William S. Boroughs (shit gives me nightmares)
on the 2 from Brooklyn, bony pieces of people
jockey for change and I give it up. Schizophrenic
in the corner looks like my dad. Pill-eyes,
bruise-blue. “I see you sitting with those ghosts.
They think the war’s still going on. They won the war.”
A suit asks if I’m bothered. I shake
my head. “Ah, she’ll be all right,” the madman says.
And we move through the tubes, ride
to the Upper West Side. Band from New Orleans
is playing jazz. It’s my first
cigarette of the day. No tragedy there.
In Brooklyn the trees are dropping
ashy leaves. They lit up
earlier than me. I’ve been waiting for the change.
They used to play jazz at funerals. Makes sense.
Dying could be hot & noisy like that, the throb
of breathing too hard, heartattack
or stroke. Refrains clot up then burst.
Or it could be gentle as a girl
with change in her pockets.
Listen. No tragedy. Either way
I’ll ride there reading
junk-soaked schizo stories, and
arriving, keep time.
On the Lam
I spent Monday in that tattoo parlor
we passed walking back late
from the A train. Now my cheekbones
are a pine forest, and there are 3 moons
across my brow. Last weekend I broke my nose
so it would make a different shape. Escape
is something we must take seriously, dear.
No one will recognize your palm
if you slice a new fateline. (I made sure
there was a knife in your bag
last time we left the apartment. It is
under your jeans with the 2 holes.)
I’m sorry I can’t tell you where I am.
I’m sorry you can’t laugh
and call me your spigot-sweet
over the new nose.
I sway south
setting up the carnival in each new town
while summer goes sour on the ground.
It sounds romantic, but the lice
like things rough and orgiastic.
I’m glad you can’t see me with my shaved scalp.
(Incidentally, I thought today of your voice
and how it is distinct from any other.
If you tore out your uvula
it might remedy that.)
Today 2 fat cops
in a slick cruiser kept asking
questions. I turned the switch
to start the tilt-a-whirl, and pretended
I couldn’t hear over the noise. One woman
said I was her daughter, and they went away.
Later she brought me a plate of cornbread and stew.
I ate only half, and then remembered
you are somewhere sleeping
on pine needles,
or hawking umbrellas in a place
where it rains too often,
or in a bus chair with thinning upholstery,
or on back roads over the speed limit,
or chivvied into motel sheets
with a fresh cut up your palm.
It was quiet.
In the other tent
someone was having an orgasm.
The rain dropped numbered above me.
I finished the stew.
The Man in the Flatbush Ave. Station
is Writing an Autobiography
…before these lean-rib days.
I spend too long in cities, grow ghastly.
The trains pace beneath, north-south, south-north.
I‘ve ridden them through enough times to know.
I’ve watched the sun rise on each end
of the island, and the moon has followed me
That’s a different story.
I once spent the night with a madwoman.
The hobo marks said
the town was good. We slept
in the stale hay of an old barn. Rain fell
like birdseed on the roof.
she touched me burned, and I turned
into every animal. Blame her for these words
packed dense in me.
This begins the story. Much later
I’ll realize who she is. By then
she’s in a black coat, calls herself the Queen of Souls.
Crazy as a crash, or else puts on the act
to cajole coins from suited commuters.
But that night. She blessed me twice
with dry hands, cooked griddlecakes
and suet-y bacon in the morning, and outside the rain
had ended, and the crows
were telling me to move the hell on.
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Psychic Meatloaf Poetry Journal