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David Spicer
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Amnesia

 

by David Spicer

 

 

This aquiline nose made me the perfect womanizer:

a billboard glamour rat, I lived to malign beauties

with handcuffs and blackmail them

at the local new wave health spa.

My favorite was the tuna queen,

who combed pubic curls with an airbrush.

I never possessed remorse for bloodbath sins,

kept agendas to shroud vendetta wishes,

I scratched my arm-stump and played Mozart

in the electric blue roadster I received

for a box of bombs years ago. The frost

numbs it further these days as I shudder

through luncheon after noble luncheon,

but babes keep reviving my gutter factor.

Make no mistake: I don’t live in this monk’s

cell by choice, my life is already cluttered.

I’m no eunuch, I spoil for a mate

who’ll elevate me to the status of cardinal,

forgive shy faults, applaud me in a gallery

of movie greats. When I begin to lecture

I’ll smoke dope in a pipe on a catfish farm,

and the etching of a stranger who is me

that peers above the mantle will survey the kingdom

and forget the aquiline nose and august betrayals.

 

 

Statement

 

by David Spicer

 

 

Punks with hundred dollar bills aren’t unique.

Anyone can be a parvenu. Me, I’m fickle

as an ad agent, so wealth attracts my big tip

sensibilities. I’ve prospered like a banker,

watched the hawk and heron nag each other

with byzantine anger in my Jaguar sedan.

Just call me the Pied Piper of the South Bronx.

Shit, I’d exploit an AIDS victim. Slam dunkers,

heavyweight chumps, choreographers, infatuated

with my feather boa wrongdoings—serve them all.

Just attend to the battery at my gas station hangout.

My protégé will feed you enough paranoia

to crumble your spine. And introduce you

to our terrier, Garbage Can. They both have

eternal stiff dicks and sallow complexions.

Pop balloons with a scowl on their faces.

So don’t offer me a white-collar scholarship,

and cram that mousse between your snobby binoculars.

I deserve your enmity, not promises of redemption.

I’ve produced more widows than gunshot whiplash.

I can’t sink any lower, but I don’t want your minister.

Just stick the needle in.

I’ve got an elephant’s skin.


 

 

HIROSHIMA IN THE MONA LISA

 

by David Spicer

 

 

The ponytailed waitress Hiroshima

with copper hair and a slow burn frown

offered me, the black sheep of a Brahmin

firebomb of a family, asylum on the red

marbled floor of the Mona Lisa.

My rumpled Armani suit the smallpox

of  libertines who dined near Pissarro

landscapes under lemon yellow ceilings.

She slipped into badlands of my soul,

a rookie in love, I kissed her on the elbow,

ordered dessert another napkin, and she gave

me uranium. What am I, a lab rat?

Deaf for a moment, I drank sparkling water

and ate blueberry cake, rolled dice in a barrel.

Fog crept in with the flood before snow

fell on the tavern next door. My mojo

forgave me its burden: a lollipop leopard

with jawless cheeks, I needed a slingshot. I yelled

in the restaurant and whistled hello to Hiroshima

for a Band-Aid to cover my crocheted mouth.




TSUNAMI BLOOM

 

by David Spicer

 

 

The French femme fatale never betrayed me,

her bald hairdresser. A serial heartbreaker

with woozy Bardot eyes, she banished men

and caused more than one suicide with

a fountain pen to the neck of a metal guitarist

and that broken glass of burgundy sliced across

a foppish bishop’s flesh. To last weeks

with the tsunami bloom of swimsuit rants

made one bulletproof to her biblical prophecies.

I met that golden hair under aspens during

a counterfeit eclipse, when the tide over

banks rushed through my cove of hornets,

truffles, and Yiddish fear. She

went by FF, and declared her name

the password to the soul. Nobody saw

those memoirs except one hero, eating

prawns and rice with blackberries,

who died of the plague in flights of fancy.

She claimed to be a virgin in awe of men,

a martyr to mistakes. The passion

for an absent partner filled notebooks, and

photographs of fools she played jazz to

filled three mailbags. You’re a rumor

in that raspy voice, she said to me.

I don’t love you, we were never lovers,

here’s a razor blade, I’m bored.

I thrived, slept in a ditch and found

peace with her abstract beauty

under the sad moon and starless night.


 

 

Sweet Sixteen in Rapid City

 

by David Spicer

 

 

That year I blossomed with the sneer

of a hawk in paradise. Shipped to

my grandparents’ and their trailer

after I pulled the donkey’s tail, I escaped

bluffs and the patriot buffoon.

No more beat downs with

surfboards for this teenage rogue,

no more boot camp threats

or coffee shops with my guitarist

girlfriend Bogie. I hitched the last

fugitive bus to Rapid, debuted crime

sprees with a shotgun crotch. Mama Bogie

bingoed in later with a tequila bottle

and a grin bigger than a tennis ball. We

squatted in a Buddhist gangster’s mansion

next to a roadhouse, his entourage ours,

played tag in the lumberyard

and notched our ears with knives.

Drove golf carts and forklifts downtown

to rumba music and rode a maniac bison

in our underwear to check the mailbox.

Ignored vendettas from muggers,

dodged detectives with a million ploys.

Slim Bogie and I loved cowboy hats,

not about to wear socks and strait jackets.

So we closed the drapes, swooned

to applause, and blew the place.

 

 

THE FIGHT FOR MATILDA

 

by David Spicer

                            

 

 

A grand hijinxer, the president of Krappa Tougha Alpha, created mischief like a painter flinging paint at a canvas. This year his fraternity fell short of pledges. Original in a crazy way, he decided he and his macho brothers would inform Tim Smith and Robert Hall, the two skinniest milksops on campus, that they could join Krappa Tougha Alpha. What’s the catch? Tim Smith asked. First, call me sir, maggot. The maggot did. The president said, You two sissy boys just have to fight each other.

 

 Bullshit, Robert Hall said. It’s bullshit, SIR, the president corrected. In a few seconds, Smith and Hall circled in a mudpit behind the frat house. Smith socked Hall in the mouth before Hall grabbed Smith with a headlock, then turned round and round with Smith in his grip. Smith punched Hall in the kidney and Hall fell. Smith kicked Hall in his ribs and chest and continued to the cheers of the drunk frat brothers and their mascot, a beautiful midget named Matilda. Hall rallied, bounced up, threw mud in the other milksop’s face, and landed a left, then a right, then a left before he kicked Smith in the ass. Smith fell face down into the mud where he stayed, to the applause of the president, the drunk brothers, and Matilda.

 

Good show, Hall. Guess what happens tomorrow. What, Sir? Hall asked. You get to fight Matilda and if you win, you can fuck her!

 

Everybody cheered.

 

 

Blowhards in The Aubade

 

by David Spicer

                            

 

 

After the art opening, six of us hiked to The Aubade, an artsy-fartsy classical bar, and sat at a mahogany moon of a table. Ralph, a boxer with alfalfa hair who picked fights with Marines fresh out of boot camp, and Mark, a classic sandbagging black belt with kicks, blocks, and a Hitler mustache, were the alpha males. They had never met, but the rest of us knew them.

 

Wren, a coy tease who flirted with fluffy hair, fluttering eyelashes, and a baby-girl voice, kidded both small men about drinking cognacs and beers in a classical bar and called the drinks “fruity boilermakers.” We chuckled, except Ralph and Mark.

 

We drank and laughed until the crowd thinned and we remained. Wren joked with us, and Mark and Ralph locked eyes when she asked them, So, Mark, Ralph, what do y’all think of the Zen of Sartre versus the Shinto of Camus? We laughed so loud that the ghosts of departed customers shuddered. Not Mark and Ralph.

I don’t care about that crap, Ralph answered. All I know is your buddy here is gonna be a horizontal Nazi punk when I get through with him.

 

I know you’re a boxer, Mark replied. That doesn’t matter. I’ll knock your asshole so hard between your eyeballs you’ll be shittin’ teeth for weeks.

 

Yeah, Wren cheered. That’s what we’re talkin’ about!

 

Fight! Fight! Fight! we chanted.

 

The two men danced with their insults for a few minutes until the bartender interjected, OK folks, time to hit the road.

 

We staggered to my old white Chevy wagon. Mark and Ralph collapsed into the back. We drove home silently, until Wren gazed back at the two passed-out blowhards and wisecracked, I think they’re in love.

 

The rest of us laughed until we cried, shaking our wobbly heads at the alpha female.

 

 

 

 

RONNIE

 

by David Spicer

 

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll had to happen

he mumbled, stoned on the couch.

Intense and obnoxious,

jabbering with raucous laughter,

he told us to roll another one.

He’d toured with Black Oak,

ZZ, the Allmans. It’s a beautiful night,

he proclaimed, taking a toke of a thin joint,

bogarting, oblivious.

What I would do to do Seconal,

even Paregoric or Dramamine,

he lamented. He yelled about

installing cable television.

He whispered love to divorcees.

You can count your friends

on one finger, he said, and I listened.

He’d rammed a cop car, he bragged,

and I believed him.

It rained outside, darker than black,

and the organ on the radio

reverberated in our smoky lungs.

Alive behind a mustache and cowboy boots,

he chattered insane, bullshit love:

Hanging in there is cool and

I got two kids I can’t have.

He snorted a rail

with a fifty-dollar bill,

petted a .45 behind his belt.

I’m a criminal, a fuckup, an outlaw,

but I’m blessed as the sun’s birth.

If you’d have written this three years

ago, I’d have shot you, but fuck,

I’ve done drugs with the biggies.

I’m Neal Cassady Junior the Third,

5'10", 130 pounds, 35 in two weeks,

a literary treasure, and about as bad

as the Roadrunner.

We nodded to rock all night,

asked each other about our Rock Heaven.

His cowboy shirt glistened under

a hundred-dollar diamond earring,

he smiled drunk, stoned, and vain

at the moonlight: a sweaty beer

bottle raised to the universe.




THE BEACH

 

by David Spicer

 

 

Jack was a friend for a year

when he told me at a party

he drove to Florida with a divorcee,

lounged in a lawn chair on the beach

and studied the swordfish and her.

They walked the shore for miles

until their eyes tired of the air.

They rested near rocks that blocked

the view of the lighthouse.

They slept the evening,

dreamed the same dream

and discussed it at midnight.

They made love and a wish beneath the stars.

Before dawn the teacher woke,

left his partner asleep,

with waves washing her painted toes

like tiny dishes. Her chest heaved

in and out, in time with the water

slapping the sand and the horizon.

Jack roamed for hours,

hands in pockets.

He reflected about Cuban students

and their souped-up trucks;

he thought of a failed marriage with arguments

borrowed from centuries of fighters in love.

Shaking his head, he listened to the sun rise

above the sea, and jogged back

to the sleeper he hardly knew.

 

With thirty knife wounds in her torso,

the nude body glared at the morning.

Jack saw tulips of blood on the flesh,

his mouth dropped a scream.

He ran to the police and repeated his story

a dozen times, the same way every time.

They softly said,

Now tell us what really happened.

They drove him to the county jail,

where he lived for a month

with wife beaters, child killers, butt fuckers.

They didn’t bother this man

bigger than their fantasies,

just watched his smiles and silence.

They told each other horrors:

how a man cut out his wife’s heart

with a broken whiskey bottle and ate it;

how a gang burned a church of children

and laughed until the flames died;

how brothers raped their sisters

and strangled them with barbed wire.

After the grand jury indicted him,

he waited for the writ.

Then the prosecutor dropped the charges.

Jack landed a job where I worked,

And proved his friendship by listening

without complaint to my groans.

I didn’t know about the charge

except from newspaper accounts about a teacher

who committed a Florida murder.

He was guilty of wandering

on the wrong end of the beach.


 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

by David Spicer

 

          New Year’s Eve was in full swing at Ars Nova, a salon for artists and writers, owned by a kindly woman in her 70s named Kate Reynolds, who opened it because she felt the city needed such a refuge.

 

At eleven, the back door flung open to announce the arrival of Delia, who was with Bad Olaf, a giant, balding Swede. A boy of about nine stood with him.

 

The trio stomped into the room’s center, now absent of music and laughter.

 

OK, Tommy, who’s the bitch that grabbed you by the arm when you were in here?

 

The little boy pointed at Kate, who seemed dumbstruck.

 

What? she asked, what are—Delia slugged her in the face with a roundhouse blow, resulting in a knockdown. Before she could kick Kate’s ribs, Bad Olaf pulled her away.

 

I jumped in and yelled at Delia, Get out of here, you psychopath, before I call the cops. Delia smirked and Olaf grabbed Tommy into his huge arms to carry him down the stairs.

 

          Kate, sporting a bruised lip, was on her feet and announced, Come on, folks, let’s not allow that hussy to ruin our party.

 

Too shocked to ask questions, we complied and sang until midnight, yelled Happy New Year!, hugged each other, and continued to have a blast.

 

          I woke up on Kate’s littered floor, where five or six other revelers lay in various states of stupor. I took some aspirin, and trudged down the stairs to my old Impala. The windows were shattered, the tires flat, and the headlights were broken into small pieces. A sheet of notebook paper was duct taped to the rear view mirror. I opened the driver’s door and saw the crayoned smiley face.





NIGHTHAWKER STREETWALKER

by David Spicer

 

          Flush with money, Harry Sears and I decided to tour Midtown bars, get smashed, pick up women, and be unable to perform later. Harry felt that women liked men to get so drunk that they couldn’t be ramrods.

 

We visited Mama Mia’s first, where we drank Margaritas. No action. We walked next door to Hellhole, a punk pit painted flat black on the exterior, where bands plastered posters and turned it into an off-white surface in about a month’s time. Perhaps the bar went broke because of painting costs, but I felt that the music was cruddy and drove away real money. Besides, I didn’t like the Wintergreens enough to hustle wild females. We trudged over to Milky Mulligan’s, a white building with a golf theme, and drank a couple of Woody Tigers. They tasted like, well, wooden tigers.

 

          Minnie’s was a dank enclave of bikers and truckers. The dankness ended in fistfights each night and Minnie’s quickly went broke. We drank beer until I tired of Harry rambling about his dream woman. Next: The Nail Biter. It was a high-end meat market where women drank. We left when we didn’t like the Bloody Marys and Harriet Wallbangers.

 

          Next: Twelfth Night. Artsy fartsy, along with The Aubade next door, another snooty-tooty place that catered to actors, poets, and artists. Both lasted a long time because many people deemed themselves actors, poets, and artists. The infamous poet Delia frequented these two watering holes, which late in their lives became arson victims.

 

          We counted fifteen bars before the end of the tour. Harry and I knew we were done when we chose The Rails as our last call. Staggering into the darkest dive that neither one of us had visited, we ordered tequila and finished it when inspiration struck me. Nighthawker Streetwalker, swaggering from the drain, Nighthawker . . .  I recited, when a greasy-haired hag with pockmarks yelled, Who you callin’ Nighthawka Steetwalka, Mothafucka? Nobody, ma’am, we slurred, and exited as fast as our drunk asses allowed.

The next morning Harry and I woke up in jail, our heads bigger than boxcars.





LUST SONG OF AMERICAN MANIAC

 

by David Spicer

 

                                                           

Not one to bring roses before the wine-and-dine routine, I sing:

Let’s do it in a bathtub of spaghetti sauce, let’s do it on a bed

            of hundred dollar bills, while Jimmy’s blaring.

I’ll try anything to see where your legs disappear.

I’ll be a gambler carrying a diamond cane.

 

I want to fuck you.

In the cherry orchards outside your daughter’s patio.

In the backseat of your ’57 Studebaker.

Everywoman, I want to drill life into you:

the only abortions I believe in are poems.

I want to find you some midnight wearing white.

 

You can be on top if we’re on a Big Apple elevator.

But no, this is Memphis, the city of dreamers and vampires,

where sex is a hunchback everybody hides.

Where sex whispers in our ears like a hoarse beggar.

Your garters shining under the moon.

While bookies collect on our most glorious act,

after we’ve climbed a hill of rusty steel.

I want to meet you in a supermarket, toss the lamb chops on the linoleum,

            hump you burning in the freezer display.

I want to explore you in a Graceland bedroom under a velvet Elvis painting.

I want dogs to bark, babies to bawl, guns to shoot all over this ragdoll city.

I want to crank you on Queen of the Mississippi.

 

I want to caress you, not talk about the lasagna

you ate with Tony last night.

Not about the kid you killed with your Volvo.

 

I’d stop shaving for a year if you’d let me remove your slip with my nose.

My smiles would melt into your kisses if you’d let me slide your panties

            down those sycamore legs.

I’d tell lies about the pyramids to sack you.

I have to share my sexist jokes while I school you.

You don’t know how I feel.

                                                                 

 I dream of you every day, a bit boyish like my kid sister.

I want you to be my mother as I lick your mango tits.

You don’t have a face—only a farm of strawberries.

 

I want to lay you in the post office under WANTED posters.

I must have you in the name of lust.

Will you say Fuck off?

Can I follow you home to your hot tub, drink White Russians by lamplight,

            and dance to the Tennessee Waltz?

Even if I read you poems by Marvell, Donne, Browning, Shakespeare,

            and myself?

 

I need you in your 40-year-old Rapunzel-haired wonder.

I want to whisper into your sensitive ears the parables of Tolstoy, Dickens,

            and Woody Allen.

I crave you after I eat oysters and vanilla custard.

In a Ferris wheel as it’s ascending.

The whole circle would crack like a giant egg.

The sun would grin, the sky would chuckle.

 

Can you be an immortal celebrity, with your twitters in spasms

when you’re wiggling to a bossa nova catechism?

I live for the moment I can drive into you, beautiful hussy.

At the muscle club, in a telephone booth, in the cargo belly of an airplane.

 

I know the color of your skin is an orange glow.

I dwell on whether your toes curl when you scream with disappointed ecstasy.

I’ll hitchhike a ride with a carload of drunk jocks to get to your house.

 

It doesn’t matter if sable is more expensive this time of year.

I want your blossomed body.

The challenge of the unattainable, the anathema of blemishes.

I know you won’t disappoint me.

Bite me in the balls.

I’ll pay anything for a look at those moon-crater nipples.

I’ll sing “How Sweet I Roamed from Field to Field” for a taste.

                                                                                   

   Don’t order me to climb a streetlight and blow the bulb.

That legendary fig of yours, pink, hot beauty,

            folded in a sleepless dream.

You’re my last hope to be human.

 

I’ll let you whip me with your hickory switches.

I’ll let you sit on my aging Auden face.

In the stadium while the Giants are stomping the Cowboys 69-0.

In the boxing ring, with the hungry watching, we’ll be each other’s knockout.

We’ll rub ourselves raw in caves, listen to Beatles records, view the Olympics.

 

I want to gently scrape my teeth over every inch of your skin.

Let me comb my fingers through your sand-speckled hair.

Pretend I’m Picasso.

Pretend I’m a priest.

Say I’m Goliath, say I’m Dilbert.

Say Yes.

 

I want to hear angels applaud.

I want Elvis to resurrect.

I want the Lone Ranger’s silver bullet with your husband’s blessing.

 

Telephone me, telegraph me, e-mail me, rent a billboard.

Tell me I’m the greatest since Ali,

Lie to me, lie next to me,

Let me guide you to forty-one symphony screams,

Let me show you who the King really is, how big his prick is,

Close your eyes to the galaxies as I wildcat you,

Vanish in a flash of light

Before I die.


 

 

…THE TOWERS FELL…

 

 

by David Spicer

                                                 

 

Where were you when the Towers fell?

 

I was dead drunk in a Philly diner

waiting for the bars to open.

A two thousand-dollar suit shook my shoulders

and I didn’t wake up for half an hour.

He asked me if I had heard.

I griped that I was passed out.

The TV blasted, smoke billowed so black

I thought everyone in the diner would choke.

Blacker than sins exorcists had purged.

People stampeded toward the camera as if for comfort.

It was the worst snuff film ever.

When the Towers fell, I wondered

if my girlfriend’s bed begged for another lover.

 

As the Towers fell, a sleepy summer ended.

We filed away Gary Condit

and he breathed a sigh of relief.

Dylan’s new album was a silent hiccup.

Oklahoma City was a prairie memory.

 

The towers fell and I couldn’t find my dice.

The towers fell and the stars somersaulted.

 

Cynics claimed 9-11 was karmic payback

for slave millions of the South,

interred Japanese in California,

displaced and murdered savages of the Plains,

innocent, executed prisoners in every state.

After the Towers fell, a preacher admonished

it was the penance for a faggot nation,

The Rocky Horror Picture Show magnified.

 

After the Towers fell, a network fired a comic

for mouthing off about America.

Everything changed. Or did it?

Airport goons felt my gummy bear and nuts more than once,

my phone was tapped, computer hacked, DNA swiped.

City brownouts popped my lights,

lone wolves tried to outdo the twin peaks’ collapse,

and I’m still sucking Washington’s tit.

  

Before the Towers fell, Y2K proved itself a hoax.

The dot com bubble burst like a bloated cookie.

Tiger Woods ruled as the boss of the fairway.

Baseball almost died of steroids.

We idolized celebrities and reality shows.

 

Since the Towers fell, no American

has won the Nobel Literature Prize.

After the Towers fell, Obama won

a Peace Prize he didn’t deserve.

Now, Donald Trump’s hair is an orange joke,

while Republicans bite their own balls.

Men become women and women become men,

and the wing nuts suffer morality strokes.

In Colorado and Washington, it’s legal to take a toke.

A buddy complained the world is upside down and inside out.

 

Since the Towers fell, it’s getting hotter than Mercury.

Chicken Little was right because the sky is falling,

The Arctic is falling.

The mountains are falling.

Slave peddlers thrive.

Kingpins murder.

Mexico is glorious in blood and drugs.

 

The day the Towers fell, boredom died.

When the Towers fell, a teenager yelled, Awesome!

When the Towers fell, the millennial flashpoint floored us.

Our eternal albatross. It made us humble as ladybugs.

 

After the Towers fell, nihilists rejoiced.

Two thugs mugged a shopkeeper in Stockton.

Twenty Hell’s Angels gangbanged an orchid blooming in Maine.

It was just another day in the life of Infinity.

 

When the Towers fell, the country saw two airplanes

stab a building, smoke fluming outward.

 

The day the Towers fell was the real day the music died,

the music of you and me,

fucking to the beat of Satisfaction,

me and a stranger, you and your enemy,

ever in a neo-Whitmanesque dance.

 

I dreamed dragons ate the airplane.

I dreamed no virgins greeted the martyrs

and Dante met them near the nine circles.

 

I dreamed the sky that day was a Georgia O’Keefe canvas.

I was a Magritte Man, suspended in that painting.

I peered over the chaos.

I wept for the dying first responders.

Was the Hudson the River Styx that day?

 

Tragedians are brave men.

The Greeks and Shakespeare asked questions we keep asking.

We pay for our fathers’ sins,

for the lynchers, witch burners.

But are we innocent, with our sins

occupying fifty million infernos?

A child who steals his first

candy bar when he’s hungry?

A reptilian rapist?

A single father who robs a gas station?


A knocked-up girl who kills her fetus?


The Towers fell and they were just two more numbers.

The Towers fell and have we learned anything?

Do we think some entity loves us, whatever creed we follow?

 

After the Towers fell, strangers held hands

and sang America and Kumbaya.

Iraqis, Saudis, and Iranians chanted Down with Satan!

A militant cleric bragged that

when the Towers fell, America’s

cocks turned flaccid, forever impotent.

 

I’m American and hubris happy.

I mourn and celebrate with pride.

I mourn the Towers’ 3,000.

Without irony I mourn the deaths of that day.

I mourn soldiers like Pat Tillman

sent away and slaughtered

for a Texan king with a daddy problem who

waged a phony war against a perfect patsy’s country.

I mourn the unborn children as a thoughtless consequence.

 

I mourn Benazir Bhutto.

I mourn the Katrina victims and survivors.

I mourn Daniel Pearl and Elsa Cayat.

I mourn Angie Zapata and Sean Kennedy.

I mourn Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

 

I celebrate Malala.

I celebrate the iPod and iPhone.

I celebrate the Grand Canyon.

I celebrate American Pharoah.

I celebrate Pussy Riot.

I celebrate the Internet and Google.

I celebrate the first woman President.

I celebrate her husband.

I celebrate you who are alive.

And I celebrate you who are dead.

I celebrate this miracle of a planet.

 

I mourn sodomized women.

I mourn children in their daddies’ bathrooms.

I cry for the Javan Rhino, the Vaquita, the South China Tiger,

I mourn the rise of Isis in its beheading infamy.

I mourn wives beaten to death by loving partners.

I mourn friends killed in churches by bigoted gunmen.

I mourn the Amur leopard, the African wild dog,

and the rest of the angels in their natural glory.

I mourn you who are dead.

I mourn you who are alive.

I mourn this miracle of a planet.

 

When the Towers fell, a nation cried like a child never wronged.

Nineteen lunatics wounded Goliath.

The day the Towers fell, a billionaire asked himself

How can I profit?

 

The day the Towers fell, a mosquito bit a baby to death.

A gambler won a million at craps in Macao

and bought a thangka to gloat.

Twenty hunters clubbed five hundred

baby seals to death with baseball bats.

                                                                               

Three thousand souls.

I think of that day, now,

and ask if we’ve learned anything.

We remember where but not why.

 

A month after the Towers fell, the diner where I upchucked

closed its black doors.

I imagined cobwebs and rats visited

the cracked leather stools, and the jukebox

played Like a Rolling Stone over

and over on lonesome Saturday nights.

                                                              

Years after the Towers fell,

in a bar by the East River

I met a hazel-eyed woman

with brown curls past her belt:

that first night she lay on her stomach

I swept the hair above her head with my hands,

and on her back from ass to neck

the Towers loomed in steel-blue ink

with red flames at the top, bodies plummeting

toward the ground, where doves sat

in silence, moments after the Towers fell.

 Where were you when the Towers fell?

 

AFTER THE FIRE

 

by David Spicer

 

 

A chimney and a corpse—all that remained

of the cabin in the newspaper photos.

No archway-inviting guests to wait

in the parlor, this roof protected

bones in a different way, its blanket

of burned wood their cover. I remember

you naked in hip-length blonde hair

the evening after you and two younger sisters

welcomed me into this home on the ridge

overlooking the river. You and I lay

on the bed for hours in the lantern-lit

upstairs bedroom, naming the stars

we knew in the night sky. I ask decades

later if you’re these soft black pipes melted

into the ghastly skull, or are they a squatter

who may have hidden upstairs to protect himself

from violent burglars stealing family heirlooms,

their canoe perched on the embankment?

Or did the three of you girls leave this cabin

even though I departed with a promise

to return? Why didn’t I? And I wonder,

the day after I viewed those pictures,

about the onyx necklace I squeezed

into your pale palm that April day.

Now I roam the mountains in a solitary

life, and when I learn it is or isn’t you

in these ashes, I may live and die

a wolf hearing leaves rustle and twigs

snap, deep in a tortured life, a drifter beast

lost in a landscape foreign and familiar.



 

 

A THUNDERSTORM’S SIDESHOW

 

by David Spicer

 

 

I’d offer this rose and its stem

from the mountain as rain smirks

outside this church where I beg

for your pardon. I accept that

I don’t deserve your forgiveness.

Fog lifted from the lighthouse

hours ago, the shoals an enemy

I never understood, and the shutters

are closed, but the white owl is still

my confidante. Our romance, I agree,

was a thunderstorm’s sideshow,

and, taming my horsewhip temper,

you were more patient than a snail.

The winner of our snowball fights

and a board game called Pagans,

you claimed territory with a runner’s

grace, collected rare shells, never asked

me to shine brighter than the promise

you praised. But when the sheriff arrested

me for sucker-punching your brother

on the chin because he sneered

once too often, I embarrassed you

the last time. Now, after my release,

will you welcome me with your black

hair that decorates the wind or suggest

I climb a cliff and imitate a suicidal

painter with his last splash of red gouache?

Oh, you’ll never arrive—it’s no longer

our season—for I’m uglier than the sky.



FRUITS, VEGETABLES, AND MINDY’S TOPAZ EYES

 

by David Spicer

 

 

That dusk in '99 we ate watermelon

and cantaloupe by the armory

canal, your topaz eyes glistened

behind borrowed sunglasses and I

scanned your thin, bikinied body as you

played a concertina. You caught me,

and I felt embarrassed but you didn’t,

threatened by no one, your slender hands

under the instrument’s straps, the tune

paradise’s music. Mindy, the spotlight

shined on you and you loved it.

I never tired of our swimming before

you appeared from the wall’s shadows,

holding the concertina and a bamboo purse

with a pellet gun inside. I wish I hadn’t been

a cokehead that summer night: when the police

chased us after watching me snort a line

with the last hundred I had, we ran like

greyhounds, harvesting onions the size

of baseballs. In the holding cell together you

joked about a couple lemons I could

squeeze, and I declined, afraid the officer

would appear and separate us or—

worse—strip us like the creep he was.

I’ll take a rain check, and I kissed you,

wondering what happened to your concertina,

not to mention those glistening topaz eyes.


 

 

 







 

 

 

 




farewellbibi.jpg
Art by Bill Zbylut © 2017

FAREWELL, BIBI

 

by David Spicer

                             

 

Cossack ghosts haunted Bibi.

Thinking about Russian blizzards,

he migrated to Manchester,

where we met in a bus terminal

and, after asking for a fix,

he recounted a story: an orphan

adopted by a Georgian count

and forced to make coffee, empty

chamber pots, and attend to beehives,

he wandered from the palace’s

tower and startled a girl. Anna,

with waist-length brunette hair

slept in a negligee on a beat-up

couch in a meadow. They soon

bathed in the local lake, lovers

clinching in tenderness who praised

the other under the soapbar moon. Bibi

stole a bag of golden coins from a local

miner who scowled in his sleep, and the

couple erased themselves from their mother

country and piled in a boxcar destined

for Europe. The speeding rectangle

seemed to melt without the wind.

He called Anna his bride and planned

a wedding when they found a judge

in London. Upon arrival, Anna died

from a virus, Bibi leaving her for the flies.

He shuffled to Manchester and paved roads.

When he finished, I lost my temper, insulting

him: You’re a scumbag. Farewell, Bibi.

 

 

ROLLING DOWN THE HIGHWAY IN A CADILLAC 30 MILES WEST OF BUTTE

 

by David Spicer

 

 

Your disgusting feet smell

like oysters! Coco erupted,

driving the ’54 Eldorado

convertible while I played

“Will O’ the Wisp” on the trumpet

in the back, my legs propped

up against the front passenger seat.

Do you know that if I eat a lemon

now, the lack of stink will

castrate me? I asked. Headed

for the west coast, the two of us,

afraid of boarding airplanes, eat

a bag of plums, bananas, and limes

all day. Think we’ll make it

to the Russian Roulette party tonight?

Coco inquired, her coils of brown hair

blowing underneath her cap. Don’t know.

I’d rather watch silent movies

about cannibals in the White House.

Yeah, me too, Coco said, or play

computer Scrabble, tossing the red

baseball cap that read Make America

Laugh Again onto the road.

Well, decide: we drive through the state

today in silence or I paint my nails

pomegranate before we hit the sack.

We could duct tape each other’s mouth,

I suggested. No, just cover

my nose or wrap your feet, dildo.

 

 

 

 


generalcuster.jpg
Art by W. Jack Savage © 2017


Art by W. Jack Savage © 2017 Edit Picture

HE DUBBED HIMSELF GENERAL CUSTER

 

by David Spicer

 

 

I once knew an anarchist: droopy-eyed,

weak-chinned, and pony-tailed, he

dubbed himself General Custer, led

a band of fifty sycophants he named

slaves and soul mates, claimed he

killed his parents and buried them

near evergreens and frowned during

his sermons. He forbade photographs

or reporting of his activities but revealed

so much I began keeping a journal.

Every Sunday, in a church between

a river and a lake, with a medical

skeleton in the corner behind him,

he taught a manifesto of misanthropy

to lackeys, followed by a screening

of his favorite film, Wild Strawberries.

Every other movie is trash, he

announced. He wore a perfume,

Immortal, and began donning pink

robes, trained the women to box,

and preferred watercolors over oils.

The guns arrived later, and target

practice commenced. To kill

is an honor humans have embraced

since Cain and Abel, he preached

in his last speech I heard. A puddle

of blood is a holy sacrament, a wild

strawberry. I left a week before the feds

raided his growing compound: General

Custer would have to fight without me.

 

ROXYANNA

 

by David Spicer

 

 

A former Mafia wife from Milan who

collected gargoyles nailed to Bolivian

crucifixes, she demanded boyfriends

suck her elbows and cling to those

skinny ribs like exhausted chain saws.

I met redheaded Roxyanna two weeks

after she kissed her hippo-belly

husband for ten minutes,

and he later died when doctors

couldn’t transplant a teenager’s heart

to his chest. A waitress in a surfer bar,

Roxyanna wore green flannel shirts

and jeans with holes in their knees,

musing one morning, I wonder

what it’s like when a traffic cop

gives a track star an enema.

Don’t know, I said, might as well

wish Bono greets you at an airport

posing as your butler after you win

a Hollywood lottery fantasy. Roxyanna

frowned, Gimme a Kleenex, Pudgy,

or I’ll shave your melon head.

I complied and then lumbered

to the cypress trees in the backyard forest,

tired of lovers’ combat, tired of being

another lame horse in Roxyanna’s stable.



“WANTED”

 

by David Spicer

 

 

My blonde friends, identical twins

Eskimo and Mohawk, called each

other Charlatan as a joke:

they confused everyone but me,

for Eskimo wore cufflinks,

and Mohawk sported permanent

goosebumps after we asked together,

Wanna be lovebirds? Eskimo shook

her head, sneered, You can’t have

Mohawk—we’re one person

with the same DNA, and you’re

nothing but a human blowjob.

I laughed. It’s our karma to fuck

forever, I said. Waiting in a post

office line, we pretended

I was worthy of one

of its WANTED posters.

Wanted by you, Eskimo,

I teased. Go deliver that line

to some catfish, Eskimo said.

You Pollyanna bitch, Eskimo,

I love this medicine man.

We connect so much I faint

like a pregnant rabbit when

I kiss him, said Mohawk.

Here’s an idea, I suggested.

What? the twins asked in unison.

Let’s take a bus to Sturgis,

throw a tailgate party,

and chug beer with the Invaders.

Hell, Eskimo dared, not

until you commit a felony

and earn that WANTED poster.





 

 


whatayasay.jpg
Art by Patty Mulligan © 2018

WHATAYA  SAY?

 

by David Spicer

 

 

Thanks for answering the ad.

If you want a spot on my delivery

truck, arrive prepared to follow me.

If you’re a convicted criminal or

another kind of parasite, don’t try

to smuggle your affection

through the open gate of my heart.

I’m a recluse who’s survived for a reason,

and if I don’t appreciate the kindness

of spaghetti dinners or potatoes au gratin,

it means I need a jumper cable for my love,

and you can try right now to snuggle.

Hey, nobody can fix a warped boomerang,

a tale with too many holes, or a promise

that conceals lies. If you want to fight

a revolution, enlist in the people’s army

and carry the loudest flag to the border.

Surprise me, brag on me, buy a pink

kitchen sink. I could use a scolding now

and then. Plant a peck on my cheek,

peel a few Romas from my farm.

A bottle of muscatel couldn’t hurt.

So, give to my favorite charity,

or crawl back to your hellbox of a trailer.

 

 

 

DELTA LEO REMEMBERS HER NEPHEW

 

by David Spicer

 

 

The rain pattered on the Winnebago

like blue jay droppings.

Driving through the Black Hills,

Delta Leo and I aggravated

each other, intercepted non-sequiturs.

A Thunderbird flew ahead of us.

Drink that cider, Peppermint Boy!

I ignored her.

Let’s climb up Lincoln’s nose, Delta Leo said.

Oh, Delta, pretend you’re a mermaid

and eat that eel.

She asked, You got any Queen?

a second before “Fat Bottomed Girls” thumped

from the speaker.

Can we go . . .

Ice fishing? No, I interrupted.

Hey nephew, get out here,

Delta yelled above the music.

Nothing from the back.

Hey boy, you gotta navigate us to Texas!

Delta, I said, don’t you remember?

He ran off with the widow wearing

that velvet jacket. What was her name? I asked.

Preen, Delta Leo said.

Her jacket had a polar bear on the back.

Up ahead four faces loomed.

Delta Leo ate some cottage cheese, saying,

Well, I got tired of him bummin’

my cherry sours all the time, anyways.

I hope their tongues meet and meld forever.



ROSA AND THE CREEP

 

by David Spicer

 

 

Humans disgust me,

except for the Italian widow

Rosa, who, in her farmhouse,

killed the creep surveilling

her chicken-wired property

from his ferry. Wearing a blue jumpsuit

stolen from a hangar’s maw,

she told me, He thought the law

was beneath him. That skinny rhino

asked Dody to lick his fingers.

I told her to stay put.

A trooper, I assured her he was dead.

I know that, Royce. I didn’t tremble—

he did. I cussed him, grabbed

my steel-blue Python and cocked

its hammer, yelling in my drawl,

“Didn’t do your homework,

huh, perv? I know the statutes

and got you dead to rights.”

Then I colored his head

a hundred shades of red.

She lit her cigarillo

with the last match,

flicked the empty advertisement

for Mick’s Bar & Grill

out the window and blew

a smoke ring so big it circled

the moon like a giant monocle.

tribeoftwo.jpg
Art by Kenneth James Crist © 2018

TRIBE OF TWO

 

by David Spicer

 

 

You knew how I felt about you.

We understood that and laughed

at private jokes about frowned-upon words.

On our journey through the Midwest

daylight, we discovered the no-no

of roadkill on a blacktop: a fox wearing

a pink onesie with its picture of Elvis,

patchouli in the frigid air. I’d protected you

in your cascaded blonde mane,

and we huddled like two tourists

in a phone booth. But lingering

at the best hotel in Chicago, we stole

a carton of Lucky Strikes

because nothing scared us: not the burning

chapel outside Knockemstiff, Ohio,

not the dwarf riding a hog on the freeway,

nor eating French fries at McDonald’s.

We lip synched to the Stones singing

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want,”

took turns reading Ariel.

No, even though we gently crushed

each other’s heart with love

and rode on the same bus

in matching maroon corduroy outfits—

me in my greased-back redheaded pompadour

and you slurping on a slushie’s straw—

we got what we needed,

just you and me, a tribe of two.

 

 

 


thebitchers.jpg
Art by Ann Marie Rhiel © 2019

THE BITCHERS

 

by David Spicer

 

 

 

They lived next door, all four of them: Buck Bitcher,

Betty Bitch Bitcher, Bucky Bug Bitcher, and Bonnie

Baby Bitcher. Their real surname Macintosh—

after the computer, not the apple. I don’t know who

pegged them with that moniker: neighborhood legend

claims it was Jim Tank, the blubber-butted dj

with a beer belly bigger than the full moon.

He had a way with words, in the words

of one of his friends. One Jersey day Jim

staggered onto his lawn and heard

the whole family bitching: The damn sun

is shining today, I wanted it to rain, Buck

Bitcher complained. I’m hungry,

where are my bugs? Bug Bitcher wondered.

Baby Bitcher—called that because she was the baby

of the family even if she was 30 griped,

Oh, you’d bitch if your nuts were chocolate.

Bitch Bitcher moaned, groaned, and bellowed

through the walls, Aw, none of you sad cartoons

are happy unless you’re miserable. Jim Tank

Screamed louder than a crooked politician

in an aircraft hangar, SHUTUP! YOU FUCKING BITCHERS!

After that day everybody referred to them

as the Bitchers. Talk of a reality show surfaced,

but Bug Bitcher demanded more money

than Buck or Betty—I mean Bitch—Bitcher.

Rumor was they were the model family

for Fear Thy Neighbor, an award-winning show

about dysfunction and murder. But they were just nonviolent

bitchers with no friends. They didn’t work, collected

disability and bitched it wasn’t enough money,

though Jim Tank told me they threw parties

Friday nights, just the four of them, holding bitching contests:

I don’t eat in restaurants anymore because every time

I do, I find a long black hair in my chili, Buck Bitcher bitched,

swigging a hot Bud down his gullet. Well, you’re too damn tight

for anything else, it serves you right, you dirty old man-bitch,

Baby Bitcher yelled. I’m depressed, Bug Bitcher cried,

all forty years of him, I don’t have my favorite food.

Bitch Bitcher snarled, Bug, how did I ever give birth

to such an ugly kid Robert Crumb wouldn’t draw him.

Year in, year out, Jim Tank recorded the family

and their repertoire of bitchograms, he called them.

Said he was going to collect them in a book titled

Four Decades of the Bitchers. That was nasty

if you ask me. He was an awful person

despite the fact he kept me ten years after I ran away

from my family, The Macintoshes—

 

 

I mean the Bitchers—when I was 16. The whole town

searched for months. I had to skedaddle: I tired

of the bitching about burnt pancakes, horny nuns,

and the governor they called The Walking, Talking

Cheeseburger. The fattest bull in Texas is skinnier

than him, they bitched in unison. I was afraid I’d grow

up a bitching Bitcher. I’m grateful to Jim Tank

for hiding me so well, though. We had fun recording

the Bitchers and laughed at them. I don’t think

the Bitchers ever had fun when I lived with them.

But I do. I’ve overcome my first sixteen years,

and didn’t even mind—much— Jim Tank making a pass

at me. After I kicked his ass, he didn’t try any of that crap.

Oh, my moon hurts, he cackled. I cackled, too. I lived

in his basement, where I used to cream him at Texas Hold’em

every night until I decided to go to the World Series of Poker

and finished third in a field of 5,219. I won six million bucks,

bought the house on the other side of the Bitchers, built

soundproof rooms for the obvious reason. The Bitchers

never caught on I was their long-lost son because all they

could do was bitch, bitch, bitch. Why’d ya do that?

Haven’tcha had enough of ’em? Jim Tank asked. I said,

Naw, man, I’m lucky, I have two families: The Bitchers,

who’ve never smiled, and you, who can’t keep

from smiling. Now I call that a sonofabitchin’ delight.




voltaire.jpg
Art by Ann Marie Rhiel © 2019

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.

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