, coffee tired. Eyes dark circle, vulture.
Death in a vinyl booth. She smiled.
Staring hazy cloud. Eggs Benedict. 3am sleepless.
She blew smoke rings. Round pegs. Ashtray eyes.
Match sticks, vulnerable, struck heat. No more.
He dared me.
Party, after party. Drunk.
Gay. Not me. Maybe?
Never sure. Never cared.
That was a kiss. So what?
Laughter, we followed
with whispered. Maybe?
Then New York. Magnetic.
Over and out.
Never again. Only a kiss.
No regret. Philadelphia was my courage. Orange bike.
She. Beautiful, brown.
Stronger than aware.
My heart scraping
sidewalk gum. Sneakers
She was smiling.
Acting. Poet. Proud.
We were different. Same
White. Me. Nervous.
Brown. Her. Hesitant
Lips, soft. We were free
We stopped. Summer,
overheated. Modern lovers.
Radiator cool. She Was.
Crushing pills, formica
Cold cuts. Tender touch
Rolled twenties. Credit card, chop, dice, tap.
Nose burns, tears swell.
Corduroy jacket, sweaty pants. Break the bone.
Slit wrist bath tub gin.
Blood orange, blue moon
Call me. Dawn. Call me.
High school, wretched memory, Fuck
Grated my skin to bits. Parmesan ghost.
Priestly garb, clerical collar, choking victims.
Student body, body shaming, phobias.
Catholic cross crusted Christ. Nailed, bullied.
Fuck the nostalgia.
My classmates were cruel. They are. Repression.
When you try to die
it becomes a lifestyle
Blood letting us just
in letting everyone down
Death trades us in
and artists that matter
I’m a man
If that makes you happy
I can’t agree fully
I don’t know what I am
A crumbled newspaper
I’m gutter gum sticky
White, sure, but filthy
All constructed bullshit
You have made me what you wish
I just don’t give a shit
Artwork – Identity 2019
May 3rd was the 100th anniversary of Pete Seeger’s birth. This is a poem I wrote about him a few years ago.
You sang about the unions
You spoke to those in need
Carried a banjo on your back
Picking when you needed to sing
From the Hudson valley
To the western shoreline
Telling stories about the heartland
A friend to all you met along way
Even those who wanted to destroy you
Your songs were hymns of reconciliation
In groups the harmonies rang true
Alone you gently got em to sing along
Freedom chants and peaceful protests
Just a smile for the working man
The woods were your happy country
The rivers made you feel alive
On top of mountains a yodel carried
Down on the street you spoke to the young
Years of love for music and peace
For rights and for things to change
When you died we mourned a hero
More so we just sang the anthems of the day
I ate a Tom Waits record
A1 and ketchup
Picked it up biting down
It was chewy crunch vinyl
Trying to taste the pain
Savor the songwriting
Sharp edges cut my inner cheek
Blood filled old holes
where teeth grew
I squished it into my left side
Chipmunk pouch-like juicy
Afraid to swallow the metallic taste
I felt the chunks of albums
Ripping my stomach to shreds
I spit the blood in the sink
Looking in the mirror I saw my age
No longer teen queen
No longer twenties two tone
Not even dirty thirty
I was grey and cold
Salt and pepper poetic
Lyric lacerating inner self
I ate a Tom Waits record
He had written Burroughs several letters in the early nineties, receiving a few responses. Gary had been flirting with the notion of being a writer since he was young, reading constantly and banging away on his mother’s 1954 Royal typewriter.
Obsessed at a young age with books, Gary was enthralled by the magic of Salinger and Hemingway but it was when his youthful eyes engulfed Kerouac, it was the beats became his passion. One day a neighbor was having a yard sake and there was a beat up copy of Naked Lunch, which he gobbled up like a starving dog. Burroughs became his favorite, over all else, and unlike his other idols, he was still alive.
Gary would write his letters with a reckless energy that was raw and full of adolescent hope. It must of touched a nerve as he received responses from his idol, even an invitation. So in the summer of 1993 Gary traveled on his own On The Road journey, and stopped in Lawrence, Kansas.
Burroughs, an old man, was a gracious host and very eccentric of course. They smoked weed, talked writing and politics then even sat in silence. As it got late, Gary felt he should go but William wasn’t pushing him away, in fact it seemed perhaps he was hoping the young man would stay. Though perhaps it was all in Gary’s head?
After his journey, Gary told me all about his meeting with his idol. A Burroughs fan myself, I was full of jealous excitement. He told me “Ya know I think he wanted to fuck me or something?” I said “You should have! It’s William Burroughs, man! Just fuck the old man and there’s your story!l” we laughed but inside we both knew I was right.