Tuesday, May 31, 2011

“Another Legend Without a Red Convertible In It”

[I’m jumping into the breach on Poetry Tuesday here as L.E. Leone seems to be MIA.  This is an old poem of mine that I’ve never posted here—it was probably written ’94 or ’95.  I’ve occasionally been asked where I got the phrase “a celestial roadmap no one folded” from the masthead—the answer? Here it is, straight from my collection The Days of Wine & Roses.  Enjoy!]

Another Legend Without A Red Convertible In It

There was something like snow I think the sky spit
out it could have been postage stamps steamed off envelopes
it could have been candy kiss wrappers
too bad it wasn't Though someone says
Alcoholics Anonymous it's No Exit's sentences reflected in a gin
gimlet's remains make Victor's head swim like that
but it could have been
frosted artificial fingernails Nuncle Artie'
d like to gnaw he feels toxic caustic metastatic
as if he were lost in deep space nebulae above
Las Vegas As for the sky
it could have been diet pills it could have been the fizz
's 1000 fisheyes as if this were just another evening
Dixie spent drifting through the bathtub speedread-
ing Schopenhauer & the Personals & bubbles that could have been
snowdomes if they weren't soapsuds if they weren't thought
balloons there was something inside them if it wasn't plastic
roses it was homunculi chirping snatches of
Blue Velvet & asinine Schubert lieder
& Judy Garland's mouth was there someplace a taste of
eucalyptus coughdrops & butibarbitol melting under her
tongue don't ask me why she does that those bubbles exploded off
the Rum & Coke Dixie sipped washing them down there were 250
miles left to travel through the known world including
all the horrors and hoo-rahs of Utah the
Great Salt Desert's white skin's a car crash waiting
for Jayne Mansfield to happen it had that same sense of tragic
preposterous happenstance as The National Enquirer & was
as flat Let's go mumbled Victor like the reincarnated
Jean-Paul Belmondo he felt like just then & in general
as hooked on Lucky Strikes too Back to the sky
it could have been nickels the one-armed bandit
coughed up the sun at the vanishing point of Winnemucca's
main drag seemed no more no less blonde rising that morning than
Miranda her hair could have passed for Pernod merging with smoke
or some equally poetic vapor she was someone Nuncle Artie wanted
          desperately to
drink there were never any other tomorrows he could walk in on
there were checkered tablecloths & horoscopes
& copulating ice cubes whatever that
meant She tells him Get a life
that moment she felt she could understand Elsa Lanchester's
dilemma everything's alive including herself
everything began with an F
as in Felix Culpa who's staggered clear from
the innards of a Holiday Inn sign in Needles the one
Victor & Dixie'd eaten Coconut
Cream Pie scribbled exquisite cadavers on napkins drunk Coc-
a Cola smoked dope in the parking lot at They were looking for
junk supposedly stashed in the bronze
Impala's glove compartment turgid as Bangkok & looked for
spaceships zooming westward like postcards through the
pink cellophane sunset stretched above the Kingman MacDonald's
Dixie chewing Bazooka
Joe Bubblegum read aloud The Poetics of Space & Dear Abby looking
for answers no one knew the questions
to the news-
print's Baskerville typeface was something else the sky spit
out another tragedy on the rose-pink
horizon another mov-
ie Nuncle Artie's masticating phone numbers during like
popcorn actually he's choking on raw
stockings this is the way the world ends he quotes he didn't look
anymore like TS Eliot sporting a Stetson than
any other compulsive masturbator he keeps his false
teeth his ballerinas his fugitive numerals in the water-
spotted glass on the dresser steeping in Polident his hands
are Raggedy Ann dolls his body's a doubleknit
suit hung-up undrycleaned in the Oldsmobile's
backseat window viewed in passing like a late night TV commercial
the sort the frolicking goddesses of banana splits
whisper true love throughout he doesn'
t think Hegelian suicide in so many words it's
a fact of life like scads of pink paper parasols scattered
across the polyurethane bar that thinks it's a mirror
of course there's not much hope for
Nuncle Artie in any purple kimono sky good-bye
I can't say I knew him that well everybody'
s alone in this world & so forth Victor for instance whose favorite
words are laughing bones fedora dope & void he does-
n't look like Robert Frost he feels like him sometimes meantime
the lounge's Bride of Frankenstein Motorola's blue
capillaries rippled the picture
tube's screen it was someone's face Dixie
couldn't place though she wants to kiss it if it wasn't
Proust it could have been any drag queen crooning
Over the Rainbow which gives her the strength to live
the next five minutes She feels like a Vivaldi violin
concerto about as labile
like a string of bubble lights
love's everywhere then for a millisecond it
reminds her she once saw Carmen Miranda's
plastic grapes plastic apples plastic
apricots spilling hopeful though bruised through Lodi's clear blue sky
the taste of amyl nitrate
urgent she thought on her palate that was last August
so many temblors ago
hello it's Felix Culpa reduced after
25 hours of doubling down at the Blackjack
table to Patsy Cline's bolo tie a seashell a tarnished angel
hood ornament the sheet music to Roy Orbison's
It's Over & a state map placemat He'll never plant
a wet one on Miranda like a
fallen star floating on top of a cocktail
& as for the sky it could have been
snow swirling out from one of any number of luminous
TV's descending incandescent just then through spheres
of fire above Nevada Victor thinks
you can look for love in all the wrong places for instance the
lobby amongst the smoldering carnations ditched in the sand
ashtray Miranda's
exasperated with this poem already she tells me point-blank
she expected No Exit except in a
Motel 6 in Tucumcari one of those Hope-Crosby Road
extravaganzas gone wrong
like everything else she's been put together
Tyrone Power's soul in a zaftig Clara
Bow body the Katzenjammer
Kids on the loose in her head that's where they vanished
to from the contemporary desolation of the Sun-
day comics page the sky spits
out in the midst of a jazz
radio station's confusion having taken a wrong turn off I-
80 west of Provo in this snow-
storm Some people are rushing east as if their veins ran
crystal meth & memories of the good old days when Albrecht Dürer
painted himself as Christ ev-
erybody's Christ
nowadays this is a problem while
the sky spits out Jean-Paul Sartre's spectacles Miranda's
vodka & orange juice manifesto Felix Culpa's genuine Navaho
barbed wire necktie & bad luck a ticket parts
unknown the sky for instance Victor & Dixie wish
they could move there like all the other test tube radioactive
effervescent infants hooked on
Tosca & all-purpose cleaners what
do I care I'm a celestial road map no one folded they've got
miles to go before they sleep & miles to go before they sleep

Jack Hayes
© 2010


  1. fallen star floating on top of a cocktail

    Along with the line on the celestial roadmap I love this one too - I can see someone slouched over a drink, casting a jaded eye inside the glass, and finding this star fallen from somewhere. Maybe it will sink and dissolve.

  2. Hi HKatz: Thanks! Really appreciate your giving this a read--neither the shortest nor the "easiest" poem out there!--& pointing to favorite spots!

  3. Okay, this is pretty spectacular. It has that huge, prophetic Ginsberg quality to it. I absolutely love it.

  4. Hi Caroline: So very happy that you liked this. My San Francisco days lent themselves to these longer kind of "visionary" things--different time of life, & pace thereof. Thanks!


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