Mainline

In these parts,

we mainline moonglow.

It’s what we do.

It’s our thing.

We shoot moonglow

directly into our veins

and our blood becomes gospel

as we start to sing hallelujah

and glory-be—

We dream daytime dreams

of phoenixes burning colors

into cakes of riot and ash.

All it takes is a lunatic and a match,

as they say.

We hear galaxies crashing in our veins,

and glittering cosmos becomes us

in relation to the dark matter,

and zeitgeist,

we duly absorb and digest.

We are not right in the head,

we can’t be, but we are heart-ready,

growing gardens to seize our own wilds,

and we longer seek indirect or oblique guidance—

We mainline moonglow

until it is coming out of our ears

and asses,

snaking blonde rivulets

down our cheekbones,

until our eyes

have been burned clean through

in becoming lighthouses

emitting white-hot particles of mercy

into a world

that wonders

where on earth

all that wattage

coming from.   

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Raging Bull: A Prayer for my Father

Do not go gently into that good night, father.

Fight, fight, tooth and nail, like the iron-willed boxer

you always were—

dancing around the ring, pumping jabs and ducking, bobbing and weaving—

Sure, you took your lumps and bruises,

and absorbed so many punishing blows,

but always, always, your heart held on, and you rose—

You never stayed down—

You found a way to rise and keep the fight moving forward—

Do not go gently into that good night, father.

It is not yet your time, the bell hasn’t rung,

the ring is your thing

and you have many rounds left to go—

Rage, rage against the shrinking of the light,

as any proud bull would do,

stubbornly plowing ahead to let life know

you were not through with her yet,

no one has thrown in the towel—

Fight, father, fight,

above and beyond the ring,

where your spirit

was always rising to meet challenges,

full of fury and sound

to announce itself

as a force to be reckoned with—

You haven’t heard the bell yet, father,

so do not concede the light to the dark,

fight, fight,

like the steel-willed warrior

you always were.

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Moonglow in New Mexico

Grateful for the installment that aired on KRQE news (Channel 13) in Albuquerque, regarding Moonglow on Mercy Street: https://www.krqe.com/entertainment-news/taos-poet-releases-book-about-2020/

In this day and age, for poetry to be represented and shown a little love in the news, is heartwarming and gratifying.

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If Only in Burning

   I saw the sign in the window: Lessons Learned/Karma Burned. I went inside.

The studio smelled like frankincence. And cotton candy. Greeting me at the door, as if she had been waiting for me, was a tall, well-toned woman in a black body suit. Her features were sharp and her blonde hair was tied back in a whip of a ponytail. Before I could speak, she commanded—Give me twenty jumping jacks now!

   I was about to protest, when she repeated—Now—in a blistering, take-no-prisoners tone. I did twenty jumping jacks. When I was done I was exhausted. I couldn’t remember the last time I had done any jumping jacks, much less twenty. As I tried to catch my breath, the woman produced photographs from the fanny-pack clasped around her waist. Had the fanny-pack been there the whole time? How had I missed it?

   Here, she said, and thrust a stack of photographs into my hand. Then she walked away, taking a seat at her desk in the far corner.

   I looked through the photographs. They were photos of when I was a baby, and as a young child. In one, I was maybe two or three, my hair wildly curly, with a yellow pacifier plugged in my mouth. My mother is holding my hand, though you can only see her from the shoulders down. Her head and neck are cut off. So how do you know it’s your mother, I heard myself questioning.

   In another photo, I am five or six, and sitting in the bathtub. I am looking back at whoever is taking the photo.

   How did you get these, I shout at the woman, who is shuffling papers at her desk.

   She doesn’t respond. I walk over to the desk and repeat—How did you get these?

   Burn them, the woman says, and hands me a book of matches. There is malicious glee in the smile that crosses her lips.

   I set the matches and the photos down on the desk.

   No. I’m not going to burn these photos. And I don’t want them. They’re fakes.

   The woman laughs like I’ve hit her hard with a funny stick.

   With her head thrown back, I realize how long her neck is. Almost unnaturally so.

   They’re fakes, are they?

   Yes, I say. They’re not originals. And I want my money back.

   You never paid.

   The woman’s response throws me for a loop. I was sure I had paid.

   I didn’t pay anything?

   Nothing at all. Now, I want you to balance in tree pose.

   This time I did what I was told straightaway. I got into tree pose. I felt shaky, as my arms branched upward. I wobbled—left-right, left-right—and then lost my balance. I was immensely frustrated. As if I had failed a major test.

   Relax, the woman spoke in a soft voice. Then she laid her hand on my shoulder. The feel of her fingers pressing into my shoulder made me want to cry. And try again. So I did. And quickly lost my balance.

  Remember, the woman said, staying perfectly balanced is not the key. Restoring oneself to balance after you’ve faltered . . . that’s the deal.

   I stayed in the studio all night. Doing lots of things that the woman suggested. I entrusted myself to her care and guidance. There were various asanas, running in place, push-ups, breathing exercises, board games, finger-painting, crossword puzzles. And the burning of photos. A lot of childhood photos were burned that night.

   When morning came, I didn’t want to leave the studio and re-enter the real world. And I didn’t have to. There was no studio. I found myself standing on a wooden bridge, the cool wind nipping at my cheeks. I had no idea where I was, how had I gotten there, and where I was going. I was on my way.

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Blue Boy

   There’s something wrong with him, my father said. Look at him. Something’s not right. Something happened to him. He’s sick. All he thinks about is writing. That’s all he thinks about. He is blue.

   Even though I wasn’t there, I heard my father. And took perverse pride in what he said about me. All I thought about was writing. I was sick. I was blue.

   This meant I had gone over to the other side. Completely. I had gone and was not coming back. The tether had been cut. I was now completely possessed by my demon-lover, Writing. She wouldn’t let me go. I wouldn’t let her go. There was symbiotic clinging. Desperate, clawing need.

   My father was right. Something had gone out of me. Something vital. And it wasn’t coming back.

   I took a job at Duane Reade. No one told me what my duties were. I just started doing stuff. Mostly I moved items around on the shelves, trying to look busy. That, and I dusted the shelves. Somehow I was in possession of a feather duster.

   While I was dusting, the store manager asked me if I could work tomorrow night. I gave it some thought. I tried to think of reasons why I couldn’t work tomorrow night, but just wound up saying—I’m not interested in your offer. The store manager’s thin dark severe eyebrows jumped to the middle of her forehead. Do you even want this job, she asked me.

   I gave it some thought. Yes, I said, but only on a part-time trial basis. Maybe a couple of days a week. We’ll see how it goes.

   The store manager nodded curtly and walked away. How could she fire me? I couldn’t even remember having been hired. What was I doing at Duane Reade dusting shelves and reorganizing their inventory?

   At one point, I stopped working and stepped outside through the back door. There was a breathtaking nightline view of the city. Everything was lit up, with a resplendence that evoked the nostalgia of old movies. It was New York, through a Hollywood lens, in the 1930s or 40s.

   My heart went out to that city, but the rest of me returned to Duane Reade. I picked up my feather duster and went back to work. I knew that I was between worlds. A decision would have to be made soon.

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Four from Moonglow

Four of the poems from Moonglow on Mercy Street, appearing in the latest installment of Riot Material.

moonglow-on-mercy-street-book-by-john-biscello-copy

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Moonglow Reading

An invitation to join me at mi casa this Sunday, January 17th @ 4pm (MT), as I will be doing a live Zoom reading from my new book of poetry, Moonglow on Mercy Street. 

This event is part of the SOMOS Poetry Salon Series. During the reading, there will be trivia opportunities to win free, signed copies of Moonglow. 

Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/5757580081?pwd=SnZncXlvUUZPY3F3OEhyOXM3TnVxQT09

MOONGLOW ON MERCY STREET: These fifty poems, most of them written in 2020, comprise a kaleidoscopic palette of tones, moods and styles, in crafting living mythology from the world at large and within. Metamorphic bop, scat-alchemy, bare bones blues and gospel, love songs and odes, pagan pop, and cinematic remixes, make of Moonglow on Mercy Street a free-range concert aimed at the imagination and the senses. And, as a lyrical pilgrimage fueled by hope and wonder, it stands as a shining testament to Henry Miller’s claim that “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

 

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State of Address

A salon. After hours. Dimly lit.

We see a red styling chair. Behind it are a counter and a wide mounted mirror. In the right upper-corner of the frame there are dismembered mannequins set against a wall.

The salon OWNER, a woman with fashionably short hair, enters the frame, sweeping the floor.

The sound of a door opening, faint sound of traffic in the background.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN enters. The stovepipe hat, the beard, the coat, the whole Lincoln bit.

LINCOLN nods to the OWNER, who gestures toward a chair.

LINCOLN takes off his hat and coat, sets them down on a table.

He proceeds to sit down in the chair which is set against a sink, facing backwards.

The OWNER turns on the water, then eases LINCOLN’S head back, his neck slotted in the cleft built into the sink.

The OWNER rinses LINCOLN’S hair, massages his scalp. She applies shampoo to LINCOLN’S hair, repeats the rinsing and massaging.

When she is done she towels off LINCOLN’S head and gestures toward the red styling chair.

LINCOLN goes to the chair and sits down. The owner covers LINCOLN with a smock.

The OWNER turns on the radio. Albinoni’s “Adagio in G Minor” is playing.

The OWNER gives LINCOLN a haircut. When the haircut is done, she prepares a hot towel and places it over LINCOLN’S face. She removes the towel and proceeds to give him a straight razor shave.

After the shave the OWNER gets down on her knees, between LINCOLN’S legs, wrangles his dick out from his zipper, and gives him a blowjob.

When she is done she rises to standing and wipes at her mouth.

The OWNER exits the frame.

Lingering shot of LINCOLN slumped in his chair, eyes closed, “Adagio” still playing.

LINCOLN gets up, puts on his coat and hat and exits the frame.

Lingering shot of the chair, the counter, the mirror, the mannequins.

Sound of a gunshot, a body thudding against the floor.

“Adagio” is suddenly washed out by static.

The OWNER re-enters the frame, turns the dial.

We hear Lincoln’s voice, in scratchy-time-weathered audio.

LINCOLN

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

(Dead air, popping and crackling with fuzz)

LINCOLN

(scratch-repeating, techno stutter-effect)

I-I-I-I-I

do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided.

(Electronic lounge beats kick in)

The OWNER goes offscreen, re-enters with a broom in hand, begins sweeping.

Electronic lounge plays as she sweeps up.

From the far-right corner, we see dark blood seeping into the frame.

FINIS

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On the Nature of Daydreaming

In America,

daydreaming is fast becoming

an anachronism,

and endangered species,

with its habitats

being destroyed,

and its numbers in the wild

decreasing at an alarming pace.

Which raises the question–

What would daydreaming’s extinction

mean in relation

to the internal travel industry

as a whole,

and will its ghostly echoes

reverberate within

a stream of celibate downloads,

upon which the birth of Imagination, reconceived,

swaps slow, sovereign wandering

for breakneck usage rate?

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A Love Poem

There are some lovers who,

in the spacious means

allotted by respect,

green toward one another,

as gardens

hold reams of moonlight,

without constraint

or undue possession.

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