Escape

“If America’s for the winners; what’s for the losers”?  Junior BonnerSam Peckinpah 

Well, those boys just couldn’t keep still. It was only Thursday night and the late spring sun was still dancing vapor trails over the Golden Gate Bridge on San Francisco Bay and there they were, once again, hanging with the Bowery Boys. It was a real tough crowd this time of day; hard drinkers with sullen shadows; longshoremen with grizzled hands and hobos rolling in off the gutter with a fresh fiver from a deposit at the blood bank. Joey and Roy were as fidgety as trapped animals and they would not be tamed. They knew this was not going to end well so they took their pleasures as they could and to them living any other way was a waste of life.

Joey tucked a C-note under his empty shot glass and winked a goodbye in the direction of the bartender then threw his arm around Roy’s slim shoulder and guided him toward the door. “You should watch your dollars Joey” Roy said. “Relax, Roy Boy, cash don’t have handles on it. Its only dirty paper anyhow, we’ll just make some more. Besides; you know crime don’t pay”. They both chuckled and waved a goodnight to Singing Sally and her perfect legs encased in peddle-pushers jack-knifed on the bar stool like swizzle-sticks.

Waves from their laughter fell in the stank dead air and bounced like a knife off the pavement outside the Pair-O-Dice Lounge in the Bowery section south of Canal when Cool Breeze and his new girl turned the corner. “What it is gents” said Cool Breeze. “Who you got there” asked Roy. “Meet my new lady fellas” said Cool Breeze. What’s your name sweetheart, asked Joey. “Lotta Goo” she answered.

“Cool give you that name” asked Roy. “I named her after a doughnut I was eating when I met her in New Orleans last week” chimed Cool in his best sing-song fashion. “You all take care out here; full moon yonder and that demon is in these streets tonight” Joey said with an earnest concern. “Heard, got the word; hell I smelled that beast myself. But hey man, you all know I’m too sweet to eat” sang Cool. “Catch you later Cool; night to you angel” said Roy. “No you won’t” yelled Cool as he sauntered down the street with his meal ticket in tow. “Why not”, Joey shot back. And with his best pimp smile, the one he practiced for hours in the mirror, Cool proclaimed; “cause I’m a sly fly” Cool chimed.

Roy and Joey strode down Market Street with a here today gone tomorrow swagger. The pressure built inside them and rose like the steam from the manhole covers rising like the whole damn city was ready to blow. The loneliness that lay between them was stark but though unmentioned could not be denied. Neither had kept a full-time night woman. They were too selfish for that; both were serial killers when it came to love affairs; having dead-ed in shambles three relationships each with some pretty decent women who had a penchant for bad boys with style and charm.

Joey secretly thought about Sweet Mary and how she loved him; how a woman like that mellowed a man out; helped him keep the devil down in the hole; how he could always make her laugh and how it pieced his heart like a needle shot straight out of a mirror when she did and how she slowed him down enough to now and then eat a meal or two she’d cooked for him.

He could feel her in his arms wrapped around him like silver foil; making love in zero gravity, while angels flew above their cathedral bed in a scene so passionate it burned their shadows into those walls; Jesus weep. And he thought to himself, secreted from his compatriot, how each time, when it was over, he melted into her and slept the sleep of an honest man. #love #goldengatebridge  #BoweryBoys

 

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Morphine Dreams

I slept with that old Devil again

last night

she crept in round midnight

cuddled right up, spooning me

she’s hot on the outside

steamy

all fuzzy velvet on those sharp red horns

but her breath

dank and fowl

and smelling like sulfur

comes from her insides.

She took her best shot

She’s use to winning

and all fighters know

the hardest opponent to beat

is the one that hasn’t yet learned

how to lose.

She tagged me with her greatest hits

had me seeing stuff

hearing stuff

crazy stuff

scary stuff

and when she felt confident she had me

she stoked up one of my Camels

took a hit and passed it to me.

I had a drag

then rolled over so she could

see my smile as I

extinguished the hot tip

on my tongue

we listened to it sizzle.

What God never tells you

is he’s scared of that old Devil

for two reasons

one; she knows what he knows

that he may win up here

but down there

is her spot

and he ain’t never been to Hell

and it’s the unknown

that scares us all the most

two; he’s a thousand years from being hard

when he survived his

travail in the desert

on that Cross

now he’s just another

pudgy, soft white man

who wouldn’t last ten minutes

in Hell.

What the devil didn’t know

about me

is  I’ve been back and forth

through six

kinds of Hell

and she’s only been though the one

she’s a one trick pony

and like an amateur boxer

she punched herself out

in the first round

while I was still fresh

well into my second wind

I could have had my way with her then

and she wanted us to mate

you know how women are attracted to power

but I’m only walking around

talking and jiving’ with you now

in this moment in time

because I know when to quit

know a bridge too far

when I see it.

So, as the sun rose

she beat her retreat

like a vanquished Vampire feeding on me

no more

she left, without my soul

but like all women

had to have the last words

and being a gentleman

I gave them to her.

As she put her head over her shoulder

and mouthed the words

“I’ll be back”

I went mute

and just gave her

my best

“so what”

Italian shrug.

 

Armor of Innocence

He could tell by the way her face lit up each time she smiled which was often that there was joy and passion and a lust for life still pulsing inside her battered heart. This occurred with each breath out as if it were the face she showed the world. Yet with each breath in as her face relaxed he saw the miles of bad road she’d traveled set deep inside the crevices around her gentle mouth. He thought the rhythmic in and out breathing that changed her face was the war she was fighting with herself just like some of the hold outs he knew who had yet to give up on that youthful hope of innocence.

In his youth he sought the faces in the crowd that met his as they passed on the street with a knowing grin as if they shared a universal secret that it would all, despite the wounds, come right; to share the opening wonder of tomorrow. But he avoided most of the faces he saw now since he always saw in them the resignation masks of having given up on innocence; some had buried it altogether; while a rare few held on and hid the innocence behind a self-made barricade of armor built over years and decades of living in war zones crafted in battles of hearts and minds.

Back in his days of wonderment when he met those joyful faces searching for challenge in every moment from fellow travelers not concerned with where they had been but with where we were all going were all but gone now save the few exceptions and he wistfully wondered if he’d ever see that kind of camaraderie again. We were all fresh and clean and crisp of heart then and now all of us were like used cars. Was that ultimate aphrodisiac reserved only for youth? Was it true that with each piece of knowledge we lost a piece of innocence never to be recaptured again? He left her there in the rain and he thought about this as he drove back from where he’d come; avoiding the faces in the crowd.

 

Thanks-Taking

A young man in Mexico,

poor enough to live in a hut

with a dirt floor,

fiercely religious,

speaks no English,

crawls across an imaginary line

in the desert

in the dead of night

to OZ .

He labors bent over

in a strawberry field

picking my food

for sub-standard wages,

no health care,

no other kind of care,

no safety codes,

no rules that favor him.

He pays taxes to an invisible hand every payday

for which he receives nothing.

He is reviled.

One day men with American flags

festooned on their drab military style uniforms

approach.

They call out “criminal”.

He looks around to see

who they speak of

as their well fed

white knuckles

grip his arm.

He is going home.

Migrants in Mexico

who risk the road to Xanadu

are folk heroes.

They are urban mythologies.

Those that hire them,

the Patrons,

rich and powerful,

when weighed against their brown Mexican sweat,

are the beneficiaries.

Closed borders did not make America.

Borders open to young men and women

everywhere did.

Is it a crime to cross that line?

To feed hungry children

or wives or mothers

or only to hope

to improve one’s life?

Shame on the heretics of the American dream

and legacy.

American is an idea

not defined

by which side of that line you are on.

In Martin Scorsese’s historical epic film

“Gangs of New York”,

the war in the streets of Hell’s Kitchen

for cultural dominance

was fought between

the Nativists,

“born right” (in America)

and the foreign hoards (immigrants).

The present day debate on the “illegal”,

an unfortunate term,

smells like the stench in the Five Corners of New York City

at the dawn of America.

Take to the streets.

Occupy, Strike!

Tear down the fences.

Build bridges instead.

The Tea-Naggers plea for

an American Maginot Line;

fences for fools.

It won’t work you know.

The Germans proved that in 42’

when they just drove around it.

It’s a curiosity now,

a tourist destination,

a monument to man’s stupidity.

Patton said then,

“If mountain ranges

and oceans

can be overcome,

anything man-made can be overcome.”

The American Ponzi Scheme,

the world’s fastest escalator

to the American Dream,

must have new boarders at the bottom

to take the ride up

so the fortunate few

at the top

win.

Without the Latinos,

now the only Americans left,

(that used to be the province of the Japanese),

we are no longer America.

Archeologists will find

the “left behind”

had fat wallets and small necks

became soft and decadent;

like Rome.

New Americans are needed.

We were great once;

when our statue begged

for huddled masses,

tired and poor,

yearning to breathe free;

when we invited the wretched refuse

to our teeming shores;

the homeless; tempest-tossed;

when we lit a lamp

beside the golden door.

Before Reagan

idolatrized money;

before we hid behind phones

in glass and metal cars,

xenophobic, torturous, murderous;

before we became ugly,

gelatinous masses;

just ask an American Indian.

America belongs to the Seekers,

not to those here resting

on her fat belly.

New Americans Needed

Apply within.

 

Abattoir Requiem (for Kurt Vonnegut)

What is the penalty
for being a self-conscious creature,
living simultaneously
in an eternal symbolic world
of our own construction
and in the natural world
in which,
looking straight ahead,
we see our oncoming death?

The unpleasant fact
is that life feeds on life,
no matter how far we distance ourselves
from the slaughterhouse.

Poet and philosopher
speak of love, charity, rights of man
and sacredness of life.
Far away blood flows,
cries rise in the night.

A dark cloud of malevolence

circles the globe

touching down momentarily

in places like Treblinka,

Cambodia, Syria,

now Gaza.

There is an unbroken line
from the abattoir
to the worst atrocities
of human beings.

My mind’s eye searches
anxiously
for meaning in human history,
ranging from the savannas
of prehistoric Africa
to the monuments of ancient Egypt
to the smoking ruins of Dresden and Hiroshima.

We are not so different,
after all,
from wild and ravening beasts.
The violence we have given up
in the course of becoming orderly
and moral
has not been eliminated.
It is passed on,
it is handed up.
It collects at the top,
in the White House,
Number Ten Downing Street,
the Reichstag, the Kremlin.

Religion, a collection of failed myths
that establish moral and sexual boundaries,
but only until it began losing its power
to bedazzle us.

The “will to power” is the primary motivation.
The stupid and the cautious
tend to obey the rules.
The bold are drawn to break them.

Cry anguish at a world without
intrinsic meaning,
how desperately we try to be heroes
even nihilistic ones

to ourselves and others. Read more of this post