["Click to enlarge or just rub it with your fingers..." from a found poem by Norman Nightingale]
Mark the first page of the book with a red marker.
For, in the beginning, the wound is invisible. -- Edmund Jabes
And so it was I entered the broken world to trace the visionary company of love. -- Hart Crane
I saw the best minds of my generation playing pinball...
I saw dead James Dean's ghost wandering the sidewalk
Looking troubled and I wonder how his mama felt
I saw signs that said head shots done for cheap
Signs that said extras wanted top dollars paid
Signs for tanning salons and signs for assertiveness training
And I stopped to read them all
And every single block looked like every single block
Looked like every single block looked like every single block
Looked like every single block but you kept driving
Cause everyone else kept driving and cause gridlock
Is evil and not knowing your way is evil. --Dan Bern, some lyrics to "Wasteland"
...who...were run down by the drunken taxicabs of absolute reality... -- Allen Ginsberg, from Howl
"Gather ye nosebleeds while ye may." -- Norman Nightingale, The Cathected Poems of Norman Nightingale, from the poem, "Bucolic Bouncers At the Belly Dancers Ball"
"His is an undigested poetry from which no scent emanates. It is, therefore, dead: that is, devoid of life processes constituted in the eating, digesting, and evacuating of all cosmic resources. "I like poems which stink...because they smell of life.." -- Antonin Artaud, Antonin Artaud, Man of Vision, Bettina L. Knapp, First Swallow Press / Ohio University Press edition 1980 pg. 190
"Perhaps a stable order can only be established on earth if man always remains acutely conscious that his condition is that of a traveler." -- Gabriel Marcel *
For Bob M., l'estranger americain:
Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above,
Don't fence me in...
Let me be by myself in the evening breeze...
Send me off forever but I ask you please,
Don't fence me in.
-- Cole Porter, "Don't Fence Me In"
A man of many false starts..." -- The opening line from the manuscript I'm writing of below.
Mon Cher Marcel Meursault, homo viator **,
tumbleweed rumor, post-war roamer,
son of Cain, Biblical stain in from desert storms,
Your first sentence launches the tale which carries itself along from there like, say, an overly educated Texas veteran of the Iraq war I know driving his bondoed cab, the Great Spackled Bard as he calls it, here and there in the edge towns surrounding Mammonopolis doing so because that's where the money is, compelled to dirt roads and back streets one would never intentionally drive if not for that cursed need for money forcing a peg-legged hobo's freedom of sorts, shattered leg below the knee ignomiously left in the sands of the Shahs, to make mutually agreed upon brief commitments with strangers to destinations ending with a discharge and a fare-thee-well.
Between nocturnal addicts, the usual after hour customer, arrives the graveyard-shift nightly migrants to the Waffle House for respite rituals of grease and gravy, the Medussa-wigged anorexic waitress with echolalia loudly repeating every order to the sullen cook with his ash-tipped cigarette limp on a pouting lower lip; she repeats overheard conversations at dirty tables, customers politely pretending not to hear the gossip, the truth, the large confessions of their little lives pasted Hopper-like to the diner windows, glaring reflections without error there where the only self-reflecting going on is the scribbler in the pink booth perversely taking it all in, thinking, feeling, penning it down in notebooks looking for himself in those echoes with your stolen shades on, eternally cool in his capacity to tolerate what you call "the great densities" -- immense absurdities de le quotidien.
Petrochemical company flares just across the highway signal Mammon Cathedral of the Wasteland's neon-voided promises, Velvet Jesuses and Velvet Elvises, to the folks who live in and around this mess, a desert kingdom of the far flung, you being one of them now home from the war, in exile before and after, returning to the beat up but beloved truck that also tells a story and leaves a stain, black puddles writing the names of God--"Jake" and his slow breakdown while breaking into those stately mansions of the godly rich; the hard lessons of earnest "Private Hodges" trapped in his pattern of wanting approval and love ill sought from the gold-toothed refugee "Drill Sergeant Tomaso" late of Liberia, a wannabee Jehovah with too much power over America's young game boys shipwrecked onto military shores.
As everyday and make piece these settings and people are you make me love them, even those monolithic chemical companies, and the justly reactive radioheads, their words blown out of cab windows -- you write, "the wind blows away our words" -- to be heard all the way here in the East Village, New York City, the words discarded or dragged screaming from a passing cab compeling compassion, curiosity, hinting of a calm eye in the center of the eternal return of static pitched dispatches to the corner of Crackhurst and Waffle House and back again. This eye observes, swerves to miss the Mexican kid chasing the ball into Same Ol' Street ("same as it ever was" -- David Berne), notes it with caffeine, amphetamine laced, and traces "the visionary company of love"-- stubbed cigarettes, sputum maps coughed and spat.
As justly bitter (unlike the bland and tepid Waffle House coffee) as your writer's voice may sometimes be therein resounds a tremendous kindness sorrowfully heard for these faces and places. This "broke hearted" uttering does indeed trace the visionary company down those righteously straight Texan streets missing a few teeth, unfurling like remote prayer flags in coldest Himalayas fluttering, flung from gypsy cab windows wordless hiccups of eventing into the oblivion of the obvious -- flutter-flap ancient technologies of cloth strung holey in bleak majesty, gesticulate, pleading "Mercy" for all the species, eventually our own, obliterated by human tracings. In another Buddha's tongue:
Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha
GONE, GONE, GONE BEYOND,
COMPLETELY GONE BEYOND--
Keep going with all this and the other bric a brac pieces. All the opening lines and the one above were strung years ago when you were just a kid in "Father Bob And What The Fuck Land", in all the books (which are never false starts) read and to be read and written since then and now and to come during the suffering and isolate hours, forlorn miles in the merciless cab, all jib jab flap and flutter in real voice about poor human choices which even at their worst are votes for visionary company in those universes revealed even in glittering Texan and Iraqi sand. It is so brilliantly human to find the diamond in the shit.
And it is damned good you are inspired amidst the debris of progress, a wake-dreamed jeweler mining away, in-breathed, while sucking those cigarettes and lovers, the endless hashbrowns, along Texas highways and byways waiting for another dispatch to Bumfuck and Divine.
The psalmist says it right, no matter the blight:
"Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord."
I await another dispatch prayer for the far flung tracers.
* from the preface, Homo Viator, Introduction To A Metaphysic Of Hope, pg. 7
**homo viator means, man the traveler, man on the way,
the latin name Gabriel Marcel uses to designate the human species
especially modern, now postmodern man.
To read Gabriel Marcel's book,
Homo Viator, Introduction To A Metaphysic Of Hope online go here:
[Above Photo by Warren Falcon, "Mexican Cab And Straw Wheels", Apizaco, Tlaxcala, Mexico, January 2008]