The Return of Harlin Coke

Maybe it’s corny, but I’ll tell you why we went down to California.  To be free.

There was a writer who said that anything in the continental U.S. not nailed in place slides down into L.A….like the stuff sliding into the corner of your junk drawer when you take it out.  Something like that.  Anyway, our case was no different, Sailor’s and mine.  We slid down into L.A. like a pair of old, dirty pennies.

After Sailor met Harlin in a smoky basement bar called Grog on the Lower East Side, he’d taken her to suck him off in the Chelsea Hotel.  After he’d paid, on the way out the door, he’d dropped a card.  Harlin Coke, filmmaker.  And a number.  Sailor told me that he’d mumbled something on his way out the door, lighting up a cigarette, talking low through the smoke.  “Could use a good indie chick like you.”

When she’d come home from all that, she’d flicked the card down on the kitchen table in front of me, right by my coffee cup.

It’d been right after my breakdown, and I couldn’t sleep.  I’d come out to the kitchen and made a pot of coffee and was just reading and drinking coffee and chainsmoking out there.  As I sat, the first light came through the blinds and fell in pale bars across the kitchen table.

“What do you think about that?”  She’d asked.  “Met him down at Grog.  One john that turned out to be a decent fornicator.  And he dropped his card.”

I didn’t say anything.  Just some asshole who wanted to shoot another cheap home porn with a New York hooker.

“Why do we need some shitty excuse to go down to L.A.?” I asked, “We can just go.”

“Upi owes this guy a favor.”

“I don’t understand.”

“If I just duck out he’ll track me down.  He’ll try to hurt me.”

I waited.

“Upi, I mean.  But if we have a reason to leave, and he knows the guy, owes him…well, maybe it will be different.”

I was still processing.  “…across the whole goddamn country?

“He’s crazy.”  She turned away from me.  She was going through a corner cupboard I’d never seen her use before.

“And you think this other guy isn’t.   Harlin Coke?  What kind of name is that?”

CLACK.  Sailor placed an old VHS cassette down on the kitchen table.  “One of his.”

I looked at it for a minute.  “You wanna watch it now…or…you wanna get some sleep?”

“Gimme five minutes.  I’m going to slip into some pee-jays.”  She pursed her lips a little and blinked slowly.  “Keep that coffee on for me?”

I pulled on my cigarette and looked at the VHS cassette.  Someone had taken a BIC and scrawled on a post-it note scotch-taped to the plastic.

The Priest    Harlin Coke, dir.



What good to wait

When we both know

You’re going to die?



You render thousands

Of secret mercies,

Kisses on two soft

Lids.  Dark centers

That lie beneath

Trace their spirals

On your lips’

Soft surface.



Pricked with stars,

Our bodies fly upward

Into the fathomless dome.



We stayed so long our bedroom in the cabin took on the the mellow odor of skin-and-sweat-soaked sheets, which in turn mixed with the smell of our books, the favorites we’d loaded onto one of the broad window ledges beneath the view of a thicket of skinny pines.

In the mornings Sailor would come in with two mugs of coffee and set them on the lacquered stump of an old tree that was our nightstand.  And we would sit on the sheets, naked, and drink our coffee.

One morning we stared openly, simply, at each other’s genitals, and smiled softly, both of us…until I giggled.  Then Sailor tackled me backwards onto the mattress and we had a tussle.

Another morning while I read to Sailor she stared out the window toward the steep hill going up beyond the cluster of pines.  A little winding trail led away from the back deck, up into the big trees, the higher reaches of the mountain.

That same morning, as we sat out back, smoking, and looking up into the woods, Sailor told me that she had longed to take a walk up the trail.

Ordinarily we’d walked down toward the village, where several trail heads met in a small meadow.  But the narrow, difficult trail, beset with heavy, spiraling roots, that wound steeply upward from the back of the cabin…it was  a thing whose distances we’d preferred to imagine.  Until Sailor said something.

“The experience of that trail; it can’t possibly do for my senses what imagining it does for my soul.  I know I’m going to be disappointed.  I just want to get it overwith.  Fuck it, N.  Let’s just do it.  Let’s go right now.  Let’s not even put out our cigarettes.”




Verses, 11.1 – 11.51, Revolver


Why do I crawl

in reverse,

rewinding back, back

through the eye

of a needle, back

through a stageset



Am I inspired by acquaintances

who play so tight and close

their intimate whispers,

pregnant with trauma,

give way to a fetish:

a knowledge

of sutures,

de facto,

aid in a minor form?


The first ones

so lovingly forgive;

close those caverns

in the flesh.

Now chambers echo

where spinae yanked

tight as guidewires.

He who said so

set-to with

thickset hands,

unbuilding things

inside me.


In this way

my ambitious spell

was set in motion.

I gunned it, high-speed

down the highway

‘long uncharted deserts…

the lone oasis long departed.

I ran those re-treads thin, left

that smoking hulk aside,

tumbled out on a sandy

shoulder to save

my skin, birth

a little shiva.


Call it what you like,

but I know my own

private fear of death.

It was laughter over radio which

bubbled up from wreckage wires

and echoed in that dented hull.


You know I did not get

away unharmed…

could not make my break intact.

Now my undelivered

foot must sweep the dust

as Lefty, clopping clods apart

and falling, just as

poems fall, suggests…


(I later note

a fear of death

to be the flare

laid out

on asphalt,

which gets us gawking left,

such stupid geese,

while right

a parked car smolders,

its shadows on the grit.)



the mechanic, slave

to other accidents,

sweats and bends,

his dream catcher

hooked to the roll-tor.

Yet I’m the one

(Waaaaa-Waaaaa cries martyr!)

who hoists that

fucking engine.


You note an emotion

makes your trapezius

knot and lift; your shoulder

the record, the softly turning vinyl

of a breakup.


A needle


its world

upon your surface.


I must turn.

I must turn and

Turn.  And turn and turn.

After all, my dear one…

There is no Witch-Doctor, no Alchemist.

Only a locator of grips, a deft

unwrapper of phantom fingers,

one who makes wake for her

who would choose superstition,

flying along the mirage of our secret

inland sea, strange wood fins

nailed to the side of her aqua car,

(a rooster tail, a big deal).

the painter’s knot left

unfurled at the dock, I

the one who cured her.


No magic here,

no paradox.

Instead, a desert lake:

a perfect fake,

now spoiled,

a silver mirror


by the speedboat

with its tall-tall yards of spray,

its superstitious show.


You and I,

ever pragmatists,

know a boat will make its

desert rescue even

across the sickening mirage,

in the middle of nowhere,

in the deafening silence,

in the absence of fanfare.


So why do you

force me on

the thing you deny,

(though you think it already):

Every means is orthodox,

when you bite down,

train the mind to skip

the trauma we both

know as cause and effect.

11.52 (Three Epilogues)


Now we dance

beside the smoking car,

its radio tinnily

doubling the bursting

ring of laughter,

its broadcast hollow;

we sing across

the sands, black asphalt

ribbon’s end no matter

now… We’ve seen its vistas,

and survived.


We dance at dusk…

in the cool blue shade

of metal husks,

‘mid radiowaves

and tiny shivas,

and in our



the eye

of Christ…


…a decoration

slid ‘long twine

hung round

my neck,

then yours,

(a fisheye, a wet

black bead, an

ornament worn

for tiny dances).

Harlin Coke

So this is me, Narc, talking to you straight up…

That cracker who jacked that Buick and porked Sailor those times in Portland…his name’s Harlin Coke.

Harlin-Coke-the-CrackerDrugdealerFistfighterStonerArtistShizophrenicPimp…  That’s his full title.  Alpha cracker mother fucker with a bad respiration problem.  Said he’d been in some kind of accident when he was working in Northern Cali. He used to hock up plugs right in the middle of conversation; you could here ’em shoot through the tight “O” of his lips, Thpt!, little shuttles of mucus.

Harlin’s the one that pimped out Sailor and me after we left the city and landed back on the west coast.

Out of some sense of parity, I went in for it, too.

Parity…  That means taking it in the ass for cartons of cigarettes.  Once you get all lubed up and stretched out in the shower with a big dildo, it’s not so bad.  I used to do pushups when I got up in the morning…that shifted to the dildo and steam workout once I punched in for the career change.  And I’ll tell you this: it’s the people who fuck you; that’s what makes you sick in the cabesa…

Overweight white guys in their sixties with a bad diet and skin that smells like two-day-old Mitchum and Miller High Life…like fried onions and Chesterfields.  Just take out their penis, semi-hard, and make you work to get it in there, just oil it in, them sweating it out, their double chins all red and folded up, huffing and panting, their eyes all yellow and puffy with their glasses off, like they’re some ghost of The Man that got shucked off by the wayside, still operating with a mandate to fuck everyone…’til the mandate goes sour…starts to rot.  Embezzlement and kiddie porn.  You know what I’m talking about.  Old flabby white guys.  Leftovers from the system.

I used to joke with Sailor about how I would crack up if I ever saw one of those guys show up with a hard, curved bone.  I used to joke with her about how that would actually get me hot…about how I would draw a little face on it with a sharpie and do a puppet play where my hand was the dog catcher and I had to collar a rabid bulldog…    …just before watching the old man bust a milk-rope onto my shoulder.  Then there would be the cigarette afterwards, a Chesterfield; we would share it like two girls at a sleepover…and the old man would do a secret dance with his junk pushed back between his ass cheeks and then tell me he was Dick Cheney or The Reverend Dr. Schueller or something.

It was a weird triangle.  We were always pretending we were friends, like Three’s Company on some bunny-ears T.V. set in a cockroach motel by the side of a desert road in Nevada.  …and Harlin Coke, pimping both of us.  And us, the two hookers, fucking Harlin and each other hard and wet every moment we weren’t doing it for money…trying to burn off the bad memory, change the channel in our heads…

It’s like when you’re so sick you pray for vomit.  Not because you like vomiting, it’s just a needful thing…you’re just sitting there in a panic, waiting for the relief of cutting loose into the toilet with a good load.

(Back Door:  Enter “Motionless” into the search bar.  “Motionless” is the first post made to this page.) 

rated x

He likes to take the emotional ride.

Yeah, you know what I mean…

When you stand close, take in each other’s scent…

…when on the instant of the first touch of fingertips, your sex grows full and warm under the crotch of your clothes…when you slide together, grapple, and your bodies lock…pelvis to pelvis, belly to belly, chest to chest…when he holds the back of your neck in the roughness of his hand and the two of you feel the pressing of your warm, clothed bodies, the pressing of  your cheeks, arms, hands…even the bones of your noses, pressing, almost to the point of pain…softened only by the heart of your kiss…

when your hair mingles, when he loses his breath; when you inhale sharply and touch his back with your hands; when your tongue grows wet, and alive…and you grasp for him as if grasping for food…when your hands work quickly as the two of you speak in stuttering whispers, fumble with buttons and zippers…when you look into his eyes and feel the magnet pull of two dark whirlpools…when the clothes slip quietly to the floor, almost noiselessly, and you tread them with the gentle marching of your naked feet, forgetting what you wore, like so much strewn-out evidence…

when the sensation pulses in his body, and you cup his root with a low-slung hand; when the two of you linger there, for the sheer pleasure of kissing, of making out, your bodies naked…

until your own warm inertia turns you slowly, oh so slowly into bed,

and the hours roll by…

with your palms resting  on the crown of his head as he kisses you, covers your sex with his mouth, his tongue darting and sliding under your nap, making you slippery, contracting you…until you say you want him inside you…

and he slides his verge balls-deep into your yearning, opening yoni…and your skins meld, so that your fuck is one body, one breath…your foreheads touching, your spines bent into a heart, your bodies sealed seamlessly together in a driving, railing fuck…so slippery you don’t know whether your yoni is hard or his verge is soft, so that you are simply coming, sighing, in and out of your skins…until time fades away…

and you fade with it, dissolving into the air with the first lightening of the sky…

when, ever so faintly, the color blue passes across the room, when you’re resurrected, and remember you’re awake again…

when the clock spins like a wheel in the sea, when a fist wraps his root and yours…

until the hump and thrum bends your two spines like willows, your yoni and verge, your two pubic bones, melting together so pleasurably as one,

the sheets wrinkled and warm beneath you,

while the room, small and tight, hot and damp, closes and expands…



I kissed you

Five times

Before you died

Five pointed star

Gate to the other


Man to man eye

Didn’t even cry

Staring at my tattoo

Like it was a spy

Bristle brush

Hair like



Made you so punk

‘Cause chemo

Is the law,

Room like a green room

End in sight

Stage your infinity

Enter into light.

(A Footnote:  The doggerel form of these verses was inspired by Kurt Cobain’s writing for Incesticide and In Utero.  I began writing punk verses in this form in 2010, and recorded them in notebooks dating 2010-2011.  Now I am adding to this collection of verses, and posting the new work here.  The work is dedicated to Thom Hunt.)