Monday, November 28, 2016

UNDER THE GUN



Under the gun…everybody’s under the gun…presidents…rock stars…diplomats…nuns…everybody’s under the gun…Philippines…Mexico…Texas…Ohio…parking-lots…playgrounds…everybody’s under the gun

One day you may feel the fear anytime you hear a helicopter – helicopter – helicopter – helicopter – over your head…RUN…you’ll be under the gun

Europe is under the gun… Rio is under the gun…Western Sahara…Chad and Ethiopia…Uganda is under the gun.

Housewives…superstars…right wing death squads…boss on the job…everybody’s under the gun

Take a trip to the East the belly of the beast Iraq Iran dead babies in the sand…Turkey…Syria…Lebanon…Afghanistan…everybody’s under the gun

One day you may feel the terror of looking down the barrel of a semi-automatic bought at a gun show sponsored by a city…FREEZE…

Café Racer…Cascade Mall…Jewish Federation…everybody’s under the gun

Chicago…L.A…even little Santa Fe

Some day you may feel the terror of red lights…blue lights…sirens in the distance…HANDS UP…

Under the gun…everybody’s under the gun.



LITANY



The little violence
            grows

The murmur of violence
            grows

The unheeded violence
            grows

The common violence
            close to surface
            easily rendered

The everyday violence of language and gesture

The sharp words of friends, total strangers, or lovers
            out in a flash
            gone in a flash
            take lives of their own
            find strength with their own

The everyday violence
            grows

The little violence
            grows

Feeding on apathy
            dull consent

As etiquette, training, straight jackets
            break

And the violence grows

And the darkness grows

And we cry in our sleep
            scream in our dreams
            of violence

And look for a Jesus
            violence

Or look for a Ghandi
            violence

Or look for a King
            violence

Or look to ourselves
            and cry out a prayer
            beg for a light

To lead us through

            this darkness

            this violence.


HAVE MERCY ON US

I think it
a sin
to ask
anything

but

in the language
of prayer

Dearly Departed

I
humbly beseech you

Saints and Sinners

Pray for Us

we are barbarians and fools

ora pro nobis
dona nobis pacem
miserere nobis
dimitte mihi peccata mea

Amen

(102 unarmed black victims of police shootings - 13 officers have been charged with crimes, 6 for one murder - the crimes have ranged from misdemeanors to murder.)



(photo credits - cartoon "Under the Gun"  www.cartoonmovement.com; "Litany"  businessinsider.com)
           



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

FRANK’S ENCHANTED WORLD VAUDEVILLE (Starring Frank): Gang Bang Frankie

Two years ago, after a surgery and up to my eyeballs in Oxy, I wrote an eight part piece titled Frank’s Enchanted World Vaudeville (Starring Frank.)  To keep it real I performed the work after I’d recuperated.

Frank’s etc… is personal mythology comprised of a smidgen of autobiography and a whole lot of fantasy/fabrication.  Frank is an alter-ego, but he’s also pure myth – a warped Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill.

Why “Frank?”  It strikes me as a particularly American name, albeit East Coast, and of a generation.  Francis, Frank, Frankie – ol’ blue eyes… 

Here’s another piece of it, to the approximate tune of an ugly song I learned in the Army - Gang Bang Lulu.



GANG BANG FRANKIE

Frankie had a habit
he could never shake
when Frankie went without his dope
his whole wide world would ache

But the boys they liked to feed him
and keep him on the nod
working out their daily grunt
while Frankie dreamed of God

Singing gang bang Frankie
Gang bang Frankie
Gang bang Frankie
Banging all night long

Frankie holed up in the basement
had some blankets and a bed
a burner that he used for heat
a bulb above his head

He had no big ideas
the bulb would signify
when it flickered
Frankie shivered
curled up and wish’d he’d died

Singing gang bang Frankie
Gang bang Frankie
Gang bang Frankie
Banging all night long

The diner it was spankin’ clean
and always lit too bright
but Frankie found his refuge there
and made it through the night

One time the cops surrounded
Frankie’s vinyl booth
they said you gotta come with us
we just can’t leave you loose

They dragged him to the station
threw him in a cell
before young Francis died he saw
another piece of hell.

Singing gang bang Frankie
Gang bang Frankie
Gang bang Frankie
Banging all night long.



Friday, November 11, 2016

ELEGY FOR A VET


There was this young guy, Hood - I don't remember, maybe never heard, his first name - who rotated from Nam to our unit in Germany.  He had the sweetest face, and the saddest eyes, and I had a little crush on him, but I stepped way back because that just couldn't happen.  Hood was a loner, and I never saw him hanging with anyone.  He was a SP4, combat, airborne, and got busted down the ranks to Private, and then was gone.  I don't know what happened to him.  This is a fiction about all the sweet guys who got ruined.


ELEGY FOR A VET

The idiots marched him
from the paddies
to the peaks

from the jungle
to the forest

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

Passed out drunk
curiously warm
in a snow bank
in Montana

That’s where they found him

That’s where he died.



Here's another one:

Counting Cadence

War

American as apple pie

G.I. - government issue

Your soul might belong to God,
but your ass belongs to the US Army.


Hood, sweet young sad eyed G.I.

Pissed off
emptied out

Stretched too thin for fuck you
just wants left alone

Rotated
outta Nam
to cool your heels
do your time
low profile

Deutschland

but

worlds collide
would collide
no matter where
no matter what

Ghost kid
had that look
scared everybody

Could have dissolved
no energy to him
occupied so little space hardly there

but

Couldn’t stay straight
couldn’t abide

pissed off
emptied out
fuck you
insubordinate

Fuck You

no matter who
no matter where

Universal Code of Military Justice

got him

Count Cadence!  Count:

Spec 4
busted
PFC
busted
Private
busted
court martial
stockade
gone

Bring it on down:
airborne
ranger
combat
sad eyed


gone

Hood
sweet young
G.I.
Hood

U.S. Army

made him a ghost

disappeared him off
the face of their
spit shined
brass buckled
highly starched
cold
war
universe

Sweet young sad eyed G.I.

gone.



Wednesday, November 2, 2016

YA UN RAT


When I was studying French in high school, we learned a song titled, "Y'a un rat dans l'grenier," and though I've mistranslated "grenier," the title and the tune have stuck with me all my life.  Here's what I've finally made of it:

Rats in the granary
rifles and flashlight
blast those eyeballs
shiny and bright
good for a joke
good for a laugh
got enough ammo
time will pass
bored to death
Saturday night
rats in the granary.

Train at the crossing
boys on foot
boxcar’s open
let’s have a look
grab the ladder
grab the dream
train starts movin’
whistles scream
bored to death
Saturday night
train at the crossing
rats in the granary.

Youth ain’t long
sure is hard
spend your life
in your own backyard
go to school
go to church
alarm clock rings
out you lurch
dead end job
in your dead end town
with your dead end girl
and your dead end crowd
rats in the granary.

Drink drank drunk
Marine Corps, man
fall asleep loaded
rise in the sand
trade your toys
for a bigger gun
trade the rats
for rag-head fun
you’re a killer now
sights on jihad
all grow’d up
and you’re bad
rats in the granary.

Rotate home
nothing in mind
take a quick look
here’s what you find
people in the streets
talking to god
sitting on the curb
life on the nod
stand in line
shuffle to the shelter
Saturday night
helter skelter
rats in the granary
rats in the granary
rats in the granary...


Seattle
11.02.2016


 Raffi has a kinder, gentler take on it:  Ya Un Rat




Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Strolling toward the Celebration






All of us
are
chained

By What

is
all
we
need
 to know
in
order
to

Let Go


Late morning weather: 
Sunny slightly breezy
Flowered & green

Air quality:  edible

Lunch: 
Savory scone – bacon/cheddar/jalapeño
Raspberry jam
Coffee


Jesus
no kidding
was
fully human

that’s the beauty
&
the pain

and

The Resurrection

is
a
living
metaphor

All of us
are
changed.

RW/Seattle
7.27.2016

Bonus Track

Thursday, June 16, 2016

ARCARO'S


Mornings

When I’m through
at the gym

Having punched
in out and around
air,  moments, and people

I shower
change
and
walk the street

like a razor

slicing paper

Clean.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

RADIOACTIVE



She's radioactive
I'm a wilderness road
When we got together
The landscape glowed
The cactus jumped
The coyote howled
The roadrunner ran
And the rattlesnakes crawled

Ice and fire
Cadillac dreams
Everything’s real
Just like it seems
She got the rhythm
I got the rhyme
Put them together
Have a hot town time

She was pure plant poison
I was the King of Rome
When we got together
Coliseum groaned
Christians ate the lions
Pope ran off to France
Mussolini and his girlfriend
  did a topsy-turvy dance

Ice and fire
Cadillac dreams
Everything’s real
Just like it seems
She got the rhythm
I got the rhyme
Put them together
Have a hot town time

I’m a bad boy basset
And my name is called Moose
She’s the same thing too
And one night we got loose
We burned up the town
And we burned the town down
Got lost in each other
And never got found

Ice and fire
Cadillac dreams
Everything’s real
Just like it seems
She got the rhythm
I got the rhyme
Put us together
Have a hot town time

Yeah,
Put us together
Have a hot town time.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

IN THIS DREAM


IN THIS DREAM

of the American Dream

A young man drives
his convertible

Oh, sure,
’58 Impala
candy-apple red

down a coastal road
with an angel

Let’s call her Angel
riding shotgun

She's long & languorous

got her left hand on the young man’s knee

right hand surfing California air.


In this dream
of the American Dream

the tank is full
the tunes are rockin’
the road is open.

The young man
pulls into a beach front lot

and hand in hand with Angel

walks across the sand
to water’s edge and stops.

Angel steps into the surf

Sun sets like a fiesta.

Take it
one way
or another
it's a gorgeous dream
this American Dream.

The young man
wonders
if waking up
would be worth the effort.





RW

3/29/16

Saturday, March 26, 2016

RESURRECTION SHOWER


After months
flat on my back
I began
my return

in a nursing home

in a wheel chair

under a shower

with a 
tender aide
playing a fine spray
of hot water
onto my head.

Pleasure
so intense
I saw stars

and shivered
and laughed
and called

Thank God!

And that tender aide 

lit up

joined my glee
  
ran
a soapy cloth
across my chest

and whispered

Al-Hamdu Lillah

Al-Hamdu Lillah.


RW

2016

Friday, March 25, 2016

GOOD FRIDAY




I.                    IN THE GARDEN
(after Mahmoud Darwish)

He saw what was ahead
and he cried.

He cried
from his eyes
and from his whole face

He cried
from his chest
and his arms
and from the tips of his fingers

He cried
from his whole body

and he bled

He bled from his whole body

And then

He was betrayed.


II.                WHEN IT WAS FINISHED

When it was finished

His mother's heart
was fully pierced.

When it was finished

Crows fought
for the unfurling ribbon
of his last words.

And when it was finished

Darkness rose
from broken tombs

stars and comets
crossed the sky

Judas lit
a single candle
in the upper room.

When it was finished:

Three soldiers
in camos and balaclavas
snapped their steel wands
and pushed the crowd back
from the high mound

his friends
lowered the cross
closed his eyes
and pulled the nails

a wild dog
slunk up to him
sniffed his matted hair
and stood gazing
at his face.

When it was finished

The rain began

and the rain
washed him

and the mud
anointed him

and the women
wrapped his body.

And when it was finished

They left him
to the tomb
and made
their way
past endless rubble
through checkpoints
and concertina wire

made their way
past trash fires
and crack whores

made their way
into narrow lanes
past grilled and boarded storefronts
into darkened parlors of frightened men
and hungry children.
  
And when it was finished

Hell welcomed Him

and knelt before Him

asking

if He had died

for them

as well.


III.             JUDAS

Betrayal isn't the greatest sin

It's despair.

God would have forgiven Judas

but he lost all hope

and so became
the only saint
in Hell.


RW
2010-2016

Crucifixion - Jackson Pollock




Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Sundays in Lent

Not a believer, but not one to discount the stories


The Temptation in the Wilderness
(Mark 4:  1-11)



After forty days
Of solitude and fasting
A man might gnaw at a stone
Thinking it was bread

Or grow wings
And fly
Around the cities of his mind

Or walk naked
Thinking
He were clothed,
Decorated,
And perfumed.

A man might do these things
And people might say
He was possessed.

I would say
He was
Hungry.




II.                The Transfiguration
(Mat 17: 1-13)

A Matter of Fact

Erie, Pennsylvania
   Starbucks
Like every Starbucks
   corporate living room
   filled with strangers

Nat King Cole
   on the sorta hip
   always inoffensive
   “juke-box”
   competing with
       the grinding
       and steaming
       of coffee.

I’m pondering
   a biblical summit meeting,
   Christ transfigured,
   locked in conversation
   with Moses and Elijah,
But what they’re talking about –
   I don’t know.

At the table
   next to mine
A gray-haired
   rolly-polly
   black man
Has made himself at home
   with crossword puzzle, newspapers,
   and prominent -
a brown, leather bound bible

I have a feeling
   he’d know
   and wouldn’t mind
   my asking:

“Excuse me,
   are you a student
     of scripture?”

“Yes.”

“Mathew 17
   Jesus on the mountain
   Peter, James, and Andrew.
Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah,
   what were they talking about?”

“Mathew 17,
   “Peter, James, and John,”
     he corrects,
“Jesus was thanking them
   for paving the way,
   and he was promising them
     he would continue the work.”

“The work.  What work?”

“Redemption.  It’s all about redemption.

And that
   was that,
Matter of fact,
   even as Nat King Cole
     lost his baby
     and almost lost his mind…

Even at Starbucks,

   It’s all about the work.



The Woman at the Well
(John 4:  4-42)


In the long shadowed evening
   In the first quiet of the day
He sat at the well’s edge
   And brushed a pebble
   That fell as lively as a star
   Down to Jacob’s water.

She walked
   Across the shadows
Balancing a jar on her shoulder
   With her shadow
     Clinging to her.

Who is this,
   She wondered,
And as the pebble touched water
   All her secrets
    Rippled between them.

He asked for a drink
   And she gave her eyes
He asked for food
   She opened her heart
He told her everything
   And she forgave him

And was never thirsty again.

But he,
    He would cry,

     “I…thirst!”



IV.             Sight to the Man Born Blind
(John 9:  1-41)

Left to his own devices
He would have perfected his blindness
And faded completely from this world.

But,
The prophet packed his eyes with mud
And as he washed himself at the river
The world assaulted him.

He found himself answering questions
That had nothing to do with sky, or sun,
Or the astonishing and transparent water
He held in his hands.

His frightened parents,
whose faces he didn’t know,
denied him.

Lawyers,
who considered the flash of wonder
in his gaze
criminal,
questioned and berated him.

The Prophet,
whom he loved,
used him as a lesson.

And then
the man born blind,
fled into the colors of the world
and disappeared from the story.



V.                The Raising of Lazarus
(John 11:  1-43)

Even Jesus
   Must have been
     frightened
   as he reached
   into darkness
    wrenched
    the spirit
     from beyond
     and forced it
          back
          into
     his friend’s
          body.

Even He
   must have been
 aghast
 at how nature roared
at this intrusion
 and Lazarus walked
     out of his stinking tomb.

   Even He
     must have
wondered and wept
as they embraced
and the wind
howled a sand storm
around them.





Tuesday, March 8, 2016

CRYING FOR A VISION













In this world
you could
cry for a vision

That short strip
of East Tenth Street
was a long walk
for a little kid

Sidewalk littered
with horse chestnuts

Horse and cart
rag man
clopping up the street
calling out for
                        Rags!
                        Rags!

Emma next door
Julia down the block
Leukemia wraith angel
            Richard
on a stoop
around the corner

You could cry
for a vision
you could holler

and get drunken
dads and uncles

Polish Falcons in their hearts

stumbling into houses
made of brooms and mops
holy water in the taps

bird daughter straining up
   from her crib
greedy for whatever
she can get

You could cry
you could holler

You could crawl on all fours
in your grandfather's living room
tattered wolf pelt on your back
and get a cane
across the ass
with a get-outta-here
snarled
worse than any wolf.

You could cry for a vision
   you could holler

You could sit on a rock
in an empty lot
grinning like the bag-of-bones
   you are
‘til the sun dries you up
and you’re just a skull
on your own bone pile
that some dog you thought
   was yours
is pissing on

And maybe
at that moment

a long haired
loose limbed
sun tanned
   kid

will come along
and laugh and

time
will
stop

as you
are illuminated
and become

that kid’s vision.


 


Saturday, January 30, 2016

MICHEL PETRUCCIANI
1962-1999
                   (for Steven Weinberg)




Michel Petrucciani

Osteogenesis Imperfecta

Glass Bones

1.

His first piano
was a toy.

He smashed it
with a hammer.

He said:  It was laughing at me.


2.

Michel Petrucciani
plays icicle music
blocs of chords
catch fire
go liquid
hang suspended -
aurora borealis of sound.


3.

Michel Pettruciani
is always in pain.


4.

Arpeggios are shards
raining from broken
skyscrapers.



6.

Michel plays
f above high c
over and again
again
over and again
again
over and again…

a current runs
from his finger
through his arm
down
and
up
his spine
over and again
again…


7.

Mother of Music
hold me in your comfort
keep me from concrete

Lift me above
this darkening pool
of my affliction.

Amen.


Michel plays:  Autumn Leaves