Dawn of The Dragons

Invictus

Sonbather

The Snowman

Planet Of The Grapes

· ADRIAN VINO ·

Planet Of The Grapes

Sitting silently within the first three rows at the movie theatre makes me feel like a fly on a glaring, warm television screen; what a blessing it is that most people hate the front rows. I dig it quiet, which is why I usually go alone. The cellphone gets shut off and I surrender to…

Naked Lunch Beginning Excerpt

WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS

 

 

and

start

west

I can feel the heat closing in, feel them out there making their moves, setting up their devil doll stool pigeons, crooning over my spoon and dropper I throw away at Washington Square Station, vault a turnstile and two flights down the iron stairs, catch an uptown A train..Young, good looking, crew cut, Ivy League, advertising exec type fruit holds the door back for me. I am evidently his idea of a character. You know the type: comes on with bartenders and cab drivers, talking about right hooks and the Dodgers, calls the counterman in Nedick’s by his first name. A real asshole. And right on time this narcotics dick in a white trench coat (imagine tailing somebody in a white trench coat. Trying to pass as a fag I guess) hit the platform. I can hear the way he would say it holding my outfit in his left hand, right hand on his piece: “I think you dropped something, fella.”

But the subway is moving.

“So long flatfoot!” I yell, giving the fruit his B production. I look into the fruit’s eyes, take in the white teeth, the Florida tan, the two hundred dollar sharkskin suit, the button-down Brooks Brothers shirt and carrying The News as a prop. “Only thing I read is Little Abner.”

A square wants to come on hip…Talks about “pod,” and smoke it now and then, and keeps some around to offer the fast Hollywood types.

“Thanks, kid,” I say, “I can see you’re one of our own.” His face lights up like a pinball machine, with stupid, pink affect.

“Grassed on me he did,” I said morosely. (Note: Grass is English thief slang for inform.) I drew closer and laid my dirty junky fingers on his sharkskin sleeve. “And us blood brothers in the same dirty needle. I can tell you in confidence he is due for a hot shot.” (Note: This is a cap of poison junk sold to addict for liquidation purposes. Often given to informers. Usually the hot shot is strychnine since it tastes and looks like junk.) “Ever see a hot shot hit, kid? I saw the Gimp catch one in Philly. We rigged his room with a one-way whorehouse mirror and charged a sawski to watch it. He never got the needle out of his arm. They don’t if the shot is right. That’s the way they find them, dropper full of clotted blood hanging out of a blue arm. The look in his eyes when it hit—Kid, it was tasty…

“Recollect when I am traveling with the Vigilante, best Shake Man in the industry. Out in Chi…We is working the fags in Lincoln Park. So one night the Vigilante turns up for work in cowboy boots and a black vest with a hunka tin on it and a lariat slung over his shoulder.

“So I say: ‘What’s with you? You wig already?’

“He just looks at me and says: ‘Fill your hand stranger’ and hauls out an old rusty six shooter and I take off across Lincoln Park, bullets cutting all around me. And he hangs three fags before the fuzz nail him. I mean the Vigilante earned his moniker…

“Ever notice how many expressions carry over from queers to con men? Like ‘raise,’ letting someone know you are in the same line?

“‘Get her!’

“‘Get the Paregoric Kid giving that mark the build up!’

“‘Eager Beaver wooing him much too fast.’

“The Shoe Store Kid (he got that moniker shaking down fetishists in shoe stores) say: ‘Give it to a mark with K.Y. and he will come back moaning for more.’ And when the Kid spots a mark he begin to breathe heavy. His face swells and his lips turn purple like an Eskimo in heat. Then slow, slow he comes on the mark, feeling for him, palpating him with fingers of rotten ectoplasm.

“The Rube has a sincere little boy look, burns through him like blue neon. That one stepped right off a Saturday Evening Post cover with a string of bullheads, and preserved himself in junk. His marks never beef and the Bunko people are really carrying a needle for the Rube. One day Little Boy Blue starts to slip, and what crawls out would make an ambulance attendant puke. The Rube flips in the end, running through empty automats and subway stations, screaming: ‘Come back, kid!! Come back!!’ and follows his boy right into the East River, down through condoms and orange peels, mosaic of floating newspapers, down into the silent black ooze with gangsters in concrete, and pistols pounded flat to avoid the probing finger of prurient ballistic experts.”

And the fruit is thinking: “What a character!! Wait till I tell the boys in Clark’s about this one.” He’s a character collector, would stand still for Joe Gould’s seagull act. So I put it on him for a sawski and make a meet to sell him some “pod” as he calls it, thinking, “I’ll catnip the jerk.” (Note: Catnip smells like marijuana when it burns. Frequently passed on the incautious or uninstructed.)

“Well,” I said, tapping my arm, “duty calls. As one judge said to another: ‘Be just and if you can’t be just, be arbitrary.'”

I cut into the Automat and there is Bill Gains huddled in someone else’s overcoat looking like a 1910 banker with paresis, and Old Bart, shabby and inconspicuous, dunking pound cake with his dirty fingers, shiny over the dirt.

I had some uptown customers Bill took care of, and Bart knew a few old relics from hop smoking times, spectral janitors, grey as ashes, phantom porters sweeping out dusty halls with a slow old man’s hand, coughing and spitting in the junk-sick dawn, retired asthmatic fences in theatrical hotels, Pantopon Rose the old madam from Peoria, stoical Chinese waiters never show sickness. Bart sought them out with his old junky walk, patient and cautious and slow, dropped into their bloodless hands a few hours of warmth.

I made the round with him once for kicks. You know how old people lose all shame about eating, and it makes you puke to watch them? Old junkies are the same about junk. They gibber and squeal at the sight of it. The spit hangs off their chin, and their stomach rumbles and all their guts grind in peristalsis while they cook up, dissolving the body’s decent skin, you expect any moment a great blob of protoplasm will flop right out and surround the junk. Really disgust you to see it.

“Well, my boys will be like that one day,” I thought philosophically. “Isn’t life peculiar?”

So back downtown by the Sheridan Square Station in case the dick is lurking in a broom closet.

Like I say it couldn’t last. I knew they were out there powwowing and making their evil fuzz magic, putting dolls of me in Leavenworth. “No use sticking needles in that one, Mike.”

I hear they got Chapin with a doll. This old eunuch dick just sat in the precinct basement hanging a doll of him day and night, year in year out. And when Chapin hanged in Connecticut, they find this old creep with his neck broken.

“He fell downstairs,” they say. You know the old cop bullshit. Junk is surrounded by magic and taboos, curses and amulets. I could find my Mexico City connection by radar. “Not this street, the next, right…now left. Now right again,” and there he is, toothless old woman face and canceled eyes.

I know this one pusher walks around humming a tune and everybody he passes takes it up. He is so grey and spectral and anonymous they don’t see him and think it is their own mind humming the tune. So the customers come in on Smiles, or I’m in the Mood for Love, or They Say We’re Too Young to Go Steady, or whatever the song is for that day. Sometimes you can see maybe fifty ratty-looking junkies squealing sick, running along behind a boy with a harmonica, and there is The Man on a cane seat throwing bread to the swans, a fat drag queen walking his Afghan hound through the East Fifties, an old wino pissing against an El post, a radical Jewish student giving out leaflets in Washington Square, a tree surgeon, an exterminator, an advertising fruit in Nedick’s where he calls the counterman by his first name. The world network of junkies, tuned on a cord of rancid jissom, tying up in furnished rooms, shivering in the junk-sick morning. (Old Pete men suck the black smoke in the Chink laundry back room and Melancholy Baby dies from an overdose of time or cold turkey withdrawal of breath.) In Yemen, Paris, New Orleans, Mexico City and Istanbul—shivering under the air hammers and the steam shovels, shrieked junky curses at one another neither of us heard, and The Man leaned out of a passing steam roller and I copped in a bucket of tar. (Note: Istanbul is being torn down and rebuilt, especially shabby junk quarters. Istanbul has more heroin junkies than NYC.) The living and the dead, in sickness or on the nod, hooked or kicked or hooked again, come in on the junk beam and the Connection is eating Chop Suey on Dolores Street, Mexico, D.F., dunking pound cake in the Automat, chased up Exchange Place by a baying pack of People. (Note: People is New Orleans slang for narcotic fuzz.)

The old Chinaman dips river water into a rusty tin can, washes down a yen pox hard and black as a cinder. (Note: Yen pox is theash of smoked opium.)

Well, the fuzz has my spoon and dropper, and I know they are coming in on my frequency led by this blind pigeon known as Willy the Disk. Willy has a round, disk mouth lined with sensitive, erectile black hairs. He is blind from shooting in the eyeball, his nose and palate eaten away sniffing H, his body a mass of scar tissue hard and dry as wood. He can only eat the shit now with that mouth, sometimes sways out on a long tube of ectoplasm, feeling for the silent frequency of junk. He follows my trail all over the city into rooms I move out already, and the fuzz walks in on some newlyweds from Sioux Falls.

“All right, Lee!! Come out from behind that strap-on! We know you,” and pull the man’s prick off straightaway.

Now Willy is getting hot and you can hear him always out there in darkness (he only functions at night) whimpering, and feel the terrible urgency of that blind, seeking mouth. When they move in for the bust, Willy goes all out of control, and his mouth eats a hole right through the door. If the cops weren’t there to restrain him with a stock probe, he would suck the juice right out of every junky he ran down.

I knew, and everybody else knew they had the Disk on me. And if my kid customers ever hit the stand: “He force me to commit all kinda awful sex acts in return for junk” I could kiss the street goodbye.

So we stock up on H, buy a secondhand Studebaker, and start west.

 

 

 

A Better Fit May Come Along

ADRIAN VINO

Sullen and trite, the tenets that tumbled forth, the words incongruous and purposely parading–and the grandfather clock with its inevitable ticks, became the relentless reminder of the minutes left. Oh, so many wonderful things that surrounded him now; all things pleated and oak wood hand-carved, the smell of damp tobacco coupled with warm vanilla hovered amid faint spiderwebs that hid from the beams of the sun. And one thin crack on the wall, that reached from the ceiling to the floor, called him and kept him…in that lingering moment where automobile horns and giggling children fade into an oblivious nowhere…

“Mr. Vinum!”

“Yes, Madam.”

“We were discussing your future here at Thracos Academy.”

“Yes, Madam.”

“Now…I have mentioned your achievements here at our institution and would like to give you another chance. We think you are a perfect fit here at Thracos. You simply just have to…blend in with rest of your peers.”

“Oh?”

“Yes, you may not come from old money, or have a family worth mentioning, shall we say? But, we believe a man of your…capabilities, is something we here would benefit from.”

“What it’s in it for me?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Why should I stay here? What…is…in…it–”

“Mr. Vinum, you do understand that this is one of the most prestigious institutions on the planet. Most men would…well, I believe we both know why you are here. It seems that you are quite the natural. I find it quite impressive the way you seem to sleep so well at night, considering the things we have you do.”

“I would say thanks for the opportunity, but it appears that I never did need you. I am older now…wiser, I daresay.”

“You still need us…nobody cares unless you have proof of what you can do and what you have done.”

“Once upon a time, I would have agreed with you. I do no longer. This is where we part, Madam.”

 

“Perhaps you are right. A better fit may come along, one never knows. Only way to know is for you to allow that spot available once more.”

“Agreed.”

 

 

Twelve Heads A Small Price

ADRIAN VINO

I have seen the sadness in your eyes–that slow drowning, it is also mine.

 

And the way you plead your cries–the clamoring capricious stare, yare and young–toothless pleading old almost ancient now receding.

 

These sedentary habits interminably do lavishly let go, languid in their language, far and flowing down below; as an ancient dragon digging deeper I consent to nascent nagging evoked by the hero in your woes.

 

You should admit you were remiss, and now the fervent word would come close to fickle, as memories of me sweating body will not let go.

 

Little horn, seven eyes, seraphim singing off-key through the Ophanim. Enoch, the way back home is longer, take this noose instead, made of rope woven from the fictional fabric of your very existence.

 

we inculcated

sounds amiss

longing bells

that ring through

esurient valleys

where men and

women bacchcunted

like the hunted

limbs outstretched

while feet lost toes

through trite steps

called dancing

 

Cull commencing beneath a black sun

Hooded robes while  farouched canaries begin their song

Stoned giants quietly labyrinthed in postition

The conundrum seemed purloined

As the resolve was simply hid from the right side of the path

 

I want your daughter to dance for me in her idea of all opulence

Twelve heads will I deliver on four platters

Sliding whilst mounted upon sanguine sauce

Up to half of my kingdom will I allow her

If only she dances on you–her mother’s corpse

                                                          ∞

 

 

All Debts Paid

ADRIAN VINO

“Have you considered my son?”

“Your son is worthless. He will have no use in my service.”

No use? He is a virtuoso for his age at playing the flute. He sounds like nightingales in love, believe me, my wife and I stare out at the stars sometimes and we lose ourselves while he plays.”

“What else does he do?”

“The boy cooks and cleans…he hardly talks, he is a fast learner.”

“Does he do well with violence?” He grunted as he dropped to one knee observing the child from a distance and twisting his mustache, unaware of his thumb resting on the butt of his sword. The slobbering Saluki rested at his feet loyal and poised. “Is he…afraid of a little blood?”

“Our boy…well, he is a pleasant creature, Lord. We don’t believe he was designed for that sort of thing; he is, shall we say, soft-hearted and quiet–not given to wrath. The arts…nature…these things are more what interest him. And the love he has for animals is extraordinary. We believe he prefers the company of them over his own family.”

“You do owe me a considerable debt.”

“Yes, Lord,” they uttered almost in unison. Staring at the ground humbly, the wife teary-eyed as she gazed upon her bleeding and dusty feet; the husband biting his lip and tasting the blood that tasted so very much like anger and shame and loathing.

 

The sun was a gargantuan bloody spinning sphere with promises of death and drought and famine. Brush strokes of burnt-orange and hues of hellish honeydew hallmarked the cosmic glowing, gleaming helm. In the distance were a multitude of trees appearing as hands reaching upwards–paused forever to be bleached by the sun, to be eaten slowly by its rays, to be ignored by the breathing world in a quiet and paused pandemonium.

 

“Call the quiet child hither, I would like a word with him. Let us see if he was born with fear in his heart,” He bellowed as he stood on both feet and grabbing his loyal dog by the collar, drew him to attention.

“Yes, Lord.”

 

 

The boy approached quizzically and with an amiable bow pulled his flute from his back and as if nourishing the instrument, released a tender note–causing the canine to whine then whimper.

“You really are a master with that instrument, boy, your parents were right. But now we must talk like men. Your parents owe me a great debt and I am here to collect. It appears you are the only thing they can barter with. Unfortunately, I have no room nor appreciation for weak, useless things.”

“We are sorry, son, Lord Mmamon has been quite patient with us over the years. He is here for payment. Your father and I suggested he take you, but he seems convinced you are…well…too soft for his palace.”

“Listen boy, your parents lives mean nothing to me. You mean nothing to me. And quite frankly, this place is an empty nightmare. I would need to make an example of them–you would be left behind to fend for yourself. So, I need to ask you a very important question.”

“Yes?”

“Your parents tell me you are a gentle child…perhaps too gentle. Are you afraid of violence…are you afraid to kill a living thing…do you fear the sight of blood?”

 

With the large man looking down at him with a searing scowl, the boy lifted the silver flute to his chin showing them their still reflection. And as a hot demonic wind whispered, he leaped and screamed with all that his little lungs allowed and crashing with every ounce of strength, his lustrous instrument cracked again and again at the skull of the yelping animal.

 

Lord Mmamon’s mouth slightly ajar and mustache quivering with the breeze. His parents gripping tightly each other’s hands.

 

The boy’s rib cage filling up generously with air as he stood up with flute in hand as it dripped in the dust with blood.

 

He walked away for a few seconds, stopped and slowly turned. His small mouth became a smile as he stared at the empty skies. Wiping the wind instruments on his white pants he stared at the man and said,

 

“All debts paid.”

Vijay Nath, 12 exhibits his harmless sand boa. His family stays on the lookout for police: Snake handling has been outlawed since 1972. Gujarat, India, 2009.

 

 

 

 

Three Jisei

SAIGYO SOKO SENRYU

 

I wish to die
in spring, beneath
the cherry blossoms,
while the springtime moon
is full.

Saigyo (1190)

 

 

Inhale, exhale
Forward, back
Living, dying:
Arrows, let flown each to each
Meet midway and slice
The void in aimless flight

Thus I return to the source.

Gesshu Soko (1696).

 

 

Bitter winds of winter
but later, river willow,
open up your buds.

-Senryu (1790)

 

 

 

Just Missed Him

ADRIAN VINO

“Sing, sing if you must, but sing loudly. Feel…feel like they do, like the rest of the bozos out there– don’t nibble on the trigger finger! You’re on the chessboard, like the rest of us, so make a move. Calculated ones are good, but don’t wait too long. You wait a long time and some other guys gets the girl. You hesitate and some other joker gets the job, gets the promotion. Smell the roses, sniff some panties, smell the brittle pages on old books. Drag your feet across recently polished floors at expensive hotels. And tell them I sentcha! Make love to a couple of women–at the same time. Tell them you love them, but don’t lie, mean it when you say it. Let them feel your hurt. Let them grip your hammer with their hoo-has as you take them by the throat and with your eyes say all the things they’ve never heard.  And with their cries that call you god, they surrender completely, they will want you to take them by the hand…into dark and thorny roads, where the asphalt ends, where right and wrong come to a halt and wave goodbye in the distance behind you. Get yourself a goddamned dog…name him Lucifer. Kiss a schizophrenic broad behind a bus depot and close your eyes through the penny-taste in her mouth and give her a romantic moment for heaven’s sake. Listen to your mother from time to time, I mean really listen to her. Sit down with her and have coffee, especially if it’s past your bed time. Remember, women are not your equal, they’re your better; we are lucky to have those celestial creatures care at all about their cowardly counterparts. I’m gonna tell you somethings, and if you repeat it, I’ll deny it: shoot something up a few times. Like morphine, don’t fuck around with heroin, that’s for spics and niggers. Of course, I was in love with a beautiful African girl in my salad days…good grief, did this woman have a behind, her ass was such a masterpiece it’d make bishops kick holes in stained glass windows. Face of an angel, this one. I’m getting off topic here. Listen to those old records no one wants to buy, the ones sitting in libraries: Schubert, oh shuby-shubes, Beethoven, Wagner, Liszt, Wolfy and the rest of those assholes. But listen, don’t just hear it. Get off that damn device and look around you or you’re gonna miss it, you hear me?! Drink cobra’s blood and get your dick sucked by a man…or two. Don’t tell your grandma I said that. And if at all possible…kill someone…but only if you’re certain you’re gonna get away with it, and it helps if they’re scum and you’re doing it for money–it sits better. Oh, my dear boy, the tigers I would tail tug to have your time…”, he said slowly aiming his chin at the ceiling and exhaling as he rubbed on the grey hair on his bare chest.

 

The beeping and hosed machines whirred and gurgled and the scent of mint garnished the garbage next to his bed which was tortuously turning his guts. The sound of a 747 vibrated on the windows slightly and he pointed at an empty chair.

 

 

“Dad, who were you talking to?”

“The child that came in here and woke me up.”

“We didn’t see anyone walk out, dad.”

“You must have just missed him.”