A humble tip of the hat to poet and novelist Ken Fontenot, part of the Austin / Alamo Bay Press posse, a mensch and a muse.
Two for Ken.
With love and admiration.
for Samuel Beckett, dead yesterday
The building that housed the future lies in ruins;
four naked flagpoles, a crumbling facade,
cracked earth and broken stones.
Yesterday the Premier and his wife
sat on damask sofas eating caviar;
today they feed the worms.
“The future,” you ask. “What future?”
You still don’t get it. The future started a long time ago
and we still don’t know how to use it.
We aren’t changing fast enough.
“No,” you say, meaning yes, there is still a tomorrow
just like yesterday, just like today;
“no,” meaning you aren’t responsible for the outcome;
“no,” meaning you can’t tune it in;
“no,” meaning you can’t let go;
“no,” meaning either way you hold it in your hands
and don’t know what to do with it.
Stripped naked, you eat flesh and destroy.
The wind blows. You dream of fresh air
and plenty as the lines settle around
your hard mouth.
“I’ve had a good life,” you say,
meaning that it didn’t hurt as
bad as it could. Resigned, you tell me
you could die with equanimity.
The horror of it all lies not in evil,
in deception, in pain or starvation, no.
The horror lies in how
it just goes on and on.
“No,” you say, meaning there is still a
brighter dawn. Behold the fires blazing
in the west and the sun rising in the east.
“No,” you say, meaning if you looked beyond
the easy pleasures, driving hunger, and
a vast appetite for sorrow, another day has begun.
You may call it tomorrow, but it is today.
Your feet are cold. The furnace is broken.
You can’t get that tune out of your head.
It strikes like an earthquake
and you don’t know what it means
but nothing is the same
so you close our eyes
and keep on breathing.
Los Angeles, December 23, 1989
like a bomb going off
whether you hear it
One more drink,
one more cigarette,
one more killing,
one more cup of coffee
one more accidental mutilation,
A drive-by shooter kills a baby.
A man who might have been a saint
is lynched in a cottonwood tree.
“This place is too crazy,”
the Frenchman says.
“If you are hit by a car,
and have no medical insurance
do they leave you bleeding
in the street?” he asks.
“It’s not that way in France.”
Tick. Tick. Tick.
It’s always something.
Something about dying
that drives almost
Lie. Lie. Lie.
Lies we tell
all the way around
to protect ourselves
from other people’s lies.
“For you, I’d make love
to a crocodile.”
“Give me a call.”
“You can count on me.”
Or worse yet,
nothing at all.
a ghost leaving only fog behind,
skid marks on wet asphalt
and diamonds scattered
by an exploding windshield.
The future already
happened; it’s the past
that continually changes.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
come and go.
piece of blubber;
the most exquisite embodiment
of human form:
by a gum-chewing Ubangi
with a stethoscope
stuck to his forehead.
only the Marx Brothers
could get away with
and it’s always worse
than you think.
The 11:00 news.
A tenor in a white tuxedo
jacket and black bow tie
sings love songs
to a pale brunette soprano
with flowers in her hair;
fountains turn into
a white Busby Berkley
where nothing really
matters at all
in perfect circles
in toe shoes,
wearing pink lipstick and
a diaphanous black skirt,
whirling like a top.
in a nutshell.
“There is something worse…”
the dead novelist said.
Oceanside, CA. 1990.