Life’s glories?
Lee Marvin’s voice
The way Judy Davis says “bullshit”
Glengarry Glen Ross

Anything beats getting stoned for blasphemy.
Today, anyone who contradicts Hillary is called a fanatic.
My god…
Wallace Stevens
Langer’s pastrami

I could go on and on.
Saul Bellow
Amy Winehouse
Saying goodbye

And how would you feel if Lee Marvin put his cigarette out
in your creamed spinach?
He is as uptight as a rolled umbrella.
Widow casserole
You go right ahead. Give him a hand. I’ll wait. I want to give him a hand job.

I can’t say he would be able to quote a single line of James Joyce.
All I know is that T. S. Eliot dropped his pince-nez in his cauliflower
soup as he reached for the pepper one night while dining at the Ritz.
I have never seen “Cats.”
I’ve let my life get away from me.

I have spent my life doing nothing.
I can say that Erwin Rommel was kind enough to offer me a drink.
All I could think to say was that everyone I know is enthusiastic
about the Tiergarten. My German is miserable.
I am pleased the General didn’t call me an asshole.

Just last year I couldn’t think of anything more worthwhile than killing
Rommel; now I can say I have found a new friend.
I said the very same thing when I first read Joyce’s Ulysses.
Rommel said, “I wish I had been the man who wrote that book.”
With that, he hugged and kissed me under the sumacs of Vermont.

Who Invented Phil Silvers?

As was once known to all, in the country bringing in the hay is of paramount
importance. Not that butterscotch and pulled pork mean nothing. The question,
it must be said, is what one can say is of equal importance in the city? Sex?
American Express? No doubt, this was the question that kept Charles Dickens
up at night. Is there anything at all of equal value to that of making hay?

Much is lost on a society that doesn’t dress for dinner. In Saudi Arabia, there
isn’t a male over five who doesn’t wear a tuxedo. Every single Arab lad worth
his salt dresses up on a daily basis, rather like the man in a grey flannel suit.
This was back in the day when men took their shoes to be polished. These days
billionaires wear dungarees. Their shoes may cost $1,000 but they are sneakers.

Moccasins, loafers, flip-flops, nothing more; God knows what these people wear
beneath. Not much more than a Japanese field hand. Steven Spielberg dresses
like Denise the Menace and he is well over sixty; has for years. I wouldn’t be
surprised if he wears nothing at all under his pants, just like Marilyn Monroe,
who wore her jeans so tight anyone could see she didn’t have on any panties.

Ten-year-olds dress up in Riyadh and do it with pride. Same goes for Cairo,
Damascus, Dubai, and Tehran. It isn’t fashionable to look like a slob. People
are not ashamed of looking good, not to mention being smart. The smart kids
over there are honored and respected, not scorned and mocked as they are here
in the USA. Instead of hating kids with brains or talent, people adore them.

Note how few people go to church. Kids don’t even attend Sunday school. They
don’t believe in God and they don’t wash their crotches. It would be difficult
to prove that these are related but I suspect they are. Nowadays girls take
their tits out for a walk. Men and women wear tattoos all over, even between
their legs. They ask Oprah and Lady Gaga to write autographs on their dicks.

Much of it comes down to the fact that we have no Queen. Because of it, men
all over the country dress up in their mother’s frocks. Boys today go to the nurse
at school complaining of their periods. Men brag about having menopause. They
sell male tampons at the five and dime. Boys run around the locker room with
their hands between their legs, giggling and kissing each other on the lips.

The only good thing that has come of all this is that women are no longer ashamed
to admit they like to be whipped. They beg for it. They pay for it. Ladies want
their husbands to pull down their knickers and give them a hiding. Now that
this is out in the open, corporal punishment will come back into fashion, along
with public floggings and vicious beatings, even those that bring forth death.

This is what people want. They may not hope to return to family farms, but it is
clear that people want simpler lives. As victory gardens spring forth, people will
get their hands dirty. That’s a good thing. People forget that fresh vegetables smell
like cut flowers. People will once again hang dead animals on their doors. Children
will be taught how to ring hens’ necks and how to castrate swine. They’ll play outdoors.

They’ll start making their own soap. Men and women will carry guns. Women will
beat the shit of their husbands when they come home late. They’ll share bras. Men
will start to wear high heels to the office. Women will go back to drinking themselves
to death as they used to. Kids will get jobs instead of going to school. People who say
they hate their country will be shot in the streets. People will be happy.

Free Robert De Niro

Where’s my fucking limo, cried De Niro? You fucking asshole. This was
what the multimillionaire cried. Worthless piece of shit. I told you to get
my car; I’m out here in the cold. De Niro speaks for the people, denouncing
Trump, who said many refugees come from shitholes like Somalia.

De Niro sprinkles rose petals on his linguini and gold flakes in his Jell-O.
He is a man of the people, he and Chris Cuomo, defenders of the faith.
They are both worried sick about democracy and want the Bill of Rights
redacted for being racist. De Niro sees white supremacists in his audience.

Bette Midler calls the President a motherfucker. She just sold her penthouse
for $75 million. She’d rather squat over the oriental rug and have her maid
clean it up than go to the toilet where others may have been, including
the fat plumber who drives a pickup and vacations in Tuscany.

No one cares as much as Cher. Her house has eleven bedrooms. She sleeps
in a different room every night of the week. She’s suing her dead husband’s
dumb wife over royalties for a couple of songs they wrote fifty years ago.
Cher is only worth $800m and insists the bitch doesn’t get another dime.

Cher, too, is worried sick about democracy. She sits in her mansion like
the white Queen of Sheba, smiling, knowing she is younger than Jane
Fonda, that other spokesman for justice and world peace. She doesn’t
cry for Argentina but she and Jane cry for Ho Chi Minh.

Like Cher, Jane blames Trump. He and her ex, Ted Turner, arrived in
Leningrad under Gorbachev with a triple king-size bed that wouldn’t
fit in the Hotel Astoria, across from St. Isaacs Cathedral. Jane demanded
the hotel staff remove the doors. She called herself the Queen of America.

If she didn’t get her way, she’d ask Bette and Cher to shit on the parquet
floors. Jane, Bette, and Cher stripped off their clothes and belted out,
“You Don’t Own Me” in Russian. They tied up Ted and gagged him.
Dolly appeared on Skype to scold him and call him a capitalist.

They all hate Trump. Jane accused him of killing her late husband.
She once gave Herbert Marcuse credit but got sued by Ruchel MaGee,
George Jackson’s pal from San Quentin, who worships the famous
black martyr from Money, Mississippi, Emmett Till.

In Light of Recent Humiliations

Menke opened up about his soft drink fixation,
telling his doctor about how he had run out of his supply
of a certain brand. “Bubba is deeply attached to Tab,”
his wife Stella reported.

“When Coca-Cola announced that it was discontinuing
production of the beverage, Menke’s wife, who ran a high-end
beauty shop on Union Avenue, gave him a year-long supply
for Hanukkah.”

“That, along with 400 pounds of prime beef from Kansas
in the double-freezer at the bottom of the stairs should hold
you, at least for now,” Mr. Curtis Nash of Liberty Packing
explained as he had his men make delivery.

Donahue’s top man told the salesman he had consumed
all the bottles of Tab his wife Stella gifted him, admitting
the drink’s absence had been a challenge for him to overcome.
“The Tab is gone—that’s all I know.”

Menke explained his dilemma to the Lieutenant when the police
arrived shortly after 7 that morning on a call placed by his spiteful
neighbor, Miss Nancy Rappaport. As soon as she heard the shots,
she called 911. It made her feel good.

“She told me to get over it,” Menke explained. His wife lay
in the basement on the newly-laid linoleum floor, with the door
left wide open. Menke had thrown the gun inside the freezer,
hoping his finger prints might freeze and disappear.

As his father once said, “What’s the point of lying?” Menke
told the cop he needed to sit. As he did, he peed his pants,
the warm urine ran out his right pant leg onto the dining room
carpet. Its design included an enormous green peacock.

With that, he cried. The Lieutenant looked bored but fought
the impulse to yawn. His men took Mr. Menke into custody.
He’d never felt the cold steel of handcuffs. The ones his wife
used had pink straps lined in fake fur. The fur was pink, too.

The man had no idea what to think. He’d killed his wife and knew
it was wrong but, apart from being against the law, he didn’t know
how it could be said he had made a mistake. He clearly couldn’t
go on living with a woman who believed she was always right.

He introduced himself to Ned Conklin his cellmate. As he said his name,
he held out his hand but Ned didn’t look up. Jesus, he said to himself,
is this the way it is going to be? Menke, who was used to being in the
presence of kind people, found Ned’s behavior nearly unforgivable.

He sat on his bunk, thinking of those kids at Columbine, barricading
themselves in their classrooms, hoping the killing spree would stop.
They needed to get home in time for TNT. That evening, there were going
to be showing a double- bill of Neil Simon comedies from the 197o’s.

One starred Telly Savalas and the other featured Gina Lollobrigida. Menke
had read the TV Guide the other day while at the dentist and made note
of the week’s schedule. He couldn’t remember the titles but the actors’
name had caught his attention. He’d been a fan.

He now contemplated aphids and all they bring to the table. He and his
wife had been gardeners. She spent the early morning squeezing the blood-
suckers that lined the stalks of her prized tomatoes. She pinched them
with relish, killing half a dozen at a time. He preferred using poisons.

What he’d give for a chance to squeeze a few aphids now. He hadn’t
liked the smell of tomato sap and aphid blood on his fingers. It was hard
to wash off that smell, that is, the pungent odor that remained for days.
He thought of it now as he sat on the toilet.

Art: that’s what got him, how his wife Stella had spent so much money
on it. He’d just paid a fortune having the house carpeted. He’d even
picked out a couple of mirrored end tables and a glass dining room set
that set him back several thou. The blue shag, the aphids, all that glass.

Menke just couldn’t listen to Stella anymore. When she said he no longer
needed Tab, he decided to kill her. He was so sick and tired of her telling
him what he needed. Always the expert. He needed it all right; he wanted
to enjoy something he fancied, needed or not. Forget that shit.

He looked at her body. There it lay. He was still surprised by himself.
He was happy he had killed her on the basement floor and not on the new
carpeting. She’d have been furious. Even if it meant leaving her there on
the linoleum which she hated. The coroner took her without anybody seeing.

This entire tale deserves a better poet, but not, I hope, one of those feminine
lamentations, set off by cartwheeling starlings or depressed butterflies.
A guy like my dad, Bubba Menke, deserves a real wordsmith like Raymond
Chandler, someone who knows how to celebrate a drunk with his foot in the door.

The Paradise Apartment Complex

Security deposit required. First and last. Parking
extra. Lot filled with black Honda Accords with spoilers,
18-inch wheels, male drivers with shaved heads, gold
hoop earrings, and Tide-bright white T-shirts. Love tattoos
on the back of their necks. Girlfriends with red roses etched
onto their exposed breasts, flabby mid-drifts hanging over
skintight jeans. Red toenail polish chipped at the edge.

Besides the “fuck you, ass-holes,” these are kind people. They
belong to the local school board’s parents association. They care.
Matter of fact, Jose brought his gun to last year’s annual
fund raiser. He wanted to fuck up the school board’s treasurer
for dissing his wife. All she wanted was to be placed on the
board’s special advisory team so she could go with them on an
all-paid junket to Marriott’s in Palm Springs.

Kids are darling. They play in the corridors all day. Love listening
to them as they scream and yell. The little boy’s willy is as cute
as can be. It is so funny when they run up and down the hallway
knocking on everybody’s door. They are so full of joy.
This is what diversity is all about. We didn’t have this when I was
a boy. My parents who were white supremacists told us to keep
it down. They told us not to bother the neighbors.

I love it especially when they blast music from their cars. They gather
on Saturdays and Sundays to wash up. The guys kick back with a brew
as their wives scrub the rims. We also are impressed by how patriotic
they are. They always fly the Mexican flag while picnicking in the drive.
I had expressed concern when they called my 85-year-old father
a motherfucker, but my wife quickly pointed out that I was speaking
from a position of privilege.

We are so impressed by Orange County’s dedication to cultural
diversity. We enjoyed the Palm Repertory Theatre’s production
of Anton Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard with an all-black cast. What scope
and depth. But we couldn’t understand why they insisted on an all-
Japanese cast for Rashomon. They said authenticity fulfilled the artist’s
aesthetic but, because Chekhov was a well-known racist, his aesthetic
can be ignored.

Nonetheless, we are looking forward to the Palm’s new production of
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with an autistic cast. Theatre in Orange
County is nothing if not cutting edge. They renamed John Wayne Airport
after Cesar Chavez. It’s about time. And Burger King no longer serves
the Whopper with non-union lettuce. They use kimchi. Undoubtedly,
this is why progressives from around the country choose OC as a place
to hang out. You can see their tents lined up along the highways.

Why Do Poets Like Squirrels?

One favors a poetry of cavities or one of mascarpone, brunette
or pink flamingo, hand-made or hand jobs. It all shakes down,
finally, to Walt and Emily. Today, we live in an age of names.
The Hyacinth girl is no more. She has been renamed after the
Holocaust to increase sales and expand the audience.

I worship the triumvirate of vocal talent, not mere flesh, Aretha,
Diana, and Tina Turner. I miss Ike’s bass. Wouldn’t it be marvelous
to know who is and who is not a racist. I envy Michelle’s certainty.
Of course, it helps to have someone else do the dishes. It helps to
have help. I’ve heard Michelle will only have white servants.

There is no point in submitting if all of their poems are about trees.
The girls write about dish-washing and the boys cry over spilt milk.
It is poetry, all right, but not my cup of tea. I am a poet of remembered
space, like the restrooms at Grand Central Station. I stop there every night
on the way home to Zen, New Jersey, a small town not far from Paterson.

Let’s not beat around the bush. I don’t trust a literary journal that shows
pictures of clouds and waves; an engulfing nothingness makes me nervous.
Look what it did to Mark Rothko. Nothingness, after all, is not about nothing.
It’s a burden. I don’t go for any of Peggy Guggenheim’s favorites, least
of all Jackson Pollack. Just not my ball of yarn.

My yard is not big enough for a Henry Moore. My neighbor Nelson
Rockefeller keeps a few in his garden. I admired him for years, until he
started selling replicas and forgeries out of his garage. Then he set up shop.
He sells copies of Guernica in twelve different sizes. He gave me an 8” x 9”
for Christmas. When he started selling Warhols, we stopped speaking.

All he wants for Christmas are my two front teeth. He reminds people
of Cardinal Richelieu. The last time we spoke, I proposed seventy-thou
as a bearable standard of living. This was a while back. He promised,
after the tragic death of his son, the Amazon explorer, to dedicate the rest
of his life to the preservation of the Gullah Geechee.

Shifting gears, I suggested devoting myself to finding and translating
Thomas Mann’s long-lost novel, A Scepter in Symmetry. I asked him
to bankroll me. Unfortunately, he went in with a fellow to make a movie,
shooting commenced this week in the municipality of Tangamandapio,
a place known throughout Mexico for its perfect avocados.

Nelson taught me this: it is not enough for people to appreciate art. The goal
is for every single person in the world to be an artist. The Dadaists may have
turned a toilet upside down and called it a box of chocolates, but his goal
was to replace welfare with NEA grants, distributed by the millions. Every
self-respecting black kid should be funded as a gifted artist.

The only ones who disqualify are Caucasians. Nelson’s dream was to rearrange
the seating at Kennedy Center: three-thousand artists to fill the auditorium,
watched from the balcony by twenty-five dignitaries, carefully selected and
introduced by the President of the United States. Men who identify as women
will use the Ladies Washrooms along with women who identify as men.