Toward Something Wicked This Way I Go

Raindrops on roses

bright paper packages, tied with nice ribbons

lovely looks, from Bouguereau’s shepherdess,

a cherub, a king,

one shiny new toaster

in the sparkling kitchen

which dreams are made of.

 

What part of the brain, then,

seeks the seedy underbelly,

complete only with the smell of American Spirits

and whiskey breath?

Do artists seek the darkness

to bring the light?

or to hide from ourselves?

Risking death in a black leather jacket

or at the bottom of some absynthe

to hide from the feelings

which are too real, too painful?

 

To polish silver

my grandmother would cover the surface

with paste, muddy it up.

and underneath,

the most beautiful shine.

My grandpa’s cordovan wingtips, too.

 

 

Maybe artists simply realize

the beauty

and worth

in the unpolished

the vulgar

the marginalized

the different.

Tom Waits in my ears

Schiele in my eyes

and a Pell Mell in my hand.

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2084 or Brave New Cambridge Analytica

In the far flung dystopian future,

America, Oceania, Eurasia, Eastasia,

whichever political boundaries

are named at the time,

there will not be a modified Soviet state,

a Cuban-esque failure of socialism imposed

on the citizens of a new regime.

Nothing will need to be imposed.

We’ve welcomed Big Brother ourselves.

Besides the fake news and

vanity-sized headlines,

total disregard for past atrocities and lessons,

each and every day,

we take Big Brother into our palm

and selfie all our personal information

into the twitterverse,

neatly packaged, so there is no wiretapping required.

And the tired moms who sit

dazily at playgroup at overshare

into their glass of rose,

teaching their children the polite social norms

of just telling their closest friends

(and social media followers, of course)

all about their unhappy marriage, and then in the next breath,

their partner’s sexual techniques, nosejobs, boob jobs,

nail ladies, horrible housekeepers, real housewives,

excellent preparatory preschools, and how it’s totally normal that

their child speaks at four months. Doesn’t yours?

From a nation of eagles, destined for soaring,

to camping outside the Apple store

to get the latest in sheep technology,

just like those we like and admire.

Proving we are so special, so great,

like everyone else.

Tattoos like branding:

cattle begging for the latest reservations

to the slaughter,

or the wiping of memories

as we feed them right into the gaping mouth of Big Brother,

agape that people

have actually ended up coercing themselves

into docile ignorance.

Fear may not be the most powerful weapon

to use,

vanity seems a much easier way

to conquer great nations

as they run toward the feeders

and become foie gras.

It’s Been A Privilege

White people are great.

The way they fiercely defend

their children from all forms of discomfort,

stop them from crying

at any and all costs,

including their own rules,

which are meaningless

with the right pitch

of persistent whining. Or tantrum.

Whatever it takes.

To get the thing NOW,

no matter the consequence

or burden to others

because those rosy cheeks

and milky complexions

deserve every single heart’s desire.

So banish the bedtimes

and hide the vegetables in a brownie

so Tommy will eat them

because god only knows that missing a meal

will result in him hating you

or child protective services,

and the word “no” is forbidden for parents

or just a silly, meaningless phrase,

like “AWOL” or “democracy”

or “earned”.

At least if our ten year olds

have the latest iphone,

they’ll be able to call you

if they’ll be home late

for the party you’re throwing them

with weed, wine, and lingerie.

every 18 year old’s dream.

all the other white kids are doing it.

And you don’t want to ruin their life,

totally ruin their WHOLE life

before jumping off this bridge

just like the neighbors did

for their adorable children.

 

 

Some Days I Wish I Had 12 Million Dollars For A House In Big Sur Or At Least A Refill On My Drink

mother always told me that she wished to win the lottery.

I never did.

Instead, I dreamt of a picture window

and a warm leather chair in front of it,

two cocker spaniels,

sleeping on the circular rug at my feet.

I wanted to be mesmerized

by the violent storms

and lightening plunging down

into the vast Pacific Ocean

as I sat to write, write, write.

Water from the sky

and earth.

The tempest parts

and I still wrote more.

Life isn’t a lottery.

 

with my finger,

I trace the drops down

my rum and coke.

staying cool in the

stifling heat of the Louisiana summer.

Cicadas screaming.

And there’s no writing now,

just sticky chairs.

a hound dog.

Johnny Cash on the jukebox.

And the hope that someday

I really will win the lottery,

or write enough poetry

to get me to Big Sur,

over the Pacific Ocean,

staring into the unknown,

alone,

and chronicling more

than just the rapid

rate of melting ice

in this glass of rum.

 

 

 

 

Waiting to Exhale

Bakersfield is a shithole.

No exaggeration. It has very few

things to redeem it,

save the Buck Owens Crystal Palace

and some very good

Basque food, if you’re man enough

to eat oxtail before your afternoon

siesta.

We watch the vagabonds go from place

to place on their bicycles

and in groups down the littered

sidewalks, peppered with

brown dandelions,

a result of the drought, the unbearable heat,

the perpetually smoggy skies.

I wonder if Jack Kerouac

would have done meth

if he had to live in

these modern times

or if he would have had a tattoo

on his neck,

maybe something Buddhist?

or if alcohol and pot

make you still somewhat productive,

unlike the skeletons that roam these streets,

missing teeth, vacant eyes.

Perhaps Bakersfield is the

classic case of chickens and eggs:

no matter what kind of cheap gas,

giant homes, swimming pools,

or Bacalao you have to

make life here turn from awful to

tolerable, does the lack

of blue skies drive a person

to fill their veins full of

meth or do all the vagabonds

and junkies eventually end up

in this god-foresaken

asshole of civilization,

corraled like an asylum,

doomed to wander in this

urban purgatory?

Is there a Kerouac among them?

A Cassady?

A Fitzgerald?

Bukowski?

A Nin?

Or is this place

all it is?

A place to rot

before  we die,

having learned patience

and acceptance?

that this is all

there ever will be?

And if I score just one

more hit, I’ll finally

be happy.

 

 

Advice for My Daughter

somehow the message to us

translates that love is found

in the beauty of the

vibrant, colorful, aesthetic

moments

of life.

But don’t shy away from

the complicated, ugly,

difficult, dirty, angry,

messy bits

you need to wade through.

Beauty and love are often found

in those moments, which seem

to happen more often,

but simply need to

be wiped off,

salvaged from the wreckage

of those who don’t fathom

the precious treasure

life is,

with it’s finite amount of moments,

and the true beauty

of dirt

under your nails.