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slummin' with jennifer

she does the ghost of mr yeats proud,
she trods the ould sod
      under moon
      white flame
montrose of houston or by any other name,
this sunflower sutra of fate & fame has blossomed;
she treads a road of rhyme & gleam,
she is the waking dream of mr james joyce,
sushi-voic'd in a wilderness of fish-&-chips:
a slipstream of consciousness
superhighway spike strip,
the migra chase & race for the border
evasive back-flip:
and i'm hearing how she likes her poets
full-heart & hip to the heartland
headtrip hum & rattle
the falconer in battle;
she is ulysses-in-barrettes,
a self-portrait of the artist
as a young mint julep
in a bluegrass sea of
paddle-wheel tulips,
and we all dig her dog wood dugout,
her blue-ridge
here she comes, just
catch her if you

one for the road

like after deciding
that you can make it
88 more miles to the next bathroom,
which is what the sign tells you
somewhere near memphis
despite the three
double-espresso caffe-lattes
you slammed not only to wake up but also to combat the slush
the chill of
snow flurries in the air
even though it is late march
and everyone around you is on
spring break headed for the florida
panhandle and
just when you thought
you could go no further
and was about to pull over
and make some yellow snow…

your poem is the sign
off the interstate that reads
your poem is
real butter on fluffy white grits
instead of the usual
served up at every highway
waffle shop you ever stopped at
between arizona and daytona;
your poem is
walking up to a quarter slot
in vicksburg
with your last fifty cents
and finding 100 credits on it
someone accidentally left behind
for you;
jennifer your poem is
a reminder
that angels move among us
and they love to write too.

aimee mann

so if you’re going to the coach house
you know up in capistrano
to see, say aimee mann
you should take someone
say, yr friend gabriel,
and since you temporarily forgot
that you called in sick to work
so you could see this show
and got on the 15 anyway
and now run the risk of being espied
by coworkers leaving the office
readying the merge onto the 78
which is about where you are
so you think about putting on beach hat & sunglasses
which you keep stowed away in the back seat
       but then, you are in yr car
so spur of the moment decide to take the ortega hwy
through the santa ana’s instead even though
the country store which always makes for a nice
place to park awhile you know
so gabriel can smoke a cigarette
won’t be open this time of year
but then just look at that sky
reflecting the storm-craftless lake,
the oaks maintaining their green
the glowering angelic boy in the seat next to you
all charmed by the village quaintness of elsinore
little pastel houses with green grassy lawns,
a pool table in every gas station and
even an old-fashioned drugstore
that he suggests let’s eat in that family restaurant
down from the mission
since after all his life
and yes mine too has been peppered with
so-called family-style coffeeshops and diners
where you can sit for hours and just drink coffee
if you are on that verge of homelessness
most of us know too well
and they will never once charge for the refills
they are yet another fading institution these days
they are a tribute to compassionate
roadside americana
so of course I agree that plain fare
like whitemeatturkeyonwhitebread
and mashedpotatoeswithwhitecreamgravy

or a french dip with french fries
sounds perfect before the show
plus maybe we can pick up a copy of
the story of the swallows maybe
it’ll be printed on the back of the placemats
or something so we order up and
we’re working on our poems
and that’s when the waitress asks
if maybe we’re writing the next big hit song
since after all we’re just a few blocks from the coach house
um, what are you all writing over there?
ohmigod is one of you aimee’s drummer buddy??
cuz he is just too hot ohmigod?!

and it’s laughter all around and a good-sized tip
for the temporary ego-boosting she just gave you
and then the rush to the club so
you can settle on a seat close up to the stage
and here’s aimee talking up her indie-status,
relationship fuckups, all this great poetic instruction
on the pathetic dysfunction of some people,
their comitragic circus tricks all for her amusement
and god forbid she break a guitar string tonight
in the wake of hurricane floyd, a triple
rollover in the roadies van back east
and these still-unfinished album tracks
       but her voice is sweet & thick
       like gabriel’s bourbon-&-coke
and the playing is on, is so tight
and every time buddy
playing the postal plastic bin
you know in place of drums,
closes his eyes or raises his lovely
nicotined fingers to the brim of his black bowler
or the stage lights catch the toe of his
       black leather heeled oxfords
tapping out the time-signatures
as those sparkling cocktail riffs
spill out of the club's baby grand
       it’s like piaf & aznavour
or something for a split second
and it continues right up through the final encore,
this eerie spirit from another time & place
maybe paris or new york or san francisco
maybe ginsberg & kerouac
down on champa street, 1950’s denver
       but we both feel it
       gabriel & me
‘cause he’s got me saying how the confessional songwriting
of the 1970’s helped break down all these walls,
this perception about people who become famous
needing the rest of us to steal revelatory
glimpses into their private lives,
the liberating collusion of the presses’
acceptance of their falling apart
(privately) publicly
and that’s when yr angel baby says
how only the strongest,
only those most assured of their own fragileness,
can allow themselves the luxury
indeed the pure unadulterated pleasure
of periodic breakdowns,
how it becomes part of the whole
picture, o the gestalt of it all
and how it makes for great art, he says-
just look at, say
aimee mann.

sandra gould, 1999

dateline burbank:
actress on bewitched,
who played the nosy neighbor
forever peering out her window
craning to see such strange doings
at the home of darrin stephens
and his wife the witch
has died at 73
of a stroke july 20.
miss gould
played gladys kravitz from 1966-72
and just in case you need to know,
the kravitz character was played by actress
alice pearce from 1964-66;

oh did they think you quite the bitch, miss gould,
believing you could play the witch, miss gould?

miss gould's other
credits included roles
on tvland staples
I love lucy, my three sons, the twilight zone,
(tho' what actor over the age of 50
didn't guest at least once on that one?)

also friends and veronica's closet.
on the big screen she appeared in
the ghost & mr. chicken and
the barefoot executive;
and on radio she was miss duffy
on duffy's tavern;

oh what was your purpose here, miss gould,
and just might you have been queer, miss gould?
oh it doesn't matter anyway, miss gould,
we'd still have loved you either way, miss gould.

she was the quintessential miss,
she will be missed essentially
by many of her peers,
and existentially
by those who went before her
for she was preceded in her death
by both dicks
york and sargent,
as well as agnes morehead,
the lovely liz montgomery,
and not to mention alice,