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Pineapple-Poem by Cindy Rosmus
Life is Weird-Poem by Meg Baird
Appendages-Poem by Samuel Cardinale
The Means of Production-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Suicide of Living-Poem by John D. Robinson
It's On My List-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Hoarding Life-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Homeless in NYC-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Death Speaks-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
Time Stops-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
House of Un-Reality-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Ghosts of Borges-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Bitchers-Poem by David Spicer
Voltaire and the Literary Guerillas-Poem by David Spicer
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ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

voltaire.jpg
Art by Ann Marie Rhiel © 2018

VOLTAIRE AND THE LITERARY GUERRILLAS

by David Spicer

 

 

The other night I dug up Voltaire, tossed him

in my El Camino, started mowing down people.

Well-preserved, he began talking: Nice pickup

ya got there, lady, ya wanna fight

some smarmy poetasters and stupid academics?

What the hell? I thought, might as well,

I could have more fun than I did with the beats

and hippies. Sure, old man, I replied, and he said,

OK, but let's get Genet, Oscar, Homer,

Charlie Dick, Byron, Rimbaud, Amira, Fyodor,

Eddie Allan, Walter, and maybe one more.

 

Oh yeah, Emily, let’s not forget Billy Shakes,

the Volt added, nothing literary is complete

without him. The Volt and I spent the next few days

gathering the fellows, driving my old truck pulling

an Airstream, where the guys argued, talked shop,

drank, played chess, smoked weed. Nobody argued

who was the best writer, for they knew it was a matter

of avocados and papayas. But they did have egos.

Immortal before and after the Volt and I resurrected

them. After my biographer resuscitated me,

 

I gained his power to jumpstart great writers.

I had slept decades, dull scholars haunting

me, forging careers analyzing my poems.                                 

I woke up, appalled by the world I saw:

dictators, famine, wars, cities sinking,

billionaires competing to be the richest man                   

alive, mothers separated from their children,

millions watching cartoons, gobbling Big Macs,

blimping into rippled zeppelins or Moby Dicks,

journalists jailed for writing books, and poets

vying for the title of most famous minor major

 

writer, confessing to a few readers of their boring

books. I found an angel who said, Go find Voltaire,

he’s the perfect leader. So I snapped my fingers,

and stood at his grave, digging him up,

kissing him. Oh, the muse awakes me! he yelled

under the lunatic moon that first graveyard night.

Then he suggested we rounded up our motley crew

of immortal writers, forgotten by some people,

idolized by few readers. At times academic

power punks have ignored us, he commented.

Let’s show these slackers how great words sing.

 

 

 

 

The Volt and I took turns driving the Airstream

to Arizona, parked by the biggest butte

none of us had ever seen. Hell, Walt, you’ve travelled

this beautiful country, tell us about it, the Volt said,

and the bearded benevolence hopped out of the trailer,

rapped Song of Myself as Genet riffed on a guitar

like a Clapton-Hendrix crazy man. Both bowed

when they finished and the literary guerrilla gang

cheered, yelled, More, more, Wallie, encore.
I’m tired, Walt said, and trudged to the trailer.

I’m sorry to say that Genet didn’t follow him.

 

We partied a few days, and nobody seduced me—

they desired me, but my reputation precluded that:

they honored my poems as if they were their children.

Instead, some of them, even Rimbaud and Billy Shakes,

hiked in different directions, saying in unison, Hey, lady,

pick us up Sunday in the Big Banana or whatever they

call that crotch of the universe. Eddie Allan wanted

to go with the Volt and me, saying, Teach me how to drive,

lady, and I’ll dedicate my new poem to you. All right,

I replied, as long as you don’t scare my immortality,

but first I need to stop outside Chicago and visit

 

my goddaughter. We stopped at her farm, fixed

it up for her with our immortal power of words:

Farm, be new! we ordered, and it was new.

Dog, be a puppy! and the puppy began riding a Vespa.

My goddaughter, a poet, wanted us to observe

a new subject, a gangbanger who didn’t know

a poem from a shaking muscle car, but we

never made it, wandering to a festival

where a harmonica-playing poet sang poems

and introduced the Volt and me as her immortal buds:

These two have made history and they’re gonna

 

do it again to a wave of cheers that flooded Chicago.

You’re poets and writers, the Volt megaphoned,

every one of you, whether you write drivel

or masterpieces of majesty and magnificence. I may

not like it, but I want you to write, whether a limerick

about crockpot people eating broccoli and beef

or a fifty-volume History of the Cosmos in pentameter

that you all understand. Be the writer you are!

I then recited to the crowd—over a million—a poem

I wrote about being nobody and asked if they

were nobody. No! No! Hell no! They shined,

 

 

 

their eyes celestial bodies, swooning over our words.

The Volt and I dropped off my goddaughter and now his.

I like you, Illinois, he said, never surrender, keep

writing, keep plugging. After our goodbyes,

the Volt, Eddie Allan, and I sang “Kumbaya,” and drove

through the Pennsylvania hills to the Big Banana,

where we parked the Airstream by elms

in Washington Square. Suddenly we heard banging

from the inside, and Amira, Oscar, and Walt scampered

out, Amira yelling, You old maids—don’t tell me I

shouldn’t write about toilets and suicide. I’ll write

 

what the fuck I wanna write. Hmmm, Oscar said sarcastically,

quit being so earnest, it’s not like what we write is important.

Fuck you in your tweed, why don’tcha both go back to jail,

Amira retorted. Now, now, boys, I said, you can write anything

you want, right, Volt? Right on, the Volt said. Write a lizard

cookbook for all I care. I wonder where the others are?

he asked the sky. A cloud replied, There, pointing to a table

outside a Hard Rock Café. We turned, watching Byron,

Charlie Dick, Fyodor, Rimbaud, Homer, Billy Shakes

and Genet pontificate, drinking rounds that a crowd

of NYU MFAers lavished on them. They couldn’t believe

 

these guys in antique clothes were literary giants.

What nuthouse didjiall escape? a dandy, a cross

between Capote and Tom Wolfe, asked. Ya’ll sure

you’re real writers, you look like clowns, his girlfriend,

a transgender named Eternity, snarked. I’ll show you real,

Fyodor bellowed as she grabbed his beard and ate it.

Choke on it, he said, and Eternity did. Come on, Fyodor,

unless you want to write more underground notes.

The rest of you, too, the Volt ordered. The Airstream’s

over there. They swigged their Black Russians,

and Homer said, Let’s take an odyssey to the library.

 

We strolled to the El Camino and Airstream. Rimbaud yelled,

I got shotgun, and Charlie Dick said, Hey boy, don’t give

me a hard time, let me have shotgun. Rimbaud answered,

Over my dead body, I said. Who cares? We gotta leave

before police arrive. Amen, Oscar said, off to the Two Lions!

The Volt suggested we enter separately to escape notice.

Well, they’d think we’re imposters, Billy Shakes said,

twisting the triangle of hair on his head. But, whether we are

or we aren’t, that’s not the question. Inside, we surveyed

the volumes, pointing fingers at our temples, and Voilà!

we read every word in the place within twenty minutes.

 

 

 

Man, ain’t it fun being immortal? Homer and the Volt

said. It sure is, Eddie Allan interrupted. They didn’t

care any more than two bears minded a chipmunk.

They liked Eddie Allan and his horror stories.

We all did, thinking the literati fed him raw fish

with criticism. Anyway, none of us cared

what those snobs wrote—they weren’t writers,

just vampires feeding off us in mahogany rooms

of colleges. Recharging in the Airstream, we took

a vote, decided to drive to my goddaughter’s farm.

In Ohio we picked up a willow of a woman named

 

Helena, whom we all called Hel, for she

wrote songs, poems, novels, beautiful as our

heroines, lovely as Annabel Lee, powerful

as Billy Shake’s queens. We knew it the second

we saw her, but didn’t say it. She liked us,

even when we revealed our identities. Nodding,

she said, I’ve read all your books. You’re my idols.

Byron sat enthralled, Eddie Allan started

a new poem, and Billy Shakes said, I’ve met you

in another lifetime, Hel. Flattery, she said, will get

you somewhere, Billy. You just don’t know where.

 

Back so soon? my goddaughter asked. Yep, Fyodor

said, I’m hungrier than Raskolnikov. You got grub,

girlie? Watch it, mister, she said. I’ll rip your heart

out and feed it to the dog. Whoa, honey, Fyodor said,

don’t you know who I am? Who you were, you mean?

she asked. I said, We don’t have much time, so go

to the barn! Write masterpieces! After we do

we sleep. Each of us staggered to a separate stall,

where racehorses dreamed of the Derby, and wrote—

I finished 1700 more poems—until time collapsed

and I said Time! Pencils down! Fountain pens up!

 

Everybody shouted Bravo!, our personalities one,

work crowding the ceiling: stacks of manuscripts

bound in leather, linen, vellum, the fruits of our labors

for two days with lunch breaks of salami, Brie, Merlot,

rib eyes, anchovy pizzas. A hundred masterpieces—

essays, epics, the Great American and Russian Novel,

forty new folios of Billy Shakes’ plays, twelve chronicles

of Ulysses and Aeneas—we couldn’t believe it. Time’s

running out, I said, OK, we got a plane to catch

in Chicago. I’ll be back, Hel, Penelope, quicker than you

can say Nobel. In each city I left the plane, drove a writer

 

 

 

in a rental to his grave, buried him before he imploded,

shuffled to the plane, to the next grave. Twelve times,

fainting once, until the Volt was last. Lady, you sorry

you dug me up? No way. I loved you guys when I read

you and I love you now, I replied. How could you

read Amira and Genet? Didn’t they write after you?

the Volt asked. Well, I’ve come back before. I’d better go,

I said. Let’s do this again when the world needs our words,

when nobody’s writing about the planet’s screams. Sure

thing, lady. I buried him, flew my pickup over the Atlantic,

landing on a Kentucky highway right before dawn.

 

The pickup died near Pen’s farm, and I stumbled

to her door, exhausted. She and Hel smiled,

knowing I’d be there, walking to the table. I took

my goddaughter aside, saying, You know where I

want to rest, now, Pen? Yes, she said. Well, it’s time

to talk to her. Fixing us a cup of Earl Grey, Hel sat

down with us, and I told her, Those manuscripts

are yours, Hel. Don’t argue. The guys wanted

that, too. They wrote them because they had

to, knowing you’re an immortal who’ll transcend

those self-serving careerists. Pen will guide you.

 

With that, the manuscripts in their piles, Pen and I

strolled to the poplar, where I sat on the ground,

wrote this, and watched Helena, wordless, weep. 



for Joan Colby



David Spicer has published poems in Alcatraz, Midnight Lane Boutique, Third Wednesday, Scab, Oddball Magazine, The Literary Nest, The Tipton Poetry Journal, Synaeresis, Chiron Review, Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere, and in the anthologies Silent Voices: Recent American Poems on Nature (Ally Press, 1978), Perfect in Their Art: Poems on Boxing From Homer to Ali (Southern Illinois University Press, 2003), and A Galaxy of Starfish: An Anthology of Modern Surrealism (Salo Press, 2016). He has been nominated for a Best of the Net three times and a Pushcart once, and is the author of one full-length collection of poems, Everybody Has a Story (St. Luke's Press), and five chapbooks, the latest of which is From the Limbs of a Pear Tree (Flutter Press), released in August of 2017. He is also the former editor of Raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books.












Ann Marie Rhiel is the Assistant Art Director for Yellow Mama Webzine. She was born and raised in Bronx, New York, presently living in New Jersey. She reconnected with her passion for art in 2016 and has had her work exhibited in art galleries around northern New Jersey ever since. She is a commissioned painting artist, who also enjoys photography. Her work has also appeared in Black Petals and Megazine Official.









In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2018