UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY
So, you’re a pretty tough guy.
You drink straight whiskey like tap water,
chased with jalapeños to cleanse your palate,
and you can drive across
a whole time zone without stopping
to take a leak.
You’ve pulled yourself up in the world
by the skin of your very scrotum
without once getting
sodomized in word or deed.
Now let's see if you're man enough
to cry over the hatchling jay
that lies limp as a used condom on the sidewalk,
let alone the African stick-child
of fund-raising appeals
who might be, if you let him,
more than a constellation of grim pixels
between clicks of the remote control.
Cry even for the hairline
that recedes by the hour
and, with it, your alpha-dog hopes
of a D-cup second wife and matching luggage
to load your Ferrari.
Take a break, blow your nose on your sleeve.
Then turn to Tibet,
to the draining Aral Sea,
to the brothels of Calcutta.
Take a few themes of your own choosing
and improvise on them.
Precipitate and spray like an ocean-dipped hyssop
or Jackson Pollack’s paints
after his tenth drink.
Pour out briny torrents until,
near the lake you’ve made,
tourists come looking for Mormon spires.
Challenge all comers to match you,
teardrop for teardrop
If you feel sporting, spot them
an onion or two of handicap.
And if anyone comes down on you
go ahead and kick their ass
into the middle of next week
with your soaked, salty steel-toed boots.
My day of mere fact and unwatchable work
somehow leads to the rock-star moment
when every light goes out
but the one that haloes me—
the impossibly long-stemmed
lamp next to my bed
that I have to seize and tilt
to reach the switch
but first must bobble
like a microphone stand
on a futon-high stage
before an audience of none
throwing off balance
its mini-manhole base
to swivel like the hips of the King,
and roll around before I reach up,
steady the bounce
into a Chuck Berry duck walk,
a Mick Jagger grasp
that will never come
and planting that lamp
like a 60-watt seedling
(that could have been
the name of a psychedelic band)
I steady the evening’s last light
into an angled rest
that lets me make
a last one-handed reach
aor the hexagonal switch
and in the instant of turning it
with a safecracking click
I am Jim Morrison
lizard King before the void
I am Hendrix along the watchtower
I am John Paul George
even Ringo (but okay and as one with that)
crossing Abbey Road
I am, in spite of my genitalia,
Janis, free with Bobbie McGee,
and Freddie Mercurially on parade
I am the second Elvis, aiming true,
both Smiths, Billy Idol,
Siouxsie and her every Banshee,
Kurt of blessed memory,
Eddie still with us,
a transistor-to-MP3 existence
flashing behind my eyes
Spark and after-image
in the retina
Settling to dark
The day is complete
I am backstage of myself and then
I am asleep
J.D Smith's work has appeared in Demolition, Out of the Gutter and Thug Lit, and his neo-noir play Dig was produced at London fringe venue The Old Red Lion Theatre.
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