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four minutes to midnight xi HAPPY HOUR F.A. NETTELBECK


HAPPY HOUR illu≥rations by


four minutes to midnight issue xi

four minutes to midnight xi December 2010



illu≥rations by S OP H I E J OD O I N

      of 350

To Gregory Hall (1946 – 2009), the next ≥ool down


four minutes to midnight : issue xi words F.A. Nettelbeck images Sophie Jodoin edited by Kevin Yuen-Kit Lo, Hillary Rexe & John W. Stuart designed by Kevin Yuen-Kit Lo printed by Imprimerie Kata Soho isbn 978 – 0 – 9867007 – 0 – 5


CAREGIVER I am a man who loves ancient bars that smell of piss and green beer and mostly my favorite time is early afternoon when all the old fucks come out to play telling their stories of lost life in a world of the yes yes yes yes before the ironic no no sorry but you know back in 1980 in nyc I used to drink in the Terminal Bar right there across from the Port Authority and Murry this white haired bartender told me “you’re too young to give a shit about anybody” like I was applying to be his caregiver or something well that asshole should pour me a drink now

11 | happy hour

THINGS TO DO TODAY buy this Indian’s food stamp card for half of its face value sell half of the old lady’s prescriptions to those with the need the no limit eyes take all the free weed you can from these self-important medical marijuana growers thinking they’re doing you a favor always resell that shit in the budget Ziploc bags only shoplift the necessities if Jesus wouldn’t do it there must be something to it never ever forget to smile

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WINTER IN AMERICA a 300 lb. Wal-Mart mama with bacon strips in the panties secretly considers a face transplant via the magazine rack at checkstand 7 when an unemployed and balding grief counselor glances over and smiles

13 | happy hour

INTO THE SHALLOWS the first of each month was called Mother’s Day because all the women would get their welfare checks and us slackers would enjoy the spoils just for the dick service or a few lies but when the money was gone the food stamps would come and the bitches would use them to buy cases of soda pop to pour out on the ground so they could take all the cans back for the deposit and buy a few bottles of Mad Dog to drink with us under a grotesquely happy sun before the arguments got started

14 | f.a. nettelbeck

THE HEAL UP those old Indian cowboys wouldn’t worry about the heal up too much they’d just say Mr. Fred have another shot quit acting white and the next thing I knew it was yet another morning in a one horse town turned inside out by the relative calm of not understanding the reason for time

15 | happy hour

1968 that’s when I graduated high school and on the last day of class we took reds and went down to the beach but got delayed for hours because thousands of people lined Imperial Hwy. to watch the jet that carried away Bobby Kennedy’s body into the void fly low overhead and that was a weird sight but a lot of heavy people got killed that year one way or another so we didn’t really think nothing of it standing there in history walking up and down in it ready for a world which when I look at it now was hardly worth waiting for

17 | happy hour

CULTURE OF BULLSHIT the teleprompter speaks for a tortured puppet who has no idea how many homes he owns but has designed a strategy to fight against you the homeless the buttfuckers the pregnant the atheists the starving the dopers and drunks the cripples who always look down anyway away from a luxury those who have it all could never have achieved but by facing the real test the work the faith the service a complete culture of bullshit designed to make it all feel better when they’re kicking you telling you to stand up stand up stand up nothing is inevitable here

18 | f.a. nettelbeck

THE LIGHT THEY WASTE this week I got the phone call from two old brothers one calling from a Tijuana hospital where he just had triple bypass surgery to save a hundred thousand dollars because the weed business is not covered by Medicare and my other soul partner in Spokane who got five stents and was feeling fine except for the fact that his fucked up liver will kill him before his heart does so he’s still drinking the wine and writing the shit but what more could you expect when you’re the last of your kind living amongst the incompetent others in the light they waste

19 | happy hour

EL PASO there is this Garth Brooks song where you’ve lost all your fingers and the last dance is for God and any dream is over only if her tits smell like the rope of addiction that J. Cash hung himself with on hank fm when you really couldn’t keep from crying because there is no finale to a pretty face spread out on the only spot in the road that anybody will ever get any reception

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BLOOD ALCOHOL the thread of these drunken cities towns where the dream is over and another has just begun in the brotherhood of the insane in a handful of change under an oblique sun down the tracks of chromium where my grandfather’s brains are splattered dreaming of lost Chicago because the suburbs are crumbling next to the yellow dandelion with our hearts in a boxcar while I shatter this empty bottle against the sky

21 | happy hour


for Mel Clay

a naked teenaged white girl on her knees in a small plastic kiddie pool looks up at three burly black dudes all pissing into her open mouth

22 | f.a. nettelbeck


for Billy

we walked down to the water in Santa Cruz where the cigarette butts come up to nudge the shards of mother of pearl and empty Gatorade bottles with all the velocity of a transdermal Mexican show tune and the fuck if she wasn’t still impressed although it was her very first time at 36 seeing the ocean but I was jaded of course to be back in the place where radio waves refuse to carry a drunken voice yet the street people continued to carry around my father’s face alongside one of those  WILL WORK FOR pieces of cardboard so I held her beer anyway when she got down to play in the wet sand while breakers broke like the heart of an ugly valentine on this one lost weekend in the rain

24 | f.a. nettelbeck

AMARANTH ghost tavern on the outskirts. small and musty like an old train car covered in rusted beer signs of unknown brands. tongue and groove walls yellowed by nicotine. smoky blurred characters at a dark burgundy formica topped bar suspended in canned laughter. crumpled red and green Lucky Strike packages on corner tables full of empty glasses. a father’s skeleton hands lifting you up as a shadow slides you a Coca-Cola in the thick light green bottle. clicking of an overhead fan like a Nellie Fox baseball card in the spokes. faraway smell of a neighborhood burning leaves outside a hand worn door that doesn’t even open.

25 | happy hour


for Wanda Coleman

I can remember once a genius named Tom Clark told me that another genius named John Martin only laughed at him when he mentioned my name as one of the people he should be publishing but if I were a woman coming out of a workshop I might have a chance is what he said like it was a joke and I guess it was but I didn’t chuckle too much back then

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for Kevin Op≼edal

you second cousin to midnight on a have-not road that’s riddled with more painful holes than a blues harmonica or the window of time pelted with gale force tear drops in that house of cards where the empty hammock swings for no one

27 | happy hour

STELAE BY STARLIGHT Don Van Vliet is almost as dead as his favorite poet Philip Larkin who now is as dead as Myrna Loy whose hair still lives all over my face until I remember it is Mina Loy and her silly legs wrap across my back

28 | f.a. nettelbeck

TELL THE DUST without the aid of others or verbal charms the clock is swept clean of later life so recklessly extravagant like minimum wage yet some newborn seconds are given free as a courtesy with that medley of faces of those who we have fucked literally and figuratively to continue making this all worth living

29 | happy hour

INAUGURATION in the distance beneath the jumbotrons close vicinity is fleeting when history as an only witness anticipates the dictatorship of the screen

30 | f.a. nettelbeck

A CONFESSION you’re holding a large plastic bag that says PATIENT’S BELONGINGS

standing in the rain at twilight fabricating a confession while dreams crawl off like desperate housewives on umbilical leashes and the bus that never comes is now your own plasmatic future gasping in deathless afterthought

31 | happy hour

BABY PICTURES one time I was smoking a joint with John Giorno over there at 222 Bowery talking about those very early found poems of his and he told me “man that’s like looking at baby pictures” and that was pretty cool if you think about it digging somebody’s work then finding out they don’t even give a shit about it at all anymore so then once in Santa Cruz during the Red Night Tour he was telling me Bug Death was a bad title for a book and that could be right I haven’t read the whole thing through in almost 15 years just those revised sections I’ve worked on but I’m too old for it now if that makes any sense like those moldy photo albums at a yard sale full of faces you can only wonder about for at least 30 seconds before you go over to check out the lp s

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THE UNTOUCHED the new valid sentences will be empirical truth now that the sociopath is gone yet 6 ft. under the moonlight a melody played in a penny arcade makes the homunculus seem ridiculous because of course Mickey Rourke could kick Mickey Rooney’s ass but who would make the better Bukowski if a young Judy Garland had her legs spread and was calling all the untouched home

40 | f.a. nettelbeck

FOR WAY TOO LONG boppers are nodding out in redolent phrases of Au Privave 35 years before the first spoonful

so this is the right joint

albeit now just a field of broken words where the terrible noise set it all off

but hey baby come back here

like Faron Young once said “Wouldn’t that be great? To be killed by Hank Williams!” as the fucker pointed a loaded gun to his temple because he wanted his woman I’m skin popping Ripple on Dead Indian Rd. just to lick that gardenia in moonlight

41 | happy hour

yes baby oh yes

it is a war I can’t understand please straighten your stockings

and dig the imponderables

I will quit forever

for way too long

Drink Responsibly — “ disposable chopsticks are the single biggest destroyers of the rainforest ”


for Greg Hall

back to scars on a trigger. gravestone streets skid marked from her bloodthirsty Bratz doll face. chandelier of tits in a shotgun shack by the tracks of an lp tacked to saber tooth tar paper. adult beverages with get down syndrome. three lines of the haiku on snow while kissing a belly button from the inside. 60 second stopover with a “25 Minutes to Go� new coffin haircut mimicking the lost coordinates conducive to all flesh.

45 | happy hour


for Michael C. Ford

a Rory Calhoun look - alike is ravishing in boho chic when the scarcest of gauchos wearing rubber masks of retrospect kick his impenetrable ass between the porticoes of infinite space just like the movies

46 | f.a. nettelbeck

FINGER BANGING THE PIĂ‘ATA skid plates shower sparks into the night when dipped to drag over the pavement of a failed civilization

47 | happy hour

THE LEGEND OF DAVE CHURCH (01 / 20 / 1947 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

slumped over in a cab with the

48 | f.a. nettelbeck

death poem how it happens

when trying to get last words out

a second before it shouldn't matter

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 11 / 27 / 2008)

49 | happy hour


for Adele Parker

who revived the bliss factor with drops of blue like pissing on the skull mound or return to game

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CORNU THErolls o C d

A OPuIt.

THEhYe’nRE U w y

AVEhLING R N our ea

REDLINING THE FOSSIL Three million different varieties of seeds from around the world are locked away in a doomsday vault and you don't have the key.

56 | f.a. nettelbeck



someone pets / the kitten /

someone throws / the kitten /

against the wall.

TOKEN the old ones with American dreams caught in the pantomime of possessing nothing are speaking tonight on the wind of Yankee Doodle Dandy with the blues harmonica gathering power passed out in a Buick Regal under a Mt. Rushmore tagged with the stylized verbalization of flames

60 | f.a. nettelbeck

HAPPY HOUR the broken neon sentence by its power of suggestion makes those bald tires screech before the heart does for every son of Hank when there is all that waitress ass inside where this bulbous nosed Indian is endlessly talking about how it was before you quit buying him drinks in a storied world of the guitar strings strung tight within his broken radio that he still carries around like the name of a woman that has long since lost any correlating face

61 | happy hour



and Eric Dolphy would play along with the birds

skimming gracefully over the blue water ) in an alley between two stores ) the older of the two boys )



so out of your skin not a living


the bus that never came through those duct taped sunglasses

62 | f.a. nettelbeck



“  hot teen wet ass fucking hard by horny dog cock  ”


The ill-fated Judy Garland, for instance, was reputed to include her song “Over the Rainbow” in every performance she gave not so much because audiences loved it, but because she thought it brought her luck.


…to house the breastbone of the Buddha…

63 | happy hour

Carl Perkins ?

language arts




for Bryan Mickle

to speak in light of light like the wine spilled on the chromatic tracks of Stockton’s suicidal outskirts or harmonicas of wind and your need to piss out the boxcar door onto Merle Haggard’s half-masted shadow what you always said “BURY YOUR WINE” before hitting that main stem never nothing about what brush I should use on her face to restore the codeine in her eyes that killed the pain for the very first time

Claude we’re getting old as we wait for this next train of colors ashamed of our own signatures

66 | f.a. nettelbeck

I had that dream again man the one I had back in Philly where I stood there with all those postcards in my arms with all your paintings on them only I wasn’t staring at that heat shimmered highway it was your gravestone that was shimmering and for the very first time I felt lost like you weren’t my road dawg no more like someone captured you in a book but

then I read the inscription and it was all right they got it fucking right so perfect

and I woke up feeling righteous brother ONE THING ABOUT IT



HERE 67 | happy hour


for Jim Vallely

abandoned rest area

all bets are off

clutter of discarded electronics

crumpled newspaper stained by a demon face

when to not forget the origin myth

68 | f.a. nettelbeck

real sound in the dream is Hollywood singing into metal garbage cans

as if time was collapsed into the present

look at this shithole

the demon strained even further forward

69 | happy hour

FOR NOTHING thanks for the snowy egret on this plate // thanks for the foster home full of dead bodies // thanks for the clitoris that feels all pain // thanks for the

thermal pollution of our lips // thanks for the myrmidon that we call president // thanks for the nine days’ wonder of celebrity // thanks for

the withholding tax on the rapture // thanks for the artificial intelligence asking our questions // thanks for the weasel

words they publish in books // thanks

for the cleavage on the suicide

bomber // thanks for the group therapy

of solitary confinement // thanks for the fancy dress with nothing left to eat // thanks for the biosphere that makes a

great target // thanks for the autopsy at our local pharmacy // thanks for the doomsday maternity ward smiles // thanks for the reveille of saying thanks for nothing ASSHOLE

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RAFFLE TO BENEFIT MR. F.A. NET TELBECK Old poets waiting on death throwing up at the sun. – alta ifland movie as poem as life as poem as your death face poem I have removed the doors and I stand with you as these tickets are only a dollar each or six for five and being a real poet in America is slow suicide but you know that right you read the books you grow or perish you turn the pages or you turn a cold eye someone watching today yes can inspire others the negative others the ones beaten backs against the sun fingering that imaginary trigger as poem yet who sincerely admire beauty as poem as being sad as poem as your chances in the prison without bars as poem as good as that poem really is you do not need to be present to win

73 | happy hour

ENOUGH it's this time of night that I come home buzzed from the lot I own on the side of the road that I call a flea market where I spread out all the broken shit that most nobody wants but some do and I make enough for a six-pack or gas or some pop for my kids and a lot of the fuckers say “I'm a veteran I'm fucked up my legs go numb I'm hurting you got any whiskey” or these tired women beaten by family and life the assholes who call themselves men “I'm sorry but I can't keep from crying I got nowhere to go would you take 50 cents” or all the others who ask “hey you got some hits or a beer I need a line I just want to sit here and get fucked up until the pain goes away” or the tears “can I camp here tonight can you give me this coffee maker I'll pay you on the first man” but that day never comes so that's why I hate this country

74 | f.a. nettelbeck

MOUTH OF GOD all this morning at the food giveaway waiting for a box with Mexicans and other poor whites at least double the people as last month some filthy others reeking of booze yet still a few who don't look like they'd need a handout at all in this once greatest country but myself I've been coming here for years and they always ask me “hey how are you doing how's it going” and I nod and say “just great pretty good” why the fuck you think I'm here asshole is what I should tell them but I just hand over my number and practice the obligatory god bless you too once again in my head

75 | happy hour

BUS STOP VORTEX there ain't no prophylactic machines in the rest rooms of the stations of the cross so that's why it's best to hit that highway running with your thumb up your ass because it's all designed for her pleasure anyhow and making that invisible crucifix across your chest could only indicate you're selling drugs and try and explain all that to the sheriff in the next town over where a map printed with disappearing ink really means you're still lost without her

76 | f.a. nettelbeck

WHAT THE POOR PEOPLE ARE DOING not quite summer but still my jalape単os ain't growing too good yet and I do like to fry those puppies up on the griddle until there's these little spots of black over a faint white skin that's when you sprinkle on the carne asada seasoning and crack that first jug of blue agave just to figure where it all went wrong

77 | happy hour


in memory of Iron Mike

a good friend goes into surgery this morning to have a chunk of his tongue cut out and some glands removed from his jaw because of cancer from all the years of smoking and drinking and that kind of thing always gets you to thinking of the time you yourself have left during this big stress test called life where in the end all the partying won't mean shit to a tree if no one is glad to see you go

79 | happy hour

FUCK DEATH when your women die when most all your friends die when the poets die there will still always be that phone call with even more news perhaps that you’re also dead and you’ll want to go to bed then and get up and get drunk again and maybe fuck then go back to sleep with the stereo on playing some song about being so god damned lonely

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BEER RUN these wasted days the wasted nights not recognizing your face in the rearview just for that one second when you question yourself and your weak-assed poetry hungover in an America which has no talent no derringdo no tolerance for your own bilious breath filling the inside of this 25-year-old car with the ether of those beat and lost long before you

83 | happy hour

A DIAMOND MADE OUT OF THE ALPHABET those old-time lowrider chicks would say that just a little dot of ink under the skin would get you into heaven so I got me a diamond made out of the alphabet with the words WORD MAN going across through the middle in red but that was over twenty years ago and it looks old like my father's tattoos used to look when I was a kid and I suppose his ink got him in although you wouldn't really consider him a candidate no matter what he did and he really wouldn't give a fuck anyway but he would appreciate it just like if you handed him another cold beer

84 | f.a. nettelbeck

LA TROCA a week ago at this reading I did in Saint Cross with Opstedal the last living poet in town this grey head / bearded old dude came up reminiscing about being at a reading I did there circa 1979 in the Victorian house I lived in for a year while working on the Bug Death ms on that very day they began demolition of the joint and all the local heavys were there to read with me I guess because I billed the whole thing as NETTELBECK'S FINAL READING and they were glad to see me go because I used the proceeds from the admission to finance my move to Oregon in my cherry 1950 Chevy 5-window pickup where I went out into the woods and drank beer and shot off guns until I got it all out of my system but that's that sad story anyway this guy was very sweet talking about those old days and

85 | happy hour

how glad he was to see me that it was good we were still alive and didn't I miss this and that and so and so and have I seen Kessler lately and I said “well he's standing right there� and that got rid of him but it got me thinking about how much I missed that fucking truck until an old-time Beatty homeboy showed up with some whiskey and turned out all the lights

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SOMEDAY the dead never told me anything I could use other than keep it up you'll be here soon and you know what fuck you motherfuckers is what I say being a first lieuy in the devil's army because actually I was thinking of those whores who let their kids go hungry when I sat there chopping lines awash in very cheap whiskey as they sucked my numb cock while occasionally glancing over at that cold stove like it was Iceland and someday we would all vacation there

89 | happy hour


for Al Masarik

the clank of a mimeo machine beats like two hearts fucking on the freshly smudged satin sheets of the whole word made flesh just twelve tubes of ink away from addiction inside the infamous Small Press Hotel where we all died for d. a. levy's sins

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AND IN CLOSING I remember 1959 walking down Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach hand in hand with my mother passing a coffee house with this huge sign that said The Insomniac on it in jagged letters with abstract art on the sidewalk and how mesmeric all these people sitting out front were but then I can also remember much later almost ten years just one block up the same street I was there in the Either/Or Bookstore and lost it high on the poems that were all inside these what are nowadays quite rare and expensive small press collectibles but at that time just publications I held in my hands as the purest of light

91 | happy hour

UNSTABLE PART OF THE DREAM deep in sleep when the fear is quelled and absurdity obliterated I'll be speaking to you in an unstable part of the dream to find out what your death is really like if you can still recall my breath on your thighs now imparted through endoscopic dust or if you would just like to go out drinking riding around in memory of when life meant nothing and we didn't care if we ever woke up

92 | f.a. nettelbeck


for Jon Alan Carroll

such a righteous story you told all those years ago about that drunk who picked you up hitchhiking Xmas Eve on the downside when the dude says “there ain’t no Xmas for bums like us” that it has stuck with me this far past every agonizing holiday and reminds me of the time I played Santa at the Emporium Capwell in San Francisco when some kid had asked me to please cure her mother’s cancer right after this other girl had wanted the fur coat in the window down the street at Macy’s each with the distinct pleading of their own station in life which made it easier to customize the lie so that when after the shift was over and I took off the costume that reeked of piss from hundreds of kids sitting on my lap all day I felt like what that prick God

95 | happy hour

must feel like and I punched out to go get a double shot backed with a High Life not exactly too gentle into that Stille Nacht

96 | f.a. nettelbeck

THE JOKE you haven't lived until you stand up 6 ft. looking out right at ground level of the grave you just helped dig with your partners for your dead old lady and everybody's drinking md 20/ 20 when you look up at all them laughing at your drunken white ass as they help you out of the hole

97 | happy hour

POEM ON MY DAUGHTER’S 9 TH BIRTHDAY barbecuing in the snow with Hannah Montana blasting out the open front door this is the life baby girl make no mistake it doesn't get any better than this with hope making a comeback and the root beer ice cold your smile is all I need to obliterate time yet to come

98 | f.a. nettelbeck

PREQUEL TO A WASTED LIFE I'm in that movie Festival Express shot up there in Canada the summer of '70 when I was 19-years-old you can spot me during the Calgary segment when Pigpen is jamming and I'm standing there rocking out skinny as shit in my antique glasses denim shirt and little bebop hippie hat with a scraggly beard as if in some queasy time machine drinking vodka with Janis those huge nightly bonfires we had with all the cowboys in town for the Stampede passing the reefer across the naked eyes of some

99 | happy hour

young pretty girl face with the core of my poem in hand like the Ray-O-Vac I shone up into the Northern Lights to get a glimpse of how I must look now


OUT OF THE DISH a week ago in Portland I performed with the Be Blank Consort these sound poems that everyone read off of scripts and Bennett had me do this one where I barked like a dog for about 5 minutes which was indicated by all these drawings of little bones but as the rest of them read the text it put it all into perspective these last 40 years of fucking with the poems ended in this one quick yap

101 | happy hour

BODY OF WORK if only words could kill then I would spell out the names of the lost in one last poem

102 | f.a. nettelbeck

F. A. NETTELBECK has long been a fixture in the American

literary underground. He is the author of 22 books and chapbooks of poetry and prose, and his work has appeared in numerous magazines, journals and anthologies. He lives in Southern Oregon’s Sprague River Valley with his wife and three children. SOPHIE JODOIN lives and works in Montréal. Her paintings

and drawings have been exhibited in individual and group shows across Canada and abroad, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, London and Prague. Her works are held in a number of public and private collections.

four minutes to midnight xi HAPPY HOUR F.A. NETTELBECK


HAPPY HOUR illu≥rations by


four minutes to midnight issue xi

Profile for Four Minutes to Midnight

Four Minutes to Midnight 11  

Issue 11: Happy Hour by FA Nettelbeck, illustrations by Sophie Jodoin

Four Minutes to Midnight 11  

Issue 11: Happy Hour by FA Nettelbeck, illustrations by Sophie Jodoin