Photograph by Diana Young
not all gardens
are for cultivators
some hide behind
tall iron gates
high wall faced
rough cut slabs
marbre rose de canigò
reserved for nobody
no surprise when they
the french call it a scierie
which I like the sound of
it’s more like what a saw sounds like
when it slices old wood
at dawn or anytime
He’s a junky for the tune. He can’t kick it, the kick he gets,
like one Saturday— he was ten —and the Governor came to town
to see his father, drove all the way from the capital like he would
do once in a while ’cause they were friends, pals really,
the Governor and his dad, horny pals from the old days,
boyhood days, before they both sold their innocence.
That was the Saturday he and his daddy nearly killed the Governor
out in the Gulf in a furor and frenzy. Exhausted they,
wrung out after hours praying for sailfish but deliver’d
only of sharks, them babies at that.
He was still known as just that dreamy “Piano Kid”
with this visceral-ethereal—even, you might say, godly—way
with the Beckwith Empire his mother had installed for him
in the parlor of their boarding house,
a haven for odd-balls of every sort,
Pelican Bill the Fisher-a-men,
Mister Magic the Stupendous,
Rose the Rive Gauche Chanteuse,
and Gustavo the Engineer (father of the folding flypaper tent),
just to name the most notorious,
the ones with felony criminal records,
various scars, and obscene amputations—sinners
all—always in the kitchen fixing mustard and boloney sandwiches
while he was forever fingering his beloved A Minor Fugue, the
Chopin, as it continued to this very, very day.
Photograph by Diana Young.
Rosin in the nose, horsehairs
eking out arabesques composed
in olden times longer ago
from this moment
until the day when
time runs out for us
When our time runs short
will the violinist
be able to play us out
with subtle style and grace
at the end
What if the horses
before we do
How long before
the remaining horsehair
gets bowed to dust
Will somebody please
Does it matter
mane or tail
Where to stock
all the hoarded
skeins of it
When the horses are gone
millenary horse barns will be empty,
so you could stock the horsehair
What will they do in Kentucky
on the last Derby
Maybe they will gather
at the useless racetrack
to hear the last violinist
bow out melancholy ballads
but especially the teary
Old Kentucky Home
for auld lang syne
Will the violinist bow with
only the finest BlueGrass
What else but the best
for the last bowing
when there will be
He got deeply-held grocery eyes, him.
Pleased, he had went roughing round.
He fill him stomach, my cousin.
He BM my rightful challenge.
He chop the “Where I Pine” over and again.
Queasy now, him all and miraculously
And we his A-OK stripped bare.
He open what sack-a-dust?
“He so afraid,” said son-of-five to
He favorite shaking door.
He words of fuck cuss.
He nodding: “Where me clean, me, eh Mike?”
He who found ornery needles
Semicircular and withering.
The drunk slash asshole
Fukkin the concave-flung zoology.
Bustin jackets dear, more than
Any discovered weakness.
she yields,” says Mary,
traveling her, goddamnit.
Follow the free-granted,
Feral, and un-buried life:
Not of, but between
Buncha drinking cousins, them, singing:
Gone away for me cruising out on
daddy’s half-heard Road again.
mundane starry senses borrowed for paled eyes
recite wishes frozen or things circumscribed
whose supreme transparency flowers
in the reverse of
weak grace turned to intoxication forever
sentimentality sentenced to life everlasting
how can you be certain
that there must be
for the one pure ideal species indivisible
its words pushing the fallen laborers
washing blood handed down
generation after generation
words opening enigmatic repetitions
by fallen actors writing their own
instabilities connected little by little
to wise ways deposed like kings
queens princes baronesses true
there must be
can you be certain
We went on down to the Audubon Zoo
and they all axed for you,
they all axed for you,
well, they even inquired about you.
The monkeys axed, the tigers axed,
and the elephant axed me too.*
We walked on out searching for the chimpanzee
and there she was staring straight at us
eyes moist with questions marked on slate walls
plat du jour beefsteak chops with potato mush
and a choice of desserts. I think I’d have to go for
the apple surprise. Wooo.
Making choices for elephants is not work,
a nasty moment of doubt may wrench your gut,
like gauging the locomotive’s speed
as it rumbles toward the crossing
bells clanging horns blaring
your partner yelling
go for it, paddy, go for it you whore
yeah choices can be nasty like that
but you have to deal, connive,
do what has to be done.
It’s the figuring out what the what is
that’ll get you every time.
They are waiting for you, listening
for your footsteps pachydermal
on the greasy street, slicksterland
the old warehouses blazing light
art galleries and boutiques
trendy eateries and bookstores
where a man in purple rags waves
good-bye to all that has gone.
Tough skin, gotta have it, baby.
Thick as a jail door.
When they hear your footsteps,
they drop back in the shadows
gawking as you stumble home.
They do not ax you nothin.
*This is my best recollection of the opening lines of the Meters’ “They All Axed for You,” one of the few songs song I can pick on the guitar (on a good day). The others include: “Iko-Iko,” “Carrickfergus,” “The Times They Are A-Changing,” and “The Lass of Aughrim.”