Working Hell

Note of Hunger

[In The Footnotes]

There was a rat
in the heart
of Dickens that
ate away at him.

You can find everything
in the footnotes.

You can spend hours
in their margins.

You can arm yourself.
You are Spy vs Spy.
You can give
everything in the text

a shot of adrenaline,
a battery charge.

A rude wake.
A muffled tear.

The smell of the workhouses
comes up through the floor.

The sounds of
the children
as their bones
become brittle
in hard beds.

The claustrophobia
of the chimney sweep
is given legal parameters.

A rat makes its way across the
secret history of
snuff and Mudfog
to snack on the
salivating eye of a student.

I roll up my sleeves.
Not to get to work.
But because it’s warm
in the workhouse.

My eyes aren’t dry they
stayed up with the orphans
long enough to hear their
stomachs churn in on themselves,
nibbling at the lining.

The riots are breaking out,
the poor are organized
with fire and fury and
the full stomach of the court
is foul, is fallen into full view.

You can smell it on their breath.
Something is rotten.
Something is happening,

in the footnotes,
you can hear the heart
of the orphan
beating to Beethoven’s 6th.

Smashing with a frail fist,
the locks on the food cupboard.

PR men don’t exist yet,
they’re still wet dreams in
Hitler’s unborn henchmen,
but propaganda is as old
as Constantine.

All the King’s men
can’t hide the
footnote.

The one that breaks the truth up
passes it around in
edible, ingestible morsels.

The collection plate is full.
The cup runs right, right over.

Everyone asks for more truth.
Everyone dreams of escape.

Nobody gets out of it without answering.
The clergy are not even safe.

Footnotes for all of them.

Let them have knotty
endnotes, if not.

A Series of Drawer Poetry

Drawer Words (i)

While its nothing as cool as
Ray Bradbury’s office on the show I ate up religiously
I do have a drawer that functions the same way.
Today seems like a drawer day.

You release your demons, your Kraken,
your ancient angels and your dragon girls.

Here’s a little flyer for the night
me and an artist buddy of mine
teamed up with this real smooth cat
“Lou” who used to work at a check cashing place
in the West End of Van City and he always told
such vivid and entertaining stories.

In one, this real jerk was giving
him a hard time,
but Lou, never one to be moved,
since he did have a couple
inches of bullet proof
between him and said antagonist
he very earnestly gave him
the international mime-sign
for “blow me”, even using
his tongue to create a phantom
cock protruding awkwardly out
one cheek at a time,
to which the asshole entered
fully-automatic fuck head mode,
and this just made Lou
all the cooler, a shit eating
have a nice day grin on his face
retelling the story, matching ours.

He ran his own promotion company
which consisted of
him and his token white boy
(as much a necessity as a partner)
and I remember dropping
my words on him
(literally a binder full on his lap,
I was so young and no decorum at all)

And he had a look like
“ah, you’ve got rhymes, but can go freestlye?”
and I likely gave a returned petrified, “Nope”.

I did my best that night,
my friend was experimenting with some
slide projection art,
and as I gave my best anti-Bush poem he
drizzled red paint on a slide of his face,
I realized performances
are often much more effective
in your mind than they ever are,
but still we managed to shock
an Arrested Development-style band
from Georgia who I will
never forget the look of fear
said they’d be
too afraid of getting shot
to ever pull a stunt
like we just did,
back home.

Fuck This Job

I know he was Korean because he always took the time,
after insulting me in his native tongue, to translate.

“You know what I just said? I said
‘You Are a Useless Fuck’ in Korean!
That’s what I said.”

He would actually get on like that.
His life seemed to be pretty empty;
divorce had him haemorrhaging cash,
he barely saw his son, and he was always
miserable and convinced employees were stealing.

(this was exacerbated by the fact that the lead bartender,
some guy form Barrie, who gave me a job after I showed up
there and spent 100 dollars on Absinthe, was indeed ripping him
off, and good, for quite some time before I showed, then he quit.)

And he left me in his place to do a job I was untrained to do,
instead my training consisting of a long prolonged Korean lesson
or two, each time I attempted to do anything- serve or cook or clean,
and he would watch me, and wait until I needed to be told “No”.

This all only went on about a month, until I finally pissed him off
and he fired me, but not before I threw a glass of Absinthe
at his wall and told him to go fuck himself, in English,
using my hands in non-official ASL to even translate this lament.

Back then, anyone who insulted me in the workplace got a similar
farewell. I could go through 3 jobs a week in BC and never run out
of terribly oppressive managers to tell the same to. It was great fun.

I guess my super power that counter acted this villainy is that I did
bust my ass pretty good for the kind and generous few who taught
me better words, and received in return similar encouraging.

If you treat yourself
like you deserve
to be told off in
any language
you will universally
be saying to those
you encounter that
you are worthless.

You need to know when to say
“Fuck this job, and you as well”
in the universal tongue.

And that’s what the old fucker taught me.

He would hold after hours parties at his club
and all the young girls would flirt with him for drinks
and I figured that was pathetic and I felt kind of sad for
him just before I looked at him smiled, slammed what was to be my
last Absinthe at Tribeca on Georgia, and heaved it in his direction.

That stuff always did bring out my inner Bolshvik.

Stupid Questions

What Do You Do?

I write.
Usually, at night I

rebuild streets
to Miles Davis symphonies

I erect a hundred effigies to city lights
fill dozens of chalices, full.

Oh no I mean,
what do you do so
that society doesn’t
do away with you,
call you scab or fleck,
fuck you from existence
on any given/slow motion
night?

Simple,
I find new things to write about.

I practice my funeral pyre
To the trepidations of horn
and hammer.

But don’t you need something
More?

I have the absinthe nightmare
of my adolescent hi jinx.

I replay my stupendous pride.
Internally, at my soulful cine-plex.

I sneeze and Greece eases into the ocean
a little further, I shit and LA loses a mile

of shoreline,
I trip, and dynasties lay to ruin, smoulder.

What about security, how do you sleep?

Like Kubla Khan meets Mario Bros.
With a slice of Fincher and Lynch.

I sleep between scenes, in a pinch in a ditch,
always the same; another watcher, another eye.

Dreams?

The epic fallout of our time.

Hopes?

To live long enough to see it all fall apart.
And write the first post-apocalyptic poems.

Blooper (Meta-Self) Rant

Something about a good blooper reel for a show you love.
It’s like being part of the family, seeing them laugh and flirt
and kill the tension and keep the momentum and fall apart,
and reveal little inside jokes. It’s the ultimate peek show.

The proverbial meta-televised fifth business.
They taunt the extras jokingly and make fun of the other
Actors, outdoing one another in bravado and ingenuity.

It’s like seeing the kitchen staff break rank
and station and jostle with each other during
service lulls as you head for the bathroom,

or out for a smoke, or just to wander (if you’re
like me and plate check Before ordering);
I’ve worked a few restaurants I know how it can be.

I worked one that had the whole kitchen
outfitted with hard working El Salvadorian
guys who weren’t citizens yet? They worked
them like it too, you can count on that.

Funny thing was wait staff had to
band-aid tats and take out piercings, cut
hair and be white and fairly cute

to cater to the family restaurant image
they were attempting to operate under.
All along a bunch of hilarious jokers
and generous ‘others’ getting ridden
like slaves, while the douche bag who hired
us all sat up front eating amongst the diners
in the middle of lunch like some goddamned
aristocrat. It was enough to make me quit one
night when I had had and done and taken too much.

There’s something exhilarating about
quitting a bad job. I compared the owners
personality to drift wood, I believe.