Where you are is where you were
in the unpainted two-story house
where Lew and Flo live in San Anselmo
with their five kids. They smoke dope
with their dad, their mother smokes
what she buys at the all-night stop n go
down the street, I smoke unfiltered
and Lew shoots up in the garage
with Jim and the neighborhood men.
You are listening to Till Tom Special,
the Charley Christian guitar short lived
but impeccable, Benny Goodman’s band
back of him, the way the strings crawl
up your back and whisper Go now, go
to the house in Larkspur where Patty
Cakes bakes your bread and won’t let
you go once you arrive, you don’t know
why, you're nothing like the handsome lad
Janis was set to marry but OD’ed.
You are my baker’s man, says Patty Cakes
Patty Cakes, help me take off my clothes
and I’ll help you strip, we will fuck a while
. . . her darkness is unlike the good time
I’m having getting out of my mind
and back in my body, where I began,
where I will end. She’s no imagined muse,
she means to be where and with whom
she is, she can have her life later
and I mine. I drink when I wake,
I like to make love before sleep,
I smoke the marijuana I'm given,
I drop acid to see what it does,
little head looks like a cobra’s hood,
one pill pulls my mind’s curtains
and there: les fleurs du mal, my life
laid bare as much as anyone's.
In Fairfax I am walking the rope bridge
to reach the house where Terry the sculptor
lives with his beautiful Marsha.
She once lived with Manson in the desert.
She's tall and stacked and has one child
she takes along to Point Reyes and back
because Terry said she should help allay
the intoxicating boredom once
I've heard Morrison has died in Paris
in a bathtub. Lew says, The good
die young. I’ve heard that before . . .
Flo reclines on the back porch
with one child or another, each one
her own with Lew, who makes sure she rests,
she’s been feeling the blues over Lew
and heroin. I go where Lew goes,
I refuse steadfastly to shoot the smack.
I don’t pierce my skin with needles.
I am Dionysus, white boy acolyte,
can’t separate wine god from poet,
as though I must simply to stay living
in the only skin I’ll ever have
on earth . . . I’m turning thirty
where the dirt driveway gives way to asphalt.
The three of us hitch to Marin City,
Jim needs to appear in court,
then over to the wasted brothers
for a hit: Jim’s in need and Lew can use
a little. I sit in a shadow
watching men who have given up nod out,
wondering how I am so spared . . .
Orpheus went to hell to bring his love back,
I don’t even have her now, she’s shooting
meth in her hometown waiting for more,
I've driven her to frenzy dancing
all night with no one I can see,
and she Eurydice, not one
among the maenads following me
now with Charley Christian’s age-old,
still-new guitar doing the Till Tom Special,
odd dithyramb for a prospect with lute
writing a song of loss by the river bank
waiting to lose his head over ladies
who watch it float down the river singing.
(18 March 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander