Plays: 22

I Had a Truly Horrible Dream Last Night - The Misery of Genius: Hunter S. Thompson

Electricity 

(They laughed at Thomas Edison.)

It has been raining a lot recently. Quick thunderstorms and flash floods…lightning at night and fear in the afternoon. People are worried about electricity.

Nobody feels safe. Fires burst out on dry hillsides, raging out of control, while dope fiends dance in the rancid smoke and animals gnaw each other. Foreigners are everywhere, carrying pistols and bags of money. There are rumors about murder and treachery and women with no pulse. Crime is rampant and even children are losing their will to live.

The phones go dead and power lines collapse, whole families plunged into darkness with no warning at all. People who used to be in charge walk around wall-eyed, with their hair standing straight up on end looking like they work for Don King, and babbling distractedly about their hearts humming like stun guns and trying to leap out of their bodies like animals trapped in bags.

People get very conscious of electricity when it goes sideways and starts to act erratic…eerie blackouts, hissing, and strange shocks from the toilet bowl, terrifying power surges that make light bulbs explode and fry computer circuits that are not even plugged in…The air crackles around your head and you take a jolt every time you touch yourself. Your lawyer burns all the hair off his body when he picks up the cordless phone to dial 911.

Nobody can handle electricity run amok. It is too powerful…Ben Franklin was never able to lock a door again after the day lightning came down his kite string and fused that key to his thumb. They called it a great discovery and they called him a great scientist; but, in fact, he bawled like a baby for the rest of his life every time he smelled rain in the air.

I find myself jerking instinctively into the classic self-defense stance of a professional wire wizard every time I hear rain on the roof. That is an atavistic tic that I picked up many years ago in my all-night advanced intelligence electronics class at Scott AFB, on the outskirts of east St. Louis — where I also learned about pawnshops, oscillators, and full-bore lying as a natural way of life.

The stance was the first thing we learned, and we learned it again every day for a long, crazy year. It is as basic to working with serious electricity as holding your breath is to working underwater….

Lock one hand behind your back before you touch anything full of dissatisfied voltage — even a failed light bulb — because you will almost certainly die soon if you don’t.

Electricity is neutral. It doesn’t want to kill you, but it will if you give it a chance. Electricity wants to go home, and to find a quick way to get there — and it will.

Electricity is always homesick. It is lonely. But it is also lazy. It is like a hillbilly with a shotgun and a jug of whiskey gone mad for revenge on some enemy — a fatal attraction, for sure - but he won’t go much out of his way to chase the bugger down if ambush looks a lot easier.

Why prowl around and make a spectacle of yourself when you can lay in wait under some darkened bridge and swill whiskey like a troll full of hate until your victim appears — drunk and careless and right on schedule — so close that you almost feel embarrassed about pulling the trigger.

That is how electricity likes to work. It has no feelings except loneliness, laziness, and a hatred of anything that acts like resistance…like a wharf rat with its back to the wall — it won’t fight unless it has to, but then it will fight to the death.

Electricity is the same way: it will kill anything that gets in its way once it thinks it sees a way to get home quick….

Zaaappp!

Right straight up your finger and through your heart and your chest cavity and down the other side.

Anything that gives it an escape route. Anything — iron, wire, water, flesh, ganglia — that will take it where it must go, with the efficiency of gravity or the imperative of salmon swimming upriver…. And it wants the shortest route — which is not around a corner and through a muscle mass in the middle of your back, but it will go that way if it has to.

Some people had to have their loose hand strapped behind them in a hammerlock with rubber cords, just to keep their hearts from exploding and their neck nerves from being fried like long blond hairs in a meat fire when the voltage went through. But sooner or later they learned. We all did, one way or another.

One night — perhaps out of boredom or some restless angst about the fate of Caryl Chessman or maybe Christine Keeler — I connected a 50,000-volt RF transformer to one end of the thin aluminum strap on the Formica workbench that ran around three sides of the big classroom; and then I grounded the strap to a deep-set screw in a wall socket.

Severe shocks resulted when the generator jumped its limiter and began cranking out massive jolts and surges of RF voltage. A 50,000-volt shock ran through my stomach, just below my navel, burning a long, thin hole that I can still pull a string of dental floss through on wet nights.

It was horrible, and still is, but it was also a massive breakthrough; and I will never forget the warped joy I felt when the first surge of electricity went through them. They squawked at each other and flapped their arms like chickens….

My own pain was nothing compared to the elation of knowing that I had just made an unspeakably powerful new friend — an invisible weapon that could turn warriors and wizards into newts, and cause them to weep.

Washington, DC, 1989

The Best Written Words For The Worst Shitty Days: “Bowery Blues”

Bowery Blues by Jack Kerouac

image

The story of man
Makes me sick
Inside, outside,
I don’t know why
Something so conditional
And all talk
Should hurt me so.

I am hurt
I am scared
I want to live
I want to die
I don’t know
Where to turn
In the Void
And when
To cut
Out

For no Church told me
No Guru holds me
No advice
Just stone
Of New York
And on the cafeteria
We hear
The saxophone
O dead Ruby
Died of Shot
In Thirty Two,
Sounding like old times
And de bombed
Empty decapitated
Murder by the clock.

And I see Shadows
Dancing into Doom
In love, holding
TIght the lovely asses
Of the little girls
In love with sex
Showing themselves
In white undergarments
At elevated windows
Hoping for the Worst.

I can’t take it
Anymore
If I can’t hold
My little behind
To me in my room

Then it’s goodbye
Sangsara
For me
Besides
Girls aren’t as good
As they look
And Samadhi
Is better
Than you think
When it starts in
Hitting your head
In with Buzz
Of glittergold
Heaven’s Angels
Wailing

Saying

We’ve been waiting for you
Since Morning, Jack
Why were you so long
Dallying in the sooty room?
This transcendental Brilliance
Is the better part
(of Nothingness
I sing)

Okay.
Quit.
Mad.
Stop.

I’ve seen the future, brother; it is murder.

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen is the man I want to be.

The Best Written Words For The Worst Shitty Days: “Fear”

Fear by Raymond Carver 

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Fear of seeing a police car pull into the drive.
Fear of falling asleep at night.
Fear of not falling asleep.
Fear of the past rising up.
Fear of the present taking flight.
Fear of the telephone that rings in the dead of night.
Fear of electrical storms.
Fear of the cleaning woman who has a spot on her cheek!
Fear of dogs I’ve been told won’t bite.
Fear of anxiety!
Fear of having to identify the body of a dead friend.
Fear of running out of money.
Fear of having too much, though people will not believe this.
Fear of psychological profiles.
Fear of being late and fear of arriving before anyone else.
Fear of my children’s handwriting on envelopes.
Fear they’ll die before I do, and I’ll feel guilty.
Fear of having to live with my mother in her old age, and mine.
Fear of confusion.
Fear this day will end on an unhappy note.
Fear of waking up to find you gone.
Fear of not loving and fear of not loving enough.
Fear that what I love will prove lethal to those I love.
Fear of death.
Fear of living too long.
Fear of death.

I’ve said that.

The Best Written Words For The Worst Shitty Days: “Remorse”

Remorse by Jorge Luis Borges 

I have committed the worst of sins

One can commit. I have not been

Happy. Let the glaciers of oblivion

Take and engulf me, mercilessly.

My parents bore me for the risky

And the beautiful game of life,

For earth, water, air and fire.

I failed them, I was not happy.

Their youthful hope for me unfulfilled.

I applied my mind to the symmetric

Arguments of art, its web of trivia.

They willed me bravery. I was not brave.

It never leaves me. Always at my side,

That shadow of a melancholy man.

 

The Best Written Words For The Worst Shitty Days: “Foursquare Poem”

Foursquare Poem by Fernando Pessoa

image

I’ve never known anybody who’s had the crap beaten out of them.

All my aquaintances have been champions in everything.

I, so often shabby, so often swinish, so often vile,

I, so often, unforgivably, a parasite.

Inexcusably filthy I,

Who so often haven’t had the patience to shower,

I, who so often have been ridiculous, absurd,

Who have publicly wiped my feet on etiquette’s tapestry,

Who have been grotesque, paltry, servile, and arrogant,

Who have silently suffered besmirching

And when I haven’t been silent, have been even more ridiculous;

I, who have been a clown for chambermaids,

I, who have felt the winks of stevedores,

I, who have been fiscally embarassed, who have borrowed and forfeited,

I, who when the time for blows arises,

Have recoiled in advance of the possibility of blows;

I who have suffered the anguish of ridiculous little things,

I declare that in all the world I am without par.

Every one I know who speaks to me

Never did a ridiculous thing, never suffered besmirching,

Was never anything but a prince — all of them princes — in life…

If only I could hear another human voice

Confess not sin, but disgrace;

Confess not violence, but cowardice!

No, they’re all The Ideal, to hear them tell it.

Who in this great world will confess to me that even once they were vile?

O princes, my brothers,

God damn it, I’m fed up with semi-gods!

Where are there people in the world?

Am I the only vile and errant one on earth?

Women may not have loved them,

They may have been betrayed — but ridiculous, never!

And I, who have been ridiculous without being betrayed,

How can I speak to my superiors without reeling?

I who have been vile, literally vile,

Vile in the most paltry and infamous meaning of the word.

The Best Written Words For The Worst Shitty Days: Poem “Cause And Effect”

Cause And Effect by Charles Bukowski

image

the best often die by their own hand

just to get away,

and those left behind

can never quite understand

why anybody

would ever want to

get away

from

them

The Best Written Words For The Worst Shitty Days: Poem “This Be The Verse”

This Be The Verse by Philip Larkin

image

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
  They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
  And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
  By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
  And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
  It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
  And don’t have any kids yourself.

                              ***

*It is important to note that these verses were composed in iambic tetrameter!

AL 

From the book “High Windows” published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux (c) 1983.

All rights reserved

The Best Written Words For The Worst Shitty Days: Poem “Me and Her Outside (No No Man)”

Poem Me and Her Outside (No No Man) by Steven Jesse Bernstein

It is midnight and the sunglasses twirl
my injuries a deaf plant warped
in a Hollywood rockery
of juice cans and hypodermic needles
You’re so cool baby you don’t know what you need
If the jaundice comes up
get out of the traffic.

A girl with an ass that makes me hurt
all over again
I know that girl’s ass hurts
glass and pebbles crunching under her shoes.
The movie goes on and the men go inside
hiding their bottles
These men look confused
like fish getting clubbed on the pier;
what they see in there is better than me.

Pick a needle out from the burnt matches
and test it
blow through it
make a little bubble
There’s the whazoo of the strip
put it in with the dust
In the pocket the cigarettes the key
the muffled bottom of the storm
Pull down my eyelids with my fingernails
in a window not made to look in or out of
or to be used as a mirror
though it works as a mirror
There is a yellow line it is jaundice
There is not a yellow line
It is not jaundice
No
The ass that makes me hurt
made to make me hurt
turns
showing breasts that make me hurt
but a face like a butcher board
eyes smeared on
worn out red elastic mouth
the mouth of a sock
waiting to get used

hurts
is a tender thing in the dark
under the shorts
leaky pelvis all over the sheets
Yo baby gotta no-no?
No no-no.
Sick animal glare in skin of the pavement
Oh I do wanna go down right here where
they threw the mop head
the paper towels and rubbers
Gotta no-no whistle is all
Can’t make music with that.
Movie inside is big as the wall of a
building and so bright it’d make you
throw up

but they watch it
the men
and they eat
and drink
and eat
and drink.
Actually it is not just
the two of us
her and me
There are the cops
and me and her
in the good for nothing windows
and brown suits and grey suits and
blue suits
cars that stop and ones that go
There are palm trees
and people leaning on the palm trees
scratching reading looking at the trash
which is empty (believe me) from being
looked at

And gargoyles of human beings
hung on the ugly architecture
of wobbling lurching bodies
coming down fast
like dying empires
after the sun is already
dead in their eyes

Rooms full of spooks drunk
on dish soap
spiked with whatever was left
on the tables
when the bar closed
An animal over there with
spotted pants
dreams Google plex like
the chopped up palm
and the broken wall
and is just lost, oh my god
moving like a range of
dusty mountains
dead with nothing
to hold it down
moved by earthquake or
rain that swallows
the stars and moon

Get out of the way off the curb
He pukes in the garden and slams
sideways into the stucco
What are the cops waiting for here
lined up in their cars staring
at their clipboards and microphones
We got some people
scratching themselves,
a man looking at his eyeballs
up under his shades
and a woman with a poochy ass
who keeps turning around and around
Find the hurt place and don’t ever
let it heal

Get that fucker hanging on the wall
and tear him loose

The stars are coming out
There is a tv set in a window
it says
"the stars are coming out"
look up in the brassy sky and
there they are
like gloomy pocket change
you bet on something
you wish you had ten thousand
to bet on
something where
the odds are good
Betting all those stars
you don’t win shit
not even a dollar
And there is a movie
and another movie
At least she is not ugly
really
And she shares you know
Or if something wrong happens
you know
she will…

You are asking me now if this is
the whole world
and I am saying it is
Check your own fucking eyes
Doesn’t it hurt looking down the
sidewalk at night
If that mountain falls on me it’s
gonna get you too
and the cops squashed in their
cars gurgling
into their dead microphones
an ocean of mud.
I had a girlfriend
and I never had a car
new jeans that I wore and wore
and I was not good with the plans
because no one
could’ve planned it like this
But then the same
you might say
is true of whoever
is responsible for history,
and a wide black belt
and all sorts of hats

The stars were much more valuable
when I was a boy
Now it is just
what the no-no man wants
that is valuable
which is green and covered with fingers
What the woman turning and twisting
sees in the night of pockets on the floor
while she hides only those parts of
her nakedness
too scarred to look at.
Let’s pretend she is
my girlfriend for now
and she is doing that sidewalk dance
just for me
and there is no pain in her breasts
and our bodies are not battle zones
the stars are worth a fortune
you don’t have to look at tv to know
I got a little cigar
and I can hear the music
it’s playing right outa that door
There’s a man and he’s smiling
remembering

"Why don’t you kids go down
to the beach where it’s dark”

and we get on the bus and there’s
nobody else

And outside the palm trees
the houses and lights
Shit what world is that
Don’t ask me to remember that
I got a runny nose
and the ticket taker
looks from one to the other of us
then to the black and whites
bites a sandwich in hate

The bite that sets
the universe in motion
A dog
A man covered with
fortune telling signs
Two in white coveralls
Three clean women
getting out of a car
going into a door
One of the cops looks at me
and I shake my head “no”

                                                           ***

From the book More Noise Please" published by Left Bank Books (c) ‘91.

All rights reserved

The Best Written Words For The Worst Shitty Days: Poem “Walking Around”

Poem Walking Around by Pablo Neruda

It so happens I am sick of being a man.

And it happens that I walk into tailorshops and movie

houses

dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt

steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.

The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse

sobs.

The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool.

The only thing I want is to see no more stores, no gardens,

no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators.

It so happens that I am sick of my feet and my nails

and my hair and my shadow.

It so happens I am sick of being a man.

Still it would be marvelous

to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily,

or kill a nun with a blow on the ear.

It would be great

to go through the streets with a green knife

letting out yells until I died of the cold.

I don’t want to go on being a root in the dark,

insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep,

going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,

taking in and thinking, eating every day.

I don’t want so much misery.

I don’t want to go on as a root and a tomb,

alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,

half frozen, dying of grief.

That’s why Monday, when it sees me coming

with my convict face, blazes up like gasoline,

and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel,

and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward the

night.

And it pushes me into certain corners, into some moist

houses,

into hospitals where the bones fly out the window,

into shoeshops that smell like vinegar,

and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin.

There are sulphur-colored birds, and hideous intestines

hanging over the doors of houses that I hate,

and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot,

there are mirrors

that ought to have wept from shame and terror,

there are umbrellas everywhere, and venoms, and umbilical

cords.

I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes,

my rage, forgetting everything,

I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopedic

shops,

and courtyards with washing hanging from the line:

underwear, towels and shirts from which slow

dirty tears are falling.

all write is a blog by alex ferreira. it is in fact a continuation of his why write? blog.