Apparition Poem #2054


Twenty years ago I stood in
the West Pattee stacks, as she

wove a weird pattern around
the center aisle tables to see

me (for once, finally) face to
face, elongated eyes stretched

torturously across her severely
boned, mask-hard visageas

I say to the kid, it matters to me;
if I stumble, it's because her eyes

are equally torturousJustine
has her own tsunami I'm dumb before


from A Poet In Center City


Not all of the Highwire Free School shows were big ones. We would do series of modest shows between the larger shows. The Bats were an all-girl band we wanted to book, so we did. John and I did a bunch of schmooze routines with them, at Tritone and elsewhere, and John and I were both in love with Tobi, an old friend of Trish’s and mine who played keyboards (and also painted). Tobi was tiny, an elf, with exquisite bone-structure in her face, chestnut hair, and bright blue eyes. Of the Bats, she was the most natural as a Free School person. By this time, we had a new system going at the Highwire, by which the factory room and the main space would be used simultaneously. The night the Bats played, we had poets reading on a raised dais in the factory room. The factory room had high ceilings, but was darker, danker, and more private than the main space— a perfect place to smoke up or hook up. The poets were Temple kids, and one stuck out for us immediately, especially to John; a buxom, olive-skinned Latino named Lena. If I sensed that I would beat John to Tobi, he would certainly beat me to Lena, who liked his looseness over my rigor. Christopher and I were attempting to perfect a new way of combining poetry with visual imagery; he projected images on a screen behind me as I read that night. Frankly, we were both bored with dry poetry readings (no matter how attractive the participants), and this was our way of extending their range. Headed towards 2005, John’s characteristic looseness was the keynote mood. Even if it meant that Christopher and I had to up the ante to six drinks per night out.


Baptiste Spurn had a birthday party at around this time at his studio at 13th and Carpenter. I wound up being the only Free School guy there. The four of us each had different sectors to work, and Baptiste's was one of mine. At the time, Baptiste had a menage situation going; he was living, not only with a stripper/burlesque artist named Lissy but with a couch-surfing teenage runaway named Anastasia. Anastasia was a wild child. She later tried to jump from one of the Highwire windows. That night, she insisted that everyone strip. We were passing around a bottle of Stoli; people were downing three or four shots at a time from the bottle. I decided to do them one better and down seven. For about fifteen minutes, I felt an overpowering sense of swirling ecstasy. Then, I got hit with a wave of nausea so intense I almost fainted. Everyone was very drunk and very stoned; I managed to drag my pile of clothes to the side of the circle and put them on. I didn't want to vomit all over the studio. I knew myself to be performing what was, for me, the greatest Intoxication Feat of all time— despite all the vodka-shots, I walked all the way from Thirteenth and Carpenter to Twenty-First and Race at 2 a.m. without puking. If I spent the rest of the night violently ill, I had done the right thing by the Free School; saved face before the big Intoxication Heavyweights of the Free School nexus, and entered the charmed circle (with John and Ricky) of the alcohol poisoned.


Trish: A Romance: Funtime Press

The 2019, Funtime Press edition of Trish: A Romance


A Dozen Loose Wires: A Chapbook (2019)

A Dozen Loose Wires: A Chapbook continues the Apparition Poems series towards the Twenties.


A Dozen Leaking Buckets: A Chapbook (2014)

The chapbook A Dozen Leaking Buckets, from 2014, extends the Apparition Poem series into a new, more Main Lined experience



"I suppose he told you that I landed
between his legs like a roguish girl...
well, you could say it happened that
way. You could also say he sold me
on the idea of veined trade, or that his
musky Scotch breath excreted wafts of
blue-bloodiness into me. You are perverse
to ask me these things, moon peering over
your shoulder like another rogue. For now,
he lays upon an altar you don't know is
there: drunk, blue." The director called
cut; stagehands shuffled towards cigarettes.
I wandered down the aisle towards the stage,
about to land, looking for your money-shot—

found a ticket to Boston, first-class, reservations
for a four-star Boston hotel, invitation for an
audience with a Brahmin princess. The dream,
I thought, continues, as I saw you sit on the stage,
begin to peruse a style magazine which has now
been discontinued, & I laughed, as there is no
fashion in a freezing New England winter, but
your breasts, which are considerable, do get extra-
perky, & when you try to sit on my face, I just
might let you. As for your old rival, she's got
wings to star in a musical over in Cambridge,
a version of Guys & Dolls they've got going.
It's a sparkling scene in every direction; an epoch-
making time. The cage has sixty-nine layers of gild.