Sunday, December 31, 2006

Gerald Ford and the Seventies

I've spent the past several days reading about President Ford and his presidency. It brings back fond memories of the CIA and Nicaragua and secret incursions. Not to mention Gulags and long range nuclear missiles and spies. Oh, what a time! I remember when I was in college several of my friends were members of the Socialist Workers Party. They all used to spend most of their time debating who among them was a CIA mole.
Ha, what sort of great, powerful government would investigate a bunch of schmoos who couldn't organize a checkers game much less a great labor movement. Years later it turns out the government actually had an informant in their dumb little group. Duh! It was the moment I realized our government was as lunkheaded as my rabble rousing knucklehead friends. They wanted to organize the downtrodden workers. Workers with vacation homes in Belmar and a boat in the driveway and two kids (probably them) in college. For some odd reason they thought this country was Russia in 1917.
What a time!
Anyway, this all brought to mind a series of poems I've been working on about a new friend of mine. His name is Mario Infirme and he works for a government group. Unnamed. Here's one from Mario...

Mario Infirme Talks About Secrets

Mario Infirme comes up behind me at the bar.
He whispers in my ear.
He says, tell no one your secrets.
He says, tell no one the truth.
He says, if you do you must cut out their tongue
and if you cut out their tongue you must cut off their head.
If you cut off their head you must bury it in a secret place.
If you bury the head in a secret place you must set a fire to cover
your crime, you must burn the place to the ground.
If you burn it to the ground then you must return and salt the earth.

If you salt the earth then you should return and build a market.
In the market you may sell drinks,
cool lemonade, ice cold beer, shots of whiskey.
When people come to buy the drinks tell them stories.
Tell them about murder.
Tell them about love.
Tell them anything but the truth but don’t stop talking.

They will return, over and over, and you will run out of stories.
Then you may tell them the truth.
By then you will be old and no one will remember you or the reason
you are speaking.
There will be no reason to cut out their tongues.
Lie down at night then.
Lie down and dream.
When you dream you will dream of your crimes and they will be sweet.
Devour them.
Lies and crimes and secrets.
They are all you have.

I turn and Mario has left the bar.

Let me know if you like my friend and his stories. There are a few more I've already committed to paper and he comes to meet me often, late at night. He's not a nice man but he likes his whiskey and he tells a good story.
Good night world

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas, New Years, and beyond

It's been a quiet holiday season in the world of Wiler. Not counting Johanna's being assaulted in Washington and getting two fingers nearly severed or Divina being taken to the hospital or my fellow worker Derrick dying of pneumonia (that's a euphemism). Mostly I spent the week between Christmas and New Years taking care of Johanna and yelling at the hotel to get her things back.
I also had to deal with my broken window and an upcoming inspection at Acme. Plus I think my poetry sucks, my book sucks and my life is in the toilet.
But beyond that stuff I did get Sirius Radio from my friends Linda and Patty and can now listen to Howard again! Hey Now! Artie, Robin, Fred, and the gang are back in my life.
Plus while I think my poetry sucks I have been writing so I'm sort of lying about that. I thought it would be good to post my most recent poem here to keep you all up to date with what's the what. Here it is. Read it and weep:)
What You Can Do in Central New Jersey at Christmas

I go with my friend Bill Wasnak to Sayreville or Jamesburg.
One of those central Jersey towns with one long street,
low, one and two story buildings and a half dozen dozing bars.
We walk into one and there are all my friends from twenty years ago.
Big Mike, Debby Fried, Alan Estevez, Bob Zirpoli, Jack Ward,
the Irregulars, all standing around, happy, drinking, laughing.

I’m talking to Pete Keen and I ask him where he’s living now.
He says the North Carolina coast.
I say, what a coincidence, I go there often.
I ask Bill, didn’t we go there, what, two years ago?
He laughs, takes a drink, and says, no.
The last time we were all there was the fall of 2001.

The fall of 2001.
What a cruel joke.
Now I understand.
Now I see the bar for what it is.
The ghosts of Christmas have washed me up just short of Christmas Day
in a dingy old man’s bar with all my lost and forgotten friends.
Bob Zirpoli, who hasn’t spoken to me since 1981.
Pete Keen, Christ, for all I know he’s dead.
Wasnak, married now, with two boys and a lovely wife.
Prosperous business man, avid golfer, man on the go.

I look around again and see the glasses covered in dust, the windows boarded up.
Waiting for the wrecking ball from some developers dream.
The Melody Bar crushed by the jaws of some great earth moving machine.
The Court Tavern huddled up against the New Brunswick of tomorrow.
My friends old and fat and drinking too much.
Working at jobs they hate.
Making too much money, or too little, with wives they abhor or who detest them.

O horrible dream. O stunted joy.
O Melody Bar.
A band now long forgotten plays some creaking punk anthem.
The smell of stale beer and lost love stinks up the joint and we reel out into the dawn.
Asking where’s the party, where’s the party?
Once someone would have said
I am the party
Once we would have laughed and laughed.
Now we stare at the harsh dawn sun, turn our separate ways,
march back home.

It’s hours till Christmas and the ghosts have not found me fit for redemption.
They offer this happy gathering, my long forgotten friends, this bar, this grim lesson.
O Christmas.
O Joy

Anyway, that's all for now. I'm busy planning my new year and my poetic life and my romantic life...all of which are in disarray. I'm reading with a bunch of friends at the Bowery Poetry Club on New Years Day after 3:00pm. Come and hear Danny Shot, Elliot Katz, Joe Weil, Bobby Tiedeken, Chevisa, and me. It's the most goofy, ego-centric reading of the year. Thankfully the bar is open. God bless poetry! Adios Saddam! Hail, hail rock and roll, and goodnight to James Brown! I feel good. To quote Was Not Was, "I feel better than James Brown".
Hello 2007!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas at Acme

Yesterday was our holiday luncheon at Acme Exterminating. Bob took the women in the office and me out to lunch at the local steakhouse, Uncle Jack's. Luis, our boss, was supposed to go but sacrificed himself on the altar of duty to answer phones. There may have been a bit of bullshit in that but he felt we should bond with Bob and that he'd get in the way. Either that or he didn't want to go. Hard to say which.
Uncle Jack's is like every other NYC steakhouse. Pushy, weird waiters trying to get you to eat enormous amounts of expensive food and drink all you can. They interrupt the meal every ten minutes to ask if everything is okay. I'm convinced they grow these guys on a farm in Brooklyn. They're all overbearing and incredibly manly and the whole experience is unnerving. Quite honestly I'd prefer a gay guy saying hi my name is Todd and I'll be your server tonight to this ordeal by manliness.
The good part was the food was great, Bob was pleasant and enjoyable, and the young women I work with all had a fairly good time. They were also careful to order the most expensive items on the menu. If they were older they would have thought to order cocktails.
I myself was exhausted from my birthday celebration of the night before. I stayed up till 1am laughing and smiling and being with friends. I may have drunk a gallon of champagne. I got lovely gifts and reaquainted myself with some old friends and ate birthday cake. Johanna had her friends Sandy and Divina help with the serving and they were both great. Sandy was quite the lady bringing out appetizer after appetizer and Johanna was the queen of the house (in more ways than one).
Today, I'm going to settle back and relax, enjoy my day and roast a chicken. Tomorrow, another holiday party, my favorite, at Patty's house and the Giants/Eagles game. Good weekend, good life.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Happy Birthday

On Dec 14th 2001 I spent late morning and most of the afternoon projectile vomiting. It was my 50th birthday and my friend Danny and my sister Mary had come to visit. Me and Zithromax weren't getting along too well and as a result I puked and puked and puked and puked.
That was five years ago.
Happy birthday to me! Thanks be to God!
Today I will go to work, deliver Christmas gifts to my clients, argue with Luis about some dumb thing and at noon go to lunch with my boss, Bob. We will go to a restaurant I know he doesn't particularly like but which I do like and talk and eat and he'll rush off to an appointment. At 2:45 I'll leave work and go home, pay the rent, pick up two cards and two small gifts, and come home to cook Shrimp and Corn Chowder for Johanna. Then we'll wait for our guests to arrive and drink and laugh and talk till late into the night.
I'm still a sort of broken man physically but by and large I'm not the man that spent his 50th birthday covered in vomit. I don't intend any repeat performances. So here's to milestones and birthdays and simple things! Raise a glass with me and drink in this world in all it's joy. Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to John and Jessica! Happy birthday to you all!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Poetry in Newton

Last night was my last public performance in 2006. Thank the Lord! I went to Sussex County College in Newton NJ. It's far, far away from Jersey City. When I was nearly there they were making tornado warnings on the radio. I figured five farmers and two chickens would show but it turns out there's an actual poetry community there and in spite of the threat of witches and houses dropping from the sky several people turned out to hear me read.
My friend Bob Carnevale did a nice intro and my performance felt solid and I sold my last five books. I've got four left. Time to buy more. I don't know if I've explained this earlier but poetry publishing is like Amway. If I want books to sell at my readings I've got to buy them and sell them. This wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't pissing my money away on wine and food but it's a tough nut otherwise.
On Thursday night I went to hear my friend Jeffrey Harrison read with two other poets from Four Way Books. My friend Martha Rhodes runs the press and it was a lovely event. I had publishing envy. Lot's of other poets I knew were there and the wine was free and Jeff and his fellow poets didn't have to pay for it or organize it. I'm doing something wrong. Ross Gay has Gerald Stern, Jeff has Martha, and I have me and my dogs running the show. I've got lots of energy but little experience and I think it shows in my poor turnouts at my readings. Boo hoo!
It will be good to celebrate my birthday in two weeks with Jessica and John and my friends and then run headlong into Christmas. This is my favorite time of year! If anyone actually reads this and would like to join John, Jess and I at our mutual celebration...come to my house at 590 Palisade Ave, 2nd Fl, Jersey City on Dec 14th and hoist a glass with us. Presents not required wine much appreciated as is food. It's time for Orion to cast his spell. Time to forget about poems and poetry and work and responsibility. It's showtime!