Sometimes it Yips Back

A 2019 response to Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”

I.

            Generations apart, and yet the cards know that same old feeling—and speaking of spades, diamonds, clubs, and, well,
            I saw the dearest hearts of our time, ground under the millstone of globalism and red tape, and cancer,
            Those jester-shoed cashiers working through mounds of negativity, debt boiling them where they stood, cost of living so high a hoop that no one could slam-dunk anymore
            Firmament blocked by city lights, appearing empty,
            Men running with the dollar bills they could carry, out of California, every day turning into Venezuela, faster lest Death or the censors catch them—
            Those drug-addled comic-book-loving crazies, only admitting in near-death drunken stupors, the existence of Angels on high—
            Those broken ones—the men who carried in their wallets, little ultrasound photos of the son they’d never have, by a woman who chose abortion over family—
            Let the politicians bicker over the right and wrongs of it—
            I’ve only ever been the one to mop up the tear-stained floors at the end of the night, listening to the stories of their pasts,
            Survivors, I am not your Savior,
            Only a lone coyote howling at the moon, and like the Earth, it yips back sometimes, to me, tells me of
            Those who drink from poisoned chalices of power, and become bound, more dangerous than the mental patients roaming the streets, shadow-boxing nothing in particular, and
            Those pavement-bound wanderers that pause if you eat a sandwich, salivate, ask for the other half, eat it wordlessly or sometimes cackling, and are still better company than lawyers—
            And no longer the denizens of rose gardens and tea parties, the young ladies, lest we forget,
            Those card-shuffling, picture-tossing, would-be-Tinderellas, looking for love in a world gone mad,
            And the truly mad—the artists—work overtime like machines gone off the rails, swimming in seas of rejection,
            The good ones, no one knows if they’re genius or bat-shit-crazy—if the lights behind their eyes are Plato’s candlelight or disco ball reflections or cheap Halloween strobes cased in plastic—
            The young academics study underwater basket-weaving, and forty-thousand in, owe their souls to the student loan sharks, and navigate oceans of blood to sink or swim
            So far gone, most of these lost souls are lost causes, shuddering in the corners of the mind, cowering behind the few brave shit-talkers on Twitter, who fear neither death nor retribution, clinging to the Constitution, a bullet-stopper, a shield holding back dragon fire—
            They sense it in the system, the snarl behind the smile—
            The head-chopping back door cash shoving hit jobs, all legal, camera-blinding, turn-away media lie to be suicided in a jail cell when the system tolls the bell
            I saw the broken ones,
            Those so smothered with betrayal that divorce branded their souls like red-hot pokers straight from Hell, a mistake, they tell themselves, not to be repeated,
            Kids you went to school with, fully grown and weeping for the loss of Prince and David Bowie, or discussing how much a hologram concert might be worth, if they’d go at all.

            And Hail, hail, the Grateful Dead, beyond Earthly worry—souls retired/free/playing not perfect but well – and why ever mess with imperfection?
            Oh, our hipsters are not authentic, but they’re trying—not badasses, you see—more fond of kombucha and milk tea than of rock ‘n’ roll and LSD,
            Those temporary nomad roamers in the desert at Burning Man, trying to capture the spirit of the Age, spending more dollars at it than the hippies ever saw, burning sage as the night winds down, and weaving spells at Trump, trying to lift him out of office like the witches of the sixties tried to lift the Pentagon
            The more things change, the more they stay the same—new characters, old frame—

            The world howls—sometimes, the moon yips back.

            I heard the madness rattling their brains,

            Those with Alzheimer’s, whistling to the pet parakeet, telling them stories of WWII,
            Recounting endless yesterdays and Christmas gloves, but—
            What’s your name? What’s your name? What’s your name?

            Or those infected with the political madness, throwing themselves against the Wall—Democrat, Republican, it doesn’t matter anymore—they’re all in on the game, and the Game plays on

            Or those who’d try Communism on as a cloak of many colors, thinking it would let them walk barefoot amongst the masses, handing out healing feathers—

            Those who long ago sold their souls to Old Scratch for a fix, wandering the streets of downtown—hammer-wielding bears you have to tiptoe past—

            And those peaceniks insisting that if we all just operated with more kindness, the problems would vanish like water on a hot sidewalk

            And here let’s end it, like a generation silenced, shocked, reading the writing their handlers scribbled on the wall, the stomach of a poem, digesting head to toes.

II.

            Something rotten this way comes, that’s devoured their hearts already—

            Moloch! Eater of children, father of intelligence agency pedophile rings for blackmail! Contemptible! Moloch, whose statues guard Little St. James Island. Whose underground passages to Hell were stuffed with concrete.
            Moloch—Keeper of Political Secrets! Who jailed Assange and killed Seth Rich, gunned down by MS-13, shot in the back, led to his death, a sheep to the slaughter!
            Moloch! Moloch! Do not speak to me of the charlatan Moloch!
            Moloch the master of darkness! Who swells with delight when PG&E cuts the power and kills people on CPAP machines! Who gloats with pride when the fires take another city!
            Moloch who no longer hides his evil! Moloch who binds us to allies who hate us! Moloch who makes us hate ourselves! Moloch who makes us fight nonsense wars in the Middle East!
            Moloch whose love is the crack of a whip! His name is no longer the mind but the World. Content to contemplate no longer, he runs utterly amok.

The Feast and the Beast

The faeries began to make themselves visible, one by one, and gather around the large oak table with its toadstool chairs. Some of them whispered nervously to each other, and the normally calm glade buzzed with supernatural anxiety.

“The Feast! The Feast!” some of them chanted.

Others—“The Beast! The Beast!”

“What is the Beast?” asked Flixy, her pink wings fluttering as she sat on a toadstool and surveyed the spread of food.

“The Beast is the Beast,” answered Moxy, shaking her head of spiky black hair. “It has great black claws, big as books, sharp as hooks. It has big glowing yellow eyes like twin suns, bright and burning.” She reached for an apple, with a hand gloved in black fishnet.

“Oh, he sounds dreadful!” said Flixy. “That mean old Beast! How dare he come to ruin our feast!”

“Let’s fight him!” said Trixi.

“He’ll bite you,” said Loxy.

“I don’t care,” said Lexi. “He’s mine.”

“That’s fine.”

“Divine.”

“Fight the Beast!”

The chant arose and the seats filled with guests.

“How will you fight it?” asked the Host. “How?”

A figure emerged from the deepest shadows.

“Meow,” said the Beast.

The faeries shrieked as the great furry Beast emerged from beyond the treeline and climbed onto their table and licked its paw, flicking its tail, knocking over bowls and goblets.

“It’s beautiful!” said Flixy, gazing at the orange tabby cat. “I wonder if it likes scritchy-scratchies…” She flitted her wings.

“No, don’t do that!” Trixy warned, peering out from under the table.

But Flixy wouldn’t be stopped. Meanwhile, Lexi ran off into the forest, shouting, “Warriors—to me!” Flixy flew right up to the Beast, up under its chin, and raked her hands over the fur. A deep rumbling purr sounded from somewhere deep within.

“It sounds happy,” said Niki.

“It sounds hungry,” said Loxy.

The Beast extended its chin and partially closed its eyes, in an expression of bliss.

But then the Beast grew bored and sniffed around the table, sashaying around, pushing cups off the edge, knocking the carafe of milk, the liquid spilling all over the surface. The Beast began to lap it up.

“Oh, it likes milk,” said Flixy. She flew over and picked up a full carafe, and grabbed the biggest bowl she could find, pouring the milk in. The Beast started to drink as the faerie fighters emerged from the woods.

“Relax, friends,” said Flixy, calling out to Lexi and the fighters mounted on dragonflies and grasshoppers. “The Beast likes scritchy-scratchies and milk!”

“It has made peace!” shouted Niki, and a great cheer arose from the faeries. “Let us welcome the Beast to our feast!”

Some of the faeries took off in flight and came back with wildflowers. They made the Beast a crown of flowers, and placed it on its head.

“It looks so pretty!” said Flixy.

“It does!” cried Moxy.

“Our friend!” declared Loxy. “Long Live the Beast!”

Silly Love Poems

When I buy chocolate,
I buy the bars with
Love poems inside
Because I want my sweetness doubled
To make me forget the bitterness
That is actual relationships.
Seduce me, I say to the shadows
Show me someone mysterious,
Something kind to its marrow—
Someone without a mask.
Lie to me. Tell me that the chocolate poems are real.

Writing is Easy

“It was a dark and stormy night”—
See, you can write—
It’s not the writing that’ll trip you up, but the doubt—
Is this cliché? Derivative?
Am I sounding too much like Poe?
Writing is easy, like walking, like breathing, like driving
Like the millionth thing you do in a day without thinking
Unless—unless—
There’s somebody you’re trying to impress
And then those five-dollar words come into play
And you write to say what is contained in that complex lexicon
Full of tenuous, unfettered and yet unrequited expressions
Of your own unremittent heart—
The part you play is creator and created,
The work taking on a life of its own
Until the words on the page either run away with themselves
Leaving the writer alone, again
Or, its meaning is lost like the mind of Prince Hamlet,
And the page is filled with only
Words, words, words.