. The Poet's Beat .

. The Poet's Beat .
"A working class citizen is apt to see this country for what it's worth... A miasma of interlocking variations on differing demographics and geographies unlike any other inhabited space in the world. The American Dream. The rolling footloose hills and the upstanding Apache badlands where criminals cut bread with priests and the children of Hollywood. I am no different. Yet I am still brazen enough to think that the world is a playground built by the rugged hands of a hard-working man in order that my fantasies be materialized." -- P.P. Vonnersdale

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


My best friend was born in the yellow grass below a cattle guard
In 1972
Behind the Standard Hotel on the outskirts of Kansas City
Under the warm breath of a throaty jack-ass braying his arrival late into the night

We once sat together drinking imports in a crowded Glasgow pub
Watching the American girls drowning in their sexuality
Like babes in a bathtub to the ruddy broad-shouldered local women with freckles and impudence
A Jack The Ripper mist settling over the cobble stone outside
The world slippery and reflective
Surrounded by the thickly twisted tongues of a roguish pagan country

He told me that night of his desire to rob the Golden Day Bank & Trust
And he asked me to help him

He once spent three years in a slum near Gwanju, South Korea
His father was a missionary who hung a metal cross above their tenement door
The little shark-eyed South Korean girls wouldn’t look at him because he heard their orgasms
The coast was exactly twenty-three miles from his fourth floor tenement window
He could taste the salt some nights
Although he started using words like “thirty-eight kilometers” instead
With wet lips dipped in soju he once guessed his father’s cock was about fifteen centimeters long
But I suspect those Korean girls would know better than he would

He stole a taxi from an impound yard near the train tracks before anyone was up
He was parked at the bank when the first employee pulled into the parking lot

We once travelled the length of the Pacific Union trans-continental railroad together 
We robbed hobos
They robbed us
I spent the night in the emergency room in Tucson waiting for them to stitch his arm up
If there is any rule in a knife fight, it is that everyone gets cut
We slept in the high weeds and waited for the whistle
We slept on rocks under trestles in pockets where the rain water wasn’t falling
We slept with a black prostitute in Jackson who kept calling herself Mother Teresa 
Who kept demanding we owed her thirty dollars more for things we did that “weren’t on the menu”
He killed her in the back of that den and we slipped like snakes into the Pearl River
He told a judge in Bogalusa that he wasn’t scared of sixty days in jail
They caught him pulling the tires off of a county sheriff’s squad car
I told him I would meet him on the coast
I didn’t see him again for eleven years

He put every employee on their knees in the conference lounge
Letting them wander willy-nilly into the empty lobby like distracted raccoons into a rattle trap
After two rolls of duct tape he walked back to the front door and hung the closed sign over the entrance
Then he selected Pamela from the group

He has a tattoo of a laughing skull with a lion’s mane on his shoulder
Carved into his skin by the mangled hands of a crippled artist in Madrid’s Atocha district
Where in 1977 eight attorneys were gunned down in their office
He says Death is the king of the jungle
He says Death cannot help but laugh at our attempts to outrun it
He says he is not afraid to die
He whispers words in Spanish at the café where we drink coffee and watch girls
¿Sabía usted que he matado a cuatro personas en mi vida?
Only in whispers do we speak truths anymore

It was Pam who went with him to the vault
It was Pam who interviewed him two weeks earlier for a teller position
His resume a bundled grouping of lies fed to him through quick searches of internet facts
She had been trained to detect manipulative questions and be wary of revealing answers
But not trained well enough I suppose
He knew she could open the vault
He knew a lot
It was Pam who died with him when the police came through the windows 

I’m not ashamed of who I am
My best friend and I rode motorcycles through the desert once
We ate mushrooms and danced in the arroyo shadows
There are stars in the desert sky invisible to the rest of the world
He told me his life felt smaller than a grain of sand
Flying as fast as a rocket
We bathed in rivers
We slept on mattresses left on the sides of roads
He thought he probably would not be able to help killing someone again
I was supposed to wait in the taxi
I called the police instead
Pamela died
My best friend died
I am left sitting alone at the edge of darkness 
And although the chasm is perhaps endlessly deep
On some nights I can still hear his voice below


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