Sunday, August 21, 2011


“what’s all this living for, anyway?”
-ancient Sufi proverb

Well, here we are again,
drinking beer on the far, bright shore
of 39th and Bell (a.k.a. the palatial front porch
of Prospero’s Bookstore) when, suddenly,
the rooster ring-tone of my cell-phone
goes off and it’s mom calling
(all the way from Salina, KS) to tell me
there’s a big, ugly storm marauding
our way (as if we couldn’t see the signs, ourselves,
but I say, “thanks anyway, Ma.
Tell Dad he still owes me a twenty for that
Royals/Red Sox game last week. Have a good night.”)

But it does get me to pondering out-loud
if this year or maybe the next could be
the year that the Hillbilly Christian Rapture,
the second American Civil War and/or
that giant meteor people have been talking about
for years now (like a frustrated lover just about
to go crazy or give it up) finally comes.

I suppose, in the meantime,
we (meaning, this time, Johanson and Cunnyngham,
Whitehead, Leathem and me) should just keep on
keepin’ on with our usual any-given-night-of-
the-week routine: talking politics, movies
and books, telling tall tales of wildly glorious
misfortunes and tragi-comic misadventures
from the sunny slopes of long ago,
gawking at girls (of often dangerously
indeterminate ages) as they parade
and runway by, even occasionally betting on
the erratic behavior of cockroaches
to see who buys the next twelve pack.

Damn. How many years have we been at this?
How many years has some more or less
unwaveringly consistent variation
of this particular street corner court
been holding forth?

How is it a year ago feels like a decade
while some half-remembered something or other
that happened ten years back
somehow seems like... yesterday.

And here we are, the five of us,

afloat and adrift in that nebulous neutral zone
between “not as dumb as I used to be” and
some girl saying, “you’re just a little too old for me,”
between the Bloomsbury Group and The Lost Boys,
between the Isle of Davos and The Island Of Misfit Toys.

And, like the overgrown Peter Parker/college kid/as of yet
still undiscovered artistes we may very well be,
we’ll probably keep on keepin’ the faith for as long
as we’re breathing (at least without a tank).

And, like that much misunderstood, much maligned
Frankenstein of our generation, Roy Batty, we will
probably be left desperately wanting “more life, fuckers”
when our custom designed carriages and rickshaws
come to carry us off, respectively, to the Big Who Knows Where?

And besides, what the hell else are we gonna do with our time?

Meanwhile, back down here at the ground-zero/cross-hairs
of the Big Here and Now, the crew has somehow
spontaneously multiplied into a crowd
and there seems to be a heated debate going down about
who would win in a fight between Magneto and Doctor Doom.

And someone’s pulled out the ever-reliable
Kennedy Trail of The Dead (and maybe even a little
something about the admittedly inherent mysteries
of Building 7) while someone else is taking bets
on which Righteous Culture Warrior/Clown
the Republicans are gonna be bat-shit crazy enough
to even think about nominating.

And the sky suddenly goes all charcoal/chiaroscuro.

And the first drop of rain
hits the sidewalk with a sizzling pop.

And the thunder comes out
like someone’s strict father model of a God
took a drunken tumble
down a long flight of stairs.

And the stars

and the crickets

must surely be right, once again.

-Jason Ryberg, 2012

Friday, August 12, 2011


On 52nd Street

Down sat Bud, raised his hands, 

the Deuces silenced, the lights
lowered, and breath gathered
for the coming storm. Then nothing,
not a single note. Outside starlight
from heaven fell unseen, a quarter-
moon, promised, was no show,
ditto the rain. Late August of '50,
NYC, the long summer of abundance
and our new war. In the mirror behind
the bar, the spirits—imitating you—
stared at themselves. At the bar
the tenor player up from Philly, shut
his eyes and whispered to no one,
"Same thing last night." Everyone
been coming all week long
to hear this. The big brown bass
sighed and slumped against
the piano, the cymbals held
their dry cheeks and stopped
chicking and chucking. You went
back to drinking and ignored
the unignorable. When the door
swung open it was Pettiford
in work clothes, midnight suit,
starched shirt, narrow black tie,
spit shined shoes, as ready
as he'd ever be. Eyebrows
raised, the Irish bartender
shook his head, so Pettiford eased
himself down at an empty table,
closed up his Herald Tribune,
and shook his head. Did the TV
come on, did the jukebox bring us
Dinah Washington, did the stars
keep their appointments, did the moon
show, quartered or full, sprinkling
its soft light down? The night's
still there, just where it was, just
where it'll always be without
its music. You're still there too
holding your breath. Bud walked out.

-Philip Levine

Monday, August 8, 2011


Alien Life Forms Everywhere You Intend To Go,
These Days-a sing along for the whole family!

Mama seems preoccupied, not herself, guess Daddy's been remiss

in ejecting foreign armies

from Mama's

military terrain.

Proud son one lost all rationality

this morning

when a cryptic strange glowing purple light

engulfed him.

Makes me want to stay in my room.

Staying in one's room

too long

(especially on a beautiful blue day)

is frowned upon

by supposedly reasonable

men and women.

I haven't met a man or woman

capable of any reason

in days.

Reason is boring.

People love to scream, slobber, vent, gnash, snarl,


all in the name


calmed nuance.

As if they were

inhabited by

Alien Life Forms Everywhere

You Intend To Go.

I intend going nowhere,


am open to going


Where would you endorse i go?

Don't say hell,

as 4 people already have pushed that option button.

Hell's overrated.

Satan's old, really not agile enough to

be able to do all the horrible deeds

his contract calls for.

Satan will have to turn over his kingdom

to new younger blood.

And if Satan is unable to meet his commitments,

the whole equation topples.

If Satan is physically unable to play his part,

that of the Evil doer

of all evil makeovers and dos,

than what good would a slick Rick Perry be?

Rick is muy macho, Texas T style.

He could very well be the new feisty younger Satan.

I'm going to vote for him.

Slick Rick knows his Tricks!

I bow down.

As for Satan?

Get your walker, dad.

Go to your room.

We'll see you get fed, somehow.

The caregiver will be here soon.

The care, the care, the care...

the empathy, the empathy, the empathy...


you can no longer get an abortion-if you try,we'll kill you.

you can't get birth control-if you try, we'll kill you.

you can't sue polluters-if you try, we'll kill you.

all public schools will close. if they don't=we'll kill them.

you can't sue wall street-if you try, we'll kill you.

we'll find jobs for you-if we don't,we'll kill you.

in fact you can have rick perry's job.

you wanna be governor of texas?

rick's moving up

taking over satan's lead spot on the roster.

i'm going down the line.

don't know what's hanging there.

maybe something good.

maybe not.

the Job Providers just kicked in my door.

We just provided a job for a door doctor, they sang.

the door doctor

wobbles through

about 45 minutes later.

he could be Milburn Stone.

which was your favorite patient?

i asked,

as he gave my door mouth-to-mouth.

John Densmore is super cool,

doc replied.

Alien Life Forms must pay taxes, too!!!

No more loopholes

for UFO


Mama's growing a 2nd head.

Daddy's not equipped to handle this

breaking news.

One head was way too much

for him



Please help my Daddy successfully assimilate Mama's new 2nd head.

Maybe Slick Rick can toss an extra prayer my

Daddy's way.

The eyes of Texas they have glorious irises.

Iris, hello, it's been awhile.

-Scott Wannberg

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Erstwhile Harbinger Auspices

Erstwhile means long time gone.
A harbinger is sent before to help,
and also a sign of things
to come. Like this blue
stapler I bought at Staples.
Did you know in ancient Rome
priests called augurs studied
the future by carefully watching
whether birds were flying
together or alone, making what
honking or beeping noises
in what directions? It was called
the auspices. The air
was thus a huge announcement.
Today it’s completely
transparent, a vase. Inside it
flowers flower. Thus
a little death scent. I have
no master but always wonder,
what is making my master sad?
Maybe I do not know him.
This morning I made extra coffee
for the beloved and covered
the cup with a saucer. Skeleton
I thought, and stay
very still, whatever it was
will soon pass by and be gone.

- Matthew Zapruder