Monthly Archives: September 2013

I Wasn’t Shocked When I Heard The Congresswoman Had Been Shot

I don’t know why but my heart sank when I read he’d used the term Ad Hominem.

On the bus, in the grave, below a lunchroom doorway or within the scheme of park — a part of me rustled. I watched his face on the screens above the mildew & steam rising from the machines, I missed the rinse cycle but didn’t care & my eyes were hurt and glossed and I couldn’t make out the fuzzy framed picture on the TV.

All I could do
was fold
& smooth
the edges of
my underwear,
smell the fabric of the toothen-caved-towel
& just mumble to myself that it’s all going to pass
cause it always does
But a part of me felt a little like a cheat,
a doused bunny who’d gotten away,
a mouse in a big house,
a tangle cherry-tree
still standing after the storm.

A part of me felt for him in a way I probably shouldn’t and I wondered what I would have done had I really known him, had I been his friend once or his enemy, his neighbor, or his bandmate, his dealer, his girlfriend, his mother, his father.
And I recalled my own self-important blues and irritating holler of my twenties, my unhinged moments of lucidity, my righteous breakdowns, my challenge of truth, my call to arms…But I was certain my shrill-shrill call was no false alarm, my anger not bitter hatred, my contempt not imaginary — but valid.

“He’d read Orwell & Huxley.”
Who hadn’t?
He was just probably the only one who understood it.

He read Mein Kampf.
Not David Lerner’s poem, but the book by the man who came to be known as the face & name of the twentieth century, the man single-handedly credited for inciting the zeitgeist, the man who made pop culture.

“There isn’t one brilliant mind on this planet who hasn’t read that book,” a college professor explained. “No one cared enough to help this lad as he was making his way down the crooked stairwell of sanity…everyone apparently was aware of his psychological demise or his mental sickness – “

Was it because they smelled just as bad?
If you’re both wearing the same cologne, how can you tell who’s sweat is filling the air?

Rhetoric doesn’t kill.
Apathy does.
And if betrayal is a mother fucker,
Denial is an assassin who will work for deferred pay –
But when he collects it is not currency he will want,
It is complicitness.

I have just one idea, let’s play a game:
Lets play the numbers game – I’m getting into that one now, I’m an American after all.
Nine years old? She was just nine years old?

I got you beat by 2 years just some months before: she was 7 years old murdered by police.
Who mourns for Aiyana Jones?

*

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A Loser Can Surely Find Time For Love

Poison 42 - A Loser Can Surely Find Time For Love (Dennis Leroy Kangalee) by Nina Fleck
Before that I thought I was just another waking asphalt animal perched on his shaky brick-limb trying to do what it is that rats do to stay alive.

The rats are the true underground.

Hamptons in Harlem.
Condos creeping.
My belly is torn asunder.

They’ve pulled apart the letters of alphabet city.
Don’t mind me–it’s just my feet are getting wet and I never realized I could swim. The Mets are Citibank pets in steel cages.
Plastic surgeons from the west coast have brought their palm trees with them, they’ll be importing the rest of the emptiness later.
They’re sending me to the outbacks, the caves in the dunes where books meet man and clean hands are an ideal to achieve.


Losers
Like Loners
Make the
Best
Lovers.
They have so much to give.

They don’t need me here. Give me my apocalypse and ship me out soon.

I am not sure how long I can carry this battery.

*
originally published in the Lower East Side BOOG City poetry journal, Summer 2012
& included in the chapbook “Lying Meat”

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Lying Meat


There is a risk
in knowing
trusting
and believing
the eyes in your head
and the voice in your heart…


…The feeling
that crawls
along the wall of your
spleen
underway
inside your mind
the decay
of a possibility.

that lying meat is proven right with each and every passing day their structures stand and balance the board of the hollow man’s wet-dream
A scoreboard for the insurance man
A loose noose so the stock trader can’t hang himself
(Not that he’d want to/No he’s made the bet against the hands that tied the mesh together/In fact he owns the machine)
All hail the robotic father and forsaken son beaten into the sand of the King Tut exhibition where they’ll teach you to walk like an Egyptian for a special price but think like an Angry Saxon on his way home from the yards teeth tongue and dripping waiting in the mouth
Below there are about a million suckers who’ve reached the end of their lollipop
Each of them a Joe Stack in between the sheets of their mind sheets of the sound sheets of a lonely woolen brain tired of trying and nervous about what it all meant
Rattlesnakes don’t commit suicide,
but sheep know when it is time to raise the b-b-b-baahh…

Not sure where that leaves us

Do we have hope?
(What’s hope – but nope with more hair!)
Hope has been AWOL since 1492 and returned briefly somewhere in between the Beatles and Martin Luther King
NY and Alabama
A porter’s camera and freshly painted theater that still smelled like a barn and had a few drops of sweat left behind by Max Roach or a sari that had just been ripped and was struggling to break free of its curry and dog eared ruffles

O-bomb-a reappraised hope and made off with a hefty sum
Not sure where it exactly got him
But i know for a fact that he sleeps well at night

Glad somebody does


There’s a bleeding termite inside
each of us
what was once sawdust
is now
the backbone
of an African chief
a winded Viking
an Indian sermon
once gazed upon
before the dollar made its move.

*
— from the 2011 chapbook, “Lying Meat & Other Poems Beneath the Oil”

Lying Meat

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If I Really Cared

if i really cared i wouldn’t write a poem, i’d fold myself up and bleed into the night,
finding a more environmentally conscious way to commit suicide
at least i’d have honor.
Honor from a pair of eyes above

if i really cared i wouldn’t toss and turn, i’d give it all up into the barrel of a gun that could
destroy us all, why not — leave something for future atoms and molecules to reconsider,
something for another race to ponder and learn from

if I really cared I’d send my heart to the government – since they already have my soul and
hope that in my death they could finally be one

if i really cared i’d go back to those 4AM moments when i was 24 and at the height of
imagination and anger and bravado and beauty and i wouldn’t try to kill myself,
i’d try to kill the time that was stopping, the past and future tenses bumping and grinding away
from a center that would surely burst
into the absence of a cell phone discussion or a truly final black midnight summer

if i really cared i’d offer myself up, not because i am important but because i am NOT important
and must face that there are others more important,
yes i’d admit that perhaps there were people or ideas or dreams worth dying for

if i really cared i wouldn’t be a romantic
i would be dead

who can breathe and stand to live among the willful ignorant and the fuzzy frightening conscientious stupidity deemed important
by our newsmen and leaders.
If i really cared they’d be the first to go

if i really cared i’d make sure there was no past so that there could be nothing to learn for a future
that was rooted in today
and wonderment
if not
a beautiful mystery
called
progress

*

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The author at Brecht's grave, Berlin, 2006 [Nina Fleck]

The author at Brecht’s grave, Berlin, 2006 [Nina Fleck]

It was the type of beauty that makes an artist jealous or an atheist create a religion.

The woman’s face seemed to say “Handle With Care”. Her features were etched with a loving poise as if the brush across her face said to its own bristles: “Check this out.” Her lips had the sculpted and untouched look of a marble statue or a grandmother’s china set. Majestic, but almost too sterile. But so real that you knew if you touched it, you could break it. The delicacy of her face hosted a pair of bright cavernous eyes. They seemed deep and endless, a Xanadu unto herself. And just as lonely, perhaps. Her hair waved and nestled around her head. And her collarbone, too, seemed unloved and therefore all the more inviting. Her breasts hung and bobbed naturally, barely hidden beneath a thin wisp of loose cotton. The Maestro’s mouth twisted dumbly and his eyes ached. He felt bad about every negative comment he had ever made about women. Or life.

He watched her cross the street and saw the poetry in her gait, her bent head, tired arms. What he had always read about in dance books is what this woman was. The purity of her movement–was a great deal to take because it championed the “Beauty of a Better Tomorrow” philosophy in today. Her demeanor was confident, but mortal. And her curved marble lips were not pursed for her victim; they were curled up for grace. A shift of one minor muscle and it would have read as a smirk. All that beauty, like the blanket of stars at night, swimming through this sea of contempt, unpleasantness, and bitter digitized Eleanor Rigby’s of the world.
Seen, but not valued.
Hated because it lived and breathed.
Scorned because she was beautiful, but not wealthy.
Single, but not lonely.
Happy, but not ignorant.
And it was in the way she bent down to adjust her shoes that the trembles started and pain swelled…

He had to do something; he was still dizzy from his episode minutes earlier. He sucked on his dwindling saliva and hummed. Her tiny ballet shot adrenaline-razors through his veins.

Her shoes: tattered, worn, and dejected. But treated like the hands of Moses. She was so casual that it frightened him. The cardboard around her feet were folded and molded like moccasins. The shoestrings were made of wire like un-done hangers. If it hadn’t been for sanguine stretching for August, the stitches, like crimson thorns stuck in benign berry–he would have never noticed…And that is what continued to pain him.
Her refusal to crumble in between the pitied streets of a broken cabaret city and a metropolis frozen in spirit, caught between two different chords–minors and majors clashing and bending like fists in a boxing ring twirling with the sprays of sweat drooling on the grooves and in between the rich peoples’ collars, made him sad. And he looked and he could feel the threads of yesterday’s train pulling and hooting at some lonely distant region of his brain. Her old fashioned elegance reminded him of those black and white movies from the 1940’s and instantly his parents, who always appeared larger in his memory, came to him with comforting compassion and an immense yard of broken TV’s, each gripping its thwarted dream…

He revolted when he imagined the pain of her footsteps,–but like everyone else with a battered soul, shot nerves, and no hope–all he could do was stare and stand motionlessly. At least he gave her full attention. She removed all her clothing and ejected a rolled up ball of tissue in between her legs to help stop Aunt Rosa’s mighty flow. Sadder than an unemployed man’s footprints in the snow on New Year’s Eve.
Sadder than a subway ride on a Sunday afternoon.
Sadder than people who believe that hunger isn’t murder.
Sadder than a last minute pack or an eviction notice in the strange cool air of the summer solstice.
Sadder than a cemetery with gum on its fence.
And sadder than the boys who know who their fathers are–but have no desire to be like them.

*
— from “The Maestro” (2006)

Sad Days For Free (or: Homeless in Berlin)

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Notes of a Devolver: Part Two

 Illustrations of the Great Operations of Surgery by Charles Bell, 1815.

Illustrations of the Great Operations of Surgery by Charles Bell, 1815.

I was sitting on the cross-town bus, heading east just barely past the park.
It was sunny and the ancient sadness of the fires roared down on us cutting through the trees and grass and the tall buildings sparkled and I remember thinking how pretty – how truly pretty – life was untouched. How amazing a sun, how incredible our land actually is. How important architecture could be…if we were as human as we think we once were. And I remember my stomach griping and bursting inside as if the plastic of my soul was beginning to stretch and finally snap.

Staring out into the sun long enough I always think about the beauty of birth and the horror of slavery. I wonder what the animals have thought. I wonder what the butterflies have thought. I certainly know what the sharks have thought. Sometimes, late at night-early in the morning far deep in the pocket of the twilight, I can hear them burp. And I have no pity for them and I explain this to the Animal Rights People. Believe me, I tell them, they have eaten a great deal more than some people ever will.

It is in the shade, only in the shade, that I can reflect upon myself. As soon as the bus dove back under and the park and the sun and the painful poetry all vanished harshly – and not without cruelty like a gambler’s luck – I am able to hide and die a little in between the tall buildings and skyscrapers which cast the only eternal harmlessness that we can still rely on. They got it all wrong – she or he or it or whomever they were that proclaimed a “little death” is in between our loins and our orgasm. All great fucks are affirmative and they give us sunshine inside where we cannot seem to be touched. A little death is not between two lovers – it is stuck somewhere between our organized madness and the revolving doors of Monday-through-Friday and the urban renewal of more shadows to lurk behind and more sadness to cover your cup.

The bus ride was peculiar as all things seem to be when you’re looking for signs. It was empty and the tryptophan roared.

The old man’s name was Harvey and he had eyes the color of smog-infested snow. At first I thought he might have been blind. His hands were like overgrown claws. His face was etched in a permanent scowl and I expected a gruff, ornery voice. But is was tender and buttery and tended to trail off and get lost in the back of his throat. He had muttered something to his sisters, two well-dressed old ladies, and it wasn’t until he pushed back his cap that I noticed the small hole in the center of his forehead, as if a tiny third eye had not quite grown in.

I looked up and read an ad on the bus: Save Darfur, People Are Dying.
Outside a homeless man struggled with his cardboard box, the wind pulverizing the flaps at the edges and sending endless newspapers into the air. I looked back at Harvey.

“You lost?” he asked.

“No…”

“Oh. You look lost.” 
I didn’t tell him I was going to a job interview. I don’t think I said anything. “I feel lost,” he said. He turned to his sisters, “We’re all lost aren’t we?”

“Hmm,” the older one said.

I got off on 66th street and walked south. Before I reached the end of the block, I turned and looked, as if I knew. Harvey stood at the corner like a face from some ancient circus poster. But with the sun dazzling the way it was I could not tell if he was smiling or frowning and from where I was standing his lips appeared to be two glistening orbs circling and crying out to God knows what.

Angels, demons, we are all the same.

*

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Petrification of Dennis Leroy Kangalee
…He kissed Cary again, who now lay in his hospital bed – covers up to his eyes, terrified, praying and hoping for something, muttering to himself.

And the room was cold and the wind outside started to howl and the wheel in the psychedelic junkyard kept spinning and he thought he saw Redd Foxx leap out from behind a wall of cranberry and there was no theme music, no laughter, no religious applause, , no Gold no Geld no Guilt no signs of warnings no trees and no stump, just poor Nancy in a corner intoxicating herself with crayolas and Freddy doing his Little Sid Vicious and the Plastic Man’s broken legs and Cary’s broken heart and the nurses’ twisted souls and the doctor’s bloated pockets and it was all just too…

He felt now he was going to die. Someone was going to die.
There were people dying at that very moment clutching a rock or a stone, swallowing sand, or trying to fight the Beginning of Time. Noble causes and desires.

Like sons and ladybugs.

— from “Where Ladybugs Go to Die” by Dennis Leroy Kangalee, (c) 2006

*

“He Thought He Saw Redd Foxx Leap Out From Behind a Wall of Cranberry”

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Notes of a Devolver

PART ONE

Trepanned girl's skull [3500 BC, Nat.History Museum, Lausanne (Rama)]

Trepanned girl’s skull [3500 BC, Nat.History Museum, Lausanne (Rama)]

SUNDAY

I can’t read the news.
It was easier to understand when I was a boy. Now, the writing seems to be just…words.
People who don’t enjoy what they do – never die. That’s cause they’re never born, they simply exist through life and they hang around like gnats, forever. Doing EVERYTHING, buying EVERYTHING, watching EVERYTHING all the while the grip on their soul gives way and leaves a tattered trail of crisp-withered tears like the leaves in a Twentieth Century autumn. 
Crick! Crick-Crattle, Flip! Crick-Crattle, Flip! That’s the sound of a dying man’s soul turning over, changing color, getting older…

*

I’ve already explained to Nancy that I’m dying. I feel myself slipping, the rot setting in between my teeth, eating away at the edges of my brain. Have you ever seen your bliss deflate like a helium balloon in the bleak corner of a public school gym in a working-class neighborhood which thinks it’s middle class? (to be in the middle is to be wedged-in-between, safe within someone’s sticky pages. The top or the bottom – but never, never the middle…)

*

Monday

The frantic sea of job interviews and emails and…how hard it is now to even look for work. It has gotten physically harder for transients who don’t want to be transients. Yes, I am one of “those” who don’t have a computer!
And the havoc I have brought upon myself: Bold unflinching masochism!

I’m taking up space. I’m a good person and I try hard and look for the goodness in people (and I usually find it much to the chagrin of most people who act ashamed as if I have found out something about them that they would rather not divulge; I realized being “good” irritates people) and am most grateful when others can overlook my sins or faults and can see a shade, a figment of the man I am trying to be.

But I am taking up space.

And I should either add something beautiful to my surroundings or simply give up the air I am breathing because life – no, the anxiety of life – is simply not worth it. I am ashamed to be part of it. And so I had to say, “YES,” when I was asked because -…Well, because I wanted to be able to tell Nancy I had a job and that I was hired and just once share a moment of victory.

The job starts tonight.
And I need this type of job the way I need a hole in the head.

*

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Shane

Her name was Shane.

She had eyes like a dying cow and a midnight owl disposition that would make any man consider even opening his mouth and yet her humorless couture was not couched in any despair. It was the aftermath of righteous indignation and a celebration of all that the animal kingdom recognized: you corner a panther and he’ll attack. She knew what it was like to be jawned on and spurtled in to the night, the remnants of spewed saliva and discarded meat. She remembered. But she was now the prey that would choke you from a hundred yards away…And it would be too late once the grip had been felt…and loosened on your wallet.

*

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Sarah & Cecil Stole Romeo & Juliet’s Getaway Car

“Tramps For Life, episode 3”
(Or: Even Rebels Get Sad When They Have to Be Bad but all in all there’s nothing worse than having Jungle Fever on the road, broke and homeless, and trying to up the ante)

N.Fleck/D.Kangalee, 2006

N.Fleck/D.Kangalee, 2006

— heard.
Outside,
the cold rain
pours down
and beats
relentlessly
upon the roof of the car.
The car that is not yours.
And your homeless heart flinches in that way only a newly-dispossessed person’s heart flutters and aches and cold-lip-dry-mouth-cracked-chapped hands open the passenger door, but you notice – on the floor, under those worn out boots barely covering your feet which you are nervous has caught an infection – a text, a crumpled magazine…and the printed word on that filth, the alignment and the rhythms, calm you…Because they were written by someone even more destitute than you and you no longer have to dread and shudder your way three stops on the N train amidst Hipsters who come from some place no real New Yorker has ever heard of, and yet your ignorance bounds you…But you read the text and you realize it is just the thing to read when you are in someone else’s bathroom and the floor is cold and you cannot complain because it is not your home, and you wonder where your home went and how it came to…
*
You tried.
You did everything possible without breaking any laws, yet every moral code that you ever tried to live by has been left shattered and torn.
Your reputation – skids marks under Cassio’s heel; your name has been warped and twisted like the heart of a Judge who refuses to resign.
You ask yourself why? And you see fleeting images of who you could have been and phantasmagoric duplicates of you and your lady and yet you wonder…what was the sin?
Like the disabled and the forsaken, you, too, cast an eye up to the sky in hopes of an answer…There is no answer. The answer was known, was given – long ago.
And it is not his or her or their fault.
It is some
perverted
joke.

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