I’m smoking a True Blue and drinking a little Marsala I’m about to move


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NameI’m smoking a True Blue and drinking a little Marsala I’m about to move
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A Naked Man
I’m smoking a True Blue and drinking a little Marsala I’m about to move

to another apartment one that has sun in the morning my new roommate

is Betty Boop aka Connie Salter she runs a second-hand shop and she’s as

nervous as a wounded squirrel I went to dinner at her place then to a party

at her invitation we dipped gin punch from an avocado wastebasket Betty’s boyfriend Jon was there he gazed drunkenly at Betty when she told him

I was a poet he said don’t show him any of my stuff
I have a book due out in the fall a collection of five poets but I’m not writing

poems right now instead I’m reading and regrouping making changes is strange

and difficult I think and nothing feels truer I’ve been divorced for over a year separated for two I said to myself the other day I could use a little happiness I’m recovering from a venereal infection the second time in a year I’m 33 about to change my line of work I want to perform on stage my cousin Karen is coming

out from Chicago to join me on the stage we could be another Nichols and May
I went down to LA for two weeks a while back to see if I could become an actor

to see if I could get into show business with the help of my rich Uncle Harry he suggested I go down to the Balboa Bay Club and pick up a rich widow and he

was serious Harry’s wife Teddy once married to a top executive at MGM

working on her fifth face lift the limit I’ve been told suggested I forget about

the silver screen get a job and write poetry as a hobby Teddy is proud and

Harry is humble to disclose that he plays bridge with John Wayne the Duke
I went out for more cigarettes and ran into my roommate Paul just back from

a music festival at a Mission District junior high school held in a room filled with nubile Chicanas like me Paul distracts himself chronically he suggests we go down

to Garcia’s on Haight Street for Mexican food he was gone a year in Mexico and now he’s back unemployed broker than I am under suit from the New Jersey State Police and the gay landlords are demanding his eviction he’s troubled left and right
At Garcia’s I asked for a fresh ashtray the plump teenage waitress coolly opened

the front door and chucked the dead butts and ashes into the street classy I said

I ordered coffee but it didn’t come and then it came with the coke I ordered for later the other waitress younger than the first asked me you want coffee AND a coke
We stopped in at Cat’s Cradle converted from John’s Playhouse from gay to bluegrass onstage after the two-dollar spaghetti feed were the same faces playing

as played with and around my brother Mark three years ago and two years before a seedy joint populated by musicians and musicians’ girlfriends this is my old lady etc.
It’s like the poetry scene I think low energy laid back dull I’m back home now drinking Hiram Walker’s Ten High Paul comes back from the corner with fresh toilet paper no ripped-up Sunday paper for him I chip in and Paul hands me back a quarter change thank you sir I say and chuck the quarter over my shoulder like Jeff Miller who parks cars at the Plantation Restaurant back home in Moline Illinois any tip that’s but a quarter is met with a gracious thank you sir and an automatic mechanical spring-loaded bullet-release over-the-shoulder into-the-bushes next-to-the-fountain goodbye shiny new quarter
I think I have to get some money to Betty so she won’t balk at taking me on as a roommate at the same time I suspect she’s nervous about me backing out my god

it’s another relationship I suspect I’m being hired as a buffer between her and her peripatetic boyfriend Betty works part-time as a waitress at Yancy’s a pick-up dance place with undertones of urban violence frustrated energy warming into

the pool of night air at 2AM Coupe de Villes in the street motorcycles girlfriends whispering to each other a few steps ahead of their anxious confused dates dates

I think what constant anachronistic language blows
Business is bad at Betty Boop’s someone smashed the door window and stole fifty bucks and a few rings her place has lace curtains and a Donald Duck clock with moving eyes the clock doesn’t tick it blinks blink blink the mouse ran up the duck the thief was into kitsch he’s addicted to it it’s probably boyfriend Jon who steals Betty blind when he can get her blind but he gets nowhere when she can see him clearly

Paul is dispossessed in his own apartment it’s mostly my furniture my stereo

worst of all here I am sitting in his chair Paul is wandering from wall to wall

from pillar to post he sits to read the Mexican poet he’s translating Oscar Oliva he’s astounded he finds Oliva simple eloquent apolitical a poet who uses simple

words like beautiful where’s the party I ask both of us flush with sexual desire
I go to the phone to call Betty to see what’s up but there’s no answer I come back in a talkative mood the little girls on the block have caught me talking to myself

on the street and they nicknamed me Talkitover here comes Talkitover it makes me

self-conscious in the city walking along talking to myself I turn a corner and try

to make a song out of my words it never works hey Ronnie did you catch that guy trying

to turn his mindless babble into a song this city’s on the skids man nice looking guy like that
All neuroses in plain sight Erica Jong waving her bum in public but she doesn’t mention stretch marks I know she’s got stretch marks everybody has stretch marks not to mention Werner Erhard and Erhard Seminar Trainings E$T assholes who want to feel good about being assholes but the best advice I’ve gotten recently was from an EST graduate Curt Mackey a fellow poet with whom I share this venereal disease or one of its more benign cousins transferred from Curt to me via Anne Valley Fox another fellow poet I would walk on glass to get to Anne I didn’t say broken glass the advice was one word responsibility Curt talks about the joy and okness of taking responsibility for everything that happens or is happening to us Curt is implacable he takes to responsibility like the immune take to disease



Somebody’s going to have to buy me a new shirt I say standing at the closet Paul says when

you find out who that is you tell them I need a shirt and some new pants I take out a brown shirt I found in the dressing room of the New Committee Theatre five years ago

we were putting on a play I wrote with Charles not Chuck Borkhuis in order to help end the war in Vietnam specifically the bombing in Cambodia the shirt was left over from Fortune and Men’s Eyes starring Sal Mineo it has a patch on the sleeve that reads California Correctional Facility I ripped off the patch and the shirt the war continued unabated including the bombing of Cambodia I watched Julia Vose boldly strip in the middle of the dressing room changing between scenes and Marilee who changed in the corner over by the cement block wall with her

back to the room both of them were tantalizing
I’m on the piss parade now taking regular hikes to the toilet the misty soulful

voice engulfing the room from FM 101 says it’s just one of those things you put down

to experience I have some more Marsala Paul is in the kitchen talking to David a

real nice guy from upstairs who says he’s into poetry there’s a song on the radio hard-sell soul voulez-vous couchez avec moi ce soir David says Charlene who also lives upstairs has him in her harem she comes up and rapes him occasionally he says
Charlene David and Paul are being evicted at the same time it’s ménage a trois into the street a while back Paul and I came home drunk and stood shouting up from the sidewalk CHARLENE she never came down her full name is Charlene Funderbunk her daughter is Rainbow Funderbunk Charlene is in the hospital

in Santa Cruz she dropped acid fell off a chair and cracked her skull on the radio, one deep FM voice is asking another and what do I do if I find that I have rats in my apartment Paul smiles what are we listening to I jump up and switch to phono
I drop the floating arm onto The Seasons by Vivaldi I stand facing the stereo directing the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York as if I have

a dripping popsicle stick in my hand it reminds me of a college friend Phil

Landrich from Des Moines skinny and homely as Abe Lincoln who would

stand for hours straight as one of Abe’s split rails directing his stereo
College life was full of such weirdos I think wait a minute not weird at all

wonderful people like Chip Stokes who locked his door whenever he was in his

room alone as if someone might barge in no one would Chip was the man

reputed to have dropped the largest turd ever witnessed I saw it I was afraid it

was in fact my turd I was in that stall not five minutes before it was discovered

but I wasn’t the kind to be credited with a ten-inch turd and Chip Stokes was
Bill Landrich gave me the name I used for a humor magazine I started in college

The American Heretic I used the name again for an art gallery I ran that went bust back in Moline a nice lady from Alcoholics Anonymous next door said what a nice name will you put an eagle over the door I looked at her and thought I’m in the wrong town
Paul and I join the Philharmonic pumping our right arms violently across imaginary rubber violins our hair flies across our grimacing faces god these

guys must have right arms like mastadons Paul says and then turns reflective

this guy must be a poet Vivaldi also turns reflective nice guy Vivaldi Paul says

Later he yells from the kitchen you’re not going to tell me there’s no peanut butter I yell back no but I’ll tell you there’s no hash browns he goes ten steps up the passageway

to the street and comes back shit the store’s closed it’s 12:10AM I feel something

funny in my right tricep you’re going to develop a twitch and be crazy like me Paul says

and hangs up his threadbare laundry in the closet he places the cellophane from two peanut butter cookies on my propped-up left leg and lies down on the bed
Later in bed in the storage room I have a dream that includes my ex-wife

Julie in a caravan forced off the highway into an underground traffic circle

I see the name Brooks over the entrance to the underground complex under

Brooks I see other names including Larry King the husband of the tennis star

Billie Jean King I laugh I wondered if there might be a Brooks with King in the

same building I tell Julie about it then we’re back in the traffic flow we can see

our way up and out we’re on a country road we pull over to picnic and down the path come two runners I begin to run too when Julie says just a suggestion the shoes
I look down I’m wearing dress shoes with black socks I run over to a pile

of clothes I put on white socks I put one sock over a black sock and have to

make the change I feel an urge to say to Julie I love you I can’t ever remember feeling it or saying it she’s being kind and helpful but the runners are getting

some distance down the road she’s somehow part of the run as if she’s going

to run too but our concern right then is to get me off and running
I wake up wondering if I’m in love with Julie then I remember her cold sores

and the smell of mildew in her bathroom I’m awake at least four hours before

I want to be I have an uncomfortable erection the sense uneasiness about the dream so this is what they call morning I say to myself a state I avoid like Kansas I go

into Paul’s room to get a pair of shorts Paul raises up oh a naked man he says and drops back to sleep I’m glad to contribute to Paul’s dream but for me it’s coffee

and the sound of the cup on the wood plank table it klunk-klunks in the silent kitchen like a tiny Dutch milkmaid in her wooden shoes stepping off the last

rung of a ladder onto the wooden floor
A Negative with a Positive
I’m watching excerpts from Jesus Christ Superstar on the Mike Douglas Show Satan

is interrogating Jesus in oblique slices of video I’m leading an incredible life I think days ago I got Sherry vibes I went with slept with lived with Sherry for almost a year this last year and today I went downtown to the movie Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and I fell in line behind Sherry and Tracy no that’s not Sherry I thought looks like her though wow I really got worked up oh shit it is Sherry Sherry Steve the last time I talked to Sherry was several months ago at 2AM from a phone booth on Pacific and Grant I cried

I howled I fell silent I chatted I spent an hour and a half recapitulating the year of our relationship Sherry admired my egotism she recommended I never get a job she pointed out that I followed a positive statement with a negative one what a beautiful day I hope it doesn’t rain I listened to her observation I tried something new I followed a positive with a positive then with a superlative I got so excited I could hardly stand it she said I always backed off when the relationship was good she welcomed me to her whenever I wanted finally she got fed up and started up with a greeting card salesman from Chicago she looked terrific it was a funny movie I held my hands in my lap and I squelched my laughter


When the movie was over I trailed along for a block or so and stopped I’m going

the other way I said it was good to run into you bye bye bye we were both smiling I barely glanced at Tracy I walked around the block feeling exultant then the 47Potrero

bus dropped a power bar off the energy cable it swung and dropped ripping loose

a support cable which flailed the street I leapt into a doorway I didn’t want a wild maverick power line tickling my skull my reflexes confirmed and my adrenalin tripled I walked into Henry Africa’s for an Irish coffee I noticed the new photo of the owner shaking hands with Eddie Arnold I watched the owner try to prop an aluminum ladder against a six-foot-wide mirror hung at an angle strutted out from the high wall and ceiling with the help of two employees he was climbing his way into his own reflection
All eyes in the place were glued to the climb the goal was to implant a screw and eye in the ceiling adjacent to the upper left corner of the giant mirror I couldn’t wait for the mirror to shatter to find out what he was going to hang on the chain

so I left crossing Van Ness and got on the bus the guy next to me was holding an artist’s pad on his lap and drawing intricate doodles whenever the bus stopped across from me a middle-aged man was masquerading as a middle-aged woman black gloves silver fox fur blond wig soft tenor voice net shopping bag maybe it

really is a woman underneath I thought
Apples and Potatoes
I watch The Smothers Brothers they’re back on track as well-trained comedians they have a well-engineered show all my belongings are packed in cardboard boxes in the corner marked APPLES and POTATOES I’m set to haul my apples and potatoes over to Betty’s when she calls what are you doing I start to say
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