THE DOWN LOW

Posted in Rant with tags , , on February 5, 2010 by raindog51

The first day of February finds me sitting in the Pharmacy waiting for my meds to be ready.  Every month I have to go down to the Long Beach CHC to pickup my meds. They used to be free, but now I have to pay for them (I make more than the $1100 a month cutoff point…but I could still qualify for food stamps, if I wanted to). So every month, I head over and get in line. Usually it takes about an hour. I take a crossword puzzle to pass the time. I’d like to chat with my compadres but my Spanish isn’t any good.

So there I am, waiting for my number to come up, when this young guy comes stumbling through the door, heading towards the counter…but he never makes it and ends up collapsing on the floor. Mi gente (my people) and I look down at him lying on the floor, then up at each other, then back down at him. There is a general tsking and murmuring of “pobrecito” amongst the women. One older black woman gets up with a look of annoyance, as if she’s thinking, “Oh lordy, just what I need, a stupid white boy screwing up my morning;” and wanders out into the hall, presumably looking for help.

After a few moments I get up and go to the window… Continue reading

With Respect

Posted in Americana, En Memoriam with tags , , on January 31, 2010 by raindog51

Here’s part of a poem from last year that is currently in Heavy Bear 4 and was previously mentioned in the last post.

The Donna Ramble

When I got the news

I didn’t shed a tear

But got straight to

Work on the dishes

A daunting task

At best

As I had let myself go

To seed

Reduced to just getting by

On a pot, a pan and a bowl

While the sink began to

Look and smell like a

Plane crash in a swamp

So at best

It was ominous work

But it had to be done sometime

And sometime arrived with that

Phone call

I put on some lively radio

And while the sink filled

With hot, bubbly water

I took a hit off the pipe

I was ready

The pile of porcelain and

Blackened metallic things began

To disappear amongst a

Billowing cloud of milky white

Bubbles

I dove in

It was dirty work

But as the job progressed

I found my groove and

Settled into a rhythm

While I was on auto-pilot

I thought about you (not

The generic “you” that

I often think about

While doing the dishes

But you, my dearly departed friend)

I thought about my seeming

Hard-heartedness

How I had no tears for you yet

Maybe you are not dead to me

Maybe you are still going to

Call me back

Maybe I’m mourning you

Over a sink full of metaphors…

(continued at Heavy Bear 4)

Melancholy in B-flat

Posted in Americana with tags , , on December 1, 2009 by raindog51

Try as I might, I just can’t make the jump from casual blogger to daily blogger.  Maybe it’s too time consuming (I am a one-finger typist after all)…answering emails takes me several hours and by the time I’m caught up, I’m also burned out!

Since the last entry, I have been to another reading, this time at the Sacramento Poetry Center with Bill Gainer.  Our hostess, the ever elusive Eskimo Pie Girl of Sacramento Poetry, Arts & Music (that’s right, SPAM), emceed the night with panache.  It was a reasonable sized crowd and I managed to sell four books (thus paying for the gas and part of the car rental)…not bad.

Saw my dad too, but couldn’t make it back up for Thanksgiving, so it was a little bittersweet.  But this was balanced out by my being able to visit with some friends that I hadn’t seen in quite a spell.  That’s what makes these trips worthwhile, otherwise I’d just drive up the day of the reading and drive back the next day…bim, bam, boom! Instead I went to Grass Valley, Shingle Springs (to see Michael Paul and his wife Claudia Licht), drove around the Sierras for a few hours, went to Sacto and then, on the trip home, stopped in Bakersfield to visit Nick Belardes before getting into the rush hour traffic in L.A.

It’s always the full plate with me.

Continue reading

When I close My Eyes, It’s Always Raining

Posted in Americana with tags , , on October 18, 2009 by raindog51

John Macker said this sounds like the line from a poem.  In a sense this is truer than one could imagine, except that it is not a poem that I might write, because I am the poem of which this is but a line from.

Let me elaborate…As I was driving up to Santa Cruz yesterday for the reading at the Mill Gallery, I began thinking about that line.  It’s something I’ve mention to a few people over the years, most recently to my friend Sanchez, who was playing the Girl With the Flaxen Hair (Eric Satie) on his guitar while we sat outside watching the rain come down last Wed. It was such a perfect moment! Beautiful. And somehow after he was done, I said; “You know, when I close my eyes, it’s always raining…”

So, I’m driving up the coast and it’s an impossibly beautiful day. Blue skies. Unlimited visibility. Delicate hues of green and beige. The works. And as I’m taking this all in, that line kind of emerges from the shadows and slowly makes itself known… And I’m just observing it, like you would watch some wild thing, something feral that you want to see but you don’t want it to notice you noticing it, because you don’t want it to bound off just yet.  So, I’m thinking about that line and the imagery of it and I start to have little snippets of memory, but the snippets are not memories of moments that have transpired in my life; the snippets are of memories that I’m pulling out of the air…

And the most disconcerting thing about this is that I’m thinking, huh, this is interesting; like it’s an everyday occurrence. But, of course, it’s not.  It’s something new and slightly alarming.  Who’s memories are these that I am so deftly intercepting? Is it like one of those things where you say to a friend, hey remember that time we were in the jungle and you…oh wait, no that was a NatGeo special. Or is it one of those red flags that warns you that your mind is slipping into someplace dark and scary?

And over dinner tonight, Joe (Pachinko) says to me, you know what’s weird, man? It’s when you have a memory that isn’t really a memory and you think, shit, how could I forget that…until you realize, shit! That isn’t even one of MY memories…and I look at Joe like he’s just told me that he’s been having an affair with my mother, a look that is a mixture of awe and horror and god-knows what else.

This makes me think that maybe it’s not so uncommon, this process of  remembering orphaned memories. Maybe this happens a lot but nobody talks about it. But back to the theme…

In my mind, there is a woman, not surprising, and maybe it’s from one of those calvin klein commercials where the story has nothing to do with the product.

I don’t know, but it’s visceral, this image. Almost as if I can sense the rain before I see it.  In fact, come to think of it, I don’t think I actually see the rain so much as feel it.  But I know it’s raining, and I know that it’s a neutral rain, not a sad rain or a happy rain; it’s just raining.  I think there might even be music, but it’s just barely discernible.

So, it’s raining and there’s music…something moody and subtle, dark but not bleak. And the rain is slow and steady like it’s going to be staying in town for a few days or a week. It’s determined, but not crazy stalker impulsive. So, it’s kind of a gloomy wet afternoon with maybe a tenor sax and a piano making love to an upright bass…and somewhere in all this  there are flashes of honey colored skin, unblemished and porn star perfect doing friendly things to my cheek and fore arm. And there’s a room, muted tones, maybe darkened by a shade but I can still feel the rain coming down.  The music is coming from behind my left shoulder…I think about turning around, but don’t know what I’ll see.

So, if you see me out somewhere and my eyes are closed, this is where I’ll be.

Why is the Water Turning Red?

Posted in Rant on October 16, 2009 by raindog51

In my last post I ended with the analogy of slipping into a warm bath and how nice it will feel. Now, I’m afraid I must confess that the temptation to slit my wrists while in said warm bath is very tempting.  What saves me from doing so is the fact that it would be very embarrassing if I failed in my attempt (tho truthfully, who would notice?) and I wouldn’t want to cause my landlady, who is a very delicate flower, any more grief than necessary.

What? A considerate suicide? WTF?

So, since my last post, the job market for me has steadily declined to the point where I’m actually trying to make a living selling poetry books…You know times must be hard if that’s the case.  This ain’t no San Francisco Heyday, no small press renaissance, not yet anyway. Maybe after the revolution moves thru town the people will develop a hunger for what Lummox Press has to offer. But for now, I’m taking on whatever I can find and believe me, there ain’t much out there…at least not for me. Perhaps I have offended the powers that be, the gods of menial labor, I just don’t know. Is my English too good? Am I too old? Does my breath stink? I don’t get it.

I’ve never had a problem finding work before. It scares me. I’ve actually started looking at other cities to move to, because this one is getting too expensive to live in. Or maybe I should buy a van (with what money, that’s the problem) and go mobile…I’ve done it before, of course I was younger and more resilient back then. But it’s easier to do now, what with WIFI and cel phones…all you really need is a place to store your shit and a place to flop, which could be the same place if you play your cards right. You can eat hot meals pretty cheaply. You just need a secluded place to sleep, one where the cops won’t be rousting you.  You can take a sink shower if you have to, where you get your coffee. It’s not like I’m gonna lose any friends over this…I don’t have many friends to begin with.

Still, not having a place to call “home” does kinda suck. I do remember that about the four years I lived in a house truck. It was a bit like living on a boat, but less sloshy. If I had my way now, I’d have a camper truck or a camper van and I’d just travel around, going wherever I felt like going.  There’s only a couple of things stopping me from doing that: 1) I don’t have any money;  2) I don’t have money for gas (and I’d need a lot of gas); 3) I don’t have the money to buy the aforementioned camper van and 4) where will I store all my shit?

Aside from that, I’m good to go.

A number of friends have suggested I move in with my mom or my brother, but that is highly unlikely since neither of them gives a good God-damn about me or my troubles (having plenty of troubles of their own). As I recall my life of some twenty-five years ago, when I first had to move out onto the streets of South Redondo (not a cop show) into a homemade camper truck, most of my family thought it was something I wanted to do…some kind of wacky adventure, like I should be floating down the L.A. river with some black guy named Jim…

I have a friend who has been living out of her car, her CAR, for the last two or three years; trying to find a job and get back on her feet again so she can get an apartment and start life anew. While she has been living in this struggle, she has finished writing a novel, kicked a meth habit, and met an array of creepy users hell-bent on taking advantage of her. Her story is a reminder of what I would call the minus side of the tally. You can add to that being harassed by the cops at every turn and being an easy mark for thieves.

But there are pluses like not spending as much money (tho that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be saving that money) on rent and utilities (Christ! It costs too much just to have the basics!). And it’s not like I can become any more of a pariah than I already am. I’ve become a solid weirdo and that’s not gonna change anytime soon. So why am I paying so much for a “storage” unit?

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

Did I mention that it’s always raining when I close my eyes?  Something for the next entry. Think about that…

THE MEN THAT DON’T FIT IN

Posted in Americana with tags , , on July 26, 2009 by raindog51

There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,
A race that can’t stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they’re always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: “Could I find my proper groove, Continue reading

AND THAT’S THE WAY IT IS

Posted in Americana, En Memoriam, political with tags , , on July 20, 2009 by raindog51

Uncle Walter is dead. He died last week at 92, just short of the 40th anniversary of the original moon walk by my namesake Neil Armstrong. I remember watching that momentous event with my friend, Karen Lang, in ’69.  I had just graduated from High School and was wondering what life had in store for me.  I was waiting for my draft board to decide my fate and there wasn’t room for much hope or optimism, aside from being in love (and even that was fraught with trouble, as I had discovered the month before when my “girlfriend” had dumped me for a college boy…). But that day, for one brief afternoon, there was a break in the storm, a moment in history Continue reading

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