Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Reading at C&P, Tonight, 6/13




REFUGEE LITANY

Refugee, alien, floater, green-horn, invader, migrant, new comer, outsider, squatter, stranger, weed, outlander, not-from-here, drifter, gypsy, wetback, itinerant, transient, outlaw, dodger, bum, hobo, tramp, displaced person, DP, squatter, illegal, stateless, homeless, runaway, boat-person, outcast, fugitive, derelict, cast-away, émigré, deportee, non-person, defector, persona non grata, undesirable, wanderer, fugitive, stray, transient, exile, vagabond, vagrant, drifter, indigent, orphan, urchin, wastrel, stranger

Holy!
All men are holy
All women holy
Holy the Wanderer
Holy the Traveler
Holy the Stranger
Holy the Immigrant
Holy the Refugee
pray for us
!

SHELTER IN PLACE

In the shelter
shelter of a thought

In the shelter
of a gaze

Who watches?

In the shelter
shelter of your arms

In the shelter
of your heart

Who watches?

In the shelter
rooms & shadows

In the shelter
doorways
alleys

Who watches
watches over you?

In the shelter
words & phrases

In the shelter
silence
breath

In the shelter
life & death

Who watches
who watches
who watches
over you?

RECENT EVENTS

In cases of
suffocation
or drowning

In dreams
deep water
or dark rooms

The animal
will always
struggle
to surface

And that
is the horror.


RESURRECTION SHOWER

After months
flat on my back
restricted to bed-baths

I began my return.

The first day of Ramadan

in a nursing home

in a wheel chair

under a shower

with a tender
Muslim aide
aiming the spray
of hot water
onto my head.

Pleasure
so intense
I saw stars

and shivered
and laughed
and shouted

Thank God!

And that aide lit up

joined my ecstacy

ran
a washcloth
across my chest

and whispered

Al-Hamdu Lillah.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018



FROM SILENCE

to breath

from breath
to
murmur

from
murmur
to
voice

voice
to
chorus

chorus
to
jubilation

jubilation
to
transcendence

from

transcendence

to

silence.


(Star Child from 2001:  A Space Odyssey)


RW
Seattle
06/03/2018

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

TWO SOLDIERS


MEMORIAL DAY



Corporal Jimmy Mack

Training
just training

live fire
chaos

training

and
Corporal Jimmy Mack
looses control of his platoon

  Jimmy Mack
corporal
leader-of-men
lifer mother-fucker
most likely to be fragged

looses control

drops to a knee

and

I’ve got a bead
like the true cross
on the back of his lifer head

should I - shouldn't I

Jimmy Mack
you are
one
lucky
son of a bitch

because

I am not
going to
murder you
today.


Sergeant Jimmy Mack's number finally came up in VietNam.





SP4 Hood
                          
The idiots marched him
from the paddies
to the peaks

from the jungle
to the beach

from the cold war
to the tropics
and back again.

Anymore –
he didn’t give a shit.

Beyond anywhere
he watched death
smudge everything
even the air.

Worlds collide
Flesh panics

Shoots smack with the whores in Saigon
drops through smooth and dark

ultimate airborne

falling
forever
forever
falling

Back in the world
passed out drunk
curiously warm
in a snow bank
in Montana

That’s where they found him.

That’s where he died.



Remember
there is no such thing
as a
Happy Memorial Day


RW
Seattle
05/22/18 




Tuesday, May 15, 2018

THE TIMES I DIED

My Photo - Guanajuato



The first time I died

We all smoked cigarettes from a pack of Luckies I rolled out of the short sleeves of my James Dean dreams

She had all the knives in a chef’s kit tattooed across her arms and shoulders

My heart, my heart of wild delight plumed and comet-crossed the night.

RW
Guanajuato, Mexico
12/2017


The second time I died

It was summertime and we were surviving on French kisses

The wind carried the sound of lions and freight trains to our bedroom

Our friends were being called to war

Drugs were everywhere

There were so many deaths I barely noticed my own.

RW
Seattle
05/2017





Friday, May 11, 2018


Morpheus



BOUGHS BREAK


Go to sleep. 

Sometimes sleep
is the only place
left
to go.

Let’s go to sleep.

They’re going to sleep.

night
slips through
gossamer wings

(Just one of those things…Cole Porter)

Metamorphosis

We become the place.

He’s asleep
so is she

They are asleep.

As in all things
we
are alone

the symbol is “O”
the number is “1”


THE MILITARY AND SLEEP


As a trainee in boot camp I was so tired that if I wasn’t engaged in a physical activity I would fall right asleep.  I slept through lectures on hygiene, the care and assembly of various weapons, the Universal Code of Military Justice, etc.

A few of us were able to sleep while standing in formation.  Some of us fell over.

According to Article 113 of the Universal Code of Military Justice, falling asleep on duty may be considered dereliction of duty.  Punishment can include sanctions up to and including the death penalty (in times of war.)  

The Army takes staying awake very seriously.

The Army taught me how to sleep anywhere.


SOMETIMES YOU CAN’T GET THERE

Drink
Surf
Read
Fret
Pace
Weep

Ambien likewise Silanor likewise Lunestra likewise Sonata etc like that

Once, when I was a boy, I sat at my bedroom window for as long as I could trying to catch insomnia.  I thought it would be a wonderful thing to never sleep, and it would make me special.

As an adolescent I thought staying up all night was the ultimate victory.

As an older drunk I thought greeting the dawn was an accomplishment.


TAKING REST

You may rest
without sleeping

You may sleep  
without resting

Sleep may prove elusive
rest even more so.


I would spend Saturday’s in Frankfurt.  I’d drink beer, eat street food, go to the opera, and sleep.  On a few occasions I slept through whole operas, including intermissions.  I never felt rested, only hung-over.


THE FOLLOWING HAVE OCCUPIED SLEEP

A Weary Hobo
Guardian Angels
Irene
Mr. Sandman
You
Sheep
Dragons
The Beast under the Bed
Me
Bill Wyman
The Lion
St. Augustine
Dead People
Joe Hill
The Dog
Various Witches
Silver Spaceships


LOCATIONS FOR SLEEP

Locations for sleep
can be easily divided
into good, and bad.

Some good places to sleep are:

Your own bed
Your girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s bed
A sleeping bag under the stars
The back seat when you’re ten years old
Your mom’s arms likewise your dad’s likewise your grandma’s etc like that
The couch on a rainy afternoon
A boat – gently rocking

(I have slept in all those places.)


Some bad places:

The back seat when you’re thirty
A doorway
A snowbank
Behind a dumpster
A hospital room
The gutter
Behind the couch
Your girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s front yard
Behind the wheel of a moving vehicle
Any place that when you wake up you don’t know where you are, or how you got there.

I have slept in all those places.  I have never had a problem sleeping.

 
Natalie  Shau


LULLABIES COME WITH

Wolves
Giants
Judas
Storms
The Bogeyman
Jesus
A Face at the Window
Goats
Crows
Black Eagles
Stupid Fathers
Ghost Cats
Murderous Mothers
Your Own Corpse, or Your Head on a Post


Nota Bene:  Brain cells produce waste.  When we sleep, the waste is flushed out of our brains.  Or, in the words of Dr. Jeffrey Illiff:  After decades of uncertainty about cerebrospinal fluid movement in the brain, we finally know which way the wind is blowing.  (You don't need a weatherman...Dylan)



PRAYERS BEFORE SLEEP INCLUDE

Keep my soul; take my soul
Wrath on the powers of witchcraft
Fury upon the agents of affliction
Panic and havoc on those who would cause disgrace
Death to the arrows of evil delay
Scatter the clouds of darkness likewise the satanic court
Burn the child of darkness likewise the garments of reproach
Release my money

(I can make you mine, taste your lips of wine...  Boudleaux Bryant)


DEITIES & DEMONS

Phobetor
Phantasos
Hypnos
Morpheus
Breksta
Somnus
Incubus
Succubus
Dab Tsog
Baku
Mara
Alp
Nocnitsa
Pesanta
Trauco


DANGER

It is not unusual to die while asleep. It is unusual to die while sleep-walking, but it has occurred.  In rare cases, a person could fall out of bed, hit her head, and die.


HOW ONE SLEEPS

Like a log
Like a cat
Like a dream in a grave (1)
Deeply
Fitfully
Like a rock
Like an old dog
Like wrecks in the unfathomed main (2)
Like a baby
Like the dead­­­­­
Like a caterpillar sheathed in ice (3)
With one eye open

(1)   A.J. Ryan
(2)  Letitia Elizabeth Landon
(3)  William Wordsworth



ASLEEP WE MAY BE AFFLICTED BY

Night sweats
Leg cramps
Thirst
Terrors


I was six years old.  I slept in my own room.  One night I opened my dream eyes/sleep eyes and saw the monster - a huge, squat shadow with glowing eyes.  I rolled to the wall that bordered one side of my bed, and pushed so hard to get away that I wedged myself between the wall and the bed.  I must have been calling out.  My auntie came into the room and comforted me.  I woke for barely a moment, saw the monster bureau against the other wall, and fell back asleep.


We slept so deeply before we were born.


RW
Seattle
5.11.2018

























Sunday, May 6, 2018

SNAKE EYES & BOXCARS (complete)



ABC-Paramount released Lloyd Price's rendition of Stagger Lee in 1958.  I was twelve years old.  The song bowled me over, and it's been on my playlist ever since.  It's a masterpiece of story-telling, and a musical gem.  You can find it - you know where.

Stagger Lee's (Stack-O-Lee) story has been recorded over 170 times with various lyrics and musical settings.  Lloyd Price wrote two versions, in the first Billy died over a gambling debt, in the second, the so-called cleaned up version requested by Dick Clark for his American Bandstand, it was over a woman.  America - murder over gambling, not good; murder over a woman, number 1.  Go figure.

About six years ago, I was working on an evening of "Americana," and wrote a short piece that got Stagger Lee from the crap shoot to the gallows.  Last week, I put together a reunion between Stagger Lee and Billy D'Lyon in Billy's gambling emporium on the plains of Hades.  I showed it to a friend who suggested I add an intro giving more depth to the characters and their relationship.  Done.

Here, then, we have:


SNAKE EYES AND BOXCARS

STAGGER LEE AND BILLY D’LYON ON EARTH AND IN HELL
(for Sarah Beaudette)

1.    The Boys

Stagger Lee
six/five and handsome as Broadway
would not only dress for the occasion

was

the occasion

That’s a fine suit, Mr. Lee.
Yes, ma’am, thank you.

Nice hat, boss!
Stetson, son, the best.

Stagger Lee stepped out
said good-bye to no one

city not quite dark

got a shine at the corner
tipped big

Stagger Lee
a-tilt at the waist
shoulders forward
arms swinging

takes a long pull from his silver flask


touches his .44
touches his bank-roll
checks over his shoulder
touches the brim of his Stetson

glides and swivels

into
the
alley

Yo, Billy!

William D’Lyon

a.k.a.,

Billy
Billy D
Billy D’ Lion
Billy D’Floater

another street corner dapper-Dan

Three piece suit
hand-made shoes
rocks on his fingers

Billy and Stag known each other for years

grew up together

fell out
fell in
fell back out and in again
like life-long lovers

opposites & equals

Billy – short stuff
Stag – al-ti-tu-di-nous

Billy – ice water
Stag – hundred proof

Stag – equalizer in his holster
Billy – silver tongued

Stag O’Lee was a bad man
Billy was a business man – crooked as the day was long

Billy ran THE floating crap game

could be next door
could be in the church basement
could be in the recovery room
could be in the damn delivery room

could be you’d know where it would be
if you were in the know

Billy D
everybody’s Billy
and everybody liked Billy
even when they slunk home broke

Billy says

Stag, you know what I said.

and Stag says

I do.
 
You said, don’t come here strapped,
just bring money.

Here’s my money.

Wanna’ frisk me?

Stag did have a bundle that night
folded in a big dollar sign diamond stud clip.

I don’t frisk anyone, Stag, and I see your money.

OK, then.  Make room, boys, I’m livin’ for the spin…

2.    The Spin

No game on earth
quick as craps

dollars down
dice tumble
points made
or not
but
money
grabbed up.

Players best be
sober and sharp

that night
under a street light
and yellow moon

Billy D'Lyon was

Stagger Lee
was not

and when they were done

Billy adjourned to the bar-room
with a handful of greenbacks
and Stagger Lee's brand new Stetson hat.

Couple things quicker than craps -
crazy and bullets.

Stagger Lee steps into the bar-room
calls, "Billy, yo…"

Billy
hands up palms out
says, “Oh, no…”

Smokeless .44

Stagger Lee shoots poor Billy down

Billy clutches at air
slams
against high gloss mahogany
slumps
to dirt black
scuffed black
heel gouged
bar room floor

neck on the rail

hat pushed away

one eye ball
from half his head
staring straight up to nowhere
all glassy and dead.

Stagger Lee drops the .44
retrieves his Stetson
dusts its brim
walks out those swinging doors
and steps right up, ladies and gents,
to the scaffold gallows
like it was church
on Sunday morning –

‘Scuse me, sir
Howdy, Ma’am
Wouldn’t want to be late, Reverend

And Stagger Lee
all snake-eyes
looks down at his boots
bows his head
when the hangman takes his hat
and thinks -

Ain’t nothin’ finer than a Stetson

Ain’t nothin’ colder than this cold wind

Ain’t no forgiveness till hell freezes over

And there ain't nothin' slower
than this goddamn trap door…


BAM!


3.    Welcome Home

Billy D’Lyon
half  his head
blowed away
did not go to heaven

Whoever thought he would?

Bill dropped into hell

Stagger Lee

dropped

into thin air

and just as fast
ended up in hell
as well.

Heaven…Hell
Earth between

time’s a funny thing

Billy might’a been gone
a New York minute
but
in hell-time
that was a life-time

and in hell-time
Billy made a big name
for himself.

The devil that cheated
and beated
Stag O’Lee
now owned
the biggest
most ornate
and prosperous

saloon whorehouse and gambling den

on the cold gray plain of Hades.

Through Billy’s
swinging doors

inscribed as of old -

(abandon hope… the house always wins)

neck-stretched
adam’s apple bobbing
bare headed

 steps
Stag Lee

who steps up

to a green felt table
just in time
to watch flames
fly
off a hot set of bones
ricocheting
from wall to wall
through all the constellations

snake eyes to boxcars

and back up
into
the
diamond flash
right hand
of one -

Billy, a.k.a.,  Hell’s D’Lion.

Mr. Lee aims a look at Billy

recognition, of course, on both sides

grins

and lays his money
on the no-pass line

Billy half-grins back
and the roll does commence

Bill huffs steam-engine heat
to warm those ivories

tombstones clack
in his big right hand

Hell time shifts
into strobe time

Flash!

Billy’s arm and hand
swing under and up

Flash!

Bill’s hand opens
dice fly

Flash!

(close up)

dice hit the table

Flash!

time
converts
to
time

and sure as

4 plus 3
5 plus 2
6 plus 1
all
equal

7

Stagger Lee

flips out
and

Flips!

that table over

Fuck you, Billy D

says
Stagga Lee

your crooked game
has come to an end

reaches for his smokeless .44

but Mr. Lee
lost that gun
a million years before

Billy
just smiles
with his whole half face
removes his gray felt Stetson hat

kindly says

Take this back, Mr. Stagger Lee
you’ll have no argument with me

Hell begins to freeze

time

the boys realize
this was no fight man or ghost
would ever win
and
Stagger Lee and Billy D’Lyon
all of a sudden
best-of-friends
hearty hale and arms-around
step up to the bar
drink some fire water down

Stagger Lee gulps forever
adam’s apple jerkin’ like a monkey on a stick
gotta’ get this fixed, he thinks

Billy D. loses half his drink out half his head
gotta get this fixed, he says

Hell freezes over

and
time
rolls
on

tumbling dice

and that is the story
of Stagger Lee & Billy D’Lyon
on earth and in hell

Amen.

RW/Seattle/Oct 2012-May 2018