City of Joyful Dread

I caught a fever, a holy fire

Month: January, 2012



Confusion & obfuscation

We do not believe that the government is using particularity to impose a numerical or size limitation on the meaning of “particular social group.” However, we are hardpressed to discern any difference between the requirement of “particularity” and the discredited requirement of “social visibility.” Indeed, they appear to be different articulations of the same concept and the government’s attempt to distinguish the two oscillates between confusion and obfuscation, while at times both confusing and obfuscating.
–from Valdiviezo-Galdamez v. AG of the United States, 663 F.3d 582 (3d Cir. 2011), a Third Circuit decision granting a Honduran asylum seeker’s petition for review of his asylum and withholding of removal (i.e. deportation) applications previously denied by the Board of Immigration Appeals; emphasis added

To paraphrase the late Gil Scott-Heron, why do you need the Board of Immigration Appeals for confusion and obfuscation? Two old winos can confuse & obfuscate you just as well …

The Yak Manifesto (for Gregory Corso)

He or she who yak’s is sacred, whether at 3 a.m. or in anonymous motels or on Sundays.

Everyone yak’s or wants to yak or has heard someone yak, & not w/o sympathy.

The yak in Corso’s “The Mad Yak” suffers; therefore, to yak = to suffer.

Someone who yak’s can be warm in the winter, even w/o the warm body of another.

Someone who yak’s is sufficiently tantric for someone else who is beginning to think in terms of warmth, & light, & not another.

Before there was yak, there was much merriment, often w. powerful narcotics, such as dope & saxophone & objectified women.

The yak is the return of merriment, in the form of suffering.

The yak offers an annulment of merriments past.

Someone who remembers the yak, remembers Eden.

The way it should be, nt. the way it was (o)

Photo courtesy of









“woolly-headed utopianism”
coming home for the winter:

a belief in the real,
one real,

a metonymous West
will bury the fur

Photo courtesy of:

Ghost Bride

I want a girl who won’t say no to me
when I’m dead.

And I have searched the last saloon
for a piano that plays itself.

Westernized, it’s never twilight
time, never thestillofthenight,

instead it’s only Cheap Trick
singing “Ghost Town,” and

the hollow feeling Lester Bangs called
“coming to town the day after the circus left.”

Have you ever really felt
a smoking gun?

Have you ever really seen
the picture show called “Crack of Dawn?”

When I die, I’ll meet the dead girl
who wears my wedding ring.

Until then, life is but a ghost
of beautiful women without mercy.

Photo courtesy of:

Tawny Kitaen

you took me in when I was out of luck
you went down on me & I was starstruck
you took me to bed, I was a wrecking ball
you woke me up & I walked the walls

& when I’m on the mound the world can end
my troubles fade away
the devil in my wedding bed
& the angel in LA

you ordered the sarang burung
& then you blew my mind
“remember where our love went wrong
your Hollywood playboy lying”

& when I’m on the mound the world can end
my troubles fade away
the devil in my wedding bed
& the angel in LA

when you told me to I drove you home
because you were no one’s slave
you dug your heel into my bone
& then you dug my grave

& when I’m on the mound the world can end
my troubles fade away
the devil in my wedding bed
& the angel in LA

now I’m in Cleveland & you’re out west
wild nights of endless summer
B movies, rehab, the beast with three backs
sounds like an endless bummer

Photo courtesy of H. Wechsler.

Ginger the Hipster

Ommegang at Johnny Nowhere’s
Old Grand-Dad at the Pub
Wild Flag on the jukebox
Gene Krupa on the drum

The wolf is wearing houndstooth
The fox is wearing fur

She owns me
I belong to her
She owns me
I belong to her

My name is Redbeard
We love Kurosawa

Everywhere is nowhere man

† My girlfriend’s name is Yoko

Photo courtesy of H. Wechsler.









we were buried in snow,
one weekend

a poem a week
a word an hour

when you’re 23
& hungry
& the rest of the world is a motel
with weekly rates
& cheap excitement

& the Tragically Hip sang “words cannot touch beauty”

& Kathy Change wrote “break out of the ranks of evil, do a dance for freedom”

& burned to death
in West Philadelphia

burned the way the Ozone Disco Club
burned in Quezon seven months before

the way MOVE burned on Osage Avenue
eleven years before

the way Watts burned
& Detroit burned
& Miami burned
ten thousand years before

& Liz Phair sang “I’m like a wild flame that catches on whatever’s near”

& Kathy Change wrote “call me a flaming radical burning for attention”

& burned to death
in West Philadelphia

was written on a wall on 40th Street
two years before

were written on the wall at Frank Clement’s,
an even dirtier bar than
Dirty Frank’s on 13th Street,
where I would one day
order meatballs on New Year’s Eve

in the old, weird Philadelphia
a Philadelphia of ill repute

we heard Bob Mould at the Troc
Warren Zevon at the TLA on Valentine’s Day
before it became the Fillmore
poetry at the Quarry
where someone once referred to Los Angeles as “Omaha with a beach”
& in the Penn Review
where someone once wrote a poem called “Sometimes Death Wears a Party Hat”

I wrote a poem called “A Bomb Is A Metaphor That Won’t”
& one called “Satan” with the word “detritus”

the monkey house at the Philadelphia Zoo burned down on Christmas Eve
the year before
& I wrote a poem called “Do You Want To Burn the Monkey House Down”

& someone told me an ex broke up with me because
“he’s too hyper and he talks too much about Kafka”

& the Trappist monks of Tibhirine were executed
& the Tamil Tigers won Mullaitivu

& Bob Mould sang “now the myth disintegrates, nothing else is permanent”

& Kathy Change wrote “I’m terrified of entering those eerie shadows”

& burned to death
in West Philadelphia

& became a poem
& became a name
& became a number

one more John Africa
one more Holly Maddux
one more Moez Alimohamed

one more number
one more name

one more moth
one more flame

I would walk past
& never know

I went home with you
one weekend
before the snow fell
before winter came
& buried us

poetically, when you’re 23
& the rest of the world is a moment
we can never outrun

& Warren Defever sang “this world is not my home, I’m just passing through”

& Kathy Change wrote “I have crashed this party, I don’t belong here”

I went home with you
one weekend
& never went back

Photo: “Trouble at the Henhouse,” Avery Crounse.

The man, the legend, the goat, the satyr

When rock’n’roll was young, when rock’n’roll was so young that it wasn’t even born, a proto-rock’n’roll manchild was born deep in the breeding-ground of the blues, under the sign of Capricorn. Gospel and rhythm & blues were his influences; Carl Perkins, Little Walter, and Little Willie John were among his heroes; Memphis was his home. He wrote many songs, but covered many more: his heroes never died. He burned brightly, briefly: the Ed Sullivan Show, tours, drugs, women. Sadly, uppers, downers, and alcohol took their toll, along with a perpetually shaky mutual relationship with the 60s counterculture to whom he was too square, too clean, too reactionary. Towards the end he was known as a lounge act, a curiosity, a cult figure who was fabularly “out there,” until one day, too soon, he was gone. And he was mourned. Today he’s a memory, a myth, an icon, honored by others, the object of tributes and rockcrit encomia the world over.

Happy belated birthday, Alex Chilton (12/28/1950-3/17/2010). We remember.