poems

All of me

On the day I had been
released from prison it was
over 12 weeks since I had used
heroin. I was waiting for a ride
to a halfway house when a couple
of guys from the tier strolled out.

“Where you guys going?” I asked,
and they said, “Great Brook Valley
Projects.” Where the dope is. Where
this dope wanted to go, and then their
ride pulled up. “Got room for one

more?” I asked. “Hop in,” they answered.
I got into the car and the cramps of dope-
sickness hit my stomach. I gagged and
almost threw up, my joints ached, my gut
flipped upside-inside. Junk sickness.

A junkie’s body never forgets. If it was
just physical, I would never use dope
again. It is not my body, it is me, all
of me, my body, my soul, my mind
interlocked in heroin hypnosis, even

clean I will never be free again. This revelation
hit me many years later, post-millennium
junk-yen rocked my being, I had everything
a man might want yet still I yearned
to trade my kingdom for a pile of dust.

Ask me about power, I will begin to tell you,
my breath will stink of death.

First published in Bad Ass, The Boston Poet Journal, Vol. 2, Issue 1, 2007.

An Ode To Jack Kerouac

from the unwritten prison memoirs of Neal Cassady

You seemed to be
         a good friend
your writing wasn’t half-bad either.

As a get-high buddy
                    you couldn’t always quite keep up
         but for a wannabe
                  you were o.k.

Then I got locked down
          for the grass
                   for the duration
          and while I was slammed down
                  you were good to my family
                           and better than that
                                    to my wife.

I never really got around
           to telling you how I felt
                   before I laid myself
                            on the railroad tracks
                                     next to my bottle of wine
                            and was cut by iron wheels

but before the iron wheels
                   cut me
                   you did

when you laid my wife down
           in her loneliness
                      and screwed her down
with your wannabe writer’s cock.

You always said I was good
        but you know, Jack
                  you were better

And all I want to say is
         FUCK YOU
                    Jack Keroauc

from one con
                     who really knows!

The Dangerous Ones

I was one of the dangerous ones.
Believed in love, that flowers
in the barrel of a gun would stop the bullets.
Believed that Peyote would sit
me down with Mescalito, that acid
was the frontier beyond dark
airless space, would breathe me
a new consciousness, that opium
dreams would water the desert of my
aching, bring flowers to my soul, rest
me when the asteroid storms would cloud
the interstellar space of the mind. There
was a time when any pad was home, we sat and smoked
marijuana on the seats
of our souls, only violence
was turned away at every door, anyone
else was welcome.

I was one of the dangerous
ones, sharing hope, drugs, gonorrhea,
needles with one and all, hepatitis
was only one by-product of hope. Believed
in costume, poetry, dancing on
moon-light beaches, Olatunji’s
drums of passion, flowers
growing in the dark. I heard
them all.

I was one of the dangerous
ones, believed down to
the splinters of my shaking
heart that peace was catching, it
would leap from soul to soul; all
we had to do was join hands, pass
the pipe, the only shotgun
we used was mouth to mouth
intimate smoke. We danced
as the barbed wire went up
around us, we knew that rust was real.

I was one, a dangerous
one, stumbled, took the wrong
yellow brick road, wandered
into the poppy fields of Oz, fell
dangerous sleep, thought dreams
were doom, lost in the television
land of heroin, situation horrors, dropped
my danger in the land of nod. Had a
hard return, held in the hand
of miracles, came to believe
that a power, a hope fiend, the right
word in place is a flower
in the barrel of. How do I
change the world, I begin
with me, found my danger
in the pocket of myself. Whipped
it out, dropped it on you
like I was Sandoz Pharmaceuticals
or Owsley Blue.

I’m dangerous as hell, I believe we
can change the world, bloom you
dangerous too; all flowers in the
barrel of a gun.

What I See From The Balcony At Moore’s Way

For Diane who finally rests in peace, May 18, 2000—written in Moore’s Way
Recovery Center at 23 Duncan Street, Gloucester**

I’m looking at her room now. She was disappeared
by something, none of us knows what it was. Some
think it was her disease. Others
think different. I’m looking at her room. The shades
are drawn, her door is locked. No one can see
in. I’m looking at the ocean from the balcony

next to her room. The sound of seagulls. A man walks
on the pier. Fishing boats at anchor. An island with
grass, a few small trees. This is the view from her room.

I’m looking at her room now. Thinking of her. I hardly
knew her. Saw her once at an NA meeting. I remember
even though it was months ago. I was quite taken
by her. I was about to ask for her phone number yet I decided
to wait for another time. When I get a sudden impulse

to do something, I’ve conditioned myself to wait. I acted
on impulse for over three decades, never hesitated to take
that first shot of heroin. I’m looking at her room.
It is still empty. She has been disappeared for a week.

Her car was left behind. Did I say she walked
with a limp and used a crutch? The crutch was
left in her car. She had a favorite pair of shoes. One shoe
was still here, the other is missing, like her. What God

turned it’s back for a second, busy somewhere else, when
she was taken? I am looking at her room now, wondering
what it was. What was it that came up behind her, beside
her, maybe inside her and took her out? There are many

of us here. Waiting and praying. When I think
of her I think of baseball, laughter, long brown
hair, the twinkling of a smile. I never really
knew her, just watched her walk, said hello, smiled

when she smiled at me. I’m looking at her
room now, a prayer resting on my tongue.
For me she was a light walking,
walking around Moore’s Way, something I could

believe. Everyone here is like that. I’m looking
at her room now, looking for the light, waiting
for her to reappear, say it was just an accident, a
lapse of faith, but everything is all right now, I’m

not disappeared now.

I’m still looking at her room. She hasn’t come home yet.

**When the staff at Moore’s Way opened her room, they found her body— her spirit had flown.**

The Bicycle Ride

She thought it was a beautiful bicycle
knew she wanted to ride it
gently touched the tubing
hard carbon steel
wrapped her fingers around it
stroked it
then threw her leg
over to straddle it

It felt good between her legs
she pumped
the pedals and began to move
her seat felt a little uncomfortable
with the newness of it
she wiggled around on it
till it fit right

It was better than she remembered it
doing it outdoors
somehow doing it indoors
in front of a tv set
just wasn’t as exciting

pumping furiously
wind blowing her hair
sweat beading on her face
and dripping down her hot body

She became lost in the riding
and could feel every bump
every ripple
faster and faster
and throwing her arms
into the air
she screamed out,
“Look ma, no hands!”

An Ode To The Kids Who Tried To Steal My Bicycle, Failed Miserably, And Wrecked It At The Train Station In Gloucester

Grey. Not the sky but the bicycle
left locked. If the iron rails might
talk, or the crosswise snitch, or the bicycle
be gifted with tongues, a broken
mouth cursing from a beaten frame
warped by shod feet, the rider
could know who to hate. The lock

was too good for these shrunken
minds. A good thief takes
or leaves it alone. Fools frustrated
by their own limits kick, bend,
render the bicycle useless as
their wits. Grey. The night

hiding reptilian idiots in frenzy
spending the remnants of their
fury at their own ineptitude destroying
what they cannot take. Greased
hands, they return home to parents
who plan to deny them sooner

than anyone can see it coming.
“Boy,” the father thinks as his
son walks in the door, “the best
part of you dripped down your
mother’s thigh.” Grey. The bicycle
lock won’t be the last obstacle

to defeat these bastard children.

Death Trippin’

written at Worcester House of Correction 1982—83

Late last night I scored a bag of dope
When my spirit is low it gives me hope
I emptied it into my faithful spoon
But it sparkled like the stars in the evening’s noon
I thought for a minute that I was beat
Shot it anyway and leaped to my feet
My heart was racing, couldn’t catch my breath
It wasn’t smack; it was crystal meth
I’m not complainin’, don’t get me wrong
Just rushin’ like a jet stream, comin’ on strong.

Nothing like the glass to straighten your hair
And give your eyes that demonic stare
Just then this chump knocked at my door
I let him in; he was lookin’ to score
So I turned him on to a cotton shot
He started sweatin’, a heavyweight he’s not
He said, “What the fuck man, this ain’t junk”

I said, “you’re right dude, but it ain’t bunk
That’s crystal meth that you just did”
He was runnin’ around, just flippin’ his lid
I guess he’d never done any real speed
I thought it was righteous and he agreed

We hit the streets and started to stalk
Flyin’ high on this eternal walk
Everything was closed; the streets were dead
But the electrons were dancing; in my head

Two days later I came back down
After raging around that goddamn town
Now I was lookin’ in earnest for some smack
My mind was blown; I couldn’t get back
Then I saw my connection walkin’ down the street
He was just the one I was lookin’ to meet
Handed me the bag; said it was real fine shit

I cooked it up and then did my hit
It came on slow but I reached the height
Hey, who the fuck turned out the light
I’m sinkin’ fast; am I gonna die

Who gives a shit; I’m gettin’ high
Some people think I’m on a real death trip
Well, I am tryin’ to give this world the slip
You think I’m wrong; do you have the cure
That’ll fix this pain in my heart for sure

One thing I know, Heroin’s the best
For nullifying the hurt that’s in my chest
And if one day I find death’s sweet sleep
Just dig a hole and bury me deep
And if you’d like to join me in my tomb
You bring the junk, I’ll make some room.

 

 

High Hopes

High Hopes

while in Worcester House of Correction, MA, USA, 1982-83 from the book Poison Pen, Flower Day Productions

Just passin’ through this goddamn state
and don’t ya know it’d be my fate
to get popped with fifteen pounds of grass
Into Worcester House they placed my ass
All because someone dropped a dime
Everybody’s tokin’ but it’s still a crime
I was just a merchant but I’m doin’ time
in steel and stone writin’ perverted rhyme
You think this country would take a tip
and legalize that shit and finally get hip
The weed is here and it’s here to stay
Millions are smokin’ to brighten up their day
They got red bud, green bud and Columbian gold
America’s lit up, both young and old
People are smokin’ all over the street
Even cops are stoned while they walk their beat
I know plenty of farmers growin’ that cash crop
and there ain’t no law that’s gonna make them stop
Where there’s demand there’s gonna be supply
And one-third of America’s gettin’ high
They can lock us up but not the smoke
Right now there’s millions just takin’ a toke
And while I’m here just rappin’ these tales
On Boston Harbour they’re unloadin’ bales
And there’s barns all over filled with that green
And dealers out hustlin’ to make their scene
Now when I get out I’ll be ready to roll
I’ll smoke a few joints and light up my soul
And there’ll be the day when we’ll all be free
So stop on by and cop a buzz from me
The Lord made weed so we all could fly
So love your brothers and sisters and get them high!

Hospital Birthday For Mary Esther

Hospital Birthday For Mary Esther

We didn’t plan it like this we were ready to go
to Maine but instead they gave us the mainline

From Urgent Care to Emergency and they made
promises they failed to keep but my beautiful

Mary Esther made it through it all it all
with the help of her smuggler husband

Who always Loves her no matter what

no matter what
no matter what

So we sing Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you surrounded

by plastic Happy Birthday to you

the poet doesn’t know what to say
the poems don’t say it all

Mary Esther’s car
Mary Esther’s car

I didn’t get to drive it in the EZ pass lane
I didn’t get to drive it on the road to Maine

Mt. Auburn Mt. Auburn
We sing this to you

You’ve screwed up the meds
so screw you too

Mary Esther Mary Esther
I love you so much

Mary Esther Mary Esther
I thrill to your touch.

Happy Birthday Mary Esther
I truly love you

I don’t know what I’m doing
all alone in this house

It is nice when you’re here
not there not there

Happy Birthday My Love
You’re sweeter than the Dove

Perched on your window
Perched on your window

I can’t say much more
I’m not a word whore

I’m hoping you come home soon
So we can laugh like a Loon!

To my baby on her 71st birthday
Swaddled in chains on September 17, 2018