Mike Boyle

 

Anthony and Cleopatra

     It was many years later, I was around 40 now and I was relaxing on my back porch and musing on the past. The band had run it’s course with some success but we were ahead of our time, misunderstood. As things usually go, bands that followed us, that copied our style made all the money. They looked better, had better management, had vocal coaches and hairdressers and fitness coaches and image coaches. Some of the creeps even went to college to learn how to be a rock star. It was laughable how they came on all tough but were some of the most pampered individuals on the planet. The people wanted lies, the people wanted things packaged in something simple they could understand. And that’s what they bought. But I couldn’t complain, we had a good 8 year run, made a little money before the usual things happened; the power struggles, ego-trips and substance abuse.
     “Anthony! Are you coming in to lunch?” my wife called in from the kitchen.
     I went in and looked at her. She had just turned 30 and looked great. Short dark hair and great ass. She was a runner and would wake early and run a mile each morning. The table was set and I sat down.
     “Looks good Cleo,” I told her. Her name was Cleopatra. No, I hadn’t intentionally set out to marry a girl named Cleopatra, cut it out. There was a salad and steak burrito’s. I loved her steak burrito’s, steak and cheese with homemade salsa and refried beans. I tore into it.
     “How’s the writing going?” she asked. I didn’t like talking about it too much and she knew. Talking about writing was death to a real writer. You end up talking it away. That’s why there’s so much bad writing out there written by university professors.
     “Don’t make me hate you,” I said between bites.
     She laughed at me. She had a healthy laugh, a real lust for life.
     “You could never hate me Anthony.”
     “No, I guess not.” I smiled at her. “It’s going alright. Let’s fuck.”
     “Let’s finish lunch.”
     We finished and then she ran upstairs and I ran after her. Then I was slamming Tony jr. into her, in and out of her. She reached up and grabbed the bedposts and rolled her head to the side. I watched the veins in her neck pulsing as she moaned softly. There was a bit of drool spilling out of the corner of her mouth. I pumped harder and her head was bouncing a bit off the pillow. Had a momentary vision of my cock going up through her belly, her heart, up her neck and pounding into the roof of her mouth. I eased up a bit.
     When I woke up later there was a note on the pillow that read:
     “Went out shopping for food and supplies. I’m crazy in love with you Anthony.”
     I got up and put on my clothes, went into my study. We had met 10 years ago in Mexico after the band broke up. She was just 20 then and was on spring break from college with 2 of her girlfriends. I had a hotel room in Oaxaca and was just starting to write but mostly I drank. After kicking heroin, I spent a few months driving aimlessly through the United States and Mexico and had settled for a few weeks there in Oaxaca. She and her friends had stumbled into the bar I frequented and they had recognized me from the band. Like I said, we had been underground but had some fame, had a few records out, a couple of videos that they still played on the TV late at night. Her friends were all chatty but she was coy, didn’t seem like she was too into meeting a faded rock star. I liked that and then her friends asked me if I knew where they could score some pot. I had quit all drugs by then and didn’t want anything to do with pot but they persisted and I set them up with the local dealer who was sitting close by. They went off to his place a block away and Cleo stayed there with me, said it was OK, I seemed OK.
     “You don’t seem to be having as much fun as your friends,” I said to Cleo.
     “They’re morons.”
     “Yeah?”
     “Yeah. Typical Americans run amok in Mexico on spring break. I wish I never came here. They talked me into it, they said I needed to loosen up, get laid, party.”
     “So it’s not for you. That’s OK. The hell with them.”
     She smiled. “Yeah. Right.”
     We talked for a while till her friends showed back up. She was going to college to be an accountant, her family was poor and she had gotten into school on grants, had to work part-time. Her friends came from rich families. They had it made even if they failed in school but she was going to be the first in her family to graduate from college. Then she asked about my situation. What I was going to do. I gave her the lie I told everybody, that I was writing the great novel of the times and she said, “Cool.” She smiled again and it was a smile that showed in her eyes, a whole-face smile.
     “Listen,” I told her, “Give me your address and I’ll write you.”
     “Why?”
     “I like you.”
     “How do you know?”
     “Just do it,” I told her and handed her my little notepad I carried around. She wrote it down and then her friends showed back up and they went off to rape and pillage the rest of Mexico.
     I stayed there in Oaxaca for 6 more months writing and sending things out in the mail and finally got published in a few small-press magazines but it was mostly things that sounded like someone else. I couldn't write like I talked yet and all I wrote was poems. Drunken, mad poems of lost love and murder. Poems of the twilight and the night and the torn souls and the afterlife I had lived as a junkie. And I drank. I drank beer and whiskey and tequila with the locals. I ranted and raved into the nights with all Mexico.      Then I was contacted by a publishing house that wanted to print a book of my poems. Idiots! But they said I still had fans out there, fans of the underground music I had done and there was a market. I put together a collection and mailed it to them. That’s the funny thing about being a writer, when you’re writing, it all seems great. Then, a week or so later it all seems like crap. Like you don’t even want to be identified with it, there’s no place to hide anymore. That people see all the writers you know in all your words. You’re a fake man! A liar! A cheat! But that’s the funny thing because the readers don’t know. And you never know the readers. They might be smarter than you, smart enough to keep it to themselves. I thought about Bukowski stealing from Lenny Bruce’s autobio almost word for word for the first chapter of “Ham on Rye”. I thought about all the music building off the foundations of the past. How musicians aren’t held to the high standards of writers. How people on seashores with umbrellas were reading and listening to the radio, sipping drinks and watching the waves crash in.
     So "Diarrhea of a Madman" was published and sold well. I had been writing to Cleo, off and on, and she had been replying. No great love letters or anything, just talk. Long letters of talk. Then I started roaming again, driving further south down into Central America and I lost her address, we fell out of touch. A year later I was in Peru and my car was on its last legs. I had gotten shot in Venezuela and run out of Panama City but nothing bad. All the while the writing had been pouring out of me and they had published “Attempted Mullet”, a collection of short stories so there was some money coming in again but I was tired of living out of a suitcase. It was time to go home or find one anyhow. New York. And that’s where we met again. I was giving a reading at the St. Mark’s Church and she was there. She had graduated by then and was living in New York also, working for a bank there in town. I was drunk as a skunk, as they say, reeling around the podium, stumbling and slurring my words. The people wanted lies, something packaged in something they could understand and I was the Hollywood drunk, breaking bottles on the stage, winging them through the air, lighting my shoes on fire with lighter fluid and laughing. I was the drunken ex-rocker that had beat the system, had lived in Mexico in seclusion, had beat heroin and life. I was the lying son-of-a-bitch actor that gave them what they wanted; it was during that time that performance art was big in NYC.
     Cleo came up to me after the show, said, “That’s not you.”
     I opened another beer and said, “I know you from somewhere.”
     We spent that night together and most of the nights since.

     I booted up my computer and sat there waiting for it. I was working on a new novel now and the other 3 had done really well. The new one was about a murderer that always had songs running through his head. When he killed Pat Devine the theme from “The Good, Bad and Ugly” had been running through his head. He had Pat alone in a warehouse under the precepts of a drug deal. The song kept running through his head as he killed him slow. Something about, “You raped my sister.”
     “I didn’t know it was your sister man!”
     I blew off his left kneecap with my 9mm. I always wrote in the first person. He rushed at me, limping and it was funny. I blew off his right and he did a little pirouette and slumped to the floor. The song played on for a bit and then it changed to Donna Summer’s version of Macarthur Park. “Mercy. Have some mercy!” he yelled as Donna sang in my head. Someone left the cake out in the rain...
     Then there were the other murders. For one, Toni Basil’s “Mickey” ran through my head. That was a car chase. I had tried to pull up easy on the expressway and blow his brains out with my shotgun but he saw me. He floored it and I ended up running him off the road in North Carolina, into the swamp, the Great Dismal Swamp. He jumped out of the car and ran. Again, it was funny. They always think they can get away but never do. “Hey Mickey!” Toni sang as I shot him dead in the back. I had no sense of honor or anything. Then I took a can of gas and poured it over his car, lit it. It was pretty, watching the thing burn. Then I took the can and poured it on the victim, burned him up too. As I was walking away the theme from Baretta was running through my head. The night smelled like tar and it was poetry in motion....
     It was 4 in the afternoon and I got up and looked out the window. 4 used to be the drinking time, it would start and it wouldn’t stop till midnight or beyond but those times were gone also and I didn’t miss them. The phone rang and I saw Cleo driving up the road towards our house. She saw me looking out and smiled, waved while my agent left a message. Something about a movie, Cleo. I went back to typing and forgot the time until I heard her singing downstairs. Singing softly to herself. Walking in the sand.

 

Can man

Palooka afternoon
stroll
I run into Earl, an
old guy that still lives in
the rooming house I lived in
back in 87
on Cumberland St
a half-block from the Susquehanna

Think it was 11/86
when I moved in there still
suffering withdrawl symptoms
months after leaving
NYC
They say that the body
replaces cells daily
and every 7 years
you're walking around
in a new body

So, not to go off an a tangent
but going there anyhow,
it took 6 months to get over
the physical effects
of heroin
the chills and stuff
But years later
after I had a car I would
find myself
in the thing
driving
to NYC
for weekend narco holidays
Staying at Mike's place
on Houston
and later
after he got murdered
staying in cheap hotels
and wandering the city
stoned
feeling like a camera

Then nothing
a woman
an apartment
another job
another woman
Then living on Green St
small apt on the first floor
enclosed back porch that
soon was filled with cases
of empties

Poems in the mail
switching to cans
piling the empties into trash bags
that filled the side porch

Finding myself on weekends
doing the drive again
but turning back
at Easton,
driving down by the Deleware and
back

OK, 7 years
Earl lived on the 3rd floor
The can man
he collected cans all over town
and took them to the scrap yard
for cash
A minor genius that not only
made the rent and fed but
bought a car
collecting cans

And today, seeing him coming towards me
on the sidewalk
on 2nd St
as the sun beat down
and that Pixies song
Monkey Gone to Heaven
ran through my head

Hey Earl,
I sd
Mike is that you?
some talk...

There's this lady that leaves
cans out for me
but there's none out there
today,
he sd

Man you look healthy,
I was in the hospital
a few times
Congestive heart failure,
he continued
some more talk

Then I shook his hand
telling him to take care
feeling quite sure that
not many shook
smelly old Earl's hand

I walked up the block
entertaining this dissertation
on advanced poetics
in open forms
and didn't feel
like a pompus ass
till I got back home

 

Spring Fever

Fuck 'em
fuck the long grey walls
fuck the hollow
grail hunt and rabid
forms in the park

Fuck gridlock and
ruptured spleens
Fuck answers
Fuck my row-house
with it's clogged eaves
I can't reach
running down the wall
that rotted the garage
door I don't use

Fuck work
my job and the interview
I have tomorrow
for another

Fuck addictions
last year it was
Civilization III and before
that it was on-line gaming
and before that it was
well, all
the other things
that they say
will kill you

Fuck art
in it's highest forms
in museums
in books
and
in my mind

I need a vacation

 

10 beer poem about planets

This is
the death mask
I wear
in all
my
orbits

Surely
too
pockmarked
for a
close-up

 

12 beer poem

I forget
all the things
they say
matter

Moon howling
giddy
there's
cars

still running
down the
boulevard
stars

winking

 

Some book I wrote

In a knot
of
forgetfullness

giving everything
back
See?

I told
you
the

furniture
melts
seas

curn
all these
stories

yesterday
and
tomorrow

The one's
where
TMI

almost
melted
down

while we
walked
outside

and all
the
others

 

Giving it back

Memory walks through cabins
by lakes, gathering wood
By rivers
East
Hudson
Susquehanna
by
Rockaway Beach and
Fire Island

Cape May
Cape Fear
memory likes water
Love for an hour
or so
and then
onto the death ships
into the factories and the bars

It must be genetic
some ancient barbarism
whispering in the blood

There's my parents
buried
side by side
St. James Cemetary
Waverly, NY
There's a pool of blood
on the sidewalk
that was my friend
Billy sd they came by later
and washed it off
with a firehose

It might be tragic,
impossible
to break the surface
to give these things back

 

Capitol Products

A couple of weeks later I was high on codine. I had bronchitis and the doctor gave me a script for the cough medicine. I drank half the bottle and went to work. Then I was pushing this fork truck around; it was posted on all the push fork trucks – MAKE SURE YOU’RE FORKS ARE DOWN. My forks hadn’t been down and I accidentally pushed the thing through 8 or so windows. I stood back and laughed, “Ha! Will Deal will have to fix these now!” I said out loud. Will Deal was one of those guys that just stood around all day smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee and talking. And he had just walked up behind me.
“You’re a fucking baby,” he said and walked away. I had to take the damaged goods to his station. After my shift I went home and drank the rest of the cough syrup, plugged in my guitar, put on a record and kicked Jimi Hendrix’s dead ass.

 

Spanish Hill

I was drinking beer with the old man
and we were laughing about something

10 hours that day I spent on the dock
unloading cartons of shoes
off the trucks
sorting and stacking them
in the warehouse

Then Dad, laughing
glad that I had a job
He had retired
a few years earlier
and I was about to get fired
from that job
and get kicked out of
his house

But that day
we sat outside
as the sun set
and Mom made dinner

And I was thinking of
Spanish Hill, a place where
he sd he used to play
with his friends
when he was a kid
in Waverly, NY
around 1920
How it sounded like
some magical place
lost in history

Then the sun set and we sat
there in the dark
Mom sd dinner was ready
And Dad sd we should have another
beer together
before we eat
so I went inside and
got them
told Mom
Mom sd Joe come in and eat
and Dad sd
We'll be in soon
Let me talk with my son for
a while

 


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     Mike Boyle was a singer / songwriter / guitarist in New Left, a seminal, progressive punk band in the 80's. As part of the indie, DIY rock scene, they released 2 singles on their own label and recived significant college radio airplay across the USA. Boyle started writing poetry in Hoboken, NJ in 1986. He currently lives and works in Harrisburg, PA..


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