Joel Lewis



"All the visible world
is nothing but a shop
of images and Signs."

Approaching the magnificent verdure
of Staten Island

I spill ice coffee
over an open seat

the cranky cleaning guy
sneers: "Thanks a lot, MISTER!"

but I won't say: "Its clumsy slobs like me
that gives meaning to your labors!"

instead, yell: "Hey man, I'm sorry!
& dash off the ferry boat.


"A happy poet is not a good poet"
says Konstantin K. Kuzaminsky, the unhappy
Russian avant-gardist in the exile hell
of fast-food America.

Reading about the poet and the devotees who keep him
in blackbread, slivovitz and Kents, it appears that this big,
bearded,bathrobbed poet is merely the Buddha's decision
to return Ted Berrigan to this world of Samsara.


Nursing student Elizabeth Jordan
discovered herself deep in the world of shit
one morning on the L.I.E.
when the stuck accelerator
on her Chevy Blazer turned it
into an 85 mph rush hour bullet

Calling 911 on her cellphone,
she was told not to hyperventilate
and stay calm. The dispatcher then
asked: "Have you downshifted?"

"Downshifted into what!," replied
Jordan, trying not to cry,
"I'm a female, I'm sorry." *


Interviewer: Is it possible to be happy being alone?
Merril Markoe: "It's possible but its difficult. Though I made a point in teaching myself how to do it."
Int: What are the rules?
Markoe: "Get over it! You're not the center of the world! Who's looking at you? And if they are, big deal! It's not such a big fucking deal! You're not under a building in Turkey!"


A tractor-trailer
crashed on the interstate
spilling its fuel
& a payload of broccoli
all over the asphalt.

The ensuing fire was so big
that authorities thought
a plane had crashed
when they arrived
on the scene.

"Holy Shit! " sd fire fighter Brad Reist,
"There was steamed broccoli
all over 81."

Harbor loaded
          with tugs
& while Jack DeJohnette
          solders the hole in my head
I look out towards
          Kill Van Kull
searching for the Chevron Oil Tanker
          the S.S. Condeleeza Rice

so, whose got the money
          on this
earthly paradise?


A man who underwent
13 laser surgeries
to have a misspelled tattoo removed
has settled a lawsuit for $7,000
against the shop
where he got it, Body Art World
of Seaside Heights, NJ

In 1999, Joseph Beahm got a tattoo
showing a knife stabbing
into a man's back, with the words:

The word Else was spelled



A group of Hasidic Jews
have bought land near Amherst, Massachusetts
attempting to recover the culture of their ancestors
by starting America's first kosher organic farm.

Is there some inherent conflict
between piety & technology?

One pioneer, Shmuel Simenowitz, notes:
"There's a story about a man who kept praying,
'God let me win the Lotto. Ha Shem, please let me
win the lotto' and finally God says, 'It would help
if you bought a ticket.'

You see,
we believe in divine providence, but that's no
substitute for skills. God will give you the miracles,
but he first wants to see the business plan."


No reveries,
cousin. And thoughts
to the blue ice
of mars
& then back
to normal flannel
in a daily filtration
of street furniture,
factoids & brief
human interactions.

Call it "Silly Putty planet"
and no one would be
indignant. Evening news'
grim male faces

by its mirror: ads
for adult diapers.
Stan Getz has returned
to judge the world
but needs his Camels
& single malt Scotch
to get straight. He ain't no
wrathful deity, really. So,

in between the Atlas
of Good and Evil, there's
a high lonesome sound that
stands in for the general lack
in the things we are
invested in. You see,
I'm the guy
who inspired the phrase:
"Doesn't get along well
with others."


The late ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax
created the Global Jukebox, a vast database
of songs and dances cross-referenced
with anthropological data. His pioneering work
continues on at Hunter College's
Association for Cultural Equity.

"We now have cultural machines
so powerful that one singer
can reach everybody in the world,
& make all the other singers feel inferior
because they're not like him," Lomax noted
at the end of his life.

Once that gets started, he gets backed
by so much cash & so much power that
he becomes a monstrous invader
from outer space
crushing the life
out of all human possibilities.

My life has been devoted
to opposing that tendency."


The Trentonian's Tony Persichilli
insists that he wasn't trying
to get some cheap laughs
at the expense of the mentally ill
when he chose to caption
a story about a 3-alarm blaze
at the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital
with the headline:

"When I wrote it", claims
the NJ editor, "I didn't intend
to hurt anybody's feelings, upset
anyone's sensibilities or make fun
of anybody's handicaps."


Upper New York Bay was smooth enough
to Xerox, a vast marbled endpaper
freckled with the turds
of underserved Brooklyn. And I won't
shout out: "dark Coffee of the sea", but
who am I really kidding?

Just use kleig lights in the victims absence.
The still trees of Battery Park
tell the gulls to quit daydreams. The magic
in losing money in the street
equals the pleasure of spraying for crane flies
in a South Carolina peanut butter factory.
A pleasant intuition? Got me. I remain stormy
in this paradise.


According to a new study published
by the National Academy of Science

the female brain is wired
to feel emotions more intensely
& remember them more vividly.

Women who participated in the study
got more upset, for longer, than
male subjects after being shown
pictures of dead bodies, gravestones,
crying people & dirty toilets.


Mr. Rollins, you've known so many
of the giants of jazz-- Miles, Bird,
Monk, Trane, Brownie--
Do they ever visit you in your dreams?

               Yes, they do.

What are they doing?

                      Oh, they're just hanging around, doing
the same sort of things they did when they were alive.

Do they say anything to you-- messages from the beyond?

No, it's just like watching old-time home movies.
But my mother, she's always giving me
advice in my dreams. You know
how that is, don't you?

  A bearded man walked into
the main branch
of the Kansas City (MO) library
wanting to pay
the outstanding late fees
of every card-holder
named Mohammed.

When a perplexed & mistrusful librarian
refused his VISA card
The hirsute samaritan took care
of 600 dollars worth of fines
with 600 packages
of low-sodium Ramen noodles.

It turned out the library was holding its
annual "Tardy Food Drive" in which
book scofflaws can erase a dollar of debt
with each nonperishable item.

Branch manager Gretchen Dombrock
declared: "I've never seen so many
packages of Ramen noodles!"


Gus Long
sought to develop
new sources of oil
in the Western Hemisphere
to reduce dependence
on the Middle East.
To that end he oversaw
Texaco's operations
in Trinidad, Venezuela
& Canada.

"Gus long was a great builder at a time
of rapid expansion after WWII, said
James W. Kinnear, his successor as
CEO of Texaco.

Mr. Kinnear said he often tried to emulate
Mr. Long's oratorical style
in motivating his own sales staff
--with little success.

"He was basically a marketer,"
Mr. Kinnear said. "He used to come
to sales meetings
& recite poetry.

He'd get you so stirred up!"