Aurora Taboo

Believing is seeing, they say…we are awash in strident belief, a belief scape,
hogwash heaven. Each bears a haughty pout. There is no common sense.

The chance to feel morally superior must be irresistible. We are a Godless country,
but our elite loves lording it over the stupid little American people.

We see them, their familiar faces. It’s clear: the sneer is back, although admittedly
for others, their friends, the sneer is new. The smugness is all too familiar.

No problems a shit detector can’t handle; alas, our instincts are dulled. Striking
poses, lashing out…earnestness replacing knowledge. No stomach for the realities.

Throw a bone to the less fortunate. Speak to the maid in Spanish, give the cook a hug,
set a pitcher of ice water out for the gardeners. Say how much you love quesadillas.

What’s certain? Action is nothing. It is not what one does but what one says.
Don’t call the guys, “dude” but “bro.” Remember to call the ladies, “girl.”

The men love to slap them around, these agents of change. Secretly, they get
off on being called party animals, especially when the girls do the cleaning up.

She’s a feminist so it’s okay to come on her tits. No shame with the lights off.
She’s got something to dine out on, bragging rights. Loves a guy with dirty nails.

The smell of dried sperm. It is pleasing to find them sad, women with mascara
running down their cheeks, fat lips, mouths bruised from sex.

Feeling triumphant, like Roman soldiers decapitating their enemies. In their SUVs—
their electric-powered chariots of fire and brimstone. Behind their smiles lies contempt.

As with the Russians who spent the day raping German women and children
with an incomparable gloat. A swagger. They thrust their bayonets with flare.

When the list of racists is finally drawn up, the killings can start. No executioners
in world history will ever feel more justified. All murders will be humane.

It requires a learning curve. Each killing to be called “an eased passing;” painless,
promises our President with gruesome earnestness. No corpse will ever look as tidy.

Activists raise money through sex work; they sell “leftist porn”, a magnificent conflation
of body and mind, activism and degradation. Put out or shut up.

As on ER, the Doctors bed the nurses. Security buys its drugs from the patients.
Interns offer sex to the Residents. Everyone feels underappreciated and underpaid.

It’s a giant pity party. Cry about your sick relatives. Go Queer; better yet, become
Trans. Invent a grievance, feel offended, take up a cause, see a lawyer.

Not hope and change, but hysteria. It’ll be bestiality. Men’ll soon be shagging
the pet dog, boning the parakeet, telling jokes like stand-up comics.

The fuckable poodle is next. Cocaine white, fluffy. The expensive ones go first.
People can eat the rest, why ever not? First dolls, next robots, finally corpses.

What strikes one as irresistible is the bulldog in the window. Human contact bores
the powerful. All talk is of the past; everyone is nostalgic.

On Humes

When Elvis was a student down the road at Humes Middle School,
we lived just off Lombardy. We resided at 141 N. Humes, and I see
today that our neighbor’s house is for sale. They were at 136,
our neighbors, the Catholics, had had nine children.

My folks prided themselves on looking down on them. Catholic was
a dirty word. They’d crowd around the living room with their lights
off, TV on, eating snacks for supper. My mother thought the neighbors
were dirty. My parents had a nose for the low-born.

At 167, the old witch of the block used to live. We hardly ever saw
her, and then she disappeared. We asked around about what had
happened. She’d keep her lights off all through the holidays. She was
like the neighborhood ghost. We often rang her doorbell and skedaddled.

All I knew was that her next-door neighbors were from Cuba. We rarely
saw them, but I remember how black the children’s hair was. We figured
they had had a hard time of it, but we never got the chance to find out.
They, too, were Catholic and their kids went to St. Mary’s.

We knocked on their door every Halloween. It has been several decades
now but I remember the lights being out in their house. They didn’t even
set out a basket of goodies. We skipped them altogether and headed over
to Plainview Terrace. Once there, we cleaned up.

I was surprised as hell the other day to see 239 with a sign on it. Briggs Realty:
Open House. My gosh, we’d been to that house a hundred times. I’d been
inside. It was the home of Mrs. Rabb and her pet dachshund, Speedy. Her
husband was totally blind, and her son, she said, lived in New York City.

None of us knew Elvis. My best friend’s retarded sister worshipped him and played
his records day and night. His dad parked his rig in the driveway along with a boat,
an RV, and two cars. My parents looked down on them, too, because David Earl’s
father drove a truck. They may have had money but they didn’t go to the theatre.

My folks were snobs. They called City Beautiful and the police on the man
on the corner because he parked his car beneath the pine tree in his front yard.
He liked to work on its engine over the weekend. My parents were appalled.
One mustn’t do dirty work in one’s front yard. Alcoholics should hide inside.

Elvis knew better. He died in his bathroom, all alone. He may have been trash
but he knew not to make a mess for everyone to see. Poor man. In Memphis,
folks like my parents crawled before the aristocrats, with their hardwood
floors, Negro help, and Persian carpets. We were taught to keep it down.

We hid in our rooms and promised to change our underwear. I stole coins
from my mother’s purse and tried to keep up appearances. We shared
our popsicles and filled our pockets with sunflower seeds. Elvis meant nothing
to me until after his death. The boys on my street were into Boris Karloff.

And if not him, Bela Lugosi. We were into drinking blood, drowning, or
finding corpses at the bottom of a foggy lagoon. We quite literally had wet
dreams. Horror films for my generation were all about too much liquid. We
were afraid of bodily fluids. The Bible had warned us against the Flood.

Intuitively, we grasped that Elvis had drowned. He’d gone out to live on Lake
Las Vegas, clearly nothing more than a watering hole. He fell in with the wrong
crowd. As they say in Hollywood, sink or swim. In Memphis, we’d been told
not to jump into the river. The waters were dirty and would suck you down.

On Our Knees

Those Russians do a lot of trembling, ever notice? It must be the weather.
Americans never do. Gorbachev noticed this in Reagan. He even called him
Mr. Steady. When asked, the former President said it was because his wife
Nancy always cupped his balls.

That’s a lie. He said nothing of the sort. All Reagan said was Casey’s at the bat.
Under his breath, he told the General Secretary that the tooth fairy had been in
the night before. He then invited Gorbachev and his lovely wife Raisa to join
him and Nancy for a cup of Kool-Aid in the Rose Garden.

Nancy complained when Raisa threw sand on her plate. Raisa called Nancy names.
She tried to put Nancy in her place, and Nancy tried to put Raisa in hers, but Ronny
and Mikhail got on famously. They chatted; they laughed. The President even asked
Mikhail to take up acting. In short, they got on like a house on fire.

Trump learned from these visits. He turned himself into the perfect gentleman.
He never invited Billy Holiday to the White House but every night he sang the blues.
He ordered the staff to clean the blood from the basement floor where Dick Chaney
was said to have tortured prisoners from Abu Ghraib.

The Secret Service showed Donald the place from which President Carter jumped
upon hearing news of the helicopter crash in the Iranian desert on the night
of the failed rescue of American workers captured by the Revolutionary Guard.
He also heard the top-secret story of Argot Fuck Yourself.

Jimmy Dean and Tony Bennett were frequent guests to Trump’s holiday home
in the Florida Everglades, “What a Croc.” They were served breakfast sausage and
slices of Panettone. When Kissinger came, they put out the Christmas Stollen, but
not a second sooner. Donald drank decaf but served espresso.

Ron might not have invited Billy Holiday either, but he asked Billy Graham, who
preferred holding hands like an Arab prince, but Reagan conferred with Duke Wayne
and declined. He chose instead to pat his rear as they do in the NFL. After giving
the Reverend a pinch, he was sent him in to kiss Nancy’s ass.

Anna Akhmatova tells stories of the Romans falling to their knees before
Cleopatra. She curses perfidious sycophants. She trembles for her children
and for those of her countrymen; she was forced to kiss the lips of those she
found inhuman, their lips covered in dried blood as they snarled.

Our moods are orchestrated. Shows on Broadway get standing ovations
like the Soviet Politburo. We’re part of the sham; we say we can’t help it.
The soloist has stage fright. She’s lip-syncing. Her throat’s tight and she feels
dizzy. She’s been drinking. All very natural but an occupational hazard.

She’s not the only one who is afraid. Our comics get booed now for cracking
jokes. They can afford to slur their speech. They are allowed to put on weight.
Nothing wrong with a fat comic, but they can’t let anyone know what they’re
really thinking. The happy campers are taking over.

The angry men from the Depression are dead. Don Rickles, Rodney
Dangerfield, even Johnny! smoked like fiends and hid their malice.
They hated their mothers. These men had fire in their empty stomachs.
Mel Brooks couldn’t sleep at night. Jerry Lewis died in despair.

Prolegomena to Nothingness

The sorriness of human existence is no topic for poetry. Yet it is about this
that most poetry is written. The lost and the lame. Puppy love. Longing.
Despair. Girls write about the right to fight. Boys, of universal impotence.
The search for meaning.


You’ve got Toni Morrison on one side and who? Kurt Vonnegut on the other?
So it goes. Like setting a Mark Rothko to music versus the Sermon on the Mount.
Holy shit. Toni Morrison is Jingle Bells and Vonnegut something along the lines
of crashing waves. Propaganda vs White Noise: which do you prefer?

You tell me.

Both are therapy, not literature. Certainly not poetry. Mark tells us to look.
Toni says to feel. Feel sorry for her, feel sorry for the victims, feel sorry for
the human race, feel for African-Americans, feel sorry for oneself. Mark says
to look at the clouds and tell yourself there is nothing there. God split.

Who knows?

The bubble gum machines are empty. The Chinese are plagiarizing the fortunes
they place in their cookies. It’s a racket. The fortunes were all written years ago
by a Jew who lived down the street from Woody Allen. Woody applied for the job
but got picked up by Hollywood. Our fortunes could have been funnier.


They are passing out women’s underwear for men to wear. This is their answer
to every question. Instead of fighting, women will give birth in the midst of battle.
They’re erasing lines. In the next war, there will be no fighting, just dying. Pregnant
males and females will die together along with the newborn. This is equality.


Yes, it is a matter of the eternal return. Back to nature, back to work. It will take
a thousand years to bury the dead. The new policy was put into practice under Obama
when he threw Osama’s body overboard. An excellent idea. The sea will be flooded
with body bags. Sharks will become spoiled by the taste of human flesh.


The Alps

Nietzsche was right. Losers talk about goodness.
Morality comes out of the sulk of defeat. Winners
never talk of doing wrong.

The defeated curse the bombardiers, rightly;
there are only heroes in the victory parades.
Women and children are called innocent in defeat,

when the fighting is over. During battle, they give
the soldiers love and encouragement, food and succor.
Only in defeat can they afford to play dead. The defeated

praise restraint. In victory, the same people praise surrender,
for the other side. They would be happy to tie everyone up.
In defeat, they talk about their pride.

The defeated lay down their arms and lift up their fingers.
They scold those in victory and denounce violence. When
they have lost, they love peace.

Not Only the Nile

Anna Akhmatova tells stories of the Romans falling to their knees before
Cleopatra. She curses perfidious sycophants. She trembles for her children
and for those of her countrymen; she was forced to kiss the lips of those she
found inhuman, their lips covered in dried blood as they snarled.

This one is for the Russians whose tears freeze. We Americans are too
easily deceived, distracted by the bright lights. The regime of glad tidings
insists we say we’re all right. We are in it to win it. Our singers are fake.
The laugh-tracks distract us. We are forced to applaud.

Russians have it rough. They eat rocks. Their tears freeze. We have it easy.
We know that. Americans are lonely. It’s not a village but a leper colony.
We compete with our friends. Everyone is against us. Our parents hope
we fail. We want our enemies to die.

The wolves are now here. Poetry is more dramatic when it hails the arrival
of steeds. Our leaders, male and female, fall in and out of five-ton trucks,
grand sleighs with alert bodyguards who act as nursemaids to the infirm.
We have inherited the Russian hierarchy of geriatric tyrants, sniveling fools.

America’s octogenarians resemble those of the Kremlin. In Moscow, they looked
eighty but were younger than their American counterparts, our dithering leaders,
literally dying for power. Their spokeswoman reminds us of those dreadful
mouthpieces of the ghoulish Duvalier clan down in Haiti.

Sondheim drinks to the ladies who lunch at the Russian Tearoom on caviar and bile.
I would like to propose a toast to the Russian poetess haunted by the blood-thirsty.
Here’s a toast to the bloody-minded. Our greedy clowns with their facelifts and diapers.
To all that money that makes them dizzy and is turning Americans into beggars.