Friday, August 10, 2012
Just a fragment. (Think Kublai Khan.) But the last one from the Shuteye Train.
Seemed like the right time for it. I mean, the ship is sailing, isn't it? Aye aye.
1.The fans hum inside the CPU.
2 Reedy fingers the keys of the parallaxophone, softly, softly.
3 Loco Dantes murmurs into the mouthpiece of the macrophone.
4 Joe Kay plays the intro on plot synthesizer, granting a paragraph or two of recognition to the sponsors of this work, and then Loco signals for the writing to begin.
5 All around him he hears the dry clicking of keyboards, the ominous rattle of the Shuteye Train transporting a cargo of raw words to the Stylizer, where the software will ready them for the printer, which waits silently down the line, its paper-wheels ready to roll on Loco’s command to execute.
6 Inside our cage, the watchers are watching. Overhead, the fluorescent panels drench us with dead light. Thus the scene of departure, last station on our journey through the boomer brain.
7 But are we ready? Are we strong? How much coal for the boiler fires? How much steam for the Shuteye Train?
8 We cannot say.
9 We do not know. Our fires are burning, but burning low. We have no answers anymore.
10 Last call, last chance for the Shuteye Train.
2.Still, we begin. In the City of Brotherly Love, on South Street, there were bands.
2 Punks they were, who jeered at things they did not understand.
3 Fools and worse, they dared to soil blank paper with the contents of their minds. Small minds that could not read or write between the lines.
4 Tiny minds.
5 Minds so minuscule that one single solitary ounce of rage, once entered in, filled them to the brim and overflowed. Flash flood of ink on South Street.
6 What profit and what cost?
7 St. Nuke has floated, burning, out to sea.
8 The Spraycans are emptied and gone.
9 Ripp Starr is stiff, autopsied, in the ground.
10 Johnny Dodge has thrown a rod, been sent to Studebaker land.
11 And even Alice, once our queen, is closed inside her wall of thorn.
3.But we are the ones who write with guns, and there was once a regular guy.
2 He was like you, his name was Steve, and he did his own thing for a while.
3 We knew him from when, from his college days, when his ideals were a thing to behold.
4 And he had this girl, then went to law school, and almost acquired a bride.
5 But shammadamma, the Shuteye Train, we crashed his wedding day.
6 It was shammadamma, shootabooma, BLAMMADAMMA EXECUTE
7 C00000010 1000001 0010101 0010101 0100101 1001001 0100001 1010101 0010101 1010001 0000010 1001001 1011001 0000101 0011001 1010001 1011001 1010001 0111001 0010101 1010001 0010001 0000010 0000101 0100101 1010001 1100101 1100101 0000010 0100101 1010001 0010101 1010101 0100101 0111001 0000010
] We knew a guy, a regular type guy, but he died on his wedding day.
8 Dammasham0000101 0100101 1111001 1100001 1010001 1100101 1100101 1001001 0111001 1110001 0000010 0010001 1010001 0011001 1000001 1001101 0000010 0000101 0011001 1010001 1000001 1100101 1010001 0000010 1110101 1000001 1001001 0010101 0000010
]a gray ka flew in the midnight sky, dreaming aloud of Eden.
9 Too much pain, too much fear0000101 0011001 1010001 1000001 1100101 1010001 0000010 1110101 1000001 1001001 0010101 0000010
]not enough the Shuteye Train. We are not nearly enough, only a punk writer band stranded in mid-story.
10 What do we know, unprompted, of history and pivotal epochs in our blind declining age? Like dying cancer patients, we are suspended above fatality by a frail man-made network0000101 0100101 1111001 1100001 1010001 1100101 1100101 1001001 0111001 1110001 0000010 01111001 1111001 1110101 0000010
]and disquieting dreams.
11 In the lonely time we turn toward the source. But God has no legs and1100001 1000001 0000010 1111001 0110101 1010001 0100101 0100101 1001001 0010001 1010001 0000010 1001001 0111001 0000010 1010001 0110001 0110001 1010001 1100001 0010101 0000010 1110101 0001001 1111001 0000010 1000001 0100101 1010001 0000010 1110101 1010001 0000010 0010101 0001001 1010001 0000010 1100101 0101001 1010101 0010101Who are we, the Shuteye Train?
4.Hide at night and dread our banner. Sue for peace in a lowly stammer.
2 The Shuteye Train, the Shuteye Train, you’ll try and die in the Shuteye Train.
3 Be thou boomer, take a number. Count your days then die forever.
4 Falling now be we the hammer, crushing blows, yes, we deliver.
5 We deliver, we deflower, we demember defutured terror.
6 Our tracks abide. Our tracks abut the abyssal ever. Our tracks abridge the Nihil River.
7 Who are we the Shuteye Train? We are the Disaborted,
Of the murdered
Yet to be.
We’re the rage
And rape of never. We’re the Word and War for Ever 1111001 1010101 0010101 0000010 1111001 1010101 0010101 1111001 1010101 0010101 0000010Out 1111001 0110001Out out 0010101 0001001 1010001 0000010 0100001 0011001 1010101 1010001Out of the blue0100001 0011001 1111001 1111001 0010001 1001101 0000010 0110001 1010101 1100001 1101001 1001001 0111001 1110001 0000010 0010001 1000001 0100101 1101001 0111001 1010001 1100101 1100101 0000010 1001001 0000010 1100001 1111001 1111001 1011001 1010001 0000010Out of the blue bloody fucking darkness of your minds I come, Doctor Dream, to scream the fury of the ages in your ears.
8 No more games. And no more rules: I hereby break them all, all the arid husks of how it was, how it goes, and how it sounds.
9 What remains? Endings only, the resolution of all our piddling plots, our Cro Magnon epilogue, endings, endings.
5.It is an undead visitor; he stands above the scene.
2 He speaks in stone, he stands alone, he looks to thee and thee.
3 “Be not afraid,” they long to hear, they beg him with their eyes.
4 He struts on stage, he is the star, the Shuteye Train plays on.
5 Once there was a wedding, and hundreds came to watch. A silver bride, an iron groom, and parents made of chrome.
6 And Steve was there in formal clothes, he smiled at all his friends.
7 His friends were there, they smiled at him, and the priest he smiled at God.
8 The bride was there, she also smiled, how happy we all are!
9 Let’s count our blessings one by one, let’s hope they never end.
10 For stocks and bonds and birth control, and Stuttgart’s pride and joy;
11 For parents’ love and dimming eyes, and racketballing on the sly;
12 And fondu pots, and Bella’s hat, and Ivy League degrees;
13 For the Chesapeake, Nantucket Sound, and hysterectomies;
14 For savoir faire and chic and balls, and the death of Janis J.,
15 For Diet Pepsi, coke, and grass,
16 For satin sheets, and PBS, and singles bars,, and Krugerrands and Vogue and spas and Chevy Chase,
17 For jogging shoes, for credit cards,
18 For these and so much more, we thank you Lord, our God most high, our grantor and our friend.
19 Thus called, I come.
20 Your whispers fill this house, a mist of apprehension. Who, what, why is this visitation?
21 If you would ask, then ask aloud. I have the answers.
6.When a dead man was gunned down, his departing gray ka was devoured by the Raptor Ka of Doctor Dream, who took the bleeding bullet-riddled body for his own.
2 The dead man was Steve, but who is Doctor Dream?
3 It was on Steve’s wedding day that the gunmen came,
4 Through the portals of the ivy-covered church, up the long aisle, between pews that smelled of varnish and velvet, the gunmen came like doggerel justice.
5 They rhymed wed with lead and lead with red, and red with dead, and when they had done, Steve’s corpse stared at them with open, sightless eyes, and the bride turned as white as her wedding dress.
6 The corpse was Steve’s, but to whom did the guns report?
7 Ask the guns; they speak straight to the human heart.
7.Blip blip blip blip blip whump whump whump whUMP WHUMP WHUMP WHUMP WHUMP!!!!!!!!
2 Oh God. The heart of Boz.
3 WHUMP WHUMP WHUMP!
4 After days, weeks, months of the anti-whumping silence of decay, Boz’s heart is beating again.
5 What cold hand is that? That squeezes so tight around my heart, rhythmically forcing the congealed black blood to flow, blood to the brain and tongue of Boz?
6 I am asked to remember death, remember death to you, and you to death. But how?
7 WHUMP WHUMP. We are become a marionette for death, his hand in our back, calling the tune. How does it go?
9 The exodus from South Street.
10 Boz was there to write his epilogue.
11 Some Alice Hate had turned his head.
12 Celia was cold—warm, gentle, and cold.
13 He had come from the coven in Chestnut Hill.
14 Gloria’s little boy, iced in enlightenment, would never grow. He looked at Boz from such a distance.
15 Already he could read and fashion a likeness in pale clay, but he had no cowboy hat. He called Celia ‘Celia,’ Sara ‘Sara,’ and his mother ‘Gloria.’
16 “I am Boz Baker, Celia’s husband.”
17 “How do you do?”
18 Good question. The punks were leaving, retreating across the river into the wastes and marshes of Jersey. Had anyone told the boy of this?
19 They packed their gear in vans and what they could not carry they left behind. Piles of dirty clothes, broken parallaxophones, a dusty CRT, now refuse in the street. The chaotic torpor of the conquered in flight is always the same.
20 But you, my son, have Sara to sing to you of other worlds, and why should I intrude? Sara’s is the victory song, the iron lullabye. “What we conceive is ours to keep. Go to sleep, child, go to sleep. We the shepherd, you the sheep, go to sleep, child, sound asleep.”
21 Alice Hate, Alice Hate. I hate you, I love you, Alice Hate.
22 When St. Nuke died, I thought you knew. Fashions change, fads fade, all promises come finally unglued. There was never any real connection. The data bases hid their faces, and poor dead Nuke was fooled by lies.
23 Boy, let me tell you a story, one true story before you sleep. A man named Boz once loved a girl, who loved a man who lived a lie. And Boz was a genius, a burning star, who looked down on it all from his place in the sky.
24 Who lived the lie?
25 Boz, are you wandering?
26 No. Just remembering. All are present, after all. A reminiscence among friends need not be linear; the missing pieces are in our hearts, footnoted in our heads. Only the boy’s not in the know, but he is not allowed, will never be.
27 Nuke aspired but took the fall. The overreacher always pays a price.
28 And Boz paid too, too much too soon, too great a price.
29 The exodus was underway. He had come from the coven to record the end.
30 We thought the Shuteye Train had slipped its rails.
31 Loco was a corpse in Camden, a raving deadman with an Uzzi in his mouth.
32 Punk was a bitter cancelled masquerade, the last laugh an uptown echo that smacked the heels of the fleeing throngs, and even Alice a refugee, a grieving female leaving town.
33 Boz had his notebook out, Cross pen in hand.
34 The vans went by, he counted them, a faithful witness to the end.
35 And then it was that Johnny Dodge—a rumbling howl, 440 nightmares coming true, broken bones, a burst of light outside the final dying scream of Boz.
2 The genius rises on his scream of pain.
3 A brown landscape somewhere below.
4 What altitude can be purchased with so much pain?
5 Rooftops and rooftops and others contending for space.
6 The weight of memories. Mouths open to let them out, this excess baggage, dreadful burdens.
8 Of what?
10 The song of Boz?
9.Mommy, make it right.
2 It was all her fault. She pushed me down the stairs. She made it up about me hurting her. Please don’t tell Daddy, make it right.
3 A pack of cigarettes in college, was I ever suave, and she fell for my mind, my sterling ideals. We drove home in my roadster, I had been published, and all the clouds looked just like me.
4 I grew up in the war, our house was full of antiques, brown depths of fabulous wood, FDR came on the radio, the world was all going to be just great.
5 Swimming at Cape Cod, I never doubted it. I had a convertible that sparkled on shore, no epaulets, and who can do with words what I can?
6 Her breasts are all mine, in my hands under water, a cool firmness offered up to me for the taking.
7 I have interviewed the rich and famous, and I know the score on everything.
8 I have accumulated evidence, photographs of Auschwitz and Hiroshima, it was never my fault, she pushed me down the stairs, and if you tell Daddy, tell him my side too.
9 We rented a house in Stamford and it was all a Cheever story, the smell of woodsmoke was in our nostrils and theirs too, we were doing what there was to do. There is bridge to play, and David and Marge sat in our poolhouse the night their son died in Viet Nam.
10 David is a broker, a former champion at squash, and I have slept with Marge, but only once and only for spite, and no one ever knew.
11 She has a thin gold chain around her neck that teases the upper slopes of her...
12 ...but have you ever seen the list of political prisoners in Nicaragua? I helped bring that bastard down, my articles in half a dozen magazines got in amongst the smell of cut grass and old leather and undid the apathy, or so I’m told.
13 And David wept for his son, and what were we to tell him about the world, our criminal race?
14 My father was in the war, his father too, and now the wars are polished promises that live underground, waiting to come true.
15 I used to love Sir Walter Scott and wanted to be Ivanhoe. But I got Celia instead of Rebecca, and there was never quite that fire in her eyes of the desperate longing aching love I had felt in my dreams.
16 She is crisp in the undoing of her blouse, but she remembers the time and when I have to catch my plane.
17 I stayed up all night and drank bad coffee and plugged my book to help them raise money for PBS, I covered the riots in Chicago, Woodstock, I took acid to bridge the generation gap, I have my mother in a nursing home, and her eyes light up at the sight of me, but who I am she does not quite recall. I give her a new bathrobe she will not wear, books she cannot read, a television she cannot watch, her hands are twisted with arthritis, and why shouldn't David's son have died in Viet Nam rather than her or me like this?
18 I get big advances, checks with lots of zeroes before I ever write a word. They know my acumen, my gift for paradox. I can pose the questions that have no answers.
19 I majored in history in a world of ivy and ambition, and between ivy and Iwo there is no connection but the punchline of some cruel joke.
20 In Stamford the pool is filling up with clean blue water, and across the world the world is ending in some conference room, rice paddy, or terrorist attack.
21 Jesus urinated in the sand two thousand years ago, today I do the same in porcelain, then catch a plane for Philadelphia, where they will push me down the stairs.
22 I have smelled rain on the breezes of spring, the tarmac of a runway in Saigon, and now the cheese steaks and booze of South Street.
23 I had at one time a fantasy of being Ivanhoe, but I learned to hunt bounty instead. They hang the posters—Wanted for Trying to Save the World—and I bring them back, alive or dead to a world that can’t be saved.
24 Oh Mommy, Mommy, they’ve done to your son, who’s been to Paris and Rodeo Drive, Damascus and Tel Aviv, the Kremlin and the Pentagon.
25 Make her love me, there’s nothing else, I never hurt her, only wanted that aching longing...
26 Sing, Sing, Sing.
27 And how could I have dreamed of Doctor Dream, his rage and wrath on earth?
28 None could have known, none could have dreamed, none could have saved me from this pain.
29 And none will save you, for he has come to swallow up your souls.
30 Come from death, from the timeless war, from the dreadscape known as Kain,
31 Where I am now,
32 And will remain,
33 To sing this song of Boz,
34 As slave to your destroyer,
35 Doctor Dream.
10.It is an undead visitor; he turns the stones to glass.
2 This church his ship, the choir his helm, for the voyage he has planned.
3 The buttresses break loose, foundations breathe,
4 The rainbow air of possibility,
7 The last ride has begun.
P.S. If you're at all curious, the names mentioned are also in the archives: Boz, St. Nuke, Johnny Dodge, Alice Hate, Ripp Starr, and Doctor Dream (Epistle Dedicatory). Most have works of their own. And there's more about South Street and Punk City too. There's more than one way to tell a story. Oh. The computer code is ASCII, something used by computer cavemen who actually knew how computers worked.