zagajewski

as a coincident traveler
paperback writer in hand
striking on details at random
debris of the visible world

visited ever by spirits
waxing nostalgic just so
remembering all the train stations
where wandering thoughts are born

the poet has his metier
and pays himself in the coin
of the blockchain of dreams bespoken
and the swelling throat of the lark

inviting the ghastly genius
ashes haphazardly strewn
stands the awaiting boatman
nothing lost in translation

drums and guitars

i hear the sound of drums and guitars
in kenmore square
in the blue max at bognor regis
at some foolish frat house
in durham new hampshire
or a shack in newcastle maine
where i backed my old pinto
over a cliff while high as shit
lucky it was just the rear wheels so
some dudes hauled me out with their truck
and she ran just fine leaving 
one more drunk on the road that night

drums drums
drums and guitars
g g allin was ill at the rat
boys life backing up the neighborhoods
i danced with a japanese girl her
eyes glittered with raging tears her
skin smelled of beef tallow
and that was all i needed
she said i shouldnt think her husband
a sap for being out of town while
she was going home with me
but he was and she made me pay

i hear the sound of drums and guitars
in the student hall at brighton polytechnic
my buddy and me had picked mushrooms 
all day in the deer park and they
felt like really bad speed with no hallucinations and
the band played super loud forget their name
cause they were never famous
couldnt get a girl to look twice so
we went to the pub and drank jubilee ale
strong as royal malice my pal
had a new austin mini and he died in it
later that year

you wanna talk about drums and guitars
what about the night at the locomotive
in old beirut when wichita vortex took the stage
with borrowed gear and a borrowed drummer
hamlet and beast and little hollywood doing the rest
killing the crowd making their disco ass ears bleed
fuckin tintin never showed with his camera
so they got no pictures to show the world they existed
that they played and trashed the place like kings
not bad for some happy horseshit high school freaks
who all went home with horny local matrons
only the borrowed drummer bothered
to pick up his money and i heard
it didnt work out for him either

the man tommy

tommy was a working stiff
no shade no shame
he toiled in his whites
in the service halls of the hospital
and in the basement food store where
he toted and delivered all the stuff they gave him
push this truck to white cafeteria please tommy
the new dietitian would say
you never get over that noise

at lunchtime he went to beacon hill pub
and drank his slippery nipples
his wife worked down at the stop and shop
and sometimes she would join him in her hotness
but did you ever have a moment when you knew
the exact second you fucked up
when you could feel the indifferent shift of fate
the good luck and the bad standing on the turn
that was tommy in his moment and it went to shit

coming back on the job from the pub one afternoon
tommy felt mighty tired
he and the wife had been up all night
doing that thing giving it a good go and he was beat
the food store was huge and full of boxes
so he made a little den and went to sleep
no one missed him and they all screwed off home
the new dietitian thought she was the last one out
locking the door to set the alarm
and tommy was in for the duration

he awoke from foul dreams in the dark
poked out his nose like the outhouse mouse
saw his catastrophe in all its horror
and started in to cussin
he didnt dare put on a light but
he had his smokes and his lighter
he knew where the birthday candles were kept
for the sad patients who needed them
and he set himself up a little bivouac
i have to wait this motherfucker out he said
he found a couple hits of acid in his pocket
and he ate them just to pass the time away
and after a while things began to stretch and shimmer
he started tripping to beat shit
hallucinating like a pig

poor man how he suffered
not from fear or psychosis but thirst
by the light of precarious candles
he started to forage and search
and found where they kept the good liquor for
the doctors and the board members and
other lovers of people
they wont mind if i take a little drink he thought
they got plenty here
but the wobbling shadows got him down
and the loneliness fucked with his head
he started to weep and rock and
he lurched to the phone on the desk and called home

baby im stuck he yelled
you got to help me
he could hear the tv on at home
his wife said baby did you hear
president reagan been shot
i dont give a fuck shouted tommy
get me outta this shit
yeah some crazy kid went and
shot the president but he aint dead yet
but by now the horrors
formed and loomed around
our questing tommy
he busted out the fire exit and
tried to outrun the alarms

it took four security
to get him to emergency
where they put the haldol to him
quick as shit
then they took him to mcclain
for to shake the ghosts away
and to wait
for his wandering mind to show

well what are you gonna do
after a stunt like that
the hospital had to let him go
and his wife liked to kid him
as she rustled in her buzz
about that camping trip he took
in eighty one

notting hill

on the streets of notting hill
mods are illing in their mohair suits
spivs are sweating in their sharkskin finery 
posh girls all come here to die
hangman says well here we go
smiling and swinging
swinging and grinning

on the streets of notting hill
bones are breaking rent needs paying
got a flat but got no floorboards
somebody wants you out my lad
nothing like a jellied eel to
swim your gut and
eat your belly

on the streets of notting hill
shitbirds singing in their hipster boots
fixers work in groups of three
and seek the abject prey the poor
soft mice a tribute to drop at the feet
of the sleek catmaster
with his dirty claws

on the streets of notting hill
teds are kicking ribs and balls
dancing on the portobello
quiffs are bouncing skiffle time
peter in hell and julia winsome
comes the money
come the lame

hash party

listen up when the oligarch speak
chiclet seller better have a good day
and never think about smoke no jay
make you an idiot looking for trouble 
down on the shores of saint georges bay
riding a rocket in the fuddling air 
old beyrouth in the martyrs square 
i know you can find hash dealers there 
say hash baby you can smoke it

listen up when the hegemon shrieks
hope your business is minding itself you
pay your taxes and keep the peace
better keep up with the project in hand so 
lofty valley in the mountains fair
hash is growing most everywhere
diggin the stones of the ancient rome
i buy me a kilo and take it on home
go hash baby you can eat it

in the brothel where the girls are sweet
we smoke that hash when we go to sleep
i make a shape what a wonderful thing
when i find it for paper and find it for paper
i see the deputy in his chamber
that the minister cant remember 
mister customs man gets paid oh
by the neighborhood smuggler babe
its hash cost a little money yeah

listen up when the commissar say
you gotta pray if you wanna get paid
big hash party in istanbul we 
gonna break shit down so cool and
on the streets of the old uk
cardboard filter is the only play
we walkin out on the abbey road
big heads can carry that heavy load 
aw hash you know it loves me baby

buyers market

i call myself the lyon man
who sits awake all night
who smokes and drinks 
and thinks and stalks
through theme parks
searching for spectacle

i could kill and pass for bold 
in my authentic animal self
ignoring all the evidence
of a life enslaved by fashion
forgetting i know better
and am driven to extremes
that answer only poorly

my values are commodities
the flag is now my underwear
rich goods are on display for sale
the secret self becomes
a cultural product

a kindly man my therapist 
who simply smiles and reassures me that
my lover mistress unicorn
will carry on without me as it were

i am giddy with my new life as an image
with the tools taken out of my hands
looming magnificent as an icon
more real than real
larger than life
just like the president

sublime my dears is the ego
we must not shy away
as an object choice i enjoy
the distress i bring
but better than that is
blowing up all the old ways

hearing echoes
flapping in the mind like dying birds
such a racket they do make
in their throes

as i breathe my last
i will tell myself
i was just here for the cockfight
will the day never come

must i leave my poor sad memory
in the hands of such docents
such keepers of the flame
seeking the sleep that none can understand

where is the crisis that brings awareness and lifts despair
we say the dead are honored by the process
if by nothing else
the manual says it must be so
and that it is their proper function

oh god let buyers be found for my poor project
i am that new product you fools
worth every penny
the finest money can buy

portwine the spy

my children
my fellow prisoners
some men are false
we may deny it

true the broad day smiles as
the rain eases
but the false man
smiles so easily

and are we not always told
to give the other man
the benefit of any doubt
as he slips the acid into your wine

i claim secret knowledge today
to share with any who care
of portwine the man and his mission
under formerly levantine skies

an agent of state and thus
kryptonite safe
in warlike days gone by
portwine carried the money

over the road to old damascus
to pay for coups and votes and arms
for virtuous men who saw their way clear
to a proper way of thinking

all this i heard from the man himself
in the presence of wonderful bunnies
at the london playboy club
over steaks and irish coffee

i assure and assert my right mind to the group
in spite of the many trips i have took
in the wilds of chelsea and saint johns wood
where the hunter rides in a cab

do you hear what they say my portwine 
they will see you hanged one day
moon faced paterfamilias
an asset ahead of your time

syrian people are shouting at you
they are sticking their knives into you
and you laugh in their faces and spit out the blood
while capering over the rubble

wily portwine taught me stealth
and the joys of clandestine life
stealing old songs for new and
riding the backs of the farthest behind

on the streets of hamra people would say 
are you looking for portwine the spy
he lives in hazmiyeh quite near asfouriyeh
and he really loves to get high oh yes