Yellow Pages Hidden

under worn-out, dry-jism-drenched whorehouse mattresses,
once upon a long time, when the call of the dens and joints
was too strong to resist, when
drinking was constant and a way of life and of

still recall talking to the prostitutes during intermissions,
listening, heeding advice, spacing out
when new arrivals searching for a quick relief entered.
I drank my bourbon,
smoked my cigarettes, sold pot to everyone that asked,

even undercover cops would smoke and leave,

while bears and elephants danced inside the small, dark rooms.
mattresses squeaking, beds breaking,

in other places, for in whorehouses there’s never passion enough
to tear down a bed into smithereens and you keep fucking amidst the rubble.

I drank them all down, under dirty tables, we laughed at the gum stuck
on the wood, and I stared at the naked legs, the short skirts
leaving nothing to imagination, and I stayed under there,

safe and sound,


never thinking of the future, nor the present; constantly haunted
by the whispering ghosts of the past, those who died
and those who left, even those who
remained despite the madness.

as someone takes me by the hand, guides me to the cleanest room
and I hide my yellow pages underneath the mattress; someone must
have found them, read them, threw them away in pure disgust.

must have been the New Yorker Editor; or, maybe,
from Poetry. I don’t care.

I drink, smoke; once upon a time, I needed the fix,
the long shot, just to make it till past midnight.
it’s still midnight. still tenebrific, somber, crepuscular, rainy—
surviving shitstorms on a daily basis with only a glass of bourbon
as a weapon and I’m doing fine, thank you very much.

conquering nothing, attempting to climb the steepest
Martian mountains and the lack of oxygen only gives me a good high.

fists through walls, bloody remnants of suicidal attempts;

darkness descends, the half-tamed snake’s back, circling around my legs,
soft bites just to make its presence felt.

it’s alright—one day.
one day
that will never dawn unless the sea turns black and monsters
crawl out of the raging waters to reclaim what was once theirs.

waiting, anticipating, bourbon in hand,
joint in lips, longing for the next fix, even if the last
was few years ago—never really quit, only taking breaks
for the sake of sanity and of those around you. intermissions,

like the ones the prostitutes had to catch their breath
and drink to forget who was mounting them just a moment ago.

I’ve never been good with endings (hence, the failed suicide attempts),
I always try, never seem to capture the final dot; always
something to add, for some reason that
does not exist in my own head.

Burn the Spoon

we sat on a blue couch, already sporting
the first signs of dripping drugs, with a spoon

in our hand, black-tar heroin sitting on
a worn out copy of Junk. fitting place for the right medicine.

as it melted, we sniffed the euphoric vapor, suddenly the world
turned blue and purple and mauve and pink and red and yellow
and everything in between and far beyond there was nothing
left of the chain and ball we dragged behind us day in day out,

the moon turned crimson, we howled at it as we kissed,
dope-kissing in the middle of a cold snowy night—had we then known
what I now know, we might have taken a different turn. or, perhaps,
we wouldn’t have changed a thing.

the thin sheaths of blue vapor rose, then, the melted junk got into the syringe
and the spike penetrated the protruding, pulsing vein—no pain,
only magnificent numbness and everything intensified,

the great grand blue dragon came down to the sill
and we laughed and joked and cried—no absolution, ever, what for after all,

and we sat in a tight embrace, safe under the dragon’s watchful eye,

till we nodded off and forgot about the world, the troubles;
what was to come became a reality, she perished, after the abortion,

intentional OD, was questioned, pressured, no charges they had nothing
to pin me down with, I wasn’t clean but
they realized I didn’t give a shit and gave up on me, just like
I had given up on me a long time ago.

with her gone, the spike remained the final friend—
the spike and the bottle. it was never too much, I was never
too far gone. always hanging on, always finding ways to come back
to reality.

always made people believe I was clean and sober, even when
I attended university high on junk and drunk on rotgut.

magical powers granted to me by literary gods of yonder years, perhaps;
or, most probably, a youthful tolerance now lost with age.

too old for 27 Club, perhaps, I’ll create my own—though, let’s be fair,
at 17 Chatterton accomplished far more than the vast majority that made it past 60.

I think of the old drunk poet in a nice house outside LA
swilling wine and reminiscing his times in skid row, while
enjoying his infamy, not giving a shit for those around him.

I pour me a fresh glass of bourbon, not giving a shit
despite lacking the fame, sending pre-rejected queries to literary agents:
“thank you, but, no thank you. too bleak, too dark,
“too much drugs and cursing and…”

“yeah, thanks,” I’ll never write back, “burn the fucking spoon first,
“then tell me about bleakness and gutter-liver.”

a toast to the future rejection slips; I see a young poet, sitting alone in a dark apartment,
mourning for lost love, aching for the kiss that never was,

too-sweeting my book and hoping for a similar ending.

it’ll never come, the desired happy ending,
for him, for me, for no one—just another crepuscular morning,
swimming in the dark ocean, even the famished monsters avoid me like the plague,

and the blue dragon’s nowhere to be found, abandoned even by my final
guardian angel—I recall her sweet voice begging me to
                                                  “burn the spoon, baby!”

The Phantom in Every Emptying Bottle

an army of dead bottles of white wine lines up on my desk,
as I light cigarette number 42 and pour glass number unknown;

with Toby Keith, Alan Jackson, and Hank Williams (son and father) in my ears,
I drink, smoke, and try to perform the perfect flamenco on the keyboard.

it’s not the dance you’ll see in pretentious dance clubs where desperate
souls try to hook up; it’s the dance that made Buk bitter,
that made Hem the man to fuck literature up its tight, prude ass.

in every bottle I see her effulgent green eyes; from within the emptiness
she stares back at me, passing judgment for all the latest choices,

for the cold embraces within which I tried to find nonexistent comfort.

blue smoke rises in front of me; even it contains her warm gaze,

those eyes that kept me sane during junk months.

wine floods my bloodstream and attacks the mind that wishes to fall
for someone I barely know. we talk daily, she always initiates conversation,

like Bircan did—another fairytale heading for Hell? one last chance to follow
Dante into Heaven?

who can tell. I drink, write, listen to Hank and Alan and Keith and need
nothing else. sitting in front of the faithful keyboard (that still works
despite the stains of rock, glass, and dope) till the sun comes up
and I hear the gleeful “good morning” from robots heading to work
for another round of the same old routine.

Emily’s right next to me; like she actually was 9 years ago,
in another room, in some distant country, while I worked on the first
stories and drank bourbon as if there was no tomorrow.

there was a fucking tomorrow; she wasn’t in it.
the spike (my bitterest enemy and best of friends) ensured that.

downing wine, mentally going back to a rainy Sunday afternoon,
in a graveyard so far away and I can’t afford a plane ticket.

drink. to remember and to forget. trying to write about new embraces,
always going back to the only true one. going back to the one
that’s in every line, in every dream and nightmare.

ambulance siren and I’m back to the fateful afternoon; the spike too strong,
demanding a sacrifice.

took the good one. left the rotten apple behind for nearly a decade.

a long gulp. bottle number three’s dry. no sleep.
hardly able to uncork the next one—can I die the same way
Stevenson did? make it mean something?

no, still here. another glass. Emily and I sit at a sandy beach,
smoking rock, talking about the future, and I’m in love.

Bircan and I are at the same beach, almost the same spot.
I envision a story (since then written and published) and that’s all.

drugs, alcohol, women; my vices. without them, I’m no one,

Emily; if only I could go back in time, weaken the dose.
it killed her, spared me. unfair world, like always.

bottle number six. morning’s come, I’m petrified and running.

no numbness in the heart, only a weird tingling sensation in the arms.
the keyboard dances, it’s alright. a phantom touch on my shoulder,

and I draw another breath; she’d say you still have shit to do and
I always believed her.