Monday, July 31, 2017

Crayola Payola


They’d be very well paid, they were told, if they came out
arrayed in Crayola. Five dollars and forty nine cents for a box
of ten markers – about the same price as a single purveyor
of classier ink that you get from the clique at Chartpak. They
were promised a claque of adoring new fans and appearances at

all the trendiest clubs on the planet, expensively framed in a swirl
of acclaim, with the fame of Merle Oberon at her most famous.
Now they’re here in immoderate glare on the wall of a men’s room
in back of a stall in a bar no one goes to who doesn’t get drunk.
So far they’ve achieved the response of a half-conscious stare

here and there. But they’re not in a funk. They know they’re
supposed to bemoan what they’ve done: sold their souls
to Crayola for nada. But Holy Kenyatta, they love being cheap!
They’d rather be shallow than deep. And they’re having great fun
posing elegantly like Faye Dunaway, making a run of it anyway.




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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Be Quiet, Make Nice



Can’t talk to your art without peril.
Or pretend it’s a pet cat named Cheryl.
Ask it too much, it turns feral –

rears up angry and bites
then becomes cold as ice
and as sterile.

Be quiet, make nice.
Soon it will send out its faceted lights,
like a beryl.






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Friday, July 28, 2017

Color Blind



He’s decided that he’s had enough of color.
So he’s asked that I erase what hues I’ve used on him.
He wants to walk into the white and gray and black array
of something that, when you glance back then look away,
you won’t remember if you saw. Now his colors dim
to raw in front of him and brim out off his back like
streamers in parades gone by. He slides a sidelong eye
at me as if now to imply (I think, I’m never sure) I’m
bringing him to destiny. He says, “now do the rest of me” –
by which – I think (again, I’m never sure) – he means
he’s got the best of me and soon will leave me to endure
the certainty I never will know more. Will I be doing
with or without colors then? What am I doing
with them now? Again, I’m never sure.





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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Inspirational Rhetorical Extremities


To depict what flowers in the cavern of a dream
requires powers you profoundly lack. Yours turn to steam
when they attempt the least verisimilitude – the barest stab
at calling up what really ‘was’. Faintly recollecting

ferris wheels and women’s faces and a little child’s open mouth
exhorts you to dig clumsily to search not for the dream itself
but for whatever cheap availing tricks might crowd
that dusty shelf marked “Inspirational Rhetorical Extremities.”

To riffle through this piffle means to weigh the merits
of a spooky movie’s tactics and the colors of the day-glo
bubblegum conundrum that comprise the cliché pellets of what
few details you constipatedly can call up from your childhood.

Rhetorical Extremities, these be indeed.
But nothing with a feeling that remotely moves you.
And yet (you block the facile rhyme that it behooves you):
you tell yourself to do it anyway: write and draw these

cumbersome contraptions with the only theory you think enjoys
the prospect of a certainty. Which is: you’re dreaming now,
and what you’re trying to describe in what you call your
waking hours, you have powers to depict.

(Even to depict the fact you can’t depict.) How?
Decant Miss Dickinson: “Tell all the truth
but tell it slant.” This sneaky law that governs
poetry and dreams and life is very strict.



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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Like Any Other Love


Can friendship have indemnity? Insurance you
can pay so it won’t end? What would it cost

to toss away whatever drains the source in it
that wantonly ignites and bites, expends delight?

Friendship rarely ends in enmity. Like any other
love, it is ridiculously inexplicable. It surely must

be feeding on some random manna from above,
below, somewhere, a here or there we’ll never

know. Love bestows, love suspends. You may
well find that it depends on saying you are sorry.

I don’t suppose I’ll ever understand its quarry:
what it’s really looking for, what more it wants

that it can’t say, or isn’t saying. Should we all be
praying? Would that bring back its bright surprise,

its lift? Is everything a fickle gift? Surely everything
is far more wonderful. How wonderful is wonderful?

Maybe fantasies of ecstasies are what turn off
the light. We’re all right. Are we all right?



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Monday, July 24, 2017

Only Then


Presiding over his own demise
But taking his time so no consequent
Ruinous outcome of this enterprise
Be allowed to disrupt too eruptively -- 

Wreak such abrupt surprise
That it gets in the way of the pleasures
Of slowly achieving the size 
Of a full dissolution, voluptuous entropy.
Only then might he test his surmise 
That destruction is also creation.

Only then might he meet God’s eyes.





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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Caught the Tide


He liked her awkwardness,
the smudgy yellow light she’d throw.
Why she’d come he didn’t know;
she gave him reason, though,
to think it wasn’t likely she would go.
This didn’t worry him, he liked

that she was there. Something
in her seemed to alter his relationship
with light and temperature and air:
he wouldn’t have been able quite
to say it but with her mute
reassurances he knew that he was

not so much the child of atmosphere
as sibling to it. But what was he
to her, or she to him? He asked
her in the way they had devised
to speak so they could understand
each other – had to do with

cultivating delicate degrees
of rising, falling breaths – he asked
her what she was and what he was.
She asked him what he thought.
Are you my mother, soulmate,
supernatural protector? She said

she didn’t know what supernatural
could mean. And only volunteered
that she was something different
from what he had said. Will you be
with me when I’m dead? Am
I dead? She said she didn’t know

what dead meant. He found
this funny so he laughed. There
we go, she happily replied.
You’ve pushed us off the shore:
we’re on the raft. We’ve
caught the tide.


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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Manipulate the Mask


Manipulate the mask.
Perhaps that’s all we ask.
Regenerate the sweeter falsity –
say, play the waltz that he

recorded on the radio
so long ago –
the rippling importuning of which
would attune most any ear to switch

the fear of love to love –
to reach the hidden dove
in every heart, induce desire –
in fact, require

that it soar out from its lair
and find its yearning there
and lavish every thought of him
with what it carefully had brought of him

to light and sound from silence in the dark.
That was long ago. The park
that they took walks in now
had taught them once just how

debilitating jealousy could be.
How zealously he
offered his abject remorse:
he’d had to change his course,

he said, he’d fallen for –
it didn’t matter who, the door
had shut. So what could bring
the hastily abandoned thing

of them together?
What still was here? A tether
tugged them back: they found the masks
they’d worn. They put them on. The tasks

they were to carry out appeared.
Behind their masks, their vision cleared.
This loosed the knot within.
And love awoke, forgot the sin.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

I Would Roll Out My Heart



You want to imagine the man can’t take care of himself
because putting yourself in his place is un-faceable.
With no show of ego or anything me-me-me else,
he is bent on becoming so famous he’ll be irreplaceable.

He’s living on water and slices of one-dollar pizza
and sleeps on the floor of a friend who’s no longer a friend.
Like a tzar’s star Muscovian courtesan, or his czaritza
who won’t, though abandoned as widows, emend

their belief they’ll remain the same glamorous beacons
of royalist beauty they’d been, he thinks of his duty this way:
convey your allure and ensure that its hold never weakens.
He will not betray what he’s meant to become: every day

rolls him closer to triumph. I would roll out my heart
as a sleeping bag, keeping him there every night if I could.
But he won't revoke his decision to turn into art –
won’t stop till he’s gone, like art, beyond bad, beyond good.




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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Love of Her Life



The love of her life
was requited today.
New York inspected her –
said she could stay.







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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Psyche-Therapy



Despite our trio-guard of alchemistic selves,
And force fields shielding us against all danger met head-on,
We find that, after all, through eon after eon, we’ve sped on
Without the least protection from the spells

Our expertise had been supposed more than reliable to cast
Against confusion, ambiguity, ennui, despair.
We’d been wracked by every pain and care.
Should we part? Will autonomy enable us to have surpassed

Those limits which in stuck collusion we could not approach
Much less transcend? No! Don’t let this end.
No self-reproach. We’re our own best friend.
Let’s apprehend a Psyche-Therapeutical Eternal Life Coach.





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Monday, July 17, 2017

Where Coffee's a Prop & More's Being Served than Breakfast


exception that proves the rule: me eating kielbasa at Odessa, Ukrainian diner, 7th street & ave A, that does sometimes serve good food. (but still a NYC diner)

==============================================


It's funny, I know that nyc diners are mostly closing but because the stalwarts around me - east village Polish ones and the 6th ave west village trio of them (central to which is the Waverly 'restaurant' at 6th ave, can't remember what the others are called but they're just south & north of that) and some on the upper west side when I'm up there for musical reasons usually - in other words, because that familiar landscape of diners is still goin' down it really hasn't entered my imagination yet that they could be disappearing.

There truly is nothing like a New York diner anywhere else I've been in this country or the world. It's a fascinatingly familiar place to us - whose obvious identity in fact is full of strange subtleties to anyone else, usually annoying ones. I have a friend from Singapore who can't stand them. Number one, the food is almost always meh. The coffee (to his mind and to many others used to the high-profile Starbucks et al models) is nothing but something to fill a cup and have in front of you as a prop. (Number 2 is you can't substitute, say, iced tea for coffee without having to pay for it. Numbers 3, 4, 5 I can't remember but he vociferously had them.)

But this to me harbors the real clue about New York diners, which I know I've gone on about before at length (I do go on at length about stuff don't I, often the same stuff), which is they're not about food. They're about providing a place for New Yorkers to be. Food is the ostensible reason to walk into one, and indeed over time you do tend to develop an affection for this or that reliable breakfast item, etc that in fact does taste more than okay, but basically they serve the same purpose as an oasis in the desert, where maybe you don't fill your 'camels' with water, but you do give them (& yourself) a place to sit down & -- breathe. When Reed and I go to a diner, which is frequent, we have extraordinarily deep-dive talks. I don't know what it is about the availing canvas of a nyc diner, but something about it is comfortably anything-goes. Which of course could be the generative password to NYC. When Florent was open - oh that amazing place! - it managed to mix the sense of New York diner with, in fact, quite wonderful food (I remember the steak frites thing as being terrific) and of course an inimitable cast of characters. So 'anything goes' had a maybe more theatrical reality at Florent, but it was never disruptive.

That's another core-of-the-heart thing about a NYC diner. It doesn't disrupt. Like New York as a whole, it doesn't take any particular interest in you: it lets you be. With a mixture somehow both of dispassion and warmth, it gives you a place to be and stay and - breathe. Great if you're alone. They exist for Hopperesque solitude. Great if you're with someone. In fact, Reed has been away coaching opera stuff in Colorado & just got back to Fort Greene. I shall scoop him up asap to haunt another diner. Which - hmm, wait a sec. Maybe this is the hopeful thing: most Fort Greene restaurants certainly aren't 'diners' but they do, like Florent did, manage to convey the same 'stay here & don't worry about it' feel that is a New York diner's artless and finest specialty. So we may have some 'good' food in a Fort Greene restaurant and still feel like we're in a diner. I think - I hope, I believe, I am all but certain - that as long as New York has the heart she has, she will (i.e., her inhabitants will) insist on that 'feel' in a neighborhood restaurant. It may be serving cous-cous - but if it's to survive in this city, it will have in some large measure to harbor the soul of a Diner -- and of a New York diner IN a Diner.

This all of course corroborates my larger hope, dream, certainty, fantasy - that is, my collective daily 'reality' - that New York at its core has really been radiating the same powerful identity since the Dutch arrived in 1624 - some strange mixture of Naples' 'don't-even-THINK-about-gettin-in-my-effin-way' & Paris' long sweet exhalations of amoral pleasure. First time I've invoked those cities in the same sentence. New York prods untoward analogies. Often over a meh cup of coffee in one of its iconic diners. Even if/when diners disappear, they won't have disappeared. Something will have their effect.

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Leave it on the Rack


Be very wary of Hats.
They’ll abandon your crania, fly off like bats,

and will ruin your rep in Society.
With unquestionable insobriety

one may flop on your head
and pretend to be dead

then vamoose like a thief
and airmail itself back to the Baron Moncrieff

with you paying.
(Just saying.)

I’d not trust a hat if it paid me.
I’d not trust a hat if it laid me.

And many’s the hat that has.
It’s their sinister razzmatazz.

You’ve only to be its most casual friend
to insure an ignoble, unspeakable end.

Leave it on the rack.
Never look back.



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Whatever Gloriously Else It Is --



Divine mist of happiness – a fine
gold silt – an entourage of tiny

sparkling particles which follow
light as if light were Apollo:

then the sun as it obliquely hits
and swallows several pearly

swatches of translucent curtain
now ignites the thing to fire: soft

probity, desire – and the sweetness
of the state of mind that this

engenders: tender and replete:
like baby Mozart, chubby fingers

flick pink toes into a syncopation
as he gurgles three-part harmonies:

this infantile art with its surpassing
subtleties: this jubilant involuntary

gasp! – so cowed by the enormity
of fleetness that it breeds a brief

and bleeding sadness: makes you
wonder if this isn’t, here –

whatever gloriously else it is –

the root of human madness.



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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Killing Time


Let’s kill it entertainingly.
I’ll be as horrible as you,
you be as horrible as me.

Let’s conjure up the view
from which I’m seen
about which I’ve no clue

and let’s collude as well
in opening the door
to your inimitable hell –

musing on the range
of strange exactitudes
we’re using to derange

ourselves in others’ eyes.
It may be that this
won’t be a surprise

to us, but after we
are bummed, benumbed
and otherwise sufficiently

have plumbed the crime,
we’ll no doubt find
we’ve killed a lot of time.

By the way, regarding which,
time doesn’t, won’t and never
did exist. Now that’s a bitch.

All that stuff we’re spilling
we believe we leave for dead?
Wonder what we’re killing.


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Friday, July 14, 2017

Dare


She had one tale to tell.
She once had worn pastel
to Hell (she took the bargain
weekend Dante tour, her guide

a half-moronic Druid) and had
dire reason now to rue it: she
discovered Hell transmogrifies
pastel into varieties of ghastly

body fluid hues, which seep down
through whatever fabric of a shirt
or skirt or pantaloons and socks
you had put on, eternally to stain it

and your skin, effectively tattoo you
in and out of time with it: that is to say,
forever and a day. She was
the kind of nervous little thing

that almost thinks, is only
ever almost there, as wary
as a parakeet with eczema,
wrapped tight inside her folded wings,

red eyes that hide behind their blinks –
and in some locked vault part of her
intent on, bent on pleading to whatever
bureaucratic corporation managed hell’s

defeats and its procedures, not to mention
tainted her pastels and painted her
with their afflictions so she’d ever-after
play the role of laboratory accident –

“o please, whoe’er ye be,
relent for just a beat
and just once let me dare,
I only want to dare.”



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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Born of the Vocative O!

----------------------------
----------------------------
Sadomasochistic Poetic Prologue

O! Like a poet in hot July,
packed into a parka to fry,
crowing his vocative O’s to try
to get at the essence of living a lie,

I’d have asked the lowest fee
from whoever required of me
that I take his prose upon my knee
and pummel it into poetry.

But I had readier meat!
Alone I could pull off that feat:
take my own vocative O!
right after it goes through its olio

of unfenced syntactical sprawl,
then smack it back into a crawl,
prefigure its fate with a curse:
configure it into fake verse,

nobly shaped into quatrains.
Look closer, you’ll see the chains:
below which a pulse sometimes
betrays its ache for rhymes.
-------------------------------
--------------------------

But mostly why whatever I write these days must all
but always be counted as pronouncement, not argument –
effusion, not measured consideration – is because its form
is a cry, a stream of clauses born of the vocative O!

This form allows me not only to say what I apparently
want to say, but not to care, as certain un-hinged humorists
(Gracie Allen and Jonathan Winters their progenitors)
are seen not at all to care about the consequences

(anyway not all that much; you can't upset the cart
completely and still be funny). Not that I'm after effect
for the sake of it (exactly) – I do hold my truths to be self-
evident – I may even have a priestly mission! – but

because this whole business (a word I use a lot to stand
in for 'Everything': suggesting infinite self-interested
bureaucracy, at least it's funnier) is an entertainment.
That's where I shall always orbit the sun of Alan Watts.

I do it because I feel like doing it. I love it. It’s a joy.
Like a scream! Or a pleasant offhand dabble of a finger
in the stream. Wouldn't that sort of disinhibition guarantee
incoherence, chaos, entropy? Maybe if it also had a dose

of hateful belligerence, though that would constrict not
disinhibit. If it’s done because it thrills me unrestrictedly,
it will free me to be clear; I’ll just maybe do it in unsuspected
ways. To want to entertain is, or can be, to want to keep

myself as central a part of this engagement I’m apparently
in as I can (another truth I hold to be self-evident). I want
to be as interested and delighted as I want everyone else
to be! I think I find my greatest coherence in such a state.

Indeed I can't imagine any other condition which could
induce me to relish – as (sounding the vocative oh!) I do –
lifting a pen or a pencil or the other phenomenon we now
all recall begins with “p-e-n”. Yup, that especially.


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

By the Way


Though we’re disposed
toward quiet now, the load of life

is a requirement we've
both continued to embrace,

not always willingly, Lord knows
(the Lord we don’t believe in) –

but on balance we’ve achieved
a  modicum of grace.

By the way, where are we?
What is this place?





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Monday, July 10, 2017

Last-Wording It: The Earth IS Flat, After All



Here I go again, attempting to last-word it. Come up with a “truth”. And not for the first time at the unwitting encouragement of my brilliant composer/writer/musician etc friend Roland Tec, who in his response to my poem/drawing “As Flat as You”
(http://guykettelhack.blogspot.com/2017/07/as-flat-as-you.html) asked me “Had you seen this?” – providing me with the following link to a Denver Post piece about a growing worldwide association of human beings who believe that the Earth is, in fact, after all flat:

“This is a new awakening,” Vnuk says with a spark in his earth-blue eyes. “Some will accept it, some won’t. But love it or hate it, you can’t ignore Flat Earth.”

Winnng not least because of the memorably otherworldly surname of its spokesperson Vnuk. If I were his organization, I’d call myself The Vnukkers. You know, the Aliens the Kardashians tried to wipe out on Star Trek 72?

Anyway, I responded to this post and its underlying theme (I do like my underlying themes!) in my usual way, which I evidently enjoyed writing enough to want even you to see it, so here it is.

===========================
===========================

Good - heavens? (Whatever they may be.)

I find myself ever less able to suggest anything incontrovertible about the human condition, except perhaps the condition of terror probably all of us have of our own unknowing. Self consciousness (consciousness of 'self' not embarrassment about social self-exposure) of the kind with which our brand of higher primates appear to be afflicted puts us in an impossible unanswerable position with regard to anything observable in this gestalt we call the universe, one big fancy word of the many we've coined which describe our endless grapples with the meaning of which is teleology: the philosophical investigation of intrinsic use, that everything is here, or created, for a purpose.

The hope implicit in this attempt to reveal an explicative truth – that truth can be discerned – reflects the desperate hunger in everyone from the Greeks to Sartre to my Aunt Eileen to believe there is an answer, even if the answer is that there isn't one. It's the craving either for a period at the end of our 'sentence' (being 'sentenced' to self-consciousness) or for what the first word in that sentence was or is: that yearned-for 'word made flesh.' We conjure lexical meanings (meanings expressed in words you can look up) like the ones I'm nattering out here as some probably ultimately involuntary endgame of what begins at our cry of aghastness at the WTF is Going On Here Anyway? business which our putative Self Consciousness encounters shortly after it encounters itself. When that self consciousness seems inevitably to prove itself helpless to answer any but provisional questions, it – or we – may decide the answer is 'everything is provisional.' We have to last-word it somehow.

I don't think we can bear not coming up with some last word – or anyway bear not attempting to come up with one. (To what other attempt does 'art' bear witness? I would say pleasure! – but that's no less an attempt at a last word.) 'Wit,' said Quentin Crisp, 'is any comment made on the human condition which is memorable.' To me this suggests the great deep first-cause rapid pulse at the heart of discovering the probability that we exist: the urge to be memorable, something someone else can keep alive and important: to be an answer to something. Wanting this makes it sound like it's all about coming up with the right words but I think it reflects a terror much more harrowingly inescapable than the discomfort of not being able to define verbally what we can see. It's what we don't see, maybe can't see that fucks us up irremediably – or at least we are convinced will fuck us up if we don't keep trying to see it).

Ergo the Earth is flat.

I find a gorgeous hilarity in the likelihood that the only remotely helpful word I may have managed to stumble into offering here is 'convinced'. 

And what am I convinced I want/need to do with that word and its accompanying entourage? Turn it into a Facebook Post! To honor its teleological (intrinsic) use as one of our culture's primary recourses to assuage the craving to be memorable.

Blessed/damned if we do or don't. To which I now add my last word(s):

Sent from my iPhone


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Sunday, July 9, 2017

As Flat as You!


How not not to be appalled and wonder helplessly
at these eruptions of untoward effects in you!
That now instead of one head you have three
does not illuminate the faintest basis to construe

the least particular of what you mean to do or be,
but that we’re so unnervingly caught in the swoon
of our dismay at what you now appear intentionally
to desire to become: a meaningless cartoon –

well, you’ve lost your third dimension: done more
(or is it less?) than “die” – “here” in some displaced
condition of flat turpitude: a hologram-galore
reflexively affecting to be rounded in a three-faced

way: a shameless sham, the shambles of a ruse.
There must be pitiable reasons you’ve gone graphic.
Do you want to be a depthless blunt display? – choose
the path of least resistance toward that aim the traffic

of Existence can sustain? Oh dear, as in a gentle rain
of madness, something’s ceased now to dissuade me
that your lack is lack – at last, I see the gain:
no longer damnable, your shenanigans persuade me.

So I shall cease dissension and my apprehension –
join your coup d’√©tat and be a caveat with you!
Challenge comprehension: ditch the third dimension:
to bell the cat with you – to be as flat as you!


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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Embryo


Nothing living doesn’t grow –
although sometimes in certain beings
it would seem the aim of growth is to maintain
at all costs the complete appearance
of the first small unity that through

the arcane mysteries of replicating cells
it could attain: the embryo  potential kept
right at the brink of its development
but held back held back held back
from expanding: a floor of being, nothing more;

like fish eggs disallowed the sea. He was
such a being: all his energy poured involutedly
into a repetition of its own constricted form
to keep it gleaming, wet and seeming,
always seeming new  a semblance

of a promise. Inside the soul stayed hidden
somewhere as if drugged asleep. Slick surfaces
sealed in a blunt undifferentiated deep.
It’s true, he could walk to and fro.
He wasn’t fun to talk to, though.



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