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Don Yorty reads from Fucking at KGB

On May 23, 2022, I read at KGB for the Monday Poetry Series curated by John Deming, Jada Gordon and Jason Schneiderman. I was reading with Kate Gale and went on first. When reading a poem or singing a song, once I start, I don’t want to stop until I get to the end. Even if my reading is not the most inspiring, to finish in one piece is an accomplishment. As soon as I started, the bartender’s blender began to whizz. This is to be expected, but then down on the street a procession of loud drummers passed going west on 4th toward La Mama only to turn around and come back again. Should I stop and wait or raise my voice against the din? In a reading there are always decisions to make. And the place was packed, which is not always to be expected, but the tables were full, and people were standing at the back, coming and going, leaving or squeezing their way in. I lost my place twice and knocked and bumped the mike, but I did make it from one end to the other. Some might not agree, but I’m happy. I want to thank Ken Angel Davis for recording the reading on his phone; otherwise it wouldn’t be here. Enjoy.

 

 

 

from Fucking, Parts I and II

for Ruth and John

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 smoldering 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 hard-on! 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 argument’s 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 Burroughs’ 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.

 

from Fucking, Part II, Poet Laundromat

 

Poet Laundromat

 

At KGB: Photo by Star Black

 

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