Sunday, March 30, 2014

Stop My Body

Dr. Chermin:

You may recall my scheduled release date to have been long ago passed.
Please respond by a means and in a way that demonstrate your receipt of this request.
You are a highly skilled administrator who can appreciate the weight of a key's turn.
I don't pretend that it will be a safer environment for me or others on the outside, only
that a promise was given and what do I have through a barred ceiling but that which is into it kicked.

Sometimes an object goes skittering across cement, stops out of friction but loses touch and,
adding its own earthly mass to the force given it by mystery, crashes into a woman's life.
This can be bread, bobby pins, empty match books, dead phones, small creatures who continue at their pace on a new surface like it doesn't matter, or makes no sense to try and go back so they keep on.
But I can't fall from this baseline. Out of chemical jail doesn't mean it's ok to stop my body.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

She Rides a World Economy

"It's not the first time you've let me pass through these doors naked," I said in perfect Foreign, the Devanagari script falling from my lips then lifting up to his creased sienna face on wafts of al fresco samosa smoke like notes on an undulating staff. There he stood in his soiled turban, the lifelong portero of this particular row of fleabag albergues, long ago twist-tied together by mutual hallways, cat walks and trolley tracks. Despite an instant and matter-of-fact recognition after my absence of more than a decade or three, he stood there bodily replacing the prodigious cement barricade he'd pulleyed aside, uncertain that I really meant to come in. And I had my sponsor along, and there was a loosey-goosey policy about visitors after 10.

It wasn't yet dawn, so i wasn't quite lucid, but I knew this place and this kind, lower-caste gentleman who had opened this same door to shelter myself and others in the past from jarring nudity and baffling poverty, and then for many days or years consecutively after, while I and my briefcase, in recovery, had zipped about the blocks and streets between sacred animals and motorbikes and tuk-tuks and saris and men hoisting onto their shoulders or backs and carrying to market giant smoking babies.

I remembered having been out once more celebrating the end of a long sobriety by drinking glasses of fake scotch in all the tourist joints up and down the high street, and then some off the path, and then losing my path between the spoke boulevards jutting evermore barren and outward from the center, which twinkled in the distance. But I was giving into the urging sweetness of sleep, removing the navy corduroy suit I'd just purchased for interviews and laid it down as a mattress on the filthy, potted walk and snuggled beneath a thinly knit but charitable covering draped across me possibly by some passing matron.

It was really too short a nap, but soon I was up again in my white undershirt and briefs, wrapped also in the bone-white Chinese sofa throw, it turned out to be, wandering in a circle, conjuring a map, then remembering the suit and finding my wallet still intact but no keys. Then I just stood still, holding the bundle of nearly all my earthly goods as close to me as the man from Tanzania with elephantiasis in his nuts. Who knows how many more moments were lost until by supernatural providence or chance, my very first sponsor into The Program, "my Eskimo" as they say, happened along on his way from a meeting. He led me by an elbow, similar to the way he had pulled me along behind him the first time, on the identical road to the exact same salvation or slavery, though I still thought he was selling Shaklee.

"Been out having some fun?" inquired Karlos, with a K. I said "Oh yeah I drank a lot of whiskey." I remembered drawing glass after glass to my burning mouth to keep up with the rows of colorful bottles against their mirrored plenty and wanting more warm burning even then to warm my own bilious burning. The door to the rooming house was so massive as to appear immovable, and even I could barely reach its monumental ungalvanized iron ring rustily bolted into the quickset to serve as a knocker or carnivalesque game of strength.

Then there was the seismic ride up in an elevator which eerily seemed even itself not to believe its own forged and re-xeroxed inspection certificate. It stopped on a familiar floor, but there was an awkward moment as Dan, the portero, as if waiting for a tip, was actually hesitating politely for me to tip him off as to my present state of financial solvency, which would determine which way he'd lead us down or up the dim hallways/ catwalks or onto which trolleys. He started us backwards up the steps from which streams of forlorn past and potential co-residents climbing down with their towels and visibly dreading the communal bath openly advised against that direction, those lodgings. So we boarded instead a pre-war electric train on stilts that seemed thumb-tacked to the walls above the narrow, crowded street toward a dead end-cum-cul-de-sac of more upscale private rooms with windows and struggling, infested houseplants in coffee tins and maybe a working sink.

On this short trip one could not think but to imagine the range of imminent and catastrophic incidents of both predictable and total structural collapse, reports of mayhem and death of a level and volume that would surely reach screens on desks at the like of the International Herald Tribune. The tracks of recycled beer cans and structural decay of an originally flimsy and corrupt excuse for scaffolding made the whole contraption sway with the weight of its human slurry, a precarious conveyance that each moment threatened to rock against its upward-cranking counterparts, like parallel boulders careering on rope bridges.

Atop the upper deck of the carriage flying toward us, a scene that made me breathless: the billowing scarf and ironic double-breasted beige trench, the lovely blond CIA sergeant who'd come roaring up in a freshly washed and minted Land Rover while I stood taking mpg4's of a local drag star in a crowd of the broken and curious at a benefit for World AIDS Day in one of the city's squalid, dusty, clay-bottomed squares. She hadn't said a word as she stepped up alongside, as if at a curtain call, to more closely examine my awkward, ugly Western dorkiness jutting up at least a foot from the throng. I acknowledged her somewhat invasive proximity and our relative physical resemblance by muttering to her as if to a tour-bus companion how the dancer on stage represented a local gender-minority NGO and was the great hope of the organization. In the middle of my detailing their upcoming international itinerary for the agent's well-groomed but officious muteness, she was already roaring off again with her driver to vet no doubt more intel on spotted countrymen who hadn't checked in with the consulate.

She appeared to me now, standing boldly ignoring the handrail of her trolley-top, as a figure fit for the back of a coin or ship prow, a noble symbol of chin-high, first-world caretakerism: we, victors, missionaries, models, guides, monitors navigate, show the way, in ceremonial stealth and humility, arrogant yet inspirational of security, hopefulness, and to always titillate. She, who could live anywhere, have anyone, had chosen a post (no doubt and nevertheless quartered in a microdot of be-marbled and T1-cabled gas-generated luxury) in a land of relative misery, where she would walk among the ancient and the simple, brush against the untouchable, but interlocute and mingle, in hotel back gardens and high-walled compound suites, with kings instead of mere gentry.

"On assignment."

Friday, March 14, 2014

Conceal and carry

My phone found a way to my ear during sleep
though i'd left it charging in the living room:
A junk call, maybe it was political, offered the
option to press Exit 8 to hear a special message
while on hold. I touched some numbers, maybe
mixed it up with the TV remote; but it was dark
and late and i was confused. I got angry, but
then a young male voice came on the line, live,
but muffled, and said to me yeah we're calling
because; I said what, i can't hear you, i was try-
ing to get a special message. His throat seemed
to clear and said we're calling because someone
reported gunshots. There were gunshots near you.
And then I was being held very tight from behind
and/or my heart cage was caving in, but i could
tell for sure that there was another man in my bed
who was locking me very hard between his arms
and knees and wearing only a t-shirt and briefs,
and i struggled to get free by elbowing toward him
because i live alone and haven't slept with anyone
i want to say it feels like since the days of John
Wayne Gacy. Even mostly awake i knew that my
bed was turned the wrong way and i had to find
the knob on my lamp to orientate myself and to
identify the snoring of my dogs, which can often
sound like the results of a horrible crime amidst a
crowd, an urgency of mass panic in progress. I'd
spent most all the evening on and off between the
the normal responsibilities of an unemployed day
hypnotized absorbing the entire wikipedia page on
John Wayne Gacy and checking especially for
places and dates and names with a morbid com-
pulsion to know how close i'd come to the rope
trick, the chloroform, the quicklime or one of his
purported thugs, and feeling the chill of a narrow
escape. I even found a story on the deco-Uptown
hotel where i worked my first outta-school gig
where a cavernous ceramic basement rivaled the
faux Spanish facade and drifting clouds and stars
over the dance floor at the fabled Aragon Ballroom
for phantasmagoria, an underground pool grand
enough for fey, mustachioed servants to maneuver
about brimmed still pumping chlorine and steam in
the late 70's when i was a dropout teen swept in
there, by a slimy mob net, massage setup, a cum-
and-go for married fags from other neighborhoods
or travelling through town on a party, or a younger
man with the simple misfortune of a dick turned in
the shape of the archetypal snake chasing its tail,
a mobster operation with a cash register and a coat
check, decorated with seashells and framed pix
of the swarthy underboss who kept the books legit,
turned out the kids on how to give handjobs and
where to hide cash if you're naked, how to keep
him out of the transactions, a mobster type who'd
hung photos of him with aldermen and the mayor,
political coverage under glass, just like Gacy had,
and sure, JW'd been there, but not lately, having al-
ready been locked in a cell for our job-site safety;
photos like the one that humiliated the Secret
Service with John and Rosalyn Carter at a Polish
Day parade. I really couldn't tell if the man behind
me in bed had me in a wrestling hold, a manacle
of flesh, or coming back from the dead, maybe
someone i knew, to love and protect me from that
superbad moment half asleep when someone was
warning me, on a phone i don't even have, to be-
ware of gunplay in my vicinity. Even tho we don't
believe that Pogo murdered anyone with a firearm,
he did abduct some boys that way, and where I'd
been to dinner earlier, an Irish pub, they had one of
the new no-conceal-and-carry stickers displayed
prominently before you stepped in through the Chi-
cagoland outer weather door to stamp the frozen
muck off your feet and then in toward the scary loud
and spirited drunken camaraderie or outpour of re-
lief in the eye of a polar vortex, cries of horror-glee.

by Tom

Friday, March 7, 2014

Your Ridiculous Rage

What was it you said your entire class, country, county's eating wooden nickles or clanking along the road like tin cans tied to the 1%'s marriage vehicle? Like you can compare yourself and most people to the worst kind of traditional torture normally reserved for minorities sexual or racial? That a whole 4% of the population is sociopathic but only a quarter of them have figured out how to literally indenture and slave and drug and maim what was it, the great plains, population, planet?

But look what you're getting where you're standing as you complain. Free internet with your paid subscription to all your other property? Isn't it a little overwrought to belabor the work you'll never stop unless you stop working and rot in the revival tent of a target parking lot? Who says just because you love so hard and your people come from earnest good stock that you should get a piece of land or a pet or something to eat; are you a prostitute that goes around selling faith and honesty?

You say the little bitches from like 5 colleges in the usa get to learn how to charge all the rest for every part of nature we touch and the right to even wear our own skin to a backyard birthday party? That your grandmother's last three teeth throb so hard she can barely moan the last four of her social into the ear of the slob sucking off some middle-managing coupon fluffer? How did you explain the way to save up the refills for your pain meds the next time you get shot by a gunmaker and hold a drug sharing holiday?

"I'm waiting."

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Black Boy

there's the street my father was named after,
but his father's spelling was weak. Despite
the error, we both carry the same initials,
but I'm not named for either father or street,
but rather the names of my mother's father,
two words so odd that he went by the letters,
so even i mix up my name with these others.

that's the building where an old boyfriend
lived to complain about the poolside clique,
and tonight i met a boy who lives in that
building, and he says that yes, there is still
a clique. But it can't be the same one now;
i said of course, pool buildings everywhere
must have cliques, and of course his does.

here's the school where i attended a class
on blake: black boy, urizen, the fat boy
sitting next to me seeping farts and going
out after to coffee with the professor; i'm
passing the gate now, and i look through
the bars on the fence, and it's not a school
at all, but dark rows of chiseled headstones.