Bleeding city blue





He never got sick of beer or women,

a new brand each with every appearance,

collected in the basement gallery on a shelf,

photographs and beer cans

carved with strange phone number,

he, the manager of a fast food emporium,

with fifteen-year-old girls lined out the door,

doing him service,

their heads bobbing and mouths moaning

to the music as he sat in his chair,

declaring perfect fidelity

as he drove his wife to the hospital

for the fifth time in so many babies…





My Way,

The name had nothing to do with Frank Sinatra

one of a thousand other rinky-dink

go-go dancer places this side of the Hudson,

the crowd, a rogue's gallery of ill-contented me,

sleazing through the neighborhood like legless slugs,

drooping over the bar with tips for the "girls",

bearded man in back eyeing all

with finger on the shotgun trigger

ticking the time off in his head like judge,

jury and executioner,

shouting out last call before locking the doors.





The boy in the candy store told me:

Momma loosed the belt on me,

like a poor nigger-slave from Buncombe,

my back-side not even bleeding

for lipping the `f' word on her,

papa on the road again,

forever calling up collect at night,

saying how he missed us,

though sometimes,

listening on the extension

I could hear the giggling in the background

And almost smell the perfume through the wires,

momma beating me for `f'ing her,

like I was the one who never came home at night,

drawing up stakes in some distant town,

bleeding loneliness out my zipper instead of piss.





Hiding in darkness

the young man stuffs

himself in a bottle

at night like

unbroken man of war

people gazing

from the safety of glass

hearing the roar

of the sea

never chancing

the ranting monster

of moon and tides

ill-winds and death,

gales and furies,

mistaken voyages,

their single-sighted


screaming blindly

from shore,

hating the lost

child who still

lives free


the bottle.





No clean air today,

just the smoke of the factory

thick in my eyes

as I rise from the leaves,

loose bits of tobacco clinging to my teeth,

spitting out blood

the wine's all gone

and so are the sad pixies

that pranced all night around the tin-can fire,

old bodies remain,

with green teeth and blackened eyes,

their Cinderella gowns

now rags around their shoulders,

moaning, groaning as they grope for breeze,

none of that cool air, mind you,

just the willowed river thick with bees,

buzzing with the traffic over the Wall Street bridge,

sad and tired

makes a man want to lie down again-- and die.





The city ain't ugly, man,

it just is

some dumb rock left after a glazier has passed,

human-building nature stranded here

in the shadows of abandoned factories,

cool, cruel memory of eras

chiseled out in periods of design,

romantic or realistic,

like turfs fought over

by uptown, intellectual gangs,

or rude old English poets

fighting over a dead stiff,

Blake fighting Dickens leaving pits of Dante behind,

the brooding masses

crawling from door to door,

beggars in anybody's vocabulary.





I'm strung out on radio tunes,

shoulder boxes carried along the street,

the plague of empty boys

whose homes cannot satisfy their urge for sound,

screaming children competing for the bottom beat,

the illegitimate lack of isolation,

converted, as if a new faith,

into billboards and neon signs,

the blasting rap saying their alive,

scaring up not a feather from the backs of ducks

or shifting a blade of grass,

the park people brutalized in war-zone fury,

oppressive, indignant,

monstrous rich people insisting upon silence.





We do not all stand in the same limelight,

looking for the same measure of success,

the dark chambers around the circle

seem comfortable for some,

or for some, a torture chamber in which they are trapped

pounding ever on the bars of light

to gain entrance they cannot have,

sabotaging themselves,

their climb, a strange self-molestation,

as if any other form of living

would be more torturous.

All their lives

they have seen only

that single circle of light,

flying to it like moths,

suffering the burn of wings

and in that pain, joy of having found it,

coming to it for a brief instant

before crashing,

knowing what others in this darkness do not,

that there is indeed light in the world.





There is no time to contemplate the soul,

sore claws digging at the earth like so many spades,

looking for secrets of survival,

the back breaking bend of rage

satisfied with Friday’s check

sore, rough men sit at the bar,

discussing the world in vulgarities,

and prime time TV,

too tired, too disinclined to think better of their lives,

love lost to the brutality of common men,

drunk by seven,

beating their wives by eight.





People called us Mall Rats,

swaggering overnight workers

graveling in bakery dough and donuts,

a piracy of late night rages

roaring through the empty halls,

the echoes of footsteps and voices

like sounds of ghosts,

or songs of freedom,

the strict rules of corporate mall management

lost in the long shadows of closed stores and silent muzak,

our bare feet dangling in the manager’s precious fountain,

skinny dipping for dimes and quarters

We, raising the ire of daylighters who believe,

with reason,

our midnight mockery was aimed at them,

and their organized lives,

our underground,

a sewer of doused lights and blinking alarms,

of still-mannequins winking from closed store displays,

our madness running rampant

on roller-skates or surf boards,

leaving a trail of wheels and wet feet

across the otherwise unspoiled tiles of polished floors,

like the mark of Cain upon their otherwise perfect world.




I saw him today with a can of beer in his hand,

the man who’d detoxed in the best state facility,

after having learned that life ain't no sixties trip,

he, always changing my name to `Ray'

when he spoke to others of me,

always confusing me in time,

shaping me in his memory of one of his original cronies,

lying to students to justify his latest incarnation,

denying his hatred of cops and soldiers,

denying his Marxism like Peter did Christ,

waiting for the roosters to reveal his complicity.





They asked me to decide,

giving me options on a career,

a perfect test-tube child-like machine,

cloned to their specifications,

the lessons of Berkeley: 1964,

lost in new world orders,

no police cars to surround,

no swarm of protestors,

no political pamphlets either,

just me, Thoreau’s majority of one,

wishing I could think,


or make-love in the privacy of mind,

knowing that in 1991 no such room exists.






no one is immune.

After a year as messenger


the subway stops still confuse me,

two cups of cappuccino

buzzing in my head,

stations blinking by

like sixties trip-strobes,

graffiti pasted over the map

no hope, no up and down,

no plans for going home,

surfacing in the middle

of nowhere like a groundhog

discovering spring,

looking at the shadow

of skyscrapers

rather than my own,

diving back,

accepting another

six whole stops

like winter.





Newspapers and coffee

the newsprint wall

rustling as minutes tick by

for the second bus,

cold rain dripping from porch roof,

long walk to shelter

where suited men huddle under briefcases and morning reports,

grumbling as the squeaky bus doors open

four feet and four water inches deep from the curb,

riding the eternity from suburb to city,

like superman changing from Clark Kent,

the smell of sweaty bodies thick in the closed place,

despite cologne,

morning showers and deodorant,

depositing them in the turtle race of lost hours

and faceless dreams.




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