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Don Yorty reads from Fucking (Poet Laundromat)

On Sunday, April 29, I was featured at the Zinc Bar with two other poets, Ed Friedman and Elinor Nauen. I woke too early and was tired and talked too much between poems a little incoherently. But the crowd seemed to like Fucking, the part I read, Poet Laundromat. I used to perform the poem in the late 70s and early 80s; it takes about an hour to recite the whole thing. Here below is the part that I read on Sunday so you can read along if you like.

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
“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.

photo portrait by Stephen Spera, 1978

One Comment

  1. James Shepherd

    As the sun goes down over the Jura mountains to the West of Chambéry in France, a glass of cool rosé wine from the Languedoc balanced on my balcony rail, just to say “Thankyou” to you (and Google) for the wonderful discovery of – part – of your poem, and the story of your Dad. Jame Shepherd

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