Monday, June 25, 2012

#39: "Naked Lunch" by Denise Falcone



~This essay appeared in Kerouac's Dog Magazine (2010).


Sometimes my mother and her fiancé liked to escape the humdrum formula of comatose suburbia to mill around Greenwich Village for a dose of beatnik fashion and avant-garde social color. It was 1962 and I had not yet crossed over the border of my dreams when they invited me to accompany them. All I knew was that the people who lived there wore black and walked around barefoot all the time. “Denizens of the demimonde” they were and maybe some witches lived there as well.
We browsed in a monotonous dawdle in and out of shops hawking smelly hand-crafted leather goods and turquoise and silver jewelry until they decided to purchase their matching wedding rings from a silversmith who offered to engrave the thick American Indian-style bands while u-wait. I plopped down on a window seat next to something grey and furry, its face hidden in its body while sleeping rolled up like a round loaf of bread. Suddenly a tall girl with thick long bangs walked in. She had on a nubby red knitted poncho over a plaid madras skirt and when she kissed the silversmith on the mouth for an embarrassingly long stretch of time, I had to catch my breath because SHE WASN’T WEARING ANY SHOES!
Cafe Bizarre was located down a flight of stairs in a basement, unlike our local soda fountain where you could sip a cherry coke and gaze out the wide windows at the peeling barks of the sycamore trees and across the street to the friendly neighborhood bakery. They thought it might thrill me to go to a real live Greenwich Village coffee house, but the disconcerting brick walls, the narrow doorways hidden by dark velvet curtains, and the painted black ceiling appeared more like a funhouse than a place where you would want to get something to eat. I ordered a hot chocolate and stared down at the tan-colored liquid in its thick brown china mug placed before me. In tortured silence I pretended to wait for it to cool but minutes passed and I was bugged-eyed by then. What if they doped and kidnapped me, these bongo-drum playing, goateed, black turtleneck-wearing zombies?
The idea of being reprimanded for not drinking what I ordered caused me to eventually bring the cup to my lips. I thought, Oh well, so long everybody, and took a sip.
            It wasn’t bad. In fact, it tasted very good.
            It was dusk when we emerged. Our car was parked a million miles away. My mother wrapped her wonderful arm around me and as she went on about how it was starting to be pot roast weather, I began to notice the words, hung on signs in the windows of stores and apartment buildings, stenciled in white on the street between the crosswalks, in repetitious patterns on the sidewalk, taped as fliers on lampposts, and even pressed in the window of a pizza place, READ NAKED LUNCH.
            Asking a grown-up about anything that had the word naked in it was acutely mortifying for someone my age, so I sat quietly in the back seat of our car while the shadows of the city washed over me. By the time the highway signs assured me that home was just a couple of miles away, I had it figured that this was probably a novel about two people who liked to have sex on their lunch hour everyday. After all, and I could now say this with experience, this was an uncensored bunch.

William Burrough’s controversial novel, Naked Lunch, a landmark publication in the history of American literature, was published in Paris in 1959 by Olympia Press. The book was released in America in 1962 by Grove Press.
     
*****
THE STORY BEHIND THE ESSAY
When William Burrough's controversial novel, a landmark publication in the history of American literature, celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first publication in Paris by Olympia Press, I  felt compelled to write about an experience I had when the book was released in America in 1962 by Grove Press.
*****
ABOUT DENISE FALCONE
Denise Falcone is a writer who lives in New York City. Her work has appeared in Randomly Accessed Poetics, Why Vandalism?, Mr. Beller's Neighborhood, Antique Children, Poet Kitchen, J Journal, The Foliate Oak, 6 Tales, Perhaps I Am Wrong About The World, and others.



Monday, June 18, 2012

#38: Three Poems by Kim Roberts


~This poem previously appeared in Gargoyle (2011)

NOT-SO-SUPER HEROES
for Michael Gushue

Edema Man can make others swell at will
so their rings no longer fit.
Dustball Man distracts foes
with repetitive domestic chores.
Each Spring thaw, Ice Damage Man
reveals new potholes along your daily commute.
Papercut Man leaves his enemies with cruel,
nearly invisible hand wounds.
Digital Signal Man can jam
all high-speed internet connections.
Existential Man paralyzes enemies
with a desire to read Heidegger.


*****

Monday, June 11, 2012

#37: "Souvenir" by Diane Simmons


~This piece previously appeared in Local Knowledge (2009)


            He said do you want to come to my place and I said OK.  We paid the bill and walked along to Twelfth Street. We went in to a second floor apartment. It was the usual railroad, long and narrow with windows at either end. 
At the front was a bed.  At the back was the kitchen with a small table and one chair.  In between were two narrow, windowless rooms entirely given over to ceiling-high shelves. The shelves nearest the door contained what looked to be about a thousand record albums.  The shelves closer to the kitchen held CD cases, hundreds of them.
            We passed between the shelves to the kitchen.
 “You sit in the chair,” he said.  “I can get another one in a minute.”
He opened the refrigerator door. An army of brown beer bottles had taken over the top shelves.
            “Want one?”
            “Not yet.”
            He opened a bottle, put his head back and took a long swig.
            He took a foil-covered dish from the one shelf of the refrigerator that had food, put it on the counter, then bent down and lit the gas oven with a match.
He leaned against the counter, pulling hard on the bottle again.
            “I never saw anybody with so many recordings.”
            “Music is pretty much my emotional life. Just to be up front about that.”

Monday, June 4, 2012

#36: "Lorenzo the Parrot" by James Miller Robinson


~This poem previously appeared in The GW Review (1993)



LORENZO THE PARROT



With expressionless eyes and a beak
as dry and cracked as an ancient toenail,
he reminds us of elderly men.
But what good is long life
when full wings no longer spread?
That's why this old man stands still and stares
on the same wooden pole where he has stood
for years, barely pacing from side to side
a step of two before nudging into
the insulting obstacle of a tiny trapeze
that is like to fill a nursing home with toys
and its yard with monkey bars
and see-saws made for kids.
The majestic green and yellow of his coat
were once worthy of Monctezuma's crown
but are now ruffled and dull from years
of burrowing with his beak for lice.
He has seen thousands of tortilla pass
between the bars that perpetually surround.
He tears apathetically at their sustenance
then lets them like for days beneath his droppings.
His water is served in a porcelain teacup
as though to bring the flare of optimism,
the comfort of routine,
and the illusion of companions.
And the senseless things he was taught to say,
and seeing the delight they bring,
he keeps on saying them over and over,
even children's names who grew and left,
and the grandmother's whose blue-veined hand
used to pass through the little gate
with long-awaited ration and the words she spoke
in parrot talk, which in absurdity, is somewhere
even beyond baby talk.  But he spoke back
saying he loved her when in truth he hardly cared.
Little fingers keep poking between the bars
to see if he bites, and to accommodate a child,
he occasionally yawns just to hear them squeal.
His sleep is hardly different from his awakeness,
head grotesquely twisted to one side
and his face buried in a feathery shoulder.
In either state he dreams the same dream
of mango, banana, coconut and palm,
sun light, green shade and the sounds
of screeching, howling and chirping in the tropics.

*****