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The Irony of the Leash
1978

HOMEBODY

Oh, Hello. C’mon in.

You know I was just thinking about how you’ve

Always thought I was cool . . .

And here I am, cooking fishcakes and broccoli.

I didn’t know how I could re-present all this for you.

This is where I’m really at. Nothing’s

As fetching as the raw.

I heard the dog barking on the third landing

& I was fairly sure it’d be you.

Kind of rainy out tonight. I was so exhausted

After work. Made some coffee

& sat here reading the Voice. Sort of

Thought I’d hear from you. I thought,

Well, he’ll either be in the same mood

Or different. And look:

I’ve got a magenta sock and a rust

Sock on. Just like the, uh, Futurists.

And my old work shirt. Feels good

Since it’s clean for a change.

Oh, do you want some? The broccoli’s

Good with the grated cheese on it. Yeah,

The fishcakes suck,

But just douse them with lemon juice.

AN ATTITUDE ABOUT POETRY

My attitude about poetry is somewhat

this, I should be doing something

that pays more money,

I love comfort, bright things for myself

and the ability to splurge on people I

like, to be able to dislike

people who have bucks

That is the poetry of money.

Money is a friend,

a comfy chair when you need to sit,

free walking. Buying rides.

Zoom in on this one.

Avoid that one in a helicopter ride

around Australia. Bury

my sorrows in an incredible meal.

You like that star. I buy you that car.

Never drunk but gliding on the

          ethers of everyone’s

              drunkenness.

              It trips me up,

my lightweight love of cash,

          it clicks on my teeth.

              My words jingle.

EVENING

Supposed to be there at 7 o’clock.

It’s 8 o’clock now. Better buy some beer.

Go to the door, Sorry I’m late Frank

Here’s six apologies . . .

Sit down at the table start drinking my words

Start playing Parcheesi with his kid.

Who keeps revising the rules, the little cheat.

Keeps using my lighter. It’s cheap

But so what . . . he’s irritating me.

We have some dinner, some steak, some rice,

(Call broccoli trees.)

Call the situation perfunctory and sweet.

We go look at poems, postcards, we

Drink coffee but the beer is still with us,

Wish I had some grass, wish I was someplace

                                                                   else

Boring to be me, glad I’m not married,

I’d be a child-beater, glad I can go home.

I feel woozy,

                                Walk down

Gorgeous soft tree-lined streets in the

Dark. Cushy. As the dark rows of trees

Are stroking the wind or

The wind’s stroking them.

SUBSCRIPTION

Animals forever escaping

from zoos

& they will come to my door.

Too many masturbation manuals

are being written. Too much pie

passes over the counter. I bathe

in yellow light & dream of you.

I miss myself as the train

pulls out of a station in Jerez, España.

THE IRONY OF THE LEASH

Life is a plot to make me move.

I fill its forms, an unwitting

                           crayon

          I am prey to the materials

of me, combinations

          create me into something

          else, civilization’s inventions

numb me, placate me

              carry me around. I

am no better than a dog.

      My terms are not bark

                 and howl

but I often get drunk and rau-

cous, often I need to get

laid so bad I imagine my

howls lighting up the neighborhood

                 pasting rings

              around the moon.

As a child I was very in love

with the stars. As a human

      a victim of my perceptions

it is natural that I should love

light and as a passive dreamer

it is natural that I should be attracted

to the most distant inaccessible

light. What do you make of

this. Friend? I need the reass-

                                      urance

of human voices so I live with

a phone or I go out and seek

my friends. Now they are always

different, these people who

happen to be moved by the same

               music as me, whose

faces I like, good voices,

I can recognize the oncoming footsteps

of a person I like. In this

I am little better than a dog.

Sometimes I go to the movies and I

sit in the dark. Leaving the light

and relishing the movements

                 of images occurring

              in another time, bright

and pretty, and though I know

very well,

        (as I paid my 1.50 and came

in here and chose a seat

a decision based on the condition

of my eyesight and my place

          in society

I may sit in the front or

the back, am I old,

          am I young . . .)

I know very well that this movie is not

      real, yet I am often

in the grips of fears more real

than those my own life throws up

for my unwilling complicity

and I am visibly shaken, often

          nearly screaming with fright

and revulsion . . .

                     yet I know it is not real.

Movies have caused me to become

an artist. I guess I simply

          believe that life is not

        enough. I spin dreams

of the quotidian out of words I

could not help but choose.

They reflect my educational background,

      the economic situation of

              my parents and the countries

their parents came from. My words

              are also chemical reflections:

metabolically I am either fast or

              slow, like short words or

          long ones, sometimes I

like words which clack hard against

      each other like a line of

                 wooden trains. Sometimes

I wish my words would meld

to a single glowing plastic tube slightly

          defying time.            I write

quite a bit,

          I no longer believe in religion

but find writing an admirable

              substitute,

I don’t particularly believe in art

but I know that unless there is

        something I do which is

at least as artificial and snide

                     and self-perpetuating . . .

well then I would have to find

someone else who

          had that sort of handle

on things and hold onto him

          for dear life.

I would be less than a dog.

I think it’s important to have

          your own grip on

things, however

that works and then you should

pursue that and spend the

            rest of the time

doing the ordinary.

Exactly like a dog. Dogs

are friendly creatures unless

      they’ve been mistreated.

They like to eat and run around.

They neither drink nor smoke

nor take drugs. They are perfect.

                   They mate freely

whenever they have the urge.

They piss and shit according to

their needs, often they appear

to be smiling but of course

they are always happy.

Interestingly enough,

it is quite popular, particularly

in the city in which I live,

to own a dog, to walk him on a

                                      leash

morning noon and night, people with

families have dogs and they add

              to the general abundant chaos

          of the household,

people who live alone own dogs. For

protection, regularity and

the general sense of owning a friend.

People love their dogs and undoubtedly

their dogs love them. Though

they are faithless and impersonal.

They love their owners because

they feed them, stroke them,

bring them outside to run around,

              if a dog gets injured

its owner will take it to a doctor or

a clinic, depending on the economic

          situation of the owner.

Dogs do not believe in God or Art.

Intrinsically they have a grip

              on things.

I unfortunately do not. I sit

here with a bottle of beer, a cigarette

          and my latest poem, The Irony of the Leash.

                                                      August 6

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