March 2, 2021

Springtime in an American Town


Why is it that I only ever notice my gut in motel room mirrors?
Perhaps obesity is contagious in these parts,
the natural result of pride and fear.
And why am I not noticed here?
Barely branded by sidelong glances
in one dead-eyed town after another
by a populace whose chief talent lies in the ability
to instantly distrust anything they don’t understand.
The feeling is mutual.
I have passed like a ghost through your cities,
scavenging for scraps of the past.
I have rambled, ambled, bled your cities dry,
arriving at the end of the trail of trash,
weighed down on the great white way,
on tired streets of dead blood-red brick.
And I have found the old buildings,
in all their purity, perfectly preserved, in paint
on the sides of new buildings
in towns like silences
that need not be filled.
And there is nothing left anywhere
that hasn’t been turned over and undermined
by overawareness.
For in this tarnished day and age
the luster of everything must be restored
and celebrated with meat and sugar,
and a soundtrack of feigned emotion.

 

March 1, 2021

Holding Pattern

She demanded to be held.
So I held her.
She collapsed lifelessly into my arms
and remained there
while I lay there, with mind elsewhere,
wondering how much longer
I was supposed to hold her for.

After what seemed like a long time,
I gently disengaged myself
and got out of the bed.
She looked coldly up at me from the pillow.
She said that she would find somebody else:
Somebody who would want to hold her
for two hours
after an act of love
that lasted two minutes.

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February 28, 2021

CITADEL

Am I empty at the core or just around the edges?
Are there riches therein?  I wouldn’t know.
I’m weighed down in a warm white glow,
crushing the stark yellow dullness of the day
into dust, statically and statelessly drifting
throughout this haze of rust. Riding the waves
of lostness across the landscape of a desk,
into the bulwark of a threadbare curtain.

January 2, 2021

As Good As It Gets

 

 

I’ve never been to Heaven,
but I’ve been to Oklahoma.
Played ‘For The Good Times’
fifty times in a row,
then pissed on the jukebox.
Smeared my blood
against a white picket fence,
and left town.

July 1, 2020

Iron Anniversary

The object of this restlessness that puzzles you
is solitude: a loneliness for loneliness,
a wistfulness for restlessness, a straining back
to what comes naturally – the way things used to be
when I had only me. I miss myself madly.
I long to be romantically involved
with myself again, like old times,
dependent only upon independence, demanding
only temptation. I’m better off in an empty kennel,
unmuzzled and free: that was the essence
of my doghouse epiphany.

Upon your encroachment my world shrinks.
My energy level sinks. I feel as if I’m fading away.
But your need of me is addictive: It keeps me warm,
the way a tea cozy maintains the pot’s warmth
long after the tea has lost its flavor.
Now I am continually both parched and sated,
sapped, tired of feeling, halfheartedly clinging.
With or without you, my life has no meaning.

April 23, 2020

Pleasures Of The Plague

 

Pleasures of the Plague

March 27, 2020

Down From The Mountain

The trail you blazed was a well-worn path.
Narcissistic heroics,
with one eye on posterity.
Until the time rolled around to reverse
into the antithesis of what you once
so convincingly pretended to be: stripped
of the trappings of excess, climbing
the twelve steps on the ladder to success.
Sober up, straighten out, settle down
and become what you always wanted to be –
a clean-living family man.
That was the plan,
and it worked out perfectly.

An artist over-appreciated in his lifetime,
who threw himself a lifeline
of excess. Sheer force of vanity
kept you going; self-immolation
in the interest of self-preservation.
A smart career move:
You got it all out of your system, knowing
you weren’t in it for the long haul,
and found that underneath it all,
you were just a regular creative joe,
who used to claim that he couldn’t say no.

While others took a stand, you showed your hand,
reaping the rewards of self-destruction
as reconstruction, making mountains
out of your stumbling blocks.
A prince of redundant darkness,
chipping every nickel out of that rock.
A smug survivor, without a damaged liver,
satisfying a luxurious affliction
from a position of responsibility.
It wouldn’t be worth it
if you couldn’t do it publicly.

January 17, 2020

Gentle But Firm Engagement

1822 Sunset Blvd, LA  CA 90026
1/16/20               9pm onwards

 

November 15, 2019

Chronic Chroniclings

Sink into a chronological netherworld.
Flashes from the Artillery Archives:

https://artillerymag.com/byline/john-tottenham/



 

November 7, 2019

Tinnitus, Dying Horses and Other Vital Matters

An Art Ramble with Top LA Dealer Jeffrey Poe