I managed to struggle to the back door. Today, that was an hour's trip from my gluey viscous easy chair. The apparition seen out the window slammed into me like a giant bat. One hundred five degrees flashed, detonated, from the thermometer hanging off the garage. One hundred five!
The afternoon was new born. The temperature climbed from there. A heat you rarely knew before. You know those ancient cast iron irons. Heat one up on your wood stove. Sit it on your head. You know that huge sheet of flank steak they use for fajitas. Sizzle up a couple of huge heavy ones and drape them over your shoulders. You know that griddle where you fry up your bacon. Preheat it. Stand on it. You know that Monday drudge you get after a bad night of bad dreams. Wake up with it. You know that world Atlas shrugged. Carry it. It is that kind of heat.
I stood in that simmering glare seeping in from outside - astonished by the sudden truth of it. The mind killing, soul murdering, spirit smothering, dream defeating, four horsemen of the summer doldrums arrive with vengeance in their hearts.
Remember, doldrums are plural. That is so that no backroom, no shadowed corner, no hidden thing, no secret, is untouched.
When you hate yourself, when you hate your loved ones, when you hate your life, those doldrums are why. When you have no will, when you have no joy, when you have no fix, those doldrums are why.
I managed to drag myself to the backdoor, today. I stood stunned. One hundred five, four horsemen of the doldrums, three unattended chores, two neglected manuscripts, one more lost day, heat.
Know It, Poet 6/22/13
I have an 'efriend' who is a poet. He is a good poet. I told him so once on a post he made online. I also told him the world would never see my poetry. I told him I would never inflict the world with it. He posted back that I was afraid and that I should grow a pair and inflict it upon the world. (You know who you are, AL.)
So, I will do that. But first, I will curse him with some Yeats.
'But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.'
― W.B. Yeats
'Accursed who brings to light of day the writings I have cast away.'
― W.B. Yeats
(Not really, AL. I love you, man, even though the pair I grew ache and quiver in fear.)
Before you read my stuff, take a minute and think about what 'poetry' is. I dare you. The ancient Chinese talk of 'the ten thousand things' when they described the 'everything' in the universe. It was the biggest number they cared to conceive. Well, when I researched the definition of 'poetry' for this blog post, I found ten thousand definitions. None were exactly the same.
The down and dirty synthesis of my readings is that poetry has sense (words with meaning), it generally has form (verse), it often has image by the way it is artfully displayed on the page, and it has a pared down efficiency or brevity of language to impact its essence and meaning. However, mostly poetry evokes. It ruthlessly pulls emotion from its audience.
Well, I am not sure I did any of this. My poetry is of my youth. To me, poetry is a thing of youth – of youth unsullied by the baggage and scars of maturity. I laid the writing of poetry aside as I laid my youth aside. I no longer have the will to it – the spontaneity or the intuition necessary for the true poet.
Anyway, here it comes. It's not good poetry and it's not shapely. I had a wonderful, beautiful, true blonde, goddess girlfriend in my youth that lent shape to it once. Those papers are gone. I've looked and looked. God knows what trash bin they ended up in. The ones I salvaged were found in an old journal somehow half-hidden among the thousands of books that burden the wall shelves in my office.
My bad poetry (to you AL):
'Back Then' – my favorite subject – poetry on girls and love and heartbreak:
Pretty girls passing by.
See that one. See the other.
See more coming.
A blonde with a butt
A skinny brunette
Sigh. The day is long
I'm too tired to be
Martha – pretty Martha – where have you been
That you come back here to reawaken the haunting.
Martha – pretty Martha – why have you come
And make me so happy to see you?
God! You look so good to me. God! It feels good knowing you're
But, of God, do I laugh?
Do I cry with hysterics seeing you?
Seeing you come, wet and rained on
Back into my life if only for an hour
Martha In the Night
The world turns to the corkscrewing.
Motions of Fortune.
They give away the great canal to
A fascist dictator.
The African Solomon has his enemies.
Killed while he sleeps.
Turn – the king's knight lances
His own purse.
Turn – women still get naked
Turn – people still go to jail
For being different.
Real problems, intense importance,
Rising and falling
As time is changing.
And, all that moves me,
All that burns
Is having Martha come to me
In the rain.
Girl In The 24 Hour News Stand
Whew! My heart pumps
And I'm breathless.
I know it sounds weird
But, thank you
For coming out of the night
To buy papers.
Yeah, I know it's strange
But you're so pretty.
Straw gold hair, windblown
By your bicycling.
Blue green eyes wide at looking
At how I look at you.
Unhaltered breasts in yellow knit
Pointy for the cold.
Then you smile – liking the weather.
You smile at my smile and
Bid me a good night.
The night would be better
If you'd stay and talk.
The 24 Hour News Stand
This is a night for prowling.
All the cats are on the prowl
Out on my street, tonight.
The soft-eyed Yankee's out hunting
For another man's comfort –
Another man's money.
Sorry he saw his neighbor
Because he's young and gay
And in a porn store.
The beer-bellied kid, half shaved
Mean with an itch that won't scratch.
A youngster, no longer so young,
Out with his lady,
Flaming 'cause she came to the back room
To see it with him.
Nowhere to go than there
Then to here
Then to the next place.
Something to do, something to see,
Something to talk to
To dull the ceaseless yearning
Rising at each sun's setting.
Speeding and Tea
It's Thursday night and I'm speeding,
Drinking tea and watching pretty girls.
Girl watching goes well
With muggy nights and speed and iced tea.
Girl watching just goes well, period,
As long as you don't
Get too hungry for who you watch
Or get too serious wanting who responds
To your wordy smiles.
Then are the poems of self and loneliness:
See the wart?
The wart is crying.
He's a large wart. Maybe the world's
I'd like to say he cried
The world's largest wart tears
But, he didn't.
They were small cold silent tears.
He cried because warts grow
But, being the world's largest wart
He sat there all alone.
I guess I'm not alone in
Having days like this.
Days like bright shinny awful
Tuesdays that should have, of themselves,
Stayed in bed.
Days where reality and facing it
Only get me further behind.
Where truth is for winners,
Money is that that other people have,
And work only goes to those who have friends –
Hermits need not apply.
Days that scald me.
Days that don't hear me.
Days that can't crown my past
Or show promise of my future.
Bright shinny awful days
And finally, thank God there is a finally, poems about me, a psychiatric technician, and my psychiatric patients.
Sunshine slashes up the room.
The lost souls dream some –
Morning air is subtle.
Furrow my sleepy forehead.
Morning flees by too fast.
Hot coffee in hand,
A cigarette burning bright –
My patient's big smile.
Tobacco smoke curls
Over the chill air –
Death smells coming with Winter
Blood on walls and floor
Vacant stares and tears –
Birth and demise of fantasy
Happiness is here
And there, high and low –
But who's got time come Winter.
You're sitting here on the 'Group W' bench
Going crazy. Mutter, mutter, mutter...
You notice that you're crazy
You notice that people notice that you're crazy
You begin to care that these people
Not be embarrassed anymore
By you're crazy anymore, mutter, mutter, mutter...
The End. Done is done.
Now, consider yourself inflicted.
The Devil and his Lady 6/1/13
The Devil and his Lady – A Confessional Character Study from the Sixties.
I had the rare privilege of meeting and getting to know the Devil back in the winter of 1968-69. He is not the man most think he is. He does not look as most think he does. His lady – well, she kind of is and kind of is not what most would expect. I know these facts for I have met the man and his lady.
The Devil, contrary to popular belief, does not come knocking at your door. You go knocking at his. That is how I met him. Way back then my friends and I came to the city on the hunt. We hunted all those things young men hunted in the sixties. Our city friend told us where to go for he had a friend who had a friend who had a friend who knew and each told the other. Then my friend told me.
In this city, the gate of Hell was in a blighted area of town just southwest of the downtown skyline. We walked into it with a creepy, goose-pimply, sense of dread and wonder. Large, blocky, washed-out, tan, apartment buildings seemed to stare back at us, broken out windows and doors black and rigidly empty like the eye sockets and maws of so many skulls. The ponderous hulking neighborhood seemed to smother the sounds of the surrounding city and even smothered the usual Texas breeze. It smelled of old stone, old wood, and old air, a dusty, stale, silent musk. The quiet seemed to whisper; why are you here.
There were people there, denizens really. We felt them more than saw them. They watched. Strangers, intruders maybe, invading. I supposed they wondered if enemies or friends approached. Then the Devil emanated behind us perched on a stone bannister shouldering a ponderous stairway leading up into one of those haunted edifices.
The Devil's name is not Satan or Lucifer. That's bad for business. I'm hazy about the name – my friends, too. But it is John or Frank or something innocuous like Eden or Travis. Why is it that I'm so vague about the name of the Devil?
This man is the Devil and I would learn that soon enough. I expected the stereotype – swarthy, narrow and chiseled face, glare and snarl. It is not the truth. He looks Irish or Nordic with golden hair, like new copper, cut short and with tight curls. His face is round and pleasant looking with full lips smiling pleasantly, pale eyebrows, and a gentle plump nose. A good build, comfortably stocky, with no hint of fat. Of course, his eyes mark him. They are the color of an iceberg but promised trust and cold honesty. His gaze held invitation not avarice.
Then his lady stood with him as if she stood beside him always. Where did she come from? She was not there when first we saw the Devil. I did not think about that until this moment.
The Devil's lady stands, to this day, as the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. Mix Angelina Jolie, Cote De Pablo, and Karina Lombard into a Mexican magnificence that is more of a Castilian courtesan than a Salsa singer. The blackest gossamer hair glistening even in the shade. The blackest gossamer eyes glittering even in the dark. A generous full mouth smiled both welcome and promise. Voluptuous curving body neither skinny nor plump that wasted not a handful of anything important. Long woman's legs that started here and went all the way to the... Well, one of those luscious legs went from here all the way to the floor. The other went from here all the way to a clubbed foot. The Devil marks his property. The ancients believed a clubbed foot was the mark of a Devil's child. That is how I knew him for what he was. That is how I knew what she was. Despite the mark, all of us loved her – worshipped her – in all the unrequited passion possible in young men.
Her name was – what; Isabella, Juanita, Carmen - why is it that I'm so vague about the name of the Devil's lady's name?
The Devil is a provider. He is the provider. Our man, the Devil, provided. He provided anything and everything anyone could want or dream of wanting – anything good, anything bad – just ask. That anything you asked for turned out to be of the highest quality and at the best price. And, truth, no strings attached to that anything – ever. The Devil never, while I knew him, ever came sneaking up behind me to whisper in my ear. One always went to him to whisper into his. I give you my personal guarantee; we pave our own way to Hell.
So, we always came to the Devil's apartment in that skull of a structure seeking our hearts desire. The Devil's lady greeted us at the door with her warm hospitality and warmer promising smile. I remember she always offered green tea and cookies she made as well as other, free, hippie delights. Astute, informed, and witty conversation emanated from her beauty as we basked in her glow and ruminated about war, world affairs, and revolution. Then the Devil arrived to hear our wants and needs just so happening to have each and everything just on hand – at just the right price and at the highest quality. We always left content and completed remembering to look back at the beautiful Devil's lady.
If there is one unchanging universal fact it is that the universe changes. And the world did turn. Rock became acid rock. Marches became protests became riots. Love became hate. Experimentation became addiction. My hair grew and grew. Waitresses refused to serve me. Cops sought me out for car searches. People's stares on the street became glares. My friends began to come home dead from Nam or drug dens or mysterious unknowns. Where did all these enemies come from? I hated no one. I just wanted to live my indulgent life and let you live yours.
It was time to leave the city, return to what we called in east Texas 'behind the pinecone curtain, and chase girls and keg parties. A low profile was best. This I did. In that quiet, my spirit and spirituality found me out again quieting my soul. Allowing me to grow up.
What used to be the haunted neighborhood where the Devil lived is now an elevated freeway though the no man's land below it seems just as haunted. Where the Devil and his lady went I never learned. I am free of him now and it was easier than I expected. I am free of her now though it was harder than expected. Vivid images remain – fleeting things surrounded by shadowy hazes. Why is that so vague?