Wednesday, October 28, 2009

3 Tiny Fucks in the Veins of Paul

isn't it strange
the way it
always bends
like that

must be
or at the very least


Weird Brick Walls
Bad Damn Summer
Cream Green Specters
Damn Shitty Kids


Small bad cracks between runes
Could have been birds

-Nicholas Katzban

From "Rich Boy Cries For Mama"

Pete the Party Freak

I was 18 in 1988. It was summer break. Washington, D.C.

Bethesda was a suburb between Friendship Heights and Rockville, Maryland. The local public school was Bethesda Chevy Chase High (BCC), and Red, Blink, and Pete had all attended it at one point. BCC wasn’t your typical public school. Montgomery County, which encompasses Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Rockville and other neighborhoods, was one of the wealthiest districts in the United States. It was home to many politicians and foreign dignitaries, so BCC had plenty of funding; Washington’s powerful made sure of that. Parents could make the statement that their children went to public school, yet in reality, BCC was as nice as its surrounding private schools. It was summer break from high school for most of us. Only those with bad grades or those who had skipped too many days had summer school.
Late Wednesday afternoon, I woke up just in time to drive over to Bethesda and meet up with everyone getting out of BCC summer school. The days were running out before I had to start working for Father again to pay off a new legal bill. I wanted to have as much fun as I could before I had to put the suit on again. I parked off campus so I wouldn’t have to deal with their security. Then I walked over to the smokers’ hangout, looking for Pete. Pete knew about every party, even if it was more than an hour’s drive away. I found him sitting at the top of some steps. Ben sat next to him. Where’s the party, Pete? was all one had to ask.
“There are G.D.S., Saint Albans’ and Field parties,” said Pete.
“Which are you going to?” This was always a stupid question, since I knew he would be going to all of them.
The night began at Pete’s house. His mother and sister were numb from his friends hanging around the house all the time. We hung out there for an hour, some drinking and some smoking weed on the back patio. When walking through the living room, one had to maneuver around a six-foot wide cement fountain that endlessly circulated water and was plugged into the wall. The room was sparse with the exception of a single chair in a corner and the fountain inconveniently placed in the center. It was time to go; everyone piled into cars and caravanned to the party. Depending on the night, whether it was a weekday or weekend, there would be three to ten cars in total. The directions were always wrong. If Pete dictated them over the phone, you had no chance of finding the party and that’s why everyone met at his house and followed him in their own car. No doubt Pete gave lousy directions to ensure his entourage would stick close to him. But there was always a party that he just heard a rumor about, for which he had no directions at all. He had a mystical ability to hone in and find the locations, even if it meant driving around in large circles for hours until we eventually made our arrival.
“Come on, Pete, let’s just go home,” I said.
“Just one more time around,” he said with exceptional ease, as if we had just begun driving. Pete’s information on the parties came from a number of sources.
“I overheard this girl at the supermarket talking about her parents going out of town,” was one among many.
His answering machine was full of them. If you were having a party, Pete would be the first person to call. Pete always showed up and was never alone.
“That’s it,” said Pete, pulling over without any warning for the cars close behind us. We parked in front and waited for the rest of our group to catch up. Walking in, we doubled the size of the party. We spread out through the house, passing through the kitchen to raid the refrigerator, then out to the backyard where the keg would be. Thinking back, it really wasn’t that much fun. It always took such a long time to find the party, and when we did, it was usually almost over. All the couples had already hooked up, and the girls who hadn’t hooked up yet, no one liked. But it was something to do and I didn’t want to stay at home. Once the beer was finished, Pete would take up a collection for more.
“Pete said he’d drink whatever is in the glass for fifty bucks,” Ben addressed the party. Bills were tossed into a pile. Pete counted them. The first count would never be enough. More money was raised. Ben poured a bit of mystery fluid from every half-emptied, abandoned cup he could find into his glass, throwing in some cigarette butts for texture. Ben spit into the glass just before handing it over to Pete, who then picked up a bottle of dish soap and added a squirt, as the crowd let out a collective groan. Without hesitation, Pete gulped it down.
“Come on. Let’s go to the party in Potomac. It’s going to be a rager,” Pete assured. The clock on the wall read 2 am.
“That party’s gonna be over,” I said, even though I knew he wasn’t listening to me, and I had no choice since I was riding with him. His other friends knew the drill and came in their own cars.
In Potomac, we arrived at a ranch-styled house that was set back among a few trees. Only stragglers were left. The girl having the party tried to discourage us from coming in, but she didn’t understand that Pete wouldn’t leave until he was satisfied. We pushed past her to the kegs of beer. One was tapped. Discarded plastic pint-sized cups littered the house and yard as the party neared its end. Pete picked up the cup nearest to him, dumped out what was left, and pumped out half beer, half foam.
“I stopped by BCC looking for you the other day, but you had left or something,” I said as I looked for my own empty cup. Finding one, I washed it out with the hose and wiped the rim with my T-shirt.
“They put me in his office,” Pete said.
“The principal’s office?”
“Yes, they just left me there. I missed too much school or something. Anyway, I was just sitting there looking out the window. It was a nice sunny day, so I climbed out, dropped to the grass and went home.” Pete spit chewing tobacco into a cup.
“Did you get in trouble?” I asked Pete.
“No. They didn’t bring it up, so I didn’t, either.” I thought about when I’d stabbed Tyler. It was sort of the same thing.

-Ethan H. Minsker

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I wake to find my open mouth stuck to that fucking couch.
The one Lalo’s grandmother gave to him.
I pull a piece of fabric from my lip and imagine all the
semen and regurgitated liquor that must inhabit this sinewy thread.
The atmospheric bleach that is the Los Angeles summer
is pouring through the window.
As I scan my surroundings, I realize Lalo is not in his usual place,
sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor, doing his wake up shot,
which he boots four or five times,
then squirts Jackson Pollack style on a piece of canvas.
He most likely tipped off to the store for his favorite breakfast,
one can of Kern’s banana juice and two packs of Swirl Danish with nuts.

I head to the kitchen to rummage around for a cotton shot,
which in most addicted households wouldn’t get a fly high.
However, Lalo is a dealer. He’s my dealer,
and what he leaves for dead would overdose the average junkie rock star.
Much to my dismay, and like a strung out Mother Hubbert was here,
the kitchen is clean of any morsel of dope.
Even the spoons, which are normally encrusted with something,
are washed and in the rack.
What the fuck is going on here,
I think to myself, this place is normally a Petri dish of decay and filth.
Well, I have to find something or else I’ll be all fetal and shitting myself.

I walk to my car, hop in, and point it downtown.
Alverado Street, to be exact.
As I sit in the noon sun cramping up in traffic,
I wonder where the fuck he is.
He passed out in his wife beater and shark skin pants last night.
The uniform of choice among
the more Anglofied Mexican dope dealers in Hollywood.
He looks like David Bowie covered in Chicano.
If he wasn’t so strung out, he’d get more ass than a toilet seat.
He has a Cadillac, a ‘62 Coupe de Ville in mint condition,
and a ton of money, always.
He’d have a lot more if he didn’t have two hungry arms to feed,
one of which is mine. I’m worried, but I have to get straight.

As I leave Alverado Street with five balloons in my mouth,
I feel much better. In the church of my heart, the choir is on fire.
How convenient that street dealers in L.A. sell their goods in balloons.
Only once did I have to swallow them after copping,
and then dig them out of my own shit
to find them in perfect shape, ready to be injected.
Who says junkies don’t lead glamorous lives?

Not wanting to go through that ordeal again,
I head towards “Jack in the Box” off the 101.
“Jack in the Box” is a dope fiend’s
bathroom away from bathroom in the Los Angeles area.
One toilet, one sink, one customer at a time, and a locking door.
As I sit cross-legged on the floor, I get my kit out.
A kerchief, wrapped and folded, with one bottle cap,
one fresh piece of cotton, and one very beaten set of works.
So beaten that the numbers and lines can’t even be seen.
Suddenly there’s a knock, followed by a severe pulling of the door.
Not the ordinary customer we have here, I think as I get my shit together,
which wouldn’t have taken as long
if the tar I just shot wasn’t so fucking good.
Finally I compose myself and walk out,
right into the biggest, barrel-chested cop I’ve ever seen.
All yours officer, have a nice day.
I walk with a quickness to the door, trying not to look the way I feel.
As I get to the their, some fat women
is trying to push someone through in a wheelchair,
using one hand to push and the other to open.
I tell her to get back for Christ sakes,
and I’ll do it myself. But, before I can, I feel a dreadful tap on my shoulder.
I don’t even have to look. It was the man in blue,
and he was holding my kit,
my kerchief with all the evidence needed to lock my ass up.
He pushes the door open for the woman and then turns toward me.
Shit, here it comes. Sir, you left this in the men’s room. That was it.

As I high tail it in felonious creepers,
I reach my car, get in and turn over the engine.
My cassette player kicks in the Violent Femmes,
“this will go down on your permanent record.” Not this time, I think.
That cop must be straight out of the academy,
a man on a galloping horse could see I was fucking ripped.
As I leave the parking lot, I spot the woman
with the enormous fuselage and her wheeled companion.
I feel sorry for the man
being pushed and shoved everywhere by that behemoth.
He must be caught in her gravitational pull. I speed home.

I unlock the front door of Lalo’s apartment and head to the kitchen.
I grab a clean spoon, and realize it would be a shame
to shoot such good dope with such an old, barbed up set of works.
So I go next door, to the apartment of this chick who digs Lalo.
I tell her our toilet is busted and ask her if I could use hers.
Thanks, I’ll just be a second.

I open the medicine cabinet. I grab two new sets of insulin syringes,
and as I’m about to close the cabinet door,
I see a script just recently filled for valium. Well, don’t mind if I do.
I wonder if her shrink gave her these for her depression,
most likely brought on by Lalo’s dope dick
and his lack of interest in anything to do with sex.
Thank god for depressed diabetics,
I say under my breath as I leave.

I get back and dump all three balloons in the cooker, and I’m off.
The dream is always the same. Back on the bottom of my personal pond.
It’s warm and safe, and I watch life go by on the surface.
In my fifty dollar cocoon, my womb, my womb with a view.

Being dragged to the surface by a knock on the door.
I open it. I’m shocked to see Lalo’s sister, who I’ve only met once.
Before I can step back to let her in, and with tears falling on her shoes
she tells me Lalo’s dead.
I saw him just last night. I’m in shock.
I snap to like I just got a shot of Narcon in my heart.
She asks me to go down and identify him.
She stammers softly, he’s been beaten very badly.
Will you please do that for me?
I just look at her face for what seems like forever.
Yeah, I’ll go do it. Where do I have to be?

As I am escorted into the room the next day with my guts in a knot,
there he is on a table just like you see on Quincy or some show.
His head is covered, but his torso and right arm
are exposed. I can see his tattoo,
a Germs blue circle with a cheetah jumping through it.
Do you recognize this tattoo?

Yeah, but don’t you want me to look at his face for a positive identification?
Son, the man says to me, he’s been beaten to death with a hammer, a ball peen hammer over twenty or thirty times.
I look down at the cloth covering his head
and realize it shows no contour,
no height whatsoever.
It was perfectly flat.

-Richard Allen

Friday, October 23, 2009

From “Rich Boy Cries For Mama”

I was fifteen in 1985.

Who Stabbed T.R.?

After class, Pierre, Charlie, Tyler and I were hanging around in a room on the first floor. With no teachers around, Tyler pulled out a pair of nunchucks and started swinging them. Tyler’s hair was feathered with the bangs pulled forward. It looked bad, but I didn’t say anything.

Pierre and I had gone down to Chinatown, where I had bought a butterfly knife. A butterfly knife is a folding pocketknife with two handles. When closed, the blade is concealed within grooves in the handles. I had seen other kids playing with them and they could do tricks. With one hand you could flip out the blade or put it away. Chinatown in DC was the length of a block, with an ornate arch that crossed over the start of the street. The clerk in the store didn’t care how old I was when he sold me the knife. He didn’t even bother to look up at me. At home, I had been practicing flipping it open by holding the lock on the base. With a quick dip of the wrist, the handles opened, revealing the blade, and swung around to meet its other half. I flipped the blade out and into circles, spinning and spinning it, as if I were doing some demented yoyo trick.

Tyler was showing Pierre some moves with the nunchucks. Pierre was a natural athlete and quickly picked up anything physical. Tyler kicked me with a round house, but it didn’t look like the movies. His kicks had been like an old man, drunk on cheap wine. He had been taking Tae-kwon-do from a school called Woo’s. I flipped the knife open when Tyler kicked me. I blocked the kick, forgetting I had the knife in my hand. The knife plunged a few inches into his leg before I realized my mistake and pulled back my hand.

“Holy shit man, I’m sorry!” I said. We both looked at the spot where I had stabbed him. “It’s okay, it barely cut me”.

I looked at the blade and I could see a wet mark that went down the blade more than an inch and a half. “I don’t know. I think I cut you more than that. Why would you kick me when I’m holding a knife?”

“Well I didn’t think you would stab me with it!”

Pierre came to my house and Charlie went with Tyler. Charlie called a few hours later. “Hey, I’m at the hospital with Tyler. I guess you cut him pretty badly.”

“Are you serious?” I said. I pictured the cops showing up at my door, then my parents being told what I had done, then the school kicking me out. I felt flushed.

“When we got back to his house, there was just a drop of blood. I guess the doctor said that when his muscles relaxed, it made all kinds of blood come pouring out. I mean it was all over his sock and shoe, the floor. So we took him to the hospital.”

“Is he going to be okay?”

“Yeah. The doc asked him what had happened and, after Tyler told him the story. The doc says it’s good your friend doesn’t play with guns.”

I hung up the phone and didn’t feel much like hanging out with Pierre, so he went home.

I was still thinking about what was going to happen to me, what Mother was going to do when she found out I had stabbed someone. I barely slept that night. I walked to school instead of taking the bus. I was there an hour early and the first few kids had already heard about the stabbing, but weren’t sure who had been holding the knife.

Andrea walked up to me “Who stabbed T.R.?” She was giggling. “What are you in such a bad mood for? You’re acting like you did it.”

“Shut up and leave me alone.”

Tyler hadn’t made it to school. By lunch I had heard the “Who stabbed T.R.” line about twenty times. I was walking back to class when Mr. Rivera intercepted me and led me into a room with the principal, Miss Smith, and a few other people I had never seen before. Miss Smith was a large woman with light blond hair who sat at the end of the desk.

“Did you stab Tyler?” she asked matter-of-factly.
“Yes, but I didn’t mean to.”
“Were there any teachers around?”
“Was it on school grounds?”
“Yes, the first floor.”
“During the school day or after?”
“Okay, we just needed to know for insurance. You can go back to class.”

They didn’t even ask for the knife, and I didn’t hear a word about it from my parents. I doubt they ever found out. When Tyler came back to school, he said he didn’t care and wasn’t mad at me, but after I stabbed him it was rare that we hung out.

-Ethan Minsker

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

From "Rich Boy Cries For Mama"

I was eight years old and my parents had just put two of our dogs to sleep.

Father came home and I could hear the barking of a new dog before he opened the door. That was the funny power a new dog had on kids our age. We forgot about the old dog. We forgot to be mad. When it came to dogs, we were only loyal to the newest one. "I'm naming this one," he said. King Arthur was a fully-grown sheep dog. He was large with white and grey fur. Arthur lumbered about the house before us.
"I know it's not a puppy, but then again it doesn't need to be housebroken and it won't cry all night," said Father over the phone to Mother.
"I know, I'm sorry. Next time I will discuss this with you beforehand. It was a spur of the moment thing, I said I'm sorry!" Arthur came to an abrupt stop in front of Father and planted his ass on the ground, lifted his leg high in the air and began to lick his asshole. Father's eyes fixed on Arthur and he had a look as if he thought he might have made a mistake. Sister and I went outside to play with the new dog. I ran around the yard and he chased after me. Sister watched, then she ran. Arthur caught her, knocking her to the ground, and sat on her.
"Get him off of me!" she screamed and I laughed. Father was still on the phone, watching from the kitchen. He ran out and pulled the dog off of Sister.
"Bad dog! Bad dog!"
He smacked Arthur on the nose but it had no effect on the dog. His tongue hung happily from his mouth over his white teeth, the corners of his mouth were turned up. Right away I knew Arthur didn't fit in. The next day Arthur knocked Sister down again and sat on her. There was nothing more entertaining than watching what resembled a giant mop lumber over to Sister and sit on top of her. She would scream, but Arthur wouldn't budge. As a matter of fact, it just seemed to give him pleasure. Sister was too small to defend herself and rather than find her smothered under the ass of the dog, the parents sent King Arthur to Maryland to live with a young man on a farm. Father brought us to ensure that we knew the dog wasn't put to sleep. Arthur jumped out of the car and ran in the field next to the farm. Father looked a little sad. "Well, I thought he might miss us a little, but he seems perfectly happy on the farm. He didn't even look back."

"Don't worry, Father," said Sister on the drive back. "We can get a new dog."
"Yeah, but this time we are coming with you to pick it out," I added.

-Ethan Minsker

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Royal Flush Recap

A hearty congratulations to everyone involved in the making of this year's Antagonist contribution to the Royal Flush Festival. Not only was the gallery opening a huge success (we couldn't get people to leave the place) but the film screening sold out, and when pushed into the larger theater, nearly sold out of that as well.

For those of you who don't know, This is Berlin, Not New York won the "One of a Kind Award" at the closing night ceremonies. This award is also often referred to as "Best of Fest," which I think none of us will dispute. After all the man hours and tears and sweat and love that went into making this show superb, we deserve a little recognition!

Below you can watch Ethan introducing the film (to a packed house) and then Jim (festival director and awesome himself) explaining how all artists can get involved in the festival next year. I know everyone worked exceedingly hard to make this weekend amazing, and I think we put on the absolute best shows of the fest. Our success only proves that with a little love and devotion, you don't really need lots of money to do great things (although none of us would turn down lots of money...).

Bravo and a standing ovation to you all!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Best Buy and Bob Dylan's Christmas CD

Bob Dylan released a brand new cd yesterday. I went to Best Buy on Broadway at the corner of Houston to purchase the new Bob Dylan Christmas cd. I asked the "employee" if they had the cd. I was informed that the release date had been pushed back to November. I said thanks and exited. I called my pal Scott in New Jersey and told him what had happened to me. He asked me a politically incorrect question about the person who told me the new Dylan was not coming out until November. He then told me his own experience about going to Best Buy in New Jersey and not being able to find the new Dylan. (He asked and the "employee" about the Dylan.The employee disappeard into the back room to get a copy because it was not on the shelves). Scott had the new Dylan. The "employee" at Best Buy was mistaken about the release date being pushed back.

Today I went to the Best Buy on Broadway at 62nd street to purchase the new Dylan. I found a copy on the shelf that was marked $13.99. (the advertised price was $9.99). I went to customer service to ask about the price. The "employee" in the pink shirt ( I think pink shirt means that a promotion has occurred) rolled her eyes as I politely said " I have a question". She gave the Dylan cd to the "employee" in the blue shirt (not promoted yet but very polite) and had her do the price check. The price was in fact $9.99. I said I had some more shopping to do and she told me to bring the Dylan and whatever else I was going to purchase back to customer service when I was ready to check out. I shopped and found the Beatles double cd "Past Masters" for $12.99 !!!! ( a great price) I went back to customer service to find two different "employees" at the counter. I explained that the Dylan was $9.99 and she had to check the price for me again. Luckily I was not in a hurry so did not mind standing there like a jew waiting to buy a Christmas cd made by another jew to save money LIKE A JEW!! The "employee" asked me who had helped me before and before I could answer she asked " Spanish girl? Black girl? I said " A little of both". I eventually got my Dylan cd for the right price.

Later in the day I went to Duane Reade and asked an "employee" if they had wrist watches. He took me to the clock section.

Brother Mike Cohen October 14, 2009 NYC.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My New Tote Bag

I have a new tote bag. My girlfriend hooked me up with my new tote bag. One of her co-workers was getting rid of a bunch of crap. He was getting rid of two deluxe tote bags. My tote bag has made my life much easier. In my new tote bag I can carry my Odwalla Pumpkin Protein drink (which is only available in October), my Luna bar, my day planner, my New York Post, etc. It is also a great place to store my jean jacket when I leave my apartment in the 55 degree weather and then get on the subway where the temperature on the platforms is 80 degrees. I dont know what I would do without my tote bag. I actually have a collection of different size tote bags in my apartment. Every tote bag is for a different journey. Some people say it is gay for a man to have a tote bag. Where the fuck does that logic come from? If I am on my way to my GIRLFRIEND'S apartment with my tote bag full of my stuff...IS THAT GAY? I understand that if I was on my way to Chelsea to the "Rawhide" bar with my tote bag to look for some male ass...THAT would be gay; or if I was heading to the "Boots and Saddle" bar on Christopher Street in the West Village with my tote bag to suck a man's cock in the bathroom...THAT would be gay. I love my tote bag...and my Luna bar.

-Brother Mike Cohen

Monday, October 12, 2009

Anders Olson

One of the artists showing at the Antagonist Group Show at the Mindy Wyatt Gallery. Opening reception is on October 17th from 6-9pm!!

Hair and Rock 'n' Roll

Last night I went to the Social Distortion show at the Starland Ballroom in Sayerville, N.J. It was sold out and totally packed. My friend and I decided we "wanted to be in the shit" so we stood in the middle back of the floor. I forgot that Social Distortion came out the late 1970's Orange County, California punk rock scene and that can mean there will be a "pit" with slam dancing!!! Luckily we were on the outer edge of the slam dancing pit but we got pushed around just enough to feel like we were at a rock and roll concert but not enough to get a black eye or lose a tooth. At some point during the show I notice there is a man with piercings, tattoos, and slicked back hair in a wheelchair getting passed up through the crowd on top of peoples hands! I was very impressed. This followed by two more fans in wheelchairs getting passed up through the crowd on top of peoples hands!!! The crowd cheered and the band turned up the volume. Even tough guy Mike Ness (singer and leader of the band) had a smile on his face.

Last week I went to Giant Stadium to catch the Bruce Springsteen concert. During "Hungry Heart" Bruce ran out into the crowd and sang the song from the middle of the general admission floor. As the song was winding down with an instrumental portion from the band Bruce climbed on top of the folks on the front half of the floor and asked if they would carry him back to the stage. Sure enough, Bruce got flat on his back and had the hands of the audience carry and pass him back to the stage. I have seen Bruce maybe 60 times live in concert and I had NEVER seen anything quite like this. Hard to believe that nobody grabbed Bruce's crotch or pinched his ass......A few years ago I saw Rick Springfield at the Nokia in Times Square. He came out into the crowd and I touched his hair to see if it was real. It was but it had a lot of hairspray. Iggy Pop came out into the crowd at a Stooges show in Roseland and I gently made an attempt at pulling a piece of his hair out but I failed. Johnny Thunders was in the crowd at the Continental Divide in NYC in the crowd waiting to get on stage with his pals "The Waldos" and as he was standing in front of me I stuck my nose in his hair and took a wiff. It was fucking awful. The worst thing I have ever smelled in my life.

-Brother Mike Cohen 10.08.2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I know this is not the conventional way to do this and, yes, I realize it’s a private matter, but by already talking about the baby here, I’ve turned it into a public one. I feel compelled to fill you in on recent events plus I’m using this forum to do our dirty work. It will give us some breathing room and keep us from having to retell the same thing. This past week, we lost the baby. I won’t go into more details about what happened. I will say this. Yes, we will try again. We are still planning to name our first-born Blu and it was a girl.

I’ve lost a lot of friends over the years and every time it’s a little easier, but this was very different. It’s like losing a part of my wife and part of me. People keep saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” That might be true, but it hurts now. I want to be strong for my wife, but putting up a front is difficult. I do understand things will get better, so you can spare me the pep talks.

Every time someone asks me about the baby, I almost break down. It’s harder for my wife. So if you want to comment here feel free. We may or may not read it.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Ethan's Memoirs

From Rich Boy Cries for Mama a memoir by Ethan Minsker
In 1986 I was at boarding school outside of Boston. I had just gotten a Mohawk and, because it was against the rules of the school, hid it under a bandanna. This story takes the reader off the path in my memoir so I'm cutting it out and dumping it here. This is all true of course.

My first class was with the teacher from the dorm. The assignment was to bring in song lyrics and read them in class. He didn’t say anything when I stood up and had on the bandanna. “I’m guilty of a racist crime that happened ninety-nine years before my time,” I read the lyric sheet from a Minor Threat song. I noticed my reading was a little better. I hated Landmark but I was learning. I would never have admitted it at the time, thinking it would have just kept me there longer, but it was true. It was the routine, the very thing I hated most. They forced me to sit at my desk and muscle through the work. Even if my eyes burned, I sat there until the time was up, trying to read. With no distractions, I started coming around. It was slow and almost unperceivable. I picked the Minor Threat song because I liked the meaning behind it. In Washington, sometimes you got crap just for being white. Like I was personally responsible for slavery even though my family immigrated to this country sometime after. I had read over all of the lyrics on every record I had. My reading started with the lyric sheets. Songs are short, and I finished before my eyes began to burn. In front of the class, clutching the black and white sheet, I was nervous. I imagined the other students’ eyes piercing me, but all but one looked half asleep. The one kid who was listening looked at me with a sickening hatred.
“That song sucked,” he said. I wasn’t even finished.
“Go fuck yourself,” I said back. The rest of the class suddenly awoke, but were quiet, watching the two of us.
“I have to get you boys peeing through the same straw,” said the teacher. The teacher went on to explain how song lyrics were poetry.
The kid behind me was a red head. He kept watching me. I leaned back in my chair and pretended he wasn’t there.
“Fuck me, fuck you punk!” he said, throwing his books at me. One of them crashed into the side of my face. I stood up and threw my desk back at him, knocking him to the floor. The kids sitting next to him got up and moved to the back of the room. The redhead stood up and came at me. The teacher jumped in between us, holding him back. I didn’t move and just stood there, my arms held across my chest.
“Fuck you, fuck this class. I’m outta here,” he said and left.

“So what happened in your English class?” asked my roommate later that night. “Everyone was saying it was a crazy fight.”
“It wasn’t even a fight. He threw his books at me so I threw my desk at him.”
“It sounds kinda crazy.”
“It wasn’t.”
After dinner, I looked up the redhead’s number in the school directory and called him. He lived off campus.
“Look man, it really didn’t have anything to do with you,” he said. “I just can’t do the school thing anymore. There are too many rules.” He came back for a few days, then transferred to someplace else.

I knew exactly how he felt, but I couldn’t quit. I didn’t want to let my parents down. Maybe I was admitting that the school was working, but how long could I take it?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sighing Down the Wind so Sadly by Richard Allen

The fall rain is hitting the window next to me
And the tangled trees bare of leaves
mock my dread
as the sky slips to night.

The bar I am sitting in is sparsely populated
Mostly drooping men alone,
posted on stools and evenly spaced, for elbow room.

There are two women in the booth behind me
Discussing what HE said
HE said something to the one
And the other couldn’t believe it.

I didn’t notice as my waitress with a belly like the bough of a ship approached,
to take my empty glass.
I was busy wiping steam from the window and looking for her.

In a voice of despairing tone, like bag pipes
She asked if I wanted another
I nodded and she disappeared into the smoky distance.

I started to gaze into the slick and empty streets again
When I was momentarily distracted from my longing
By the juke box, kicking in the Stones “No Expectations”
As it tore through the smoky black sadness of the bar,
I watched as some of the drooping men took notice,
Except for a guy behind me who wished loudly that they turn it down
As I wished I had an EXTRA pamphlet on euthanasia.

It didn’t matter though, all I could think of was my girl.
She was leaving today
Going back to Berlin a night flight to the father land
I wished I was going with her,
returning to that city of sinister kinkyness before dawn like a vampire
I loved that city where even the shadows seemed artistic in expression.

And as much as I denied it, I loved her even more.
I wished I was there leaving her love behind
Instead of her here leaving mine.
New York would certainly take its toll on me this winter.

When the waitress returned
I was once again wiping the window with the side of my hand.
Then suddenly she was there, fumbling with an umbrella
In the street light that revealed the severity of the storm

I lept up banging my knee on the table and shot for the door,
Leaving my waitress confused
As I cut a path through the swirling cigarette smoke.
Opening that door FOR her, I was opening a scar for myself.

We returned to the table through the prying eyes of solitary men
and I wiped the rain from her cheeks.

Christiana Gableman of Belzig Stra├če, Berlin was beautiful on
Levels too numerous to mention.
She ordered a beer with a curling smile
I looked into her face and felt again that everything was something
Even if in the peripheral, the mud storm,
kept blowing up against the window panes.

Christiana had green eyes of optimistic innocence
And an angular face, full of spirit and expression
Her thoughts were delivered in poignant words through one of the
Most beautiful smiles I’d ever seen,
the slender hand she had used to point at me the night we met,
to say “You like me, huh?”
was now moving her henna hair from her expressionless face.
The way she looked at me was not the same and never would be again
The likeable badness she had accepted when we met
was wearing as thin as the ice I was skating on in life.

We talked about old times avoiding what was happening now
What was happening now was her getting out.
She couldn’t watch me go down
I remembered a year into our relationship
when she uttered those three little words all women did at some point.
“Your’re Killing Yourself”

That was the summer I had spent with her in Berlin,
even Berlin summers were forbidding
We had spent the few days of sunshine at a city pool,
that resembled a Fritz Lang nightmare.
We sat drinking eastern block Champagne while
the ghastly pale residents of that sector dipped themselves.

I came home on a flight paid for by her
missing the fall of the wall by a month.
On that plane ride home I dozed and dreamt that I was a child
taking a train home with the bodies of faceless loved ones in the last car.
Over time, my heart that was soft as flint going into the relationship
had been softened and destroyed by my own excesses
That year we corresponded through letters
and mixed tapes full of Lee Hazelwood.

Then she returned to the city, to me,
and I began to believe that life was possible,
Even though I knew that I always lost the people I cared for the most.
I tried to stay clean and I tried not to push her away,
but, winter was returning to kill me and my nights thundered
with the roar of chemical experiments and over indulgence.
She was always there for me. She loved and trusted me and I her,
but I didn’t trust myself, and so a cornucopia of tragic events
had brought us to this table and smoky bar for the last time.

I paid the check and we walked to my apartment for her bags.
As Christiana walked through the room, she started to cry,
as I put my foot over what looked like a final rent notice slid under the door.
Walking out through the dark corridor of my building
she made me promise to get clean and write her
both of which would fade in time

On a train full of homeboys we huddled with my arm around her
and at HER gate, we kissed and then she was gone

Returning to the city, I wanted only to fall in bed and not wake up
but as I approached my front door I found it had been pad-locked
I banged on the landlord’s door but no one answered.
Hating life, love and myself equally, I reached into my pocket
Counted my money and spent every dime I had on a bundle of dope
When I came to, it was dawn and I was on an empty A train in far Rockaway,
I walked sick and cold to the frigid beach and sat
till the rains came and swept me away.