Joel Lewis / Poem
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YES, WE HAVE NO NIRVANAS
Six-pointed mule deer -- a rare enough sight to make John pull his Centra
off the road back down to Boulder.
Fifteen years ago at the jazz record shopI managed - "From Bunk to Monk" -,
and John came in asking to hang up a Wallace Stevens' birthday reading
I said OK, & something further like: "He sold insurance, right!"
Poetry & jazz on Bergenline Avenue, that dark drip of lumpen limelight
became an ovary lodge for those with eyes and ears.
Now, clear December mild late afternoon watching muledeer run up the rough
Coffee waits us at the Trident's smokey cafe' and a wrap-up of our first
conversation in eight years.
Here it comes again, the memory of mother wailing to keep me from departing
West. Too much time in the house and my break, at last, wanting to run to
that DC10 -- suitcases evenly balanced between clothes and books.
And what would I come back as ?"Are you ready to give up your mind &
complete autonomy" said the Paterson artist fresh from Taos. "Why not!" I
said, still deep in my "Fuck You, Buster" mode. Bravado being no better
than chump change, off I went to the marching orders of Brian Eno and
Polyrock. And once aloft above Jersey, I opened the Times to learn of the
day-before death of Roman Jakobson.
Nobody can really translate what they are feeling & emptiness transfers the
strayed chips backto the transmitter's domain. My city flies by as the
Woolworth Building twins with the Brooklyn Bridge for a flash.
Think of a lavish papery conversation:A party at Allen's with punk-rock
displacing BeBop's forkball of debt. Out from the corner: Steve Allen -
50's type mild hipster but not too over the double white line & I couldn't
think of anything to say except: "My mom really likes you" and left him
there, alone with his second Manhattan.
Under The Front Range
He apologized to the door after he slammed it, then wrote a note to his
mother praising the good things she accomplishedwhen she wasn't emotionally
Later, he walked over to the florist on Mapleton Street& gave names to the
petals of an American Beauty rose:"Hello, George" "Hi, Cindy" "Howdy, Curt"
He had lunch with ex-wife at the Nepalese diner on Pearl Street, his treat.
His fortune cookie read: "You are a safe teddybear with the potential for
becoming a zoo keeper."
This reminded him of his dependence on others for achieving goals that lied
just beyond his reach.
On The Road Conference, 1982
"Remember G.E.S. -- The Great Eastern Sun!" said the drunk Trungpa at the
opening of the Kerouac conference.Weirded-out house --"My dad was a Holy
Roller preacher& he'd never preach drunk!", howled Tom, a Nebraska math
teacher,who would later fondle Paul's hairy balls in an aborted menage a
trois, as he grinned : "I'm not too sure if I can control myself!"
With convenience being less than static,our untaken attitudes walked out
that July auditorium for yet another onion dip reception. Months later,
Trungpa's speech printed whole in the Dharmadhatu Sun:
"We have to stop treating each other like little pieces of speech& love
each other!"; caused Allen's quip: "When's the last time you got wisdom
from a drunk?"
Torrential alarm clock dream of pigeons,wake to see pigeons on ledge. I
speak video rhyme too brilliant to bear and astride someone else's thoughts
and aspirations, each gesture is a page from the want ads. Thunder?: No, a
Sonny Sharrock guitar storm.This is the punctuation ghetto. No water behind
the wheel.The potato knish is clothed in evening attire. Memories of Tibet:
mist flickering in spartan & uncanny patterns.
We had seen two Fassbinder films that evening at the Art Cinema & walked up
Pearl Street feeling like cancelled events in fog. She was "finding
herself" & on leave from Ohio State, one part of the drift that settled
into the empty rooms of Yeshe House.
That night she told me about her job at the massage parloron Baseline Road,
having run out of money and lacking marketable skills. "I always make them
wear a rubber" she said & finally quitting, unable to handle the customer
I had no context for all this news and started crying. "Are you really that
lonely", she asked. Weeks of fruitless pursuit had made it my M.O. "Yes", I
replied, gulping air. "OK, then", she said,"please shut out the lights."
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