The Blackbook (part 2)

From Plastic Tub

Collection of poetry by Steven Adkins (2002)

Part 1 | Part 2


	a twenty-minute turnaround
	an ambiguous man
	heat thru the windows
	memories of a cunning plan
	thrice in one day it was spoken of
	but it has yet to be foiled
	air foiled    boiled alive emotions
	not a froth    but asunder
	and now
	a preoccupation 
	with death
	an estate worth guarding
	family treachery
	and loyalty
	I am perceptive enough to know
	which side my bread is buttered on
	Horatio Hornblower sits on the railing
	he gives an approving look
	or so I hope
	Obi Wan you’re my only hope
	Sir Alec Guinness you’re my only hope
	Meat the mince pie you’re my only hope
	for all my whining
	I’m sad to be leaving
	if only because
	I leave 2 more people behind
	that I love


	I don’t know if
	I’ve gotten on the right train
	I’ve certainly gotten on at the wrong time
	hoping, if asked, to play the dumb American
	It’s going my way, so I grab it

	Seems as though it’s leaving at the time
	it should be
	To get to Narbonne
	I’ll switch then, for a train to Toulouse
	And there
	In the familiar
	repose of
my room
	which is not	
my room
	I will
	lean back
	smoke a bowl
	wonder what to do


There is flatness
	to the light
	very bright
	crisp shadows
one can see the soldiers
the lazy dog lounging
	like in some
	novel by Camus
they are not there, of course
but they are


	a cathedral
	like a fortress
	thru the power lines
	(rises above the vineyards)

	the most amazing pipe organ
	I have ever seen rises off the wall,
	floating massive

	Narbonne seems parched
	and streets

and the beauty of it all
is that
you can go back the way you came
and end up
somewhere else

(and heat still rises)

Toulouse – Croix Daurade

if only just
to write something

waiting for the landlord
I have spent the day
removing wallpaper
listening to music
all the chums are elsewhere
GR in Paris
MJ in Beograd
		his grandmother has died
JB hasn’t answered his door and his
phone has a message I do not recognise
there are no words
and I must do 
an etat d’lieu
a state of the place
I check a list and
sign for key
we both get a chance to agree
on what the apt. should resemble
when I split
w/2 month’s notice 

my problem is obvious
in that I only speak a little French
and even fewer words for the
various items of furniture I am afforded
then too, I must call and confirm….
these are trifles
but then again, I am stoned

trying to start that
one too many
with the prearranged idea
comes from reading

Baguette w Roc and marmite			cookies

I have become obsessed
	instant impact
been around a while
	say instantly	
	arranging the [?] 
	to form a life
but there is no life
but in living
and there is no living
but in the rues
avenues, boulevards
(there are in the boudoir)

At an all time low
While you were dying
So was the dove

Ramallah, Palestine
Yasser Arafat Ensconced
Attack on Iraq
so whack, jack

We see the end in a 
parade of turbans 

is this a racist paranoid
fantastic seeds
glom together
and form
an iron bar

A way to hedge all
bets against a plateau
of the oil
gotta have the OIL
gotta support one
for the sake of
dividing the other
flouting a misperceived
no doubt
in this camp,

a jamboree
a conclave
of hayseeds

gettin’ back
with the Paps
the ole haps
one oil barren

“shoulda played hardball with ‘em”
the old coot snorts without irony
we are lit with candles
(light vigils)

Afghan man
	wandering the desert
eating stones


and the Gobi of Time
 a new animal game
	skin like leather
so soft like deerskin
	so tangy like venison
	so       so      so       so
he heeds the Gobi of Time
just as he heeds the sun

you have heard
young white frenchwomen
singing ragga style on the mike
wicked selecta
    (with everything about it
    it was so right
ragged clef of impoverished
youth mentality
a land of shopworn
homosocial vitality
to quote Julie :
    “they dance
    like they are
    on a field
    of rugby”

a multitude of birds
something going   hoo hoo
like an owl
or part o the whippoorwill’s cry
another buzzes like a cricket
how many unique 
voices can be pulled 
from the mayhem
tagged, sorted, having
plied thru the curious
of sounds
that are dancing

and one little fellow
has just exploded
into action

or maybe it 
is a woman

i think of gossiping
over the back

getting excited
over things
like only
with nothing
to do
with it

these sprightly 
the sound currents
providing a sonic 
topsoil –

but only 

Perhaps it all started with
the Mushroom Club

I was forever starting clubs
and joining them
Boy Scouts of course
oodles of other dumb shit
in high school and college
things I couldn’t stomach now –
or even then
difference is….
or is it that
there is not 
one of

The guts to stand alone
An improper gesture
an impolitic mood
creamed over in
   delicious structure

torn by a 
natural unconventionality
scribbling poems
leaving jobs and houses
and even homes 
friends, family
one tries to view
it benevolently
a sacrifice one makes, wot?
but ya know
it’s just a
you are running
from them
horrified by
your repellence
and love?
makes the
grow fonder?
I’ve found
Distance makes
the heart
grow plants that crack its concrete
subterranean motions
piles of pericardial

to Hammerstain,

marketing, slow unfurling canopy
      bought feathery
      wooden life
asunder in the blown wind
  cracked by heaven
      catered by hell


Toulouse – Capitole

      The fool’s day
      in upside down

      the wood beneath my feet
      the beams overhead

      the slight breeze
      thru the skylight

      I hear the scrapings
      thru the walls
      like the sound
      you hear thru
      the hull of a 

      a slight hum
      in the fridge
      (or is that me?
      I just had
      another coffee)

      Yes I must be
      this new lair
      this speckled refuge
      a place to 
      make my own
      to fill up
      a commitment
      in a land
      in which
      I have
      no papers

If I were to
take off across
a livid terrain

hues like rainbows
sickly purple
yellow like sickly ghosts

stars, lightning bolts
small ringed planets
dancing about me

looking down
and seeing rooftops

I would have
squandered myself

I bring things
down to rust
and terra cotta,
effaced by
under eaves
nooks where
have a 
quiet eye
over grey cobbles,
wood that
is cracked
and obdurate,
as I peep my head
above the
to take it
all in

Morning is a
grey rectangle in the
coffee percolates
on a two-burner hotplate
anticipate class
level 2

it hits
“kicks like a mule”
like we
	used to say
	of an especially
it hits

last nite I dreamt
of a return
one of my
many childhood homes
apparently a girl
had since been
murdered in the living
the house was all done
up in classic oneiric
dark and cool
strange cones of dim
light emanating
from nowhere
like in a David Lynch film
for some reason
I had to spend 
the night in that 
living room 
and expected a visitation
@ any moment

oh yeah, and a friend
was in a cage and
we could not find a key

I have always been an anxious lad
but have the drugs,
the booze, the broads
the extremity of all of it
ruined me?

I want to say
I have a program
but truly
I am buffeted
and not in the daoist sense
perhaps I’m just bored
(as in driven thru
with tortuous screws)
And who wields the screwdriver?

A pork cutlet
I can’t be bothered
to cook up
some company
for it
I am not a cutlet
I can be bothered to
cook up some
company for myself
but don’t know how?

I await company
    in my garret
(yes it is under
the eaves
and the roof
        has beams)

2 girls
1 mexican
1 italian

I would fuck
either of them
if they would
have me

I have had sex
once in the last
7 months

I masturbate
you see it
before you
on the page

and my name is Carlos Garcia

John Coltrane
and J. Jonah Jameson
play chess
in the doorway
        Heavy-lidded, John
and J. Jonah
        strangely calm

His cigar does not
He does not bark orders
He plays chess
Strangely calm
one might almost say
    they listen to
Ravel, Satie
--the impressionists--
are calm
they see themselves
as enacting
a certain nocturne
    long after
    the vespertine
    has curved
    across the
    the crescent
    cutting crescents
    like jazz
    or language

SO!  There it goes!
	Burns itself
out like
foundering after
years in the service

chinese finger prisons
broken rain
psoriasis, yeah
a heart enchained
    it sits there
    and pulses like
    a frog
she crosses the
Place Daurade
bangs the gong 
carries no torch
a gradive of sorts
a Nadja
who disappears
around corners
turns stone footsteps
in the night

she wore a White
coat and had
a headful of curls

And I, moving along
searched for batteries

vous avez les piles?  double A?

and hence music
Anna from Columbia
was that you
on the other side of
	the mirror?
My face,
        half obscured
        in darkness
    the smoke
    from Halfzware Shag
    twisting about
    dancing in my nostrils
    cold air upon my
    bare arms
    and the piano saying, Go!
    the taste of loneliness
    in my mouth

No more cheap tricks
after so many false
    one another in
    the park

last night I saw
a prostitute with
a flapper’s ‘do
a fur coat
boots up to
    the knees
after I left my
two dinner companions
 circled back for 
another look
something about the
the gams….
a man that good-
is still a man

meat in the fridge

du Matin…

like a mouse
without flourish

a 19th century
waistcoat adjusted
dental powder applied

got a clock to
run up today
gotta get there
before those 3
blind bastards
from down the
way start
clattering about
attracting the
cat the old 
lady with broom
the exterminator
with his pails
of arsenic

has flattened
itself out for me
a relatively
untragic life
not punctuated by
sharp horrors
but spread thin
like a balloon
I felt its skin throb
on the underside of
my consciousness
a nag
a fleeting phrase
as my head hits pillow
    a blur
    constant motion
but never quite legible
what have I forgotten to do?
why did I say that?
a 10-year-old faux pas
makes me groan audibly

for this, I get to 
live in France
still constantly anxious
but more

And in Gosford Park
        You have a movie
I think of Altman
“England is more civilised”
I dunno Robert, but I
  get the point
Unlike the Baldwins
  the Basingers
I kept my promise
George won the election
and I am here

    AND IN
Steven Adkins
you have a man-child
so preoccupied with
the minute tasks of daily living
he forgets to live

I think of….
Nothing comes to mind
a reflexive verb
a cranium whose inner surface
is lined with mirrors
all the friends I have left behind
all the friends I have shared with
the openness
for all that, always a corral
something kept back, hidden
One hopes for a yearning for greatness
as opposed to the unfortunate
reality of madness
Like a clock
doesn’t really feel change
as it marks the minutes
and the days
the clockface unchanging
the hands sojourn
back to the same points
there is nothing familiar about them
no recognition between the
face and the hand
unlike the one-way recognition
the dying soul
fingering objects in his pocket
looks into the magic mirror
of recognition –
    to see the future
and sees nothing
as it shuffles along blindly
no nose, no skin but ragged clothing
a bundle
barely an ensemble of mysterious
a clock about to burst

AS soon as you get well
there, in the cistern
it sounds out again
you never have been able
to discern 
the hieroglyphs of it movement
this sound that haunts you
more echo than origin
more effect than cause

long ago, something happened
some forceful push into a void
a hand reaching out from high clouds
not down but sideways
drops a crown in the wishing well
overrides the small desires of men,
pell-mell they scurry under veils
shapes barely discernible
caterpillars in silk tents
pitched in branchforks
forks that cannot feed
forks that cannot tune
vibrations to adjudicate the steady
wincing to delineate the pain
more effect than cause
more tide than moon
more less than more
more mores of moors
mooring barks in tumbling skies
No El Cid to shit legends
No Ali Baba to wink at death
just infinity, sorrow, regret
bets hedged against the typhoon
bets hinging upon a fixed gate
mercenary females guarding all of it

I admit it
I am shallow
very rarely hear this music
much less comprehend it when I do
can never tell you the genealogy of this sound
bubbling up thru the water
I am a character after all
a fiction
(with no character and my polestar drifts)
a ship in the night
with a lazy crew
can’t be bothered to act
maybe keel haul someone once and
a while
the sport of the cruel and the bored
wasps garnishing themselves for a feat
at dawn
a swarm of cut-rate sots
who haven’ the means to scare up 
another round
would-be pirates farting anthems
to amuse themselves
to justify their sojourns in the
blubber boats
sleeves who cry upon themselves….

And the ports they call home are
also barren
And the women they left behind do not
light candles in the windows
And the bounty they seek has long since

Breath on,
cold heart
blink, blind
ye raisins
swell back into grapes
if you can

what is that about
old dogs and
new tricks?
some things cannot
be undone
the match cannot
suck in the flame
say “I’m only kiddin’”
some things are
not ready to die,
but die they must
lift a weary mouth
swallow mouthfuls of dust
go along for the ride
accept that they must rust

HAVING made a pass at 2 young ladies
	the young lad wonders
He gets along well, without leering
or making innuendo
He asks rather politely if lovemaking
is in order
One responds, is that why you came down
here to visit me?
The other, curious, did you think
I wanted to, because I came up here?
It would have been nice
He must have misjudged the chemistry
Why is it that a no can’t be simple?
He would understand that
But this surprise, this “ who me?” stance
Yes, he wants sexual release
He is timid
Why make it difficult
As if he has schemed under false pretence
It makes it seem like being nice is a lie
Either they want to, or not, simple
Must he be crass, up front
or the
Getting to know you, then timid proposal routine
Would it be better just to renounce the
whole thing altogether
Await a bold woman who hangs a
sign around her neck :
	I want you
	I must have you
	    or not
	Your decision, 
I’ve made mine
He awaits the woman free enough
to allow him the freedom to choose,
once she has made her own choices

  some illicit activity
but no !
A surly lass –
    who can blame her?
	vouz travaillez ?
bien sûr
    c’est combien ?
    Incroyable !
    Not for me
    after endless strolls around the station
    the canals stinking of shit
    I amble home
    Scarf around my face like a burglar
    Trenchcoat flying in the slight breeze
    At 4 AM the streets are quiet
    And I have kissed a Mexican girl today
    done my best with a Colombian
    and proposed a hooker
    all to no avail
    these sperm o’ mine sit idle
    and  bon chance n’est pas
	    avec moi
    oh la !
    qu’est-ce que je vais dire ?
    rien, nada, nothing

jovially, they sweat to the oldies
you are the only one
I am the only one

Minerals drop out of Heaven
they collect themselves into teeth
seeking out squares of light
to synthesize with
food for thought beating on the
spermaceti telegraph
Queequeg with his elegant harpoon

Long drawn out scenarios
Talking for hours in French
to no avail
and in my groin, something
is strained

you are the only one
I am the only one

NOT ready to quit
    out of breath
4 flights of fancy
called “stairs”
or so I hear
let’s see if I can get
    that thing I need
I don’t know what it is
	but apparently
I’ll know it when I
	find it

	his elegant harpoon
	  catches a ray of sun
	on its spike
		the whale rolls over
		the whale rolls over

I’ve got a 68-year-old uncle
      T. Rex were before their time
How cool is that?
      All those details 
      don’t help me
      this pre-emptory funk
      just sit there glumly
      with a powder keg
      under my heels
      don’t help me get laid
And I imagine letters
      that say
      awright no more
      I love you but this is it
      I can’t pretend I don’t have
      a pole-arm stuck thru me
      this is the last you will hear
            from me
      don’t bother to write
      I can’t hate
		    or ignore
      but this is something I can do
          extreme write
		      close the borders to the
			immigrants that are
			memories of yoo

Never throw anything away
those stubble end of hand-rolled cigs

when you stumble up stairs
having spent too many euros,
you will find them engarbaged
    very necessary
and after all that hesitant
    jibba jabba
        MR. T a shadow who
        TV heroes worthless
        yet worthy
(and you have forgotten how to
write poetry when beers sit
in your stomach)

The extreme right drops solicitations in
	your mail box and you the
	foreigner they may very well
just like rock n’ roll
	it falters, stammers
	makes mistakes,
and when it all jumps ship
	like Herman Melville
			in the Southern Islands
	those vast golden-tipped seas
	where nothing happens
			but words
			leap like fish….
		    so lonely
		    scales like dry skin
		        flaking from a
		        which resembles
		      that ridiculous muppet!
		      and the days are so long….

In the END
	the Pequod sinks
	and our prophet
of love and fraternity
is saved from death
afloat on a coffin
the white whale has gone
the sharks with padlocked
do not molest him

and then comes Rachel
searching for her lost children
and finding only he –
an orphan

what of this strange reunion
parent and child
each seeking the other
that makes them what they are
how strange that they cannot BE
without that other to define them

for to be a son demands a father
a father, a son
but of man?
needst there be women to
complete him?
One hopes that 
a man must
need alone be a son
and not a scholar
nor monk
nor lover

For as the scholar needs history
so too the monk his god
but far worse still
is the man who needs woman

encalmed in a cool mist
the sound of the water
echoing through him
alone an almost
unimaginable vastness
for all the life underneath
millions of eager lives
under the thin lips of the horizon
he becomes a world unto himself
his life going on inside
while if somewhere on
some distant point of land
some watchman with
some powerful glass
were to fix this 
eye upon this
he would see
nothing but an empty deck
sails fluttering useless,
A strange purposelessness
in the voyage
A dangerous list
slack rigging
coursing wide circles
as the rudder bangs astern
unheld by any human hand
or any hand
at all

And a ship is a country
that cannot be governed alone
it must return to port
to nestle against
the bosom of the land
to bury its nose
in her hills
drink of her sweet wine
look upon the sea
from the land
and thus by comparison
appreciate the meanings of his voyage
and learn
for the man with no home
who ever voyages afar
has never really gone anywhere
at all

Thru the skylight
the sun is being
swallowed up by the clouds
this is their usual dance
grey digestion
specks of clear urine –
some call it “rain”
upon our heads
and finally
when the pale bulb
hangs so low in the west
so as to obscure most of the city
in long shadows
it reappears
This, apparently, is how Spring
celebrates commencement
in Toulouse

And a man with wounded hands
sits on the edge of being cold
A patch of blue sky
vaguely resembling Vietnam
discernible between the clouds
He remembers his father,
and thinks of loneliness
And thinks of the many
When in the Cathedrals
and country churches
He has imagined himself
crumpling to the floor
His hands and feet awash in blood
a widening stain upon his belly
Perfect clarity
Thru the tears and blood
streaming down his face
The tourists rushing towards him
some crossing themselves
some angry – some kind of trick – it
must be!
And yet here it is
Who would cause themselves
such heinous wounds
What would be the point
To try and trump the desire
to be chosen
By choosing oneself
But perhaps this is what 
happens after all
	(many are called,
few are chosen – or – 
    many are called,
    few answer)
So like Napoleon in Italy
one must crown oneself
Declare oneself to be chosen
even if it turns out to be untrue
for if it be true that
“good things come to those who wait”
it is even more true that
“god helps those that help themselves”
so help yourself to whatever glories
are found wanting within you
laugh at death
wrap your loneliness around you as
a moat encircles a fortress –
the fortress of your heart
there’s a good view from the top
but it is lonely
up there
and cold
and with hands wounded
from the climb
there will always be some pain
reminding you
reminding you
not of any carefully drawn scenario
but like thunderclouds at night
under a new moon
like magician’s assistants
dressed in black velvet
holding mutely luminescent trumpets,
skulls, scimitars
like quiet widow whose
friends were the friends of her
dead husband
the reminders
will haunt but never embrace
will always be
at the corner of the eye
will not be there
to bear the burden of scrutiny
you will never quite reason them away
they peck away
slow as rust
diligent, patient, indifferent birds
“the bigger they are, the harder they fall”
head feet hands abdomen
man of clay
man of clay….

we are all, ultimately
men such as this
for that sun does come out
that ascendant spring
becomes the blazing furnace of
under whose great light one’s
glory does shine right
but under whose heat that day 
begins to harden		                 
to begin in it’s very zenith
its journey back home
to dust
(for even as we begin to live 
we begin to die)

so do not spend so 
much time under grey skies
wishing for the sun
putting of until then
what can easily be achieved
today, now, this eternal
this quiet moment
buoyed between
spaces both minute and vast
each moment a ship
on a puddle of time
crowding, jostling, merging
relaying messages of
hope and remembrance
messages which summon
as the clarion summons
the King
as the sun breaks open and
reaches down with vast arms
carries the prophet into the sky
for that brief glimpse of
the whole of the earth
that lonely moment at the top
that moment of vision
which, when afterwards lying
as if ill upon the ground
he must struggle to recapture
crawling across the ashes
and the flinty stones
seeking his pen and paper

The call has been answered
The choice has be made
Arrogant yet humble
Something has been created
from nothing
A small fragile empire of words
The moment has been seized
Waiting scorned
For now, here, in this moment
Scattering corpses like so
many dead words
The tail of the tiger gripped
like an inkpen
Emptiness has been erased
The stillness made vibrant in a flurry
of motion
The loneliness, so loud
and yet so quick it has been mollified
But then, as the poem runs its 
As the clay has taken form
So that the only thing left to do
is to smash it into a pancake
And give it as a gift
to befuddled earthlings
As that great consummation signals
the end
Like the orgasm a climax which not
only preceded another stillness but
is at its minute peak the very 
essence of death
so too answering the call is the
signal to descend
so that we are ever trying to 
recapture that original instance
of recognition
That spark of vitality
Which so briefly illumines all
before dying

Dire straits
    or not so dire
but to me
    everything has become dire
tiles cracked
bed a cumbersome sore
my back disgusts even me
my dreams a constant plague of anxiety
deep forests for a stage
strange shafts
new and metallic
thru which water-driven elevators
small, hemmed in
artificial spaces
in which pathetic dramas are staged

oh give me a home
buffalo or not
it may be that dismal
months are to come
if even in my dreams
there is no respite
from the nameless terrors
that grip me
and the very readily named
trifles that threaten
to overwhelm me
I am making myself ill
I can sense that
Nervous wreck,
get with it, man
the monocled old boy 
in the walrous moustache
who sits on my shoulder
get with it, man
(before it gets you)

AND in the bottom
of my sack
a fresh pen
to deliver me from evil
an ink-filled tube
is my lord and my god
my good shepherd
and my devil

and in these theatrical
she appears with here vigilant 
because I have released the
pressure valve which enabled
the means of her locomotion
I can see her in her cage
She is angry
and tells me she no longer wishes to
be together
(that is the mark that appears over my
-- we have not been together
for a long time

There is a cloud
about me
dimming the
on the wall 
of the trapezoid
Anton LaVey
has said this
figure is
conducive to 
and for all I 
know he

I am feeling
a bit mad,
done in
Who’d have thunk it?

The Redbook
The Blackbook
the same worn refrain
no solutions
no answers
The terror subsided
Panic has become
A little companion
I am kept on his leash
little ole goat foot
wildly rocking
shooting stars
reckless plaything

and this catalogue does not charm me
it harms me
sent reeling back into the void
to grope for a pleasing group of letters
will anybody see this?
that dolphin springing in the bathtub?
that bathtub I do not have
how is it
in dreams
I see things which have eluded me by day?
are anxieties denuded of their trivial quivering,
set naked before us on a parade ground
generals indifferent passing by
thinking, really,
of pussy
and broad asses
pressed against their crotches
tits gripped
hungrily from behind
as cocks plunge deep
into a warm wetness
the pleasured groans
of a mistress like the
voices of god at the creation?

Is all this fancy dress
these epaulets,
plumed helmets,
brass buttons,
shiny boots,
is all this a mask
of constrained desire?

Does it all boil
down to a general
weariness of masturbation?

I have sat in those 
wreckless automobiles
that go from 0 to 60
depressed from cocaine aftershock
piloted by drunks
inappropriate motions
I would scorn both as
onlooker and hapless passenger

I half-hoped
the police would
but amazingly
they did not

and in a dream
as I took the fall for her
I decided I could not do it
take the fall for her friend as well
friends who helped take her away
so I relented to the police
and led them away

there is within me, then
the authoritarian vindictiveness
the need to tidy up the
loose ends of my soul
to put into order
to chastise and discipline
even as I pursue
and irresponsibility
What are the Red and the Black
besides the opposing ends of
the accountant’s spectrum
What is profit and debt?
What I gain and lose
in relationships
great abstracts, reduced all,
to the petty vocabulary
of the greedy
and he miserly
the exact opposite
of all I propose to be?

and intermittently,

and half-coloured,
scenes of joy

AND so now
I head off
with low expectations
(so better than,
to avoid disappointment)
into some new
I shall endeavour
to set down
the narrative truth
not the Truth of Truth
but the truth of
the tale
some slight embellishment perhaps
some humorous anecdotes
of my self-abasement
and maybe
just maybe
come up with some pearls
I will set them before
And hopefully not make swine of you
for I will relate it all
Not to GUIDE you
but to WARN you

Mordecai Adkins
25 July, 1902

Part 1 | Part 2

See Also