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Clown Alley

CLOWN ALLEY Veterans Cabbie crabbed old man Creaks dirty neck, squint of rimmed eyes Through film of wind shield to Fog blown Factory Dried blood red brick Three stories machine oil thick Nineteen Twenties blue collar Bull Durham smokers bad backs Hard work for a hard dollar. Made machines that Made machines that Made machines that Made cans Wheelchair Roosevelt versus Nazis and Rising Suns A war as bloody as they come Factory filled with Wrench lugging Rosies Crafting patriotic bomb Boys home from horror and victory Made Peaches and Pasta Sauce Chef Boyardee Jobs went to Mexico Jobs went to Japan Jobs went to China Jobs went where wages were low Factory silent Cavern of derelicts and dogs in ‘60 Squatted in the ‘70s by people of the night Painters, Dancers, Angels of Light Manhattan refugee, superstar wannabe Dopers sleeping all day, radical gay Half crazed runaways scrawling a play. Named for angelic Frenchie Artaud Home for lawless with no place to go Cabbie tipped and gone Second story window with the lights not on Get inside quick to relative safety in this Wretched glitterati part of town Key in lock Another key in another lock Still one more lock Been some murders on this block Baggage dumped on a mound of bills Up in the loft and into the bed I fell Out of the dark quiet sleep Comes a clatter Comes a clatter Comma mind sits me up What the hells the matter? Pounding and screaming down the hall Maybe that drummer’s new girlfriend Didn’t work out after all Now the din is from door number two Says I, “Maybe coming to a door near you.” Jet lag jet lag jet lag What to do? What to do? What to do? Reach under my bed for baseball bat and shoes Out in the fluorescent air of the midnight hall She’s a teenage critical mass Thin yellow hair thin arms thin legs Pounding the painters door His pregnant belly dancer wife Won’t open that door for her life The bloody fisted young hag pounds Screaming broken harmonica sounds “You are all machines. You are all machines” Wipes blood on faded floral dress, raveled seams Turns sorcerery unnerved eyes to snarl at me “Machine, another anuuuuuuuuhther Machine” Dancing to her own excruciating howls Says I, “Jeezus Christ. I don’t need this now.” Girl up from the old plants greasy bowels Crash pad junkies, meth madness Down where something behind a Rusted door always growls. Government sanctioned half way house Run by a mail order preacher pulling welfare scams Gimp legged, dirty specs doddering old sodomite Encouraged free love and the occasional fight Did I mention meth madness… ounces and grams. Can’t blame the poor child leaving that fright Invading my precious night But it’s probably three AM in my current time zone Six week tour now I want to be alone And I don’t have to take this…this… this And just when you think that you… you… Know her, she…she She sags just for a Blink of an eye She’s just a kid again Drop of the shoulders Buckle of knees Broken soul Remnants of a young lady Reveals itself Flickers like the old Zippo Held up to the Camel dangling from my lips Plan to toss her to the dangerous street Goes on hold Can’t let her out in the malevolent cold “Machine! I’m a machine” Sad instant gone Soul back in the grave Lurching towards me shredded fingernail pointing And still I can’t shake that brief image Anybody’s child beneath the Fury Times not long gone might have been lover or friend Now lady in waiting of some Lovecraft inner beast I’ll get her back to her bed downstairs at least. “You’re a machine. Everyones a machine but me” Ragged breath and nearer slouching “I’m a machine. I’m a machine” Say’s I, “Make up your mind” Damn, I spoke. I stepped in it now I look around for help Neighbors doors shut sound. In for a penny and in for a pound Crooning steady into her flickering eye , “I’m confused, lady …are you a machine? Or am I?” Stops her about as far from me as Two fighters in their corners Waiting for the bell Hoodoo eyes of hers grow amazed Penetrating past my shoulder A vision takes her vicious breath away. Right behind me something good I pray. Slowly I turned and what do I get? Red brocade smoking jacket Ascot wearing stranger, my dear Cocky and strong not stereo Nellie queer Red head, smirk and upturned chin Smudged face where make up’s been Says I, “What doooo we have here?” Behind the woman now A deeper voice: “Leave that poor woman be”. Heavy footsteps from up the stairs One more dramatis personae Sleepy me, Unknown Swain The Machine Lady and now introducing Dave the Clown, upping the bet And I haven’t even met this red head yet. Dave the Clown, Dave the Clown Three hundred and something pound Three hundred bucks in quarters a day Twisting balloons into poodles For tourists down by the Bay A noble streak to save mankind Starting in his pajamas with this “Poor woman” out of her mind. The cat in the smoking jacket Comes up from behind Starts pushing the woman A hand on each shoulder Dave starts pushing her From the back stalemate… tension Animal cunning strength red head Versus Clowns sheer mass Emaciated Guinevere writhes between “I’m a machine! I’m a machine!” Dave the Clown Leaning in mounds Dandy boy leverage Acrobat strength I join him against Dave Find her someplace else To rave Dandy new guy and I start to win Inertia takes our side Push Push Push Dave the Clown and Machine Lady All the way to the stairwell Yawning like the pits of hell Dave the clown’s slidey old slipper Misses the top stair No turning back from here The Ascot Boy and I nod and shove Watch Machine Lady and Dave the Clown Fall bumpity fall bumpity fall two flights down She gets up first, looks up at us and smiles Pulls Dave up and they head back to Separate filthy blanket piles. Ascot boy and I survey each other My jet lag is gone, feeling well rested I could use a joint and a beer A jeweled hand extends to shake A new neighbor, battle tested “Sandy Counts, I just moved in here. Circus tumbler and tightrope. Care for a martini? Got any dope?” Sandy died so quick it was still called Gay Cancer Died strong and head high just like the kid Who aided me so long ago Circus boy lived more life than most who will read this Lived on mountains and valleys of worldliness Clown Alley is cleaned up now Walt Disney and Ike would be proud Granted Good People Who wouldn’t dare to… Who wouldn’t dare Clown Alley will go derelict again Don’t know when Economy and Earthquake Maybe in my lucky old life time For Heaven’s sake Desperate artists living in Third hand mobile homes Tents and vans Circle the Red Brick Factory Fog between the old and new Dead and living Ceaseless Fog and Time Moves through and around Through and around


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