George Sparling

one please-master day you speak to cameras telling
world you’ve liver cancer two vortex days you pass
you’ve chosen best day to speak softly farewell about
death its coming predictable as Cassiopeia’s Chair
its big-time-neon-brilliant you bulb screwed into it
that easy mad leap from your bones you the crooked
cucumber of death you prophet against fabled damned
your first line is gift you headline-radio-brain-amanuensis
scrolling words from Bihar where asphodel Buddha sat
writing words directly from war-lips-cute-radiant Che
your last lines yage-queer shoulder greyhound sunflower
still writing rose-in-the-brain-shards until transcendental
cirrhosis turns you into deathly gutter 10th Street cadaver
I remember once at poetry reading your piercing eyes
peer through me knowing I might be quick-love-fuck
I too shy too insecure but yes I wanted you to prick me
hard semen transforming me from wasp nebbish into
poet but I had to wait years before meat words came

George Sparling

Black Sparrow books I bought hard way, waiting for that perfect, coincidental
moment when the store, my money, your books, and the synchronistic presence
all congealed in asthmatic-dusty secondhand bookstores. With each re-reading,
I understand why it is that I hope to die in my current small triplex apartment
because it’ll be impossible to find any other as shabby yet affordable as mine.
But, I hope to surpass your 74 years because you did everything imaginable to
damage your élan vital, though you weren’t ever a quitter. I want to make your
San Pedro tombstone a greater literary memorial than Jim Morrison’s in the Cimetiere
du Pere-Lachaise, you who write what “the tragedy-sniffers are all//about” and
“when it goes dark/it will be another world/not quite so magic/not quite so good//
when it goes dark.” You’re so good at pulling down the shades, like me, but I’ve
got dirty Venetian blinds and I keep them mostly closed. Yes, I refuse to buy your
books new, that’s cheating; yours I’ve purchased aren’t gleaming, clean, they’ve
funky inscriptions scrawled on them, like, “Here’s to remember our first fuck,” but
that couldn’t top your “The ass is the face of the soul of sex.” Your books have jelly stains, poetry highlighted in yellow as if to let in bits of sunshine, and my search for
your books had to flow as your spare, skeletal-life of words. But, I confess, I’d a recur- ring image of you lying stiff in your own death-blood pooling at your head on-the-one-a.m.-floor of the Seven-G’s bar, though poetic justice wouldn’t allow that happening to
a man who writes, “Great Poets Die in Steaming Pots of Shit.” Your books I buy caressed with rusty droplets, short stanzas lined with rouge, catsup, lip gloss, perhaps a young woman’s come, perhaps workingman’s sperm. I read you knowing pain-driven, flop- house failures had also absorbed you, because only the “poor knew the meaning of life,” you who, in buggy, fatigued, beery rooms, tried to put a mighty stake through banality’s ugly, middle-class heart. Your poetry gets written to Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique and Sho- stakovich’s bloody 7th, the Leningrad one. You’re drunk reading Schopenhauer, ecstatic savoring Voyage du bout de la nuit, you who kept notoriously looking in the rearview mirror at Carthage. All the riffles of your life I want to sewer through my hands, I want
to feel your habitual vomit dribble between my fingers, I want to put my nose to your anus, sniffing every goddamned fart you ever gave to this world.

"I graduated with an English Literature Degree from Iowa Wesleyan College.I' ve been a welfare caseworker in East Harlem, a counselor/reading instructor in the Baltimore City Jail, a bookstore manager, a hungover crab butcher on the killing docks here in Humboldt County, and a scuba diver for placer gold in the northern wilderness of mountainous California for the maximum amount of time before going mad. It's no cliche: I could have lost it all if I'd stayed in the back-country a few days longer. I like to read the paranoiac novels of San Francisco's Philip K. Dick fueled on amphetamine-driven inspiration, the nihilistic noir novels of Jim Thompson, and enjoy the work in "The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry" edited by Alan Kaufman. Also, Kaufman's "Jew Boy" is something strong and special. And I have a first edition when I picked up Carolyn Cassady's "Off the Road," a great book letting in the light about Neal, Jack and Allen. Currently, I' m in early retirement."