Night before last
Lost it long ago but you know it’s in there cuz you can hear it sometimes, rattling around where stubby fingers and good intentions can’t seem to reach.
And you think, “Hot damn! Wouldn’t it be nice to have again.”
Night before last, hit with hint of lost breeze honeysuckle, wheezing … belts unbuckled.
Meant to jot by pencil wrought in rote of hope before forgot.
But night before last that feeling, limb-sick tickle-reeling tumbling muffled answers through fingers moist with frantic squealing and the not-knowing whether this shame unnamed will ever crawl back to let you beg its forgiveness.
But that was the past, night before last.
This bloated corpse never was no Cadillac El-do-ra-do, driven evening golden August dusks in search of some to-mor-row.
Revel in the unravel!
Thee onliest you got, no matter how hard hands scrubbed, hats tipped, prayers gibbered to holiest of holies.
Right now! Strap day-old bread to tired feet and splash around in savory soups! Sit on a carrot! Kick a noodle! Give thanks the purple-fisted for their heart’s estoppel.
But don’t say grace for god or cat or even you-know-who.
Best to hope for is Good Enough.
And right now is as good as good enough will get so get goin and forget knowin all of tomorrow’s sorrows for the only thing can prepare for old age is old age.
And right now, well…
When this town gives your soul the shits, preferring burgs and boroughs of outer void south of Old Kawkawlin Road … keep your stockbrokers, sports stars, Betty Crockers, and cracker-croakers.
Some ‘d rather swill w/ gamblers and floor-sweepers and three a.m. blue-collar philosopheezers.
Real folk don’t braggadocio—dontcha know, dontcha know.
They works em tattoo shops and trash trucks, roll eggs, turn wrenches and mop mucks.
Guzzlers of bitter coffee cheap at midnight java joints down backstab alleyways with secret heartthrob manifestos digging through mushroomed Carnegie library dumpsters for the shunned and misbegotten.
All the while your cabbage-headed virtuosos, later on realizing they depend on these secret scholars, will atone their lamentations in spoken poetry lovemaking Saturday afternoons of downtown funk and drizzle.
So! Be brave! If not for now then for later on.
That’s when it’s needed most and most needed.
Said twice for it bears heeding and repeating.
Easy to say, you say I say, when pink and slim as newborn narcotic-sniffers clad in all your SoHo Rebozos perched precarious on packing crates in downtown rent-controlled Dispose-oes.
But later on will come … sure as gods have turned their backs on—on later on.
Any ol’ fuckin day.
This is where it comes to make, take, build, break.
Wasn’t always this way, any day, unwinding big rusty loops of copper-scented doom, quiet gears ticking misshapen teeth on salty tongue-tips and stiff axels slowly churning under madman brooms in places dusky like Labored Metaphors musky with precise prick-a-tick death-clock automaton stenosis clack-click.
Put away the key.
Close my window.
Smile no more.
I’d rather not dream at all.
Do you hear me, tiger who bites off little boy fingers? old woman who stinks like father? dead sister whose breasts soft and warm against my back while she cuts my hair? girls playing softball through peepshow fences while we idle by diddle pants pocket piddle.
Any day, who I wanna murder and ride the back of all at once; mother, whore, master, my Euro-Disney-land.
I love you to bloody pieces, anyway, any day, you sweet little monster.
Their hate was ongoing, the way ugly mistrust handsome and fat despise thin and poor envy rich … that’s the hate to celebrate.
Ain’t you tired a waitin around with bad breath, broken teeth, skid-marked undies?
And all your sad make-believe Sundays?
Sick a the ongoing?
Gimme your tired, poor, befuddled bastards.
Rather rouse with the rabble than wallow with the shallow.
Drownin in my own soup. No crackers. No bread. No spoon. Just a grumblin belly and the waiter’s gone tits-up the kitchen.
A long hot January, this frozen hell. Sleepin under ragged hats.
Charity as given and charity on whim.
Regard your rainy days not for love ongoing … but memory of nothin worse.
Small gray victories if you must, if you durst.
And if you pray, pray for just enough or Good Enough. And wait by rotary phones with cold concrete socks and rusty pickers.
Then flap away from Nostalgia like flypaper Geronimos galloped in all your Guantanamos in the great ongoing.
Smells like cinnamon and lemons and fresh-baked linens.
But look out!
There anythin more Fiendish?
What a word.
Hump its leg. Cut its throat. Twirl greasy black mustaches at it. Tie damsels to railroad tracks with it. Gift it to your babies and watch them die from exposure.
Tomorrow, Fiendish tomorrow.
If the little ones only knew how bad the big ones slept, they’d fall down and cry for fear of it.
Now take all my haiku on vegetarianism, keep the Starbucks poetry slam award, burn those musings on feminism and privilege and fair-trade cacao … I don’t want em any more.
Tired of apologizing for today’s assholes and yesterday’s go-alongs.
Tired of pretending to care.
I am Fiendish.
Dog of yesterday, Man of Tomorrow.
My children no longer have futures, and sorries do not suit me.
Bitch & Moan. Bitch & Moan.
What else a mangled man-boy to do?
It’s the first step.
Said daily is to know the Meaning of Life.
Always paralyzed with indecision?
Just uncemented in recriminations of olden days and gray bolden chains of joyless inhibition.
But what else ‘ve we got clear title to round here?
One thing you can always say about always is it won’t make you fat and can’t leave no bruises.
So why deny.
Gobble gleeful gob-fuls.
Splash around freely … and, if they get wet—IF THEY GET WET—don’t you regret.
cuz there’s always plenty.
You’ll get yours, too, you arrogant little shit!
That’s him the third row.
Groan all morning wrapped scratchy woolen disbelief while widow bowels weep and your peeps creep to fluff them satin pillow boughs upon which motherheads never-ever sleep.
Sakes alive, don’t cry, what would you do anyway if you didn’t die?
Least you won’t be alone.
Most of us ain’t that fuckin lucky.
Jostled and dragged by low-paid sniggering bagmen with BO and pictures of Larry Hagman in their wallets—why not?
Drugged, zapped, lectured, billed, rinse, repeat.
Wonderin who the hell shot Jr. on Dallas live on TV last week in 1990.
Living dead living in dread living in debt.
They say be brave.
But what good it do?
Good for you?
Good for who?
True courage of Dan’l Boones and Goons with Harpoons is best-suited for banal buffoons.
And most of us ain’t smart enough to be so dumb, chum.
Gimme a crafty coward any day … like yesterday … and someday soon … but anyway.
For ever and ever
Three a.m. glances in the red-eyed dark when aging ghouls prefer no mirrors.
Where have you stolen to?
Where we goin?
Didn’t know you could kidnap yourself, didja?
Heckle for shekels, spirit, but I’ve no ransom to share.
Besides my mother’s lint these pockets is bare.
Leave me to mourn this ruined skin in the chanting incense dawn until noses twitch of sandalwood and ragweed.
And the insomniac smoke signals wafting from fellow freaks coughing alone the other side of the wall.
I hear them sneezing.
Are they thinking of me like I’m thinking of them?
Can we share long minutes of Bus Stop Sadness with soggy shoes and nothin to do but pretend to choke on gladness?
Or will we die of thirst, be drunk on think with all the drops to drink?
And all them words is bullshit, sonny, anyway, the old man tells me only everyday.
Even the good ones.
But I can’t live without em.
Not for ever and ever.
For a while
It must have been, because I seen it.
Rememberies strange in the lingering fog, like someone else’s something blown in through an open window.
Tumbled trash on wind, rickety raggedy hand within.
Stunted in youth by fast hands and unkept promises, unkempt allowances … cursed forever to limp this Earth as terrified over-size babies, wounded in the hole where the soul should go.
All these years later.
Of him. Of them. Of it.
And still wanting for soft petting hands and whispered words bulletproof.
That’s how it is. They climb your spine, tracking muddy boots up your back, and nest in your head next to the mildewed bread, self-loathing, and dread.
So? I’ll say a prayer for everyone in the world tonight … because I’m cheap, lazy, and I believe in Tinkerbell.
Scream or cry for a while, or I don’t even know.
Could-might explode if the popular kids laugh at my confusion one more time.
And anyways I’ve gone deaf from begging for meaningless gewgaws like friendly faces on scared cartoon dogs.
I am the shoo-in shut-in.
I shall remain indoors and grow long beards and have myself a Scooby Snack and fill legal pads and dollar store notebooks with endless graphite-dust-musins of self-delusions no eye shall ever pry while I remind my kind that “it” doesn’t really exist, this trial by exile.
And when the checker comes checking to see if I died in the night—of old age and fright—I’ll whip up a smile and try not to cry.
If only for a while.
This poor man’s strophe:
Beware the well-dressed assholes with their quick hands, minty breath, corpsey smiles.
Look for truth and salvation in dirt and callouses.
There’s a music in poverty—dirty fingers, hungry belly.
Shame you’ll never shake no matter how much useless shit you pilfer in the waning light of some exhausted miner’s headlamp.
We are dedicated to their suffering.
Rabbit starvation and sensationalist horse-shit gobbled by the un-hungry.
Fame and fortune for the undeserving … and me so god-damn jealous I could scream.
And now back to this nightmare, my American Dream.
I’m sick, goddammit!
Down in my bones.
Put holes in my socks.
Cure I want, I ain’t got.
Cure I need, I don’t want.
What to? What to? What to do?
Got answers for ever-body but they own.
Fancy words and filthy intentions.
Y’all the chicken grease on my soul.
But there’s no hope for gas chamber prayers and bruised babies and cars sliding headlong on icy gauntlets of whim and woe.
Whoa! I know!
That old woman in the nursing home! Sayin sump about her childhood but all that twisted maw could shriek was, “Eventually! Eventually!”
True story, morning glory.
She called it right.
Feet crumbled in a race to Eventually!
And we have the nerve to blame it all on self-destruction.
No magic in this heart I haunt.
Such is my hate for you, would that I could trade breath for fire, I would burn a hole in us so hot and for so long we both would die of it.
Ever stop breathing so long you fraida take air again?
And when you did suck wind find yourself alive on the cliff of another cold stiff aching Sunday morning, coughing up not blood but cobwebs and so-sad to have nothing to show for all your yesterdays?
Well, it’s gettin that time again, and don’t nobody know where to be gettin to.
And it don’t matter nohow cuz you can’t leave without the keys.
They might-could-be under the couch or in the fridge or hanging in walk-in closet pockets of buttoned flannel thrown over colder shoulders while jump-starting dead batteries in grocery store parking lots of dead-eyed damsels who never would give up their lovely kisses in exchange for Good Samaritan Innuendos.
Not even over mixed drinks and promises and pretended friendoes.
But you lied to yourselfs anyways because it’s all you really had and the best you could’ve hoped for.
There was a time—oh yes!—when tomorrows were still worth a shit-and-shilling and you knew sometimes you hadda go too far to know when you’d gone far enough; and othertimes it was best just to shut the fuck up.
But that was yesterdays, when joy was a window you used to stick your head out on cloudy Februarys and sniff woodstove smoke and hope until someone painted it shut and the room got so stale you had to hold your … and whatever become a all those yesterdays?
That thing that tightens throats, that stiffens [resolve], that drives men to murder and makes women weep under the weight.
Ugly thing when your other isn’t listen-ing, your mother is whistle-ing, the Universe is list-ing, the dog is piss-ing … like Sad Monday Showers on your precious worthless knickknack bric-a-bracs.
Never-ever stops raining here and I can’t stop thinking about how much I hate you.
Do you know what that means!?!
It never stops raining here and it’s too late for obscurity.
Give it a try but tell no one.
A race against nobody for the prize of nothing.
Helluva thing, indifference to what could be.
They’ll have to drag it outta me, what could be.
At the finish-line, my Cadillac corpse comin in 99th.
Just hold your breath til the sirens pass.
Spared this time, alas.
But there’s always the next and the next and the next will come for me … singin that sad old song about what could be, could be.
Don’t save my days for the same reason I don’t keep my shits.
Yesterdays of sour milk, hungry dogs and menthol smoke.
Feelin nothin, feelin everythin, and both so terribly itchy.
You can’t hate me nearly as much as I hate myself.
Cherish your rage and I’ll rub myself in the moonlight of your loathe.
Because I’m honest, because I’m not.
You want honesty?
Get mad, eat dirt, kill yourself for real this time, give away your most prized possession in secret.
When you are lower than all these.
What you said last time.
Things are the way they are cuz people are the way they are—curious clumps of yammering dullards stilted in spurious self-assurance.
Fool, the first, to show his shame.
Why is them? What is that? When is this?
Shit’s bad. But it’s always been, and we’re always asking the wrong questions of the worst men: not why? … but when?
Forever pretender; dour little coward.
Desperate bastard ain’t smart as he thinky-thinks.
Syntaxes, synapses in inky inks.
A fine quiet place for the inhuman race.
The lies we tell ourselves ain’t newfangled … and neither is this manufactured flabbergast.
Just another somber evening in the garden of white-bearded dandelions and creaking bones where you roam alone.
And I love you more now than the last 10,000 days.
And I’ll make all the promises there are to make and maybe someday I’ll get my shit together.
Then again, maybe never.