“Praises From a Tenor Sax”
like salt on a bloodsucker
paralyzed fits of punishing
with the sell-out
the down and out
muck and mire choir
praises from a tenor sax
and a song
you can’t let go of
fill the loving cup
and drink it dry
try to stay away
but you can’t fight
of the taffy
you get stuck in the
and you wanna
(Photo of Rich Ferguson courtesy of Cat Gwynn)
Plug yourself into the electric present moment jukebox, sing yourself into the total sensurround sounds of now. Wash your hair with sudsy, bubbly playgrounds of wow; give your scalp a good laugh. Imitate a ringing phone; see how long it takes for someone to pick you up. Allow music, merriment & the moon to always find you, no matter how far you may sometimes fall inside yourself. Spread some traffic jam on a piece of toast; take a bite, swallow it without an ounce of road rage as a chaser. Sit peacefully with your hands on life’s steering wheel. Rest assured your heart is your copilot.
Between Jacob and Benjamin
In the kitchen in the middle of the night
between two bedrooms
my son sleeps in one, my father in the other
while my concern moves between
his limp & his lunch
his repetitions & his why
his criticism & his acceptance
his love & his love.
These two men eighty years apart
& me in the middle
between answers still asking questions
wanting to be understood & getting told what to do
telling my son its time to go & being told I shouldn’t by my father.
In the middle of the night in the kitchen
I peel an apple
watching 4 AM traffic 21 floors below Queens Boulevard
so far away from my home in California
& my birth in Eastern Europe
the end of his story
the beginning of his
worried awake by some haunting
or something I haven’t done
being in the middle of everything
the place between these two men.
I eat the apple bit by bit
without a sound the traffic slips
into the middle of summer
I hear him stir & him snore
& watch the morning amber press against the cobalt
finally feeling the sleep I need
ready for surrender
I leave the last of skin and seeds
on the table in the kitchen
between parent & child.
( The haiku are from Jack’s forthcoming book,
WIDE ROAD TO THE EDGE OF THE WORLD:
Hearing Mom and Dad
fighting in the bedroom room.
Outside, the red moon.
I lost who I was.
Then I found who I would be.
Only who I was knew.
In the safe darkness
of the theatre I find truth:
Annie gets her gun.
There’s Charlie Chaplin
running but getting nowhere—
a plan for a life
falling in rhythm
to the buzzing of the bees
over something dead
Would that I was wise,
not this enlightened monkey
wearing monkey mask
They open my chest
and then put my heart on ice
while my brain simmers.
To write War and Peace:
In the stationary store
ask for more paper.
Poetry kills me.
I can’t face its stern demands,
heart filled with cobwebs.
When I’m gone, I’ll sure
miss that dove whose song wakes me,
but will she miss me?
Fortune cookie says,
“You will go on long journey.”
Pay check. Leave at once.
How to eat this life?
Break the past into pieces,
eat one piece at a time.
I love this sharp knife.
How it cuts the red pepper.
Salad filled with blood.
My childhood is gone.
I don’t want to go back there.
Too much mystery.
Once I was a dog.
No one was afraid of me.
I licked people’s hands.
I’m a proud Virgo.
One day I’ll be organized,
surrounded by worms.
Some things are too sad
to write about on paper.
My closed mouth writes too.
Poems not money
give such meaning to my life.
Sometimes meaning sucks.
Dante, the wise carpenter.
Me? Corn to chickens.
At a loss for words?
Call Jack Grapes, home or office,
day or night, for help.
I’ve squandered so much,
and given less than I could,
asleep in the rain.
Sit still a minute.
Now, let your heart open wide
and see what falls in.
Poof, and it’s all gone,
in an egg mixture with seasonings
— lips thrown onto brown paper,
hot beast smiles we grab and eat,
exoskeletons detached from their flesh bellies,
moon shadows and French kissed souls snapped from their God given rights,
All the world loves a parade, a good meal, found money,
Oh, but to behold that face!
It was September and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
A time before things changed forever and life asserted it’s irrevocables,
became opposite day everyday.
How I hate that Pat told us the future that day, said he planned to die early and leave a pretty corpse.
How I hate that we just sat on the deck of our uncle’s boat nodding,
sunning ourselves between mile markers,
spent time talking about bee shadows messing up our tans,
liar, liar, pants on fire,
how I hate how funny became ‘un,’
how glad never regained her running momentum,
how time, just left out the side door,
after first hanging a forever picture in my mind,
slipping out the side door.
Paul told me, “Had a friend named ‘Congo’ once
— a man who lost both legs in the war to end all wars,
still made himself do leg lifts after his morning coffee everyday,
lifted what wasn’t there,
looking at me so I’d get it,
“The hardest, too much compromise, I guess.”
A new client texts me, “Things will happen quickly, shift’s coming. Things long forgotten will be remembered.
No doubt it’s the Lord’s doing.”
I send her a text, let her know she can count on me, let her know where the Christian right can go now that I’m working my new shoe job at Bloomie’s,
I text her bold, “’COME. Well-stocked 4 end times:
50-off Jesus sandals and Armageddon boots.”
Mid-April, I ask my gardener,
“Can I ask you to move the wood by the oak we just took down?”
Straw hat tipped back of his head, Frito greasy,
only hat ever owned, him standing with feet apart taking the agaves out real slow.
Sun, that time of day, hot, you know the one,
then I ask,
“Would it be too weird to ask for you to take down the Christmas lights?”
The narcissus did not bloom this year.
All over town, pale tissue fists raised on green lawns,
gardens too — white, yellow, orange.
nothing but stems.
The hundred or so I planted last Christmas with money my mother-in-law sent me,
nothing but green stems.
All over town, fists on lawns,
— white, yellow, orange, pale fists on lawns, gardens too
Green stems, stems, stems,
August sun, a bitter hag, even the mountains turned their backs when the great outdoors became an oven last week of April.
August, every month of the year.
The city, a lean factory, temps tipping past the century mark.
No a/c units, no fans left to purchase in big box stores,
the work of pushing cumulus and wind gone to where manufacture’s cheap.
Permanent summer, shade, not coming back.
I’m chillin’ shaking hash night and day ‘til I get my street cred back,
you know, get some reserves in the bank.
Get me sweet cheeks?
Times tough, somes got more doubt than down for fill, more druther than they can handle,
SUV wheels stuck on some coulda shouldas woulda hill grinding hope to a halt.
Tell you this much, raising kids like raising opossums —
doubt – the same – can’t cage what’s rabid, stir-crazy,
thems, moody mother suckers,
first things first, first coax the heart, then the mind, cross my heart,
the money will follow.
– Maryrose Smyth
There can be few better places in London for hanging socks
Vintage Emporium enter thru pink along Bacon Street
By candle I sup my tea as the mirror spies on me
Close your eyes and merge from mirror thru painting of glass
Signed D. Valentine I wonder where he hangs his socks?
i could hurt myself with you
given enough bourbon
and a decent suit city lights
drawing down the moon
on a properly placed back in time
saturday night if you didn’t remind so damned much
of my first husbandback then i could claim being 16
a ran away to the real world too soon
starry eyed twat
with straight A’s
and no street smarts
unable to discern the difference
between a pedophile and a suitori’m a daily communicant with that mistake
no, baby, lesson learned
you’re a used car lot wearing armani shoes
a lizard brain
in a gold chain
forked tongue slipping past
your greasy lips
you smell like turpentine
and unpaid child support
Never Say Never–Not
Not a christian
Not a jew
Not a muslim
Not a shoe
Not hors d’ouevre
Not bon bon
Not sing songy
Not too funny
That’s a joke
Not too randy
Not too poor
Not too disabled
To open your door
Not too wily
Not too slow
Not so decrepit
That I can’t grow
Not without fear
Not without hope
Not without longing
More than enough rope
Not hung up
On what doesn’t come next
Not too addicted
To obsessively text
Not that smart
That I can’t bend
Or know when a poem
Has come to its end
Cacophony, disaster, chaos, the sources that fuel the existence of the self. Incapable of shutting off the bullshit, of reducing its volume, of muting it out. A pissing contest of voices, fragments, history, fears, consciousness, Darwinism of decay, harassing the self, eradicating the self, a mutiny on board the SS Self, decapitating the captain and discarding him into the storm, the dunces have taken over, without a thought wasted on the consequences for the host.
The host is awaiting instruction. The host is puzzled. The host is startled. The host roams the streets. The war rages within, the war reaches without. The host sees his reflection in the window separating him from the spectacle of Starbucks. The host is a spirit that doesn’t belong, detached from the cozy, the sweet, the gentle, the smooth jazz, the paper cups, and the lattes and chais. The host is exposed, left without defense against the titter within. The host points his pistol at the spectacle but once again shoots himself, splattering brain matter against the glass as the jazz inside remains smooth.
A life under the orders from the clinically insane, the fears that erode the past, the ghosts that destroy the future, the grand sum of everything that contaminates the present, that is the curse. That is the sentence. Karma is a bitch. But for what. But for what. Leck mich am Arsch! Fick dich ins Knie! Picka ti materina. Vas the faire foutre. Fuck off you cunts and cocksuckers. Hate and Tourette’s, the blunt means of defense. Hate and Tourette’s, the eternal flame at the tomb of the unknown self. Hate and Tourette’s, the expression of an existence as pointless as a pay phone in 2013.
– Matej Purg