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i see hunger’s children

Selected Poems 1962-2012 by normal



normal’s poems transcend the mundane world yet are always at the very depth of daily life. They stimulate conversations of the shadow, the skeleton, and the north wind.

—David Johansen aka Buster Poindexter



I See Hunger’s Children b�

normal —Selected Poems— 1962-2012



“Poets drop their stitches in the loom, straws for drowning men to grasp as they sink into extinction” —Henry Miller


Š2013 normal All rights reserved. No part of this book can be reproduced without the express written permission of the author, except in the case of written reviews. Cover and interior art by Stephen Kerner Illustration on page 97 by Charlotte Schiffman ISBN 978-1-929878-80-2 First edition

PO Box 5301 San Pedro, CA 90733 www.lummoxpress.com Printed in the United States of America


Acknowledgments: The author wishes to thank the editors of the following magazines where some of these poems have appeared: Art:Mag, Caveat Lector, Blue Collar Review, Nerve Cowboy, House Organ, Barbaric Yawp, Poesis, Pearl, Out Of Our, Parting Gifts, Flying Fish, Gargoyle, Chiron Review, Cafe Review, Iconoclast, Nibble, Unarmed, Tule Review, Haight-Ashbury Journal, Struggle, Fuck, Home Planet News, Backstreet, Over The Transom, Axe Factory Review, Heeltap, The Lummox Journal, Devil Blossoms, Mojo Risin’, Big Hammer, Poesy, Slipstream, Zen Baby, ZYX, X-Ray, Alpha Beat Press & Hudson Valley Chronogram.



This book is a living memorial to the spirit of Sidney & Edith, my loving parents It is also dedicated to my LadySoul & Muse Charlotte & Artemis, Lara & Colin & their little flowers Kiera & Kylie Keb & Philip & Nicholas



The Poetry of normal—an introduction

I first had the privilege of publishing the work of normal back in the late nineties. It was probably in my little/tiny monthly Lit-Arts magazine, the Lummox Journal but I can’t remember for sure. At the time I assumed that I had stumbled onto one of the great beat or post-beat masters from the Greenwich Village days. I didn’t realize that I was tapping a vein of relatively unknown poetry. I had never heard of normal and I don’t know how he heard of Lummox, but, somehow, our paths crossed. We’ve been zigzagging across each other’s trail ever since. Astonishingly, normal has only published 3 collections...all three published by Lummox Press. The first, Blood on the Floor and the second, American Child, were part of the Little Red Book series (chapbooks). The third, you now hold in your hands. normal’s “style” is that of a “wailer”…he is an “old school” spoken word artist (long before Harvey Kubernik coined the phrase). Most likely


this came from the pre-microphone days when a poet would have to shout to be heard above the din of street life back in the West Village (there was more than just the fabled East Village life that has been immortalized by such Beat legends as Ginsberg and Corso). His earliest recorded poem, the first one in this collection, is dated 1962, but he may have begun his journey as a spoken word poet before that. I have always been struck by his ability to capture a moment, be it the moment of calm on the morning before the jets flew into the WTC (An Hour Before) or the friendship between two steel workers (At the End of the Beam). These are moments of poignancy, life’s small moments that serve to act as a foundation for later accomplishments. Added to this ability is his insightfulness regarding the bigger picture. normal picks up something of no seeming importance and sees the whole of humanity, struggling forward towards some unknown destination. Poems like American Child, I see Hunger’s Children, Blood on the Floor, and American Enough capture the inherent angst, the schizoid complex of what it means to be a citizen of the world and the USA. These are powerful


poems indeed. Their power lies not only in the scope of their imagery, but in the connectivity of each idea on which the imagery relies. I had the unenviable task of deciding which poems would go into this retrospective collection. I decided that I would cull the weaker poems... that seemed the easiest course of action. But even that was daunting because there weren’t that many weak poems either! In the end, it came down to which poems I liked the least. So what you hold in your hands, dear reader, is the best of a man’s poetry (to date). normal assures me there will be more…he’s retiring soon and will have no excuse (apart from medical issues) not to start typing like a fiend (which I hope he does). RD Armstrong Lummox Press March 25th, 2013


Table of Contents Book One

i see hunger’s children

I See Hunger’s Children .................................................................. 2 in the doorway .................................................................................... 9 Resolve of The Hungry Masses... ............................................... 10 hot dogs at nedick’s .......................................................................... 12 green buses .......................................................................................... 14 Crossroads ........................................................................................... 16 blood on the floor ............................................................................. 17 Queen of Tim Riley’s ....................................................................... 18 american enough ............................................................................... 20 the flowers of summer ..................................................................... 21 awakening - 1967 ............................................................................... 22 the shooting gallery . ........................................................................ 23 the clock strikes zero ....................................................................... 24 goodnight, walt whitman / bye bye poem ............................... 26 american child . .................................................................................. 27

Book Two

children, where do you get

your bright young eyes?

The Request ........................................................................................ 32 the doll . ................................................................................................. 33 a blue smoke in the tropics . .......................................................... 34 i. being ................................................................................................... 36 perseverance of the cells . ............................................................... 37 the perfume off another ghost dance ....................................... 38 love her and her following ............................................................. 39 gettin ready for Sunday .................................................................. 40 Girl On A Spit .................................................................................... 42 mob of one ........................................................................................... 44 children, where do you get your bright young eyes? ........... 46 seeker of truth .................................................................................... 47 The Other Side of Each Hour ...................................................... 48 Real Is The Holy Light of Love .................................................. 50 generations . ......................................................................................... 52 Relics ...................................................................................................... 53 cisco, the doorknob king ............................................................... 55


recluse messianic ............................................................................... 57 the lulu factory ................................................................................... 58 Jack & Jill In Love . .......................................................................... 60 throwing tears at the stones . ........................................................ 62 luna in the late sun ........................................................................... 64 at the end of the beam with mick & lou .................................. 65 bumperstckers .................................................................................... 67 The Transcendental in January .................................................. 69 I Hoped To Find Lorca’s Ghost .................................................. 71 I saw the sun praying this morning ........................................... 73 the laminated dream ....................................................................... 74 don’t rape the singing bird ............................................................ 76 invitation from the devil ................................................................ 77 when the glass ceiling cracks... .................................................... 78 where the songbird sang ................................................................. 79

Book Three

beauty flies among dead flowers

everyone’s a virgin ............................................................................ 82 beauty flies among dead flowers ................................................. 82 by the light of the conquering moon .......................................... 83 pieces of empty .................................................................................. 85 irreconcilable differences ................................................................ 86 Small Visions ...................................................................................... 87 song of the sun coming up ............................................................ 89 kisses in the afternoon .................................................................... 90 Appalachian Cabin .......................................................................... 92 burgeoning trees ................................................................................ 93 Too Hot to Handle ........................................................................... 94 touching still ....................................................................................... 95 an hour before .................................................................................... 96 naked in the house with you ......................................................... 98 Existence Gardens ............................................................................ 99 beneath my feet ................................................................................ 101 The Safety of Flight ....................................................................... 102 pulling into the garage at night ................................................. 103 meditation on a still life by van gogh ..................................... 104



BOOK ONE

I See Hunger’s Children


for those brothers & sisters whose eyes burn still in heaven Poem Found In The Ruins Of The Old Cafe Rafio Greenwich Village, Circa 1962-64

I See Hunger’s Children I. I see them in the skeletal mockery of a city’s 16th generation opening dawn dragging their brazen feet thru the ribaldry of an early morning sun on midnight’s pale street corner whistling Dixie weeping ankle deep in winter’s savage wetness wane & screaming a hand leering message to cruel scoffers in polished shining fuck limousines amidst starvation’s immortal war crying/laughing in the sovereign ecstasy of an all night diner’s tearless last booth or asleep alas on a Freudian fourth floor landing wrapped as dead fish in dejected puke newspapers I see them dying in some Foundling-like hospital poor-boy motherless nameless & as yet not reaching their first birthday because the food soured stale in their stomachs for lack of love and then to rise like a reincarnated Christ to walk in threes & fours hands in pockets in the stupid hush of phantom daybreak waiting, contemplating Chinese aphorisms in the dried senile grass of a tawdry park, aping the sage, waiting for the sun to kick its holy way thru the faceless cameo clouds --- a belated midday sun that never does show its virgin face these angry ragamuffins humoring their raw squalor with a guffawed-moan jerk of the head & standing like cigar store indians in distant rooms until rabid silence comes

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hovering, scatting in the snowed-in wonder of some piebald alcove to John Coltrane’s lordly hymn cry juke box piss red on the untilled soil mundane womb of breath & breathless I see them beyond the mushroom wind standing in rags in the midst of some raw alley rain writing obscene stone slogans anti rat bastard anything anti love while those of fur & fortune sit in gluttony watching their 1951 Abbott & Costello TV reruns for the l7th & 18th time in succession then running dirty-barefoot thru canyon streets of industrial cathedral wasteland holding their 5 day empty mentholated stomachs screaming clamoring for sexual crescendo while cross-bearing placards & placentas for the release of Cardinal Mindzendty for Einstein to reinvent the Rosetta Stone for Casanova to cakewalk in the Light of the Conquering Moon I see them standing nostril deep in great holocaust oceans consumed only in shouting holy for the immortality of Universal Love while watching their breaths dissipate into the pagan night in prayer for brethren of the shouted word & getting busted for sad vagrancy by a benign cop who lets them fall out for 32 hours in steel valhalla of jail nazi solitary laughing in & out of grandfather shabby Menlo Park Bellevue Chestnut Hill Graystone Rockland & top

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floor Brooklyn House of Correction with their feasting hoards of sadist pervert guard & inmate & seatless toilets only because the cosmology of the insane does not conform I see them screaming for sacred civil rights while aging 10 years a night while preaching beatitude & peace while blowing joints packed in the front page of the National Enquirer while tossing thalidomide bennies into George Lincoln Rockwell’s fishbowl at 4 in the morning while wearing black armbands for Caryl Chessman 3 years after his murder while turning a dirty groin & breast to Nirvana in hope of an answer while performing the sodomy of asking too many questions that have no answers I see them shackled & thrust by the coliseum public into the black well of crocodile waters where they chant 30 days & nights for the survival of humanity for enormous statues of Buddha & Harpo Marx to be erected on Yucca Flats for the preservation of Fire Island from the claws of a feral Biltwise plague for a New Frontier goliath political movement headed by the Mattachines for the formation of a black-Jewish-tongued Hunts tomato tasting union for 23 Boston tea societies to march barefoot to the hills of Alabama & search out William Moore’s cold murderer & when they find him genuflecting in mercy for the poor ignorant bastard I see them during a lunatic cold war marching & crawling & swimming thru the Central Park Zoo as they out stare the crewcut students of O1’ Miss carrying posters of the coming of a mulatto New Jerusalem as they themselves are thrown out of the colleges & private schools because they showed at tuesday night vespers with their little nude statues of Genghis Khan Boris Karloff John Birch Henry Miller Andy Devine & Topps Baseball trading cards & solicited them to the

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reverend’s family Howdy Doody Loki & good ol’ Ronald Reagan as they sit 8 across in the public lavatories of democracy & mimic tv commercials from black midnight till black noon as they wave polka-dot handkerchiefs as they hallucinate Coney Island while dancing bare-ass-gay & nimble with Cerberus & Ichabod Crane around mammon campfires of total & complete corporate bestiality as they give themselves wholly to the ghost of Aleister Crowley as they lay upon burning cemetery grass with visions of Walt Whitman dragging Halley’s Comet on a cross thru the Constellations of The Apocalypse as they charade suicide on the skyscraper’s ledge to preach against the bureaucracy demon of organized charity as they march daily to the state hospitals with knotted veins strangulated hernias pregnancies social leprosy & The Miracle of Mere Preservation I see them dancing upon limousine tops into the purple shudder night burning an Easter bunny on Easter Sunday upon a flagdraped pyre piled high with ventriloquist dummies & evangelical burlesque queens just to see who in the vast crowd is guided by emotion listening to an old man’s dying last word scouring an ageless Lower Eastside for the historical Spanish Connection then score-rush-flash-groovesettling back on a broken street corner to dig the Establishment thru the Looking Glass of Truth crawling out of The Rabbit Hole the grave/or Bates School of Business to run screaming down to the Bowery to let hunger’s adults be guidance-counselor & the Valhalla fink called Existence the final exam throwing pacifist mud pies at society’s big molly coddle fight rape hot engine drink fat deeze-dooze & dans pompous taper pants children & send them running

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back crying to arms akimbo Ma & Dada exposed to dirt free thought & the kiss of cherubim for the first time in their whoremongering churchgoing lives storming every country club from Flushing Meadows to Montauk Point with torches searching out the Frankenstein Monster & the Underwearian Diaries of proud tipster Gunner Joe McCarthy petitioning plush uptown offices with truffle hogs & dowsing rods all because they smella rat in the watercress sandwiches having pity for the poor god of hoodlum streets arming the radio with Trotskyite explosives having sex giving up sex tap dancing with Gene Kelly down the steps of Machu Picchu conjuring up nude images of Thoreau Shiva & Emma Goldman on a Ouija board while strutting thru a cold Harlem morning damning God to Hell scribbling profane Utopian campaign epigrams on the National Archives Building converting to Shamanism masturbating 6 days a week giving up masturbation for Lent returning to masturbation for Ramadan constructing Jacob’s Ladder with the feathers of angels going to pot going to Mecca going to Dallas traveling out to Oklahoma only to experience teethchattering honky-tonk nocturnal emission in an old indian blanket Nirvana Paradise Secaucus NJ dredging the Great Passaic River for new chapters to

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Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams slander scorch run track make track eat penicillin pie scratch old irritations wash swish swearing at every woman that wears shoes swearing at every woman that doesn’t wear shoes chanting the Bhagavad-Gita Ah! Sunflower & Whitman’s The Sobbing of The Bells 40 days & 40 nights beating back the hag masses of the world with Emily Dickenson’s bone corset embracing The Void The Abyss Quasimodo Sappho & Venus having a head getting a head shooting donkeys elephants & holy cows with existential shotguns & nihilistic delight assaulting Charlton Heston with a tongue bath making it under the Tree of Eternal Hate build for a better future naughty muscatel in asylum mission homes urinating like dogs courting vestal virgins with Bolshevik humor fire thunder selling the Brooklyn Bridge being mature being banal educate rocketeer debonair going insane for the last & final time & at the end of the day watching the Skeletons Digging & at the end of the day die

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II. I hear America crying I see hunger’s children the protagonist saints of an if and but future sprawled as ghosts in the desert I see her children black & white & yellow & indian shoulder to shoulder life to death sin to virtue hop skip & jump chewing off the same bittersweet apple to the very core of American Principle I sing to these innocent days & to the fires upon the horizon I see hunger’s children in the city’s 20th generation opening dawn neither screaming nor rioting but staring coldly silent statues in the park at a ruptured bald eagle’s fading way & feathers & us - - - waiting this IS my home where home is in the soul & soul in the heart & heart in the mouth where songs are sung sagas are erected & poems cried where the circus clown is no longer a martyr but a prince where my eagle craps the voice of a free people on the Kremlin dome where strength no longer be shown in bicep but in imagination & Peter Pan is King of The Flagpoles where hair grows long teeth rotten nerves numb charity fat & the bluebird twitters aloud Keats “Truth Is Beauty” this is my home where hunger’s children awake me each morning with a tender angry kiss I see hunger’s children where baby becomes man & man becomes God Greenwich Village NY 1962-1964

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to jack micheline - -

in the doorway you could hear him singing 7am / upper grant / 1971, 2 or 3. i’d be in the doorway, he’d smell the hangover / sense the dying soul / the young poet starving to crawl out. he would stop just long enough to sing me “imma ol’ cowhan’, frem de rio - -” “ah, buffalo gals wontcha come ou’ tanight - -” etc etc - till i’d laugh, he’d wink & be off down the street. we never spoke. they found jack at the end of the line / where that great heart of his had probably been dreaming a serenade into the dark & quieting doorway.

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Resolve of The Hungry Masses Number One ‘The Old Polish Men’ 1950 Another day since The War was over Passaic NJ Milltown Town of refugees Silent housewives Golden Boys Bar for midget wrestlers I watched the old Polish men With faces pale with war Faces of failure & cold brooding secrets Pockets filled with stale bread & grandfather watches With bodies of barbed wire & heavy hobnailed boots Bodies of risen ash I watched the old Polish men take their tickets At the loading dock, Waiting dunce dumb for their numbers to be called The ether of memories The Prophecy of Peace whose tempered wane voice Fizzles at dawn Long overcoats hanging Cigarettes dangling over stubbed chins Standing in the rain Around me Thru me The Human Condition Those succumbed To circumstance To lack of imagination To the White Plague of Laughless Hours Stink in their eyes No mission statement Not a word Just hungry children Homelife, yet another ghetto of half hope

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The Old World at the conclusion of days Burned out tanks Traps springing in the field Gnarled bones The screaming the weeping Mouths opened to the end of the moment Angry chewed Meat of God Door to the loading dock opens Loading Boss calls out the numbers The hand of today’s deity is dealt For a few poor souls there would be a day’s labor I watch the others The rejected The failed The broken The laughless Sad still shadows in the Land of Gold Staring at their shoes Collars up 1950 Passaic NJ Leaves falling Halves Wholes Pieces of Glory Pieces of Sweetness Pieces of Shit Disappearing back into the mist Like fields of ground-flowers Praying in the rain. July/2012

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“my eyes too have souls that rage”

bob kaufman - -

hot dogs at nedick's times square, 1958 i sat at nedick's eating my hot dog / out on 42nd st there were hustlers, whores, tough guys in leathers & snake skins, black caped salvation army ladies of the soul / mustard & relish working down my throat an Orange Julius tasting like cold wet baby aspirin / across the street the vikings had just opened / kirk douglas & tony curtis led their screaming sea hordes over the burning scape / inside, alone crowded by a world on the move / life sliding by / there’s them & there’s me / outside, on the sidewalk a one legged man in fatigues had his hat out “i saved all you bastids from hitler!” he was saying /the last of the hot dog went down / 15 yrs old & i saw my future rise before my eyes rise to the tops of all the burlesques & movie houses / the call of the pimps the call of sister salvation / i saw it all

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the marquee the great white lights of my future / a kind of hope that rose like matinee glitter & fell like dust that gathered at my feet. may/2011

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green buses newark nj 1963 i stood in the draft board i was 98 lbs pigtailed, silver fish ear ringed gold lamé coat then i was naked all those crew cut guys yelling “sweetheart! hey sweetheart! - - how do people like him survive ??” but i was naked & my dick was average your typical run of the mill medium sized Jewish dick the sergeant sat looking at my records his forehead pushed up like a washboard road “what do you do for a living?” “imma jazz poet” “where doya work?” “greenwich village” “section 10 - - GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE !!” i was the second person rejected from military service that day, the first person rejected down at section 10 was my old grade school buddy, konrad nubler who i wasn’t supposed to hang out with back then because i was Jewish & his family was from germany

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but he was my first friend & i showed him my circumcision & he taught me how to eat bacon later he wrote a thesis on what he called nazi-americanism & was promptly booted from school konnie was dressed in a sandra dee skirt an annette funicello hairdo & a joan crawford dinner jacket & i had pig tails gold lamĂŠ coat silver fish ear rings we sat there the 2 of us down in section 10 the first 2 rejectees that yr in the state laughing & talking up the old times while the boys howled & hooted “sweetheart! sweetheart !!â€? on the way to the green buses

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for bob kaufman - - -

Crossroads We met in Tompkins Sq Late ‘63 early ‘64 soon after J. Kennedy was shot. He followed Me back to my 5 bucka wk room Over the Bowery luggage shop where We could dig Pharoah Sanders Miles The horns of R. Kirk Night after night Caddycorner over at the 5 Spot. I had some morphine syringes Bob had some speed We sat across the bed shooting drugs For 2 wks Jazz pulsating our brains We wrote We tore up our poems We never spoke Silent screams raging thru The perpetually undulating factories Of the mind Winter cat scratching at the Steaming windows War tickling the throats of 2 Continents. Without a word We both left the room over the Luggage shop We went our separate ways 2 boxes of torn paper Left at the crossroads Marked our spot. nov/10

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blood on the floor don’t slip there is blood on the floor. blood of apathy blood of the dispassionate the ignoring blood of those numbed by dumb life blood of those who pretend it never happens / the cheerfully humbled who go about it all smiling. blood of the corpses that have not yet died the baby 15 yrs into life not yet born the ancient one bereft of wisdom not yet lived. blood of the holy filthy blood on the godhead blood of the rich in their diamond fishbowls the paparazzi in their glory the machines in their monopoly the innocent in their strangulation the earth in her silence. don’t slip the anomalies are pure the sky is red the raindrops are loaded with the eyes of children don’t slip there is blood on the floor. 17


Queen of Tim Riley’s South End, Boston - - winter 1964 - Time to time I used to see her around Tim Riley’s Tavern, tucking Her tits back in their place, while Her skirt rode high on her thighs. She talked drinks from the boys, “Beer With a shot of tabasco, please;” Talked about singing with Edith Piaf, Clooney, Lady Day - - she herself sang With the devout intensity of a hysterical Hog at the precise holy moment of butchering - She flattered a broken artist painting Tables for a shot, She patted the bruised ribs of an Iron worker who had slipped on his Scaffold, shyly Stemmed cigarettes from the lonely & The wholly defeated, she Ogled the dismal Took plastic roses in her hat By the melancholy & the bedraggled. One night, she told me: “You can slide further on bullshit Than ya can on sandpaper!” The men loved her, Gathered around her Plied her Fancied her Cropped her. Then She was gone. The bar at Tim Riley’s now quiet, Snow climbed the window glass. On the radio, old re-runs - The Yanks, once more,

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Were clobbering Boston / Ted Williams Was old, The men’s heads now bowed in their mugs. Me, in the corner Doodling sketches of the Eiffel Tower Onna napkin.

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american enough i am american enough to chase an irrepressible dream 8x round a stricken television set like an optimist lunatic loose in hades a fool’s cheerleader in a bermuda triangle parade soon later i was brought up before machine judge - - - “god!” i cried “i have no plea but my own innocence - - i am american enough to say had ho chi minh been americanwhite - they would find a place for him on mt rushmore american enough to say that if hitler were american he would have been shot by al capone american enough to say - - - “ a jury of hungry hyenas, busier than shitflies & on their way to a yankee game paused long enough to chew on the fragile flower of that cryptic reality i call my own - - the galley door closed & i was proclaimed guilty & sentenced to row a boat across the great american swamp forever where the ghosts of giants sleepwalk thru the thousand-eyed night of corporate eternity & walt whitman plays mahjong with the mad horsemen in the moon 5/23/0

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“So come sit in the park one more hour It was here you first opened your mind And in friendship I’ll give you a flower To remind you of love left behind.” - - - HAIGHT-ASHBURY FAREWELL - - anonymous

The flowers of summer no big deal, one wk i sucked wine with joplin on the corner a wk later on the same corner pulled weed w/a set of eyes turned out 3 yrs later belonging to a cat named manson, that summer had its heroes its villains a hells angel named chocolate george a dead dealer named superspade a persian hamburger queen named love a one legged junkie called detroit dickie who found his missing baby girl all grown up in the golden shag of an LSD orgy. the way it was - no big deal. a midway of runaways pranksters krishnas oracle & diggers a garden of orchids beneath the long afternoon of a midsummer’s san fransisco sun. orchids ready for the packing refugees in the glass house of night - in a land unpeeling beneath the weight of its naked freedom. 7/4/9

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“every act of rebelling expresses a nostalgia for innocence.� - - - albert camus - - -

awakening - - 1967 the summer of love i broke up with my wife & everyone else i knew were breaking up with their wives & their husbands & losing their jobs & going to the wackhouse & going to the barrelhouse & running off to india & belize & israel & everybody i knew got thrown in jail. the summer of love saw all the brylcream boys i used to play chess with go to viet nam & go to my lai & come home in body bags & throw bricks thru the windows of 7-lls & take hideous lsd trips & have satoris in front of the tasmanian devil pit at the san diego zoo - behind the masks beneath the bloodcoats the alienation was the same. the summer of love passed quick as if it had never come - too many priests not enough savages. & all the flowers wilted & all the children aged & the cops retired then we all retired. & as the snail shit on the rocket ship & the skull of a horse rode off on the balls of a saint - the streetsigns bowed their tired heads. 1/22/00 22


“i have shot myself with my eyes” - - - bob kaufman - - -

the shooting gallery upstairs at the hotel dante 1969 time wound down the flies were dying i was dying we were all dying tonight would be the fatal orgasm of sanity’s final fuck the clock wasn’t kidding the empty bottles of green death on the floor did our bleeding the women were now all gone except moongirl, of course, who sat alone in the corner talking to her keys it was isolation in a room of practicing corpses the end was near the shit of death served up in teaspoons it was a book of blank pages it was a photo by the radio of a long forgotten hollywood god sirens from the street below another raid on carol doda’s topless joint business men with their pants on their ankles were duckwalked into the paddy wagon downstairs the gumball machine in the lobby was empty upstairs all i could think of was cucumbers & mint in a small porcelain dish strangely enough, that was all i needed to get me thru may 2012

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Reporter: mr gandhi, what do you think of western civilization? mr gandhi: i think it would be a good idea.

the clock strikes zero how many roses singing & dying as the clock strikes zero in the stripmall dinerland splendor in 21st century america & how many fools’ shrouds roll off the new tombs red cells on the knifepoint tears in the hollow eyesockets dying & singing singing & dying as the clock strikes zero in 21st century america & the clown kings numb dance in never never land & the mobsters & deadbeats take the 5th with god & the priests & the political komodos play poker with judas folks on the beach & the minstrels shuffle the cards in the backrooms of bloody sunrise & the merry morticians make circus magic in the blue womb of the calendar dying & singing as the clock strikes zero in 21st century america what hungry kingpins’ sulfur roils thru what lonesome river water what gorilla rain will purify the corporate dung & mud of oilman visionary america & what jukebox hero & carousel cowgirl will ride high & noble out of the history of light singing & dying dying & singing

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as the clock strikes zero in 21st century america gargoyled gatekeepers in the land of the sleeping carrion birds falling from a van gogh sky life held hostage behind the driven machinery of a honky tonk window in the arrogant duncecap isolation as the clock strikes zero in 21st century america & who will filter the genocide factory suv smoke the heavy aerosol silence blowing like prairie wind thru the rasping tracheotomy of truth the apple pie lies the garroted splendor of desolation night 21st century america & for all the tandem maniacs laid out to ice & for all the new words that fall on dead ears & for all the torches searching for flame & for all the bebop flowers of the madcap rainbow all the harlequin angels riding the tallships of our dreams & for all the children still dancing in the valley of dead beasts

as the clock strikes zero

in 21st century

america

nov 2006

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“And such as it is to be of these more or less I am, And of these one and all I weave the song of myself ” Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

goodnight, walt whitman / bye bye poem goodbye palisades park & coney island goodbye allen ginsberg & ebbets field farewell the real haight st the flower child mickey mantle uncle harry w. the lecherous grin & the kind of topps baseball trading cards you could really afford to trade bye bye pop’s diner where the mashed potatoes were holy & comic books for a quarter bye french quarter joe mccarthy preservation hall mickey cohen shrimp louie on the pier chips in the cone goodbye the unicorn veronica lake & the last swann bye bye huck finn bye laurel & hardy you are younger looking than me today bye bye you bare foot copper penny in your pocket boy at the lemonade stand you pigtailed girl with the polka-dot face twin sister of a doll in your hand goodbye last american hero bye bye to innocence baby’s growing old a fond farewell to free fuck safe fuck any fuck sayonara good drugs happy drunks mornings with the espresso & long nights at the chess table bandying kierkegaard sartre camus & dada howdy doody cut your strings today bye bye the days of wonder before the stresses & the causes days when the snot ran out your nose & yoyos & hula hoops & frisbees filled the air & the world was cluttered with stickball & dollhouses kick the can & tree houses ringalevio & outhouses & elvis & bopper & jerry & life was so sassy w. harriet & ozzie cowboys were good nobody ever died guns were all plastic the monsters bloodless & the ferris wheel went roun’ & roun’ big steam ships drank champagne off the dock & just about everybody’s mother wore fur & we shouted we waved our hallelujah stars & stripes forever high the world was so ripe goodnight, walt whitman goodnight

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the world is built on a tilt & every loose marble rolls into america” - - anatole brombee -----

american child i am the child of america the sierra madres are bleeding i am america the mad & the magnate marry the factory wolf howls i am america the mantra rumbles with the kings & the cripples. i am america the baby is diced up in dinty moore stew the lamb is hung by the machinery at noon the newspapers are shouting from sea to sleazy newspaper sea. i am swingband i am penitentiary the highway snakes into the asshole of heaven i am jazzpoem i am the system i am the bells of extinction i am the american dream. i am america the soup kitchens are swarming porno talkshows & paparazzi have passioned the brain buddha in the suburbs crack on the plains & the breakfast of champions has gone insane & the angels are hunkered up in the whorehouse of the honkytonk queen. i am the american dream i am astrology i am the burning ghat carrying the ghost of mark twain down the flowers of the mississippi mama’s in the diner the hobo’s on the cross let freedom ring from the sands of sam’s club to the halls of home depot to the lines of the burger king. & i am america death to the jukebox 27


death to the travelling circus death to the visions piled in the alley death to lewis & clark. i am prophecy death to the pioneers death to jerry springer death to the manifest destiny. i am the dog of hope death to the trail of tears & of schemes death to the wildman wandering the alleghenies death to the gypsy storefront leading to eternity death to the terror on the tongue of the internet nightmare death to louis 1’amour. i am the american dream. & i am the final territory & i am the state that will someday be death to the explorers the cowboys showgirls gayblades truckers. death to new zion empire state golden state pilgrim state & death to the tickertape parade & death to the promised land death to utopia. i am brooklyn i am el dorado i am electric chair i am the chairman home run atomic waste dump ellis island i am joe dimaggio i am thomas Jefferson. death to the capitalist death to the communist the anarchist the antichrist the atheist. 28


i am levittown boystown & los alamos i am the grizzly the rabbi & the gospel i am sojourner truth geronimo & benedict arnold i am the whitehouse the flophouse & the padded room i am einstein mickey mouse & chief Joseph i am the first & the last man on the moon. i am the child of america, i am beauty i am invention i am wonder i am the united fruit company i am promontory point pikes peak & my lai i am the glory i am the savior i am the black tide of the acid sky i am the child of america. i am the magic eagle rising from the smoke of the terminal explosion i am the song of indian blood sleeping in the belly of the canyon i am the armed guard of patriot children weeping at the foot of the holy mountain i am the child of america. i am humanity i am fool i am genius i am the child of america, i am the king of heaven & of hell i am the ballad of the last romantic i am the arithmetic eyes of the bureaucrat robot i am the child of america. i am the feral infant dancing on the freakstage of the final sunset i am the child of america. labor day/2000 29



BOOK TWO

children, where do you get your bright young eyes?


The Request God asks nothing more of a poet Than to chart the rain, Asks nothing more of a human Than to be the rain; to milk a cloud to cover a mountain to swell the gullies create rivers fill the lakes & seas evaporate beneath the weight of the sun. God asks nothing more of us Than to grow wings On our paralytic casing while roses fill our footsteps & rocks unshackle our bones. feb/12

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the doll her lovers, like briars & thorns leave their mark; leave her looking for reprieve among the butterflies of morning. i see her walking the streets of my village? queen of the dollar store, empress of texas hot wieners, smiling at all; cajoling them with the coy tease of circe. on the whiteness of her neck, i can feel the bitter noose, may/2011

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a blue smoke to the tropics i am smoke with you fiery sky crackling heaven smoke blue smoke blue smoke wind in the inciting of the gasses you have me you straddle me ride me over the promenade across the prairie in between the big tits of the sweating valleys you call me trigger call me silver call me rin tin tinny gallop me up & down the sheets scream to me the moon in your eyes sings me a song bluer than violets buggier than a wet lawn your eyes your spittle sprays me i am a flower bed you are the mounting rain of spring clouds explode mist runs between us all over us me oh me your dependable-average-builtmiddle-aged-jewish-munchkin-maniacalhuffer-puffer in the tongue lick blue smoke moment instantaneously becomes yes erotically magically transforms into your smartly swarthy sexy latin dashing debonair lover valentino don juan romeo johnny depp cool young water fountain stud in blue smoke it’s over the edge with you & me gyrating better than happy hula hoops me & you i am your water horse thunderstruck we are whales breaching ah’ so gloriously

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in the rainbow sea followed by a tidal wave of ambergris & a long sweet cool blue smoke wind blowing all the way to the tropics 6/7/97

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“catch the vigorous horse of your mind.� - - - zen saying - - -

i. being i am my own trophy riding my own pony a statue of a simpleton an imbecile a genius of the cemeteries an illusion of something that must have simulated a birth. i crash the nebula me & my dramatic scream whose echoes are packed in silent sardines. i am the spaceless skull flapping over the haunted ship fragmenting upon a flapless sea. a hapless tale a nada croon wailing in a dumb cartoon. i am the bodhisattva whose present incarnation is but a summer job a foreman in the slopfactory of existence. i am the snoring tiger asleep on the dreamship of humanity to the sun. 36

lazily

a soaring missile laughing its way hysterically


Raised in postwar, then milltown, Passaic NJ, normal received his sophomore high school education at the city library & Times Square - - he cut his teeth wailing poesy in Greenwich Village circa 1962-64 at the legendary Rafio Cafe - - dwelled in ‘47 in not so exotic ports of call - - held & dropped 60 sundry, checkered & mostly factotum gigs - - the past 35 yrs as an RN & claims his writing sensibilities significantly enhanced by the likes of the beats, Henry Miller, Vallejo, Vonnegut & ee cummings - - in 1992 he began sending his work out & from ‘92-2001 published btwn 450-500 pieces - mostly in underground rags with 2 “chappies” blood on the floor & american child from Lummox Press - - he dropped off the planet for 5 or 6 yrs & emerged again in 2006 - normal lives deep in the forest in Saugerties, NY. I See Hunger’s Children is his first full, major collection.

*** Stephen Kerner emerged out of the explosive movement of art during the sixties that defined his generation. Living at the historic Chelsea Hotel in NYC from the 1960’s through the 70’s , his work has been exhibited worldwide and collected by museums including, the Rose Art Museum and the Smithsonian. He currently lives and works in Woodstock, NY.

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I first became aware of the poet normal through Lee Crabtree, then The Fugs’ keyboard man, in 1963 or ‘64, at the Peace Eye Bookstore on the Lower East Side. Thirty-five years later I be­came re-aquainted with his poems. I liked his honesty. I like the “jolt” of reality in these works, and the inten­sity of images such as the “devil hair of barbed wire,” and “diamonds of light beg forgiveness,” or “a parade of wrinkles.” —Ed Sanders Go forth. normal. This is no tourist, no phony poetaster, Ginsberg riffer, Whitmamesque street boy, but an authentic voice of the street, the real street, singing a song as it was meant to be sung, in a time when such singing was possible…normal is the voice of the homeless, the victimized, the disaffected and the disturbed. These are poems born of the street, of the vagabond heart, the true restless American spirit that Whitman spoke of when he heard America singing. Too often, now, we hear of singing like the dolphins in an Eliot poem, who do not sing for us. normal sings for us, that is, to the poet in us all and we should listen. —Alan Catlin

i see hunger’s children

Selected Poems 1962-2012 by normal

PO Box 5301, San Pedro, CA 90733 www.lummoxpress.com


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