Sunday, June 5, 2016
Works of Outsider Fiction By John Sullivan
John Sullivan received the "Jack Kerouac Literary Prize," "Writers Voice: New Voices of the West" award, AZ Arts fellowships, Artists Studio Center fellowship, WESTAF fellowship, was a featured playwright at Denver's Summer Play (Changing Scene Theatre), and an Eco-Arts Performance fellowship from EMOS / University of Oregon. He was Artistic/Producing Director of Theater Degree Zero (Tucson / Bisbee AZ), and directed with the Augusto Boal / Theatre of the Oppressed focused applied theatre wing at Seattle Public Theater. For the past decade, he has used Theatre of the Oppressed with communities to promote dialogue on cumulative risk / environmental justice issues in collaboration with NIEHS environmental health scientists.
Dragontooth Children Blues
“Are you radioactive, pal?
John Berryman (51st Dreamsong)
Cold sheet we all
For the heat (not the ions)
no shoe, new shoe, empty (not bereft)
prowl the street mutter back
and growl, again, we do (not grudge, not taunt)
and we mutter
you do right, my man
you do right
don’t be bitter or you
hurt your own soul bad
don’t be bitter
for your own soul’s sake
just be bluesed (Good God, my boogie suit
“just busted into flame”)
and be bluesed (my shoes, the very same,
catch on fire, just go out
be thou bluesed like old
shoes scuffle up outside the perimeter
klic-klic echo pass you by this street
of unstrung soldiers leaking conjures
tired curses, questions always
more bloody questions
like why now why this low-down moon
rubs me so ugly
like why now why this wind, this hawk
thing calling: Mrs. Bones
cross my face
and twist like new snow
make a hiss like a stone up top
a sky down below
calling: Mrs. Bones
Mrs. Bones calling
off frozen prairie
and I shiver (like a reflex but far away from it)
and I listen (ear to earth down eons of isms)
and I shiver (as all flesh shall, in the end,
and I listen (for the arco on the downlow)
and I shiver, and …
there’s blood on the wheat chaff
hard moonlight leaves its own special scar
like “soul-flight to the gone sun”
there’s blood on the wheat chaff
black fallow loam don't look
don’t walk out there
til the moon’s gone down
But hey, grow my own mouth
wide open like a movie star
Dragontooth Children all hatch
when the weather goes bad
Dragontooth Children all hatch
and march together
all together tight (like Busby Berkeley,
not so much)
in a jagged circle tight (more and more like Leni
in a straight line locked, all together
tight all together:
can’t kick that rhythm
til sun don't hiss like snow no more
then goodbye, goodbye, Mrs. Bones,
then goodbye rumor, too
taste it in the air
in the moonlight in the dust
around my skin I draw
an Ellipse of Uncertainty
and squeeze some further ichor
pure blood at the vuln (or just a flood of profane
from Soren’s retro “Either / Or” tattoo
staying on right here
I will, between steel
and its own shadow
some say: it’s a good place to visit,
but to hide? (or just fake it?)
I don’t know?
Dragontooth Children ain’t no lack
of Dragontooth Children
come a scuffle up we
search a sky for the good fight
and a glow
and we bring bad weather with us
and our mother is bad weather
and we sing loud to our mother
Edsels and Deloreans of the Gods
I slouch toward holy Youngstown flat out, shaking down my ’69 LeMans full of spit, sloppy rings and it’s own kind of lust. Pulling on my quart of SunLand Gin, shaking that way too, I tune my radio to this griot lady growling scratchy, spookhouse blues behind a harp and poke my tongue out the window just for remembrance – for that last taste of steam, particulate and acid in the used up, but still flammable, factory air. O Youngstown, I remember you, owned by Westinghouse, US Steel, in thrall to Sheet & Tube, your pale sun spinning, blind and hollow, in a brown sky like the palms of Pluto, yeah, like Egon Schiele out of Goya gassed up and gone on something skank and eternal.
Long time, long time Youngstown, you cut a swathe through my dreamtime, flapping your wings like a black shroud at a new Tong Funeral.
That’s how I remember, but too-bad-now because the Steel Goddess lost her shine, shut down, got stiff and creaky, and the air now tastes all government approved. No burnt shards of recap, no junkers of the fracked and dead spread out along the highway, just civic skin and soft light, all things pleasant, total too, and downtown near the formal zone of silence I meet this hologram of Allan Watts, shaking like an Ariel with no wings in the wind. Like me, so we shake it down together for a while and wait on slow bolts from Jesus, shaking, smiling, I say: Mr. Allan Watts, whatever incarnation are you working on today? And he beams back at me, his smile transects the dead orbits of industry and need spinning hollow over Youngstown like eldritch crows at work upon a dead knight’s corpse.
In ’68 I saw Allan on this PBS show and his head glowed through his tonsure like the bone beneath. Even then he beamed throughout the stratosphere and drew a tree of chakras on a screen behind my eyes, and his mouth moved as his hand moved, and he said while he drew: “Love is multipolar, a warm valence, a wave that washes over, and renews …” on and on, as sullen Youngstown sweated for the promise of an early absolution. I’d sleep then, nestled in my ignorance, and dream upon the shiny dome of Allan – like an ice moon, like the blank swollen eyeball of a punchy swollen monkey – until my own dream became the bone beneath his tonsure, became, itself, that shiny dome, became … became … until my eyes snapped open and my own mouth moved: but O the price, my own mouth sang that groove, the one price always got’s to rise, especially when you need the merchandise that bad …
… and now the polished air of Youngstown’s fallen deep into grace. Far from flare and smoky contrail, far from blaze and orange breath of the Bessemer ovens, the new sun over Youngstown floats, all domestic now, newly bald, why wouldn’t it be loverly, and this hologram of Allan Watts chants steady into my face: “ … the problem is embodied liberation, the problem is embodied liberation, the problem is …” like I’m steady nudging on his needle, or he’s got this glitch in his cante hondo circuits,
and wanders through the dead heart of Youngstown stuck in a recursion loop. It’s plain to me that now: the plain folks got some downtime during graveyard shift, and breathe good, too, like Kundalini zombies, but now, they also got no pockets, can’t dance, won't walk, don’t much sharpen their hobnails on the old familiar skullsongs. All the gears and jacks and levers of ancient Youngstown stalagmatize and rust, and this hologram of Allan Watts beams its futile dream, and chants into my face: “the problem is …”
… my gin’s all gone, and the bottle slurs its dry tongue of dust back me, jeering nya-nya-nya, etc. “Still got the try, old machine, or what?”
I Don’t Want to Die in Babylon Missing You, H.D.
Almost closing time.
This old school bar sweats blue haze, nods away.
Lady Jett of blue-eyed black-haired bleak horizons rolls
her wide load hips and moans.
One last song whines
through scratchy speakers: hey
it’s one of Mama Thornton’s, treacherous
and needy. Say, I drag that ball and chain
for real, H.D.
Some dead crazy white girl belts that
tune open, like an artery, sinks a big claw into each note
so it bleeds, it bleeds, and it peels
me back like an onion full of love.
But it’s not the great love that
you promised would “slash through thought
and bring back power to the world.”
Hey, I’ll try anything to make me different.
While my hands unfurl and blow past
my eyes, I breathe in and out on the QT, still
waiting for this lightning
you promised. Well, where is it?
They’re playing our song, but no thanks to you.
I can hardly hear it above the color
and the commentary. There’s another damn
hockey game on television, and that ain’t no big thing.
That’s only profane blood, spilled, undistilled,
to feed the profane souls of all us prolies.
That ain’t nothing like our love.
Hey there, Mr. Bartender, glowering inside your
little nook of grog and unreason where
Our Lady of Perpetual Unraveling just left you
two tears for a tip. Switch off the stupid TV.
Punch it out, maybe. Jam your foot through
that nervous plasma and release
the harpies gnawing holes in your chest
if it makes you feel redeemed.
But listen, my man, just listen
with true-after-midnight ears.
Listen to that dead girl wail
the only song we’ll ever hear her sing.
For real. H.D., you’ve got to trust my love.
I don't want to die in Babylon hooked up to a tube.
If you were right here, right now, we’d shine
big time. We’d go down slow, locked together
for the “power” and our love of Li Po.
And again, for your neck’s soft kerf we’d do it,
and your eyes, glazed over like my own, and green
inside the surf. Pound me open
with some clean pain, H.D.
I know you, and you know how I like it.
Hammer me, big mama, once
again, once again.
The Dynamite Confession of Eraser Grunt
You, only, Dynamite.
Dynamite is my uber-pulse.
Naked jive juice
At the synapse.
Take, for example,
The astrolabe of Zam Buk Alleya.
Or the feral medicine
Of celebrity zoom.
All prior artifacts
The glow-lip of Dynamite.
An entire Fairyland of Mighty Mouse.
Bad cat hat wearing
Lance in hand
To da’ push
Of da’ Dynamite.
The strategy of Dynamite is clear,
And insurgent: first, attach
Dynamite to the anterior sorb.
Next, force apart the lips
Immortal star dozer
Grey lid, next
Flutter wind through a catfish
Spread your cheeks
Next, and squat.
A squeak of beak
And bone booms;
In a dumpster:
Here’s a pair of hands
Fresh out of history,
That still snap
And frizzle on the sly.
The wait’s just too bare,
Perched upon a plunger
Designated: Do It!
Whether or not you owe
Yourself, or just imagine.
Crank down on that dynamite.
There’s always another dumpster.
2 legs no feet – where-
O-where’s the rest?
Even on the last beach
These sick gems
Jut above the sand
Of Malibu Royale
Like these legs
Really bother people.
Says the brain,
The suit of serge extortion
Drag, the Dynamite
Cigar. So, here
Is an offer,
In fact, an epic:
Speaks from downtown
Sunny Burbank: find
Get a free
Around the Dynamite.
Says the brain
The suit of famous
Grooties: what you
Handle in a dumpster
Protein – mutable
Last stand of the Phosphene
It is not
A Deuteronomy of Dynamite.
Says the brain
In armor that proceeds
A hip tic,
A famous boot n’ ear
In a thick red jelly.
When you witness
It is not
A star of terragon
It is not a star
Of nannies in Japan.
It is not
Doctor Brown-Eye Handsome
Installs a ray
For real calibration.
Now each cell
Bears the signature
The drool of dynamite.
You freak encounter of Akropolis
You Constant Prince,
You martyrized elixir.
I, Eraser Grunt,
Of mind and sound
And pyre to the stars,
Do hereby bend
Your furry bum.