Steve Starger

 

Pre-Millennial Syndrome

1.  PAYBACK

Begins as a whisper — metal feathers — barely audible in the rain that falls and falls, all down the flooded streets swimming with sewage and newspapers heralding the New Flood — priests, rabbis, ministers, monks babble at their frightened flocks about God's wrath and some try to spread a little comfort but the folks are scared ("I thought the Book says the Fire Next Time!") —

— washing down on the penthouses tenements taxis limos winos chorines groupies bankers jazzers yentas Irish and Italian mommas wailing for mercy — homeys kickin' hard to keep away the fear and cops doing their best to keep order — clerks and CEOs commune with the Brooks Brothers and the Philharmonic plays between the tones for the space cadets and the punks and the killers — the prey and the poor — the rich and the middles — the families and loners — swimmers and sinkers — newly baptized and blasphemers — the searchers — the sycophants and Pharisees — keepers of the esoteric flame — sainted writers beating back the wailers and masochists — torturers and usurers — kidnappers judges — scientists looking through the wrong end of their microscopes shuddering in their puddle of relativity trying to drown out the shouters of the HIV — comedians and two-bit agents watering down their contracts for the last time, shielding their eyes from the orphans from the Norman Rockwell paintings — the immigrants and boat people in numb acceptance of the double agents and assassins but it's still better than where they left — hopefuls tremble in the wings not knowing that the show is nearly over and auditions closed years ago — poolside bullshitters look down their fruity martinis at aloof sexless intellectuals hanging around the New School with nothing on their minds but Foucault — lives of jugglers ideologues continental shuttlers and scene makers meld with decent hardworking people in tandem dashing along a vanishing perspective toward a diminishing horizon — the old rules don't operate anymore for the sleepers on silk sheets and the pre-dawn coffee junkies who catch a nod in doorways or the followers of the starry wheels and the sky pilots and the co-pilots — the smashed veterans limping with the socially conscious and the unconscious and the unconscienced who try to treat their feeble sickened patients with placebo milk bones watching the milky fluids fill in the spaces along their dead arteries — jailers wipe dried vomit from their stinking clinking keys all the while scuffing their institutional black shoes down corridors filled with whispered obscenities from behind steel doors — soldiers of Christ look for recruits here and find grinning sleepy-eyed poets of the Inferno slobbering over the Tao and the Upanishad —

— A new language forged in the fires of misunderstanding — a new Tetragrammaton to replace the unpronounceable unknowable name of JHVH — the breaking of water of the hellbound tenement building tearing itself to bits under the pressure — chunks of concrete, wood, metal, plastic, sheetrock, plaster and lath — and borne into the swirling streets the possessions of the dispossessed under the shadow of the lady's torch who beckoned to Russia Poland Lithuania Portugal Antigua Vietnam and the People's Republic — but from Mother Africa they had to drag their immigrants in chains — it's too late for apologies — the beast is hungry and gobbling everything in sight — MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN — Thy will be done —

— All of that is unknown to the hungry saxman who understands just one thing:

The relationship between man and horn builds up a debt that begins the instant flesh touches metal and reed touches lips — if ignored the accumulated charge will kick the system toward disintegration — but only disintegration will cure it — welcome to the Moebius strip.

Just this side of meltdown — empties bag into spoon with carbon-black bottom side, adds a spike load of water, lights a match and cooks it down, sucks it back up the spike with the bulbous baby pacifier top, tie off left bicep with necktie, cotton out the last dregs in the spoon, tap and find a vein — sudden red gushing into syringe tips off a bulls-eye hit — presses pacifier slowly, draws it back into spike, release into vein, up into spike, release into vein up into spike release into up release spike vein up blood into spike vein release rush rush rush rushrushrushrushrushrush release drop spike clatter onto floor gusher rush down on it sink into oil well bored rifle barrel caliber brain to the spinning bullet blood rush release spike holy shit rush humped on swaybacked mattress floating among the baby oil soft don't forget to release the tie without you don't gangrene the fuckin' arm off your body ahh that's yo' monthly payment boss tenor sittin' over there like you some kind of landlord on my soul I was born to suffer don't do you no goddamn good to bitch bout it play your ass off and git to the sun he passed now observing from vantage point outside and afar through the indelicacies of orgasmic rushtime farther on into sudden nausea but no upheaval and then settling back into the knowledge of self-transactional axis bisected and juggled from debit to credit temporarily back over the not quite mixed metaphor of charts graphs accounts payable and receivable and charts playable in some future infusion of what the uptown critics may call art someday and sniff out the rare historical recordings of same leaving his mark as a significant force in modern jazz and a nuclear blasted shadow on the walls of Minnie the Moocher's own gold flaked bathroom and oh yeah don't forget the legendary feedings of the senses the drugs and booze and all those haute cuisine nightmare gluts that may come pouring out of the bell during some psychotic belch overload of flatted fifths and drained quarts and the white women slinky baggy-eyed big-assed and colder than a pimp on new talent night and blacker than them black queens so quick to understand the down home fuck rhythms you'd think they had stood naked pinched and prodded on the auction block and bought and taken home and fucked like breeding stock instead of being the mistress and secret adventurer in the bucks' quarters when the moon is down swing low sweet swinging tit chariot comin' for to smother me in white musk oil jazz is all that is is jazz and jazz is the spike and jazz is the dick and jazz is the horn and jazz is the jellyroll and jazz is the redneck in the white sheet and jazz is the ticket to the sun and jazz is jizz and jizz is jazz and jazz is the hunter, hunted, and haunted — thirty links of chain and four links of sausage climbing over a mountain of grits and busted fried eggs — a loan shark of the soul, the feathered abscessed vein swelling to rush and withdrawal — deposit on account and just for a little while at select points where ordinate and abscissa kiss, jazz is loan and payback damnation and salvation spike and horn hymn and dirge and the cleanest shit shot through the cleanest spike into the cleanest blood flowing from the cleanest heart on the whole fuckin' block —

— Amen —


2.  VIRTUAL REDUNDANCY

Nothing much seems to be shaking at Hollywood and Las Palmas this evening, just your basic pink and cuddly cluster of 12-year-old runaway boymeat, little longhaired fugitive chickens trying the catch the rheumy eye of a gray, slobbering pederast with K-Y in his chinos and a few coins to treat a young whore to breakfast — couple of tacos and a large coke please, get me to the next block — nothing much, unless you happen to be one of the human filings drawn to this magnet from all the great states of the union or the refugee rice paddies and overstuffed Asian metropoli — a promise of relief from boredom, something to do, something else to look at besides corn fields and grain silos and oppressive office towers that mimic Western monoliths but topped with neon blinking ideograms — look here, among the pizza wrappers and half-eaten Vienna franks and gobs of thick, gooey lungers decorating the Hollywood Walk of Fame — green boogers all over Clark Gable, a real fly-buzzed human turd resting on Rita Hayworth — sorry, Rita! — nothing in the street but a bunch of displaced Valley cruisers fled to Hollywood behind howls of suburban execration — low riders clutching modified mini-steering wheels, maxi vans bouncing on mag wheels and decorated with air-brushed murals of Conan the Conqueror or Red Sonia, endowed with the breast-fed fantasies of the fan gods, the hackers clacking at laptops balanced on their knees to cover their adolescent hard-ons — endless chain of metal and carbon monoxide attitudes primed to a homicidal edge by crack and meth shot of mescal chased with a beer you are the worm in the bottle —

— into this archipelago of extemporaneous trash wanders a middle American vulgarian with idiot-proof digital camera clutched in liver-spotted hand — a Wal-Mart western print sport shirt splotched with bright green cacti prints and dangling from his Adam's apple-popping skinny neck a bolo tie held in faux turquoise setting — YAHOO! Thinkin' he's gonna have a GOOD time because he left his basset hound of a wife back at the hotel and now he's eyeing those tired hookers hanging at the corners like plague germs on a flea-infested rat — suddenly stands eye-to-nipple with a mulatto lady of the night in fluorescent green hot pants and a silver halter top that lets out more than it contains — she grinds her crotch toward his and he feels some sort of transmogrified hardness pushing against his blue polyester factory discount trousers — this almond-eyed half-sister of the Gold Coast grabs a handful of permapress wanger and starts to jack it off mercilessly — "You get the rest for twenty, mister" — and now the whole perverted street scene seems to be staring and laughing at him so he whips his bulging Kansan stalk out of her grasp and plunges into the crush of humanity hoping to be borne away to safe ground by the mob — he runs two, three blocks, panting and stinking from beer and sweat — stops in front of a brightly lighted storefront and tiptoes inside seeking sanctuary, not bothering to see what it is he has come to now but it's very clear when the top of his head hits a bulls-eye on the vinyl swelling cunt of a hot pink love doll hanging from the ceiling — he gawks at a forest of flesh colored, ribbed and regular dildos, erection creams, auto-sucks, and an oatmeal complexioned dwarf with a bald, polished dome staring at him from a high stool behind the counter, his eyes cold as a dead sturgeon's — the visiting fireman giggles uncontrollably, plunks down ten buck for a ten-inch vibrator and hits the boulevard again, awash in acid-fast stains of blinking blue and red —

— Why do they come, year after year, season after season, time after time? Driving west to the ocean in the deepening night or flying east through the clouds to the western shore? No witnesses, eyes straight ahead, bathe in the fire — cauterize the noise wounds — no more sacrifices until you reach your destination — Inhale Brahman and exhale Atman — between Thanatos and Eros falls the shadow, across the sky —

— musk and blood and smog — warriors, poets, minstrels, killers, money changers, alchemists, astrologers, shamans, drones, craftsmen, politicians, rapists, raconteurs, pirates and priests, all manner of beatified and battle-scared bedraggled born-again berated blown pureed lysergiced peyoted barleycorned myopic wall-eyed sanctified cursed cheated busted escaped pursued priapic Sapphic fist-fucked dick-licked cornholed missionaried ascetic meditative venal divorced daisy-chained stone straight stroked steamrolled stymied heartbroken hyped humped hassled hirsute gored glutted gutted glory-bound dethorned dethroned deluded deflowered detoxed delivered delayed derided delirious deleterious diced sliced chopped scored serrated filtered fried Frenched Greeked geeked golden-showered enemaed chained leathered new-waved new-aged punked hip-hopped rocked rolled jazzed bleached dyed corn-rowed coked toked tooted fluted ejaculated swallowed and shown the way to the Light —

— come to these shores to grab the grail at the end of the trail —

— Happy trails to you —