Verses, 11.1 – 11.51, Revolver

11.1

Why do I crawl

in reverse,

rewinding back, back

through the eye

of a needle, back

through a stageset

desert?

11.11

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?

11.12

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.

11.13

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.

11.2

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.

11.21

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…

11.3

(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.)

11.31

Meanwhile,

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.

11.4

You note an emotion

makes your trapezius

knot and lift; your shoulder

the record, the softly turning vinyl

of a breakup.

Revolve;

A needle

inscribes

its world

upon your surface.

11.41

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.

11.42

No magic here,

no paradox.

Instead, a desert lake:

a perfect fake,

now spoiled,

a silver mirror

rippled

by the speedboat

with its tall-tall yards of spray,

its superstitious show.

11.5

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.

11.51

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)

1.

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.

2.

We dance at dusk…

in the cool blue shade

of metal husks,

‘mid radiowaves

and tiny shivas,

and in our

spirals,

thread

the eye

of Christ…

3.

…a decoration

slid ‘long twine

hung round

my neck,

then yours,

(a fisheye, a wet

black bead, an

ornament worn

for tiny dances).

Mountains

Traffic thinned in the high country.

“There’s no room for a statie to turn around out here.  You can open it up.  Once we get into those mountains, it’s deputies in SUVs…but until then, we’re solid,” Sailor said.  She stubbed out her cigarette on the ashtray, shifted her hips forward in her seat, and placed her hands behind her head.  I pushed down the gas pedal.

We kept the windows rolled down.  The cool alpine air rushed in, tousling Sailor’s hair.  Through the glare of late afternoon sunshine bouncing off the film of dust covering the windshield, I could see near-flat, open fields, mile upon mile of pale green, unharvested hay.  Scattered farm buildings broke apart the landscape, their walls worn down to the bare boards.  In the distance, towering up, making those outbuildings look like miniatures, stood the mountains.  They were stark, roughly snow-capped, purple-black.  They stood so far away, and yet were wrought in such sharp detail that they seemed unreal.

“…the fuck?” I whispered.  I took a breath.  I felt disbelief.

“I know,” Sailor said, “nobody knows they’re here.”

As our little car tore across the dusty plateau, she explained to me that there are some high mountains you cannot see, even from very close, because they are set just far enough back from the foothills that no line of sight permits a view.  But once a person climbs past the initial threshold of elevation, up onto the plateau, the mountains emerge suddenly, starkly, filling the sky.

I stared.

“We can stay up here for awhile,” Sailor said, “It’s cheap to live.  We can hide out.”

We had money we’d kept from Harlin; big paying tops that he’d never skimmed, a glovebox stuffed with a profligate’s ransom, enough hard cash to get us into a cabin near a little lake that Sailor knew about way up in the mountains.  She and her sister had vacationed there as children…until the winter her father broke both of his legs in a skiing accident.  He never spoke of it; they’d simply never returned.

With the car tucked into a trough-like driveway beside the cabin, and my heavy duffel and Sailor’s big backpack cast down on the bed, we made our way down the gravel road that wound around the lake to a little fake chalet where tourists could sit on a deck and look out across the glass-green water, into the mountains beyond.  We sat there and drank cold beer, smoked cigarettes, and stared out…as if the air could quench our bodies, as if our very skins could dissolve into the dusk.

Stockings

After a moment she closed the drawer…slowly, gingerly.  She laid out her things on top of the dresser.  Then she bent forward, stretching to put on her stockings.

I closed my eyes and listened as she put on her clothes.  When I looked again she was standing in an evening gown, taller than I had ever seen her, her hair swept back.  Diamonds sparkled from her clavicles, her ears, her wrists.

She placed her phone in a pocketbook on top of the dresser. She snapped the pocketbook closed and turned around.

“Go back to sleep,” she said.

(Back Door:  Enter “Exquisite Stillness” into the search bar.)

Haley Minwood

Sailor lit a cigarette.

We were sitting on the stained concrete back step of The Palisades, a cheap motel in Calvert, Oregon, which is actually a cluster of trailers and a couple convenience stores way out on a state road that cuts northeast across the desert toward the turn in the Columbia River, just north of the Oregon-Washington border.  The first few hours of hitching and hooking our way up to Washington were long for me because I didn’t know the landscape…  Miles of power conversion stations and convenience store litter mixed with yellow-gray tumbleweeds.  I’d never seen so much beige in my life, stretching from the roadside to the rim of the sky.  I kept waiting to see the blue-green color of fir trees, the dark color of a deep river, lush grass, a change of scenery.

“It’s going to be desert all the way up,” Sailor said to me between drags.  “Washington’s desert on the east side, too, part of it.  We’re gonna turn hard for the east, though, at a certain point…get us up into the mountains.  Harlin won’t follow us up there…and then we’ll be free.”

I picked a cigarette from the pack Sailor waved in my direction.  She lit it for me.  As she leaned over toward me her jean shorts pulled away from the underneath of her thigh and I saw candy-stripe underwear hugging to her crotch.  A strand of hair fell out from where she had it pulled back into a loose bun.  She moved it back behind her ear with her fingers.

“Try to get your cigarette where the fire is, honey-bear,” she said, almost smiling.

A wave of embarrassment passed over me.  I pulled hard, exhaled, made a big deal of getting lit up.

I tried to flip things.

“Sailor,” I started, exhaling, “Is that your real name?”

“It’s real if that’s what I answer to, right?  Why, are we on television?”

“What’s the name printed on your birth certificate?”

Sailor nodded ever so slightly.  “Haley.  Haley Minwood.”

“Hm. That’s kinda good.  Why did you change it?”

“My parents had money.  A piss-ton. A fucking pipeline.  Dividend income.  Trust funds, nine digit shit everywhere.  That means you have two real options…anything else would be half-assing it.  You can either have a pert, square-cut little girl-scout pussy, nod yes and be good and go to law school on daddy’s dime…or be a Lindsay Lohan snatch, a spoiled, take-the money-and-run little trust fund druggie pretender bitch.  Both bad.   Doesn’t matter how fine your relationship with your parents is.  If you come from wealth, and you’re interested in personal integrity, annihilation of the entire construct is the only option…  The only way to author a biography that has any stock or guts.  Cut yourself loose.  No insurance, no phone calls to mommy, nothing.”

She French-inhaled, looked at me with narrowing eyes.

I leaned forward a little, tapped some ash out onto the ground, took another drag.  Sailor let one knee sort of loll out to the side, so now the gap between her jean shorts and candy-stripe underwear was in plain view.  She was wearing one of Harlin’s old dress shirts, and some of her hair had slipped inside the collar.  She’d left the first three buttons undone, so I could see where the silky piece of hair touched down on her collar bone, where the big tendon stood up when she dragged on her cigarette.   When she leaned forward to ash her cigarette I could see her breasts, the way they were cupped by her bra, which was just a little big for her.

I pulled my head up, and looked into her eyes.

She was waiting for me to do just that.

I said, “And this all adds up to your choice of name in some way?”

“Yeah.  Because I can’t stake myself on anything.  I’m a lost soul.  Out to sea.   And Sailor sounds like a good name for a girl who’s all about her own skin, which is what you’re thinking about anyway…not listening to a word I’m saying…”

 

(Back Door:  Enter “Skinny Haley” into the search bar.)

 

Rift

I woke up, in a bed high above the floor.  A ladder led down from the bed, into deeper darkness.  The sound of a passing car came to me from across the room.  A grid of golden line segments moved at a diagonal path across the narrow band of wall before me.  I looked across the room.  I could smell dust.  There was a large window, shuttered.  The shutter’s ventilation holes let through hundreds of tiny ovals of golden light.

Where was I?

Was it morning?  Afternoon?

Rooms I had slept in flashed through my mind.  A foam mattress on a damp wood floor in a tenement in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  A cheap hotel in the red light district of Frankfurt.  A motel room rented as an apartment in Sacramento, California.

No.  No.  No.

None of them.

Then I heard a woman’s voice.  Calm.  Sensual.

“…you okay?”

It was my lover’s voice.

And this part is important:  It was sound which oriented me.  Not sight.  But a human voice.  I heard two words from her and I was home.  In an instant.  In the current year.

How long had I slept, I wondered.

“It’s the morning,” she said.  “I went down to start some water but I got worried and came back up.  You were starting to sit up, but it was weird.  You looked like something was wrong.”

I laid my head down again.  I looked at her.  She saw something in my eyes.

“I feel crazy.”

“Go back to sleep,” she said.

I closed my eyes, listened to her voice…

She told me about how it can happen, sometimes, during a time of change…

…A person’s short and long term memory will come to stand at equal distance. A single thought of here and now will have even odds with thoughts of all other places, all other moments.  In this state, a person will dream his way through his own biography, sorting everything…  Whatever his dream, it will correspond to a moment in his life, to the smell of a room, the warmth of a sunbeam, the glow of dust in the air.  His imagination will prepare him to waken in that room.  The feeling of that room will occupy his mind at dawn, at the instant he opens his eyes.  But the preparation will be false.  He will feel one thing, and see another.  And he will not know where he is.

This was how she explained it to me.

I wanted to right myself.  “Can I just go back to sleep?” I asked, “Are you gonna be here?”

“Yes,” she said, “You need rest.”

“I know…  I had a dream,” I said, my eyes still closed, “that I asked you something…You didn’t answer, and I asked again.”

She nodded.

“…and there was this bird, a sparrow, I think…”

I didn’t finish.

Sailor brushed the backs of her fingers across the side of my cheek.  Then she disappeared down the ladder, into deeper darkness.  I heard the roil of water on the stove.  I was not confused by this.  It is a sound I love.

By the time she was gone, I was asleep.

 

(Back Door:  Go to the tab above marked “Entrances” and choose your door.   All chronology is arbitrary; all memories stand equidistant in a time of change.)

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’ve seen shit burn

I’ve seen shit burn. When I was 7, the church across the street from my parents’ house burned down to the bricks in the dead of winter.  It was one o’clock in the morning when the bell tower went up in a giant fireball, a ferocious blossom of flame and light that illuminated treetops a block away. My brother and I sat on his bed and watched through the window. That thing exploded, bright as day, and the leftover structure toppled down through the collapsing roof. A mud-colored after-tower of smoke and shingles rocketed up through the hole just before the entire roof caved, a falling grid of fire, everything coming apart. We stared at the building as it turned into a yawning chasm of yellow flames.

On a frosty morning before school we dragged organ pipes out of the charred remains of the church, their alloy edges scraping loud-as-shit over the parking lot, then across the street to one of the side yards where we joined up with the neighbor kids. We made noise on those pipes with coins, nails, and screws, ting-ting-ing and tang-tang-ing away.  We even blew across the tops of the pipes, trying to make a tone, the fog of our breath filling the air.

That spring, a basement apartment two doors down got burned out. I remember two kids from the neighborhood who ducked under the yellow tape and looted the place for two big gallon jars of peaches, home-canned. One of the kids lost a jar; it slipped from its precarious balance point on the handle bars of his BMX, dropped right onto the sidewalk in front of my parents’ house.  I was throwing an old bowie knife at a chunk of particle board with my brother and a friend of ours.  The wet, hollow shattering sound of the jar landing on the sidewalk made us look over at them.  These two kids were shouting at each other about if and how they were going to clean up the mess of jar-glass and dirty peaches strewn across the sidewalk.  Peach syrup was melding with the crud in the pavement.  Time was passing too slowly.  They got scared and scrammed.

They were a couple of scrappy, smudge-faced kids, but they had honor…enough to fight over wiping out their tracks…so my brother and I couldn’t beef with them.  They were stealing so they could fucking eat.  Besides, it seemed like there was always a random day around the corner when the cops crawled over that neighborhood like flies on shit…who knew when it was coming? 

That same afternoon my brother, my friend and I hosed down the sidewalk.  I didn’t mind.  Two kids got to eat and no questions were asked.  Not long after that an upper storey apartment on the back side of the block went up, too.  Story was somebody was freebasing and got a little carried away.  Didn’t add up in my head, though.  I figured it was a drunk smoking on his bed.  After they pulled him out a little corner of that building stayed wet and charred for weeks.  You could smell it when you walked by.  A vile, human smell, but burnt, hosed down, like wet dog mixed with old food smoking from the bottom of an oven…  We didn’t want to know what it was, exactly.  Same building where shots were fired in an argument about a cat.  Fucking crackers, shooting each other over a cat that probably went splay-legged and shat diarrhea the moment it heard a gunshot.  House cat, dead from a heart attack.

Later, on a gig in California, I shacked up in an old motel that had been converted to apartments.  I was playing the lone wolf, and the nights I wasn’t with a girl I spent alone with my thoughts.  Maybe I was trying to remember exactly how I ended up there…

Anyway, there was an evening when I gradually became narcotically sleepy while reading on my bed.  The lights seemed to grow dimmer.  I didn’t know what was going on.  Feeling a mild need for fresh air, I opened my door.  As I stepped out onto the balcony, smoke poured from the open doorway and mushroomed up under the eaves.  Holy Fuck!  I had just been in that.  How the fuck…like a frog in a pot.  It was the kid downstairs.  He was a drug dealer, an alpha white boy with long hair, a hook nose, a big adam’s apple, and a booming, throaty baritone.  He had locked himself in.  Smoke seeped through the cracks at the edges of the windows… Charismatic mother fucker was a schizophrenic, clean off his meds.  Smoking drugs and now afraid if he let anyone in the front door his whole life would get blown open. 

A firetruck blasted into the parking lot.  Then the cops came, then another firetruck rolled up.  Cops and firefighters shouted this kid down from outside.  He didn’t come out.  One firefighter hatcheted the door and the other one kicked it in.  They wrestled this kid in that hot, smoky hole of an apartment, and threw him out bodily onto the pavement.  He was a big kid, and I watched him fly.  When he hit pavement, he landed on a concrete parking slab, got the wind knocked out of him.  But it wasn’t wind, it was fucking smoke.  He burped out a cloud of smoke, right there in the parking lot while these firefighters ran into that place with their big hoses and soaked everything in there until the place was a char-hole.  Then they put this kid into a squad car.

There was a huge fucking rainstorm that night.  There’s no such thing as pathetic fallacy; that’s just what happened.  I stood out on my balcony, doors and windows to my place swung wide open, chain-smoking Lucky Strikes, waiting for the smoke to clear from my place.  I flashed on a conversation I’d had with the kid in the parking lot, right around New Year’s.  “Happy New Year!” he’d said.  “Year of the Monkey,” I said, “That means prosperity and chaos.”  No fucking clue about the prosperity part…

And the next morning I woke up late, no work that day, lounging in bed, enjoying the after-cool of the rainstorm, lying there watching the palm trees sway a little in the park across the street, a parking lot and four lanes of traffic away…and I heard a voice from inside that char-hole beneath me, a boy’s voice, virginal, unchanged, like those children who sing in the King’s Choir at Oxford…saying “No, no…I won’t” And then I heard him, the dealer, in his huge, gravelly, booming baritone, “Let me in, goddammit; I’ve gotta get my shit outta there.”  “No, you can’t.  The police said you’re not supposed to do that.”

I put on a pair of shorts and walked out onto the balcony for a cigarette.  As I lit up I could see the sunshine breaking, the first steam rising off the wet parking lot.  It was cool now, but the day was gonna cook.  Then I saw him, the kid, the dealer, out there in the lot, stooped, in the same smoky clothes from the night before, staring at the splintered, busted-in door to the char-hole apartment, with police tape all cockeyed everywhere.  He was shouting now.  And then, thin, lyrical, came this boy’s voice, “No don’t…please…you’ll ruin everything.”  I saw the dealer, stooped over, but still as a statue.  The voice was him. It was fucking him.  He was throwing his voice.  He was loco.  And yet it was so beautiful, so well done, so perfectly performed…like listening to an overture for two lovers play from the inside of a statue.

I saw the flash of party lights on the asphalt.  A squad car rolled up, red and blue reflecting off the pools of rainwater in the empty lot.  No sirens, just the sound of wet tires turning on asphalt.  By the time they got to this kid he could barely stand any more.  He looked like some kind of martyr, his Jesus-hair blowing in the wind.  The moment before they pushed his head down to clear the metal of the doorframe, he looked up at me.  Our eyes locked.  Okay; I got it.  We are the same.  Except our different locations in three-dimensional space we are the fucking same.

I finished my cigarette just as my right-side neighbor came out on the balcony with a forty in his hand.  He was an older guy, white-haired, retired, wearing board shorts and flip flops and a tank top over his beastly, hairy, barrel-shaped torso.  Burly.  Almost fat.  White bushes of armpit hair came out from his tank top.

He handed me the forty.  I took a swig; this was the nature of our relationship.  As I handed him back the forty he took one of those little shatter-proof plastic bottles of Christian Brothers out of his back pocket and handed it to me.  “Try that.  Take some a’ that.”

I swallowed.

“That’s a boilermaker,” he said.

I swallowed again.

“Pretty good, huh?” he said.

My mouth formed into a line.

We watched the cop car turn out of the wet parking lot, rolling silent, lights flashing off the wet asphalt, steam rising, the Jesus-haired crazy kid in the back, us just the watchers.