[[Hassidic->Shema]] [[Witch->Gallows Hill]] [[Murderer->One Face]]
by Tyler Vile
Rebecca Nurse [[came in->Ghosts]]
through the hinges of
my door, grasped my
touched them to
the seat of
a wooden cart.
The black horse
in front rode
steadily as she
bowed her head.
hung on a branch,
swallowed in fog.
Out of the mouths
of babes, [[the old
women of the
village->Gallows Hill]] will die.
There will be no [[evil spirits->Ghosts]],
no sin, no devil in this village,
God as my witness, God, God,
there is righteous thunder
thrown from His angry hands.
Drown them, burn them at the stake,
hang them, hang them, I saw them
with the devil. I did, I did.
I swear by Christ I did.
his beard over
closed his eyes,
[["//Baruch Hashem//"->Geldene Medina]]
[[before sleep->The Night After Shiva]].
Our tongues sizzled on the dabber,
mustache melting into
His eyes sprung up,
gnawed at mine like coyote
We went up north,
met the candy man.
not like that mental
draw, you know.
Shit’s intense, man.
We rode the dune buggy after Pasadena,
my ears slipped into Charlie’s mouth.
The bright red [[body->1st Oct]]
broke both my arms.
better be [[angels->,
cause I’ve got too many teeth
on the floor.
The Night After Shiva
Grandma Fanny sat
at the foot of my bed
and stroked my hair.
She sang a song in
[[Yiddish->Geldene Medina]], I don’t
remember the words.
I ran my finger across
the wrinkles in her knuckles.
Her nightgown brushed
against the floor
and she [[faded->Visit]]
as the morning
started to close in.
I am fourteen,
I close my eyes.
My [[children->The Vendor]] are teachers,
writers, physicists, organizers,
shopkeepers. My children are
born not burned, thank G-d.
My children are not born yet,
thank G-d. My [[husband->Jake]] --
I have not met him.
Grandfather burns against the wick,
oh G-d. I need to sleep now, I think,
dreams of [[challah on tables->Shabbat]], dreams of
kinderlach, gefilte fish, and song.
Dreams of black smokestacks, tanks,
dear G-d. Dreams of Turna in tears.
I see seven children playing on the pier,
six of them grow up in a [[land of gold->Six Ballots]].
I light the candles every Friday
in my mind, come back to me.
I let them burn into pools of
wax until they trail out,
come back to me.
I have never bought a bottle
of Manischewitz, come back
to me. Graybeards, rabbis,
loud and fierce women,
come back to me.
Blessings stale as
week old challah,
come back to me,
your matzo ball
soup is getting
cold, come back to me.
[[Grandma Fanny->The Night After Shiva]], is that you?
Come back to me.
You killed Sharon Tate,
you didn’t carve a [[swastika->Mount Invalid]]
into your forehead, you are
the spitting image of my
[[mother’s->The Window]] grandfather, the
did you know him?
You talk so much about [[Christ->Witchcraft]]
these days, and forgiveness,
you talk about sin, sorrow,
and death. [[California->Needles, California]] would’ve
gotten you with a needle, you
bastard. Euthanasia wouldn’t
have kept your [[ghost->Ghosts]] from me.
What was it like in her house
before you rearranged all the
furniture, not when you
smeared blood on the walls,
but when it was still quiet?
Pray all you want, [[cousin->Janis]].
I don’t forgive you.
1 Oct. 1842
Dr. Wm. [[Peake->When One Is Talking]]
died with a bowie
knife in his heart
and a pistol in
I fixed my eyes
Bastard tried to take
Get the fuck away from me.
I can’t see you, but I know
you’re breathing on me,
I haven’t sleep more than
an hour in weeks, I am
a medium or a crazy person,
so tell me what you want
from me. Who can I get
you in touch with?
[[Ghosts->Visit]] aren’t real,
I swear to my own
skepticism, I need
a break from all this
fix me, my head’s
all fucked up.
I carry you in my DNA,
rape, murder, genocide,
mine. [[Guilt->Jake]], [[regret->Vivian]], [[numbness->Neal Sr.]],
yours. Show me the people
I would become,
let me hate them,
I looked out at the azaleas
and black-eyed susans,
the baby started to kick
or maybe my stomach was
upset, but I swear
he was there.
My brother called
a couple minutes later
to tell me the [[bastard->Bitter and Clean]] died.
There is a rattlesnake
wrapped around the
toilet, don't move.
[[I->Bitter and Clean]] said don’t move,
damnit, [[you->The Window]] wanna
get yourself [[killed->Start]]?
That’s what I thought.
[[Vivian]] walked across
the living room floor,
clouds carpeting the sky.
I stopped putting stickers
on [[the window->The Window]] and
watched as she paced
between the couches.
The same skeleton
that held me as a baby
faded into hardwood.
throat too tight to scream.
Those machines were my [[children->The Night After Shiva]].
They clanked and wailed,
lit up when they saw me.
When my pinball machine
was pregnant with quarters
I would empty her
to pay for the gumballs.
When my jukebox
I could hear
the soda fountains crying,
I’d rush over to fill
my cup with carbonated tears.
Little coin carriers lined up
to ride bouncing ducks
as peanuts and pennies
littered the floor
I swept them in
to the mouth of a dustpan
and fed the rest
to my [[family->Shabbat]].
taught me the
bar and how
to punch a
[[father->Eardrum]] in the
I could always
sense you in
the tear that
when my father
lifted your eyelid.
You were so awful
to women, you hated
queers, was there something
else you wanted to tell [[me?->CWMA]]
An Interview with Janis Joplin
Tyler Vile: Hey Janis, thanks for doing this interview. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Janis Joplin: Well, I’m from Port Arthur, Texas. Been dead since ’70 and alive since ’43. I guess I’m still trying to figure it out.
Tyler Vile: Trying to figure what out?
Janis Joplin: Where I’ve been. I was in Texas, then San Francisco, then back to Texas. Now I’m everywhere, I mean there’s pictures of me everywhere. Can I ask you a question, Tyler?
Tyler Vile: Sure, what is it?
Janis Joplin: Do people still think I’m ugly?
Tyler Vile: No, Janis. Come on, you’re a fucking legend.
Janis Joplin: Aww, you’re sweet.
Tyler Vile: I guess it’s like Leonard Cohen said in his song about you, “We are ugly, but we have the music.”
Janis Joplin: Oh, Leonard wrote a song about me? When did that come out?
Tyler Vile: I think around ’74.
Janis Joplin: I didn’t think he’d remember that time we were in the Chelsea Hotel, man, that a while ago.
Tyler Vile: Yeah, that’s what the songs about. What do you remember most about that night?
Janis Joplin: God, it was so long ago. I don’t know, he kept trying to get me to read his poetry, I just wanted to be with him.
Tyler Vile: Did you ever want to write a song about that night?
Janis Joplin: No, we were just having fun. Maybe if he’d died and I’d lived I’d feel differently, you know.
Tyler Vile: Did you know [[Tex]] Watson was our cousin?
Janis Joplin: What?
Tyler Vile: Yeah, that guy from the Manson Family’s our cousin.
Janis Joplin: Shit. That explains a lot.
Tyler Vile: What do you mean?
Janis Joplin: I got worse shit in my blood than heroin.
Tyler Vile: You mean we?
Janis Joplin: Yeah, I guess.
Tyler Vile: Tex became a Born Again minister, did you ever have any feelings or beliefs about God?
Janis Joplin: I’ve been dead so damn long I forgot about God, was he uh, was he the guy who you made when you stuck plastic eyeballs into a potato? I think I’ve seen him once or twice. It was after I shot some dope, though, so I don’t remember.
Tyler Vile: Did he ever buy you that next round?
Janis Joplin: No, silly girl. It’s just a song.
Tyler Vile: Do you think that if you quit dope, you’d still be alive?
Janis Joplin: It’s hard to say. They wouldn’t be selling posters of me; I’d be fat and old. All these aging rock stars right now, it’s a joke. I ain’t gonna name names but there’s a few I wish was around here with me.
Tyler Vile: Around where?
Janis Joplin: Just fuckin' around.
Tyler Vile: Do you miss being in front of crowds?
Janis Joplin: Some nights I do, but I’ve been forgetting the difference between day and night lately. I guess that doesn’t have much to do with performing, does it? I like to dance with people when they play my records, that’s the closest thing I get to playing live.
Tyler Vile: Woodstock has become huge in our culture since you left. What do you remember from it?
Janis Joplin: I liked the energy of that crowd. Everybody was stayin’ stoned and it was real nice. Glad y’all still enjoy it, I guess.
Tyler Vile: How was Richie Havens that day?
Janis Joplin: He was amazing, I’ve been waiting on him. Glad to see him here now.
Tyler Vile: Where?
Janis Joplin: You ever had the cosmic blues, Tyler?
Tyler Vile: I thought you spelled Kozmic with a K.
Janis Joplin: No, I know you’ve felt it. I’ve danced with you, baby doll. We’re dancing right now. Don’t ask me no more questions and let’s just dance.
Tyler Vile: Do you want me to put on “Kozmic Blues?”
Janis Joplin: No, make your own music. I mean, let’s make it right now.
Tyler Vile: Can you sing on paper?
Janis Joplin: I think you can.
Tyler Vile: You wrote “Mercedes Benz,” with Michael McClure and Bob Neuwirth, right? What was it like to write with those two?
Janis Joplin: You sing that out loud to yourself when you stretch. Does it matter how I wrote it? You can love it without knowing where it comes from.
Tyler Vile: But I wanna know where it comes from.
Janis Joplin: Okay, I’ll tell you. Deep down in our throats and our hands and our knees and our guts, there’s this thing called the blues. We've all got it.
Tyler Vile: Yeah, you’ve got it so strong that people still wish you were here.
Janis Joplin: I am here.
Tyler Vile: I know, but nobody sees you.
Janis Joplin: What do you mean? I can still hear the music.
Tyler Vile: Is the whole world a song?
Janis Joplin: If you’re like us, it is.
Tyler Vile: What do you mean, “like us?”
Janis Joplin: Emotional, spiritual, mushy-gooey, and loud. Real freaks, the kind of freaks people love. The kind of freaks they’d follow past the grave. The kind of freaks they also hate, the kind that never gave a shit in the first place but then started begging for love.
Tyler Vile: Thanks for the interview, Janis. Any last words for our readers?
Janis Joplin: [[It ain’t over yet, baby.->Start]]
I don’t blame you,
you were more than crazy,
drunk, crazier, drunker,
than I am, than my mother
even. [[Jim->Bitter and Clean]] beat the shit
out of you, didn’t he?
I don’t want to know
what else he did,
shut up, stop there.
Grandma, you held me
when I was a baby,
in that picture you
had translucent skin
like my mother
if she were a demon.
There is no hell,
I [[dream->Mount Invalid]] about
you and your
Nobody needs to know,
I didn’t even tell the wife.
The kids are going to
[[Viv->Vivian]] and [[Jim->Bitter and Clean]]’s. They’re
too drunk to kill the kids,
I’m sure. I wish I could
get as drunk as Viv for
a night, but I don’t
want to vomit on
the day my [[son->Neal Jr.]] calls
me a liar.
I’ll be dead soon, anyway.
Bitter and Clean
Cheap whiskey smells,
like vomit at dusk,
sloshes around in shot
glasses like the laughter
of a bastard spirit,
burns throats. [[Ghosts]]
take young bodies,
hurl them across rooms.
Your grandchild is a fucking [[kike->Shabbat]],
Jim, she drinks Pikesville Rye, not
whatever shitty brand you drank.
//for Norman Thomas//
He wore a three-piece suit,
looked like a President.
Silver-blue eyes, stone face,
voice like a [[rabbi->Shema]].
We marched together,
talked about the price
of bread over [[dinner->Shabbat]].
I wanted to know that my
would not starve in the street
or fall at the end of a turret.
Come With Me, America
I’ve looked for you in mirrors full of goatees and zits,
I’ve lost you in unstrapped velcro shoes as crutch cuffs spun around my arm and
made me kiss the concrete, tried to catch up to you at every stoplight from Baltimore to Barcelona, fell down stone steps with crutches dangling on my arm, split my head open on locker doors; blood gushing out to meet you,
I am nobody’s reincarnation, everybody’s asshole cousin-in-law, and somebody else’s idea of a good time,
When my head throbs, yours does too, when my hands glow with warmth, I put them wherever you need me to, we shiver in terror together, arms clasped around each other, breathing like broken oxygen tanks.
Where was I when my hands stopped trembling? Did you catch me there?
Wait! I think my right thigh is ringing, rattling its bone like an army-crawling baby, I touch my eyebrow arch to see if you’re still sitting there, you rascal, you radical,
you mighty feared enemy of the college Republican, who landed on Plymouth Rock and [[Coney Island->Geldene Medina]],
who has unnamed relatives gassed in Polish boxcars and burned at [[witch trials->Witchcraft]], fear pours like concrete through your bloodstream,
I know you, gone from turtle to rabbit on a love machine killing fascists, I’ll give you the craziest ride you can imagine,
Bowl me over with your eyelids, let’s bust out of cocoons under streetlights at Wyman Park or constellations by the Mason-Dixon,
We can’t hold back anymore, this is our [[birthright!->Start]]Beating Eardrum
Freight trains running through
my head. Quick, grab the coal.
I didn’t do nothing wrong,
dad, I didn’t. I can’t see.
I’m dizzy, tongue’s
Boxcars in my legs,
coals on fire in my
forehead. Arms out like logs. Throat stuck
in my chest. Can’t cough. Blood dripping down earlobes.
[[Sick->Mount Invalid]], not weak.
You hear me? Jake? Harry? You hear
me? Hit him! Hit him
for me, [[Jake]].
Make him stop. Mount Invalid
The [[Rabbi->Shema]] on the other side
said I could not be taught the Torah,
because I cursed the day his G-d
locked me in this body.
Whose crutches are these,
piled with braces, hair, and prosthetics?
Black clouds rise from smokestacks.
knives dig into my knees,
blood pours from my gums,
silence in a breath of nerve gas
and [[I->CWMA]] wake up trembling.
When One Is Talking To The Dead
When one is talking to the dead,
one goes on facebook and tries
to Like the living, computer
speakers blaring music,
pictures of cats that look like
[[Hitler->Mount Invalid]], and of course overdue
work. Warmth spreads from
sternum, frozen muscle melts
in ankles, handwritten notes
to old [[socialists->Six Ballots]], [[witches->Gallows Hill]], and [[drunks->Bitter and Clean]].
One scratches out the word, “realizes,”
speaks with the [[Peakes->1st Oct]] before bed
when one is talking to the [[dead->Start]].
I don’t want to know,
what’s the point?
I don’t want to be the last [[body->1st Oct]] left to
rot in the sewer.
I’ve been shoveling snow
the whole damn winter.
I can barely
feel the blood flow in my fingers.
The front steps are crusted with
black ice, it’s no use scraping them,
he was a [[liar->Neal Sr.]].
I'll be dead soon, anyway