Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Knuckle Dragger (dystopian free verse)

ape cone with bristle
haunch stomach and knuckles folded in front of the groin
the rolling gorilla orbits
score sub-human terror kisses at tourists
he's in a power squat
and he's out a good three narrow inches
one radient pungent skin piccolo
it's eyes are bigger than its manhood
he's a monumental beast
with the what you looking at hiss

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I've been asked to talk about something that changed my life, and since I don't travel or socialize, I have to admit that it was something I saw on television around 1978. At the time, sex therapy was a new kind of business, and according to the doctors, if people didn't improve their sex lives they were practically public enemy #1, collectively, as there must be billions of people who aren't so attractive or talented in making love. Much as you are robbing society of its due if you have an untreated phobia, at that time you were proably making your spouse, and in turn your family, employer and coummunity miserable because you are so irritable and constipated when you don't have great sex.

(continued below)
It was a PBS show, one that came and went like the gourd on Jonah's square yard of beach front. They were experimenting with the media. And with us, as well. First the doctor spoke, on a couch, with a relatively unknown television journalist, which was informative. Men, she explained, who suffer from premature ejaculation are one of the reasons Americans are so uptight and unsuccessful. There is no way of reaching your full potential if you can't keep a chubby for at least forty five minutes, which is the least amount of time possible in which to bring your spouse to an orgasm. She went on to expain that there was a rogues gallery of quick squirts at large, each with his own type of malady.
The next part of the show was my fave. Dr. Melissa Milgram, this time, was in a sound studio interviewing three couples, all of whom were under her care. Each of the couples was married, and may even have had children and houses and jobs and cars, and none of them, prior to being referred to the good doctor, was ready to admit that their sex life wasn't as good as it could be. There was something wrong with all of them, and in the course of conventional therapy it was determined that whatever the beef was on the surface, below the green water there was some form of sexual dysfunction that was robbing the world of their productivity and social redemption. Women bereft of satisfaction are famous for being cranky. And men turn either queer or homocidal, so it's mighty important to iron out what ever is wrong. All the couples were eventually referred to Doc Milgram.
It wasn't the information that made my life, that day, so special. It was the eagerness with which they all talked about popping prior entry, of trying to correct the problem on their own by thinking about baseball while going at it, and about the roaring success that the doctor's therapy brought them. One of the men boasted that he had gone from seconds to minutes, and was very proud of his accomplishment. The wives got their say, and they all agreed that it was sometimes a good idea for their men to give them head, which helps guarantee them their best orgasm. But all six of them seemed pleased for the chance to be on television, all talking about something once taboo and now the avante guarde. People should talk about their sex lives, as well as all other elements in their lives, openly, anywhere, to anyone. Repression sucks.
The doctor made a good authority figure, and it was learned from the Zimbardo experiments that ordinary people are capable of anything provided they have the approval of a convincing enough authorty figure. Somehow that television show seemed, to me, like the beginning of a new breed. They weren't mock electrocuting fake victims in an adjacent room, with the white man in the white coat giving them the go ahead, but they were telling the world that they were guilty of innadaquacy and that they had done what was necessary to correct it. It was the a new beginning for willing participants. We can't progress as a society, afterall, if we shun modern science.

Now I feel safer knowing that in the future, further experiements and procedures will be carried to fullment and ultimatley replaced with other equally urgent medicine. After all, there is something wrong with everyone, and you can self-actualize by being on television. It was the beginning of schlock therapy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pigeon Trick

Like you could put parentheses on either side of the block, the one between Mellon Center and Macy's was set apart from the others by pigeons. They had chosen all skyscrapers, a lot of them on the stately city block, to rest upon. Wise birds. That block provides sills, ledges shoulders, roofs, alcoves, lattice work, and gargoyle installations all for the pigeons to snuggle up together on. It was like the tall buildings had fur on a sunny, perfect fall day.

The sidewalks were packed, miday aftenoon crush, lunch time. As I crossed Smithfield Street to the pigeon coated block, I happened to notice a tall thin man, holding a long white bag in one hand, smiling, beautifully, beside a fountain at the far end of the spiring city block. No sooner had I come parallel to the first of so many pigeons bobbing on the busy sidewalk, the young man reached into his long white bag, and drew from it the remains of his lunch.

Through my stuffy bifocals I could discern that it was the last third of a foot long hoagie. He broke a piece off of it, and like the maestro of a symphony waving his baton, he threw it underhanded, up, up, up and gracefully down, down, down to no place in particular on the sidewalk. The pgeons closest to it were first responders, hopping and flapping towards the breezing bits of bread. Their work was rewarded for taking initiative, munching away, but not for long. More birds on the side walk moved in for the free lunch. Then some of the birds on the sills and gargoyles flew down, and a small scale riot began, perhaps a few hundred birds fighting over food. The gent in the distance looked much too happy to be working for the cause of world peace, if this was any indication.

On his first toss I realized that my clothes were in danger of being soiled. Pigeons relieve themselves without care or shame, and I fear being under the process. I was advancing, on foot towards the epicenter of what was about to happen, feeling trepidtion. But the man with the hoagie was smiling so warmly that good cheer had to be factored in. This was looking like a funny situation. People being crapped on by thousands of pigeons is probably funny.

His second and third tossing of the hoagie did it. Thousands upon thousands of pigeons came pouring down from the minion of skyscrapers, all focused on the food and fearless to go for it. The riot that ensued had the force of a tornado, an amicable one, one that has the decency to let you step past it. It was a huge battle among pigeons, and they only beat and pecked at one another, leaving pedestians to find their way through the chaos.

My fear of being crapped on escalated, of course, but again, that young man's smile in the distance was more compelling than some petty concern for the threads I had on. It was obvious the gent knew exactly what he was doing. He knew that the power and the glory could tipped if he provided the proper impetus. A billion pigeons, some greasy pinched bread, and a symphony composer's vision. The solid crush of birds coming down from high above could have been the forces of fate. The riot in the street, his prank, was magnificent. All that movement brought my senses to life. It was a thrill to walk through birds.

Well, that's all I saw of the young man with the bag of tricks and the mischievous smile. Upon passing the spectacle, I took visual inventory of my hat, jacket, trousers and shoes, and felt gifted to have not a single dropping on my clothes. That, in spirit, is a sign that this happened for all good purposes. It is possible to make things happen.

Hog Maw and Chitlins

One of the advantages of being hyperactive is that I can eat four pounds of fried chicken a day and remain thin as a rail. I can perform the same trick with bacon. If it sounds like I'm bragging, I am, but only about the good parts. Along with all the fidgeting and rapid digestion, the condition can leave a man prone to flights of free associations. It can, to some people, be annoying.
I haven't been driving for the past few years, and after giving up my last car, bird-like images have been flapping around in my head when I ride the bus across town.

The autumn dusk sky was full of crows when I got to the Herron Station platform. The kohl black birds flew neatly spaced for miles distant down the busway and over the Golden Triangle. There were a few bats flying in between the myriad crows, like flying punctuation marks inside a statement made of crows.

Pittsburgh is a place of sylvan beauty. Where the birds rested on clusters of trees the hills looked like a forsythia bush with lampblack flowers. it was an enchanting late afternoon across slummy and elegant districts.

One of the older men at the bus stop was dressed like, and vaguely resembled, one of the most popular pop singers of all time. The soon-to-be passenger is a meticulous dresser, and everything matched and fit, even the wide fedora, tilted, and ideally matched to the collar of his knee length top coat. He was way too thin and seemed to have some exotic health problems.

His space dancer outfit was an almost tasteful dazzle effect. He has a face like a pommeranian and crinkles his eyes a lot. There was years of booze and psyche meds on his face, but he was personable. I've been seeing him at bus stops between downtown and Perrysville for years now, and tonight he spoke at some length about his culinary talents.

The bus came sooner than I would have liked, which is almost never the case, but the bats and crows were turning in such a narcotising performance. Once inside and seated on the EBA (all stops) I had occaission to overhear some challenging words about food by the man in the black fedora.

The young woman sitting nearest him asked if chitlins didn't smell nasty.
"Ya put in a whole lot of onions to cover up the smell. But you make chitlins right you got some good eating. Gotta cook it with hog maw. That's how I serve it. Chitlins with greens and hog maw."

It brought to mind the song 'Back Door' man. "Some men likes to eat pork and beans....I eats more chicken than any man ever seen." It's me. I swear. I eat huge amounts of chicken.

Hold your water if it sounds racist, all some people do is observe and make note. I'm a little more convoluted than just that, but what happened happened totally absent of malice. Along with fond remembrance of the Mississippi blues song, I got a passing mental picture of a pig's face wrapped in butcher paper and carried under the arm of a short, scrawny, aging soul brother just a few feet away. Go figure this flight of imagnation was happening in Pittsburgh.

His words. He said to his listeners, "I'm an old soul brother and I love chitlins and greens. With hog maw." I wasn't sticking my hand up his back and making his lips move. "I make my own salad dressing, too," he added.

Unless the man is younger than he looks, he's done better for himself than his famous alter ego. The glammor puss with all the dance moves kicked off at 51, and I'd put my chitlin chef at at least 59. I know for a fact that, so far, I outlived the same singer by over two years, and my face isn't falling off from having a lot of cosmetic surgery. But then I was always content to be a yutz. It's an awful trade off, in life.

The southern gourmet also reminded me that rabbits are copraphagic. It's another real long stretch at amateur science, but people have natural tendencies, served on the same plate with the collards, head meat and chicken shoe strings. The tendencies are garnished with what has been learned, such as the recipe, but I have been, for some time now, leaning to the view that food is hereditary more so than aculturated.

Not certain, but I'm probably the only person on the bus who has a bachelor's degree. Okay, it's bunk. He'd probably like steak if he grew up eating alot of it. I like a good steak. Fried chicken, too. And I went to college.

Are thoughts a manifestation of bigotry? Is it wrong to share the same said thoughts as simply as possible, allowing for having become a bit of a twisted bus rider? Have I become a bad passenger, or is it in the greater interest of man to let a few stray cats out of the erudite burlap bag? I don't think so, and if I live in this neighborhood long enough, I may get a chance to get the campy looking chef's opinion on all this and more. He's at the bus stop every day. I could learn to like chitlins. I know I'll be coming back for seconds on the hog maw. In any case, I won't be buying a car any time soon, so best to be get used to the cuisine.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Deer Meanness

A lot of deer live in this fine city, and I am pleased to share sidewalks and road ways with them. I like them. Yet it is unrequited liking.
Last week I was hiking through the miles of trails coursing Riverview Park, and was arrested by a herd of deer. I don't mean they pulled out badges, I mean that there were a lot of them, the nearest one about twenty feet away.
The meandering wooded trails bent archly. Upon looping around one of them, the herd was there like the G20 Summit with fur. They stood still at odd angles to one another, neatly spaced by a fathom, thin saplings poking up in between them. This was a unified gathering of deer.
It was a form of arrest, because I had to stop walking. This type of proximity is reserved for fables. No muse worth tapping into would waste the opportunity, nor will I.

A herd of deer in the woods takes more than a few seconds to take in because they blend in with wooded areas. This was a nicely camoflaged conference. Looking around slowly, the number of deer eased into awareness. The one closest to me gave me a slow once over, like it was checking the meter on the side of your house. Then it looked away, towards the second nearest antlerless deer. Might have been bucks, could have been does, might have been the season they drop their antlers.
The second deer gave me the look. I saw the same look on one of the foreign exchange students back at college. It's a cultured expression of mistrust. The closest deer gave me another glance, this time, clearly in a defensive though still dissmissive frame of mind. Some of the others in the herd were the first to speak.

"Why is that asshole standing there," I overheard a faun say to it's brethren laying peacefully under a sparse bush.
I could discern the voice of a buck by it's depth and resonance. "Just ignore the moth eaten piece of shit. We're here, and asshole is over there. Fuck 'em." the elder animal said, not loudly, but he knew I could hear.
Then the one closest to me, so near I could almost pet it, turned to me again, and said, "What are you looking at, Shithead?"
Then it turned it's head away, as if I wasn't there. But it knew I was still there. The next closest deer turned to me and said, "Why don't you bring a gun, Hiawatha?"
Don't they understand that is was they that accosted me?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

African Bee

Sports isn't my subject, so it wasn't too hard to take it when the Steelers lost the football game. I can't remember who they lost to. My buds thrilled to the game while it was going well, and I was able to get with the program. The defeat didn't seem to register with the goup, either, or at least not for more than a few minutes, and it was directly back to beer and some dinner soon as the bad news dropped.

It had been a decent afternoon with the gang, then it was necessary to walk to the bus stop nearest their shanty just below the Hill District. There's some steep hiking down hills and bedraggled city steps, and then, as occaision conforms, there are football related reconoiterings that go with people in the inner city.

Football was the main switch to realization that afternoon, but there was also the martial arts leaching out of the universal tea leaves in the air and into cognitive steaming water. I start remembering my martial arts moves when I'm in fear of being jumped.

The Dragon Ice Company always comes to mind when I walk past the ice factory on Herron Avenue. All it is is a warehouse with no windows and a lot of loading docks, some trucks with the company signs on it, and a billbaord advertising ice sculpture in front. It's flank is right along the road way, with just a few feet broadsided in steel fence between the pavement the bricks, so there isn't enough room to have Asians shooing ice blocks, like in the Bruce Lee flick. But it has a sober, work-a-day look, off set down the hill from the projects, so it corresponds pretty nicely to an old Korean action film,in my opinion.

Passing the ice factory, on it's corridor leading to Polish Hill, the next joy is the underpass bored out under Bigelow Boulevard. Nice as it was to get out of the rain, the underpass is a perfect place to get mugged, lending crooks a hand with the blind angles and remoteness. The stairs down and up are cleverly bent off from the tunnel, for modern mimimalist municipal styling. There were no junkies, no shining white pot heads sharing an experience in the tunnel, just me in my thin rayon rain coat and brim. Just the same, it was edgy.

It was chilly, and it was raining on my brand new hat. It's a woodsy outdoorsman's hat with thin canvas band stitched in loops to hold lures and amunition. A lot of the brothers are wearing the exact same replica. They cost ten bucks each at the Broadway Army Navy Store, which is where people in my part of town shop. The rest of their outfits come from a patchwork of store fronts that sell hoodies and jeans and bling. I get the rest of my gear from Walmart or K-mart or Haband dot com. But I think the hat is enough to convince people that I'm not all the way distant. Pooled up water was still dripping off the wide brim minutes after I got to the bus stop.

Uncomfortably close by discomfiture's cultivated standards, it was really a normal distance from me to the two young African American men. The two came along the curving blacktop above and trotted down the concete steps folded between the Herron Avenue Bridge and the busway underneath, cold rain keeping their heads down, hoods over their ball caps. Both young men appeared to have legs too short for their torsos, but this is largely an optical illusion performed by having their jeans belted below their buns. Praise Jesus, they all wear tennis shorts to cover the jewels, and most wear hoodies to flump over their shorts, so they're not immodest. I wish a few of them would spit less often.

Hardly a weather vane, I couldn't tell if they were sizing me up for a robbery, but since both got on the bus when it finally came, they probably weren't planning it, or were thinking better of trying anything with this bird. I'm the nervous type that you gotta watch.

First the more muscular of the two sat down on the bench about seven feet from me, which is, in polite circles, more than enough personal space. But not when you are worried about the veracity of your kung fu training. The tall thin one in the wide checked hoodie stood for a moment,then sat down, then got up again. Both men kept looking at me, and I kept my eyes down below the dripping brim.

I couldn't tell if the stocky one was trying to be freindly or if he was testing for my level of fear, but he looked right at me and struck up a conversation. He had been working on his Blackberry, and he turned to me and said, "They oughta' install plugs right here," indicating on the brick wall behind the steel benches. I didn't know what he was talking about, and at first, agreed that would be a good idea, while visualizing a fire hydrant installed in one of the few places where nothing was flamable.

The man had a difficult smile to read, looked like he was either part Mexican or Native American, and this can add some rough angles to comprehension among strangers. He also had what could be assessed as an angry disposition, chumming in gracious cultural nuances that may wish to dissent that nervous perception. It was either just the way the guy looked, or else he was doing the anger test to see if I could be scared into chumming over cash and valuables. I affected the most pleasant look I could work up for the occaission. The man began clarifying his position.

"If they put plugs in this bus stop right here, people could charge their phones," he said, indicating his Blackberry. Looked like there were a lot of aps on it, and I was tempted to take the relationship a step further by asking about them. I almost asked if he could do WordPad on the phone, but reconsidered it as probably too patronizing and goodie two shoes.

I started to realize what the man meant, he thought they should install electric outlets, and it's a perfectly good idea. Upon realizing that I had mispercieved his idea, I began explaining that it took a moment to realize what he was saying, and that an electic plug right there would be a good thing. Then I tried to realign attention to the sidewalk, water drops still falling off the brim.

The bus was taking forever because this was happening on a Sunday. Self conscious and worried, I tried to look pleasant and prepared for combat at the same time, tactfully checking for signs of a forthcoming attack. After a few minutes of this, the heavier man with the Blackberry jumped up off the steel bench, darted straight at the skinny man standing on the other side of him, and he started swiping open hand at his friend's black and white check hoodie. "There's a bee on you. You gotta get that thing off of you."

The bee bounced on the wet sidewalk over to the curb, landed on it's back, and worked its legs in the air, stunned, and with two soggy wings. It struggled there, all three of us looking down at it. It occured to me to go forward and step on it, but I remembered that bees are becoming an endangered species, possibly because of a billion irradiating cell phones. I also remembered that I grew up in the white middle class, where people lay guilt trips on you about social responsibility and kindness. While I was gathering wool about the differences in upbringings and socializations that were attendant at the bus stop, the man with the Blackberry stepped forward and tamped the yellowjacket to death with the tip of his Nike. "What's a bee doing coming in here?" he asked me, like white people are probably more up on entymology than he and his pal.

I dare say I probably am, but then the young man with the phone was obviously better adapted to technology. I don't have a Blackberry, just a boxy desk top at home. The black man has mobile internet. "It was probably just getting out of the rain," I said.

This was probably too much cross-over from the street to the college campus for this type of encounter. I could picture some old pedant from the university explaining that the bee probably wouldn't have stung the thin man, it may have just been seeking warmth on a cold, raining afternoon. The bus finally showed up before we all started emoting, praise God.

The bus ride from Polish Hill to downtown was uneventful, and the number eight was on it's way there when I got to Penn Ave. It was mostly packed, with a couple open seats up front. I sat alone on one of specialized seats for old folks, in between a triad of black men, all talking about the Pitt football game. These men were working class. You could tell.

"There ain't no quarterback." one of the men said, smiling, practically hooting. The guy was tall, well dressed, well proportioned, muscles neatly defined.

"That's Wanstadt's fault, He didn't put in the right quarterback."

the man on the right corner said, sitting directly opposite from me.

"They don't got no quarterback, It stunk up the game." said the tall man who had spoken first, the three men laughing and nodding at each other.

A heavy set man on a seat down added, "It don't matter that Pitt won, cause they was playing a nobody team, so it don't make 'em look major league. They was amteur."

"That's cause they ain't got no quarterback." the second in the triangle agreed.

"You can't stay a winning team with all field goals." one of them said.

"Okay, they got a place kicker. So what. A real team would crush that rookie."

Talking, laughing, smiling, taking their voices all sorts of places when they talked, I wasn't even close to saying anything about football. I can barely keep up with the talk at my friend's place where they watch Sunday football. Just the same, the spirit was there for anyone to plug into, even without having to know exactly what was said. It was feeling good to be somewhere in the middle of the black working class.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Failing My Audition

I'm remorsing the mistake I made. I should have put in my upper plate before going to the audition, but it was for a yogurt commercial. All it said on the prospectus was that the 'lucky chosen' would eat a spoonful of Crackteef and affect a look of sincere pleasure and well being. I tried explaining to the exec that I wouldn't have to smile or chew, but when she asked, "Do you have the other half of your dentures with you," I had a feeling I wouldn't get a chance to sit next to Johnni Grant Custer on a couch.

It's not just childish dissappointment because I don't get to be in the commercial or get paid. I've admired everything Johnni ever did, except for a few bad movie roles, which all famous people have sometimes. She's taken on a stellar role as spokesperson for a number of important social causes. If it wasn't for her, most people would have never heard of Powder Village in Haiti, or the Bolivian Bugs Initiative. Those are the clever names really connected people think up for their movements. Every time I see her on the Crackteef commercials, it galls me that I can't sit next to her in a really special kind of relationship. It's what Crackteef is supposed to be all about.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


We prefer the word 'kin' to the word 'cult." All the other cults are cults, except for the one you drink poison Kool Aid for. That's a joke we like to tell.

A bunch of us headed down to that Virginia campus where the big shooting happened so we could counsel any survivors that needed our help. They all do, really, but we can respect free choice. The thing about a free and pluralistic society is that there are people who have accepted the truth, and the people who can see it come aboard.

That's the simple part. We Kin have to help people to see the truth. All Kin know that they have to serve the Kahuna. That's the new word Kin Marshall McLune introduced to us to cover everything of a spiritual nature. This may be confusing. Think of the Kahuna as a tall sheet metal filing cabinet full of file folders containing all human spirituality. That wasn't so hard to digest. Kin Marshall gave us the word 'Kahuna' because it is a hip and happening sort of word.
So be it.

One of the funny things about enlightenment, of any kind at all, is that once it is apprehended it sits on a shelf with the toaster you got for opening a pass book account. It doesn't help you, unless you are making toast. To put it another way, you still have to use deodorant and argue with shrewish, promiscuous brother/sister Kin. I am every bit as committed to the cause as Kin Shannon, but she hates my guts and is a truly horrible person to drive with. We got to sign out the four ton Dodge Suburban (we call it the 'Burb') so it was a certainty that the trip would be fun, but we had to pour out 300 miles of ugly highway at 135 percent of the speed limit to get to the campus before the rest of new-found religious orders got a chance at it.

Kin Marshall realized that there is a limitless organizational device, best compared to a filing cabinet, that allows the cosmic counselors to track everyone's earthly thoughts and comings and goings. Of course this is merely a visual aid, the real process is a big hairy deal and it can only be understood when it is presented in outline/overview form. Too, the gospel can't be fully accepted until 501 c3 status is granted.

Our leader was seated in his high school guidance counselor's office one day of his junior year. His grades had been slipping, and there were some complaints about his hygiene, so he was sent to the guidance counselor. Mr. Stepchuck was a stern and overbearing social worker, with a frightening habit of pulling drawers of his filing cabinet out while brow beating young Marshall McLune. It would make a thunderous noise, and Marshall was bright enough to see that the filing cabinet served as a sort of slap stick. An authority figure would pronounce the complaints against Marshall, indicate that this was marked on his permanent record card, and pull the drawer much the way radio personalities would crank a siren to fill in the image of an emergency

The cabinet supposedly contained Marshall's permanent record card, which he was not allowed to see, and J. Edgar Hoover was. I told you that the Kahuna was an easy spiritual path to skip around on.

One of the things that brought Kin Shannon into the group was that she had some marks on her permanent record card.

So we argued most of the way to Virginia. It was everything that happened since she and I met a few months earlier. There was the incident in which I mixed up all the plastic beverage cups and forgot to turn the attached perma-straw to the West Wall of our temple. Then I put a whole cup of sugar in the grape Kool Aid, instead of the half cup that we were supposed to limit ourselves to. And I had no way of knowing that the office supplies needed to be chanted over before they can be put in their storage place. Marshall looked at me like I had tried stick a shiv in the Pope. But that was because Shannon ratted me out. Just like that. As if I had deliberately violated policies and procedures. That was her way of lowering me in the eyes of our leader.

Those were the conflicts that I could be impeached for. Then there are the typographical errors and falsifications that crop up in the papers of the soul. It was certainly not my fault that Shannon was in with the clique and I wasn't. She came aboard with a group of her friends from college. They eloped from their freshman year together.
They sneak drugs together, and they won't give me any. They even stopped our con-fabs to watch their collective favorite television show, reruns of "Friends." I hate that show. It never fails to remind me how unlikely spiritual growth most often is. It also reminds me that I don't belong to the clique.

I have gathered from membership in the Kahuna that as long as people share an objective, the petty differences in character among group members can be filed away for as long the goal is actively sought. Yet someone always manages to re-open the closed cases of interpersonal disharmony.

Kin Shannon was not lazy, nor was she a cynic. Her problems mostly had to do with poorly organized relationships. Too, there was a poorly organized little bag of behaviors that resulted in all those crappy kinships. That is why the Kahuna is such a keen way of leaping out of your folder of bad things, and into your next higher file drawer.

One of our policies is based on the Judeo-Christian type confession. It's mostly Christian, because Marshall used to be Catholic. We all have to fess up and make up. That's one thing everyone agrees on. Even those of us who aren't in the inner circle. I pulled the Burb over to the shoulder of I79, out of the way of prying head lights and confronted her about her patent and capricious anger. I was feeling imbued, and may have gotten to the documents in her folder.

Just the same, I have to call it a grudge match. Shannon is a drug dependant nympho, and I suspect her of being frigid but by the time she and I were both smoking a Cool, I think we had both neatened up our eternal documentation.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Poseidon Comes Up For Air

Even dream jobs become stifling if you stay at them long enough. It's been twenty years of this pink heaven in an ivory tower. I'm tired of being a creative writing instructor. It's no big deal, this sort of career burnout isn't as serious as, say, postal worker syndrome, but lately minutes of inner static have grown to hours, hours, hours.

It's not as bad as it sounds. But I've propagated the humanist myth for so long that at times I wish I could sort mail. And every once in a while the joists below the aegis fall sideways. They can't fire me for what happened, but I think my stock at the state college may have gone down.

Larry had been coming to my office, not missing one single of my requisite office hours. He isn't completely devoid of talent. Larry isn't Orpheus, and he doesn't have breasts, so you can imagine how hard I had been working to support the college claptrap pertaining to Man's Unlimited Capacity.

Larry has been working on an epic poem. He has been adamant about completing it, even as I told my class more than once that epic poems are to be avoided, as are variable rate mortgages and 'time shares' in tourist traps. No one has time anymore for the longer drink of poison.

As Larry read to me the forty-third stanza of "Poseidon Comes Up for Air," my attention moved to an earthbound woman who had the finest twat in all of the limitless cosmos. But his skill as a reader had improved over this leaden term of a common pregnancy. Larry managed to break my wool gathering with "a humming bird lit on the man-god's epaulet." If someone who mattered had used that line, it would be a fairly good one. I was able to listen to the rest of Larry's stanza before the static turned to sirens.

"Let me stop you there, Larry. That stanza is perhaps the best verse and the finest reading you've done this term!
I think we can punch it up a little. After the man-god kisses the tiny scales on the humming bird's foot, I want him to rip the little fucker off his epaulet, tear it to tiny feathered scraps, and shove them, in a moment of masochistic hubris, up his left nostril. I suggest ending this stanza with these simple words: Fuck this feathered symbol of enlightenment and freedom. Fascism, fascism forever!"

It seems that during the outburst I snatched the yellow legal pad out of Larry's hand and turned it to a mass of humming bird feathers. It was Larry's only copy of Poseidon Comes Up For Air, hand written like a note from lawyer to defendant. As he walked, shaking and birdlike, out of my office, I followed his steps with a few words of encouragement. "That was an awfully nice reading, Larry."

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Luddite Elite

There are reasons to be glad about being in Pittsburgh. The history here makes eye candy anywhere you go, the attrocious lack of decent planning is still tolerable, you can always predict who will win an election, and people are better than most about minding their own business, minus the usual snoops and gossips.

This is a quiet town.

In spite of as many as twelve shooting incidents a week, virtually all neighborhoods are peaceful at all times other than when the angry cars or pedestrians pass. A few alarming seconds, and things are just like they were before, like an urban pasture. Pittsburgh has improved in a subtractive process over the past five years, having scared away most of the very people who have plagued my life for much of it: people who think they are better than me.

The breed of human that I would like to lambast today is the grouping that feels the old ways are better than then the new ones, and most of these swine have advanced college degrees.

These people come in herds, like smug elk. Few have the stones to live where I do, (IN TRENCHES I TRUST,) and I am pleased about how well some nice, loud hip hop, pounding out a basement window, will disperse a flock of soft college liberals. It's hunting season for fledglings with credit cards and laptops. Okay, there's some noise here and there, but for the most part it helps.

There's this thing called 'more rusticated than thou." I thought they all died, but there are still people out there trying to prove they are happier than you in their unheated cabin.
Few of this set are actually poor, many have old money from Mayflower dynasties, yet they live like Daniel Boone. When here, they fill their apartments with antique farm equipment.

Some of these cheese eaters make their own cheese, and they are too inversely elite to make brie or cammembert, it's always some rough hewn nameless goat curds, prepared so not to challenge the environment or appear to be anything but pure primordial munchies for pseudo-agrarian snobs.

I had the misfortune of visiting too many of these people's homes because I went to college at a time when people where still expected to be social. It was a deceptive and false premise since the Earth oozed out of the sun. There is no reason to believe, anymore, that people interact for any reason other than cool mutual interest, aside from which people cut their losses, in discomfort and and ever-useful fear, by fleaing the vacinity. Some of the back-to-nature set moved to Maine, others found midwestern forests and farms far from here. Each day I face East and thank urban blight for chasing away some jerks.

I wore polyester slacks at the height of the Natural Fiber Wars, circa 1967-89. For 'wrinkle free,' I paid with my social standing among luddite academics and hippies. Some of these people owned looms and went on torid junkets to adore one another's hand woven fabrics. The least deviation tolerated from their pink program was either Osh Kosh or L.L. Bean. If they weren't having a backroom pow wow about my petrochemical pants, they were angry that I wasn't altering Middle Eastern politics, as many did with cash contributions to the PLO. They despised American smoke-stack industry and condominiums and malls, bought folk art from people who seem, like them, to live like Pilgrims, and they objected to my love for Clint Eastwood movies. These people objected to my views on space and time, also.

I wouldn't have such a dark attitude about it if people weren't as annoying. More backward:more ethical is crud. People in foriegn lands don't hack each other to death because they are technologically advanced. And I wouldn't have let one side of the moon go dim if I hadn't been persecuted by people who object to my views on business and industry. They all think that everyone could survive as cobblers if people got hip to what used to be necessary. The past wasn't better than now, unless raw milk is better than a Big Mac.

They hated my linear, goal oriented thinking. They think in trained, enlightened clusters of sod.

To spare further insult, I seldom leave the comfort of illiterate Perryhilltop, which exited it's last uppity post-graduate in flannel and dungarees in the 1980s.

Isolationism and healthy mindless consurmerism, here, is sweet.

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Diggs

worthless brass

people hoped for answers with their incense

hollow Buddhas spumimg a narrow jet of smoke

fez tassles rotating

pastie tassles indexing opposite each other

bikinis made of fake fish scale

boom boom hiss wiggle wiggle

candle sticks in deep need of a polishing

a gong and a gohonsin scowling

small Persian rug and climbing rope up to the rafters

confined to athletic barracks

the collections of old lamps and fixtures

arranged around everbody's futon

choice of bible or comics

three hots

and some stuff they let you keep

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Granny's Complaint

foul people forever and the mind is riddled
inch worms bowing their backs as they crawl the craters
to think I used to be elated

Timmy kissing a picture of his bastard baby
mystery money siphoning

acres of skin have been harrowed with Tim's wanderings
whole herds of him have been pasturing in row houses
an argument and round shot-put-like people bellowing at their children
in a yard six feet from the street
mongrel at their feet

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Horrid Haiku Trilogy

wrinkling in syrup
indigo plums don't fatten
both dead and wholesome

marbled monkey meat
served with orangutan gravy
half-shell skull dishes

wearing X-ray specs
backsides of ladies unseen
need return postage

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Temp Pool Pieces #33

Every time Stan has a sensory overload at work, he has to report it immediately to his supervisor. As soon as possible, and from my perveiw, it was very fast, the supervisor would arrange an ad hoc meeting to help Stan with his snit.
The sheet metal shelves that order my senses do not so easily overload, as does Stan and his occupational handicap. In fact, you could say I'm a bad man around a mail room, which is where I met Stan and the management team that worked so well on his behalf. You should see me go with a packing tape dispenser.
Now I won't go ratting about Stan's group of ad hocs. Not all togeher. One of them made a regular thing of complimenting my free choices in business casual attire, just like it reads on the mimeograph sheet they gave me. Slacks and a golf shirt. I filled the office shoes of that order real nice.
I'm not saying I had major conflict with Stan, either. In the most humanistic tradition, no fault comes into the picture, though his ad hocs have to resolve the matters he toddles over to them, on which occaissions I get, among other things, compliments on my duds. They, so far, haven't had to trot out the water board, I fess up like a trained otter right away to have been inadvertantly frightening Stan.

So Stan and I are in the basement illeum like two baking turds, underneath the proud and handsome head of a law firm. I can feel the parystaltic action against me. The marble building I'm in reminds me of a stately mastiff, and the next loaf it pinches is me. They really need someone less threatenting to Stan.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Suit Flight

As a man in the botton third portion of a financial downward trajectory, steps are being taken to pull up the joy stick and point the nose cone upward. I've decided to dress better. Pinched for the operating budget, I had to obtain at least one clean, presentable business suit, in case any one is hiring kamikaze displaced middle management. Leaping from my crashing biplane to modern aviation, I decided to feret on the internet the cheapest ready made suit that escaped the sweat shops of Pakistan. Air mail, or ground shipping, it is here, fruit of some alien loom.

It arrived in the mail, in an envelope smaller than I had expected, though this polyesther business suit didn't even need the sactuary of a cardboard box. Its wrinkle free fabric is so advanced it's a space odyssey.

The color is good. And once there were no good colors in polyester gaberdine before this day.

Rose petals falling from the caked ceiling, the price, with postage, was fifty two bucks, with introductory discount. Not only was it impossible to look cool in a cheap suit of recent yore, there was no internet in the 1970s, when the disco era caused confusion and revulsion for what has emerged as the lungs of Orpheus. Synthetic fibers have risen in consciousness. This suit fits so well, you could style your way out of the Underworld. This, too, was only released from Olympus when man/woman was ready to apply themselves to the task of innovation.

Maybe it is the length of the trousers that validates the Golden Mean. There is less than a quarter inch wiggle room between the right length and a fashion blunder so paralyzing that even your earth tone silk tie will look like manure. I will not asperse the character of man whose cuff gently tap at the top of his shoes, and I will not be concilliary to a man who is dressed for a flood. A quarter inch shorter, he is a fool. But if the pant leg is from the fashion moguls of Zeus, it will take greater initiative than merely touch the shoes. Trousers of impact break about seven inches above the instep, such to give a yet more pleasing and compelling look. It is merely a subtle crease, again living to the tolerance of a indexing lathe, but if it works, you will be perceived as super-mortal. Here the coat is the proof of Golden Mean, as it's proper length is in harmonic balance with the ideal trouser. Should that be disrupted there isn't a hat or collar bar that can save your fashion statement.
My new suit breaks properly, and the coat, too is the proper length. Valhalla.

For this nest segment, subtited 'the lifting of banes,' cat hair doesn't stick to the material, and it is machine washable. The all-cotton cut rate off-brand chinos I had been wearing the past fourteen years are indellible with cat hair. The static cling is so powerful I once seemed to have fur. Be mindful the Ancient Greeks abhored body hair. The new duds abhor it as elegantly.

Now is the prima vera in a new way of dressing. I had suffered, in mind, about the right way to dress, and fretted the cost. I wondered, would it be possible to look hip, while sustaining a blood oath of cheapness. Victory. It has become clear that there are people in business suits, down town, and there are worse off individuals who are not dressed for advancement.
Polyester has achieved advancement. Victory. The mysteries of proportion, texture and responsiveness to flourescent commercial light have been in formation all that trying while, when the leisure suit caused a great fabric to be wronged. It has found itself, and has merged with the muses of Christian Dior and Oleg Cassini. The suit fits perfectly. The muses and their sartorial excellence. The ghosts are admiring this victory.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Talking Bears

Deer are family in Western Pennsyvania. Virtually all residents have hunted, shot, eaten or merely crashed into one with the family SUV. And most residents have stalked and beaten a relative, so there is unity. These nether-species cousins are abundant. So much so, a lot of them are turning up in the inner city here. I see fauns behind the house. Whole hurds of them stick their snoots in your pockets. They roll people.

Racoons enter and exit merrily through the holes in a neighbor's roof. To shame the poshest love nest, I have a view of the zoo out the front picture window.

Opossums are more rhetorical in my neighborhood than in others. Chipmonks have implimented family planning, without prompting from a bureau. My cat mastered plain English. And now, bears have been talking to me.

There was a black furry ursa minor, not bigger than me, but near enough for discomfiture. It lacked the clarity my dear Noodles expends like nickels, and Calicao cats are known to excell in ellocution and wit, but the young bear was able to convince me it wasn't Smokey the Bear. It was it's own fur and hide. He was a real person in his own natural costume. Not some bozo.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Visiting Stig

Some nights my beloved cat, Noodles, sits on the front porch and chats with Stig, the alley cat. Stig has no permanant address, yet his personality is superior to that of most homeless people. Last night I happen to over hear them talking about Stig's past.

"Yeah, I was living with a guy downtown"

"Where about's, Stig?"

"It was in one of those new type apartments, you know, where there used to be a store or a warehouse."

"So you were living with someone who was pretty well healed, and otherwise, a piece of shit."

"Yeah. Yeah. The guy has money."

"So what happened, Stig?"

"Problem with the guy's piano."


"Okay, it's his priceless Steinway concert grand piano."

"You fucked with it."

"Yeah. I did. I fucked with it."

"So you just decided to fuck with his Steinway?"

"No. He kept making me get off his piano. Fucking piano. That's what I say. It's his fucking fault. Anyway, when he was out of the room I'd hop in the open cover and piss and shit on the strings. Sometimes I'd take a piss right in the goddam hammer assemblies. Takes months for it to take effect."

"So he noticed sooner or later that there was piss and shit in his piano."

"That's about the size of it."

"Was he one of those assholes who think they're Carl Haas?"

"No. This asshole thought he was Liberace. Fucking closet case. But since you mention it, he was playing the Pathetique Sonata, when shit balls started flying out the front of the goddam Steinway. Some of them bounced off the canope and hit the bastard in the face."

"So it was worth getting kicked out."

"Oh, fuck yeah."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Cats of Honor

It has always bothered me when some people have to explain beyond the facts why they need my help or want my friendship. Friendship is the worse explanation of the two for there being the leverage of need.

Ramon is a creature of honor, so his few impositions are never taken badly here. We have been speaking freely for several years now, and at times his infectious smile on a black moon face, with it's long jagged scar down the cheek, eased to plain talking when he told me why my help was needed. On one such occaission he told me that a bargain is a dinner table, across which the pork and gravy is said. That was something that I already knew, and needed to hear from an other.

It was getting to the end of the month. I was eating spagetti with my fingers, taking a few strands directly from the collender in the sink, lifting them over my head and lowering them down the hatch. Noodles was finishing a can of Nine Lives beef chunks in gravy, skewering the last of the chunks with a paw hook and lifting them over her head and into her lovely mouth.

Ramon came to the door, I let him in, and we sat together in the kitchen for a few minutes trying to put one another at ease, as the smile on the giant alley cat's face was in storage till his work was done.

"Bruce. Bruce. My family has been doing well of late, as you know. We have had woodchucks with meat like a Brahma bull, and we have had birds that flew too close to the sun"

"You mean they flew too close to those powerful paws of yours, Ramon," I said, to break up the tension a little. The joke was not wasted and Ramon was able smile just a little. But there was a reason for the visit, and it showed beside the scar and a broken whisker. "Bruce, this time it is for a friend of my family. A friend who has not been well. He has colitis and is unable to digest the foods my family has so enjoyed this great harvest season."

Noodles listened as carefully and fully as did I. Her white and pumpkin fur coat covered every grace in the world. And, too, she could be a cynic among cats and people who thrive among these complexities. "What the fuck, Bruce, I got extra food," she said, in a brash tone that, ironically, salved the hurt of need. "Will two cans of Nine Lives get your friend clear for a few days?"

"Yes, Noodles, two cans will permit my friend to regain his strength."

"It's in the closet over the sink, Bruce."

"Yes, Noodles, I know where we keep the food."

The Cat Saga

Noodles, Ramon and I sat at the cable spool in the house he and his had acquired through mortgage failure. We took turns pouring Cuervo and biting the lemon, while off to the side all the kittens were eating sweetly around the carcus of a fresh woodchuck. For the grown-ups the birds, tar tar, fluttered inside us all like birds drinking tequilla. Ramon can make robins into anchovies, or bacon to garnish his wonderful ground hog serviche.

"You might say that cats are, in some respects, like your fundamentalists," Ramon said as he looked at the thousand kittens. Noodles doesn't laugh out loud, or even move much once she settles in, but she registered that funny thought. "We're not very good ones," she commented.

"That's religeon, from the vantage point of sex" I said. "I think sex is better when it's used to influence politics."

"Was her name, 'Lewinski,'" Ramon dropped in. He was able to keep abreast of current events.

"Yes, Ramon. She influnenced politics a little bit by making Bill Clinton look like a jerk."

"It didn't make much difference," said Noodles, dryly.

As Ramon poured another round of tequilla, he sagely added, "No, but we should know that indiscretions are worse for people who are rich than for us."

Some people regard cats as thankless creatures, but that is because they are in the dark.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I'm dying my hair to black. It's a dollar job, buck a pop at the store, and it's soaking into my head right now like uranium. It really really helps to keep it dark on top. But there is a problem.

Earlier today I tested my new electric power assist bicycle on a long run. Mission sucked, it was as strenous as riding a road bike the same distance. Laws of physics, blow me. As soon as I got my wind back from taking the trip, I looked in the mirror, saw how under-the-bridge my hair looked, and went for my hair dye pack like a spawning salmon.

The skull cap of sludge is turning colder, but I don't put that in front of my dog sled of misery. Just a second ago, I got an excruciating spasm. I'm in screaming pain, and the shit on top of my head, last I checked the mirror, has me looking like an undesirable. I am going to have amble to the kitchen sink to hose the shit out of my hair. Will soon be hiking like the Hunchback, swearing and screaming. Can't fucking wait.

I got another ten minutes before the hose, so here's the special thing that happened on the bike trip. Most of the way home, the battery was showing near discharged. The bike weighs 75 badly placed pounds, hills here are steep, spires you might say. To discharge completely would hurt.
Like now.

A few blocks from home, working the last volts the battery liked to donate, like corporate America, I decided to rest near the high rise. There's a double lot where two crack houses used to compete like Sears and Monkey Wards. The demolition squad left some of the cinderblocks from the basents, providing a cozy cold corner, minus the rest of the room, to scrooch up in. Corners were made for cowering in. There I was, perfect.

This gangle of cut and dragged morning glory vines tied the room together, like a tall house plant.
It looked more like a hybrid tumbleweed and crown of thorne. This area has a lot of Catholics, so you get that sort of effect in shit that blows in and out of here. My cinder block corner had an open view of the first floor of the highrise, beehive of dysfunction and ease, illness and freedom from hard labor. I get a Harriet Tubman vibe. There was a bureaucratic set of tunnels and trails to arrive at the current state of liberation,but I had my own free piece of concrete basement floor to enjoy.

The words, 'hi there, hi there' started flying like crows and doves in the air. At first I tried to ignore it, since I wasn't aware I was being spoken to. I'm good about cleaning my plate when you have me over for dinner, might even fold the napkin. Whatever. You don't go looking to see who it is that's talking, unless you know them, and their doe eyes are meeting yours, absent of malice. Otherwise, you pretend people aren't there.

'Hi there' kept flapping its blowsy heather wings. The flesh is weak. I started to look around.

"Look up higher." she said. First I looked at the fifth floor of the highrise, and it was its usual row of vacant unseasoned concrete balconies. I looked at my bike like it was half guilty for what was happening. It's fucking near time to rinse the liquid plutonium gell that will soon fix my repulsive grey hair. Presto change-o, it will be black. I might look young again when this is over.

On the seventh floor. "When the moon is in the seventh house."
Soon as I looked up there she entered my life with all the familiarity that modern times lack. I'm a lucky piece of shit with a not too successful electric bike.

A huge woman in a night gown was talking to me from on high. Shit like this happened in the Bible, but things were more substantive in those days.
She seemed to like me. "And Mercury alines with Mars." A song from the rock musical 'Hair' started up in my head, like a juke box.
This isn't the age of Aquarius. This was not the sort of woman that gives me the big hard one. The batteries 'down there' have been running lower than in years past, but there is still a supply of juice. The visage above didn't help. But damn it all, she was friendly.

The little bell on my clock spring timer just went 'ding,' and I must get this shit out of hair, so I am going to leave off at how I conversed with the huge woman, she waving her arms in the air like a big bird, her too transparent nightie doing a dance to the bounding flesh. We conversed, about nothing but the weather, fine as could be asked for, and maybe how sweet it is to have such a fine resting spot right where I was. She was right, I had my own corner of a demolished basement to hang in till both legs got half back to normal. Damn like the ending in The Yearling.

Maybe it's a hamstring. Something cord-like and imperative feels like it is tearing loose from the trailer hitch nearest my ass. This bullshit has to mean something, or else something else would have happened. I know per usual that after the hair dye rinses out, the skin on my forehead and face will have on it embarrassing stains that take about a day or two to wear off.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Winter Manifesto of 2010

Winter Manifesto of 2010

nigh on twenty years
the twenty four hour bug flies away
people begin to tell the truth
that trophy shelf of bum steers and slanders
happy collecting dust behind a sacred cow
won't fall off the brackets
this long here
the tin throne begins to answer
cronies quit giving you the run around
they drop the tools of graft
and shift to dull resistance
it's a chilly place to work into
hip deep in snow
the plow milles distant

Friday, February 5, 2010

Buddy Film

peroxide blond has my back
up the row of gyroscopic stainless steel stools
got bullet warts in my back from standing up
patella wedges in slug frappe
got the riteous limp while rousting
blue plate specials that need their ass cooked
a row of them in watch caps and CPOs
you know I haved to jack on the wharf rats
Fake Yellow pathologically quiet and cruel
futzes in the passenger seat
the Slumlon scrap leather trench coat
a million scars to the yard
covers the hoary brute

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Class of '75

In a town that saw the rabbit run
those first two decades of fun
were blocks of ice in the sun

twelve years of school
jerkwater town and the fool
remorsing at home on a stool

steeped in hair and bone
thirty years alone
airs out the hemp cologne