Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Funny Valentine

It wasn’t 10,000 unstrung fog beads the half moon perspired
It was 10,000 lemon drops most of which tasted like sweat
It wasn’t a half moon about to conk out & crash land splat in an
        ash tree
It was a half pint of Four Roses whiskey headed straight for the
        olfactory cortex it wasn’t
Rosebuds babbling about the ineffable it was just me opening my
        trap which wasn’t a trap at all but a beak warbling
Laura is the face in the misty etc it wasn’t
A fern bar glimmering with candlelit chlorophyll Holy Smokes
        Laura looked great in a bowling shirt there it was
A greenhouse buzzing with O Thou Art Sublime Evening Star
But it sounded like Zippos hissing the first 3 bars to Somewhere
        a place for us
Unless it was the coffee talking

It wasn’t a greenhouse right on the verge of carbon dioxide
It was a green chartreuse soused aquarium 10,000
Tonic water bubbles exploded across it splashing shipwrecked on
        deafening ice cubes they were
Desperate to get something off their chests the fact that Laura
        looks great in a bowling shirt for instance such
Tongue-tied effervescence it wasn’t my
Body floating thru ocean snow a clownfish stashed in my right
        jacket pocket it was
A Buick Skylark sunk facedown in a ditch amongst 97 impetuous
Sea anemones sprouting cowlicks in bad need of combing it wasn’t
        a cowlick it was a
Black comb humming Laura is the face in the misty etc à la
        Charlie Parker thru green waxed florist paper
Unless it was the coffee talking

It wasn’t a black comb hummed thru green waxed florist paper
        it was a
Catbird perched saxophonic atop a phone pole the phone pole being
Immaterial just about then there weren’t any phone calls there
        were crystalline red coral
Skeletons longing to do the tango it wasn’t a tango it was
The Waltz of the Flowers played backwards though it wasn’t a
        windowbox full of
Waltzing zinnias it was 79 cocoons splitting open inside my
        innards &
Tiger moths seeping out rustling cigarette paper
Wings which wings sizzled green in plastic ashtrays like a ditch
        full of catnip whispering
Laura looks great in a bowling shirt
Unless it was the coffee talking

It wasn’t a ditch full of catnip whispering Laura looks great
        in a bowling shirt it was
Wheels of Botticellean bicycles whooshing swimmingly taking a
        wrong turn thru the Tunnel of Love
It wasn’t the Tunnel of Love it was my mouth stuffed with
        waterlogged paperbacks hoping to
Speak to the situation
Unless it was the coffee talking

Jack Hayes
© 1990-2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Book Giveaway – Days of Wine & Roses Edition!

Yes, as promised, albeit a bit late, I’m here to announce the second giveaway for The Days of Wine & Roses. Not the blog, of course, but the book. As stated previously on Robert Frost’s Banjo:

“The specs: 92 pages, paperback “perfect” binding (your standard paperback set-up), with cover design by yours truly using three of my father’s photos—ones that have appeared on this blog. It contains 48 poems (the sonnet sequence “A Few More Fold-Out Postcard Sonnets” is listed as one entity in the contents, but it’s a series of 19 poems). There’s a bit of old Hollywood, & bit of hard-boiled stuff, a fair amount of surreality, some form, some free verse, some prose poems, long poems, short poems—a bit of something for everyone! These are the poems I wrote while living in San Francisco from 1989 to 1998, plus one from the early 00s in Idaho—so the recent poems that have appeared on this blog won’t be there. But don’t fear: that manuscript is quickly assuming book-length & I’ll almost certainly publish it next year.”

Here’s how to enter: if you’d like a copy of The Days of Wine & Roses signed & inscribed by yours truly shipped to your place of residence, simply leave a comment on—please note carefully—Eberle’s Platypuss-in-Boots blog post for tomorrow, Monday February 22nd &/or on her Theme Thursday post on Thursday February 25th. Please mention the book giveaway in your comment. If you comment on both days, you’re entered twice! However, two entries are the maximum per person. We’ll keep the contest open until midnight Mountain Standard Time on Thursday February 25th, & we’ll draw the winner’s name on Friday morning.

Good luck one & all, & hope to see you at Platypuss-in-Boots over the next few days!


Vaya con dios. the blooms
the frozen orange juice cans
sweat in the trees. what
are those trees.

are they Saturday
trees. an easy day
they say. the green hummingbirds
leaving town.

they are always telling lies.
they don’t know nothing
like I know nothing.
Go to hell.

Saturday is another
lie without trees: the
newspaper’s headlines
thaw out across the

tablecloth. who can read it.
god’s not home
in the trees she flies
inside of.

I’m not home. no one
eats breakfast. they suffocate
in pillows. Leave me
alone. her hair, etc.

god is an apartment with
magnolias blooming lemony above
a table & chair.
how long did we live there.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Big Sleep

On the way downtown I stopped at a bar and had a couple
of Scotches. They didn’t do me any good. All they did was
make me think of Silver-Wig, and I never saw her again.
Raymond Chandler

I haven’t been getting much & there were 19
faces pal in that tumbler & none of them mine
some of them looked like night-blooming cacti looming
on the outskirts of Tijuana all they’d ever wanted
was to grow up as purple orchids
lousy break
but I was thinking way too much without much to
show for it 16 charred
valentines in a clear glass ashtray hearts
smoldering amongst the stubbed Kents the 5:00 a.m.
sky was going to look like an immense
pack of Kents the cellophane ripped
but I wasn’t there yet I was wearing
my hat on my heart
& my heart on a frayed black tweed sleeve it hadn’t
slept for a slew of dog years the sleeve lay supine in
a puddle of cocktail glass sweat the globe lamps
broadcast as if
the light were just dead trout or tincture of
iodine or a fruit
cocktail can its lid 3/4 peeled off & jagged & drooling
& I was feeling a bit like Marcel Proust myself with this
for scribbling in bed when I should’ve been
sleeping with the fishes
as if my heart were a cocktail glass humming
Born To Lose all by itself when I’d meant to say
I’m holding my heart in my hat &
my hat’s in my hand & there were
19 faces pal staring &
some of them looked like a roadside hot pink neon
lit motel 10 miles west of San Berdoo with its pine oil
reek & the cable TV buzzing killer bees swarming
headlong northwest from Mexacali they’d never
had a chance to really live as
a Rte 5 fruit stand &
I was thinking way too much in the midst of the white
white stars’ degenerate matter furious
all-night jag
they were bawling
zircon & Tanqueray as though they
thought this was all rock candy & seltzer &
streetcars named
Desire & Mildred & Russian Lullaby hoved by lugging their
Venus on the half-shell frenzies their
freight of ampersands their
yen for mad love shuddering the cables
& I thought this is just asking for trouble the 5:00 a.m.
sky will probably look like a dead fish gawking
blind from crushed ice in a chinatown
market but I wasn’t there yet I was
holding my hat in my heart & my hand had
sunk gurgling under a capsized
gray fedora this hat felt
bitter itself it had
missed its chance to become a conchshell washed up
at Long Beach in the phosphate detergent
foam with the rest of the sexy jetsam as if
my heart were ice in a cocktail glass humming
Rose Of Tralee all by itself as if I’d actually said
Scotch & alkali when the sky at 5:
00 a.m. will actually be a
flat Fresca
green & unbubbly
but I wasn’t there yet I was thinking
Big mistake when I’d meant to say I’m holding my
heart in my hat & my hand’s a tumbler pal holding
19 faces & only one of them actually was a
dirty blonde palmtree brooding next to
Mission Dolores it’s
no one’s fault her brown eyes never got translated into
an authentic Manhattan brownstone brimming with
Caffé Lattes brimming with
steampipes spinet pianos a
hardboiled novel in which
characters shoot the moon through the actual
orchard of spheres I was planted in just then amongst
everloving lemontrees the lovebirds
squawking their nitrous
oxide yuks straight out of Hitchcock clutching
discombobulating boughs I was thinking
when you’re in this line of lost & found
in this sleepless bamboozled eat-
your-heart-out universe pal
you end up doing a lot more of the first

Jack Hayes
© 1990-2010

This poem appeared previously in Chump

Sunday, February 7, 2010

La Giaconda and The Shadow


Rag wings stitched with an F flat stolen from Ma Rainey's throat:
        in her throat it'd gotten by on desire, it'd lived
        a poppy's meet me at the Casbah life;

but in the time before time was they were happier maybe, a
        black tux, an ivory satin gown (that sort of smile
        that's an unrelenting lunule glaring amongst the
        crystal candlesticks, that sort of rigorous mouth like a
        black tie, Mary Egypt remembers these things
        inhabiting movies) until a diamond stylus inured to
        tunes wounding the body sewed their tatters to the
        scapular muscles;

but once patched together they were disreputable as that
        poppy, as problematically smoky, & when they
        shuddered it was because they remembered fezzes
        congesting the speakeasies, Stutz Bearcats,
        Humphrey Bogart, someone whispering huskily take
        a message to Garcia, & minarets there in the menstrual
        twilight announcing God's absence through the

& this photograph seemed as fraught with inside dope as the
        orange Ford taxi cab that just now sloughs toward
        Mary Egypt who's loitering dissonantly on the corner
        blowing soap bubbles;

for lack of kisses she blows them between the needle-like
        bodies of fish that purl past threading & knotting
        through her wings C sharps, typewriter ribbons,
        attenuated spit like strings of pinprick white lights
        snarled in the cycadeoids;

(Johnny had observed the phenomenon often enough in that
        Jurassic edifice where he slumped in the most
        visceral red chair while he thought about gulping
        lagers amongst humongous fern fronds;

(& they called that joint the Egyptian Book of the Dead, it
        hadn't stopped raining there for over 10,000 years—
        however they never lacked for insects there, the
        insects showing traits of gigantism & a taste for
        Stravinsky's most violent strains, they were violins
        pitched sharp as if whipped); then

the fish they get euphoric on her & Mary Egypt can't take it
        any more, these mouths gulping hunger, spewing
        bubbles, & the bubbles actually molten charm
        bracelets the fish disgorged— because it is almost
        that time;

& the taxi floats past taking on water & churns past water
        snakes where they thread through the scuttled
        dressmaker's dummy's wire pelvis & past these
        hirsute lilypads while it honks dahlias, Storyville
        Blues, & a sewing machine in ecstasy;

but mostly it sounds like the mynah bird cracking wise at the
        Greek's deli: above the bouzouki's vibrato it cracks
        aphorisms regarding the beautiful & the eternity of
        love, it sounds like the old guy cracking beer bottles
        with a pop & a rasp;

it's several weeks after midnight, in other words, almost
        that time, & Johnny lounges in the blue Tiparillo
        smoke— as if everyone's lips were evaporating— &
        he's dissolved a priori, he's gray eyes afloat between
        the brim of a brown fedora & the collar of a

& the trenchcoat slumps frazzled & wrinkled & without
        ethics, without honor, without a thought for the wide
        world's spasmodic splendor;

the world wasn't wide but deep;

& here comes the taxi to take Mary Egypt out...


& o yes it takes her out because the wings don't work;

& just then the town seemed more than ever like a Mesozoic
        morass, its restaurants all reeking catfish, & decaying
        Da Vinci landscapes loomed— it was frightening
        how they loomed! you could hear the cabbie remark
        on the rocks, how they looked like ears & there Mary
        Egypt sits timeless amongst the rocks & looking for a

& Johnny feels like an aficionado gulping espresso from a
        dirty cup— as if he actually had a face, not
        something ersatz sutured;

how many stitches had he taken? how many chances had he
        missed? how many windows had his fist shattered
        allowing the shadows to rush in, back then when
        movies first created night— & he liked to hiss these
        scars on my back are Trilobites okay they needed
to sleep it off;

he didn't mean much by it, just ossification & night terrors
        like this 3-D screen distending, its wings thrashing
        faces watery, wings like an extinct bird's— which is
        mostly what he feels like paying the tab with a fin—
        & like venetian blinds creaking exhausted from
        witnessing sheer lust that often amongst the ashtrays
        inside the reptilian buildings— until his whole
        existence reeked gingkoes— then he arrives;

how would they be troubled by this beauty into which the soul
        with all its maladies has passed? the cabbie asks, though not
        in those words exactly, he actually says So do you like
        baseball or Stormy Weather, the latter phrased in a
        different key & as a question, the way it'd sound
        through a pawnshop trumpet;

& Mary Egypt thinks I've got the answer: I am rag wings (the
        fabric was 60% a piano's black keys melted down, it
        was 40% a movie poster for Casablanca scissored into
        a collage;

& they called that jazz;

& Mary Egypt arrives;


& this moviehouse half-sunk in the swamp: it was a castle a
        tractor hauled in from the late show's Carpathian
        tor— it looked that much like a pyorrhetic mouth, it
        looked that much like a face turned to stone from
        staring at sleep's face— which Johnny knows
        something about, as he knows something about what
        evil lurks in the hearts of men;

where there is water everywhere usually, or bruised black
        motor oil, & a lightbulb dripping hopeless water
        which somehow reminds Johnny of a cock getting
        wrung-out semi-tumescent in an Exxon station's john
        in the absence of beautiful gorgons' mouths;

they were such embittered tidal pools! what did they care
        about the Jersey Turnpike's stupendous
        petrochemical tanks on stilts or the fishscales
        showering everywhere, & Mary walking in asked
        Who turned out the lights?

because it seemed more or less insubstantial to her, this
        darkness complicated with pupae & recluse spiders
        & the echoes of a Django Reinhardt improvisation
        trembling near the soda fountain;

not to mention the animalism of Greece, the lust of Rome, the
        mysticism of the middle ages with its spiritual
        ambition & imaginative loves, the return of the Pagan
        world & so forth;

not to mention Johnny envisioning silver light & silhouettes
        trying to break free of it— he knows how they feel,
        one supposes, because he knows more about
        vanishing & suffering & suffering & vanishing &
        crawling amongst the bivalves & starfish & salt water
        taffy wrappers, crawling through water which seems
        strangely dead as well as infiltrated with shadows &

it went something like that;

because the movie screen looked like it had a lot on its almost
        inert mind besides inertia, besides this mayfly hatch
        the projector aimed at, it was a bus mired past the
        hubcaps in quicksand & who knew if anything could
        ever move again?

The Shadow knows...



& Johnny thought I've got it made— as if the Spanish moss
        dangling like so many shrunken heads could give a
        damn &

the theater yacked bacteria & electrodes & appendages with a
        life of their own: for example thighs, for example ring
        fingers— meanwhile

Mary Egypt rose so strangely beside the waters—

as if this were the instant she reached inside herself;

as if this were the instant the movie started to roll out the
        silence without any cigarettes, without any

which isn't silence at all but a phone off the hook spewing

actually it was pterodactyls & a scream shorn from the body:
        for all the world it sounded like Fay Wray's except it
        shimmered with tarantellas & luna moths

& they called that jazz

which was the silence Johnny heard like a saxophone's
        exhaust pipe— it sounded like hearts convulsing in
        surgically-opened chests— meanwhile

he slumped amongst the theater's emphysemic lungs— they
        gurgled: hours hours hours ensemble like an
        aquarium— it only sounded like horror of horrors;

they had their vestigial gills now they wanted wings— their
        talons were cooked lobster claws grappling with
        whatever floated past belly-up;

because they lived off hearts & not much else except off
        various Jack Teagarden riffs & off unmentionables;

& what could you do with these old fuckers? the next thing
        you know they're waterbugs the hotel's sink spit up
        as it gasped: loss loss loss— it only sounded
        sometimes like Eros;

& whatever else Mary Egypt couldn't get off her mind from
        the wax museum— for instance, dolls' knuckles
        glued to the backs of their hands as if they gnawed
        blue veins— & all she can think is one last kiss


because a kiss is just a kiss, despite the fact someone's mouth
        bursts into Japanese Beetles, bowties, & carbonation
        broadcasting My Funny Valentine through yellow
        candlelight amongst the tuxes & gowns, & the
        candles are after all poppies with immemorial

once upon a time, before time was, they were perhaps
        happier, but there's no guarantee of that amongst the
        melting blues platters & the belemnites squirting ink
        until the entire theater's blotto;

so they step outside into this effusion of music like Green
        Dolphin Street down which taxis drift through a
        detritus of photographs, crumpled cigarette packs
        like someone's notion of crushed gardenias & a
        detective novel dredged from the swamp dripping
        volvox, oscillatoria, chlorella, & hyacinths, & the
        flukes & leeches are inching between the pages;

which summarizes the movie's plot— so who can blame her
        if her eyelids are a little weary? because all this has
        been to her but as the sound of lyres & flutes & an
        entire bandstand jammed with sewing machines
        whining mechanical yens & a theater full of caged
        mynah birds cawing beauty wrought out from within
        upon the flesh;

but Mary Egypt remains unflappable;

but she is thinking about veils, how they spread out across all
        space for instance like cobwebs or the negative image
        of a jazz platter bodiless hands push under the Singer
        Stitch-o-matic's needle & all they wanted to be were
        wings composed from memories of Ingrid Bergman
        beside a piano;

though the platters were in fact melting, black vinyl melting
        into shadows which were not her wings, were
        distended dismembered bodies like Johnny's which
        is everywhere & nowhere— along the walls, across
        the sidewalk, some residue seeping along the
        theater's floor until you can't help but think about
        lips dribbling musical notes which are really black
        dahlias he wants to stitch into his trenchcoat— as if
        that could help;

as if that could change the fact that the insects are crawling
        for the most part in a dark room amongst the sounds
        of plumbing & gulping & the screams of an
        archaeopteryx ripping up the curtains— there where
        he marks time while itching for some Duke Ellington
        cross-hands passenger train solo to shanghai him out
        of this lagoon—

where the one is becoming the many &

his face, like something he's known for far too long— for
        instance, fossil Paleozoic dragonflies with 30-inch
        wingspans enmeshed in fossil cobwebs— when this

So what if his face is a spider web thought Mary Egypt, & her
        hand crept off by itself to look for big bloody lips
        which were not his;

(a diamond stylus hemming the grooves

(retrograde into Ma Rainey's throat

at which point she's flying.

Jack Hayes
© 1990-2010