Smoking cigarettes is as intimate as we can become with fire without immediate excruciation. Every smoker is an embodiment of Prometheus, stealing fire form the gods and bringing it on back home. We smoke to capture the power of the sun, to pacify Hell, to identify with the primordial spark, to feed on the marrow of the volcano. IT’s not the tobacco we’re after but the fire. When we smoke, we are performing a version of the fire dance, a ritual as ancient as lightning…
…The lung of a smoker is a naked virgin thrown as a sacrifice onto the godfire.
I’ve heard scientists whisper crazy things about time always happening – that every moment in time always exists, as if geographically. That I am always reaching for this ashtray, and have already held it. That she and I are always breathless and running for the Q18. That the cat always chews on the cardboard corners of the record sleeves, and all of the flowers ever at Annie’s Fruits are in constant blush and wither. That somewhere there exists me still twenty years old and swollen with gin in a black and white checkered bathroom on Nineteenth Street, where I will and have returned to the party wet from the neighbor’s shower, and there also exists my twenty year old mother in nearly the same condition, although she is in the bathroom of Carole King’s childhood home.
When I think of this, the world ceases it’s trembling. The future seems certain as the pit of a peach when a tooth scuffs the fruit’s weathered and sticky heart, and the past feels less retractable. Also, the tyrannosaurus rexes copulate in unimaginable, majestic wildernesses – as do he and I, and he and I, and he and I, who are not yet born and already dead.
Inside there was a small and angry dog.
Our night’s intent was not to break an entry –
mistake of an address, the door unlocked
to deer-eyed barker. Then our welcome bent
as welcomes often do, the arms the way
a sunflower might grope a different sun.
O Xenos dear, both stranger-friend the same,
don’t call my loving is less when off I run.
Though nights must equal miles, I dream
to make my legs a chrysalis for you,
of rescueless low planes and jets of steam.
How high above the night now lies the noom?
Dyslexic eyes like my blue uncle wore,
the noom and I will pace from shore to shore.
With guilt sweat palms I sowed myself
a safety net of mistakes
but it couldn’t catch me when I fell
from phrases about the over-worn moon and the undressed you –
your high tide swollen in my chest,
low of your leaving,
the remaining debris a crossword in the sand:
lonely left shoes,
basement cigar store Indians,
bottle caps, regurgitated booze.
Even in Greek or hieroglyphs, 2 Across spells “regret”
1 Down says “forgive me”
and it all smells of dead things that forgot to exodus back to sea.
Just one weekend the planes flew so low
we could have thrown stones
but instead pulled at fists of wind
as if they were cosmos-cruising tractor trailers
and we, small children mating with our proxy noise.
Like my dog, I’ll eat anything
if I’m hungry enough, and we’re always starving –
with our tape worms, we have to dine for twelve.
When we were young, I’d tie her to a tree
by where the rosebush wouldn’t grow
and in her jaw she would take the corpsing stems
How did the thorns taste, love?
Or did you do it to know better the blood of your panting tongue?
Either way, something fertilized the ground –
the bush burns twice my height now.
I don’t expect you to want to kiss my caterpillar lips
or grasshopper mouth,
but, oh, Dan,
my blood roses bloom
and our planes don’t fly here any more.
Artist: Katie Davis
Album: Even Dogs Sing the Blues Sometimes
Song: Even Dogs Sing the Blues Sometimes
Your heavily tattooed twin works
days at the wire mill,
brushing the teeth of American industry.
I work there, too, scrubbing six
and eighteen bay bunchers
alongside him, Senator Hayes (son
of Jovial), and a beautiful blond nearly
lobotomized boy, all of us hunched
over the long Swiss’d bullets
of the Bartells
that cocoon their swinging cradles
of iron gears and eyelets. In the paradise of whirligig
copper spools and steel spider webs
the mechanic ocean hums
and we floss the greasy gums
of the American industry.
* * *
Do you remember the night
we raced the length of McCarren Park
in crystalline December air?
It was a year and nine months ago, today.
I fell in love with the lone red light
in the window of the warehouse,
and you and Beanie, in her leopard coat,
boarded the Manhattan bound train,
museum of faces, and fell
in love with every one of them.
* * *
After the bunchers twist
the wire like a young girl’s braid,
gears run it through an acid birdbath
and hot geyser of granite gravel.
Your heavily tattooed twin and Senator
shout Marco, Polo over the din
but neither parts from his station at the Bartell,
tearing off black scabs from the jagged
mouth of the twelve foot torpedo.
The breeze from the garage door
tastes like heat, sunlight, rust.
* * *
I imagine you would have loved
the broken yellow rake,
plastic, months abandoned
in the mill’s overgrown courtyard, or loved
the strange flowering weed beside it, its stalks
topped with bristles
and shaped like a bouquet.
I would have loved it, too, but
the air once kinetic with poetry
has waxed static.
* * *
I even dream of the Bartells now,
I, who used to dream of naked Russians
laying their silver seed on my bare stomach,
dream of the blackened metal womb
of American industry,
peeling away the dark grease scales
with nothing but a nickel toothbrush.
* * *
A woman was scalped here.
I don’t know the year, the color of her hair,
or which metal hand knotted and yanked
the flesh clean off her skull.
Even the men she worked with can’t recall
what her head had looked like,
or if she had braided back the strands
to ward off the hungry tongue
of the Bartells.
* * *
Glen has worked here sixty years,
the beautiful blond nearly lobotomized
boy tells me, been in and out of retirement
three times. I wish I could wish
for the blond boy to nudge my knee with his
as we hollow out the palled silver bunchers,
* * *
Glen’s hair is lamb white, and as perfectly
combed as it had been fifty
years ago. We watch him, myself
and your heavily tattooed twin, Senator
Hayes and the beautiful blond nearly lobotomized
boy, as Glen juts the fangs of the fork lift
beneath the base of a Bartell
and scoops it out the garage door
into the August heat, sunlight, rust,
so bright we can’t distinguish them from air.
We remain with our company, an army
of Bartells, the heavy fumes of degreaser
and E. brake oil weighing on our tar scarred skin.
W. G. Sebald, Die Beschreibung des Unglücks, 1985
via A Poet Reflects
Insects pattern the walls of the room as if they wish to be wallpaper: oblong bugs, small and dark, with wings built for jumping; timid ladybirds, nestled where the wall joins the ceiling; multitudinous, disparately colored moths, furry bodied, floating towards the glass lighted bulbs. Only silent insects dwell here - unlike the swarm that plagued my home the October the Indian Summer haunted New York, when carelessness for taking out the trash invited the thousand yellow bodied flies to 2FA. They ringed tribal dances in hoards around the fluorescent ceiling fixture for weeks, humming like death or a factory whole of machinery, the kind that catches children’s hands in the warp and steals their fingers, hungry. My hands, clothes, furniture, and hair smelled of RAID for weeks, though men couldn’t smell it when they leaned in for a kiss. I vacuumed flies from the ceiling, swatted them from the bookcases with rolled up love letters…
But here there are no flies. It’s just the moths, decked in fur coats, and the lucky lady bugs and small black oblong insects I haven’t got a name for. Years ago, I came home to this bed and crawled into the sheets to be stung by a wasp that had burrowed there for winter. I peeled away the sheets in fear and courage of its companions, but the bed was empty, and I was alone.
Artist: David Bromberg Band
Album: How Late'll Ya Play 'Til Volume 1 Live
Song: Come On In My Kitchen
David Bromberg’s live cover (1976) of Robert Johnson’s Come on in My Kitchen (1937). I have always loved his omission of key lyrical phrases as the song progresses… delightfully suggestive.
“You better come on into my kitchen because it’s gonna be rainin’ outdoors.”