Reverend Any Major Dude

Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 48

essay cover chalice

Futility from a Height

My neurotic back is to the door. Uncharacteristically, the bar is empty. Even Bob is not present. He’s gone off to the back room to grab some coasters, some glasses or some-shit.

Sun sweeps into the silent bar, and then a sort of spatial shading creeps into that sun. Only one body is cut out to emanate such a sagacious, see-through shadow as this.  The shading touches me as an understated incitement to goose pimples: I chill.

The Reverend Any Major Dude is in da house, y’all.

The bar’s door shuts out the sun. … Ugh, there it is. Shit. There’s that annoying, tripping laughter of one Chalice asslick Sinclearly. … Ugh. Can’t he just stay outside for once and go get lost?

A Black Label is on the bar, before the stool next to mine. The Reverend appears in the mirror behind the bar. The Reverend’s long, oblique face, engulfed as it is now solely by the velvety fake light of the bar’s interior, is a vast, plushly vegetated plateau dripping with revelation. I stand, turn around and slap him ten and he slaps me ten right back. … Right on. …

He looks to the Black Label, reaches for it, hoists it, slams it.  I take my seat. I look up to him.

“I’ve got no real time for you today,” the Reverend shares, and gets his illogical presence all up in my grill, the thickening hair of his forehead, parted down the middle this day, tickles the tip of my nose as he bends down to speak to my face. I sneeze, and before I look back up to him I see his size 17 feet are flowing underneath my stool, the hand painted scenes on his sneakers are of streams robust with salmon run.

“God bless you. And thank you. I’m sorry, but I really have no time to spare for you at the moment. Commitments. You are not my only customer. You are not my only favorite branch of knowledge. But please feel what I am beginning to feel before I step back out into that fisticuffs-stirred air of Chicago wherein the vaporous trail of its Teachers Union bends over backwards to dodge the ricocheting bullets of Rauner’s very real stereotypical nob way of being pretensefully empathetic: your fight for your duality, for this numb-nuts here [he points a thumb over to Chalice whose face is buried into his arms that are crossed atop the bar – he is simply dying of laughter, laughing so hard that he is not making a sound], your fight for the no-namer in poetry and for poetry to get off its high horse, your fight in the name of poetry’s potential readership—the totality of your bickering at the American Literati is directly related to your fight to re-grasp your Catholic faith, to your hope that the Catholic Church will more absolutely become for and of the laity, and finally be an aesthetic extension of … hmm, what? … A moral rigor that finally embraces the loving psychotropic digressions of a Freethinker real-mindedness? … Ha! … Are you fighting a winning battle? It is said that a real Catholic goes to church; a real poet doesn’t hole up in a basement. … Know this, Hoz: you either need to reevaluate the ways of your being, or you need to concede that you are neither a poet nor a Catholic, that you are in truth what you are: a full-fledged wannabe. … And know this, Mr. Trip-Master One: futility ventures to unimaginable heights for its self-revelation. … Fly high, brother-man. Fly high.”

He raises his palms to waist-height. I slap him ten, and he slaps me ten right back. … Right on. … He turns around, and holds ten out for Chalice to slap. Chalice’s face is still buried into his arms that are crossed atop the bar. He has begun to emit hiccups of laughter, his spine heaves with each emission. The Reverend drops his hands, looks back to me and shrugs. I shrug back, then I spin around on my stool and begin to stare at myself in the mirror behind the bar.

A sort of spatial shading permeates the bar. Bob steps between me and my image, “Same way?” And as I give a nod, the bar’s door shuts out the sun.

 

This is wannabe John Hospodka’s bi-weekly instructional blog.

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Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 46

essay cover chalice

Acid Casualty
(or, Ordering at Skylark)

“Of course. Yeah, yeah. Sorry, I know you’re busy. Yeah, I’m ready to order, Bob; yeah I am. I will have a vodka martini. [Bob immediately spins away to go make the thing.] I would like my martini as if it were overturned by our government in a fit of book-banning rage. That’s to say, show absolute callousness: Shake it till you bruise it. Batter it. Make a goddamn victim of it, Bob. Make it dirty. Filthy. I want it nearly firm, to the point so you can’t see through the thing’s indignation. … Indignation for what? Indignation, Bob—indignation for its imminent role within my condition inside your establishment here where I’ve seen my common manners fail with poignant regularity. … Not even while squinting your eyes do I want to see through the goddamn thing. Make it impassable to the fucking eye. But no Vermouth, nooo sir, Boborino, I shall not take a fucking drop of that – my taste is too coy-sided to be infused by an opening up of anything. [Bob is interrupted in his making of the drink by another customer ordering a beer.] … However, I will ask this: I will ask that you take the Vermouth’s cap off and simply wave it thricely over the drink once it has been poured and calmed – I feel this pomposity legitimates the sneery constitution I will soon be gaining while empleasuring myself with those gulpy sips I will soon be pulling from that triangular glass you’re cubing right there in plain sight of this whole scene’s eyes. [Bob is back at his making of the martini. At the same time, he is describing to the other customer the after taste of the beer he just poured him.] And as for olives: indeed. I will need one. One olive, and one only, Bob. And don’t you dare pierce that salty oval. No, no, no. Spare it, sir; apply no wound. Whip the little devil into the cocktail with such vengefulness that it does not produce so much as a ripple, but does on the other hand produce a sound that resounds as the detonation that commences an Olympic 50 yard dash. … If you shall perfect this concoction for me on this day, Roberto, you will find that my cheap ass will not tip under-accordingly, but rather nearly decently.”

Chalice, dude, take it easy there cowboy. What the hell, man? You don’t drink martinis. Out to get blotto this evening? It’s Tuesday. It’s 5:35. The wife is on her way. … What, out to become the Muppet who ate Manhattan tonight?

“Fuck you, Hoz. Ate Manhattan? Didn’t you just hear me order a Martini? Ate Manhattan? [I know what he just ordered. I was simply using an expression. You know, I meant the island. He’s being an idiot.] … You have no idea where I’m coming from, Hoz. I had a horrific day. Horrific. … I began a poem. … Ugh! … I was knee deep in the fucking shit, sinking like a lead zeppelin into the thick of Mosul inside that cubicle today. Like fucking ‘Nam in that cube. And all those freaks asking me questions and putting things in front of me to work on or file away. Fuck that!”

Um, those freaks are our coworkers; those things are our job. Maybe you should try actually doing our job someday. … Oh, but I get it, Chalice, I get it. Poor, poor, pitiful old tortured soul you. … Oh, by the way, what would you know about serving our country?

“Tortured? Damn straight. That’s what it’s about. I’m not afraid to say it. That’s what it’s always been about: torture. … You got ol’ prized Collins reading at some botanical garden with some mick poet; you got all those ones smiling away on some website for some forthcoming Brooklyn workshop. Poetry’s just so tweet-tweet sweet little birdies in trees, ain’t it? All these poetry readings and poetry slams and little non-profit prizes goo goo gaa gaaing on and on with all their life affirming bull—”

That’s the spirit. That’s how you win hearts – an audience. Get in with the ‘in’ crowd. That’s it. Great American there, Chalice.

“Fuck you, Hoz. I serve my country. I serve my country by not being a school boy. That’s how I serve, and I’ve been serving for decades, dickhead. You can go straight to hell. … What, you think poetry is about touching hearts? … A calling? … Ah-ha! You sort of do, don’t you, douchebag? Thinkin’ poetry’s just so empowering – Poetry! Poetry! Swish-boom-bah! … [Bob puts the drink before Chalice. The drink is as clear as Chicago tap water; inside the glass are three olives squeezed together on a pick.] Like the Good Doctor’s take on eating acid, that’s what poetry is—[Chalice takes a gulp of his drink.] Goddamn perfect, Bob! Perfect!—just like the Good Doctor’s take on eating acid: ‘Jesus, man! You don’t look for acid! Acid finds you when it thinks you’re ready.’”

[I do a heavy sigh, thinking, It’s sis-boom-bah, idiot.]

Whatever, dude. You drain me. It’d be nice to be liked, appreciated, read. It’d be nice to bring the voice up out of the basement or outside of the cubicle every now and again. That’s all I think.

“Ha! Still petrified of the ol’ ‘cid, I see. … What was it? 1989? Edie Brickell & New Bohemians?”

You shut up now.

[Chalice slugs the martini, and Bob walks by and scoops up his empty glass.]

“HAHAHAHA. I guarantee, Hoz, you are the one person on this whole flat and minefielded planet who can say he was busted for being up in a tree while fried on acid at an Edie Brickell & New Bohemians show. HAHAHAHA—”

Shove it, Chalice.

[Fuck, it’s true. I ate some when Edie Brickell & New Bohemians came to play at our college. I had always been very skeptical of LSD because I had witnessed friends and acquaintances trip out on the shit. Acid always seemed to hunker down and be in there for too long of a time. Whether you wanted to keep on trucking or not, acid seemed to keep on zooming and zooming, rolling on and on for hours and hours. I had long found a sound friend in mushrooms: ‘shrooms could be controlled, manipulated on my end, I could maintain a rather speculative decorum on ‘shrooms, flirt with the gals like a Turtlenecked, Courvoisier sipping scholar, carry on a dialogue with the Reverend Any Major Dude, or at very least be cognitive enough to listen and learn from him about my inherent duality. I’ve always been able to come down from ‘shrooms whenever I’ve wanted to. But for whatever reason, on that particular day I decided to give acid a go, and with a double dose at that. During the concert I was standing next to a tree. When I looked up into the tree it became immediately apparent to me that I should be up there in it. I’d be able to see the band over the something like 200 students who were in attendance out of the private school’s student body of just over a thousand. Once up in there I began to hear loud barking. I looked down and there were two campus police officers standing down there yelling up at me. Their teeth were all I made out: like dogs’ teeth when dogs are growl-snapping at you. I climbed down and the cops chastised me. They walked away, got a few yards away from me, and without any thought I climbed right back up into the tree. Again, barking; again, teeth. But this time when I climbed down I was cuffed, and put in a cell. (I would figure it out about a decade later: it was a liability thing I was violating.) In a jail cell for hours while on acid at the age of 19, 20 – I  tell you what folks, that scene got implanted and has me getting flashbacks till this very day—friends, acid does go zooming on forever. A bit of my character crumbled into 20th Century pre-Gizmobation-splintered selfies in that Five Colleges of Ohio town’s jail cell. I lost my shit. I heard them discuss at one point about getting me to the hospital. I sharted. I don’t have the constitution for that type of deep tissue mind-massage. I’m a wimp. And since the moment of my release from that cell back in ‘88, ‘89 – whenever – I have speculated, and I believe rightly so, that one more hit of acid would make me go all Oar-like on this world. So, that was it for me and lysergic acid diethylamide. One and fucking done.]

“HAHAHAHA—”

Jesus. You’re so tiring, Chalice. Just drop it, please. I’m spent; didn’t get shit done at work today with that fucking shit shooting through the brain all day. We’re going to be in for a shit storm tomorrow. And I don’t need any of your shit here. Not now. I just want a little peace; I need a drink. Fuck poetry; fuck you. I just want a cocktail.

[We fall silent. I catch Sinclearly’s eyes in the back bar’s mirror, and he holds my stare. His stare is condemning, challenging, but I don’t withdraw. I take up the challenge, in fact, and stare right back into his eyes, refusing to be the first to blink. … After a spell, the wife arrives and grabs the stool next to mine, kisses me on the cheek, calls me “My little drunk dialer,” then says, “Hi there, Bob. Wine, please. The pinot.” And I blink.]

… Yeah, Bob. Sorry, man. Just spacing out here. … Anyways, my bank’s arrived. So, hmm? Yeah, I’ll start me out with a Martini, please.

“Uh-oh, the Muppet who ate Manhattan,” Bob says with a wink before turning away from the two of us.

 

This is wannabe John Hospodka’s bi-weekly instructional blog.

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Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 18

essay cover chalice

A Sort of Socio-Moral Study
Part 1

Well, that was a total fucking embarrassment, jackass.

“‘What’chu talkin’bout, Willis?’ You’re the A-hole who done wanted get’im some churchin’ in.”

What? You knew I had planned on going for the ol’ bi-yearly fix, it’s not like I sprung the visit on you or dragged you by the ear or anything.

“I’m not ashamed of a goddamn thing. I said unto the people the truth.”

You never are ashamed of a goddamn thing, are you, Chalice?

“You never are ashamed of a goddamn thing, are you, Chalice?”

 Don’t be a little prick.

“Don’t be a little prick.”

 UGH. … Where’s the Reverend when you need him?

“Ha! Hey, buddy boy, you know damn well the Reverend knows I can be as big of a little prick as I want, whenever I want.”

Well that’s the point, douche: I need his magic shoved down your throat right about now and get you away from this use of speech for a spell. Hell, we all know you’ve proven to be a prick time and time and time and time and time—

“OK, so really, what’s the fuss, Gus? I done rose. I gone mades the peoples’ ears perk on end. I learned them is what I done. I shined a light, shined a livin’ light on their errant ways; displayed upon the canvassed minions the crisis of their casual overthoughts. I mades the Reverend Any Major Dude prouds is what I done.”

Alright, alright, stop it with this faux Southern preacher speak. It’s fucking insulting, cock. It’s fucking racist is what it is. … Chalice, that was neither the place nor the time to choose to do that. Fucking-A, you could’ve taken out an anonymous classified in the Bridgeport News if you feel that strongly about it. …

[OK, let me interrupt our confrontation here to bring you up to speed. At the start of last week I got the inkling to go to church. On occasion, maybe twice a year, a beautiful sadness overcomes my perpetual sense of inanity, and my courage aches to be revitalized with a visit to a place where the promise of unreality emboldens one’s belief in the presence of a reflective community. I needed a little “we” time with the believers. I chose 8 a.m. Sunday Mass to attend; get it over with early, and have the remainder of the day to come up with excuses to avoid reading. I informed Sinclearly of my decision, and with a shrug and a ‘Don’t bother me none; shit, I can take this hangover anywhere,’ he agreed to attend with me. So, the Sabbath rolls around, and Chalice puts up no fight when I reach out to him at 7:15 to see if he’s still into checking out Mass with me: he rolled out of bed, went to the kitchen to grab an ice tray out of the freezer, stepped into the john, put the plug in the sink, dumped the ice cubes into the sink, filled the sink with cold water, reached into the medicine cabinet and grabbed three packets of Alka-Seltzer, ripped open the packets and plopped the tablets into the full sink, then plunged his face into the water, occasionally bringing his lips back up to the surface to take a gulp or two of the effervescence before plunging his face back into the freezingness. Once all the liquid was sucked up from the sink, he looked up to himself in the mirror, and said to me, “Now, that’s how you get bidness done.”

Things were going nicely. I had been getting in my usual amount of daydreaming, daydreaming that today consisted of sword fights with pirate-types, me bounding about the altar and tabernacle, saving the laity from sure rape and pillage. I caught Chalice every now and again sticking his tongue out at one of the dozens of squirmy children who would occasionally get on their knees on the pews to face backwards in order to more fully examine the interior design of sanctity. But then that part of Mass came along where people are able to speak up from the pews: a girl will ask for thoughts for a sick aunt and the whole congregation will respond in unison, saying, “Lord, hear our prayer.” Today, a husband brought up an ailing wife – “Lord, hear our prayer”; a wife brought up a husband serving our country overseas – “Lord, hear our prayer”; a child brought up an injured puppy – “Lord, hear our prayer.” But then out of the freaking blue Chalice chimes in: “For all the political-leaning, bookie-indebted jagoffs in this parish who practice the Bridgeport Roll, rolling through stop signs without any consideration ‘cause the very act of consideration suggests possessing a sense of culture, a sense which this neighborhood unfortunately can’t seem to shake its fear of. Being cultured. I know all you macro-chugging, soccer’s-for-homos-and-illegal-aliens type of racist Democrats want to kick the ever-livin’ piss out of the very idea of ever being cultured”; and without missing a beat, Chalice leapt straight into a rhapsodized “Lord, hear our prayer.” The parishioners, caught off guard, some stunned, others steamed, merely mumbled the petition, their words half-assedly shoring up his. The priest gave Chalice a piercing stare. By default, because it was obvious Chalice and I were attending the service as one, I was on the receiving end of Father’s scolding stare, too. We bolted. Surprisingly, no Bridgporter chased us out the doors.]

“I ain’t no racist, bastard. … And you’re just afraid to admit it right here and right now: I staged a coup, motherfucker. I shook Bridgeport down. I’m your wet dream, pussy-boy.”

A coup? What in God’s name are you talking about? A coup? We live here, buddy boy; sorry to say, but we aren’t going anywhere. This is home, and you damn well know we could not have asked for a better plot in life. We want to keep our taxes in check, keep the streets plowed, the garbage picked up on schedule. You don’t fuck with the 11th Ward like that—especially not inside Nativity.* Do you realize what we—what I’m going to have to deal with now? I can’t wait for the precinct captain’s next visit to our door. That should be a pleasantly intimidating experience. … Hey, you know what a real coup would be, don’t you now? …

[We stand here for a full minute in silence, eye to eye. Me, I’m anticipating; Sinclearly, he’s a prober. The first quarter-minute we abhor each other. The second quarter-minute we are two alone. The third quarter-minute we are torn together. And in the final quarter-minute we are one person.]

“You would never.”

Yes I would.

“You don’t have the balls.”

Oh, but I do, Chalice, I do.

“Why would you do that to yourself?”

To me?

“Ok, to us.”

To us?

“Ok, ok, to me.”

Because my man, we come from the land down under Madison, from the land where it’s justice to say: “We are proud to have with us the poet lariat of Chicago.”**

“No, no, no.”

Yes, yes, yes.

“Hoz, no, you are not growing a rattail.”

[To be continued.]

 

*Bridgeport is in Chicago’s infamous 11th Ward – home to five of this city’s mayors.
**Mayor Richard J. Daley introducing Carl Sandburg in 1960.

 

This is wannabe John Hospodka’s bi-weekly instructional blog.

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