Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Up

Post-holiday isolate meals of ketchup, bread, and salt -- outside a 2 a.m. rain -- 

and sacked on the couch, all sense of communion jumbled with that night's offbeat conversational rhythm.

This is the decompression, the undressing, the farting, the gargle, the want-to-be-alone, the everyone else asleep, and I just want to read on my own.

It's too late for wit to decorate the plain walls of a deadened mind which mutely states it out that oh, man, thankfully it's not one of those old drunken days where I regret hijinks, where not one looker-on wished to watch one drunker perfect the art of animal impressions or ramming into a TV,

where a whole weekend satisfied itself in tasting wine, looking forward to the night of, well, whatever became of it though not remembered well, 

and plans including a future that would integrate itself, and now it's plain

that's how we lived a life, and it's gracious, and we're grateful, nevertheless, surprised to feel that good.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hiking Up And Out

The Idealist: Of course we can

The Pessimist: Why bother

The Cynic: I told you so

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Win

Coming into a room, just risen, cold in the air, 

touching the brass knob to let yourself in and 

it seems a matter of witness protection where you're not you but waiting for the familiar past face 

to see through the wax persona fashioned around the cheekbones.

And in entering, no rough-ready trophies on the wall, stuffed safari heads from shot big beasts, 

victory cups etched with the masculinity of an ex-drunk knowing full well 

the medical logic of rye 'distilled in 1958' -- 

not that, but the impress of big light, white measuring spoons, eggs, and the nourishing smell of kitchen and of acceptance.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Good Shave

I put a new blade into my razor

Fingernailing soap scum away and making it shine.

It's snowing now, the first time for it, and a squirrel hefts its late Fall bulk

Over visible grass to find a husk.

The room is warm, and my cheek is smooth.


Friday, November 19, 2010

To Tell A White Truth

One of the following is true:

1) I've killed five men.

2) The priesthood rejected me on the grounds that I'm not Catholic.

3) Lifetime Channel has slotted a show for me as 'The Lovelorn Guru'.
4) I wear a size 10 shoe.

5) After she ducked away from a premier, Michelle Pfeiffer -- this was in the 90s -- Michelle arrived shamefaced and needful, wet from having walked a distance in a rain, came to my hotel room, and I let her in.


Serially, Folks

Celebrity impression elements I've tried to work on and 'do':

1) Brando reciting Eliot's 'The Hollow Men' in Apocalypse Now -- or simply 'doing' Brando as Kurtz.

2) Olivier's gesture of open-mouthed wonderment -- or his 'eye-roll' at having to face a life-shattering truth.

3) Kingsley's changes in pitch and dynamics -- or nervously-stuttering laugh during a quick conversational response.


Day By Day By Day

Why does each unit add and add and then subtract away

when -- after building speed like a choo-choo -- the eyes finally open and truly see the world?

Thank you for the wind in my face, that freshness given.

Today now is my favorite holiday because we're smiling at each other and laughing at the various edges of the same joke

proving you are and I am so Real,

the Minds we make up our own minds to be.

As for the weekend, tonight I look no further than my nose -- 

tomorrow's plans may decline with the sun

while Sunday, lying down, hopes that anything lost may really be a gain.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Roman Ex, Roman Eye

You wouldn't think so, but it snows in Italy

and here, too, just after the black ice --

splatter, plink, doily-drift, and bury,

boot-tread deep, an immortal skid for the young.

Here inside, next to the wheels only

of an old clockwork, eleven on eleven,

the OXO kettle whines the cat under a bed

and splashes boil into a mug I drool with honey.

Out in the distance, love rumbles into a stranger's 

chest like an off-road vehicle

yet even with forced air, these chill rooms

Hover like breath in a widow's heart.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Prof To Prof

Just out, individually out, of a great downpour

Before our work starts, and we, individually, wet,

We face each other in the hall, you shaking the rain

Off your books, me having just rubbed a bit of it

From my short hair, on the way to the loo,

We realize the space we share for this passing step

And stop to wonder why it is we never meet and talk.

You are psychologist -- mycologist!; me, a player with words.

Busy, we make no appointment, tip off to our various ways

Having been socially friends now for two minutes more.


Fill A Room

Her bright face is emblematic of a queen of heaven

Done by some Italian master years ago and in museums,

Yet she's working here, in the terminal, where we work,

Until the time her legs lay bare, her child falls, Spring comes,

We give her gifts and coo over the squiggling infant.

It's all about birth, it's all about wanting to arrive and not leave.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Graven Image

Around her neck an amulet

the dancing god, the snowmaker,

the One who throws puzzles at the busload of us

What she has to say in behalf of his mute shouts

that cause roads to open, water to flow.


Lad Leaving Past

I am 22 then

Roz, my second cousin, a social worker boss

Old school leftist

Her husband at home has gone deranged

And calls me 'hippie'

She matronizes him

Treats him as the child he's now

There's nothing I can say that changes anything


Centuries Of Misgiving

The question with which Mr. Bertram had to contend over the next hours roiled him the deepest, indeed would have perplexed any man bred to such gentility.  Why would Miss Price have ventured to do as most worried him?

Certainly her modesty had always prevailed, and yet, now, in this instance, her attachment, the seeming depth of her attachment, both to Elvis and to Tupac, drew notice of even the most unaware in the village that she might jilt and bolt.

Oh, pray, he inwardly voiced, that I have not lost Fanny!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Doctor . . . Jones

The man who sells his soul to the Devil  for enough wealth to set me up for life.

The Devil lays down a ten.  That's more than enough, he says, and shoots the man in the head.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Place In The Sun

Those who love this movie often point to this scene and the lingering close-ups of beautiful actors.  

I love this scene for another reason.  The film is based on Dreiser's An American Tragedy, and we do indeed get oppressive class structure, a pathetic marriage, a universe where human effort inevitably gets trumped by malevolent circumstance, punctuated by a scene wherein Raymond Burr demonstrates a murder by smashing an oar to bits inside a courtroom.

I love this particular scene for the musical theme, and incidentally for the lovers (Liz and Monty) caught up first in dance and then on the verandah, orchestra still within earshot.

The plans, the passion.  

Despite the utter improbability of any social acceptance, they race at doom.

That moment motivates.


Smoke This In Your Censer

Church:  where conformity masks as holiness.

Soul:  where we disguise us as gods, but fear to say so.

Bible:  where questions are misread as answers.

Prayer:  where we face away from ourselves at the wrong time.

God:  where we clothe what has no shoulders or hips.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lone, Stranger

The time in Berkeley, at fast food, when two panhandlers, young, drugged, came to O and F and asked Have spare change?  

And O and F, respectively, right away, said No and shook head (right away) with pursed lips No.

And the two panhandlers, drugged and young, rolled back in their lunch booth seats, holding their sides, laughing till there was no sound.  

A Cosmic laughter, one where the social rubber hits the existential roadway and draws high beams on one's own fate.  It was written!

They laughed half-way through our happy meal.  They laughed until the dribble dried on the side of their chin.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dunes, Gravel, Wadis

The Sudanese who said that, at gunpoint, wandering with straggling refugees, he was 

-- no, not beaten, not raped -- 

he was forced to pee so that his urine could serve to keep the gunman alive.


New Guy In Town

Struggling ethnic café with lacquered tables

Hot chili sauce and cold air.

Squirrel Noodle Soup.  Tough squirrel noodle soup.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Night Contrast

Walking in the rain with a sore throat

How good the soup will taste when I get home

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Two clean women ding-dong at my door

Wanting to know if I know of the Bible book

And I say: many books

Do I know of the thread which joins the books

And I say: many threads

They get around to sin, its need to be 

In order to vindicate God's name

(In the wind of Satan's bluster)

To prove He still has powers --

Since Eve consumed with a flushed face

And Adam ate his way --

Prove we can be good for God

Overcome our basic sin, the Satan's sin.

Ah, sin, yes.   Overcome.  Yes, yes.

Many threads and many books.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Flamenco Interno

Inside me, claps and slaps,

Wings, something Iberian


Throwing out junk plastic

Collecting all worn cotton

There's little that makes me good.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Joy Of Index

You know talk.  How many conversations

Get nowhere.  That's getting somewhere

Where I've been:  the stockiest restaurants,

The retro RPM stores, sheerest malt shops.

Especially talking with strangers

In old book stacks, rummaging and interleaving,

The glimpse of a Dickens page,

Dawkins and DeLillo, looking for code.

Making 'a mestizo'? She looked through me,

I go with semi-colons; break from a text

Then go on to the next, I say to myself.

She said, and ceded her Philip K. Dick.

We did coffee over it, under the filigree

Of pepper tree leaves, and finger sandwiches

Something like the English people do in film,

With watercress and butter and Dundee jam,

And when I learned her name was Aphrodite,

I could only laugh at the coincidence --

Almost leap after that surprise hiccup! --

Being myself so all-weatheringly like a god.