City of Joyful Dread

I caught a fever, a holy fire

Month: September, 2016

Hippie Ghost


Timothy Leary’s dead
no I mean he’s
really dead
the way you turn
from me
when you
light up

Timothy Leary’s Dead poster courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Karl Marx’s 23rd Dream

when Dayton became
too expensive
it went
to Chennai
& when
Chennai became
too expensive
it went
to Manila
& when
Manila became
too expensive
it went
to prison
& when
prison became
too expensive
we gave it away
for free

The Sixties

if you went to a
Zed Leprosy concert
you weren’t really

far out

do you remember the
moon children
with poppies in the
tanks of their

was I you
were you me
were we what we were

who owns this past
if it wasn’t ever



Blessed are those with visions!
said Sandhu Sundar Singh,
for they walk out of darkness into heaven
the light of the Lord
the inconceivable real!

Blessed are those without visions!
said Baba Yaga,
for they sleep at night where there are no stars
& wake where there are no dreams

Baba Yaga as depicted by Ivan Bilibin (1902) courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


we bury our differences
in the beat
until we’re

the world is a mask
a drug

we dance until the
moon comes

Words of Love

Words of Love.jpg

Raza told me
I could seduce any woman
with the words
there will be two moments in my life:
when you walked into my life
& when you walked out of it
two moments
a beginning and an end
only why must everything

Cass Elliot told me
if you love her then you must send her
somewhere where she’s never
been before
two ways to the Buddha
words of love
& the open road

every beginning has an end

what Raza meant was,
eventually she won’t
come back

The Ballad of Billy Chan

the most American guy I ever knew
was a Chinese guy named Billy Chan

moved to Tarzana when he was two
loved In-N-Out Burgers
spent weekends at the mall
wore John Lennon glasses from
Sunglass Hut
all year round

wrote a YA novel about a
serial killer who
took a cheerleader home
to his basement
& tortured her
before the hero rescued her
that no one would read
I told my roommate
who told me
your friend’s psychotic

we went to writers workshops every Wednesday night
in downtown Westwood
run by a screenwriter in his seventies named Bernie
who had never sold a screenplay
and his friend Bob from Brooklyn
who introduced himself every week as
an old friend of Boinie’s
and who never wrote
but just sat there
until eventually we stopped

Billy knew a girl from high school
he called The Shrew
he never told me why
talked about her nonstop
went to Tijuana one weekend & brought back a pair of
brass knuckles & a whip
told me he would use them to Tame The Shrew
I told my girlfriend back East
who was horrified

I went home with him one weekend &
we met The Shrew
at the mall
went to a matinee at the multiplex
“Cape Fear,” the De Niro version
she was scared at one point & went to hold him but
he was scared too
he was weird with her later
maybe he liked her more than he knew or
maybe he hadn’t tamed himself yet

two weeks later he told me he was joining Campus Crusade for Christ
because of a hot blonde
he never mentioned The Shrew again
we met up a few more times
he was becoming serious
about Christ
one night I asked him how many blondes
were in the Bible
to be a jerk
& he started counting

I saw him one more time
when I was moving back East
& he was being baptized
in Catalina that summer
I told him my flight home
was on Sunday at noon
he said, Oh well, I guess
I’ll never see you again

& walked away

God bless Billy Chan
& God bless America

The Circus

Lester Bangs once wrote
that growing up in the 70s
was like coming to town
the day after the
circus left

but maybe in retrospect
there is no circus

there never was

the circus doesn’t exist

like Debord’s hacienda
Arnaud’s theatre
Sun Ra’s Saturn

there’s only the

New Year’s Eve, Los Angeles, 2007


we were at the Whiskey on Sunset Strip
with the Doors tribute band
on New Year’s Eve
Wild Child
our child
screaming wild

mock Jim Morrison was the shaman of the night
he’s better than Kilmer,
you told me
& he was

we sang “Auld Lang Syne” when the clock struck twelve
or he did
or maybe it was “Moonlight Drive”
we swam to the moon & climbed through the tide
at midnight
where there were no clocks

when the music was over
we went south on Sunset
down past San Vicente
walked on fallen manzanita
to where our rental car was now missing
the words in red I never saw
hours before
now obvious in the new moments
of the new year
& the rage took over

I was shaking
in the cool LA night
with a wild fury
you went to hold me
& I broke away
like a boxer
walked back through the black night
& the sage & the chaparral

my target was the winter prom
at Le Bel Age
rows of limos
well-endowed young women & men of the night in white
who deserved to suffer
the way I suffered

I swore at the Whores
& the Doors
& the Sunset Pigs
from the lobby

called the debutantes sluts
their stud paramours apes
wished them all wonderful venereal
overturned trash cans
flipped off the bouncers
who called me crazy motherfucker
went running up to Sunset
where you watched or hid
as I danced on the hood of a
Mercedes Benz limo with
tinted windows
grabbed my crotch
& told the New Year’s traffic
both westbound & eastbound
I wanted them to

natural child, terrible child
not your mother’s or your father’s child

eventually I recovered or
you recovered me &
we walked half an hour to the
impoundment lot
where our rental car was waiting for
hundreds of dollars
went back to the Hotel Figueroa at 4 am
& slept until noon
but it wasn’t until brunch at
Millie’s in Silver Lake
on New Year’s Day
tomato juice & tofu scramblers
that it occurred to me
I wouldn’t have made it
two seconds at the Bel Age lobby
without handcuffs
never mind the sluts or the apes or the hood of the Mercedes Benz
if I were black

Photo: Dave Brock of The Doors tribute band Wild Child singing with Ray Manzarek & Robby Krieger of The Doors at the 013 in Tilburg. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Helter Shelter


we don’t need no liberation
my baby’s got it all right here
hanging out in the back of the bus
with the Blacks and us
it’s a family affair
yeah, it’s a family affair

(He loved them.  He is his father–the black man is Charlie’s father.)

we don’t need no crucifixion
Jesus get it on right here
this block is rockin’ all night long
Patty, Susan & Dawn
& the son of man
we’re a family band
yeah, we’re a family band

(Now, this being the Easter season, there is an analogy here between Mr. Manson–this may sound at first blush to be ridiculous, and we are not suggesting that Mr. Manson is the deity or Christlike or anything like that–but how can we know?)

we don’t need no resurrection
salvation’s just a shot away
we ain’t gonna talk about war no more
gonna lay down our arms
we’re the family of man
yeah, we’re the family of man

(I know Charlie.  I know him inside and out.  I became Charlie.  Everything I once was, was Charlie.  There was nothing left of me anymore.)

Photo courtesy of  Quotes from Leslie Van Houten, Irving Kanarek, and Paul Watkins courtesy of Helter Skelter.