THESE SEASONS

“July is murderous.”  -Hayden Carruth

We’ve seen these seasons before.

Fortunes fall for most of the all

While the rest erect essence of walls,

and expect sex in dead, white halls.

We’ve seen these seasons once

or twice, we pulled these stunts

with skinned knees on long hunts,

swollen by swarms of bees.

We’ve seen this season,

the reason having been

our limbs grew grim

and slim and pale green.

I mean it really seems we’ve

seen these seasons in dreams

or stories streamed in beams

through our corn-yellow curtains.

We’ve seen this season, certainly,

its romances far from saintly,

pale in the sun’s bleach with

pails full of pre-owned beach.

How far the seasons’ temperaments

reach, and no mention of any

temporary relief outside the

garden of chlorofluorocarbon!

We’d lay this season down like a rifle

if we could find a slice of cool ground.

Comes the heat, come the dead in the street,

and no shaking the murder from these hot heads,

it’s over, it’s already gone down, as ever.

Nights in Small, Hot Rooms

They worked both more and less than many.

If what they want had remained, not changed

from what they had said they would want they

would bend pennies.

They sweat both more and less than many.

The freedoms of nights in small, hot rooms,

hurtling disdain at the moon, its honey

and plenty:

Those rooms, nights, freedoms

tonight are all they’re eating.

Moondog

MOONDOG (Howl for Louis Hardin)

You can

sympathize with sociopaths

drinking Wild Irish Rose by the tracks

You can

emote out of narcissism

crying over the pains of your own decisions

You can

drink coffee with terrorists

when you’re frightened of your parents

You can

avoid the pits of pop culture

until your self-righteousness ruptures

But

you can’t taste the nectar

you can’t touch the narrative

you can’t go back

till you’ve realized

your own prison.

Let It Burn

Tonight, I thought about certain kinds of people who, because of the state of our country, whether they are Left-of-Sanders Lefties (as I am) or Trump supporters who have no ideology but white privilege and supremacy, say, “Let it burn.” I thought about these people, who think the U.S. is doomed if it doesn’t and damned if it don’t, whether they blame greedy politicians and heartless corporations or people of color and the poor. I thought about people in much more oppressed and bleak parts of the world who risk life and limb for progress and justice in lands where both are scarce. And I thought of these Americans, and of my own occasionally jaded attitude, and I thought, f*** these people. They must be pretty comfortable to adopt such attitudes. What, because the United States isn’t what YOU think it should be, we should just “let it burn”? I’m sorry you hate Muslims and Mexicans or Hilary Clinton. I’m sorry injustice and inequality are still alarmingly rampant. But if your best idea is to let it burn, why not, instead, self-immolate, or blow your brains out?* Because even in the most horrid corners of the world, people are struggling against all odds—repressive regimes, daily lives that make our worst look gorgeous—to improve things. Because it’s a life instinct, a survival instinct. We are far from a healthy democracy, but we have more hope and more comforts than most. *And for the record, when I say “blow your brains out”, I mean blow all the stupid, pig-headed hatred out of your stupid head.

After Postmodernism (A Poem)

Selected Feedback for Online Sellers, 2014-2016

Swing-A-Way 407BK Portable Can Opener, Black: “Very Nice!”  (Four Stars)

 

New OEM Samsung ETA3U30JBE MicroUSB Wall Travel Charger.: “Great!” (Five Stars)

 

Beethoven: The Complete Symphonies Volume II: “I ordered this three disc set, and I got three discs. However only one of them belonged to the set I ordered. Disc two was from the same composer’s first volume of the same series. Disc three was not even Beethoven; it was a disc from a Haydn set. Luckily I enjoy the music on all discs, and it did arrive on time, though I would have waited longer for the item to be properly prepared.”  (Two Stars)

 

Staples Letter/Legal File Box, Translucent Smoke: “Great.”  (Five Stars)

 

Listen! Early Poems (City Lights Pocket Poets Series): “Great!”  (Five Stars)

 

Hanes Comfortblend Sweatpant, Light Steel, L:  “Wonderful!”  (Five Stars)

 

The Paintings of Joan Mitchell:  “This excellent book arrived in a well- and carefully-packed box, and in great condition overall. Thanks, Friends of the Champaign Public Library!”  (Five Stars)

 

Vintage Vaults ( 4 Cd Set ):  “The item was listed as ‘Very Good.’ By anyone’s standards but the seller’s it would be considered ‘Acceptable.’ An optimist might call it even ‘Good.’”  (Two Stars)

The Autograph Man:  “Cool.”  (Five Stars)

The Beetle Gets the Bum’s Toss

To signal spring and summer,

The Freeze drops its shutters

selling price-gouged icecream

Then vegetable stands arrive

some time in July

but they do not take Discover.

Then inevitable middle of October, the beetle back, the one

I flung from my room several late summer days ago in afternoon.

“Fat”, or, “Isabella’s,” or, “Loomis,” or, “I Don’t Dance,” or,

“Noodles”

Dan and Mandy met at a party, at the home of a mutual friend, and didn’t talk much till the crowd dispersed. Then they lay on their backs on the living room floor as the August dawn aggressively broke.

When they met again it was September; Dan was sleepless, off the dead man’s shift at Jewel. Mandy came over. He made sure she wasn’t vegan and cooked up an elaborate batch of noodles and cheese on the stove. They ate on his bed, watching The Simpsons, cleansing their palates with coffee before after-dinner smokes.

After dinner they rode south on the Red Line to see Isabella, Mandy’s friend whom Dan had met once outside the art school all his friends attended but which had denied him. Dan liked Van Gogh, very pedestrian, and sitcoms and Walt Whitman. They got off the train and Dan showed Mandy, in the south side station, where he’d puked off a heroin high last spring, by the soda machine that dispensed warm cans of flat pop. They walked to Isabella’s, the warm evening air thick with the fetid stench of rendering fat.

Lainie and her boyfriend Zack were there, too, in Isabella’s basement, when Dan and Mandy arrived. Walt Whitman soon came through with an ounce of weed. A gang war flared outside the window, out of which Isabella yelled “YO SHUT THE FUCK UP NIGGA!” next to Dan’s head, on the couch where he sat and imagined a clever bullet straying in and its trajectory including Dan’s skull.

Whitman sat beside him sticking his tongue in Dan’s ear. Bass music bumped and they all danced except for Dan. Whitman was grinding up against Mandy, gripping her hips. Bongwater spilled. Mandy decided she didn’t like Dan since he didn’t dance, despite the perfect sandy blonde hair and stellar noodles.

Lainie and Zack left when the weed was gone. Dan, Mandy, Isabella and Whitman all lay in Isabella’s double bed, though not in that order, and Dan soon heard Whitman penetrate Mandy and thought but he must be thinking of me. Dan could picture Whitman’s devilish grin of triumph and he choked. He asked Isabella for some water and she shoved him off the bed. He slept on the floor.

Dan and Mandy left together in the morning so he could see her safely to the train station; they rode into the Loop. In the subway a Korean man in a tux caressed a violin, his bow like a tongue, and the tunnels reeked of piss and cigarettes and crack and electricity. Mandy thought Dan was giving her bad directions to get to Union Station and decided to get on a train going in the wrong direction. She embarked backwards, taking slow steps, saying something sweetly and sadly to Dan, which he couldn’t hear over the screech of the train, as he sat on a bench, crossing his legs, uncrossing and crossing his legs.