Thursday, December 18, 2014

the nursery

The little classroom smelled of energy. Fizz. It was not a smell, I don't believe, immediately familiar to those adult bodies squeezed into chairs several sizes too small. It was not a smell of skin. Finger paint. Cleaning products. Its totality was greater than its parts.

The children came in in pairs. Loosely joined at the wrists.

The murmuring unsettled them just a tiny bit. The raw skirts on the Christmas tree they had helped decorate. The fluorescent strip lights striking baubles; the cotton wool on the walls.

Rudolph's shiny nose.

My son was one of the last to be seated. One fist fluttering up in salute. I waved back.

Hey. Milo. 

The handbell sounded. The children gasped. Santa Claus approached with his sack full of gifts.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

there is no higher power



I went to a place lit nicely for recovering nuts.

They played ping-pong. Some of them frequented an arts lab where one might safely throw paint.

When not flailing over a table or weaving baskets signed off by Jackson Pollock at the corners, a good proportion of souls in transit chose to exorcise demons. In one rehab or another. The place, it seemed, had been hijacked by the twelve step program.

It was a haven for the stumbling. An ark of sorts.

Before rehab kicked off, they passed out bowls of soup to the assembled.

It was not for me, the rabid confessional. I sweated in my socks, hankering after an aperitif. Forewent the pea and ham for a cigarette, finally. Loitering at the wall-mounted ash cans out front with a few of the wary.

Jesus, one said. I'm not ready for this. It's too fucking full-on for my taste.
Amen. Said another.

I smoked my cigarette and said nothing at all. We had not been properly introduced, and I did not feel like making pleasantries. I had just had my head shorn. Every time I caught sight of my reflection in one glass pane or parked car I was greeted not by a penitent but the ghost of Hermann Göering. A nazi runaway on subpoenea.

Rehab's about to begin, boys. If you're interested.

The voice was kindly enough. I had seen the fellow collecting names at the door. Steering the malnourished here and there with a steely kind of reserve.

He had trouble keeping his dentures in place. We had something in common.

My legs wanted to move of their own volition in a similar way. To fashion an escape. Of course, I was not so rude as to begin to run. Not quite yet.

I had left my jacket to steam over a chair back there. A skin jumped out of.

I might as well have been standing up in my pyjamas. Drizzling in the rain.

I stubbed out my butt and went back inside to trade banalities with my escort, who, trapped in a phone call to the office, seemed blessedly remote. I smiled. Secretly glad. Withholding any evidence which might prove incriminating.

I did not make rehab. Nor have I been back since.



CODEINE: LOSS LEADER from "The White Birch" Sub Pop (SP166B) (US) 1994

Saturday, November 29, 2014

my block


























"Completed May 31, 1963, the 8.27-acre Bronx development is bordered by Schieffelin Avenue, and East 225th and East 229th Streets."


Documenting the universal in delicious minutiae, this exemplary slice of life is lit in the shadows of the newly erected projects. 

Released the same month this Baychester development met completion, The Four Pennies' low rent issue - penned by Jimmy Radcliffe with Carl Spencer - sadly failed to dent the Billboard Top 50. Better known as The Chiffons, the Bronx quartet instead peaked at number five that same summer with Gerry Goffin and Carole King's "One Fine Day".



THE FOUR PENNIES: MY BLOCK from "My Block" c/w "Dry Your Eyes" Rust (5071) (US) 1963

Sunday, November 16, 2014

vigorish


In deference to he who shall forever be dubbed the good doctor of double-jointed prose, I seriously toyed with the idea of shaving my head.

For the first time in years.

Fear and loathing - that I may emerge an ailing and elderly Syd, or more lightly, Uncle Fester's marginally younger sibling - ultimately stayed my hand on the BaByliss clippers. Even as the possibility sang in the wall socket and the razor's shield buzzed sinister like two barred cherries on hold.

As I remarked here on the bleachers previously, I have an aversion to gambling. It is not quite an all-out bugle cry from the stirrups of an old and creaking hobby horse, this disinclination to let my money ride, but in light of those other vices I have embraced or accumulated it is something of a small saving grace.

I am partial to berries. The common garden juice. I do not like fruit machines, the jangling in the slots.

The term "one armed bandit" seems hideously appropriate. Like a shrunken Mexican purse snatcher lying in wait in a dark lot in Vegas.

As a result I am cautious. The doctor would be far from proud.
So. Onto Telly Savalas. Lieutenant Theo Kojak, more specifically.

Successfully plucking Billy Goldenberg's memorable theme out the ether is itself something of a lottery, given that CBS-TV persistently meddled with the score's muscular signature arrangement. Not twice. Three times.

Crucially, it gambled on reception by inviting John Cacavas - a regular contributor of incidental music "on set" - to completely rewrite the show's opening credits for its fifth and final season, airing, five years after its inception, in 1978.

Alas. This Mancini arrangement - segueing here with the theme from "S.W.A.T." in an unedited medley - lack's the visceral dynamic of Goldenberg's original, but the rip itself is something of an audiophile's delight. A complete album of 70s cop show themes, remastered from vinyl, can be found here.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

guy fawkes it up again

My ear comes unglued on a feeble but persistent druming on the front door seemingly, a doll's voice uttering guessed at sobriquets.

The tongue protrudes past furred teeth. Ladling spittle on my cheek. Yet my eyes refuse to budge.

Dad. Daddy. Dud, where are you ?

Jesus Christ. I throw my feet at the floor. Snap to like a lock-blade in need of oiling. Tripping on my socks, snagging the waistband of my undershorts on the living room door handle.

The coughing does not seize me until I am two thirds into the hallway.

Remember. Remember.

It is the fifth already. Wednesday. Somewhere after 7 AM and tiny grenades threaten my letterbox.

I tumble the lock and crack the door a fraction. My young son pushes past me, his mother hovering above the buggy bristling fireworks. Oversized sparklers tucked down in cosy packets.

The cold air reminds me I am to pick him up from nursery. Later. In the afternoon. It slaps me in the face.

So much for confronting the unexpected with a winning smile. I tug my undershorts up around my balls and merely turn the other cheek.

I thought you were picking him up at eight.
No. I said I was dropping him off at eight.

My son already has his snowsuit off and is waving foil-wrapped sparklers at my chest. The snowsuit is unseasonal. Unwarranted.

Look what I got.
Cool.

Apparently it is far from it. His face is lit with a rash. Sweating.

We fall back to the living room. The duvet spilled tellingly between carpet and couch. The sofa itself sagging from the weight of sleepless nights. The coffee table buckling under the ashtray, its litter of butts. The curtains still drawn.

The entire room howls divorce. The scene of an embarrassing dismemberment.

All that is missing is the dead dog, a box guitar propping up the porch.

Not for the first time I am caught with my pants down. It is enough to make one swear off marriage. It is enough to make one simply swear.

Friday, October 31, 2014

el día de los muertos

Composed by William Correa (Bobo), Melvin Lastie. 
Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
Produced by Creed Taylor.

WILLIE BOBO: FRIED NECK BONES AND SOME HOME FRIES from "Uno-Dos-Tres" Verve (V6-8648) (US) 1965

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

a nod is as good as a wank to a blind horse

Fig. 1 (deleted)




Pablo flicks his tongue like a checking pencil. Convinces himself the tooth is more or less intact.

The girl in the yellow sou'wester regards him suspiciously. Pivots on a pirouette almost as the pail arcs low, kissing plastic. Conjoined skeletons and noodles raining down, loitering in shaman's margins.

I should give a shit.

Seen Paterson lately ?
Not three days since.
Rosetta sniffs. Fishes in her anorak for pen and scribble pad. At half past nine between the roaches.

Bless me father, for I have sinned. 
Three days and thirteen prawns since I last dropped a dime.

I am no good at the readings. The surmising. The bleeding on the unicycle.

Faltering trajectories.

My fingers are rosy only from moving saucepans around. Dishes.

I live only for the wine. Those little courageous smiles. Fluttering above soapsuds while cutlery drowns.

Rosetta is a motherfucker. A window propped ajar. One thing or another. Nothing.

I listen to the plumbing roar. Idle. Watch the woman across the street crawl out her window to administer to birds.

No one squeals around here. We are tight lipped. Focused. Inured to distress.

They can all go fuck themselves. Gargle the blood of Christ.

It is October. Crisp. Folded on itself as linen with eyes carved out. Concise.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

c.c. rider

Composed by Serge. 

Arranged and orchestrated by Jean-Claude Vannier. 
Produced by Alain Hortu.

JANE BIRKIN: KAWASAKI from "Di Doo Dah" Fontana (6325 305) (France) 1973

Saturday, October 18, 2014

gimlet garden



THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE: KID'S GARDEN from "Spacegirl And Other Favorites" Candy Floss (CF009) (US) 1993

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

orange skies



Dr. E'weerd Yijji, allegedly, is a teacher of Asian Studies in South Carolina. Prior to this he lived in Bangladesh. Aside from studio collaborations with Mission of Burma and Volcano Suns, the good doctor has also forayed into occasional live performance with Sun City Girls.

This solo release, a vinyl issue on the One Tree imprint in 2007, was originally visited on the discerning listening public - a severely limited CDR run of 32 - through Feed and Seed Records one year previously.


ED YAZIJIAN: ORANGE SKY, BLACK CLOUDS from "Six Ways To Avoid the Evil Eye" One Tree (6WTATEE) (US) 2005/7
ED YAZIJIAN: ORANGE SKY (SLIGHT RETURN) from "Six Ways To Avoid the Evil Eye" One Tree (6WTATEE) (US) 2005/7


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

infected mushroom

He possessed a hacking cough. The kind of cough which cuts one off at the middle. Empties one's chest through the mouth and nose in gales which starve one's brain of oxygen until the head lights up like an open refrigerator.

Strings of phlegm hanging in ropes like green nets off the side of a boat.

A barking cough, on the other hand, while by no means less startling to those in the pink, lends something of an imposing character to the invalid. A suggestion of stately decrepitude which elevates the offender above the pitiful. A booming sovereignty to cow disapproving stares, or worse, wanton sneers of disgust.

This, sadly, was not the case.

His particular condition, then, reduced him to the level of the untouchable. The sneaking pariah stopped in its tracks by bout after bout of cacophonous disability. A ringing of ears. A wringing of hands.

Mouths falling open. Aghast. Enraged.

Hither and thither he slunk, mortified, waiting to be casually beaten to death. Or arrested, at the very least. And beaten to a pulp he no doubt would have been, were it not for the very real potential for contagion. Infection leaping from host to host as a leprous spore.

And at his toilet he simply cowered, smote with the stench of latrines. Pricked like a balloon on the precipice.

Deflated. Burst. Anointed.


DR. STANISLAV GROF: WHY IS EVIL IN THE WORLD ? from "Instant Insanity Drugs Collective: The Trip Receptacles" KPFA | Berkley (US)
TERENCE MCKENNA'S RETRO TIME VIRUS • SASHA ON KETAMINE: YOU'VE GOT ESCHATOLOGICAL FEVER from "Instant Insanity Drugs Collective: The Trip Receptacles" KPFA | Berkley (US)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

a good kid

Before he met with his aneurism, I came across him at the foot of our stairwell. Seventeen years old and me already feeling the strains of something more rusty than middle age.

My forearms ached from setting down the garbage sacks. The skin of my knuckles lit red from the concrete. The steel of the bins.

Fit as a pit bull under his hooded vest, he greeted me politely enough. Weaved away to sit in the rain. I sensed he had been crying, had gathered himself momentarily, and I could think of nothing comforting to say.

Cold rivets rolled down his bare chest to puddle in his navel. The balls of both fists pressed tight to his skull.
All right, I said.
Halfway to a question.

I paused for a second before starting back up the stair. Unsettled. Awkward. Him only a year or two older than my own son. Intimidated by the sight of him sobbing like a welterweight condemned to take a fall; aggrieved by my inability to engage him.

There was plentiful cause for demons. He had had a rougher childhood than most, I knew. But I was unaware then of the physical pressures inside his head. The scrabbling and clawing which would leave him for dead less than two weeks later.

Passed out in his sleep, a blunt between his teeth maybe.

Even now, I wish I might have said something beyond the banal.

The kid was okay.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

norfolk court

The air in the narrows
makes tidy museum pieces
of rotten fruit, spilled fluids.
Oldenberg. Jackson Pollock.
Shriveler's Block.

The smell is not pronounced
but stutters, pops
like yellow buttons on
Mickey Mouse's pants

Close to the floor
emptied
flat as a foundling floor show
unable to flee

Even the paint on the wall
reminds one of spoiled flesh
traumatised, distressed
Halitosis. Piss.

J.K. Rawling on a bad day
beset by dowts
crowsfeet on linoleum

All the wizards are dead
There is no turning the corner.





Sunday, September 28, 2014

half a sermon | pearls before

Last week I found a bristle growing out of my ear. Standing straight on top of it, where it might taper up and out. If one were a pig. It must have been two inches long. The barber - an unfeasibly sweet young woman - had missed it. Or left it there to make a point.

This, and the missing front tooth between two yellowed tusks. And the hair one more porcine reminder on the slab of my neck. I am too tired for this shit, the wallowing in it.

Too old to be a father, maybe, to an energetic tangle of limbs and questions at three and two thirds. That preoccupation with building and taking apart. The indefatigable urge to deconstruct.

And I can't pass a charity shop these days without snuffling after leather. Stretched blistered hides. Uneven aprons, creased and smoked like ripe aged cheeses. It is unflattering, this reaching out for thrice shed skins, it would be better to be a snake. To be born anew.

A damn sight cheaper too. Than hurling coins in the fountain.

Waiting for those licensing hours to coincide that I might up and leave for the chop.

But that is what I quicken for. The wait. Counting out cigarettes between one empty bottle and the impoverished thirst to start from scratch. To bathe under citrus slants. To conjure up jibes from dry heaves all through Autumn.

Time, please. Fares.

Shuttling back and forth between the pointless and the unnecessary. Gnawing on pork scratchings.

Marinating.

Well. Bukowski, it is said, advised to do nothing. Step out and kill it only when it pauses on the pedestrian crossing. Just what it is, is another matter. A lot of innocent jaywalkers have been dragged under the bus. Still, it is better not to be overly cautious when trying to really nail it.

So they did for that Nazarene kid. Twice over, at least.

They got him in the end.

And rolling away the stone, of course, all that was left was a jigsaw puzzle. A Luger and two dice. A Maltese cross. A hot cross bun.

Those Nazi fucking swine never even tried to cover their tracks, you know. They were adept in the art of slaying it. Goose-stepping, genuflecting sons of bitches. Proficient at it, even now.

Of course, at this point I am one third through an agreeable enough bottle of Colombard Sauvignon. Quite too pale to pass for blood. Last night I dreamt of Mexican drug cartels. La Regla de Lukumi. Machetes.

I have a tendency to scarf down anything heaped upon my plate.

It's time to make like Richard Clayderman, brothers and sisters, while the gentry buckles up for war.


JAMES BROWN: GET UP (I FEEL LIKE BEING A) SEX MACHINE (PARTS 1 & 2) from "PROMO" 45 [King (6318)] 1970 (US)
JAMES BROWN: SUPER BAD (PARTS 1 & 2) from "PROMO" 45 [King (6329)] 1970 (US)
JAMES BROWN: GET UP OFFA THAT THING from "GET UP OFFA THAT THING" 45 [Polydor (14326)] 1976 (US)

Friday, September 19, 2014

no uk' in ukelele


And so, it was fear.

Of the unknown. Rebuke. Siblings. A hesitancy to wander too far outwith the chalked silence, in the end.

Of smudging perameters and upsetting tarts.

There was a coffee stain on my polling card. It reminded me of home. Even as I stepped in to the booth, I knew it must end badly.

I put my cross in the box and waited for someone to shout, no.



Performed by Cayce Lindner, Glenn Donaldson, Shayde Sartin.

FLYING CANYON: DOWN TO SUMMER from "Flying Canyon" LP [Soft Abuse (SAB016)] 2006 (US)


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

93.33% clarity

Engineered by Mike Ross. Produced by Cyril Smith, Mervyn Conn. 
Strings arranged by Keith Mansfield.

THE PEDDLERS: ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER from "Three in a Cell" LP [CBS (CBS 63411)] 1968 (UK)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

careful with that acke, esbjörn

Recorded at Studio Decibel 1971 by Torbjörn Falk.
Macbeth is introduced headlong to the Underworld, by way of The Third Ear Mage.
Acid Aromatics, Floyd Fondants and pure Lysergic Drops.


ÄLGARNAS TRÄDGÅRD: TWO HOURS OVER TWO BLUE MOUNTAINS WITH A CUCKOO ON EACH SIDE, OF THE HOURS ...THAT IS from "Framtiden Är Ett Svävande Skepp, Förankrat I Forntiden" LP [silence (SRS 4611)] 1972 (SWEDEN)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

santa, butcher ii

They leave the tree out on the pavement. One January. Well. They leave it lying there until the weather turns for the better. Bringing flies and aphids. Ants.

Those needles go marching. One by one.

So one fine day in August I notice they have finally gotten round to lifting it. To be dropped in landfill at last. Odd, I feel, that its sudden absence bothers me more acutely than its amputation.

When the madness is fast upon me I follow the angle of it. Hacked-out root to naked prow. It seems to point straight at a basement flat I lived in thirty years ago. On the other side of the street. Painted lorry tyres, planters, nursing chrysanthemums where once there was nothing but dog leavings in front of the little window poking up from its recess.

A coincidence, granted, but it makes me start.

Each time I pass that tree I pause to look at the ogre's door. Incredulous I ever held a key to it. Vigilant. On the prowl for workshy elves. A lurking goblin.

Or Richard Dadd. Hyde to every passing Sikh.

I come awake in the middle of the night - this morning - on a memory so tangible I can smell it. It is Christmas 1966 or 7, and I am with my mother in a shop in Glasgow. The bell rings over the door and the heat is on us. An odour of tissue paper. Sawdust. There is a sentence of words strung together like parcels tied with string that is somehow important, but even if I could remember it I don't suppose I would write it down.

It is not for sharing, perhaps, or it would mean nothing to you if I could. My father is not there with us. But he is close by. The man behind the shop counter is bored but feigns interest.

My father died long before my sons were conceived. Like his own father before I came into this world. Bloody but mute.

I  stand there, count five, waiting for something to happen. All the while listening to whispers behind drawn curtains. The kind of whispering which marks one as a nut.

Months later, a year perhaps, I stop again and say to my three-year-old son,

See. Daddy used to live in that house. A long time ago. Isn't that strange ?

My son looks at me as if I am still crazy. Pointing at the green door right beside it, deadly in earnest.

Well. A long time ago, when I was very old. I used to live there.

I look at him. He is not joking. One eyebrow raised, daring me to contradict him. Just like his mother. Brother. Me. Just like history repeating itself.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

genre fiasco | fear of psycho


I am hurtling past rooftops, chimneys in the company of Jesco White, Hasil Adkins - heads lolling, spooling drool - when we hit a fork in the path ahead. A box elder stump with a 7 ½ lb axe embedded straight through its knotted heart.

Spitting feathers. Gravy. Entrails.

The ghost of last night's Chicken Pathia.

Well. I just about piss myself when White hops up on that bleeding peg and proceeds to dance. Flat foot, bounce and shuffle; the soles on both stockings kicking up a frightful mess.

I fall back in a stupor. Painted soapbox listing in the ditch with its left door hanging. The antenna bent. Beyond repair. The radio pushing in and out.

Adkins sets to cackling.

This is it. There is nothing between the floors in my skull. The soundproofing is so abysmal you can hear a carpet beetle fart in those unoccupied rooms upstairs.

Well. Let me tell you this, cowboy. If you have have a problem with me, bring it on. Come on over here and I'll jam my foot right up your motherfucking ass, you pansy jackass Roy Rogers wannabe.

Got something to say ? No ? Well, shut your fuckin' mouth. Someone has stopped taking their medication, and that someone isn't me.

That unhinged sound again. A scraping set loose among the shavings. A scrabbling on shit pocked corrugated tin.

When I come to they are gone.

There is a disembodied whistling. A beating of pygmy breasts back there only.

I jump down in the ditch and make a decision to strangle the gospel on the vine.

The spirit is wasted and my stomach is hurting. I sit the bottle on the tree stump. Vomit in the ditch until my gut is emptied too. My eyes smart. Bulge like yolks pricked on a plastic fork. I find a half smoked cigarette in my pocket and smoke it down, glad for that. I can feel an insect, some kind of fly, lapping at the sweat between my neck and shoulder.

A truce then. I have no heart to swat at it. Chase it away.

A vehicle passes on the way to somewhere else. It smells of farm. A smear of a face peering out at me. Two raisins jammed in a sullen tray of lard. A tongue like a dog. I fold my chin on my knees. Make the hair in front tumble low as a wing.

Move along. There is nothing to see.

Well. Twenty minutes or of this and I am ready to straighten out.

I climb back down in the ditch, pop the trunk, and the girl is pretty much as I left her.

Hair the colour of yard leaves, rust, the skin of arms and legs dusted with freckles. A mole, a birthmark flowering, above the bunched up panties. The flesh so pale it is almost blue, and with the sky beginning to bruise it is hard to tell if she is still breathing.

I listen to a crow sing on the wire running overhead and stab her with the kitchen knife - that taut space at the back of the knees - and the body flinches. Just a little. Enough. She moans. Into the parcel tape wound all the way around, twice. Three times. Maybe I ought to loosen it. Rip it away. Let the murmuring flutter up.

What's that ? I can't make you out, what with all this quiet.

The blade on the knife is bloodied from earlier. A preliminary carving. The blood is not red, not even where it coagulates, it is dark. Muddied. The colour of split bark. Caramelised onion.

Juices sweating in a skillet.

I am very tired. And the ride can not be salvaged.

It is not too far, I don't think, to make it on foot. When I am done. If I am considerably more cautious than I have been up to this point, let's face it.

If I make it home in one piece, I promise to avail myself of healing. Maybe splash a little water in that cup of gin.

Some Quinton Claunch. Bill Cantrell. No more hot dogs.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

last of the degenerates


Throb. His jaw aches.

The tooth - lower eleven, molar - threatens to shear off with every jarring step. Has been this way since Pablo left the flat, in fact.

From the moment he obliterated the denier illusion on a slice so sweet it felt like a kiss.

Pablo scratches his nose. Tugs on one earlobe.

Too many electric pulses. Tight smiles in mouths resembling c-section scars; neatly packaged astringents that leave a stain on the eye.

He dimly recalls the climax. If one may call it that. Drooling over his shirt and onto the carpet while the sparks crackled and blew on the severed cable. The last six inches or so still coupled to the wall socket like an umbilical cord as he held his breath and waited to die. Good thing he couldn't scream.

He thought of the air terminal. Turbines in his head. Leather wings.

Bless me father for I have sinned, it has been two years since I last wrote a word.

Uncertain of what is expected of him, he stands dejected and simply gazes at the blank screen for long seconds thereafter. Terrified lest it wink back and hold him there forever, black Lazarus of la-la-land.

A Persian taking a piss.

He definitely remembers choking back the bile as he fumbles the torn sheet over it and leaves it at that. Thinks of mouldering corpses as he dresses it. Solid state soulless. Antique. Grisly unplumbed in that corner of his living space.

The vomit came then in rich velvet waves. Unpinning his head on a corkscrew turn. Keeping him retching when there is nothing more than the viscous puddle drying between his knees.

It's late.

Pablo only realizes how dark it's grown when he collides with the humped back of one of several cripples lining the kerb over from the laundry.

Cunt.

Cheap wine over the shoulder. Where a girl might string a purse.

Pablo checks the tooth is still intact.

Where the crowns have worked loose on the upper rows, he has taken to using fixative intended for dentures. Cheaper than a visit to the dentist. Less untidy than fighting multiple extractions.

He quickly backs away. Is jostled off the pavement.

Wanker.

He is unaccustomed to conversation. The anxiety over words tumbling after teeth.

If he was ever adequately schooled in it, Pablo Dillinger has forgotten how to dance.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

gangsters, recapping


Blame it on Tillie. The Pep Boys.

A refugee from Asbury Park. Retired. Residing in the armpit of a tattooed driver in Santa Rosa.

Or Dr. Josef Mengele. On vacation by the sea.

I have not written a word while under the influence of lysergic acid diethylamide for quite some time. Since I was, twice, beaten so severely that the nerves down one half of my face have never healed. I have not written a word for close to two years. Nor worked with pen and ink for ten uninterrupted hours, the psilocybin pumping up from where my feet are rooted to the floor.

I don't know why I mention this. It does little to intrigue me.

I wake up. Plug straight into the mainframe. I do not light a cigarette. I do not plumb in the kettle or fill my little china cup to the brim.

I check my mail. The sort which does not drop through the letterbox in a brown envelope marked, "this is not a circular". I huff and puff and hum along to the white collar noise of fans starting up.

I startle the mouse and stroke some keys.

Make light of these chores with my son, Milo still safely tucked up in bed.

Millport is a tiny island anchored off the coast. Thirty miles from my front door, give or take. A grassy pimple the approximate size of Alkatraz.

A retreat, like the more up market Rothesay, for gangsters and bicycle enthusiasts.

I have a tea towel with a heart shaped map of San Francisco printed on it, a wedding gift, hanging on my kitchen wall. I have a more concise understanding of its topography than I do my native burgh.

I type.

You can cycle right round it in a couple of hours or less, I am told. They had a little fairground with bumper cars then; the dodgems, we call them here. I went on them one brisk Saturday night, the wind whipping at my collar. My hair a blindfold. I was the only child out there on the polished hardwood deck. The embarrassment was excruciating. I drove around in diminishing circles for the duration of my ticket, one song by Engelbert Humperdink on the tannoy, a string of lights reflected in the spectacles worn by my grandfather - my grandfmother too - their faces wracked with a kind of anxious telepathy as they watched me sailing round and round. Willing me to enjoy myself.

Later. We return to the guest house. My grandparents sit drinking whisky. Toasted by what may have been an open fire, the roaring houndstooth sports jacket. I do not remember if there was a working television in the lounge; if it was tuned to snow.

I remember my grandfather's face beginning to redden. His voice turning louder. Slurring. Lingering near the ceiling before drifting onto the hearth as cinders.

Monday, August 25, 2014

fucking with the impenetrable


Like Vachel Lindsay - bowler hat traveling under ice - she approaches me on the stair.

A complexion, too short in the kiln, the consistency of curdled cement: Django's second guitar, left out in the rain.

Two full strides to each one step. Fingers jabbing, red meat darting between bee-stung lips, to seek - pluck - at strings, where none remain full wound, less tuned. A nature acquainted with staves. Wayward notes. Two sails to the wind sheet music.

She comes to me on the stair. It's a wonder she does not lose her footing.

Smitten, like Lindsay, a lifetime of financial woe uncoiling to receive her. Throttle out all hope of comfort.

Still. Petitions must be mustered. Before they can be served.

Madam.

Cocksucker.
Promptly swallowing one fist.

And, backing off, I try not to look upon those ruined gums. The ring of pustules weeping on a giggle.

Where an indulged dolt like Crowley set out for higher peaks, thrashing at Sherpas, Vachel Lindsay - they say - peddled poetry on blistered foot between Kentucky and New Mexico. Drawing a line under it one December, Christmas 1931. Choking back a bottle of Lysol.

Despondent. In poor health from ministering to chronically depressed yokels.

I begin anew.

The world persists in turning. A little faster with each new year, and yet you do not seem one day older.

She curtseys. A tiny wizened monkey emerges from beneath her skirts. Chased by three white rats. Between the 6th and 7th tread where her bodice comes undone. A tangle of tails. A capriccio of dress pins on a pilfered pianola.

She comes at me on the stair. Just when I have made up my mind to make off with the silverware.

The right hand which ought to deliver wafers working, hard, inside a borrowed cassock. The faded maroon of the church choir's first eleven.

One more inconvenience.

Ah. But doctors may dabble in pastries each and every Sunday. A man of the cloth, on the other hand...

The rats come racing back up the stairs. Followed by the monkey. On crutches. All impediment preceded by an imperious erection wagging left and right. Twitching like a sceptre.

But, madam. Your pets are run amock.

Well, fuck, scowls she. My children will not be tethered.

All rats fragmenting in a tumble of confetti. And the monkey ascending the scaffold of her rags, tugging at her bustle. A checkered bandana tied about its brow; bellicose jockeying imp.

I cough. She simpers. The monkey shoots its load.

The dowager's nostrils quiver.

A tremor of snot escaping into the furrow carved out twixt drooping nose and lip. Bloodied at the edges.

I snatch the paper from her fist and call for an alter boy; a glowing virgin; begetter of contrition.

Her submission is quite blank, of course, no trace of ink within its margins.

We sigh. As did Vachel. Poor brother. When I felled him with the candlestick, left him to bleed out at the altar.

Someone fetch the plague doctor.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

prism of cruelty



The madwoman's face reminds one more than a little of Antonin Artaud. Under a dyed black beehive.

After the teeth came out.

The Theatre of Cruelty has not been kind. Various assaults griddled one upon another like raw emotions uncongenially served.

She has this habit of proferring her middle finger. On which is perched a garnet set in yellow gold. There are some who stoop to kiss her ring.

There are always a few in any crowd.

We circle each other on the square like vultures. Sparring between cigarettes as only institutionalized lovers will. She tells me she drinks in the Saracen's Head. I look at her and see why some drink to forget.

After supper one evening she comes right out with it.

I don't believe you're a warrior monk. That vegetarian sham is just so much pish.

One eye glittering with malice, the other dry as a raisin. She has a point. A stiletto shank, a tongue.

No one has mentioned wars. Faith. A month of Sundays shy of gorging on beef has left me weak. I have no appetite left for a fight. No stamina to quarrel. I dig my arse into the bench and light a cigarette.

She looks at me and sneers.

I can see why she has so quickly risen through the ranks. Of the sedated. Sitting there like she has always been there.

in regione caecorum rex est luscus.

Erasmus might have been a queen. Here, he is just one more Napoleon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

pablo, king of the juice




Sunday is the cleanest time
for slipping through
picking at stitches, the damp
laundry of mourning sheets
an afternoon drizzle
High Tea and one last tipple.
 

Sunday does the dirty.
 

That first time
I was passing glass
one eye open
on a poorly fitted blind,
called on twice to step outdoors
usher in an ambulance
two undertakers
Noah's boys

           measuring the stairs.

All the bullfighters are pissed
gored
we never much cared for them
regardless
those rained on Spanish sketches,

Pablo was another matter.
 

A cold egg roll
a Sunday broadsheet, a tabloid
laid out on the dashboard.
 

10 years ironing out the grieving
a sparrow's courting
through one Sunday to the next
a constant dash of claret
propping up the Indian in his cups
the Japanese brush
and the ink this time scarcely dry
on unsized paper. 

What stole onto the pillow slip
a groan
a blotted stain the size of Sicily
spilled over the carpet incontinent.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

part 11: the odds on evens, the juice


Overtaken by a weakness to bludgeon the house senseless with a royal flush of dubs, the stairwell echoes with the whisper of melodica.

A scale of notes. Piping.

From 10PM through 5, the disinfected steps slump wetly. A stomach emptied. Hosed down cobalt blue, tubercular rails faintly trembling. A distempered cough nudging metallic wrappers. A polystyrene cup impaled on a straw.

Your cat is a long time dead. Unrecognizable under sod. Its litter, lost or stolen.

Door to door.

Hello ?

The knuckles trailing go unanswered. The neighbours are evicted.

By 1AM the sirens falter. Subside. The hammers to the south bed down to a pulse. Pablo never sleeps. Not soundly. The quiet he inhabits is the space between sinew and socket. The dials twitch. The tape rolls. Spooling behind eyelids, the fluttering of moths. East of the Nile. A mile upstream. The engineering nowhere so critical as the end result: chin to midriff, thickening to a river. What started out as an anonymous pouring, a splash from a carafe, a water bearer.

Hello ? Jesus fuck, it's cold out here.

The wheedling bleeds and grates like he'll never be done. Give in. Come. Die. Inside the canvas blind comes undone and flutters like a bat until you get off the sofa to rescue it. You tie it down because you can't abide the way the wind plucks at it with the windows already drawn.

It takes two or three attempts to do it right. The cigarette knocked across your face, sorely tempted you are to set it ablaze.

And the trains. Always the trains. Harassing late into the night. The bastard son of Ernest Borgnine.

Motherfucker. Cunt. Turn on the heat.

And, slow at first, hesitant, there comes a fitful pissing. On wheelbarrow. Tin roof. Crumbling sandstone lintel.

Under it a skin of gales.

We tumble as ash, smoke, past vast Georgian houses hugging avenue, circus, a puzzle of lanes.

Among those nursing homes and divided lets, an odour of squandered wealth persists: blackmail, jaundiced slants; under quarried flagstone and vans deploying fibre optic to the curb. Out of rookery and reclaimed wind.

Tunneling not with crooked sovereigns, but dog-eared subway tokens.

Friday, August 8, 2014

part 10: exorcismus


The afternoon sky in my window darkens every day about four.

The crows invite me to reconsider the uneven ground of our back lot. Undulating as over relics.

Two or three are already out there having dined early. Or breakfasted late.

Get out of Dodge, Pablo. Before they slip the cuffs on again.
But I sit in my room. And I smoke and I write. And I wish I could write that I bear you no ill will, but I can not.

And I think of you entertaining guests in our home. I imagine those visitors going through my things. Committing a hundred small uncharitable acts. Laughing in their wine.

And I should like to conjure up a storm. Something out of the fossil mouths of birds.

A prehistoric brooding beginning in the kitchen, say, a cupboard left ajar. Rattling preserves. Cutlery. Unwashed dishes. Standing in the sink.

A claw hammering on linoleum.

When we first fell upon each other you surrendered your key on on a tongue fastened on the roof of my mouth. I was bent on breaking and entering. Your toes curled when I snuck in through your basement window. Too much in haste to oil your catches.

Burgle me, you pleaded, quite beautiful in ambush. The long boned appetites of an ogress.

Spitting down the hall on the whirling hem of a go-go dancer. Upsetting coasters. Distressing appearances. Causing foul tempers to belch. Emerge.

Out. Out. Chasing out loiterers.

The only soul unruffled, my little son, safe in his pen. Clutching his elephant. Painted wooden wheels hurling sparks.

And, oh. Such a storm.

A crusading angel who folds, knots, the pretzel in my fist. Refuses to spare the soles of my feet. As I go marching in filthy socks. Begging for a match to burn it down. The inconvenience of a spouse breastfeeding swine, tickling bristled snouts with one long ring finger.

But the storm I conjure is not perfect. It does not compel you to run for cover. It does not ignite a firework in your pants.

Well. Such is my poverty in working magic twice removed.

When we fuck, in the aftermath of our coupling, I am plagued with insecurities. The sound of whittling.

The smell of wood shavings.

They scrabble up from between my legs. Blossom in my throat like cockroaches, deathwatch beetles.

And the crows are like flies. The hard buds on your breasts, candies. A priest might set a course by their swarming to deliver up last rites.

Your long winding sleeve. My impecunious anatomy, by comparison, is a blunt protrusion. Thrashed at by Sherpas travelling beneath sterile ice.

I want to throw you down on the bed and remove your leggings with my teeth.

But when it is done, when you have mined all roads meandering back, I refuse to go waving a scalpel.

Better to go bury all memory in a padlocked trunk. Load it on a ruptured trolley. Wheel it several miles to the bus station, one side bereaved and listing.

For this is where it terminates.

Between a police cone and a unicycle.

And the blood from the wounding refuses to scab. It snakes in coagulating tributaries joining at the elbow. Tiny black points when the gauze comes off.

And when it is done, papers are served, I will slouch into a stance and smoke three cigarettes. Buy a cup of coffee.

Watch people come and go, the seams on creased overcoats concealing destinations. Pablo, last of the degenerates.

And when the coffee has gone too, I will get up off my bench.

Inter what remains of a marriage in left luggage. Weighed down with charred silver chains.

part 9: scorpio rising


She rises late from bed, lidded irises chased by shadow. It is a little after 5PM.

You listen to hot needles rain down on her skin. From your stool in the kitchen. The sound of water hissing. Gurgling.

A spider walks over the simple meal you prepared for her while she was sleeping. You lift it on a fork. Conscious she will only pick at it, the smell and texture of cooked meat seems to repel her. She has no appetite.

You listen to her step out the shower and bind her head in a towel. You know her routine. She shaves her armpits with her husband's razor - your razor - you have not used it since the cuffs went on. She does not trouble her secret hairs but proceeds directly to her legs. Ankles. Calves. From there to the hall, the master bedroom.

Your son's bottle stands in a striped ceramic bowl. Near the open window which channels every whisper.

She enters the kitchen and lights a cigarette. Her back speaks to you so eloquently. The black strap of her bra unclasped, the damp coil of hair not quite aligned with her spine.

If there is anything left unsaid, neither of you can find the words.

The nurse's tunic hangs on the radiator where you have left it to dry.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

part 8: spike


Saturday. You revisit "Cain's Book".

Trocchi was in his mid-thirties, you have read, at the time of its completion. A relatively young man, still. Schooled in philosophy and the etiquette of parochial alliance.

One has the sense his embracing the spike, the spoon - its attendant reliance on facilitators - was just as rooted in the politic. The replacing of one narcissistic ritual with another.

Crows wheel. Make a racket.

Congregating on telephone wires. Consummating a primal urge to sound a warning bell. All the while picking at a union dashed against the rocks.

The caravan, its trousseau, is overtaken by Indians.

There is no sign of your fox out there. You've seen neither hide nor hair since that last time squatting. Tongue lolling while he excretes and sniffs his carefully laid festive turd.

Reminding you that everything turns to shit. Wily old bastard.

You are back where you started out four weeks ago. Painted into a corner. You need a good cut man. Someone to slice and dress just to to get you up off the fucking stool.

Inject a little insulin.

That thing with Trocchi.

The singular determination to avoid the consequences. Emotional fallout. You are naturally envious. In this he is spectacularly evasive, always gravitating to the simple mechanics of scoring. Proceeding directly to the hit.

Holding court in a lair in Sheridan Square, the cunt. Craftily fixing.

It is entirely as if he is still attending lectures, tutorials, in the thick of all this dodging. Engaging in a discourse with his mentor there.

The chemistry of alienation.

And all this time your wife continuing to dispense good care to the terminally wounded. Amputees marching helplessly in circles. Over toast soldiers and straight off the table.

Wiping shit off arses. Wrestling bodies into slings.

And you unreconciled in your beaten suede jacket. Riding the subway back and forth in a circle of her bidding too.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

part 7: sunday morning


It is Sunday morning. Again.

What begins, innocuously enough, with coffee and cigarettes has me waving in coordinates less than one hour late later. Cell phone in hand. Leaning out over the geraniums on our balcony.

Irene, Irene. Turbulent of eye. Cruelly inflicting Category 3 damage in the Caribbean where she first dabbled in tearing down the house. Horrifying cosmonauts in perpetual orbit. Truck drivers from Campanario through West Virginia.

There is rain in the air. Bruised skies.

And the threat first nursed in her sulking retreat in a Latin safe quarter, silk knickers hand-stitched and waiting in a loft somewhere in Manhattan. Flushed north, west with the tourists. On across the Atlantic. Those sodden skirts whipping up a lather.

What's that ? I scream. No, no. Right I said. Turn right.

My wife hands me the baby and jumps down the stairs. She and our visitor miss each other by a couple of streets.

Take a fucking right and follow the avenue straight on down.

I windmill my arms and pace back and forth like Fidel on his mountain in 1957. Take our son inside and return to light a cigarette. It has been years since I have been close to a good cigar.

We meet up - our friend, my wife, her four-year-old daughter - and drink more coffee. Her little girl trips on the concrete and splits her knee. She does not blink an eye, but asks for pen and paper. Tires quickly of the scribbling and imprisons my tiny son in a pink chalk circle.

We listen to Cachao. Israel Lôpez. A little Miles.

I don't own a passport. I can't fake the moves. But I love to marvel at the women. The cars. Those tail fins. Radiator grills like the grins on circling barracuda; Myer Lansky's junkie cronies bedded down at the Hotel Nacional.

Hot-pants. Basketball vests. Ripe melons. Mojitos.

A ring of fingers spread along the Malecón.

Not quite 11:00 AM, my head is cloudy. Jammed full of trivia. Fatigued too easily.

Irene, Irene. She'll give you a slap still.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

part 6: dead beat defendant

EXTRACT: STATEMENT FOR THE DEFENCE

S38 (1) [FUC EWE 28 − 1]

The submission ought not to be regarded, by any means, as an admission of guilt. Neither is it an unburdening of mitigating circumstances.

My client contends that the preceding and following stand solely as a document. I would emphasize his determination, then, that it not be construed, either, as a plea for reconciliation. In short, it "is what it fucking is." Insomuch as, (it is) something no better or worse than   "idly doodling (noughts and crosses) while waiting for an aneurism."

part 5: interruptus


I press my nose into her belly and open my mouth. My nostrils filled with long dark hairs. Scented by musk. Damp not with arousal, but confinement. Her pants. Her jeans. Toil and walking.

I open my eyes and look up at her, over her pubis. Her head lolls faraway atop a pale mountain, the graceful pillar and tendons on her neck. The cool slab of one shoulder, folded blade turned away from me.

I open my eyes, then, and fasten my lips on the dark flesh of her cunt. No gentle cleft, but spilling from its canopy.

Sharp. Pungent. Confrontational.

A wound which has expelled three children, the long midnight sex which drew my seed. Alive with the sense of toughening.

I probe the entrance to it with my tongue. An exploratory nibble. Conscious of depths winding back through her cervix, into her womb.

The sweeping red wall of it.

The ticking of its pulse.

I tease out her clitoris and massage these folds which envelop it. Follow her labia down to where it sits on the arch of her buttocks. Caress its mended tear with all the tenderness I can muster. Her fingers on my left ear now, the gristle, as I turn to examine the stretchmark at the core of her thighs, the white scar of it there as long as I have known her.

Solitary. Almost abashed. Singular.

A fissure in the landscape of my map of her.

I open my mouth and drink of her. Wash my face in the river which springs from the heart of her. Listen to the rhythm of its current.

There is quiet here. Healing. A potency of volcanoes.

The potential to turn all to ash.

Tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, she will be gone. Taking our son with her, the son I would not let go. And my stepchildren are delighted, and my older son will miss his little brother. And my little son is too little to be perturbed.

So I sit at her well and I listen to the sound of her leaving.

Her pockets are steep to the strings of her coil.