photograph Scott Holman

 
 

Motel-Mildew-Methamphetamine Blues

Be still and listen, for the night has grown its teeth. The medicine man is late and the subterranean, drainpipe children gnaw off their yellow fingernails in anticipation. They peek through the shutters, these film-noir vampires, in a three a.m. motel room. Chemical sweat. Fear and trembling. Manic desire.

 

 
 
 
 

Finally, a ghostlike shuffling of feet outside the door -- the dope man. He creeps in like a dirty dishwater shadow. Pockets the cash with thin blue fingers before reluctantly relinquishing the drugs. Then he is gone, blowing down the alley, just a trenchcoat tumbleweed. 


Hurry, bolt the door! Get high, get spun, get elevated. Smoke it, snort it, shoot it -- BAM! Send a crackling amphetamine telegram straight to the brain. Now the fiends have refueled and the mad carnivals whirl again within their ashtray eyes.


Pacing, twitching, tweaking. Thoughts like flying bullets. Lights, bells, whistles! A percolating chemical penny arcade. Sweet glow in the dark Jesus, go, go, go, GO!
Flicker...
Flicker...
Fade away...


Silence. The night has lost its rotten teeth. Now a throbbing nightmare drifts into this motel tomb on gentle rays or morning sunlight. Outside the birds sing a chipper tune, a shattering requiem to a dead chemical paradise.

 
 
 

     photograph Scott Holman

Fractured

Look into my frying egg yolk eyes.

My hustler's mouth tells only lies.
Don't trust me or befriend me.
When did self-destruction become so trendy?
I say a whispered prayer to James Dean,
And take another amphetamine,
Then reach into my bag of tricks.
Masks and disguises get me my kicks.
When chaos is my only comfort
I do not care if you are hurt,
Or if you do or do not love me,
Or if there is a God above me.
My identity lies in jagged pieces,
Reeking of death, disease and feces,
But smiling all the while in boyish deception.
Those who don't know better open their arms in warm reception.
I take them hostage without even trying,

I always tell the truth -- even when I'm lying.

 

 
 
 

Photograph Michael Leventhal

 
 
 
 

Pass a Stranger on the Way Down

Yes, I followed the boy…
I followed him because his hair bled sunlight,
And his eyes were both mysterious and kind,
Yes, it was the eyes that got me… 
Eyes as dark and rich as fine coffee, a touch of cream swirling slowly within them,
His lips were as thick as his cheeks were full, 
Full and pink cheeks, perfectly smooth, Infant skin just begging a delicate touch from a delicate soul,

Perhaps someone with a silly straw hat and sand between her toes.

 

 

Yes, I followed him…
I followed him a great length,
And though I made haste he always eluded me,
His shadow dancing tipsy-turvy against a sequin studded horizon,
We came to the darkened edge of the papier-mâché forest
And I considered turning back, knowing well the forest was thought to be dangerous,
But the trees parted for the boy and he entered without fear,
I waited awhile, temptation and apprehension wrestling in my stomach, 
Then the sad and strange music of a carved wooden flute came whispering through the leaves,
And the leaves took to life and began to make their own music,
The haunting music of every crumpled newspaper blowing through darkened alleyways, 
Yes, the boy was playing the song…
It was a “wandering song,” like those mentioned in the books long turned to dust,
The sky was darker now and the clouds took on familiar shapes I could not name,
Frightening shapes I had seen in dreams when bedridden with high fever,
It was too late to turn back now; I could not even had I wanted to…
The eyes… The music… 
What’s a preacher’s daughter to do?
I could say I entered the forest, but no, instead I will say the forest entered me,
It was a strange world, this forest, and I did not know whether to be scared or sad… or both,
The boy was far ahead, his shadow twisting easily through the tangle of papier-mâché branches,
The trees seemed to know the boy and let him move through them as he pleased,
But their brittle fingers clawed at my shawl, hastily dragging me further,
Now I was truly afraid for I could sense the forest’s hunger,
And knew I was being swallowed, swallowed alive,
What’s more I’d lost sight of the boy,
My heart was racing and I cried out,
“Boy, please?! Where are you?”
There was a long silence before the trees began to laugh,
A cracked wheezing laugh, cancerous and sinister,
My God what had I done?!
The trees were closing in around me as the fog curled upward from the cold earth,
I knew this was the end and cried out for God to save me,
But not even God could hear me there,
Before the blackness took me away I saw the boy standing before me,
Now almost close enough to touch,
His cherubic smile had twisted wickedly, as if reflected in a funhouse mirror,
And though his eyes were beautiful and mysterious as ever, there was no trace of kindness left in them…
This broke my heart and filled me with guilt,
My last thoughts were of my father; my last feeling was not fear but shame,
Then I fell into darkness,
I cannot say if I ever awoke, if I am drunk or I am dreaming,
I know only that I am a small tree, one of the newest in this artificial forest,
Yet already my branches are hungry,
And I know one day they will feed on someone,
Perhaps a merchant, perhaps a delivery boy…
Or perhaps a preacher’s daughter in a silly straw hat with sand between her toes.


 

 
 

There are no trains from Mexico

How often I wanted to get away;
My dreams drifted along on quiet wastelands of cigar ash and Joshua trees.
I thought my Freedom could be found in Mexico,
In smile/desperate senoritas and bargain shots of mescal.
Was I wrong?
I love the sounds of Mexico, though I hear them only in my sleep 
– jangling hips, frying chicken, cobblestones and click and clack - 
Then quiet villages, burnt out and forgotten, meet my waking eyes.
Even the crickets fall silent with the morning.
Something is wrong here.
Then I remember – but too late!
I gave away my passport!
I signed away my youth!
There are no trains from Mexico
And I am such a fool…
If I cast myself into the ocean,
I will surely drown or at least awaken;
Not that it matters…
My bones will rest in Mexico forever - 

And train whistles will haunt my dead man’s dreams.