This is an excerpt from a novel. All comments are welcome.
This work is dedicated to William S. Burroughs
and Jimmy Stewart.
speaks in bold.
Am I writing
this or just writing it down?
you're writing it, I'm just giving a little bounce.
this around: I'm tired of these limitations.
They bore me.
But it's worse when I know I can encompass them, envelop them and digest
them--make them my own and then excrete them like some comfy load of
rejection slips and termination notices consigned to my toilet's oblivion.
what consequence is that against mortality?
bring that up.
what we all face.
is why I won't surrender. I won't surrender my body; I won't surrender
my honor or my integrity. Or what time I have left. It's all about time,
you know. The use of it. So, is it to be my heart or my liver--or some
virus eating little holes in my brain? See, I don't know. May be an
eighteen wheeler gobbles me in rubber. Don't know how; don't know when.
So, my best option is to make full use of every second that at least
I know I'm alive in. It's every salesman's dream to have a product over
which his customers obsess. God must feel that way. All His supplicants
with souls dangling like so many fish lures. Lucifer, that ole catfish,
wants to swallow your soul hook and all. Fact those hooks stick out
his sides and he wears em like medals.
BillyB. I've slimed the asshole of every busboy in Tangiers whose name
has Mohammed in it. The very blood in my veins is seven percent morphine.
I'm your pookah. Ever heard of Harvey? Well, I've buggered him too.
Soft fur, little bitty rabbit asshole. Better than poet butt anytime.
with the porkpie hat?
image. You know grey, cadaverous, intellectual. Think of me as Mr. Spock
on junk. My magic is cold and rational. I'm here to keep you from falling
for all the sappy bullshit the media hands you about patriotism and
the good life. Just remember this: the good dope will always be illegal.
God help us if somebody patents the orgasm. I'll be selling bathtub
mornings when I do my scales in the backyard BillyB sits in his orgone
box. He says it promotes his phycic stamina and helps sharpen his innate
ability to spot BS. Once in a while he'll give a satisfied grunt and
say, "Yeah, that's right." as if agreeing with himself on
some thorny topic. Just my luck I guess to get a head case for a pookah.
For one claiming to be in the business of spotting bullshit he generates
his share of it. So, it's not like I believe everything I hear from
him. I know he's a con from the word GO. Yet his comments as he stands
hunched over my shoulder have a quirky rationality. His mutter of nasal
cynicism makes more and more sense.
how hot it is in Dallas, BillyB wears the same vested grey suit and
his porkpie hat. Ethereal in his dry cleaned way. Loping along like
a semi-transparent thoroughbred. Never broke a sweat--it's a pookah
then BillyB would take a mood and decide to shoot some dope. He'd come
in with his black leather kit and formally take off his coat, hang it
on the back of the chair. Then while taking the cuff-link out of his
French cuff he would expound on what a joy it was to be a pookah. No
AIDS, no hepC, no bacterial endocarditis, no overdose, no withdrawal.
A junky's dream. He'd open his case and it was like something straight
from Conan Doyle--small alcohol lamp, silver spoon with arched back
handle, tiny bottles of powders and pills.
inexorable logic of the long shot.
might be the Lightweight Champion of the World
you're still a lightweight.
about Alexander the Great. Military gangster is what he was, and a terrible
drunk. He and his boys got cooked one night and burned down the palace
of the Persian king. So he stomped around the known world bullying the
populace with his reputation and every now and then stopping to kick
some ass. But in the process of this hooligan adventure he spread the
Greek culture and set events in motion that would determine what the
world looked like for the next thousand years. Plus he had the good
sense to name towns after himself. Bunch of em. Some people have the
generic capacity for such things. It would never work for me--Williamia?
Billville?--naw never work.
say how old BillyB was. Transparent in his pookah way, his skin was
mobile parchment. He wore the ephemeral. His greyness suggested age
but the childlike sparkle in his very blue eyes announced the vitality
of youth. In a way these eyes were the most tangible part of him--solid
azure set in a ghostly latticework.
I was just a young pookah in Almagordo I dreamed of atomic bombs and
boy's soft buttocks. Cocoa butter and critical mass. Motility is the
key to fertility. It's not how many you have--it's how hard they're
swimming. Get those little jigglers energized enought to jump to the
next shell. Covalent bond, penetrate the membrane, get fixed in a twisted
have to get my Tesla Coil out of storage. It's even better than the
orgone box for stimulating sensiivity to BS. One of the great unsung
heroes, Tesla. Marconi and Tommy Edison stole the man blind. Nobody
knows what he was thinking in the last years of his life cuz he wrote
everthing in some undreamed of code. Who knows, he might have come up
with the cure for television.
the Mugwump Club in Ellum they sponsored jazz and poetry combat. In
my childhood we could not have imagined fine art as bloodsport but such
are the times . Who knows when exactly music and poetry degenerated
to contact sports. It may have been something to do with pro wrestling
stealing all the academics. Or just the fine line between art and show
business. Anyway, the first death from poetic apoplexy got the whole
damn thing started. Fat girl from East Dallas dropped dead trying to
fake an orgasm onstage. How do you follow that? What can be more poetic
than death? I mean, after all yer et tu brute's and yer gnite sweet
prince's what are you left with? The answer better be "a good show"
if you wanna put asses in seats. It's the whole reality programming
mentality. The panting illusion of real suffering and somewhere a million
dollars is involved. Trial by ordeal. Public humiliation and the chance
of celebrity strolling hand in hand.
I hit him
with a couple of double spondees followed up by a quick series of anapestic
feet to the abdomen. He was reeling but still had the moxie to come
back with that image about his pecker being stripped inside out and
dipped in turpentine.
combination of dactyls and iambs waltzed him right in to a full nelson;
then an end rhyme to the small of the back.
was wearing him down. His metaphor was sluggish. I felt like finishing
him off with some lightning alliteration but about that time he fell
under the weight of his own simile and when his head hit the mat he
was mumbling "like or as? like or as?" It was a clean knock-out
but as usual the crowd wanted it messy. Wanted the blood to ooze and
the spit to fly.
I was already
an object of doubt at the Mugwump. To start with I always arrived alone,
without the usual retinue of managers and hangers on and groupies. That's
only because they couldn't see BillyB. This is just as well because
BB spent most of his time in the Mug bemoaning the sad state of literature.
I think he secretly enjoyed the tag-team jazz matches though. Especially
when the saxes and bones went into a mad frenzy of honking and squealing.
One night an alto man bit his own tongue off trying for the F above
high C and was quoting Coltrane's version of My Favorite Things
fog of blood coming from the bell.
tell this one's spirit was broken. I could have hit him again, pandering
to the crowd but I just didn't have it in me. Poor guy probably wouldn't
write another four lines before his kids got out of college as it was.
I thought of Jose Ferrer skipping along behind his foil as Cyrano. Knee
and toe on perfect point, gayly composing and reciting to the cymbal
clash of blades; gently dispatching his foe on the final line--thrust
home! There was honor in that, and wit. This, on the other hand, was
a sad demise--brutal and sluggish. I tore my poem to pieces and let
them fall like confetti onto the vanquished form of my opponent.
was the famous contact poet, Clitoe. They called him that because he
had this ghastly mole between his eyebrows and it looked exactly like
a clitoris in extreme arousal. When he read at a particular level of
intensity the clit-mole would vibrate perceptably and the audience would
breath harder as a result. There were rumors he could lick it with his
tongue but I never actually saw this. His role here was to keep the
casualties to a minimum and save the odd allotment of bloody noses,
black eyes and scraped egos he managed well. We could both see this
was a case for the meat wagon as Clitoe came onstage to give me my cash
prize. I was trying to listen to his award speech with BillyB in my
ear telling me what a crass affair this was.
why I do it. It's the money.
what I'd have to do. You're a perverted old pookah and I'm a fugitive
from the law. I'd be completely in your thrall. Got to have a little
movin' around cash.
you'll sell the skin on your literary knuckles like some yokel at a
I do. Besides I can't spend your money; it's pookah money. Probably
has your picture on it.
it's my picture. But who looks? Sides in the right
I can pass for Andy Jackson after a hard night of drink. Anyway it's
as good as the stuff you use, which has gone from gold to silver to
paper to pure digital concept. Money is no longer wealth in itself but
a means of keeping score in this whore's game our economy has become.
the Mug by the back way and caught a cab on Crowdus between Elm and
Main. I didn't know how hard the fuzz was on me but there was a blue
warrant and I was on the billboard at the front door if only as a preliminary
event. Always took cabs; never drove or carried ID. When we rode in
taxis I tried not to talk to BillyB too much because it tended to upset
the cab drivers to hear this one sided conversation coming from the
nut in the back seat. So I let BB do most the talking in cabs, which
was fine with him.
poet, huh? Humph. Guess I never met a poet worth his salt wasn't on
the run from something. That's cuz you gotta be outside to get inside.
Ya need yer deviants. Lenny Bruce wouldn't have been worth a damn if
he'd made it to Easy Street. We wouldn't know Whitman if he wasn't a
shunned old queer. Now, I still don't know if you're the iconic poet
you think you are. You're good but a lotta Hallmark writers are good.
You don't really know if poetry's good until it has a patina. Sure can't
tell in the time it takes an audience to get the joke. This ain't poetry;
it's prize fighting, stand-up comedy. The rythms are like a bare fist
on the jaw. The crudest doggerel works better than compostion with any
thought. I don't know why you persist--yeah, yeah it's the money. If
I played the Temperhorn like you do I would get me a little quiet jazz
gig and lay low until the bureauocracy fell under its own weight. That's
why you worry them back at that verbal charnel house, it's because you
are a double threat. Don't know why you won't take your horn down there.
Yes, I do. It's that perverted steak of kindness you have. Afraid if
that thing ever got outta control you'd really hurt somebody. Or you
could play in a venue where jazz wasn't a matter of life and death.
Course it's all life and death with you poets.
the Paragorric Pedagogue
talk to just anybody about your pookah
you I can be frank
in the first degree
a jokers tatters; this one wears Armani
out to Charlie Parker; wretches when he hears Yanni
corporation t-shirt; Got jokes down below his jokes
Fields temporarily and YoMama should know YoYoMa
started playing the Temperhorn it was a relatively new instrument. Advances
in bio-electronics made the concept possible and Prof. Javier Tempere
at M.I.T. working with local rave-rockers and jazz renegades designed
and developed the horn with it's companion software. Think they started
with a Thompson machine gun in designing the ergonomics. It's held at
the waist by the two handpieces on which there are keys. The disc magazine
is rear and central and along the sides of the instrument are various
controls, modality triggers and percussion pads. This would all amount
to just an odd shaped synth controller but for the real conceptual advance
which is the bio-sensor array. This is worn like an abbreviated helmet
around the head and neck. Pads contact the temples and scalp as well
as two on the neck, one over the Juggular
the other over the carotid artery. The mouthpiece is a ring about the
size of a quarter lined with sensors which detect the speed, volume
and temperature of air moving through. This is also a microphone for
direct voice and voice synthesis. Small lasers focused on the eyeballs
let the player affect tonal and timberal changes by means of pupil dilation.
Some of the old jazzers laughed at the device calling it the polygraph
of music. Those jokes proved prescient as the software improved and
the player's emotional input began to be accurately rendered. In short
the horn was being controlled not only manually with the external buttons
and switches and breath input but also directly from the bio-emotional
state of the player. As you can imagine one playing this instrument
well must possess yogic control over his body and mind. This is why
that while anyone can strap on a Temperhorn
evoke amazing sounds there are very few virtuoso players. Casualties
from the horn are not uncommon especially among the younger players.
Besides the predictable burst eardrums and shattered glass the inexperienced
or undisciplined can with the new amplification devices cause heart
attacks, aneurisms even broken bones in themselves and nearby victims.
BillyB could hold forth at lengh about the parallels between modern
musical intruments and weapons. But in the proper hands the horn was
most incredibly evocative, could make women swoon and strong men cry.
at the Veranda Room where the ambiance was not so edgy. Doctah Ben was
on break when we walked in. "My main," he said as we joined
him in the corner booth. Ben looked like Aunt Jemima trapped in an old
jazz piano player's body. "Didga hear about the next generation
Viagra? It's called Vinigra. Not only gets it hard but makes it big
and black as a forty-nine Plymouth radiator hose." I looked around
to see if anyone else was laughing. Half-a-century since the Civil Rights
Movement and a white man still couldn't tell that joke.
bring that bad ax o' yours?"
Benny. Been down fightin' for my supper with those maniacs at the Mug.
Thought we'd--I'd just drop in for a brandy before bedtime.
is a crazy bunch of kids down there. I'd drop around once in a while
but you know my motto: Don't shoot the piano player. Still dodgin' the
You notice I'm facing the door. It's about to get on my nerves, duckin'
and dodgin' like a thief.
my t's or was it dotting my i's? Can't remember which. Parole violation.
Those people own me for the rest of my natural life. Way they look at
it I'm theirs any time they feel like yanking my string.
I practiced the T.horn I would either drive to the country to do it
or get in my closet up against the clothes. I was young and could stand
six or eight hours a day of playing. It was such a powerful thing and
I did it so badly that I didn't want to inflict it on the innocent.
Some years of yoga had prepared me in rudimentary fashion for the rigors
of the instrument but I was still awed by its evocative potential. The
last thing one wanted to do while playing the Temperhorn was to lose
one's temper. In fact, if the player didn't maintain emotional equilibrium
the results could be unpleasant. Went into the studio one day after
my girlfriend dumped me and blew out the booth window, a nine hundred
dollar microphone and the left eardrum of the engineer. The one thing
a T.horn player had to have was compassion. That and detatchment. It's
no wonder most of the world's best players were junkies. They're not
the best on compassion but they're great on detatchment.
ease the pain of your useless and pointless knowledge." Bob Dylan
I deserve you?
lucky. And needy. Think of me a a consultant on life's grittier issues.
the authorities hounding my ass?
a disease everybody enjoys. Your case is just a little more acute. It's
not like you're on the ten most wanted list.
still got me in a box. Can't work. Can't drive. It's crampin' my style.
can one recognize moderation unless he's known excess? And along with
excess comes extremity.
you? Some kinda Zen pookah?
you're a paladin yogi. Afraid to chant OM in public for fear of shattering
the champagne flutes.
Style and Trepidation
by Doubt and Trepidation.
I may be
the greatest Western writer since Genet. Coltrane would die to make
the sounds I make and I can't get laid by an elderly dog. It's because
any woman with the sense to stuff a bra looks at me and red flags launch
like the Fourth of July. Ex-con, unrepentant drug addict, broke as a
churchmouse, a musician, wanted by the law, iconoclastic and opinionated,
lives from cigarette to cigarette, wastes his time writing poetry, wears
underwear for a week if he wears it at all, has no job so appears naked
in a world where jobs are worn like clothes, glories in his nakedness,
hangs out with a six-foot grey pookah and god knows what other imaginary
me assure you, my boy, I am far from imaginary. Blink your eyes and
see if I go away. Don't let my ephemeral qualities deceive you. I'm
idea of real is much like a suit of armour. Protective, bulky, cumbersome,
can't get on yer horse without help. Long as you defend those colors
you are bound by thier ideals. So, what do you want? A woman or women?
don't know. Something warm, soft and wet would be nice once in a while.
a slow shower. Used to be said that men lived on sex and women on romance.
And that was the truth in a coarse and general way. Not so these days.
Most women have become men. We've settled into gender equilibrium. Instead
of men and women wanting different things from each other which meshed
in testy symbiosis, today we see men and women both wanting the same
things--indepedence, autonomy, control. They need each other less. But,
as always men need women more than women need men. I think you just
want to be adored.
just wants to be adored.
some of us are more adorable than others. It started in the last century
with a viral infection in the female of the species. Why do you think
women acquiesed to their subservient status for thousands and thousands
of years before recently asserting their right to political and social
equality? The virus infected the germ cell of the female, became assimilated
into the genetic code and has since been passed from mother to daughter.
I'm sure they could dig up specimens from before the infection and with
DNA testing show the difference in the sequence with modern women. The
new genes code for more testosterone. That's why the bitches are so
just an old misogynist in scientists clothing.
tended to my email BillyB would drag out his old Remington and sit pecking
on it. There was something comforting about the staccato rythm of the
keys. BB said he preferred what he called the accoustic typewriter to
the newer electrics and the computer keyboard was well, some silly little
toy to him. The internet was, in his estimation, just a "glorified
telephone with nasty pictures."
postulated the Interzone years ago. This Internet thing is just a corporate
imitation. They wanna spy on yer mail. They wanna record every keystroke.
They wanne set you up to suck on whatever titty they care to offer you.
When you get that Temperhorn hooked up to the Internet, then you'll
get close to Interzone. But the Internet will never be Interzone--too
many cops. And besides when you say cyberspace you are already in fantasy
land. Interactive is really psuedoactive as opposed to participatory.
Interzone is directly participatory, not interactive. The only participation
they require from you on the internet is your credit card number. It's
just the next level of virus adapting its environment to its lifestyle.
Like language and music. Yeah, even music is a virus. Does that make
you a sick man or a genius? It depends on how well the virus achieves
equilibrium with its host. The music virus is just a more recent infection
than the language virus. Almost everybody has the language virus--it's
very old. But the music virus is newer and not as contagious. This is
why some people are "talented" and others are not. Some are
imune to the virus and this becomes genetic so their progeny will never
be "talented" musically. Viruses are master genteticists.
Agents of selection. Consultants on the molecular level. They go in
and with sheer will change organizations, make systems more to their
liking. They create high paying positions for themselves in the cellular
I was infected with it. But it's a glorius disease. Nothing is quite
like the feeling I get when I see the audience light up when I start
playing. It's like a bonesaw splitting my sternum and allowing me to
to expose the palpating muscle of my heart.
yeah, technology meets the mating call. Someday you'll be able to activate
their implants with silent music--outwit the orgasm patrol.
can be so controlling as the controlled. You would think that the victims
of oppression would hesitate to oppress but sadly, this is not true.
Look at the Jews. Two generations after the holocaust and Isrealis are
acting like a buncha Nazis. There's gas chambers in them rubber bullets.
are subspecies that transcend the races. I'm sure it's of viral origin.
Specialized drivers in their cellular cockpits. The control virus is
not especially widespread but particularly dominant. You have the bovine
strains and other ruminant wool bearing worker types. Course human eugenics
and slavery breeding programs confuse this as well as caste and social
stratification. Then you
the bureaucratic strain which I find to be signally odius. I can't wait
to see how the AIDS virus makes peace with its hosts. I'm sure it will
result in a race of homosexuals with invincible constitutions. Super
drug addicts. They'll eat Baptists for breakfast. Don't let me forget
the benign and screwy techo-virus.
was the virus riding on the bacterium riding on the fungus. On the back
of every bug
is a smaller bug to bite'm
on his back a smaller bug
so ad Infinitum--whoever said that
picture of diminishing reality. Opposing mirrors. Science keeps subtracting
the floor of reality. Molecules--smaller, we have atoms. Not just atoms
but sub-atomic particles like protons and neutrons and electrons in
a haze. And each of these is a tiny universe. Through observation we
have been able to understand persistent symetries in our physical world.
Laws pertain. Physics is reliable until it becomes unreliable. We can
discern and predict the manner in which distant orbs hurl and spin through
the void but why are we here and able to discern and predict is the
question we hesitate to answer. Comes a time when every virus has to
decide whether to kill it's host. Replication is the mandate of all
organisms. The virus must decide whether to kill the cell in which it
lives by the gorge of its progeny much as we must decide whether to
kill this planet with ours.
a Sunday and raining which was unusual for Dallas in August. The crepe
myrtles which lined the steet were weeping radiant magenta. I could
tell BillyB was restless in his pookah way because the pieces he was
cutting his prose into were becoming smaller. He worked with surgical
scissors and rubber cement to assemble the fragments back into legible
form. I've never been sure if this was an artistically valid way to
compose but one at least looks industrius while doing it. His coat was
already on the back of his chair and as he adjusted the garter on his
sleeve he said he was tired and thought it was time for a taste of the
drugs with BillyB was always an enlightnening experience. He was full
of facts and folklore about every substance known to be abuseable. He
approached it in a clinical way, but ceremonial as well. It was always
a quest of investigation not only of the drug's effects but also of
how one reacted to them and what he learned by the split viewpoint.
One night he produced a bundle of yage vines from his black leather
kit and we sat in our skivvies across a circle of candles with soot
smudged on our faces in communion with every zen-bop traveler ever dropped
a tab of Sunshine or chomped a cactus bud. As the evening developed
we were joined by Al Huxley and Ed Poe. What with that gothic thing
Eddy had going and Al's cold scientific projections and social cynicism
BillyB was like a kid at Disneyland, baiting them both.
just getting dark when the black leather kit came out. It was still
drizzling rain--a Lady Rain as we say in Texas. BillyB began extracting
packets and bottles and ampules from the kit--more than I would have
suspected the bag would hold--and assembling them on the table.
see. Mexican brown. Asian white. Iranian grey. No, I think tonight we'll
go with the pharmaceuticals.
when BB shot drugs I would smoke herb or hash. He would reach in his
bag and toss me a half a sole of Afghanni or a bag of something spicy.
Hard experience had taught me that my capacity for sustained opiate
use was mortally slight. Sadly I did not posses BillyB's pookah immunities.