It comes down to your smile,
hardly a smile at all
follow your navel
to its logical conclusion
Some will be back
In time we
and become one of your teeth
Tennessee; July 26, 1980
My razor swallows a piece of my neck.
I give it some water.
The newspaper's black song
has revoked the library cards
of two Klansmen
for shooting up a Black girl
and the Chattanooga brothers
are restless and building barricades.
Hospitals yawn Lysol in the Southern night
and the photo of Dr. King holds court
in a million living room arguments
over kind and degree.
In a vegetable warehouse
on the north end of the South Side
he chews a drenched cigar.
His froggish eyes
drooped over the travel section
of an eastern paper
as he talked tomatoes
with five phones ringing.
I ask him for Mountain Time.
His pizza dough cheeks muscled up
and spat a black wad into a cup
graced with superheroes.
"10 AM," he sucks his teeth.
There were photos
on his desk of family
perhaps even lovers.
thrive on sidewalk shelves.
Each walker knows his value.
I am a Brand X Ruggia
and her tits punch out on
Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll.
I T-shirt my sidewalk with
Chastity, Temperance and Classical Music.
and Brown Shirts Peace Shirts and
here in the Brand X Day!
And the man
at the taco stand
wears a shirt
Party Till Ya Puke...
Executing A Miracle
In the courtyard,
black shirted riflemen
at attention in the rain.
The Chief Justice
wipes his neck, pushes
another paper across his desk.
The Miracle, green and yellow feathered,
has orange bilingual shoes
and a Mambo heartbeat.
The Chief Justice
reads from his paper
and nods his head,
and the Miracle falls;
a pile of broken triangles.
Kesnick dropped a dime into Rita's big cleavage. She chased
him down the halls and later he told us about it with
his feet on the desk and his hands behind his head.
Before the addictions Felix with his scummy teeth spat on my
Beatle boots and chucked a moon at Martine Freeman.
I fought in the trenches and rolled cigarettes and saw too many
good kids die and I liberated France and Martine cried in my
arms and her father had a farm and there was cheese and
candy for her little sister.
Zang pointed out that she had a pimple on the back of her neck
and a fat vein in her leg.
Fascism was a haircut and a way of staring at people.
De Lia slicked his crew cut with a roll-on stick. He had no use
for Spics, especially little Domingos. He threw a cherry
bomb into a Little League game, fourth inning, bases loaded,
dead center, pow!
His father beat him up, he was a plumber.
My father was strictly tool and die.
We played chicken, wolf and ringolevio. De Lia taught us hot beans.
If you're It you hide the belt, a thick black leather belt.
Everyone looks for it and you go hot warm cool cold. Whoever
finds it yells, "Hot Beans!" and can hit anyone he catches
all the way home.
Moley started a tradition. He'd hang around home base with a belt
of his own and hit whoever came by first. He hated pussies.
You couldn't run slow or you'd get it and you couldn't run fast
or you'd get it. But you could always grab Matty Pelicano
and throw him at Moley cause Moley didn't like him much
The worst thing was to fall and somebody's over you with the
belt smiling and not saying much and not hitting you, but you
know that soon as you make a move...
You could use the buckle, but no one did until De Lia
smacked Little Domingos hard across the face and Domingos
didn't even go for home. He got up with his face in his
hands and yelled, "Shit!"
De Lia called Little Domingos a greaseball Spic and then Domingos
actually hit him. It was a mistake. De Lia was big and he
beat on him bad and pinned his shoulders under his knees
and spit a bunch of times in Domingos' face. Then Domingos
cursed him and De Lia ripped his pants off and his underwear
All of us stood around. Domingos wasn't clipped and I had never
seen that before. Nobody helped him. I never hung out with
Little Domingos again.
At lunch that week I spat in De Lia's apple brown betty and broke
a plastic spoon stirring it in. He ate it all. Nobody
told him. He'd have kicked my ass.
When I was water the thumping world was black.
Morning came like a white knife through the window.
I was hungry in a black room, an orange meteor moments from my teeth.
The black ocean sang white shells and glittering fisheyes.
Old coffee in my cup smoothed into a black motor speedway.
I was the rudderless pilot in the snake's black pupil.
I manhandled blackness and made a likeness which looked nothing
like me to anyone but myself.
I wanted black so blue in raven fur under the snow.
Was there a kind city to erect my ears with a cafeteria where I
could smoke a cigarette and put eye funk in the sugar bowl?
I didn't need black, but the sliding light in a hall with a
door that opens twice.
I never look a black horse in the mouth.
and a woman
and a woman
Edison's angular Meat Loaf,
soups of pure Geometry
and donuts dye cast.
like a sheet of black tin.
A woman and
a woman and
a woman stroll
in precision's perfect world
in search of perfect lovers.
One head face down in a plate of pasta.
Ummm that's a spicy meatball.
Gentiles, Mafiosi and Jews;
street crime and union dues,
subways late and taxes pay
one big conspiracy of They.
Come sleep awakened evening
Moon in gather grows.
Falling night and swelling light
and silver come the glow
Shadows draped and swelling stiff,
labors soft and silver show.
Rising strong and lasting long
softer goes the glow.
The Moon in swelling goes
a leaner shade of silver.