Moving Rocky to Balboa

About 10 years ago, I was fascinated with both stream-of-consciousness and cut-up, randomized writing. In that fertile stream bed, fueled by endless coffee cups and unfiltered cigarettes, I lay for a period of about two straight years. There was something in me that wanted to cross William S. Burroughs and Henry Miller, and somehow end up with a statement about modern culture. Did I succeed? Who knows. Looking back on that time, it was a frenetic time of perapetitic cavailing. Talking loud, and much, filling in the spaces between words with more words, wild gestures and constant barrages of noise that passed for Music.

Boxing the compass like Muhammad Ali we’re all made from the same Cassius Clay, you know and all along the watchtower once you let them in the door you’ve got to listen to their churchbell’s spieling and somewhere a voice in the darkness cries out: “Quiet on the settle down comforter while I get my thoughts together we stand divided by five gives the solution pi in the sky!” and meanwhile clouds are forming and we’ve got to get inside under the canopy beneath the umbrella situated below the awning. Somewhere along the river in a club where no one goes except to pick fights or china patterns or their noses, Old Blue Eyes is singing a James Van Heusen tune and no one hears him, no one knows the words, but it goes like this: “It’s a quarter to three, there’s no one in the place but me, listen, Joe, I’ve got no place to go, but make it one for me, one for my baby, and one for the road.”

Happily we leave this scene of unrequited, unreturned, unmitigated, and unforgivable love and move along Union Avenue through the desolate streets where traffic lights are holding their breath in remembrance of Hendrix and the wind still cries, I suppose, but its tears are from laughter and as it passes the hospital it seems to say wake up wake up you’re not dead yet but sleeping only sleeping in the thousand years of sleep.

“A mastodon once shit where you are standing!” Homespun cries.

There’s a history of the spot you’re in, the fix you’ve created, the world you’ve denied, that even James Michener wouldn’t have the guts to capitalize on. Visions of sugar plums dried and disgusted turned to weary ancient prunes in the scathing light of summer’s hatred fade to black like those bananas waiting to make bread like all the rest of us who punch the clock and keep hoping the bell will ring and the round will be over.
“Cut me, Mick,” shouts Gravity, “I gotta see. You gotta cut me or I won’t know where I’m standing.”

And so we let ourselves be wounded in battles that have lost their significance and even their ritual charm. It’s been so long since my last confession I can’t remember how much I miss the flail, the rack, the Chinese water torture, the hail storm Mary fighting traffic down the Angelus highway looking for a friendly face in a well-lit truck stop who’ll hand me the key on a cement block and the rain can fall down like water in the porcelain altar where I have prostrated myself in service to an alcoholic kingdom. You cannot serve two masters, it is said, but they never said anything about tequila and whiskey. The piano’s out of tune but it plays on anyway, you just keep your feet moving and eventually the keys will dance and maybe you’ll pick up the beat and find the words scrolling by your right hand me going down for the last time I don’t know return to sender my love is the seventh wave goodbye and tell me that you love me tender is the night prowler and the lights just keep on passing by like stars in the sky or big rigs on the interstate and wish I may wish I might I wish I’d fall asleep tonight and I’ve tried counting blessings instead of sheep – it cuts down on the shit lying around in dreamland, but like Ben Franklin said about fish and houseguests starting to smell after about three days, the bountiful cornucopia that seems to have erupted into my mind at my birth is going like gangbusters or a busted sewer line and where it all ends, nobody knows but they act like they do and you don’t and that, my friend, is where it all begins.

1994

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