City of Joyful Dread

I caught a fever, a holy fire

Category: poems

The Amboy

Snow falls on the Barrens
Fog shadows the shore
Waves breaking in winter
like Martin Brodeur

San Francisco’s organic
The Saint is dirty
San Diegans take the 405
We take 130

Walt Whitman is buried here
Jimmy Hoffa is deeper
Lukoil may prefer it here
but Citgo is cheaper

South Jersey’s all Philly
North Jersey’s New York
In Central Jersey the governor’s
belly’s all pork

Here there be mobsters
There Mummers move
Often in coffins
old 45s groove

Come on everybody
I get around
Meet me tonight
on the wrong side of town

In Amona

Amona.jpg

return somewhere you’ve never been
like from a dream you’ve never had
surrounded by the world you left
an outpost of tomorrow’s time

where days are numbered, means reverse
Exodus outnumbered 700 score
a reconstructed temple mount
the occupier counts

outnumbered outlaws colonize
recovered memories of others
in Amona caravans canonize
razor-wire pilgrims

Photo courtesy of Yair Aronshtam. Available via Wikimedia Commons.

Full Employment

we wanted
solidarity

we got
William Darity

 

Hippie Ghost

Timothy_Leary's_Dead_(movie_poster).jpg

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

Timothy Leary’s Dead poster courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Sixties

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

far out

do you remember the
moon children
with poppies in the
tanks of their
eyes
wide
mines
colonized?

was I you
were you me
were we what we were

who owns this past
if it wasn’t ever
ours

Revival

we bury our differences
in the beat
until we’re
gone
obliterated

the world is a mask
a drug

we dance until the
moon comes
home

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
end?

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
possible

New Year’s Eve, Los Angeles, 2007

800px-Dave_Brock.jpg

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
TOW ZONE
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
diseases
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
DIE
DIE
DIE

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.