© 2017 . All rights reserved. DON YORTY FUCKING copy 3

Fucking

for Janis

A bedroom. North Philadelphia. 1972

Ouvrez-moi cette porte où je frappe en pleurant.

Open this door where I knock weeping.

I

I WILL COME TO YOU WITH A CANDLE BURNING
light a stick of incense
comb and braid your hair with sparrows’ feathers
gathered from the sidewalk
cinnamon, black-tinged, white with edges.
Sometimes it’s important not to see things as they are.
Who needs the certainty or the daylight?
When evening brings its shadows, let them grow
like mascara you smear on my eyelids
till they’re covered and I’m different.
When night’s fallen, hidden flesh
flesh is more than flesh is—
Let’s vanish there in kisses!

Before we wake and our voices
dissolve into larger noises
traffic jams and employments
where we mostly please our bosses
sparrows wake up high in cornices
along the marble ledges
where they’ve spent the night protected
in long rows
like crowns of silence sleeping
surrounding empty offices and unlit rooms.

They’ve no alarms, just start up
in the still dark sky, the sparrows
flying down to hedges
slipping from the branches
staying there suspended
unbending their heads out of their wings
shake-shaking off the dew to bring
my ear note at a time a song.

“Wake, wake,” they sing, “it’s dawn.”

I want to wake you with my tongue
not telling you, “Get up,” but to put
between your sleep stale lips, myself
wet kiss, foreplay, time enough
before I enter you, at last, come.
Orgasm’s never long.
Lust, promising union, satisfied’s illusion
separates us out of bed.
What an empty heat it is
gone quick, as flammable as these pages
where my words are written
though it’s sure sparrows will fly and follow
even as I write them singing
in our waking touching mouths.

II

MY PHALLUS IN A SHAFT OF MORNING SUNLIGHT
Shall we examine it and its environment?
Dust is also in this shaft of sunlight
in, out of it, on things as equally as the light
on the mattress and my books
the wine bottle and your eyelids.
And some flies are bouncing off the ceiling
rising, falling, chasing, sometimes copulating
through the air sending trails behind themselves
like smouldering tips of sticks swung at night.

Why do I let it bother me when a fly’s on my cheek
waking me from sleep diverting me from reading?
Why do I wave my hand at it?
One crawls my risen flesh
with the slightest tickling footsteps.

O my hardon! one-eyed son of Neptune
true offspring of unalterable sea
eater of both Greeks and sheep
so jealous and pent-up
you think nothing of crushing
your rival with a stone.
Always particular unless you’re desperate.
Samson’s jawbone
or virgin’s maypole tightly wound
with pink and yellow ribbons bound
by hands pink and innocent
among the lambkins and the butterflies.
A ball and chain for Sophocles
Muse of Whitman’s tenderest lines.
Where you lead, I will follow
sower of new generations, reaper and propeller.
It does no good to try and understand you.
I only know sometimes you aren’t
and then you are like a candle held out in the dark
showing both the passage and the step.

While Holly Woodlawn on the silver screen
doesn’t want us to know that she’s a man
making sure always that her thighs
are seen deceptively by our eyes
so it looks like she’s shoving a beer bottle in
the warm wet womb of a woman
when actually instead that cold glass neck
slams against her cock and balls
as she reaches through her actress moans
to hold hands with Joe Dallesandro
who’s so fucked up on junk he can’t fuck her
though this joining of hands we know makes them one:
Dallesandro and Holly are tenderest love.

Then a bucket of flowers, garlands of blood.

I see a Tiajuana donkey lean
arching toward the center of the room
where all eyes now gravitate
as it fills a straddled woman’s throat
on its hind hooves heehaws its tune
while about the saloon
between the clicks of castanets
señoritas sit
to masturbate
underneath the tables
with their long sharp fingers
American and Japanese businessmen
who are always away on business
even when they get to such exotic places
as this trashy porno show
though business they forget
soon as they go
squirming on their sweaty asses
transformed through muscular spasms
of buttocks contortions
unloosing in the virtuosi hands
of these señoritas
tightening strings of skin
tuned now to perfect pitch
all quivering:
their cocks are violins
and all within’s a chorus, sings
they this music playing
they what they are hearing
though all we see’s
their buttocks squeeze
as their hands grab
onto
the edges of tables
white knuckles, cheeks blushing
on each face pulling
into itself
the expression of feeling
ecstasy
which looks like pain seen physically
so we could in fact be seeing
on each face twitching
death
like it twitched on the face
of Sharon Tate
hung from a rafter expecting it
at any moment.

Bound she waits, pleads and weeps
“Why are you doing this to me?”
But she never gets an answer
that’s satisfactory
from Charlie’s psychedelic zombies.

“Take this, you bitch!”
One of them stabs
her as she sees
her final second flee
a short distance from her
to cover its ears and close its eyes
so it can’t look or hear.

“O my precious final second, please
don’t leave me here alone
don’t go and leave me now
with these strange and pretty
well-fed children
not touching me with fingers
but with knives
in my final surmise
who’ve made me realize
any feeling’s quite all right
if it tells you you’re alive.
Even this is kind of nice
these slices of ice
into my heart, my baby, belly, thighs.”

Then her body falls.
Now Sharon’s
expressionless, barren
relaxing from the horror
and even that forgets
no movement in her flesh, but rottenness
moving her toward soundless sidelessness.

Before Time comes, takes her away
look at the face of Sharon Tate
all you who desire such things as fame
and with wide-opened eyes
see only what you want.
Here for one moment stay
and for one moment gaze
no weeping now for Adonais
no thinking of poor Phlebas
no Kaddish for Naomi.
Here now the last has gone
and that was poetry.
What use is it to pray
or look away?
Simply see the Sea of Galilee
ITT
Pepsi Cola and Oklahoma
with everything you’ve ever done
or hope to do or might think of
one day will be the dust
that really doesn’t matter much
shifting like the sand
sifting through the fingers on a hand
in some far off distant light year time and land
when you and I and all we’ve known
has gone to be with Sharon
which will be then not now
where we are if you remember
in Tiajuana
with American and Japanese businessmen
observing them
within their buttocks squeezing
immense with feeing
intense with a feeling
into which they are contracting
they’re soon smaller than the atom
and then smaller than that
and then smaller than that
being
the smallest of things being
which is when they start growing
the largest, themselves
what they are approaching
their moment coming of ejaculation
that has their tendons tightening tightly
round their bones
squeezing the essence of purest pleasure
out of their very cores
like the last bit of juice
you suck from an orange
you hold and squeeze between your palms
as underground pressures below and above
one day will push sand and fossils of us
into stone
where our carbon in one eon
will make a diamond
out of pressure and with Time
as poems are made in the mind
where thoughts touched by flesh
within centuries of a second are pressed
into many layers of illuminous words:
crystal sparkles flashes of light
that is the Light but another’s light
who’s caught the Light
sending it right into our eyes
where it always was we realize
zapped understood with sudden sight
like lightning at night
when it cracks through the black
like a crack spreads through glass as you see
a river spreading its tributaries
searching centuries across land for sea
shooting roots down the dark
in the growing of one summer’s month
invading, passing through with touch
to circumvent or clutch
as fingers on a frog’s back
will make it jump
and the heart goes thump
and Hart Crane leaps into the deep
to meet, just meat, sharks’ teeth.
It hurts! that first initial thrust
making making for us
like a thunderhead above us
coming at us
shooting bolts of overload.

Shake butter from the cream
Get hard and freeze
to crack a wall
though you happen very slow
until you do like earthquakes come
and then it’s Now!
Crack white light slivers from a cloud.
Spread mold upon the bread and dead
moss upon the stone
tumors in our brains and on our bones.
Appear like fireworks explode. Go boom.
Flash and thunder. O loud sound.
Descend in approach of storm
you thunderbolts!
sending before yourselves
the wind that lifts the limbs of trees
the leaves, the grass, the dust
and all of Nature giving itself up.

In preparation for the rain
no tree fights the wind
but sways and bends the best it can.
Soon thirst will end, but first
put your ear close to the earth
and hear the crickets and cicadas chirr
so very near they sear our souls
and chirring whirr in higher pitches
as the rain begins to fall
in folds of wind upon them
a crack of lightning opens the night
with light like day but quickly out
where all is seen so clearly
but only for a moment
eyes opening and shutting
the snapping of a camera’s shutter
where what I saw was real, no dream
I seem to dream in darkness once again
vision caught on glossy photos
I can bend, burn, see yellow
holding your face in youth as I wither
growing wiser, older and so on.
What am I now forgetting?
O premonitions of eternity!
Brains of flame, seen symphonies
those businessmen are being
held in the hands of señoritas
out of which emanates all feeling
beyond their hearts even beating
ticking out their time so punctually.

Though at one table sits a man
who isn’t listening with a señorita
nor is he watching that point in space
where cock of donkey beast
pink, splotched and warted
becomes woman-throated.
Just out of jail, spectacled blinks
eyes veiled in paregoric
William Burroughs sits
stroking a brown-skinned boy
he found down at the docks
sitting on a box of door locks
at high noon under the hot sun
without a shadow
and he didn’t want one.

Now he kneels beneath the table
where the muchacho sits
drinking his beer
unzips the little prick
makes it all wet
hardens it
says:
“Flesh is the dope uncut.
Boy, you not words be in my mouth.”

“Burroughs, I’d rather not,” Socrates says
centuries of tables away from him
then points to the cup at his lips:
“In here’s hemlock I’ve chosen.
I have faith in the poison.
Death’s the cure I’ve accepted to make an end
of my constantly solving of problems which
turns up more problems infinite.
Life’s like my wife, hysterical screams, constant strife
who says, ‘What’s it worth, all your talk?
When I’m broke and you’re gone, who’ll feed our son?’
Well, I don’t care. I’m done.
Just being was occupation enough
a boat I ran to catch
missed at the end of the dock.
Bon Voyage. Life goes on and I won’t
though my logic like numbers does.
An arguments infernal
two warring thoughts, not one kernel.
If anything’s eternal
it would be an argument
truly sterile
though nothing’s eternal
not even the sterile.
There is something happening
but it’s hid
and nobody here knows anything
never will, never did.
Fake prophets, fake sciences, religion.
Behold the Pagan Christian
his answers bring him questions
and lusts meet sin.
‘Hello,’ says Perversion, ‘can I come in
innocent as television, cute as Narcissus?’

“Now is the time of the Assassins!
Of suicide I’m singing
I sing of subjective killings
when every exhibitionist shall have his voyeur
and the death of imagined things
fertilizes the birth of what is
but oh what bitterness when apple’s bit
and Snow White’s laid in the glass crypt
of what should have been but never is
of what’s not forgot but is not
of all you’ve lost and it’s your fault
like when I was stumbling drunk
from my neck a very precious
sentimental scarf slipped off
and on I walked.
It’s hard to accept the death of possessions.
There Tamar wonders, Where is Onan?
Orpheus weeps for his past moment
to die the death of poets
who’ve dreamed of Love’s Utopia
beyond the eye’s myopia
disease of sight
where all boils down to cowardice.
No way to get around it.
All understand, all know
yet sad but true so few ever do
put on the eyeglasses of themselves
to look at the world
fucking’s just a metaphor anymore.
The Past and Future live.
Now gives up all to them.
Now’s dead and dead men don’t ask why.
The worst once over is all right.
With death I say comes paradise.”

“Socrates, perhaps so,”
replies William Burroughs. “Death’s
one place I haven’t had a chance to go.
I like to talk about it though, and if you want I will
but that’s all you can do. Words are but doors
leading into that room, experience
where if you haven’t been what good is it?
The word you stand before but don’t go in
go knock, ask it out make out with it.
The word like sex and dope is mostly what you bring.
Yourself, words mean as much. Wanna talk?
What were we talking about? Oh yes death.
Just talking of death is a thrill, don’t you think?
Sort of like when you’re getting sloppy with the needle
no longer figuring your limit beyond all measuring
or caring what this stuff is you’re cooking in the spoon
with an air of indifference though you of course wonder
Is this it? Am I snuffed or am I blissed?
As you’re sticking it in, there’s nothing quite like it
the rush as you’re booting thumb pressing and shooting
what might be death coming, the moment so fleeting
flesh meeting death, flesh parting.

“Sure it’s sad when the party’s over
but you always recover from your hangover
and I can’t tell you more than this:
there is no bliss like a kiss
even the parting kiss before the abyss
of being missed not yet missed
when it’s a kiss that’s two made one
by a most delicate heat, this fusion
which will remain nameless though I call it affection
no miracle but all there is, will be, was, always whole
when we’ve met in sync keeping the beat
like if you snap your fingers you can hear it click
switch the light on to the truth of this moment
lying nude like, ah, nude food, cooked dope in the spoon.

“There’s no mistaking it when we’re definite.
A spoken word, articulate that means what it says
you know what you’ll get when you take it to bed.
Sounds boring, doesn’t it? But not so.
It’s always new, original unfolding the telling
the story of you are the truth you can depend on
its cement will hold on, go on, nice
but I don’t know about paradise.

“Like I said you’re just honest innocent
doing what you always did since you’ve ever been
underneath it all there before anything
in the beginning was the word
and the word wasn’t talking
the word was fucking. Wanna do it?
But not Rock and Roll like I’m listening to
Chuck Berry sing how he’s catching Maybellene
at the top of the hill in her Coupe de Ville
when what he really means is he’s fucking her
which he couldn’t have sung when he wrote the song
it just wasn’t done. So here Chuck comes
driving in his metaphor: V 8 Ford and Cadillac
him and Maybellene. Within speed
and the American Dream he hides his fucking
a poetic turn accepted, which gets him
rich and famous though first and foremost
lovers are where we should be at
so here I am, poet, laundromat
washing the words until we see
no Ford and Coupe de Ville in a daredevil chase
advancing toward the possible which already is
Chuck and Maybellene making it.
What’s meant, let that be said.
Everything knows what it is
nothing likes to keep it hid.
Perverts are first closet queens.
Wicked can’t say what it means.”

Then Burroughs is
with his fingers pressing in
sucking off the Mexican kid.
No, to touch isn’t much
it’s just every little thing
even to be on the outside drinking
one whole generation of spermatozoa
as they wriggle, fight and struggle
in gobs of spurts of little jerky jerks
dog eat dog, macho and very Machiavellian
for the sperm that’s first hasn’t just won
it is the only one
which is all each of them cares to know
hurrying down William Burrough’s throat
to cry at last, “Alas, all’s useless!”
when they feel the flames of the digestive juices
eating at them. Like the sparks of spark plugs
poof! they’re gone but the engine hums
and they are with Buddha. O Luscious Nirvana!
Thy will be done not to become but unbecome.

III

FROM ONE END OF SODOM TO THE OTHER OF GOMORAH
I once walked hand in hand with Jehovah.
He didn’t blink an eye. Just don’t try
to rape his angels. Always ask.
Pan means all: he was half-goat.
Priapus is proper in the garden.
Bacchus with his Grapevines entwines the Oars
and sends the Sailors jumping mad into the Sea
to Dolphins changed in Whips of Waves
where Mothers turn upon their Sons
tearing them Limb from Limb
stuffing them in their Wombs again.
Old time orgy’s what I am when I’m in you coming
hissing out the sun. I’m like the sea
torn from the land in waves that come
to lift to fall not on but into sand
as flame will into ash or breath to death
the wood that’s ash never to be the wood again
where I now dip a finger not penitent
but with a vague regret? What was it?
What is gone? I can’t recall orgasm.
And you asleep arms legs round me
like spokes without a rim I want to shake awake and ask,
“What we began shall we begin?”

But I don’t.
I know sometimes you won’t.
Love, I can’t bear rejection.
Until you ask I’m passive.
I’m waiting, Love, I’m waiting.

Oh well okay I’ll masturbate
myself my gift. I too can sleep.
Ultimately I do not give a damn
but dream my mother in a garden
giving head to morning glories.
When every tendril’s entered in
she says, “Now it’s time to load the guns.
We’re like a field in the spring still fallow
full of the husks and broken stalks
of last year’s harvest;
dandelions grow in us and the wild mustard
under whose new pretty useless yellow flowers
freshly whelped rabbits are sucking milk
out of their mothers
while pregnant turtles swim into the earth
with separating claws.

All blossoms now for fertilizer!
All bodies shall be sliced beneath the plow!
Let’s to the final sowing.
We are in need of new things growing
not for now, this moment’s pleasure
but for a future necessary hunger.
There’s always a little slaughter
before we take of nourishment.

Mass murder is a worthy occupation nowadays.
What keeps you, my son? Pave the way.
Dole out the bullets into the hands of those
who’ll come, all of them Rejected Ones:
the criminals, the retarded, the foreign, the strange
ugliness stripped naked dragged behind horses
beaten through the ancient winding streets
where many gather to abuse them
or not lift a finger in protest
gazing a gaze that looks like hate
yet underneath what longs and waits
and wants so bad to congregate
it does so in a mob for lynching
as quickly as a drinking glass will shatter
into invisibly dangerous slivers
slipped irretrievably from your fingers
or drops of rain down a windowpane
zigzag to meet and are the same
ooze that snakes in long flat puddles
certain faces squirm together
to observe in number what separately they’d flee:
man’s inhumanity to man, that scene
where once assured it’s not for me
I can watch comfortably
what makes the adder and the lone wolf
coil and snarl at my hand.

Beasts smell my flower, run and cower
before my bud, my one and only one
on its thorny yearning stem of tender wood
a rose misunderstood blooming with a blood
like a cobra spreads its hood
blossom a skull with skin
but you can’t see in even when it smiles
some horror twists within its eyes
that never blink and always stare you down
unfathomable, impenetrable, most often said
to grow in the garden of your enemy which is
(if you’re of my time born circa 1949
shortly after the Japanese and goosestepping Nazis
with the dust of the Jews on the soles of their shoes) Russia
who made me get under my desk in elementary school
to practice for when it would drop the bomb
and I covered my eyes to keep out the glass
that would fly from the windows
when the mushroom flashed
and I didn’t have time to get home and die
with Mommy and Daddy and Rexy, the dog
but I had to do it all alone

Kaboom!

Now from Boston to DC it’s a big hole
the Atlantic’s lapping at Cleveland, Ohio
while my little poisoned particles are floating down
on the grass the cows are munching outside
Lincoln, Nebraska where anybody drinking
a glass of milk from now until forever
can only offspring retarded mutant lizards
much like the Creature from the Black Lagoon
who wants what every other creature does:
to be looked at, met, understood
not killing all it clutches
in its wet slippery algaed clutches
weeping all its laughter
as it walks from the Statue of Liberty to Alaska
up the Saint Lawrence Seaway on the bellies of fishes
while those still human live locked in cellars
distilling their piss and eating soda crackers
till they can come out maybe two centuries later
white as pus and very much thinner
to start from scratch in a land of dust
not radioactive but out of which
cockroaches hatch the size of elephants
and they’d like you for dinner.

When the sirens ended I uncovered my head
no longer pretended, but sat at my desk
fearing someone I’d never met, a communist
something that hadn’t been, Apocalypse.
while my teacher pointed a safe distance back
to Simon Legree whipping his blacks
Cortez mowing down hospitable Aztecs
mad Ivan boiling a dwarf for a joke
Nero fucking his mother while the Christians smoked.
And all the bad things others did and do
they never hide from you
but when the time comes to view yourself
which is in part the land you walk
a few volumes are taken from the shelf.

America, let your school children know
how you stole the Old West from Mexico.
All you tell them’s the Alamo.
You can’t defend the truth; it defends you.
Didn’t you think we’d love you
if you opened your closet for our view
to show us your skeletons piled onto piles
the sins of our fathers, this karma of empires
where to be number one means you step on someone
until someone comes and then you’re stepped on?
Even whores for war can’t take that much:
fuck a bucket of guts, it’ll make you a little nuts.
What did you think your little boys would do
though you fed them on Little League and Walt Disney too
when you stuck them in a rice paddy far from you?

Six million Jews once dug a ditch
then they were shot and thrown in it.
Garcia Lorca in a ditch.
In My Lai there was a ditch.
See the baby in that ditch
flying from its mother’s tit
in the moment it’s blown to bits
shards for freedom peace no where
but piece of eye, piece of hair
over here, over there.

When the truth hurts feel the pain;
truth’s pain soon eases then you can start again.
America, tell me I want to know
why the saddle horns of my proud nation bore
the hacked off sex of Apache squaws
why making love is making war
and pull with me a flower by the roots
out of the swamp of the human heart
where pity is the kindest cruelty, pettiness a seed
man’s low opinion of himself the loam where it breeds.
See where these roots feed.
Follow the roots’ tendrils through the pebbles
till they come to the end of themselves
to take into themselves what’s not themselves
but you’ll never see it
because all moves there and obscures it
clings, clutches there and covers it
but you can almost hear it, sounds
like a mouth drawing all in
through a hole so small it’s infinite
bottomless eternal hungering.

The nourishment is where we are not
and there we go to meet it
tear with our teeth and eat it
with hands reached out complete it.
Need bleeds, blood breathes
and you and I are we
at that point where groin on groin
Love’s purest expression’s born
when out of us a third is torn.

Cut the umbilical cord! Let it alone
a new creation formed into time
not of us now, it has its own mind
so new we haven’t named it
all bloody yet with still sealed eyes
but look! the eyelids flutter
and are rising to bare the eyes
but still our infant’s blind
because the light’s too bright
and this the Light knows
so wanting to be helpful
draws the line, absences itself.

There is no light where we draw the line
over the paper pulling a pencil
to make up pictures or curlicue our words
putting lines around ideas in our minds
the way lines put objects in our eyes.
First to disappear into the night
first to appear in the morning’s the line
Light’s gift of sight to us
but also its paradox
the way it makes us desperate
thinking we’re all separate
so even Jesus cursed a fig and fell
asking the thief on Calvary Hill
“Do you believe in me?”

Said the thief, “As far as I can see.”

To which Jesus replied matter of factly
“You sniveling piece of human profanity
I’m going to take all the flames of Nagasaki
and shove them up your ass eternally!”
which he did, the son of Love
when he gave that thief a shove
and dolly ding dong dell cast him into hell.

O little pink babe, encompass all
accept, don’t reject, make all possible
because Love’s cruel in minds kept small
casting things down that will not mirror it
then risen there it smiles on a landscape
smouldering, napalmed as Vietnam’s
severed heads and splintered mouths.

We are so full of Love.
Why do we beat it with a thousand sticks?
Why do we make it furious?
It stays, it cowers in us
waiting for another’s hand
not to abuse but bloom us.
And we are like a crayfish
swimming backward through our souls
with tail curled into belly
and our claws outstretched
so ready and so full of fear
of what we never see
what stirs as sticks the surface of our minds
that muddy stirring when we spit
on those who have no choosing what they are.

What wretch have we hung from the gallows pole?
Who’s still hanging there after we go
back to our houses to sleep and to snore
in snugly warm beds behind bolted doors?
Corpse hard and cold without its soul
like earth in the winter when sowers can’t sow
in fields that are hidden under the snow
where streams that were flowing no longer flow.
Try as you might you can’t look at the face:
twa corbies now fly there and Time’s had its way.
Love, wipe off your spit gobbed full of stars
shining like diamonds and one lacy flower
then wipe off the skin under your spit
down passed the bruises blue from your kick
pull out each maggot, get passed the stink
swim through the blood where the jackals drink
inside of marrow inside of bone
to wipe and to wipe till all’s finally gone
but a little bit of grace when you come face to face
with the face that you hate: it’s your own.

“Happy sowing,” Mother said
then they put a bullet though our heads
Rejected Ones
turning to their lone directions
out of the garden down from the mountain
across the river into the city
of all you waiting who are sleeping
but get up when you hear the knocking
with your hand come open to the knob
thinking it’s a lover
unaware no kiss has come
or even that you wait
for what you haven’t asked
to put your blood upon the final stair.

IV

I GO INTO THE FOREST ALONE AND HIDDEN
in the ever breathing
to dig an indenture with my fingers
and undressing, kneeling down
pierce the dead leaves
to move among the earthworms
balled in the mouths of corpses
out of which all things come growing
so occupied with the desire
I had no choice in choosing
but endlessly complete
I do not crush or brush away
the gnat and deer fly lighting
on my buttocks, shoulders, thighs
sucking their existence from my skin.
I let them knowing I am
nothing more and nothing less
than a sustenance for others needing
what they have no choice in choosing.
I clutch the grass with tightened fists
and kiss the orb that held my birth
and holds my death
spinning me through the universe
toward universes limitless
as one slender vine of wild rose
comes to scrape along my ribs.

V

I’VE SMOKED A THOUSAND CIGARETTES AND WATCHED YOU SLEEP
Your Raphael angel curls Your bee stung lips
Dare I touch you where the sun hasn’t? Dare I say wake?
There is the smell of pepper in your armpits, but not rank.
About your thighs and tendrils is the smell of moss
in late August
when everything is close and green and out of my pocket
I take a harmonica to serenade the nothingness
to lean against a tree. I play an ancient tragedy
a blues heard best sung by black women or Janis Joplin
who once lived told that she was ugly and repulsed men.
In the needing to forget that
in the drinking and the fucking that away
Janis is gone one day
but for her voice that sings
on records as they spin
the clearest and most precious pain
it always brings me joy:

“Love comes to me, not me to Love.
That’s how it is, it can’t be helped
Love is my master because Love is all I’m after.
Last night Love treat me right but came home tonight
drunk, blackened my eye, knocked out two of my teeth
now’s gone to be with somebody else instead of me
while I weep till I’m weak for a week
but when Love comes back oh Lord Love’s sweet
Love’s paradise, I’ve never had it so nice
laying with Love in bed with Love and it’s night
Love strikes a match and Love’s light
when Love’s face comes out of the dark
puffing on a cigarette Love hands to me
so I puff on it and glows the red tip.
When there’s light I look, when it’s dark I touch
and all about’s tobacco smoke, tobacco smoke.
Sometimes I get so drunk, I throw up
or I shoot up, nod out. No, nobody wants much
they just want to fuck so fuck them I say
and I fuck them. Anyway
if I’m Love’s slave when Love comes knocking
wanting in, it’s me lifts the latch and lets Love in.
I choose to sing the blues.
The booze I choose. I pick what shit I shoot.
Love comes and Love goes so let Love control.
Those who control never can roam
but must stay at home, don’t do what they want
just hold down the fort with their rifles out
on the lookout for feathers on the horizon
that grow into the heads of Indians
with faces painted and war whooping
growing larger coming at them
with those feathers in their braids got
when they chopped up the hen they caught pleading
covering her eggs in her nest with her wings.

“You don’t fly if you’re not high and you’re not high
if you hold the kite by the string and it’s you
who’s turning the thing
but you’re not the thing turning
up through the windy distances
almost unseeable and out of your reach
though I spin through the air at the flick of your wrist
Love, holder of my reins, you must stay holding them.
Where you are right now this hour
there you’ll be tomorrow
so soon you’re just a bore. I want it different than before.
Here are some chains. Go hang me on the wall.
And here’s all kinds of nails, a whip. Can you do it?”

Janis, despite it all: earthquakes and what comes after
quick slit in earth like opening legs split into chasm
I envy your multiple orgasm
and think of it when sliding a needle into my vein
where after booting I nod off in waves
to unlivable landscapes of impossible dreams.
I really seem to cream a flock of cherubim that flutter
rub me all over with oils, sweet warm butter
tongue licks and lightly fingertips: I’m coming
over the ocean up in the blue sky
into the sunlight that white light so right light
of worlds and skies, all seas of feeling
where every creature in me living knows it.
Nothing’s concealed, all is revealed
like I’ve imagined it to be at a successful orgy
though orgies I’ve attended never got anywhere:
a room full of fucking still boils down to pairs.
You can take it as far as a ménage à trois
but after that forget it, Jack:
four people in bed are two couples instead.
The secret’s in three; three can touch three
and that’s endless energy, the power is mighty
but when you’ve got more than three
someone’s not touching somebody
and if you get involved with too many
you have to know geography, mathematics
and choreography.
To be comfortably fucked while you’re fucking
is a goal worth having.
To shoot and be what you’re shooting
that would be something.

“I’ve had a fight with Amphetamines.
When Speed comes knocking I’m not around;
Speed lifts me up to put me down
but I’ve got a thing for Heroin;
only by going down do I rise again
as sure as through Joy I’m sure to descend
as sure as through Sadness I always ascend.
If the sun rises it had to set.
Hardon, hardoff, hardon again.
In dark of night I’m most aware of it, a circle
that tail of the snake in the mouth of the same
69, you are mine
the thought and the deed one thing complete
your mind, the tide,
wedding rings slipped on two fingers
the sphincter relaxed gently
giving way to a round entry
or 24 hours as they’re making a circle
round your head like a crown of thorns
pressed in by fingertips placed carefully
between those points of scorn
that intrude into you more than you’d like them to
so you bleed. Once again it’s morning.
You get up naked out of bed leaving Love
to put on some clothes, go to the bathroom
pass water, brush your teeth with Arm & Hammer
smell your armpits, maybe shower
look in the mirror to take off your face
relaxed as death and all gentleness
the one you wear in unwatched darkness
to put on the face for the eyes of your office
the one that pulls into a tightness
and makes you breathe in little breaths
that fill you up with gas
so you often get up to go fart in the closet
smelling your own stink stinking the darkness
among the hung coats of liberal bureaucrats
and the secretary’s lunch you just stepped in
without a touch of embarrassment;
then there are the seasons:
winter’s phony celibate, summer’s false fullness
with Love’s favorites soonest over
metamorphic Spring, Autumn;
in mouths; the rise and fall of empires and conversations;
the unfolding of a fragrant blossom as it opens
then there is the pollen, a still point in space gets startled
happens, this circle we call “moment”
where from now on all spreads out through the infinite
like LSD you’ve licked off of your fingertip
that takes you everywhere which isn’t anywhere
but where you are right now which isn’t very far
although the journey’s hard till you’re the journey
and there you are like a diver dives in the ocean
just like a diver dives in the ocean
the bottom so distant no diver can reach it
pushing aside ocean into more ocean within ocean
getting nearer deeply closer all the time
to that thin dividing line that’s the pupil of your eye
telling inside what’s outside.

And Janis, you’re a circle
spreading beneath me throughout the galaxies.
You fall away from me with my saliva on your lips.
I am a dry stone flung upon dry land
and pleasure is a tear I shed.
Why do you think I kissed your breast?
For you, some altruistic reason?
Wanting you is as impossible to escape
as drinking water or moving my bowels.
It’s indescribable, the urge to touch
yet I am discarded,
one of so many interchangable drones
as easily drained as easily dead
while you are off above the trees
fertile and full of the civilization
I have, my Queen, injected.

You’re everywhere as I’m piercing your thighs
water not pierced by my oils, I’m
just one little point in time.
At least it seems this way to me subjectively.
I think your vagina is eastern
like the lotus of Buddha and the third of Krishna
where all consciousness is shining
where we’re walking where sacred cows are mooing
down streets of too many unlooked at and starving
but you say, “It’s okay;
there are rich people too and they’re eating,
in each other’s arms two lovers are nibbling.
Understand, my man, there’s yang and yin
but you must transcend them to everything
is everything for out of that I, woman, spread
and would if I could take you in
like a white corpuscle surrounding what’s alien.
I’m appetite and you’re what’s for dinner tonight.
Like a string of spaghetti I’m sucking you in
and if you were an eternal plate of it
a million years from now I’d still be sucking it
through my vertical lips thin as a pin and hungering.”

Janis, I do not move from a slimed hole like you
to emanate, surround and take truth in
but like a stream down a mountain
splashing in gravity to sea
a straight line I’m on, I’m very Protestant,
I know in Aesop’s race the turtle won,
that there was a spider that tried and tried
until it did spin a web in Scotland,
from here to there, me to you
the shortest way’s a straight line
and I’m on mine even pushing you aside
inside your slippery insides
where inside the head of my prick’s a hive
where a million zillion bees are buzzing
honey pouches empty
and all worried they won’t get any
pushing and shoving buzzing and buzzing
with their stingers out and it’s all very ouch
but kind of nice, such a rush
because there’s just one little hole
for us all to go through and when I do
I make a beeline for the bower
like I’m in a car going ninety miles an hour
when up comes this flower like a brick wall.
Smashed smithereens of honey gore
is as intense as you can get
but then that’s that, over.

I’m Western Man:
my lust rises like a hollow fang
full then empty then full again.
I preach togetherness
but practice the separateness
and it was awful when I approached it
the black bird took wing, the rabbit ran
the snake glided all all away from me.
And I was like a dog tied to its little house
going no further than my chain allowed
tearing at the grass
making the earth bare with my chain’s scraping.

O Love, forever come,
don’t fly up to some branch I can’t reach
but take the chain off of my neck
to fling it in that sea
where there is a shark
a slish slash on the wrist
when the razor’s nearer to me than my flesh
and oh this gnawing that’s the smell of roses
that comes after pruning all that’s dead
before the peeping little leaves
can unfurl quietly like flames
to whisper in the wind, “I am,”
with all the buds unfolding
bloomed red then truly dying is the rose
as on your face when looking
my flesh pretended stone;
now as the detumescent petals float
out of the bower
bald birds peck hatching gaping
eyeless gaping mouths
in the soft drift of approach of dark
of the twilight hour
within the thorny limbs young hunger peeps,
“we need, we need.”

Of course we need.
The trouble is a mouth can’t say this wordless thing
that’s understood and said so easily between eyes.
Even in the eyes of children throwing a ball at play
or in the eyes of your grandmother dying
full of cancer more vast than the Roman Empire inside her
as you bend down to kiss her. She’s too weak to hug you
yet you know she still knows you:
right there in her eyes she is
shining among all that withering
Grandma who groans then her eyes close
and I’m kissing a stone I’ve picked out of a stream
pressing my lips tasting incredibly clear water
smack dab against the unenterable hard cold shock of it:
what knew me doesn’t, what I know isn’t
now all is useless emptiness, pointless in grief I weep
when out of Grandma’s cunt a hand comes
without flesh, no rottenness, just bone
like an ice cube that smokes so cold
I would have stayed stuck, but
when it took my hand to shake and gripped
Grandma’s womb warm dripped
squeezed out between our palms
and intertwined fingers a separation yet
kept from each other midst a slippery salvation
I slipped out of drips slick as drooled spit
on the lips of a tiger shaking a gazelle by the neck
while out of its paws unzipping its claws to rip:
“Hello,” Death said, “I’m glad we’ve finally met.
I am the truth. Come closer and I’ll whisper it.”

Now I gnawed always by a secret
was scared shitless but listened hearing nothing:
Death wasn’t there, only silence and my tears
though I know Death will one day appear to me again
as quickly as an accident or something I forget
and I admit it, I am curious, I wait for death
like factory workers wait for their trains
that took them to work to bring them home again.
I’ve sat with them on a subway bench
among lunch buckets, newspapers and cigarettes
thinking how this world of ours, its bombs and locks
without stop goes passing by on a conveyor belt
and I thought we are what we’re touching
and I didn’t think very much of them
the no good factory fodder, raked leaves for the fire:
it wasn’t good-bye but their smoke made me cry
soldiers for sons and very loose daughters
who get knocked up, quick grow old
but keep the thing going.

Up against the wall the working class stood
leaning back or standing in flocks
staring down at the tracks that now begin to tremble
like you’re just about ready to stick in the needle
when down in the tunnel I hear the train’s coming
for them here now standing waiting doing nothing
which is what I think of them nothing
gazing dispassionate from face to face
on sleepy looks emotionless; not one I think’s awake
until I see around one eye a line of red
and knew that eye had cried laughing so hard
the tears had to come or crying over a sentiment
that meant something to that eye alone
or crying perhaps because it’s a fact
this world holds more sadness than you can shake a stick at.
We humans get to shed more tears than oceans can put back.

Then I looked until that eye saw me
and I saw that eye trembled because it was seen.
What’s seen you know, what you know you can hold
what you hold you can destroy as quickly as a thin tea cup
or any delicate joy like the wing of a butterfly
like this eye that was a soul
a thing that felt, a thing that knows
one thing that’s understood and there it was.

Then I looked from that eye to the many
and saw inside each was as vast as me
aliens from distant universes
mixed together in the same sea of we.
And what if we should meet?
The things we would show
for the things we would see
I trembled to think ready to faint
stood up before them and loudly said
in the noise of the train that was growing:

“Where have we met?
Almost, almost I can remember it.
Why are you as dear to me as my own breath?
Why is there a hurt in it? Strangers, I want to kiss
for strangers are not strangers when they kiss
and what is love but this: a kiss is not isn’t
and to you I’d gladly give it
but worse than Narcissus Narcissus kissed
are you if you abhor yourself yet wait
wanting to be adored
or cling to me as ivy does a wall.
Look to yourselves for love
to me for something else, the touch.
There is no love but love of self
it is the core all else spreads from.
Look to your own souls, be it
conjure your visions and let me see them
but don’t lift your eyes for my comment.
Whatever you must do go do it
it’s you who must enjoy it
you’re not in my employment
I can’t give you a raise
and praise is sought only by Self Contempt
who is barren and unable to make a go of it
needing more and more flattery til o.d.ing on it.
Woe to the famous who don’t know how they got there.
Looking down through bottomless air
they see a winding steep undescendable stair
while all about come vultures
and other tailfin groupie horrors
out of total darkness to tear at them as they wonder
What do they want from me? Why do they care?
But those who are known who know all is unknown
and it’s out of that comes what you take to make
what you are and what you own
they are alone where you see them
scrape and howl at the wall of the impossible
but what you don’t see underneath there it’s calm
and it’s like Aretha, Miss Port in the Storm.
Your voice I can’t give you nor should I have to
and if you cling so that I feel I can’t get loose
I’ll want to go but you’ll say cruel.”

Meanwhile as I talked the train had come
and when I was finished the train had gone
left me standing all alone
on a platform underground
in the City of Brotherly Love.

Janis, wake up. In my closet hangs a belt.
Get it for me. It’s of leather, one I no longer wear
since becoming vegetarian and believing it’s better
to alleviate all pain even to the bellowing
stripped off the backs of cattle hung off hooks in Chicago
where Delta bluesmen used to work
when no one would pay to hear them play
and they sat to contemplate the killing floor
as the sun sank from the door
in the growing lightbulb’s glow
about which flies buzzed full of gore
as they strummed and strummed their weeping chords
to salve and soothe their savage souls
in the abbatoir of night with their eyes shut tight.

A belt
my favorite
iron buckle like a claw
easy to put on or take off
if you’re just about ready to make love
or you’re standing in Indiana by some road
with your thumb out also snapping it
and your foot you’re tapping it
to the beat of eternity
which is the rock and roll of Bo Didley
when a car stops full of grown men.
One of them sticks his head out the window
surprising you to see he’s the same age you are
when he says: “The West was won with a gun
that’s how it’s done
and that’s how we’ll do it in Vietnam.
Leave it if you don’t love it
you long-haired commie faggot
while I give you a haircut
my buddies are gonna hold you down
one by one choke their cocks in your mouth
then to while away the afternoon
we’re going to beat you black and blue.”
Which is when it gets very simple:
I just swing off my belt so the buckle
hits him on the temple.

I wore it years ago when I was of the street
full of revolution one of many children
who hitchhiked on the highways
slept under the stars
marched into the Capitol to protest war
and anything we had we’d give it to you free:
our genitals, our clothes, our LSD
till what was in us moving was also moving you
through the streets a great crowd of Love
walking all around. Above us flew a dove
flying in the sun way up and out of reach
but descending on its own a black dot yet
in all that light of illuminating possibility
so sure to be because we’d seen it
when we knocked at the door of the president
and shouted, “Let us in!” he came and he stood
but he wouldn’t, only said, “What do you want?”

We said, “War to end.”

“No,” said the president, “I have to control.
If there’s no war the world won’t go our way
no way, no, and by the way go fight it
go fight for me my war.”

“Hell no!” we said: “We won’t go!”

“Trust me,” said the president.
“I know how the world must go.”

“How do you know how the world must go
if you hold onto it and won’t let it go?
Let the world go and watch where it goes
then you can follow it and then you will know.
Relax, sit back,
smoke dope for an hour, look at the flowers.”

“Where in that,” said the president, “is the power?
You need power in this world of ours
or they’ll shoot you for sure and put you under the flowers.”

We shouted, “You haven’t the power!”

“But I do,” he said, “I gathered it
in the wee dark hours when you were all sleeping
and no one was looking. I made a chain of it
and locked it on you.” He held up in his hand
the green face of George Washington:
“A dollar is power; it bought me this gun.”
As he showed us putting the bullet in
the dove from above was descending.

“Here comes peace,” we said, “can’t you see it?”

“It’s just a bird,” said the president and he shot it.

“It’s just a bird,” said the congress and they cooked it.

“It’s just a bird,” said the generals and they ate it.

“It’s just our sons,” said the people and they buried it
wept bitterly, cried out, “How come?”
and the land was dark as a tomb
while the president walked up and down in his room
talking to portraits hung on the wall
that were the faces of presidents gone before.
To cracked silence that’s paint
the president talked politics
talked world affairs with who wasn’t there.
His officials trembled, hid on the stair.
“This is bad,” they said, “but what can you do?
He’s got the power, not us, not you.”

“Then take the power!” I said throwing a brick
screamed “Chaos! Fire! Some never learn
so let them burn!”

Then all about the crowd of Love stooped down
to pick up a stone, what was picked up one thing
each throwing alone
not through the president’s window
but through the windows of themselves
the flames shot out tore the place down
till visions of Shiva danced in our heads
smashing to ash what we finally sat in
to ponder why we didn’t win.

One old woman wept and no one looked;
one young one did and men turned their heads.
“The only way to have a revolution,” I said
“is not to have one,” and I was just sad
got drunk, sat in my ash and tried to forget
when I saw it, what I thought had been dead
the dove that was Peace I thought I had seen
shot down in the street still was breathing
Peace a phoenix breathing quick breathings
where I blew and I blew on the coals of my soul
that were dying almost dead till the flames shot up again
not like the flames of Shiva, but instead
like candlelight where all the land is dark
but you can walk if you hold it out
a flame that soon took wing to cover everything
disappearing saying, “Persevere and you are near.”

Revolution was a fad;
most finished college, turned into their dads
but behind every fad if you look is the truth
I cling to as those climbers of mountains to ropes
pull themselves up into beautiful views
where if they let go that’s all they will do.
It’s true. I’m afraid to let go.
I have to control even you.
“Flip a penny,” I say, “we’ll see who beats who.”

You don’t want me to go so you do
then to be a little funny
and to see how it will make us feel
while I close the curtains
bringing the bedroom back into a fake-dusk gloom
and on my hands and knees crawl here and there
looking for matches to the light the candles
you put on accessories:
a silver ring with an Apache’s tear
strings over strings of Mardi Gras beads
that hang down and around and outline your breasts
that push as unstemmed pears beneath your flesh
oxblood and tierd your nipples;
a copper bracelet, a leather band;
a wide silver bracelet with flying geese
delicate feathers etched in their wings, tiniest of pupils;
and brass camel bells that come from Morocco
jingle softly jingle about your ankle
each time you move your foot to strike me
with the belt that’s almost like a kiss
the way it takes away my breath
each stroke expected but never certain
until it’s there along me faster and faster
as you’re taken up in this fantasy
not giggling now and joking nervously
but striking with assurity.

“Ouch!” I say. It’s strange
how that one word comes out of us so easily.
From what common center does ouch come
contract the muscles of the mouth into an O
with tongue come forward flicking upward at the teeth?

“Ouch! Ouch!” I say
between your strokes like flames
that have burned all I own
till I am nothing but anticipation
preceding clean and fresh and new as when
the sticky caul was first lifted
like an adhesive from my still closed eyes
in that sudden whoosh of cold surprise
when I was pulled out of the all into the now
to hear and feel the first slap on my ass
and for the first time cried
plunking my sound into this world
like a thrown stone or bubbles rise
from drowning mouths to break the surface
and grow wide
in ghost circles that haven’t ceased
twenty-four years later but now reach
the corner of a galaxy a billion miles away
touching planets of creatures I will never see
dead and gone, new and rising out of strange seas
other creatures out of ooze, out of ammonias
out of twos, out of chemicals not yet devised
I am still the center even later after death
my sound without me will still spread
through never more and never end:
I hurt therefore I am.

“Ouch! Ouch!” I say
and lift my hand to have the belt
encircle my forearm like a tendril
or the tail of a constricting snake
pulling you to my parting mouth
to make you wet between your legs
I see you are already wet.

First complete performance draft finished
July 1976, Waltnut Springs, South Mountain, PA

Cover art: Patricia Kelly

DON YORTY FUCKING copy 2

DON YORTY FUCKING copy

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