Daily Archives: February 7, 2010

Beat The Ghost

Sam beat the hell
out of a ghost last night,

his fists all tangled with cobwebs
and soft blood.

When the body holding his father’s soul
hit the ground Sam did not stop

but kicked it and broke it
until the bouncers pulled him off.

Then the poor vessel got up
and shoved a knife into Sam

before anyone could stop him.
Sam didn’t die, though,

not right away.  In the ambulance
on the way to Milford is when it happened

and Sam got a sour laugh
over who was waiting for him

when he made the leap
into that space.  The two of them

would have leaped at each other if either
had solid arms, but instead they just hovered and snarled

with no material way
to continue the fight right then.

But both Sam and the guy he’d attacked
have brothers, so no worries.

Dad will get his chance
to goad Sam into rage again.

In a few days
Sam will seize his little brother’s body

and force him to square off with the brother
of the man who killed him.

How I hate you, he’ll say to his dad
as he moves his brother’s arms

to smash back at the face
of his demise — the face he sees

there, not the boy’s face.
Shut up, Dad will say. Don’t be a pussy.

Shut up and fight.
Fight like a ghost in a man’s body,

the way I taught you
to fight.

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It’s on? We
all over that shit? Got it covered,
you got my back, I got yours, we got this?

Yeah, I’m with you,
down for it,
I’m your boy.

They got nothing
for us.  Nothing.
We’re on top of it. They

got nothing for us.
ain’t shit.

Let’s go.  Bring it
if you got it.  You ain’t got shit
and you know it.  Big talk,

all you got’s talk,
bring it, let’s
go.  Let’s see

what you got.

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Choosing not to know
something millions know
is a luxury

Whether it’s the nature
of oppression
or the story of the hot game

to choose to ignore
what’s in front of you
is an easy way

to segregate yourself
from your brothers
and sisters

and raise yourself
onto a pedestal so high
you can see

only the long view
of the ants below
while you pat yourself on the back

for your superior
and grasp

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Through the door of the Ship Room comes
one snapped mental carrot,
one steamrolled nose,
a duffel full of puppets,
and the echo of his scratchy greeting
piercing the room:
with a hearty “yee-yee” and a “ham-ham-ham,” 
the Captain
has arrived.

I’m one of only a few in the club
who know his real name.
I’m not telling.
Here he’s the Captain and
he runs things
by presence
and enthusisam
and chaos, perfect
sweaty chaos.

A band on stage
grinds out bluespunk
and here come the shark
and the pig
out of the bag.  The Captain
slugs and pops
at the front of the crowd
and thrusts them at the singer,
who hasn’t played here before
and has no clue how to react,
but we sure do.  We’re pointing
and moshing like pirates
behind him, the rock and roll
unleashed, now the bassist gets it
and starts to grin, steps up the bottom
as we charge and yell for louder
and more, while the Captain
leads us puppet-handed into
the heart of Saturday night.

Half these kids don’t know what they’re seeing:
the act I’ve known for all these years
still in progress, this stocky little block of a lunatic
for the release of every tense energy ball
in our chests and our feet knows us,
isn’t afraid to lead us to crazy and abandon.

No one would believe me if I told them
anything of what I know of him: how I’ve seen him
tear a computer down and rebuild it
in less time than it takes to power one up;
that in rare moments he quotes Shakespeare;
that under the weed and the acid scars
there’s a guy who once knew more about more things
than most of us could imagine forgetting —
but he’s managed it, for the most part.

Somebody outside the club calls him a retard
and I want to flatten his nose,
tear out his hair, tell him that now
he’s ready to judge him.  The Captain
wouldn’t care, of course, and that holds me back.
A rock and roll army needs its leaders.
Needs the lifers who live it.  Needs the guys
who could care less how they’re seen
by people with healthy metal carrots
and nothing alive in their hands.

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Hitting Bottom, Take 43

Held it in my arms
as it decayed
to charcoal, as pieces of it
scaled off and crumbled
and fell at my feet.

This is of course
why I picked it up
in the first place:
I only hold tight to my chest
what will fail me
most visibly.

I love the sound
that rises from the ground
when I tread upon it
as I walk away,
and the stains on my arms
that offer evidence
of my martyrdom.

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When the last word
of English is spoken,
when it finally dies
and is forgotten,

everything we know
will disappear into the forest
where the ghost languages
recall their recounting

of feasts, lovers, wars
and memory, descriptions
of mountains and oceans,
specific words for snow,

sand, arrow, child,
mother, warrior, wine, bread,
chill, dawn, night, embrace,
holy, evil, baker, poet, song.

It will not matter. Someone from the next
dominant species will begin again,
trying to snare fact in the wind.
It’s always been thus: one voice fails

but the world itself remains to stimulate
the next voice to falter, gain strength,
describe the truth before it. The silence
breaks and then washes back into place.

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