Burroughs in Kansas

Burroughs in Kansas #2

“The old writer lived
in a boxcar by the river”
—William Burroughs,
The Western Lands

often—in the morning
i lie—in bed watching
grids—laptop winds
moving—in front of my eyes
shifting—as i read them
trying—correcting them
copying—writing them down
waking up—wishing i could
remember—but can’t
yes—then what?

“…he hummed the
refrain from “Dead
Man Blues” by Jelly
Roll Morton”
—William Burroughs,
The Western Lands

after i wrote—my first novel
i started—a second one
but disgust—with words
built up—within me
like arsenic—lead
so i stopped—and listened
putting out—trout lines
catfish—canned beans
cheap whiskey—welfare checks
the usual—writer’s life

“Forty years ago the writer
had published a novel which
had made a stir and a few
short stories and some poems”
—William Burroughs,
The Western Lands

most of the time—i sat
on a little porch—screened in
looking out—over the river
an old 12 gauge—double barrel
shotgun—across my knees
a snub-nosed—revolver
kept—under my pillow
keeping track—so what

“One morning, instead
of typewritten words, he
saw handwritten words
and tried to read them”
—William Burroughs,
The Western Lands

the notes—on cardboard
little phrases—torn away
“the fate of—others”
some—on brown paper
“well—almost never”
giving me—the idea of a
dummy—ventriloquist act
words—to play with.

“he put some paper
in the machine and
started to write”
—William Burroughs,
The Western Lands

old novelists—like stevenson
writing their way—out of dreams
such tenacity—so laudable
no spiritual—bankruptcy
just precise—inventories
showing words—as assets
letting them—write themselves
letting flows—and faults
flow—to writers’ markets
not shortchanging—the muse
not faking it—the work
dying & decaying—guests
landlords—of the midwest

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