Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pacific Heights


Pacific Heights

“My poem will be
a fantasy about
living in a high-rise
flat, on the edge
of a dirty industrial
town”—Carol Ann Duffy,
“The Literature Act,”
The Other Country

Pacific Heights—view of the Bay. Golden Gate Bridge—sloping down to North Beach. On one side Japantown—on the other my apartment on Sacramento. Across from Lafayette Park—California Pacific Med Center. Looming over it all where—I get my Wolfboy facelift. The House of Frankenstein—where I prowl for new blood. Here in this—sullen City of Nacht und Nebel.

Hippy San Francisco

“Young child—old child
Be all right—on a SF night”
—Richard Burton and the Animals,
San Franciscan Nights

I wish I were—back then. Sixties in—the Castro District. Feeling—cold Transylvania air. Thousands—of miles away. On my face—here in SF. Where my Wolfboy—roots and branches languish. Here’s where my home—is Wolfsschanze

Lunar Fixation

“He stood in a clearing
reading his verse out
loud in his wolfy drawl—a
paperback in his hairy paw”
—Carol Ann Duffy
“Little Red-Cap,”
The World’s Wife

Here’s where—I wrote & worked. Enjoying long lycanthropic evenings—in my Sacramento apartment. The full moon—my Lunar fixations. So that when—animals ran out. From the bushes in the park—I resisted that old Transformation urge. That Ovidian rush—of my blood downward. Not biting the dog—cat or rat. Not gnawing—on its gimpy leg. Screaming, horrified, shocked—that a tourist—could be a wolf?

Coit Tower

“a dark thorny place”
—Carol Ann Duffy
“Little Red-Cap,”
The World’s Wife

I liked to—midnight slouch. Down in the woods—beneath Coit Tower. Then thru giant old Victorian mansions—up the hill by Lafayette Park. Overlooking North Beach—City Lights book temples. Invisible lines—reaching out to Moloch. Listening to Howl—at Midnight years later. Then—morning seagulls. The smell of saltwater air—slowly getting the idea. How strong it always felt—Castle of Frankenstein and Son of Dracula. Seducing me back—into myself again.

Eucalyptus Evenings

“breath of the wolf
in my ear”
—Carol Ann Duffy
“Little Red-Cap,”
The World’s Wife

Dark and shiny—the grass. Too wet for dew—it’s blood. From last night’s homicide. There in the pale blue Azaleas—next to the curb. The birds singing—singing twittering so gay. Wherever I turn I have to—look askance. Because all I see—is a face with its throat ripped out. Still gurgling to itself in a—gone dead way.

Lycanthropy Lite

“Reality is a hallucination
caused by a lack of drugs”
—The Urban Dictionary

In the photo—a turbaned boy. And a snake—woven basket. In the twilight—wreckage of some old Empire—Orientalism? It’s a long way—from Persia to Poughkeepsie to the Pacific. And a long time since Rome—but boys, snakes—and wolves. Have been around—a long time. The same with—old Gypsy tales. Lycanthropic urban carnage—a Fortune Teller’s opulent carriage moving thru time like The Wizard of Oz. Rimbaud’s hoarse burlesque—the Rubes of Paris. Carnivalesque sideshows—the Penguin Boy. Bearded Lady—Johnny Eck the Half-Boy. Maria Baclanova—quite the Trapeze Queen. Lover of Hercules—hated by the Freaks. Mardi Gras Zip and Pip—Thirties Carnivàle.


Ben Hawkins (Nick Stahl) in his puce kimono—falling down the stairs. Professor Lodz’s trailer—blind voyant. Bearded Lady’s lover—Samson’s traveling carnival. Hawkins—young male Madame Sosostris. Famed clairvoyant boy—roving with a band of magicians & wizards. Telepathic freaks—roustabouts. Possessed by unusual abilities—inexorably weird plotlines…Thanks to—Professor Lodz


The Moly—sets me free. I watch Sean Penn—playing Harvey Milk. The Castro—classic old Film Palace. It was all—a movie. Hollywood bright against—a white screen. Looking down the aisles at all the Talking heads—all the young ones of the gay generation. Sailorboys of Ulysses—ashore again. Circe waiting in—the winged alleys. The Castro and the Haight like—Circe’s island on the way home. Thom Gunn’s Moly—protecting him


The opaque red poppy-flower—coldly checks me out. I trundle down Fillmore past Gerry—to lunch. Raw fish turns me on—live octopus eyeballs. Down past old Victorian mansions—on Buchanan. Remodeled—separate apartments. One of them—with my publisher. His storage locker—full of books. Bound for pulping—gay renaissance over?

Jack Spicer / Charles Reznikoff

“Serial composition—
one detail to the next”
—Charles Bernstein,
“Reznikoff’s Nearness,”
My Way: Speeches Poems

It’s been raining—for three days. The faces in the crowd—cold fish. On a plate—depressing sushi… The cold wind—and black fog. The noise of wolves—in the forest. It all reminds me—of my chicken boyhood. Eternal youth—in the Balkans. Riding in the back—Ouspenskya driving. Our gypsy van—town to town. Once owned—by George Zucco. The Great Professor Bruno Lampini—continuing the long tradition. Weird Carnivàle wizards—The Wizards of Oz. Professor Ernst Lodz—Carnivàle queen. But who can forget—Bruno Lampini in The House of Frankenstein (1945)? The way George Zucco—screamed at the very end.

Professor Lodz

Lodz discovers—an American expatriate. Henry Scudder—lost in a Lemberg battlefield. Saving Scudder turns out—to be fortuitous for Lodz. When he becomes aware—of the American's uncanny powers. Besides incipient psychokinesis—Scudder can read minds. Divine the past and future—by touching objects. The two traveling—together. Performing for the wealthy—in European salons. From Belgrade to Paris—from Rome to New York. Scudder decides to leave the act—Lodz says no. Tries to stop him—coveting his partner's power. Scudder fulfills Lodz's wish—gifting him with psychic power. While exacting a terrible price—Lodz's sight gets traded. Blinded—for third eye insights. Bitter, Lodz lives together—with Lila Villanueva the Bearded Lady. Making a deal with Management—a pursuit Lodz continues. Even—beyond death itself.

Lila Villanueva the Bearded Lady

Lila Villanueva—the "Bearded Lady of Brussels." Born in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana—to a circus Family in 1890. Given their genetic predisposition—the hirsute family performing in a circus. Under the stage name "Villalobos"—literally “The House of Wolves.” Lila, her two brothers—Oscar and Raoul and her parents traveling throughout the Southeast. Spurning the freak-show tents—for the high-wire act. The "Flying Villalobos"—soon signed with Ringling Brothers Circus—traveling the international Circuit for five years. Then Oscar fell to his death—Copenhagen in 1905. A tragedy from which the "Flying Villalobos Family”— never recovered. Her father—shattered by the loss of his eldest son. Committing suicide—three years later.

Paco and Gordito
At sixteen—already graced with a thick, silky beard. Lila marries—a ventriloquist, Paco Soza & his dummy. In her own words—"Paco was beautiful, but that Fucking dummy, Gordito—drove me nuts." After less than six weeks, the marriage is annulled. Over the next fifty years—Lila marries over nineteen times. "Twenty if you count Gordito!!!" But her one true Love—was Professor Bruno Lodz. By all accounts—she never emotionally recovered. From his strange Disappearance—in late 1934.

Ben Hawkins

My act was to play—The Kimono Kid. It was a standard act—like The Penguin Boy. All I had to do was simply—let the Rubes gawk. Lodz used me as his medium—to size them up. Training me to be telepathic—a piece of cake. Lola distracted them—got them thinking dirty. Bifurcating their brains—lovely split cerebellums. They’d come backstage—for more guidance. I got to wear a gold mask—over my face. When I made my appearance—down the aisles. The hush in the Tent—crowded with faces. Like a movie star’s entrance—my painted lips silent. My painted eyelids—gauche goosebumps. The Mexican boyz—stops playing around. Lifting their guitar eyes—kissing the air. Everyone feels Duende. The paths are—deserted as usual. Below the city lights—the flow of traffic. The broad wash of—Pacific Ocean air. Here under the stars—Ginsberg saw Moloch. SF Literary Renaissance—followed by others. Beatniks, hippies—slackers, gays…


“flying about
and about”
—Charles Reznikoff,
“Autobiography: Hollywood”
The Poems of Charles Reznikoff

The gnats—swarming again. Every summer—front lawn celebrities. The evening coolness—jerky geometric. Figure-eight movements—a kind of moveable labyrinth—Mückenschwarm. Many dozens—of glittering gnats. Crowding forward—sleek to schmooze. Trembling circles—so nervous. Extravagantly carousing—fractal love. For a whole hour—rapidly moving. Raving, delirious—silently whirling. Shivering with joy—against death. Their kingdoms—doomed like Sodom. Thrones heavy with gold—instantly gone. Leaving no trace—just a façade.

Moonlight Mon Amour

The moonlight—so pleasant. Like the silence—of dead pyramids. Underground crypts—Pretorius toasting death. Boris Karloff—smokes a cigar. Isn’t life just the pits—Pretorius quips. A cigar, wine—amidst the Shrouds. A good epitaph—I suppose for me: “He loved the spectral moonlight.” Better still—“He loved it too much.” The Dead—if only they could speak. Saying “You’ll get tired of it too—even the moonlight, honey.”

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