Tuesday, December 6, 2011

the Bay Street Mist series.

Bay Street Mist

There must have been a witch’s brew
coursing through the purple arm of night.
We never lived
to see the moon come down.

We ragged owls
peered into you
from behind the red curtains of dusk
as if our secrets were not hidden
in our noses
or clawing at our skin.

We who rode on the wings of flies
through Bay street mist,
through a fog of timeless time,
through the voodoo hours
when we, silhouetted against the fire,
beat tribal-drums, shouted incantations
and rattled our bones out of place.

When the night was broken
or the very act of breaking
we indulged ourselves,
leech-like, in your most obscure corners.

We, who shared a single casket.

Forever the dim rooms, the stables
of the poor, whose submission to
autonomy was present even
in the way the struggled to blink
with eyes held open by toothpicks.

Gutted fish line the walls
of the dilapidated apartment building
that leans in the wind,
the wood screaming around the vile tenants
who would do better to live
in a single cage.

Forever ruminating like livestock,
with dull gazes,
waiting, as it goes, for their slaughter;
their long, laborious annihilation.

While the summer beats the pile
of gore like a drum
that only the flea-infested cats can hear,
the walls melt in the delirious heat.

In the blackest corridor
of the roach-motel,
something screams
and almost sounds human.

Forever this pit
dug by broken hands.
The corpulent tick with gold pocket-watch
complains that the blood has gone sour.

Losing myself in the heat
of our own damnation,
wasting away where
bats dwell and
rock-headed philistines
knock on your door
at strange times
under even stranger moons
 begging for your left hand.

To each of them dead
and dying around me I whisper:
”They will know your tragedies.”
but everyone is a stranger
except the tortured piano
of Le Comte de Lautreamont,
and you, Legion, who composed
their tear-drop symphony.

I wont spare you any detail
so long as I am not myself.
So long.
            (I cannot be myself
            until I’ve seen from the perspective
            of a tree or a rock.)

In Hell there is nothing to do
but go mad.
So that is what we do and
we’re always getting better at it.

Even the spring was dead;
beneath the concrete scabs that
cover the Earth.

I say to the ghosts:
”I am a guest in your house.
I walk on eggshells and broken glass
wishing all the while that
that I could be the night,

or something like it.”
I look up to the stars
and see only a pair of cream-colored sneakers
hanging from the telephone line.

There is a woman’s voice
but I am blinded by the dull,
artificial glow of the encroaching city.
I look for her face,
but she is hidden in the mist

of ghosts
callused by weary eons,
that stand before us
as we speak.

It is Sunday.
Right now I am asleep.
Right now snakes sleep
in my beard.

And now it is two in the afternoon.
I am opening my eyes
to discover that I am lost.

A runaway sways in the smoky den
where my vices wear zebra print pants
and the thick rings of mascara
run like rivers

into the ocean of night.
Our own tragic apparitions
line the cavernous walls
in somber chorus.

Videotaped confessions are projected
from one eye
and viewed
by the other.

The house is torn apart by hysterical young women.  Their many hearts set the tempo of war. 
They weep.   The horrible weeping.
They weep because they are doomed and only just finding out.  In the bathroom, someone is unconscious.  In a nearby drainage pipe, someone hides, biting their fingernails, gnawing their fingers, devouring their arms in a display of anxiety.  The others dance in the center of a orgy of sweaty limbs and horrible sounds.  At least one or two of them have already lost their minds.

We were midnight treasure seekers
in towns populated by thousands of no one
where the atmosphere was thick
with the stench of stray dogs.

There is no horizon
when the night reaches its toe-curling climax
from our movement within its
secret caverns.

A great eyelid closes
like a clam around the moon.
The wind carries a thousand trembling nocturnes
through the shanty-town planks,
through the aftermath of an imaginary war.

And the church bell is ringing still,
as the junkie sells the furniture
from the back of his pick-up
and into our fire.

The night sky snows embers and rains stars.
It’d be romantic if we didn’t look so dead.
It’d have been romantic
if no one had died.

We were putting dithers in our zithers
walking past the scorched remnants
of the ice-cream shop. 

It was
the only place downtown that
wasn’t under the
glow of a sign that read

Someone was projecting
a black and white movie
onto an old brick wall for an
audience of dead streets.
Streets lined with oaks, azaleas
and people dressed in shadows
who leap in front of cars
at distant hours.

I wondered if I’d miss it
once I escaped,
or hate it
once I didn’t.

”I wouldn’t hesitate to put you down like a mad dog if I had to.” I’d often say to him, knowing the feeling was reciprocated.  We were proud of how frankly we spoke to one another. 
         I admit now that we were both deranged then, comrades of the same damnation.  We walked the line between crime and art, drunk and stumbling into both.  Each day was a celebration of youth, and we had no concept of mortality or we chose to ignore it. 
       We ignored it as long as we could.
        His child’s young mother told me the story.  How she heard yelling in the dim-lit shed, of how his murderers escaped into the night, of the horrible thing she saw when she opened the thin metal door, of how it took the police two hours to get to his place in the projects.  She gave me every detail with clear eyes and dispassionate voice, as if she had already tired of telling the story.
         “Aren’t you a bit sad?” I asked.
         “Yeah,” she answered, “but if they didn’t do it, I would’ve”

I stole the queen of the underground.  I was wearing rusted armor
and riding an emaciated donkey named Rocinate.  I traveled no farther than the liquor store were tiny shriveled hands reached up from the cracks in the concrete to grab at her frayed and discolored dress.
I stole the queen of this shanty town.  She said that I was her hero but she was high and thought I was someone else and I was only hearing what I wanted to hear. 
”I only want to use you” I said, as I had often practiced saying in front of mirrors in dingy public restrooms. 
I was sick of being mister nice guy, crying over a bottle of Old English with blue-balls and a broken heart thinking that nice guys finish last, but what goes around comes around.  Either way we all end up with that bitter black bile creeping up our throats so we might as well have fun. 
I was having fun with the queen of our devastated city in an alley that reeked of piss and dry vomit.  Ash from a forgotten cigarette that dangled from my mouth fell like snow on the lower part of her back.  We were in love.

Butterflies with metal wings
fluttered around the dim-lights of our youth.
They had sharp silver tongues
that rusted or bled
or both.

Too often we were denied access to playgrounds
by webs of yellow police tape.
The black lakes we swam in were quick
to wash away our childhood dreams.

We marinated in the cruel reality
of failure that surrounded us;
that drowned us at birth
and scarred our parents.

And what hope we still had then
was burned from our skin
by the sun.

We were young.  We were young.  We were young.

We were young but our eyes were old
and often filled to the brim with images
that we wished to purge,
but we could never bring ourselves to cry

for fear that,
in that instant of weakness,
something would devour us.

The lights have been strung up in the azaleas that line Main street.
I close my eyes a bit
until my eyelashes dim the scene
and it looks like I’m traveling through outer space.

Driving feels like will-less drifting
down a familiar creek.

Three blocks away,
through the broken windows of a condemned house,
I catch the rituals of humans disguised as rotten fruit.

I suffer their weeping and bottomless groans.
A Christmas tree in the corner blinks multicolor.
Someone opens a gift wrapped in last weeks obituaries.
It’s not what they’d hoped it would be.

Her knees poked through her jeans like eyeballs from a skull that winked at me when she walked.  I was always cut by the razor that she kept in her back pocket when I would grab her ass.
In the forbidden forests of our psyches we dreamt of death for each other, to preserve us forever in these gilded frames of youth and new passions. 
We had just discovered the erotic thrill of crime.  We wore charms with the likeness of Jean Genet—our saint, Genet. 
I loved to see that knife glowing in the moonlight as if it hosted our sexual energies.  In her hand it was like an accessory, like a ring or a bracelet, that highlighted the slenderness of her arm which resembled the neck of a swan.   

As children we were deceived by pies
balancing on window sills.
We dreamt of apples
or Georgia peaches
beneath the warm crust,

Only to find cigarette butts
and rusted metal objects
and that what we took to be crust
was wet-cardboard instead.

We slept in the kidneys of
decomposing possums.
We who watch our futures wither.
We, victims of a National crisis.

Victims of a Nation of Men
who are not our brothers or sisters
but who look like us.

We, who were dealt the cards of inevitable failure
and we, who will butcher the dealer.
We, young and only just aware
of our damnation.

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