Sunday, November 29, 2009

Heaven #1

I want to write something that’ll forgive everything

* * *

So what if it was raining—the vines on the
wooden fence had the shakes etc.

* * *

Awnings were everywhere on the margin of existence:
storefronts, eyes suspended in space etc.

* * *

Were they gray were they green?

* * *

The aroma of homemade ravioli

* * *

Here we are in a country the train tracks stitch together

* * *

Yellow raincoats reeking cod liver oil & isolation which has no
        odor whatever

* * *

The stars hidden back of the nimbus clouds & tangerine sun
they were driving up to New York at 11:00 p.m. unlike us

* * *

there are merely an infinite number of ways to say
goodbye like saying goodbye

* * *

The cigarette-smoke gray curtains the actual smoke more
        blue than white

* * *

Max sporting her cat’s-eye shades gone iridescent

* * *

I want to write something that’ll forgive everything

* * *

You could be happy for an hour or two, maybe sleep someplace—
        there’s a
weeping willow & picnics that never quite get off the ground

* * *

Here we are in a country the train tracks stitch together &
there are merely an infinite number of ways to say

Jack Hayes
© 1990-2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sketch For A Big Band Balinese Shadow Puppet Theater

First there were the prince & princess. That was a Saturday, everything looked sacred like a charm bracelet: dancing Shiva, a xylophone, a valentine heart. Green cockatoos flew from the mighty pipe organ at the bijou, where the prince & princess arrive just in time for the matinee. Later there was plenty of strawberry rhubarb pie à la mode: it tasted like a clarinet's c# transformed to a kiss. God was satisfied, why shouldn't he be? There were saxophones hanging in trees, you could hear the St. Louis Blues as you ate your focaccia. Both the prince & princess had wings, they weren't much perhaps compared with a Brooks Brothers' suit or a Coco Chanel cocktail dress, but they felt snazzy flapping down the avenues in their zoot-suits out-jitterbugging Ganesha. They both wore fedoras. Drinking cups of java they each thought the other's sex was a tropical florist's.

& there was just one train that went on for hours barreling out of the clouds, & the turbaned engineer, who was himself a face taken from a meerschaum pipe, ruminated on the transiency of existence. Then somebody closed the venetian blinds.

Then god felt so tired he remembered he was only a bamboo stand with arthritis. That's life. He drank green tea. He'd rather smoke american cigarettes, these Gitanes give him an even worse headache. It's not easy having several arms, just think about it a minute. Ok, that's long enough.

In the next scene they travel to a cafe, it's called the Elephant's Bathtub. It's twilight of course because the sky's swarming with several tons of rhododendrons & silk moths & demons of course wearing bowlers & opera hats & puffing on their Garcia Y Vegas. The prince can't remember the words to I Can't Give You Anything But Love which he's supposed to sing at this point. The princess does her dance of rococo pathos. She's a crumpled pack of smokes.

It makes you think of powder blue snapdragons & revolving doors & god feels like an elevator in which it's raining & he has forgotten his umbrella again. It's disturbing. The birds of paradise & the pink flamingoes have broken loose from the zoo.

It doesn't matter how many Hudsons zoom past, the demons grinning gold-toothed from the running boards. There's no more love in the world, there are no more upright pianos the princess can lean on. There's hardly any dry land. It's a fiasco. There are so many eucalyptus trees out after midnight. There are so many cops. The prince is reduced to a hockshop, the princess has to sling hash for a living. The demons are chuckling like Zippo lighters & the ones that don't look like George Raft look like Edward G. Robinson, & no one can help our two lost lovers now it seems, not even Benny Goodman.

God's living on aspirin. One assumes time passes.

In the next scene they meet at the nightclub known as the Moon's Telephone. Under the palm trees etc under the skylight the devas circulate sporting purple orchids in their lapels until the air's awash in orchids & mambo notes some wearing natty sport coats & pleated trousers & what about those amethyst cufflinks, the rest wearing strapless dresses & pumps not to mention musical

questions hoo-hooing mourning doves fluttering out of muted trumpets. There are 7-ups sending bubbles through the roof. Each one becomes a star of course, they make whopping costume jewelry. The prince gives the princess a 16th note spritzed with rosewater from a vaporizer & with the first 4 bars to I Surrender Dear. God remembers that after all he's really a small hotel & he's dazzling with constellations for neon lights at that. He opens his doors into Sunday. There's plenty of ice cream there. There's the moon & it's ringing: hello— hello.

The demons lam, the devas in pursuit. You think it's Packards & Hudsons until the jalopies grow wings.

There's the scene at the train station of course, you can't forget about that. Here come the prince & princess, they both catch the train on the run, floribunda sprouting from the smoke which may be actually fog which is actually their footsteps. The saxophones swing on the arms of the stars, Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire should fox-trot like that. God sleeps at last like a big city sleeps. There's cream & sugar for everybody's coffee. Lotus blossoms float in every cup of course. A new one appears each time the clarinetist extrapolates another superabundant note. In the sleeper car which is really a greenhouse the prince & the princess have sex.

& there's just one train that rises on the Ganges into the infinite, & the elephant-headed engineer, who's himself a face taken from a meerschaum pipe, ruminates on the transiency of existence. Somebody draws the shutters.

Jack Hayes
© 1990-2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Revenge Of The Baby Sax

He's built without fingers with 1 big itch he can't scratch he’s
got 2 dozen nostrils for spite tho, all caterwauling
traffic jams with congested lungs & smoldering noisemakers
squealing Figaro like a pig in revolt

there's nothing but polka dot bow ties anyhow acting like
clouds afloat in a smoke-free office—it's New Year's Eve, baby
pink slip phone message slips snow pinko confetti
betwixt the gray gray raindrops most of them in re:
1 big itch that can't be scratched

but the Baby Sax feels heartache like a pi-
mento skewered at the business end of a dry martini
He's got no heart he wants the angry zen rendition of
      Auld Lang Syne
snort snort—puffing out his honker—that's his job,
he's got 2 dozen nostrils for spite tho, all caterwauling

limos backfiring black plastic bowlers as they career in-
to the Time Machine as tho they tipped off Pier 39 smack in-
to waterlilies, calamari, this morning's coffee scorched to
      a soap opera,
underwear all colors, this sense of worthlessness like a
traffic jam—with congested lungs & smoldering noisemakers

& yesterday's calzones chock full of Caruso recordings exploding
like a pogo-stick with a guilty conscience
like your brain on dope on a rainy night in a phone booth
it's the Baby Sax—his mouth with 1 belligerent tooth
squealing Figaro like a pig in revolt

The party hats have had it, they want their mama: Mama
Skyscraper—her umbrella's the Baby Sax bawling
clock radios jammed with car horns that want to be foghorns
monday monday tho it's a ruthless Rossini saturday
built without fingers, with 1 big itch

Jack Hayes © 1990-2009

The Days Of Wine & Roses

The hard part's keeping his feet; the tilt
jars him & is he a pinball machine
or just some guy whose wingtips understand craving?
A Wurlitzer orbiting, the world felt tipsy then,
a porkpie hat tipped on its axis—
but what doesn't veer slantwise windblown down boulevards?
A hat lost from a romantic flick
whose owner must think piano Manhattan
Studebacker; & too he thinks bouquets
but it's actually stemware catching
Pall Mall's reflections.

All right, the barroom's not bigger than
the Orient Express, but it's going places,
it's a quarter spun into a slot to ring up jackpots, it's
Jimmy Cagney's tripping-to-catch-his-straw-hat-
song-&-dance, it's upside-down
Chinese flowers in fishponds; &
he needed to feel the lurch, & it wasn't
the gusts rustling big trousers,
it wasn't the wind knocking off his porkpie hat,
it was the way the world moved then,
& he liked anyhow to get swept off his feet,
he said, as who doesn't?

Meanwhile, Sally walked inside revolving doors;
she's both there & not there, like
Gene Tierney in Laura.
But she's on time of course, so much so it's scary,
she's a sweep second hand stared at.
She arrives, he says, like Billy Holiday's tide
washing up B flats, murder mysteries, Old Fashioneds,
& what's more, inevitable things:
fortune cookies, a pretzel's twist, pearls strung into
a nervous breakdown,

this & so much more she comes in with.
He'd rather lounge inside the mirror lighting her
beautiful Lucky Strikes, her smoky orchids.

This must have been what it was like those days,
like a plastic tuxedo lit up all night in
the dry cleaning shop next door,
electrified but yellow as lemon ice, & like
a champagne cork rocketing past escape velocity
from Times Square, New Year's 19-anything,
like pink carnations peddled in the train station like
Shanghai contraband, it was like that
to be young & in love, both wearing sports coats,
& these larger than thought, & with such deep pockets.
This must have been what it was like,

this world: more his oyster than any shooter he slurped
awash in lager through Happy Hour.
Sometimes he gets so choked up he's hearing torch songs
sung 10 feet deep in a swimming pool
(& ripples radiate green from a hat afloat but
the water's not waxed paper flower wrappers, it
flickers a Chablis quart's anemic green glass)
sung 10 feet deep in a swimming pool
at 2 a.m. as the party moves elsewhere &
a corsage sinks in the deep end,
tragic as a blonde.
It was a rosé bottle dropped, was them, was
hats snatched from the haberdashers, them, was
flowers carried off on a subway, was
them, he & Sally, wobbly, asking,
Why does someone always have to drown.

Jack Hayes © 1990-2009
This poem appeared previously in Chump

By Way of introduction…..

Poems, some old, some newer, & some new. The blog title is taken from a manuscript I’ve worked on for close to 20 years—it may be a book in the not-too-distant future, but it is this blog, one poem at a time, posted each Sunday morning.

A note to my readers, courtesy of Robert Graves:

A Plea to Boys & Girls

You learned Lear’s Nonsense Rhymes by heart, not rote;
      You learned Pope’s Iliad by rote, not heart;
These terms should be distinguished if you quote
      My verses, children—keep them poles apart—
And call the man a liar who says I wrote
      All that I wrote in love, for love of art.