Lament of Sisyphus (A Poem)

Well, is the following a poem? Is it prose? It’s a rather a pessimistic piece, yet not without observations of some merit, I believe. What are your thoughts? Constructive criticism is always welcomed here, by the way — I do think the following could use some work. Thank you, fellow readers!

***

Lament of Sisyphus

Futility is a life-form dying forlorn in the flesh. Futility is so unremarkable in its presence, so tactful in polite society, so swift and subtle. It is a perpetual specter residing in our lazy bones. It moves in the death crawl of traffic; upon lazy buses and grimy trains, in sad people on the subway, in junked poets sleeping in the gutter. It lurks upon high society airplanes, in lowbrow highway lanes, possesses the severed head of house, served to spread with butter and bread. Futility is mute, yet not speechless. Futility is the iron lament of Sisyphus.

Futility hides in plain sight, as if it were on the end of one’s nose. Perhaps it’s on the end of yours? With each opening of a window, another closed door! At our hearts lie an invisible termite, biting in stitches to the core. Futility is the unexpected expectation, and like syphilis, contagious. This is what makes it so dangerous.

Look at me, ma, I have no body! Life becomes a protégé craft, superficial and shoddy, a division between them and us. Us? What us? Consciousness is a bleeding pus. All people seem to do is shout for freedom to enslave and condemn us.

This does not mean the end of man, climbing upon land in order to be post-eternity jizzing in the sea. It is simply that there is a line between Freedom and Futility; what is perceived as part of life and what considered obscene incredulity.

Freedom realizes being, actions choices. Futility an antithesis; mediocrity of unconscious placation; bad faith in an obligatory nation; decision to endless cessation; an assimilation into annihilation; the proclamation of a convention for cute stagnation.

All the while we are bleeding and breeding and never believing that freedom is like responsible breathing. Futility is but the dampened soul; seething; caked in bog mud, just another agonizing dream repeating the cowed bleating of our souls’ perpetual leaving.

Protocol (poem)

I was sitting alone in a booth

At the Next Door Café,

When one of the regulars, an old guy,

Fell from his chair to the floor,

Clutching his chest,

His hands grasping for his heart.

“Somebody called 911!” yelled somebody.

Everyone gathered around him,

As the last of an omelet

Dribbled from one corner of his wet mouth.

 

Everyone was slightly panicked, weirded out,

Not knowing quite what to do.

One of the old guys’ friends pulled off his jacket

Wadded it up, placed it under his head for a pillow.

 

About eight minutes later,

Maybe seven minutes after the poor old fellow

Had been lying on the floor

Motionless and not breathing,

The ambulance had arrived, sirens blaring.

Grim-faced paramedics loaded him on the stretcher

with a frenzied calm.

 

Then the ambulance sped like mad

To Westfields Hospital,

Sirens bursting ear drums,

Forcing the other cars on the road

To pull over to the side

As they brushed by.

 

Once arrived at the hospital,

They wheeled the cooling body

To the emergency room.

 

The old man,

15 minutes after the fact,

Was pronounced dead.

Nobody was at all surprised,

But this is just the kind of thing you do,

I guess.

 

What do they call it?

Ah, yes.

Protocol.

 

The morning concluded

Upon a prompt call to the coroner.

Reflections on the Art & Poetry Readings at Amery Ale Works in Amery, WI.

I had to turn back after driving halfway there. Forgot my god damned reading papers. How is one to read aloud without his papers? Shit! I drove back doing fifteen miles over the speed limit, only slowing down to legal speed whenever my authority-radar began going off. I’d be doing 70 in a 55, get a sudden pig-whiff, then slow down to 55, and sure enough, just over the hill, a police cruiser would be sitting behind a billboard sign by the side of the highway. After I passed him a half mile, I’d pick up speed again.

I arrived home, ran inside, grabbed the papers, hopped back in the car and sped like the dickens again all the way to Amery Ale Works. The readings began at 7:00PM and I wanted to be on time. The Works is a three level barn fleshed out and made into a hell of a nice bar-restaurant. It was here that I’d be reading some of my poems to an audience for my first time. I felt simultaneously nervous and excited.

I met my good friend, Benjamin Eastman, in the gravel parking lot outside of the Works. There wasn’t a single vacant parking spot, so Ben and I sort of made up our own. Ben is skinny, very polite and kind, and a great conversationalist. We greeted each other warmly and made our way inside.

We found the Works to be pretty appealing. The Works is located off a county road, way back in the boonies. An eighty foot grain silo stands like a beacon to earnestness and hard work beside the renovated barn. It’s long been emptied and great, intricate vines has covered its surface.

We took the little path passing the silo and the people lounging on the patio and made our way to the bar on the basement level. I ordered a Black Oak Chardonnay and so did Benjamin. We took our glasses and marched on. We found our way upstairs, the main level with a bar, the poets, and Josie Coen’s macro-photograph gallery.

The photographs were very pretty and interesting and we appreciated them. I began telling Ben about a photograph Josie had taken. “It’s called the beer smear,” I said. “Someone had set a pint of beer on the table. The condensation from the beer left a ring and when the person picked up the beer, it left a smear. So Josie took a photo of it and called it, ‘Beer Smear’”.

That’s when I saw Josie mingling with the crowd. I congratulated her on the success of her first showcase. She had her hair all done up pretty, wore a fetching black dress and was of gregarious mood.

We made our way to the top level. Dan Osbourne’s painting gallery is up there. Dan has a strongly impressionistic style, painting subjects which range from wild, wind-blown trees to pretty women with unforgettable smiles. Ben and I got to talking about painting, art style, and then about jazz and how we wished this art event would have some Coltrane or Miles playing in the background. It would be perfect, we both agreed.

We went on and on and on because that’s what Benjamin and I are good at: talking about everything from existentialist philosophy to art, jazz, to homemade cabinets. You never know what will subject could come up next. We’d talk about life for an eternity if people would only allow it.

Hearing an applause, we ran back downstairs to the bar. I bought a tall glass of Stout. So did Ben.

Stephanie, poet and host for the poetry reading, went up to the lonely microphone set in front the crowd. She introduced herself and called out to Tom and asked if he want to read first. Tom was sitting at the bar, going through his reading papers.
“Tom?” said Tom. “Which Tom? I thought you said I could go last? I’m not ready!”

“That’s fine! How about you, Tylor? Would like you come up here and break the ice?” she asked.

“Sure,” I said. “Just after I get one more beer!”

The crowd giggled a bit. “Okay! Tylor Mintz will be our first poet to read tonight, right after he gets his beer.”

I got my beer and went up there. I sat on the stool, nervously adjusting the microphone. Josie’s teenage son sat about six feet way operating a camera, recording the event for posterity.

“Well, I’ve brought a lot of subversive material tonight.” I said.

The crowd chuckled because they thought I was only kidding.

“But I think we’ll just start out with something light,” I said.

I went on to declare a war on the United States of America.

People applauded at its end and I wasn’t thrown out. So I read another piece called, “The Crucified Cock”.

No, I wasn’t talking about a rooster in that piece. I could feel the crowd was slightly against me, but that was okay. I went on to read a love poem, one that rhymed and was slightly more of traditional flavor. A crowd pleaser, so I thought.

“Okay,” I said. “This is my last one.”

A stern man sitting in front clapped gratefully when I said that.

“I really appreciate you guys holding back the tomatoes,” I said.

“And for not shooting me.” I added.

I read my last poem, “A Loved Woman with Claws”, a piece about angry women and their peculiarly devastating effects upon the minds of sensitive men.

When I finished, the stern man softened and said, “That was sweet.”

Then I hopped off my stool to let the next poet take his or her fifteen minutes of spotlight. I stood off to the side with Benny and drank more beer. Roxanne got up there next and read a wonderful piece called, “Coming Out at 66”.

Roxanne has a great spirit and stylishly large eyeglasses with thick frames. She read to us poems about fairies, working off of a lovely double-entendre. She even wore a “fairy crown” during the first half of her reading. After Roxanne finished, a lady hopped up there and gave us her back story and read to us poems about her life and about the love of God’s grace and so forth and so on. Ben and I went over to the far corner and sat at a little table, chatting quietly while the lady read. We ordered two glasses of blueberry beer, which was delicious.

Stephanie (you may know her better by her pseudonym, Ameya), got up there next. She read to us clearly and confidently. Ben and I both agreed her poems were pretty intriguing.

I noticed Roxanne was taking leave, so I made sure to say goodbye. I told her about my awkward feelings while on stage and that a man had applauded when I said I’d be done reading.
“Yeah, well, he probably voted for Donald Trump and he’ll probably vote for him again. So you can’t take that to heart.”

She also informed me that I was special, and that it was only a matter of time before someone noticed that and I would be doing things on a national level. Roxanne is a very talented person with an extraordinarily kind soul.

I heard an introduction over the speakers, so I got my ass back inside. I didn’t want to miss what other people were doing.

Tom got up there as the night’s last reader, as was promised him. Tom struck us as a special human being. Tom is a farmer and a construction worker. If one were to look at him, one would never guess that this was a man whom wrote poems in his spare time. My favorite of his poems was about a raging river of life. When he finished his set I yelled out to him, “Rage on, Tom!” and of course meant it.

Ben and I agreed there ought to be more events like this for writers and artists, and we should work together on creating a gathering for writers and artists. After all, all art is local, and this is a war we small town creatives are waging – an art war. We are currently enlisting foot soldiers, generals, sergeants, etc. It is a slow, yet sure revolution.

“What’s that you’ve got there, Ben?” I asked. He had a large print in his hand. He turned over.  It was Josie’s “Beer Smear”.

I drove home with my inner authority-radar on full alert, since it was Friday night and the cruisers would be out filling quotas. I sped very carefully all the way home. Then I talked sweetly to my girlfriend and we made love and went to sleep around midnight.

It all made for a damn nice day. After all, poetry, art, wine, and love are the spices of life.

Whoops! (poem)

One day,

I went into a men’s public bathroom.

I walked up to one of the vacant urinals,

Undid my fly, whipped out my

Ding-dong and began letting loose.

 

I was the only one in there

Until a woman in a pretty blue dress

Came striding in.

She was making her way toward the stall,

Until she saw me

Standing there, pissing away.

 

Her mouth made the shape of an ‘O’.

She put her hand to the ‘O’.

“Oh!” she said.

I leaned my head back so I could

See her from upside down

And continuing on steady stream

I said, “Gee, you look different!”

 

Then she cried

and ran.

 

Sometimes,

I forget just how sensitive

women can be.

Whoops!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love From Another Place (poem)

Love from Another Place

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I would so lightly tap upon your slender saintly shoulder

but my fingers are broken, mangled, twisted…

these nerves growing like wild vines,

suffocating motion as it weeps in the dirt.

I would move your lovely mind whole mountains

with my incantations and rosy thought dreams,

but my mouth is sealed shut with rose thorns

and old, yellowed barn twine.

I would so tenderly kiss your full plush blooming lips

but mine are charred, chapped, and covered with dust.

Crows pick my brain as I float balloon like upon your ceiling.

There are never enough bricks in my stomach to weigh me down.

I would share with you my eyes and all they have to say,

but mine have blood in them, rolling loose and fiercely sharp,

piercing all the worlds which they silently witness,

saying things they never meant nor wished to say.

I would reach out for you with butterfly affection,

but my ghost limbs cannot stop shaking with the spoiled earth.

Transparent and grey, they shrivel in the mist

as they fall from my sight, out of mind, and off the shelves.

The lonely brook flows steady on through your heart and mine.

but oh, how my mind has grown so tired with time

…only waiting for you at the end of the line.

A Song From the Lonely Piano (poem)

I play the lonely piano

To the lost, demented Durango

Amidst all our failing and flailing

In love-lost ecstasy.

 

Here you’ve sent me out

On an open and guttered sea

In a strange and dark night that is as cold

As an old man’s regressed memory.

 

Heart shattered, my mind lost and scattered

Drifting upon these forbidden waters

That hides the darkness beneath.

Seeing what should not be seen,

As I wait in the days that pass

For the tiresome fall

And the deep, angry keep.

 

The clouds will not part for thee,

The oceans will not calm for me.

My trusty oar does not push back against

the power of the mighty trance

That has possessed our minds

and has transformed the meaning

of our first glance under the covers;

the kind most often sought

and thought to be of lovers.

 

And so I sail inwards

Out to the depths of uncharted sea

In patient search, endlessly

On route to the heart of the sun.

But there appears nothing left,

but to feel and to fleet

In an endless, earthbound run.

 

I will try my best,

but Lord knows I don’t know

Where it is I am to go

When your face does not appear to show

Its features to my eyes.

Have I lost my mind, or have I gone blind

To the beauty of an old queen?

 

Oh my, how the years have passed by,

and my head still feels so unclean!

The other night I went down

To our old Durango town

And watched the joyful dance of the circus clown

I only wish I were the circus clown.

But I left and I snuck ’round the caravan

To see you there with some other man

Who bent down to kiss you

And lay his folding hands

On the bosom of your mind.

In cold state frenzy, I could not stand the sight

of his life in place of mine.

So quietly I stepped out of the light and fled the scene

Back to my cold theater seats of dream.

 

Then after the death of the clown

and the final curtains came down,

I was so full of doubt

That I bumped into you as I stumbled my way out

I shouted Hello, and how’ve you been?

How rare it is to see you again

You look as perfect now as you looked perfect then

 

You answered but with a passing grin

Not a glance you could spare for him!

Or so it seemed to this old skeleton ghost

To this phantom hidden in your machine

Only blindly reaching out for you

In a foggy midnight dream.

 

 

 

Oh, my words they are so smooth

Too smooth for you to notice!

My words they cut so deep

That you can’t even feel it!

My face is so alive

You thought I was a painting!

Though I wouldn’t think it too abstract,

It was too hard, much too hard for you to remember!

A mouth here or an eye there

a wave of a hand, or maybe some fingers!

In the peripheral image of my day-to-day

You walked away,

Smiling.

 

A Blue, Blue Moon (poem)

A Blue, Blue Moon
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our desolate, far-flung city
hung as endless and true as a corpse,
with its pitiful ruins lit dim with a hue
and shaded by a still and eternal blue moon.
All days remained as night
as all my veins were drained
inside of our ancient cemetery
of crazed adoration and theft.

My love and I, we catch such tired eyes
as she marches long and soldier-like
through the hard lines of men, or machines
I cannot tell the difference.

This cruel indifference, in the days of my youth,
was the one thing out of all which I could not bare,
and so I grabbed her hand before it dared to fade.
I kissed its poor and lovely back in a wanton glory,
and then the blood began to draw.

First it came in sparse, trickled beads through her tiny pores.
Then in a thickening, red flood of deep rose
that emerged from out of her dainty little fingers and wrists,
spilling out with a sickening sound upon the cobblestone night
and upon my weary naked feet.

The city ground was fed and satisfied with our gift,
and from there the broken things beneath would begin to grow.
My soul was without a dam to break, or to hold
the slow flood of my own horrified heart
from those cold, and endless streets.

Such was the life,
lit by the mocking blue of our eternal moon
as it shone true and forever upon my scarred back.
I walked out my years amongst the trash cars
the filthy casket bars, and the tombstone alleys,
with my ears echoing mad with piercing screams
of crazed souls howling into the depths.
This cruel, primitive metropolitan war waged on
and we came to don perfect suits of broken bottle
and sinful, rusty tin for our new skins.

Time then ran with the jet plane,
with the faint streak of a lonely comet,
far above our little beds and the prayers never said,
far and farther beyond the expectations of our scaled minds.
Like magic, the wrinkles and folds encased our shells,
and my mistress of life, she would smile so vicious,
the paint flaking in course stabs from her stone cheeks.
Skin and bones we were as we made sorrowful love,
starved and dreary, decadent but strong,
hanging bleak and solemn, bitterly wise in our place
within that eternal blue after-glow,
of a lost planet which we determined as but a ghost.

Without any guilty intent, or foolish hindrance
without any resistance to fate and its inevitable wing,
we fell lightly and relieved into death’s eternal good sleep
with smiles jointly from ear to ear upon the ancient cemetery plain.
Happier than the wine of our best years,
bolder than the lions of our dreamy Serengeti,
we fell deep from our broken city of crazed adoration and theft,
fading from the blue to the purple, and back, back
deepening into a final black.

And we felt more peace than we ever had
for the long, longest time.

We Are Gone (poem)

 

From body warm electric

To body ice cold,

The air clings to our emptiness

Like the flesh that covers our bones.

Out of the corner

Of a thousand secret eyes

The scene of dripping fingers

Reaching indulgently

Into a green ceramic bowl

And returning with nothing

Except the fingers, dripping.

And the eyes are dripping

Seething, burning.

Nothing in here moves

And the night paralyzes us

As we are wrapped neatly and quietly

Within our soaked and desperate bed sheets.

There is no struggle, no feeling,

No fight. No castle tower of romance,

No string of multi-color lights.

We are zombified,

With minds that leak out from our brains

Floating away from us

into the depths of the void.

 

At last, the heart

Ceases to tremble.

I vomit a stream

Of rose pedals

Through the holes in my palms.

With the swerve of fat liver lips

We hawk out our souls like plain spit

And the taste is far worse than bad.

A wind whispers over a desert.

Bones dry in the heat of the sun.

We are gone.

On the State of Genius (Poem, 6/23/18)

 

My genius,

fleeting and temporary like all good things in their time,

plays a game of perpetual hide-and-seek.

Constantly, while I sit in solitude or huddled

within some far off and cozy corner of mind,

my ego is searching, endlessly

on very little but good faith,

for that sudden dazzling flash of insight,

for that great clue into the great beyond

for to hear those opening notes of a trembling symphony

that resonates with the earthquakes of my own eternity and mystery.

 

Yet it is only when my selfishness recedes,

like all tidal waves swallowed by their ocean,

that my genius reveals itself with all of its gems glowing before me.

My genius is a diamond, shining with vitality,

alive and aware in the river of time and absurdity

stretching beyond disorder and chaos

providing wisdom’s simple gifts of Creative Cosmos,

of Divine Madness, of Form & Beauty,

of Chaos Reversed into the great spirit, rewinding back & back

through man’s eye blink existence of sunspot measurement.

 

Consciousness accepts hungrily,

consuming gregariousness just like any

starving Plato or average Joe.

My ego distracts the ghouls of my mind,

stealing away the great jewels and gems of reason

and lying them ecstatically, madly, passionately

upon the sinking page which has laid stagnant for too long,

or in a vibrant display upon the whirlpool canvas,

or in the form of my breath breathing a melody

into the poor, weathered reeds of my harmonica,

or pouring like magic inside my spider-leg fingers as they pick away

at new chords upon my beaten Hohner six-string.

 

Then, at last, when genius has nourished my heart

and encumbered my mind with its Dionysian dance of cosmic joy,

it will begin to recede slowly yet surely back into thin air,

back into the recesses of the unknown

deepening into the black of the unconscious and preconscious,

sinking like a man whose sole purpose is to surely drown.

Yet still determined to rise up and flame again,

genius will return like a debt unpaid,

upon on its own good faith and its own hearth

with all of its shining teeth grinning full with bliss

someday, somewhere in a land where I have no name,

where the Ego rests,

and the shadow does not kill.