Monday, November 28, 2016


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…

CafĂ© 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.


The little violence

The murmur of violence

The unheeded violence

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

The little violence

Feeding on apathy
            dull consent

As etiquette, training, straight jackets

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

Or look for a Ghandi

Or look for a King

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

To lead us through

            this darkness

            this violence.


Dearly Departed

humbly beseech you

Saints and Sinners

Pray for Us

we are barbarians and fools

ora pro nobis
dona nobis pacem
miserere nobis


(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"; "Litany"

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.


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


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.


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


Passed out drunk
curiously warm
in a snow bank
in Montana

That's where he died.

That’s where they found him.

Here's another one:

Counting Cadence


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

outta Nam
to cool your heels
do your time
low profile



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


Couldn’t stay straight
couldn’t abide

pissed off
emptied out
fuck you

Fuck You

no matter who
no matter where

Universal Code of Military Justice

got him

Count Cadence!  Count:

Spec 4
court martial

Bring it on down:
sad eyed


sweet young

U.S. Army

made him a ghost

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

Sweet young sad eyed G.I.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016


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...


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