THE ASTRAY IS NOW AT A NEW LOCATION: EPICRITES.ORG
PLEASE GO TO THIS SITE TO SEE PREVIOUS ISSUES & ALL NEW & UPCOMING ISSUES
OF THE EXUBERANT ASHTRAY. THANK YOU.
Drinking at Sal’s Place
Imagine the sky folded
under your arm like a newspaper,
the stories written in a language
you always meant to learn and never did.
Why bother to even open it?
If you come with me to Sal’s Place,
the faces of the daytime drinkers
will contain as much news as there is.
It’s like my wife said,
at least I think it was my wife,
I was fond of pictures but now
the nails on the wall are quite enough.
The Last Whiskey
So what brings you here?
And why after everybody else
has been and gone?
I do not know,
I was just told
to be here at one a.m.
and finish the job.
My Old Car
Your pink hair
swaying back and forth
in my first car
meeting with the bass and tumbling
back towards the seat
while I tried not to notice
at least too forthcoming
the see-through shirt
sprouting unearthly tits
or the lines you drew up
in between head bobs
on the armrest seperating us.
The first step out
the fairground front gate
and all the emotions rush back
like banished demons
to the head.
Agitation takes on the tempo
and the smell
of horse shit,
The Tilt-o-Whirl scrambled
and sexual organs.
I think they speak a lot
about the human condition,
Eager to enter,
relieved to leave-
we let our guts get eaten
by ring-toss conmen
The woman in the flat above me keeps have obscenely loud orgasms
and I mean loud, gratuitous orgasms
those full-throated, high-pitched, head-thrown-back, breathless climaxes you usually only see in porn movies.
Sometimes she screams ‘oh god!’, ‘oh god’, sometimes ‘ohhhhh fuck!’ ‘ohhhh fuck!’, sometimes – ‘fuckingggggg helllllllllll’, ‘fuckinggggg helllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll!’
and I sit and wonder –
‘exactly what is he doing to her?’
‘or what is she doing to herself?’
I regularly eat my wife out for over half an hour AND I’ve bought her a Rampant Rabbit Vibrator and I never get that result.
What do I have to do exactly?
and how is it fair and democratic that a woman should be capable of such orgasms and a man should happen to get intimate with her?
She is like one of those ‘Stepford Wives’. Seriously, she could shatter glass … .
Now, I’ve started asking my Wife to groan louder when we have sex –
‘Come on’ I’m snapping ‘sound like you’re enjoying it’
‘Oh yeah, louder baby’
‘I really like it when you groan’
None of which works. She just comes with her little feminine gasp and a shudder. Whatever I do.
She keeps saying – ‘I’m very satisfied with you as a lover’ and I keep replying –
‘Well I am not. I sound less of a man than that guy upstairs’
I mean why can’t she be loud just for me? Everything was fine before. But now … sex is a struggle to complete.
A totally impossible Olympic hurdle of a motherfucker.
Haddam Meadows memory
Sometimes I miss
making Jack Daniels
candy by mixing it with
instant pink lemonade
sleeping in my
beat tent with
coat hanger stakes
to keep me warm
charring stolen steaks
on a refrigerator grill
over deadwood fire,
enough cash from
for my next
My father pisses in bottles
he hangs by their handles
on the rail of a stainless steel pushcart:
a bedside table that holds a lamp,
2 liter bottle of Coke,
broken alarm clock,
roll of toilet paper,
and T.V. remote.
I sit in a chair by his bed,
stare at the muted T.V.,
try to think of something to say,
ignore the foul odor
of his unbathed body
I need to wash
and bottles of piss
I need to empty again.
He sucks on a peppermint,
because I won’t give him a cigarette,
because I made him get a triple bypass
five years ago
so he wouldn’t die,
ring! ring! ring!
i adjust my top-hat and max’s cat extends
her hand and signs my wrist in parallel lines
of blood like poetry and she bounds onto the sofa
and leaps into the haze of 7 torched blunts
and i remove my aviators and squint into the black lights
at room’s black meaning while in the kitchen
a champagne bottle booms like artillery and discharges
foam onto the linoleum and drowns the blasting death metal
and the ceiling twists towards me and max’s sudden
smile hits and he mutilates me like a cheese-grater. and
you, you ridiculous woman, you expect me to call you back?
He knew he had
I cut off his
But I still
for a live
Wordsmiths Are A Wait Staff
the forever inarticulate
try desperately to use
demanding words with
syllables they can
the forever inarticulate
imagine themselves to be
beyond the rest of us
in word and deed
we appear to scrape
if only they were learned
enough to realize
we are picking up
through their misuse
so we wait
The Government’s Got Nothin’ To Do With It
the one’s who wouldn’t work
when they could’ve had a job
now think everyone’s in their
lazy-ass ghetto theatre
i’ve always worked
i’ll sell you a t.v.
i’ll sell you a hair clip
i’ll sell you my tit
for a fucking dollar
what do you think a prostitute is?
why do you think they call her a “working” girl?
it’s not about SEX, you morons.
it’s about WORK!
what part of that four letter word do you not
that’s not lazy
that’s a career…
and it’s headed up!
and i spit on you who’ve never bothered to try
to make a living
but who now cry
“we’re so poor! look what the government’s done!”
what’s the government?
look what you’ve done!
you’re still the same flat out lazy pieces a’ shit you always were
and the government’s got nothin’
to do with it.
Love Delusion No.2
Searching for a heart of gold
A teardrop after midnight
Blue eyes in the morning
Looking for a kiss
A mystery girl
Is what makes the world go round
But it isn’t the truth
The truth is
A 468th menstrual cycle
And 10,000 hangovers
For the dream is a kiss
From a street hooker
ragged city street corner
on a dead
and laughing at the sun
(These poems are part of Joseph’s excellent forthcoming collection
from Blackheath Books, LOAD THE GUNS).
If you look
without his skin
and see his skeleton
you’ll notice he’s not
on the planet.
He has a backbone like a horse
like a cat
and a skull
like any mammal
on all fours.
on a basic
Smart as we are—
the knowledge of our own mortality,
science, medicine, astronomy—
we really are
from the bowels
of the earth.
The Soul Monster
I sit here
on my couch
and look at the walls
What do we have to do
to liven up the night.
Streets, cars, walls,
everywhere we go
people are holding back
the fire blazing
in their bones.
What else could it be
by the whole damn race.
I don’t belong here.
I should be dancing
around a drum circle, naked,
with the rhythm of cannibals
with the flames
of a bonfire.
Right now, I’d rather
lick the skull of a dead man
than sit here
like a civilized chimp
born to be kissed
and born to be hated
born to paint with fingers
born to pour glasses of red wine
born into the light
born into the darkness and
born to wave anti-war posters
born to bow in front of the faceless flag
born not long ago
born with Joan of Arc
born with Hannibal
born with Buddha
born with the Devil
born with a cherry seed in the throat
with knife in the belly
born to be dead
born to spray seed
born to be left by the perfect woman
born with no face
born to walk on the avenues of dead
born to listen to Mahler
born to eat apples and oranges in the
summer Sunday morning
but at least I know:
there are no diamonds in the mine.
black and red
the roses colour slowly
as the old men play chess
in the park
somewhere a child is dying
somewhere somebody beats his wife
somewhere in this world starts a war
somewhere someone falls in love
as the old men play chess
in the park.
the sun goes down
one spider spins his web…
….the fly is buzzing.
the old men put the chess pieces
back in the box and go.
the blood is dripping upon
this is what will be
left of me:
my heart in your hands
waiting in vain
for another turn of
this stupid dance
while the saddest song
while swiping her credit card
that she was a breast cancer survivor,
that her husband was in Las Vegas
attending a heating and cooling convention,
and that my blue shirt matched
the blue in my eyes.
I handed her a pen and found myself
in the unflatness of her chest.
One Summer Morning
One summer morning
there was a thick coat of ice
in your embrace, which
I continue to feel about twenty
summers and counting.
I did not welcome
that experience, but I would not
give back the good times
for all the gold in the world.
One summer morning
I was on top of the world.
My heart dripped with passion
and I immersed myself
in the aroma of your love.
There was no thick coat of ice.
I reveled in every morning
and fell for the rhythm of your
touch. Your dark eyes comforted me.
I could never imagine such
a better feeling. One summer morning
winter came early. Perhaps it was
your way of not dragging things
out, of making things simple for me,
who yearns for the glimmers of light,
of hope, in the darkest hours.
The howling dogs on this summer
morning, remind me of my own
howling for all the loveless days.
Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
Not From Concentrate
When she left him temporarily we would
cook breakfast and get the bus to Liverpool
browse the CD racks return to an evening
of wine the Devotional videotape phone calls
smoking and racing up the stairs sharing
bath water then after lights out she would
creep into my bed hands heading under the covers
and concentrating on pleasuring herself
knowing the effect it would have on me
as I came to terms with the fact that
the orange juice was not from concentrate
and the vodka was distilled not in Russia
the sound I could hear was my pounding pulse
and her minute gasps of breath
Ethics and Aesthetics
if you really must kill children
then leave the corpses arranged
exquisitely, like you are commenting on
time and nonentity, not just throwing away
a few sacks of meat
or show us that throwing away meat is all you are doing,
but do it so you show that meat is all there ever is
in living children or in human reasons
kill the brats so we know that meat is all there ever is
to believe in, then as far as i’m concerned
you’re a good human being
Robert Frost Loves Yoga Pants
You should write more like Robert Frost!
There seems to be very little about nature
or warm New Hampshire walks through
Indian summer’s beautiful embrace. You
should be more like good ole’ Frost, he
says so much and I believe he’s classically
trained. You should be able to look out
your front picture window (as you type)
and see the birds sing ( cukoo, cukoo).
You should watch the icy rain wash away
the snow as you think about cool meditations
on a warm beach while doing yoga. Quick!
Breath in the Robert Frost, breath it into
those lungs of yours, Then you should have
a nice vegetarian meal with other friends, who
in turn are all wearing yoga pants and
super tight tank tops. You discuss beauty
and nature, you discuss fruit juices while
your testicles all snug and tight in those
spandex but most important is that we chat
about Robert Frost. You should be more like
the old white head of poetry, we need you on
the side of eastern sensations.
A Buddhist prayer to change you!
They Are Not Friends
Colorless memories of
slapping ass with the
bony girl who’s crack
addiction led her to peddle a
death that would not even
leave skeletal remains…
Yesterday, she cried
when you gave her 40
bucks…a salary of escape
to worlds of nothing; only
minutes that lived inside
a tin-foil pipe.
Tomorrow, her life story
might be on the obituary
page— not a long tale, but both of you knew
this when your uneasy liaison was
formed; however what happens
twelve hours from now
Today is now…your search
for companionship involves
a whore with six teeth missing.
Trying to convince herself she’s human
but understanding her Cinderella redemption
has been accumulatively lost over years on the street.
One day at a time lives
in recovery books and
twelve step programs…
But sometimes…even the day
ain’t worth living.
Everything is Addressed
everything is addressed that needs to be addressed.
everything is stamped with the american flag.
everything is u.s. postal service friendly.
no anarchy symbols.
no “to larry king” from “anna nicole smith’s ghost.”
everything is straight line unwavering sane.
no room for misconception.
no room for boo hoo waa waa dirty diaper ego.
look at all that white.
no scratch-n-sniff stickers.
some people are offended by those.
“oh, so you think my nose needs something NEW
to smell??? motherfucker!!!”
everything is being dropped with graceful hands
into the anonymous slot.
I will probably die for this.
we made love
in every state
mini shampoo bottles
spraying the bags
made love at all
leaving three dollars
for the maid
Scorched Scalp Policy
Larry knew he had to do
something about the head lice.
even the barflies,
the rancid meat and potatoes
of his sex life, didn’t want
a man constantly itching his scalp.
after a night of Southern Comfort,
Larry doused his hair in kerosene.
he placed a bath towel on the back
of the Barca-Lounger
so as not to ruin the upholstery.
secretly, he congratulated himself.
such forethought rarely came to him
sober, let alone after night’s drunk.
he leaned back in his chair,
flicked play on the Devon porn
and lit himself a Doral cigarette.
Later, ensconced in the burn ward,
head and torso swathed in bandages,
he took grim consolation
it could have been worse.
he could have had crabs.
Fast Women and Slow Horses
my father always claimed
fast women and slow horses
would be the death of him.
it was only pancreatic cancer.
he also advised me to stay in school,
that I wasn’t suited for manual labor.
he was a little closer to the mark
with that one.
I never listened, regardless…
his wisdom rarely extended
beyond the flat end
of a liquor bottle.
now as I near the end
of my second decade of factory work
with my own whiskey bottle
acting as the yardstick
by which I measure my
I know cancer will kill me
I just don’t know
what my children will
remember me by.
the lingerie girl straddles the bar stool,
gyrating her ass on my lap,
hand dropping down, caresses my crotch
a tingling moment before
she makes a dismissive grunt.
the guy over there,
she gestures down the bar,
gots a cannon between his legs,
holding her hands a foot apart.
I’d been fucking his ex-wife almost a year.
my best friend, Buffy,
has been fucking Strang’s current girlfriend
for as long as he has.
which leads me to believe
Bobbie Strang can’t be too well-hung
if his woman is high-stepping
with a guy nick-named Buffy.
I’m best friends with a guy
who goes by the name of Buffy,
and if I’d been a bit more gifted in the pants
she would have kept
her goddamned mouth shut
in the first place.
In The Abode of My Cat’s Eyes
i see nothing in her eyes
she presses and stretches
her claws to my chest
i am nothing in her eyes
and as the sun
in this small room
i can see
i am nothing
in the abode of my cat’s eyes
It’s New Years
a bad cough.
year & the
The Music Is Still the Same
the music’s still the same
it’s just the walls are louder
the tones and vibes are bouncing off metal
rather than brick
which makes the sound louder
rather than dense and muffled.
the music’s still the same
it’s just the world is getting bigger,
more hollow, changing into a huge void
where the tiniest bit of truth
sounds like a thunderous volcano.
it doesn’t take much anymore
because there is not much anymore.
i love the gulping sound
red wine makes poured
from a big bottle thru
it’s thin neck into my glass
like a fish gasping for air
bigger the bottle the better
small bottles make me
fearful they will empty
before the job is complete
bringing my fish of pain
to the surface
intensifying my anguish
instead of drowning it deep
within a sea of amnesia
the understanding man has arrived to foreclose you.
it seems you’re way behind on your payments.
i can’t even afford underwear that fits, you say
as the understanding man zeroes in on your belly button.
i truly do understand your predicament, the understanding man nods
but it’s time to cash in your chips.
the understanding man pulls out a large safety pin.
he proceeds to prick you.
your body deflates and the understanding man shoves it into a bottle.
the understanding man made the mistake of going home right past me.
since i too understand your predicament
i trip him. the bottle in which you flounder
flys into my hands. i run down a dark alley
to a shed. in the shed is a bicycle pump.
i pour you out of the bottle and onto the floor.
i bicycle pump you back to where you were
when you answered your door.
i put an ace bandage on the hole the understanding man pricked in you.
thanks, you say, i owe you.
next time don’t undo the chain.
but he looked so understanding! i was compelled to open the door.
be wary, fool, i smile. learn to ask questions.
the understanding men are all over the place.
they are in your hair.
they are in your drerams.
ask them many questions.
sooner or later their facade will disintegrate.
the understanding men pat your troubled heads.
their palms are oily.
the shuffling that kept you awake?
the last deck on earth.
i don’t know if the cards are marked.
one helluva game, though.
the weather gets cold and your favorite tv show shivers.
understanding men reload.
nobody wears a watch anymore.
when does knowledge mutate into instinct?
two humans felt a kiss coming on.
they stood up out of the herd.
their eyes swam synchronized.
the understanding men glued tse tse flies onto their skin.
the town crier is on his last fling.
all just might be well but can anybody truly be sure?
that town crier once was more specific
but the hot desert wind got sand in his thought process.
For years I thought that
talking to the Gods
was an exercise done privately under unforgiving
Ridiculous unrequited prayer
done by staring at old, cold books – with mean small print
But then I discovered
just ain’t it at all
God can be found in the ‘thank you’ voice of the guy
at the counter in the supermarket or
the quietness of a a stranger’s parking lot smile
the rattle of weeds across a dry summer Mojave
watching my unfettered fingers jump jump jumping
across the computer keys
deep in the middle of typing three hours worth of unscrubbed truth
God, for me, has turned out to be a conscious choice – a self-evoked experience
Another Day In Paradise
The clouds this morning driving over Topanga Canyon
To my new phone room job
Were a white cotton tablecloth against Big Jesus’ pepper blue work shirt
And, as I left the coast driving into the hills
The fog lifted
And I gulped my coffee and – for a change – turned off my radio
(seems that slick George has decreed that enough is enough and that these heathen towelheads will soon morph into a unilateral desert oil stain)
And – always proud to be an American – I tell myself, ‘hey it’s all okay’
I’m breathing in and out – rigth here – and I’m free white and over twenty-one – right?
While my precious National Security guarded by a man who’d think nothing’s wrong
With flaming out a few hundred-thousand babies for the small price of a 68% public approval
Sure – no pain – no gain – right?
So thanks mister president for your most singular vision of
unbuffered, unblemished, unimaginable
I think next year I’ll move to Tibet
I met the meanest bastard starving cat while sitting with a book
Smoking half a pack of Luckies on a bench at Venice beach
He saw me and came up – white – with one green eye and one yellow eye
and a fresh slash on his scarred ear
angry as a wounded wolf he kept his distance
and his look said, ‘feed me or fuck off’
that bench you’re on is my territory
What he didn’t know is that I know desperate too – and crazy – and what emptiness and aloneness and rage can do to you when you’ve got nothing but pain in your pockets and your home is a busted-out 20 year old Pontiac stalled in an alley in West L.A. and the voices in your head are carving you up and killing more of you off each day – and you wake up and drink more rat-piss wine to keep you from instant madness and God becomes a guy coming out of the market handing you chump change toward another fucking jug and fear is your finest feeling and love is dead and all time is dead and even your eyes stink and your gut is bloated with the screaming voices of those you hate and the only sanity can be found in the small miracle of sucking back one more drink –
That mean white cat didn’t know that I’ve been cut too
from the same cloth
The only difference between us is fifteen years and my typewriter
Hitting the Big Time
Okay, I guess now I must be really famous
because this week I’m back in Paris giving a TV interview and talking to this guy
from Liberation Magazine and this girl whose been sending me hot e-mails for a year wanting to know about writing and poetry and this and that – calls me at my friend’s flat and says we have to have a drink together
I’ve never seen her before but when I get to the bistro there’s no mistake: she’s twenty-nine and decked out in tight jeans and pink pumps – and her braless nipples push push push against the pockets of her open silk blouse
And later that night after we’ve spent all that sweaty summer afternoon feasting on each other’s body parts – and I’m back in my room alone – I check my pocket, counting my money – and estimate roughly that when I get back to L.A. at the end of the month – I’ll have a grand total of eighty dollars left – plus loose change – along with the rent due and sixteen-dollars clogging my checking account – and a stack of over-due bills to pay along with other stuff – and I figure that my newest career choice may be to go back to selling cars again or hit another office supply boiler room in Hollywood just to make ends meet –
And here I am in Paris and I’ve hit the big time
Ah fame, it’s a bitch!
Previously published in Dan’s poetry collections “A gin-pissing-raw-meat-dual-carburetor-V8-son-of-a-bitch from Los Angeles” & “Kissed By A Fat Waitress.”