Preview of Unsaid Six: People on My Breath, by Rick Poinsett

JOHN

They lied? They lied? Okay. Do you know what a lie is? Do you know what a lie does to the social fabric of La Rez? A lie limbers one’s manhood, puts one in the Mahmood for love with anyone who can be bought off to fudge the results of John’s tox-screen.

Sire, you are no sovereign. We tire lately of your popgun sanctimony, your Sauconys, your bony-assed profligacy. Louse is the plural of lice, so to speak. Louise is the Grolier’s chief arsonist. And you couldn’t fog a barn’s broadside with the business end of a jetpack. A beaning, a bashing, a clocking, a clique. It’s true: people just click their thick tongues and comb through the abridged Catullus for his culinary hearsay regarding gourds. Tell us, Private Snowball, when your clitoral pearl is about to blab, to blubber, where will it tickle you—which of your blisters will you wish was the world’s rawest bunion?

What we call “Horse Country” today was once referred to as “John’s spare john in the neighboring apartment.” Or, even more laboriously: “the place no woman enters without becoming a godless girlchild again.” Thank the stars for Horse Country.

Like a nightjar in a gin mill, a sundae shaking off its pox of rainbow jimmies, like a toy conifer uprooted from its airy mound of icing…

The new news is great and all, but you are still at large. And I for one won’t be sleeping any easier until they run you to ground and slap the bracelets on, or zipper you into a dirt nap mummy bag.

John: White Afrikaner, Black Heart. John is “justice” in Afrikaans. As Shelby Foote put it, “Butter doesn’t melt in his mouth.” John is in the pill-grinding grip of the Arab Spring, a ragamuffin princeling, playing the clerics against oil-rich carbon brokers in the West. What’s next for this pervert, this bloodless profiteer?

A malcontent Jamaican street youth in the 60’s, John was lieutenant of the subculture that would come to be known as the Rude Boys.

The anticipated date of John’s peak maturity is nearing. The dingus will be brought to him and placed at his feet. He knows the burden of sin’s thousand-fold disgraces. He knows illiteracy is manhood’s handmaiden. Even god looks good in his girlfriend’s underwear. John keeps America primed for a boneless future of chick fillets, pork fritters—all that glistens, all that glitters.

John, again. His economic recovery is breeding his neighbors right out of existence. Their tots lick his beer cans in obeisance, noblesse oblige. When John is electioneering at dressage tourneys, his patrons are salting away their blacklung’d dead for the lean times. John’s folks considered it a social blight that their boys be seen pushing a lawnmower. Cause then that it be another’s business. Our boys’ business is BUSINESS, and death has been good to us. Goo has been red to us for eons and our green is evergreen, Episcopalian, sailin’ on summer breezes like that commie David Crosby’s Southern Cross. When you see the Southern Cross for the first time, look well astern of the cordage’s ribsy shadows, brown bodies bobbing in its wake. It’s morning again in John’s America of crypto-Reaganomics. Finally it’s his turn to bloody the public fountains, to stick a little of his bread in that gravy while it’s still hot. Where were you looking, John, when the Romanian gymnasts sold their asses to a pervy Jap? What part of your part in it all did you get wrong?

Let’s try another. In this one John is armed, looking from a duck-blind into the endless overlapping leafiness in KY’s low country. Be realistic, and be warned. The Fort’s Commerce Dept. plans to convene a taskforce of forensic accountants to crawl up the backside of the dark side of that gin-mill you and Corey call “the world’s navel”, willing and able, the talk of the town. John and Corey. If one had a list of all the safewords these two have used over the years, it would read like the unconscious confessions of a hunger-striking sylph held hostage in a boulangerie. It’s the same old cliche, “is that a woman or a Mayan? I don’t think they’ll make the parish line.” The truth you might be running from is so small. Think about how many times you have fallen. Even the enemy’s unclean gods look good in your girlfriend’s underwear—but they cannot save YOU.

John is a mouth-breather, a leather fiend, a cheese eater, a tit man, a fan of frijoles negros, a backup roadie in Toot Sweets’ brass band tour of the motherless South, a lawn jockey polishing croquet balls out back of Georgia O’Keefe’s adobe atelier. John’s a grief junky, a sock monkey’s seminal best chance at motherhood. Pillows have been bitten within his legal domain. Rats fuck. Hens cluck. Ex-cons do it family style in the toilet stalls his toughs are paid to police. Ryan Evans still takes it “Kelsey Style” in the Isle de France—now a mile-high clubber wildly behind in his dues. John parks his camper in the dunes and does his best to undo thousands of years of deglaciation. John likes hoofing a nice, slow samba in his camp-moccasins for the right combo of braided inflatables. He scrambles jet squads to keep Reagan’s tomb safe for his nephews’ relics.

More in the coming weeks on John, John’s weaknesses; John, the modern day Lee Atwater on the side of the angels, this so-called “Atwater Angelicus”. This J.C., this political greyhand (almost Lincolnian in bearing) who delivered a deeply bruised cutlet in a buttonless blue blouse to the RNC HQ of his native Indiana.

John Blondell. The bruiser from Worcester. Iconoclasm’s undentable idol. His metal has shape memory—even if the grog has robbed his lost dog of it. Animals. Animalia. I tell my cat—Guy deBored—that his tail sometimes strikes me as snakelike, that his tail looks like a snake’s tail. Guy says, “Snakes don’t have tails. A snake is all tail, no snake.” Better than Yoda. John, keep this in mind as you tomcat it around La Rez tonight: only the left-leaning left-behind burden Monday’s morality with Saturday’s unclean pretensions.

John is a propertied man, and very clannish. Cadaverous before two—childless until seven. He’s a spokes-bot for the Me Generation. When John was in cha-cha land, he let his fiddler roll. He’s a darling of NPR, billed thereon as a “mid-western gothic folklorist”. His fingernails are ghastly, ghostly—like chrysanthemum petals fallen onto petit fours of frozen blood. His name was a war cry in Cabrini-Green. Now that the Dash 7 has touched down on a clean stretch of ‘cago tarmac, here are a couple more: Steve Albini’s praise for John’s melodic bombast—and his grill work—are a matter of record. Of John,

Studs Turkel quipped, “After jawing with that guy for a couple hours, I came away feeling almost goddamn Randian by comparison.” John likes a napkin in the collar and a napkin in the lap. This way the side-projects have plenty of sailcloth. He is regularly, ritually concussed, stating—with ludic esprit—that concussions “resurrect my dead Pligrim. They balance my ab-Norma psyche. They are a kind of Ablution, set to the tune of ‘Rib Room Jezebel Uber Alles.'”

John has always been a steward of the Tradition of Radical Poesy—not unlike the Stewarts of Covington Lake, the old guard, Big Nance bringing up the rear, bedecked in plaid. John would like to see her grandkids grace the banquet platters in Chad. He’s begun passing on some other things, too—beyond the low-grade v.d.’s that are coin-of-the-realm among his crew. He’s started sharing a bit of the age’s visionary freight with select youngsters. “Now look at the sunlight, read it, morbidity as optical code. Most everyone just lets the TV or the calendar tell them what spirit the days have. But look at that light. Things are shutting down, man. Call it summer if you want to. Summer sneaking away between the headstones for one last piss in the yews.

DAVID

David, David, David.

Always some hare-brained scheme or another.

It is one thing to engage in badinage with these beardless youths, but some of what you say could so easily be misunderstood, misused by the tentacular feds like so many dead serums from last flu season. Think back on your days in the clink. An ace street-shrink on ice—you were missed. It’s legacy time now, baby. How about a little less cafe au lait and a bit more of that vanguard backcountry sagaciousness we could all use in this our summer of the Muslim Spring.

People are always asking me how they might accelerate their understanding of Davy Mac. So here it is, here’s how I did it—and today, with the ease of access to televisory archives it’s easier than ever to earn your Ph.Dave. Simply commit to emotional memory the plotlines and themes of these two landmark TV series: “Fame” and “The Waltons.” I recommend studying the programs in alternating doses, one Walton, one Fame, and so on—a technique termed elsewhere as “the zipper effect.” To strain a metaphor, I’m not sure if it’s a body-bag being referenced here, or David’s vast record of sexual success. In any event it should become clear after only a couple viewing cycles what an important portal onto Big D.’s soul these series can be—bucolic thrift and wholesomeness vs. urbanely puerile artistic ambition; home-schooling and patchy overalls vs. electric pink spandex and ethnic teens bejeweled with dog collars. These and countless other warring images and ideologies are key to understanding D. Mac’s wantonness and wizardry.

David braves the heat and comes within a breath’s width of moral imprisonment. David, behave, be hearty. Halve your breadfruit to cover the voyage. Your goyim will come of age. David caves. He’s blessed, prepossessed. David aspires to a blanker, more brutish knavery. No navy would have him. Not too lazy, not pelt-clad, not booby-footed on a ropewalker’s roof-deck. No cannery would can him. Not yet. Fret.

David is a spritely conversationalist, and heir of the arch 80’s Dangerfieldian repartee. My wife’s name is Jen. He asked me if Jen wasn’t perhaps “short for genitalia?” Adding, “if it is, that’s cool ’cause genitalia is something I’m nice and long on.” Charm city, blown in from Whispering Pines.

David drinks now mostly with the after-work crowd—somehow identifying—through his leisure—with labor’s exhaustion, its relief and glory in a pint. It is of course their labor which underwrites his self-indulgence, the time and space he uses to perfect himself, the time and space he and they—working together, in a sense—endow him with. The “sudsy subsidy” he calls it. Calumny so call it the Soothsayers.

David is the maidenhead of a tramp steamer anchored half a click beyond the eel-rich shoals of the Cote d’Avid. Spume salts the forecastle, the launch’s oarlocks are embrittled, groaning. A merman farts twenty yards astern and the sailor on watch pulses about, panicky. Time to balm your boots’ apple-blight. Belowdecks the human freight is furring and your Birmingham irons are cladding them a little looser each day. Seawolf, Nautilus, none of them or their supernumerary crew will lead-proof you. Whatever desperate mischief is being cooked up down there, it is not the stuff of a troubled black metal-head teen circa ’79. This homesick fearsome cargo is black like me. Things have settled real fucking far from remedial. Blood calls for blood.

I like David’s royal unresponsiveness to these texts. Of course, if I had a nanny-goat’s teat cycloptically grafted to my forehead, and said tit was bikini’d in a vet’s gangrenous arm-sling—and if Dave thought there was the slimmest chance to plant that echoless divot aka his mouth around that tit, those old niggardly thumbs would be pecking the keypad overtime in reply.

David waves alike to all the goners and to those fighting to make the world safe for gynecocracy: palms faceward, wrists twitching, imperious, sissified. Reptilian webbing ‘twixt the fingers. The purple and gilt maturity of self-knowledge. Titular loftiness sans title. He knows who he is and where his vitality deserves application. Let Rick go all impish Boswellian on me. But why the strained embellishment, why the mean fiction—when the concrete unadorned FACTS of my person are replete with apocrypha? Well. The facts would come off as cartoonish if forced on just about anybody else. No one should even want to contend with the wreck of coolness I wake to four days a week. Could use a forklift—shit, the cool. Because I got out, lived and loved in the city where Jim Jones handpicked his last batch of American veggies, his own empurpled agency to the stars. My god did he live—and love. As I’ve loved. It’s masculine to be moved by music in a mascot town. I like telling my own story. I’m not some curly-fry cook or some credit score—I’m DAVID.

In the house of seven Davels all Davel-bodied men are henpecked beyond all earthly measure. But this evening David is prince of the deck. Better not be there after sundown.

The bongo, the tambourine, Ben Kenobi, Ben Vereen. These are David’s war persona and the instruments by which they are presaged, licked to life in death’s experimental dream theatre of the mind. The thing to know about David is that David knows what’s literature and what ain’t. And it isn’t a matter of taste—any more than, say, a beast of prey weighs taste when considering a kill. The beast David has become simply knows the difference—lives on the difference—between nourishment and filler, Phyllis Fondiller, the difference between blow-holes and gill-slits in a torch lined slough of hell’s last abattoir. All true, but he’s a bit of a twat too—because in his own art he never risks the frivolous, never breaks character, always skimming along side-saddle—and on time—to the church of profundity’s nutless understatement.

The Oak Room in which David dwells is only oak in the same way that asphalt is the no-fault asscrack of a chambermaid in Minsk. In other words, David is about as exotic as a doughnut in Arkansas. Do you know how many mangy burros have forsaken sex until David re-inserts his sweetness into NYC’s beery blood drive? David aphid. He is here to prune back the promotional fescue, salve the burns. He’s a cabana-boy’s cabana boy. Ascot patcher to the Nazarene paterfamilias. Darn my stockings, sucka. De-grease the seat of my riding britches. Hey David, when you die can I take over the payments of your cellphone plan so I can keep cyber-bullying you from beyond the grave?

David averts uterine catastrophe by way of a timely, taut colostomy bag—well placed. I have no opinions about that, I have neoprene footsies more vexing than your yard-art homages to de Kooning, d’Arte Sauvage. Classless. Citified. How much longer will you allow the unglamorous to be entertained—edified, in fact—by glamor? How much deflationary wonder fluff can you refill the asylum’s mattresses with? The bone-setter’s talents have gone rubbery with drink. Sorriest rube to ever bang a bent chassis back into the true. Clout-conscious rose of Killarney. Words like “berm” and “buffant”. “Antwerp” and “purgative”. They are no anthem but you can’t do this in music. It’s why women don’t like it. How better to tease ova from the mucousy deep?—the world’s original crusty spittoon. How better to butter a burn in the arctic summer’s impossible dark? Pencils down, radio on. Radio ON. Music my peter, litre by litre. Lyric the ladies’ holsters with prewar gun songs. Sling slaw on a liner beached ten slips from its native pier. Discover Michigan—David’s Michigan of Belle Michele and beet meat, subcultural off-ramps, pop-operas, dirge arias, I, Clavdivs-inspired can-can numbers—and all tenor of venality not known to the Hispanically reclaimed soccer fields of NC.

David’s handle on the counterespionage circuit Davey Cave Canum. His paymaster crushes boxes out back of Payless. He has a zero-tolerance policy for farts that have a so-called “uneducated” quality. For him there’s no better sex than the arrhythmic crush of man and woman ringed by coppers in riot-gear slapping their nightsticks in the gloved palm opposite. Drink it off, David, drink it off cleaner than a hound’s tooth. And don’t give me any more shit about the unaffordability of the text. Your kind killed the text, and all its dubious pleasure, its wing’d minions bridging Mammon and Marmaduke. You are not the first savant to staple the panic button to a lambchop—just the first I’ve met. Congratulations.

JASON

“I decided long ago never to blacken anybody’s mamba.”

I’ve long ago blackened everybody’s mamba.

Jason. You speak of “invisible chains” binding your wrists to your ankles.

You speak of racy female undergarments clogging the exhaust manifolds and gumming up the break assemblies of every touring vehicle that’s ferried you from gig to gag.

You live and you love.

You wear your humbleness like Adam Ant wore his cropped tee-shirts.

Why can’t you confess to being part of the American sickness, to being heir to one of the engineers of its peculiar overbite and bile?

Most of the art you honor has a place in the marketplace. Or it seeks a place in the marketplace. It LIKES validation, an audience, visibility, people.

I am working on things that are immune to human praise. Tree frog canvasses. Centipede torch songs. That’s artistic fearlessness, art made for an audience immune to marketing. Could there be a clearer confession of anthropocentric insecurity than this, the fact that musicians keep playing their music for people? People brush their pets’ teeth with toothpaste made by people—and no one sees the weirdness of it all. Jason, do you have the courage to brush your teeth with toothpaste made for people by retired dray horses? I just bought life insurance for my niece from a company originated and staffed entirely by snow leopards. PEOPLE (like you) think that’s foolish. But that’s what love is, the new LOVE.

Do you have the courage to stage a show that forbids admittance to anybody who is not an aardvark? Of course you don’t. You are STILL part of that sad old creative platoon that needs to entertain its own. And you wonder why the whole of existence has issued divorce proceedings against your ass?

Maybe I’m having a gynecological response to an experience which only requires an emotional response, but, without the capacity to generate appropriate emotions, this is all I can muster. And although in our social interactions it is true that I suffer perpetually from what Freud termed Witzelsucht, or, the joking disease, I have considered your performance here in earnest and posed the following questions in earnest. If you would respond with equal earnestness to at least a few of my points I would be most appreciative.

Is this music the kind of thing that’s really only for other musicians?

Is this the kind of music that’s more fun to perform than to listen to?

Do you feel music that doesn’t sound like yours is weak, and does it deserve the peculiar punishment the strong reserve for the weak? Or could one’s artistic pleasures really be broader than the art one makes?

Isn’t part of the challenge of being an artist to make things that are fascist-proof, in other words, things that could in no way be co-opted by fascists? In other words, could you really persuade yourself, for example, that no skinheads could find anything inspirational or attractive about the sound of your music? Is your art therefore politically irresponsible? Are you perhaps a crypto-nazi? The bombast of your music, the extreme volume which annihilates thought, are these not elements of fascist anthems? My art (in part) seeks to expose and humiliate my inner fascist, whereas yours seems to celebrate your fascism. If so, fine. But have the courage not to confine your fascism to your art, have the courage to live it in social and/or political reality.

Is this music the sonic equivalent of the torturer’s unclean exhilaration as he lashes his prone and squirming victim?

Is it music meant to persuade Jesse of your masculinity? Or, another way to ask the same thing, is it music meant to persuade the gods of your potency?

If the lives of everyone you love depended upon you making and maintaining a shrine in your home to honor me or Jesse, you would choose Jesse and in so doing you would be choosing correctly. But what are some of the reasons that lie behind this supremely correct choice? Please help me understand Jesse’s shrine-worthiness, and why is Jesse ready to accept shrines in his honor? And what kind of person accepts as a friend someone who is ripe to be treated as a deity?

Is it music made by people to which bad things happened in a quiet and music-less place FOR people to which bad things happened in a quiet and music-less place? Is music of this volume, vigor and darkness a kind of sonic amulet worn against the fears—past and present—of the performers and audience alike?

Addendum, 17 Sept. 2010, Brooklyn, NY: Considering the cruel inclemency of yesterday, occurring as it did one week after the performance of Hallux, was this storm not nature’s coda to y’all’s music? As if perhaps nature itself felt provoked, rivaled, and so musicked the winds into something unrealized by Hallux, a cockless masculinity that knows no shame?

PATRICK

“How do you thank someone who’s taken you from crayons to perfume?”

Pat’s politics are a pileup of boeuf tongue grazed on lavender. The reek of Pat is a foretaste of the twister’s aftermath. Pat’s a polymath packrat batboy safecracker. Pat’s a pill, Pat’s a pinhead. Olbermann is on call as Pat’s orificial bullhorn. Porn peppers Pat’s sisterless past in San Fran. Pat sans beard? Now that’s wack. While boning up on the ivory trade Pat takes alternating pulls from port and dry sack. Obama as the Beatles comes to receive counsel from Pat in clogs and a caftan. Pat preens for an unfolding barbarism that flattens him whole. Rack of Pat. Rack of Pat, please. The mockup of Pat’s tombstone is heavy with latrinalia. Pat’s dishwater is the netherworld’s mat-shot. We are not married, so why does Pat lie to me? Pat spends more and more time in his off-hours playing lollipop with his dad’s old service revolver. Mallowmars are the form mold takes in Pat’s dream of a Patless future. Pat lays a slim ribbon of ketchup the length of each fry. Pat lies in 90’s-era black slang to tell Belarus’ truth, believing it his truth, and thus cosmic, a colonic, an untapped firkin of faux blood fueling his Papa’s funny car. There are no fathers, Pat—only fatherhood, the dim dynamism of fluid bearing us all, adagio, into the Patless future. Pat flatters defanged tomcats with his toothy appeals to home school dentistry. Pat’s dead pets hold a vigil for his stepbrother’s sex life. Pat’s dream pony refuses to canter. Pat prefers a decanter to a samovar—it’s complicated. No itch ever had a Pat that Pat couldn’t scratch. It’s good to establish a safeword before tangling with old Pat. It’s good to Pat-proof your dignity before entering into any kind of friendship with old Pat. Ton-dar is Pat’s ancestral pronunciation of thunder. Pat ambles unmothered from wound to wound. Pat’s legacy of tough love leaves him cornered in spots from which love’s riches recoil. Pat has Roman hands and rushin’ fingers. Pat has a hamper. Pat’s genius is vouchsafed in cupid’s undescended testicle. Pat is chieftain of a defunct fromagerie. The bawds of Whippany never stacked grief higher than Pat’s austere ankle tat. Mistah Pat, he sheds. Pat the palmist. Pat the mist. Play misty for me, Pat. And play it slow, charmer. I doubt the airworthiness of Pat’s prognostications. Pat’s the kind of woman who’s locked in a blood-feud with her roommate over the last of the Vagisil. Pat likes people who like to have a good time and are up for anything. Sleep can never get too much of Pat. Pat’s really only another vic of the sys, overcaffeinated, emoting behind the babyweight. If in the dream the anteater eats order, it would starve eating Pat.

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One Response to Preview of Unsaid Six: People on My Breath, by Rick Poinsett

  1. tandy says:

    Happy birthday, Rick.

    brijin_hales@cds.ed.cr

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