2015-2017 by John Michael Flynn. All rights reserved.
loving memory of James L’Ecuyer, Phyllis Hammer
Katarina Skole Flynn
gratitude to Robert McRoberts, Harris Gardner,
Glo Mindock and
takes a long time to become young.”
Portraits From The Elevator At The Getty Museum
Tragic Tale Of The Los Feliz Comet
A River’s Shadow Play
Dozen Lemons In Autotropolis
Light On Double Bed
Of Santa Ray Ban
Thirty On Melrose And You’re Over The Hill
Nights And Ambiguous Yarns
Motion Sound Is Seen
Off His Noggin It’s Lovely
Cid Corman In A Nuthouse
Daughter’s Safety, A Father’s Patience
Ways To Convince An Agent A Glib Galoot Like Yourself Is The Next Big
Will And Testament
Said Is Enough
In The Out Of The Closet Thrift Shop On Vine
At Lake Quinsigamond
Listened To The Baghdad Five-Day
Exacting Executions Done Of Olden Times In Collaboration With Ye Of
Grouse And Crow And Wild Turkey
Moves Along The Blackstone
I Knows Best Is The Kenmore Dinah At 3:30 A.M.
Pascuali In The Boulevard Diner Answers All Concerns Regarding The
Rat Race Question
Praise Of Boston Aunts
Leo, The River, And A Doughnut
Dog On A Backyard Bender
Pub Under The Merit Sign
The Small Of Her Back Another Illusion Sets Sail
Dried Fuzzy Navels
Mishe Mokwa Trail
Peep-O-Ram, A Token
Contradictions In A Cheap Room
Eyes Roamed Over Hills
At The Grange
Wiped Out Third Base Last Stop Before Home
Wow At Greenbriar
Malibu Barbie Shares Face Time With Sergeant Rock The Third At La
Terrorist Slays Lady Soldier And Herself
Butch Out Of Jail
A T-Ride Home From Boston
Label Him Disengaged And Malevolent
Westall’s Good Knife
Barbershop And Overnight Trains To Palooka Ville
Just Got Off The Bus
Spectrum Thoughts On Racism At A Traffic Light
Tension Mansion Pension
Flivver Kings And Mesmerists
Poetica “Thaw At Lake Quinsigamond”
Gauche “We Listened To The Baghdad Five-Day”
“Stylishly Exacting Executions Done Of Olden Times In Collaboration
With Ye Of Faith”, “Color, Dolor, Urbane”, “Among Branches”,
and “Emerald Moves Along The Blackstone”, “Mister Westall’s
Good Knife”, “Beehive Bill”
Arts “Of Grouse And Crow And Wild Turkey”
Review “Rattling Into Compromise”
Sighns: An Anthology “Mulcahey’s Pub Under The Merit Sigh”,
and “What I Knows Best Is The Kenmore Dinah At 3:30 A.M.”
Review “Sea Dog On A Backyard Bender”
“Average Leo, The River, And A Doughnut”
Journal “Rumors Of Blues”
Issue “Dink Pascuali Answers All Concerns Regarding The Rat
Street Press “Automat, Peep-O-Ram, A Token”, “In Praise Of
Agamemnon; An Anthology “Lady Terrorist Slays Lady Soldier And
News “Gathering Contradictions In A Cheap Room”
“Our Eyes Roamed Over Hills”, and “Roberto’s Barbershop And
Overnight Trains To Palooka Ville”
“Monterey Dissolve”, “Passion Tension Mansion Pension”
River Review, and MO: Writings From The River “Big Red
River “Color Spectrum Thoughts On Racism At A Traffic Light”,
and “In The Small Of Her Back Another Illusion Sets Sail”
Metal Bridge “Dirty Just Got Off The Bus”
Throw Magazine “On A T-Ride Home From Boston”
International “Flames Wiped Out Third Base Last Stop Before
Home”, “Chums At The Grange”
Of Modern Literature “Of Flivver Kings And Mesmerists”
Review “Wormtown Butch Out Of Jail”, and “Constellations
River Review “Sunshine Dried Fuzzy Navels”
Review, and The Book Of Irish American Poetry From 18th
Century To The Present “Pow Wow At Greenbriar”
“The Mishe Mokwa Trail”, “Wheels And Blades”
House Journal “Arboreal”, “Neo Malibu Barbie Shares Face
Time With Sergeant Rock The Third At La Tazza”
Review “Locals Label Him Disengaged And Malevolent”
River Review “Eclipses”, “Once Said Is Enough”, “Last
Will And Testament”
Literary Review “I Was Thirteen”
Wolf Journal “Chasing A River’s Shadowplay”
Path Review “Tonka Truck”
“Re-Tooled Nights And Ambiguous Yarns”
Poetry Quarterly Review “Splinter, Rail, Couch”, “A
Daughter’s Safety, A Father’s Patience”
“Big Light On Double Bed”
donning the DataSuit, the individual slips into information; his body
is suddenly endowed with a second skin, with a muscle and nerve
interface that fits over his own cutaneous layer. For him, for both
of them, information becomes the sole relief of corporeal reality,
its unique volume.
I wake in a strange land.
Fear Of Clowns
resume and 8 by 10 in hand
to accept and be accepted
aspiring actor moves from Dallas to LA
agents, premieres, the Doo-Dah parade
pride and whimsical sex under the jacarandas.
his name legally upon arrival,
something pressurized and desolate in the LA chai.
it a menacing stasis, unrelenting glare of the horizon
pastel stucco hues, an elusive center of gravity.
the palm trees so many and so alone like the wannabe actors
of them commas across the papyrus blanch of candied Southland sky.
his worst, he wept and wept. Nothing would ever change
was madness, this place, madness, why oh why did he ever come?
one motionless noon after a bagel and lox at Cantor’s Deli
up Fairfax through arid moraines
felt an epiphany like a dizzying excess of rum in the heat.
would not be for rent or sale, he would just be –
earnestly giving away his heart.
among us hasn’t followed the sun west without apology
various fables of enlightened disillusionment?
am and you are.
to name something love.
Three Portraits From The
Elevator At The Getty Museum
disdain for the rich
my first agent, a global village masterpiece
remarked at our first meeting
even call me unless it’s the next
an installation, of sorts
art Getty would have never paid for
red leather pants that match
malachite lips and earrings
bracelet of skulls tattooed around her wrist.
keep her sunglasses on indoors, thank you.
makes people sad
doesn’t like that
in cargo pants
shirt and Vans
on big feet
skateboard through shining concerns
billion movies brewing inside
of them as dumb as art.
The Tragic Tale Of The Los Feliz
Linda was a Marin County dazzler
Cuervo, Seconal and Darvon
A-list cheerleader status.
she’s playing a Jon’s
a boa around her shorts
she updates the smog report
her Medusa assemblage
radiator hoses and essential
rattle dance steps
the locked heat
rippling car doors.
throws her cans at an Olds
at a time until she’s
of cans. She throws her
wig at a mini-van
drives over it.
found her bite-sized
Chasing A River’s Shadow Play
going to take you, River, as you took Kelly in Cummington. Go ahead,
laugh all you want. I know Whitman, Lorca and Ginsburg were here
first and you devoured them. I don’t care. I carry the Wandering
O’Hara gene. I have my lyrical impulses to prove and my mother to
honor into sainthood. If the city is mine it’s because the city is
this moment and I’ll die if I don’t roar about it in your wake.
rush past me, ripping off my ears. I stop to sniff for you as I study
a poster for a revival of Godot in Chelsea. Sex toys for sale
in a window. Lube by the gallon. This isn’t you. I walk west down
22nd Street and I see myself as a kitten on a fire escape
with its saucer of milk. Innocence and the sordid collide. Dildo
rhymes with meadow. Wordplay, River, won’t dance my soul away from
see myself again inside the last of the 20th century phone
booths reflected upside down in a diner window on Tenth Avenue. You
and I both know this diner is soon to be museum piece, a modernist
installation. Art. What a laugh. I can’t afford art. Neither can
you. Yet it remains our luxurious guilty pleasure.
can I afford this yearning toward your currents and all the
profundity I uncover in the average person’s daily and gritty
resistance to failure. There’s a realist and a dreamer in me,
River, and they both say that poverty and work aren’t crimes. They
can’t be helped. They’re as necessary as you are. You knew this.
You saw so much of yourself in me.
hunt your ghosts, River, in the shallows of each alley I venture to
penetrate. I stumble across your old friends Hubert Selby, and
Kenneth Fearing. How they roared back when men wore prideful
Stetsons, pumped gas for a living, fought wars in Germany and lived
to eat sandwiches from an Automat. Nobody listened much then, either.
you tell me, keep one step ahead of the pricks out there.
you’re a lion, a shadow within shadows and you knew this city as a
stickball yard, choice of peep shows, joyrides with a beer on the
ferry to Staten Island. You knew a Jewish intellectual formalist
mentor in Shapiro, the two of you a pair of chummy vets together
making the Village scene back when it mattered that a River could not
only sing but count scansion.
wandered, River, before Eisenhower built the highways. Penned that
Whitmanesque love song to America and your crossing, thumb out, to
find your buddy Eberhardt and flood with him a hill above the Puget
and Richard, you say, we wrote our poems while we watched them
see your cherubic face in the dank windows of an Irish tap and I
wonder how long before this bar disappears and all of your riverfront
life from dockwollopers to Eugene O’Neill becomes gentrified, clean
drift east and uptown to see you in the leer of a big-bellied vendor
in apron at a magazine stand, in the hot steam that fogs the neon
above a sizzling sausage grill, and in the fumes that leak from a
little has changed when it comes to the frothing discontent of the
straphangers chasing their dimes. One glance after another, I see
them busted, bent and zapped – their bodies speeded along through
grim blocks scented with a python’s treacherous ambition.
remains a subway ride to nowhere on a Saturday afternoon in the rain.
The Beast, Number One, north to south and back again. I’m on it.
I’m riding. I’ll find you, River. I’ll better you. I’ll
devour you. I’ve an exploding cigar in my pocket. A craving that
open to it all and dwarfed.
A Dozen Lemons In Autotropolis
sort of destiny awaits this place.
the pages of a sunshine noir potboiler
imagined songs for the glory of all races
seasonal fetishes, failures and flavors
dissolve in my open hands. My open mind.
but equal. By cars, tobacco, houses, cemetery plots.
are tribes within a spectacle of fences. I get this now.
switch to philosophy, the Frenchman Gaston Bachelard
sees felicity in a hermit’s intense poverty.
you were obviously never poor.
walk along, watching a limousine pass a church
myself what kind of ruthless meteorite faith must be
drive faith here in this neighborhood.
are they just naïve dreamers?
Thursday night I hear their choir
relinquish all that is false
the name of love. Celebrating what we gain
we are unselfish and do not fear ephemeral injustices.
the symbols of what I purchase become
which makes me who I am. So many
removes, titles, degrees,
hyphens, ghettoes, component systems
got this friend Maria Gonzalez and she keeps
the signs Pupuseria,
Maria reaches LUCY’S taco stand
stucco palace, of course, in bright orange with a mermaid
crudely and the word Mariscos
benches around the order window, sun-faded
umbrellas trying so hard to be bright and tropical
this dingy corner of Washington and Hoover
the asphalt steam throws up roadside renditions
every Mexican ghost killed by white men.
her lunch, one hand on the wheel, driving along
a pokey Western style Maria sees through her windshield
phalanx of helicopters overhead. She ignores them.
loves the fumes filling her car, braised beef tamales
onion rings and she translates the Spanish of a billboard
She’s upset over the use of one idiom
debasing of all languages by advertising execs
don’t give a damn. She turns on the radio. Mexico, yeah
has a new president. The news
day long has been his election and all the changes
bring to the good people of Mexico. Oh God
hope so, she thinks. God I hope so.
Maria isn’t sure which nation she lives in.
should care, but she doesn’t. She assumes
shares this confusion with the Philippine
Smog Inspection And Repair
clerk and the Armenian
waiter. Uncomfortable she is, not caring
she must survive. This is America, after all.
long sleepy dream-entrenched myth
the new century and the old ones. Not a real place.
she’ll keep reading the signs.
she’ll get by, God willing she’ll get by.
saw Hollywood Man driving his Miata
Olympia, crossing Western, which scares him.
can’t say why. Maybe it’s those huge vertical signs in Korean.
silver Mercedes pulls up next to him. It’s driven by
Botox Used-To-Be that’s maybe 35
be 50 and is likely a member of the AARP,
long ago she did in a TV sitcom.
looks in her rearview to check signs of fading.
her mortgage, it’s payment and more payment
cosmetic surgeons that keep her alert to leakage.
Man begins to feel it
special lust to action, rightful trumpets to hark
man, man, man. That slice of cheesecake
wants him to play chase-me-down and he’s willing.
the light changes and she drives off
tails her pedal-to-the-metal and screwed
radar on the 5 Freeway heading south
in dream visions of ambrosial fornication under the palms.
does Hollywood Man get for all his hunting?
County without a single orange tree left,
size of Delaware in a monoxide choke-hold.
there he is, Hollywood Man
later still at home in home movies
a lesbian gaffer who works in Burbank
from Santa Rosa, feels so close to everyone today.
Guatemalans, Vietnamese, Russians, Salvadorans,
the Koreans, the Mexicans, the Nigerians
weight of their chained heels against her nipples.
what it’s like to live in America.
hemorrhages guilt in unpredictable cycles,
anxious with a weapon.
Tracee’s burden to know history, not to be ashamed
guilty, but to live in the present and not generalize
demand and least of all expect anything as if freedom
her birthright. There are no rights
money dictates how you dry up.
as much swag as possible.
wouldn’t you come here if your government
torching children and killing land?
lie, thinks Tracee, sure you would.
getting it. The purest racism
from notions of entitlement.
is for sale. Pay as you play. New world like the old
on bones of the disadvantaged.
immigrants of all stripes they get to Via sometimes.
hates hearing them speak of Americans
the third person. It’s hard to not feel defensive
these immigrants live and certainly work here
their country, too. What are they waiting for?
not claim it as their own?
copes. She’s got the disengagement m.o. down pat.
unruffled Zen indifference
feel a thing except movies perhaps
if she hates today it’s because she hates herself
all the brandy and Zoloft
needs to keep breathing.
another day she’ll pity neighbors and immigrants
aspire like herself to do more than drown occasionally
take out chainsaws each evening
carve out vital organs
leave them on windowsills to dry.
buddy Roger prefers surface streets
bridges and all sly slinking passages
in the hills that live within him.
hipper than hip, born and raised in it.
chrome-glare flash on the horizon is like the sparkle in his eye.
knows the wide bruised-air chaos
metallic rooftop rush-hour color palette
king of ambiguous detachment on cruise-control
hemisphere themepark Roger
Roger in his Toyota on the 10, the 5, the 405
mural breakfast gluing him apocalyptic
harmonies that promise there is no music
art and no value in all the Hype.
let it speak an abstraction,
screw Europe America art and tradition.
and Roger canoe MLK Way like Lewis and Clark among Sioux
underside warrens of history paving its shadows.
pod malls rise from Mesozoic rants
with megaphones on the corner of Florence
through free-speech bullhorns
cosmic crossings with Korans and Bibles
points of view. Not denying history, no sir
fuckers mean business and everybody fears them.
anchor store closed in the Baldwin Hills Mall
jobs lost and more space for crack-heads to pow-wow.
kids in sweat suits wait in line for the latest Eddie comedy
the Magic Johnson Cineplex.
that beg love to flourish as a
vato Honda with oversized
wheels spreads the ire of seismic drum-and-bass
cannons for every zipless hangover
wake-up-to-pain on the block.
all here cry the Muslims. In
this elevated pedway archeology
oleander-paisley-wilting Timothy Bleary runways shimmer
even enlightened playuhz
strapped-in with the AC on
windows rolled up, laser-proof and long on guile.
dealer tells him at gunpoint
seen history here revising itself, too, you know.
doesn’t know, but his credit’s good and he’s allowed to
hooked up with Marcus and we are entranced
on Hoover until traffic is stopped.
has occurred? Marcus knows right away.
been killed. He looks at me. He doesn’t say it.
can read him. Why’d I bring
your white ass to this hood anyway?
say nothing. I observe. This squirming in my loins
what it means to be aware in the American city.
when at peace.
listen to Marcus make rhymes. Helps him relax.
raps over the wheel, Go phuck
yr-self and yr cowboys too
with my party – course your sistah looks fine
I’m high on E.
don’t laugh at the lyric. Nothing humors in this city
always feel way behind.
thinking that someone’s friend is dead now.
had a name, says Marcus.
Until the arrest report wuz
of us on Hoover
Pepperdine used to be
Hilburn sells insurance with a sawed-off shotgun
his counter. Willy calls Hoover the Damascus Road.
ride it, anyway, black man and white
pals and a challenging sight
racists. That’s why we do it. We want unity.
are the future and all that its rivers carry.
watch an army of boots and Joe Fridays
yellow ribbons. At least there’s a mixture
race among them. Marcus says, Five-O
of the times, Yo. Big bad sign o’ the times.
blues master after a concert
a group of us in an alley
was once so horny he climbed a car’s fender
grooved his candle into its radiator.
automobile rules my life. I’m nothing
her. Dawn smells like benzene and dusk
her carbonic residues. She’s a feline slipper
her snap-on tool, gaga over gear-box ratios.
of a red light, another car, intersection, motion
six yards and then a pause, six more yards, another pause
wake up famished for vinyl and fiberglass
the size of steering wheels.
to lance my carburetor’s bung
I pass out in a concrete bed.
you I’m a ciudad
rodeo reverie combustion
deductible fire collisions
dice and lanes for pissing…
her up… Christ, let me fill her…
faces of murdered exiles.
is their land.
Mex-American slang I’m an Anglo, a gabacho.
but I’m a gringo
guilty of conquest.
one paranoid version of California reality,
an uninvited guest inside the country where I was born.
Mr. Congressman, your backhanded earnings
all the insulation you need.
days when I wake up, my first question is
in the Jee-zuss-H am I doing here?