A More Public Sharing: Random, spontaneous Facebook remark concerning the left/right debate within the Jewish community.
25 some odd years ago, this poem was rejected for publication by Grassroots, the literary magazine of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. I was informed it was “too flippant” which I consider a rather flippant rejection. This is far superior to the first poem I ever wrote. That first one was published by Grassroots, and good thing, too, because it convinced me I must be a poet. I was fortunate when rejected to be secure in my greatness, unaffected by rejection though I still feel compelled to bring it up all these years later. Perhaps I am just insecure and narcissistic enough to become President of the United States someday and I hope my work as an internet troll is sufficient to accomplish that, because it will be so great. Believe me. As another note, I was not nearly as fat when I wrote this as I am now, though as a starving young poet I was not nearly flacid enough to be Presidential. One last note, my wife says I look good in orange. Jackson County thought the same thing after I refused to pay a speeding ticket. But that’s another story.
The Heartland Remembers Elvis
Who could bounce the sweet, fat ball of success better than
When I plunge into a soft chair, feel my gut sag into
E is for everything a King can get away with.
L is to love that extra bacon grease in the gravy
on the biscuits of life.
V is for Vegas, and beating the odds,
like when Cool Hand Luke eats fifty hard-boiled eggs
and doesn’t puke…
he’s the biggest winner in prison doing lonely, hard time.
I is for me, sometimes acting like E.
S is the hiss of final music, your last breath coming out
your mouth like steam, when you kiss the Devil’s ass.
This is a newspaper clip from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch – September 14, 1988, something I saved from the memory hole. I clipped it when I first saw it, I displayed it on my office/bedroom door at the Good Samaritan House in Carbondale where I worked as a sensitive bouncer sometimes welcoming, sometimes evicting the homeless, and now I’ve been carrying it around for almost 30 years.
My Lai Veteran Killed In Fight Over Vodka
Pittsburgh (AP) – Robert W. T’Souvas died a bum, a homeless man, 39, shot in the head after an argument over a bottle of vodka under a downtown bridge.
Relatives say life had mostly been downhill for T’Souvas in the nearly two decades since he stood trial for killing two Vietnamese children in what came to be known as the My Lai massacre.
“He had problems with Vietnam over and over,” said his father, William T’Souvas, of San Jose, Calif. “He didn’t talk about it much. But he had problems with the body counts, things like that.”
“He lasted 20 years, but he was walking a tight line.”
Army Spec. 4 T’Souvas, then 19 and a high school dropout in San Jose, was a member of a platoon that entered the village of My Lai on March 16, 1968. They were looking for Viet Cong soldiers, but they found civillians instead.
The platoon headed by Lt. William Calley, Jr., moved into My Lai, firing on fleeing Vietnamese, tossing grenades into houses and slaughtering animals.
When the soldiers left, at least 175 men, women, and children were dead, aaccording to an Army report in 1970. Later investigations put the toll as high as 500.
The Army charged T’Souvas with the premeditated murder of two unidentified Vietnamese with a machine gun. He was one of nine enlisted men charged.
Calley was convicted of killing at least 22 civillians at My Lai. Of the enlisted men, two soldiers were acquitted, and the charges against T’Souvas and the six others were dropped. All were given honorable discharges.
Calley was ordered to spend life in prison, but President Richard M. Nixon later reduced his sentence to 20 years. Calley served three years under house arrest at Fort Benning, Ga.
He was released when his conviction was overturned by a federal district judge, and he was not returned to house arrest when an appeals court reinstated the conviction.
Relatives of T’Souvas said that while he awaited the court-martial at Fort McPherson, Ga. he lived in a commune in Atlanta, where he met and married a woman named Rebecca. Both later spent time in jail on marijuana charges before they moved to California, the relatives said.
They raised two children, and T’Souvas worked in a bakery and at various other jobs before the marriage broke up, said Lynn T’Souvas, an aunt.
About four years ago, he met a carnival worker, Kathleen T’Souvas, now 36, the woman whom police in Pittsburgh have charged with shooting him.
Even though T’Souvas was never divorced from his first wife, family members said that his new companions had assumed his last name.
“She was more like a buddy than a wife, a drinking buddy,” his father said.
His aunt said: “She did nothing but drag him down. Everybody tried to warn him. She drank nothing but straight vodka and she didn’t care if she had a roof over her head or shoes on her feet as long as she had her vodka. I saw her fight him over a drink several times.”
On Sept. 3, police said, the couple and a homeless man, David Bozic, 42, spent the day drinking, fishing, and using Bozic’s .22 caliber pistol to shoot rats and cans under a bridge in Pittsburgh.
While Bozic was gone to get food, police said, the couple argued over a bottle of vodka that Robert T’Souvas had. Police said the woman took Bozic’s gun and shot T’Souvas once in the head.
Kathleen T’Souvas was charged with criminal homicide and is being held without bail at the Allegheny County Jail.
I can’t write worth a damn or speak coherently while drunk or stoned. Some might suggest I can’t do any of that sober. I do the best I can and however good that is, I think it’s better with a straight edge. I cite that vanity whenever I address the curious lack of recreational substance abuse in my life. There are some old videos, photos, and personal accounts of the excess that occasionally characterized my younger days, though not much in writing. This poem is an exception to that. I wrote it in a cloud of reefer madness. Pretty sure it was Spring of ’92. Why spend Memorial Day thinking only of those who gave their lives in warfare? That’s what we do, isn’t it? Thinking only of that? Let’s take a moment to Memorialize our species, a moment of projection for that future Memorial Day when there are no humans remaining to acknowledge the fallen. The paranoia seems so mainstream and middle of the road in today’s political climate, though the potential ecological/nuclear/biological warfare catastrophe has been in the works for decades. On a lighter note, I tend to be more hopeful and positive today than I was when I wrote this. I suspect the climate around me is not so much that way.
When they finally found out the monkey could speak,
They put his signifyin’ ass to work.
Stupid little monkey, they said.
But he was smart enough to know the boss is a jerk.
Stupid little monkey, they said.
But she busted the copy machine and set herself free.
So they launched their missiles, rolled their tanks,
And burned the whole fucking jungle to the ground.
Stupid little monkey.
No stupid little monkey to be found.
So they finally found out the monkey could hide.
They looked inside themselves,
There was their goddamn clever monkey
Imitating the song that made the Earth.
Hell is something known. Heaven is something weird.
Work might keep you busy. Love might get you high.
But when they found out we all is monkeys,
They killed us all with suicide.
File this poem I wrote in the ’90s under “The more things change…” I wrote, published, and performed in a number of different odd places in the ’80s and ’90s but I’m especially proud that thanks to my friend Robert Herzog, this ended up posted on a bulletin board at Malcolm X College here in Chicago. A poem that doesn’t get torn down or defaced on a bulletin board is something for a struggling peoples’ poet to be proud of… with due respect to Rik Mayall, R.I.P. OK, here’s the damn poem. More of a blurb for a missing manifesto than a poem. Whatever. Reductio Ad Absurdum.
CONTRACT WITH AMERICA
Unplug the public machine.
Keep my golf-cart clean.
Sweat-shops and jail the poor.
March or die.
Jesus is our C.E.O.
In God we Trust.
The bottom line:
I got mine.