You Were Right Jack Kerouac—the Heart of the Wild American Night Has Died

This one is a source poem that spawned some of my more polished pieces (New York Blues is especially clear here). It is posted in response to my feelings over the death of Anthony Bourdain, another great writer-celebrity who couldn’t see when it was time to stop. Though the context has nothing to do with Tony’s death, the lament I feel as I read it now is comparable to how I felt as I read the news. Stunned.

You Were Right Jack Kerouac—
the Heart of the Wild American Night Has Died

I believe Jack Kerouac created a spontaneous compulsion in us all
too late
for as he once said: “…the heart of the wild American night has died”
never to be repeated—for I too
have seen the streets fill with the drifters of my generation
the rootless wanderers who wait breathless
for the day
only to be forgotten
as yesterday is still too hard to comprehend

I have seen the Native American
just off the lands of Uncle Sam’s broken promises
living in the canyons
the forgotten soldier
war-torn and weary
drinking gut-rot in Bowery/Skid Row slums

I have seen the razor-backed alien
days spent watching the fruit of his labor farmed in cities and co-ops
to every market except his own
I have seen the lost souls of a universal generation
who wait in coffee shops and raves—far away from the scrutiny of mom and dad and baby brother Bill
who themselves wait for the USA
and NBC
Fall lineup

and I have stood on downtown streets
and watched forlorn the ravages of wars so distant from this land
whose reverberations
like artillery and cannon balls
have torn down the boulevards of every city everywhere in the world

and I have heard the ghosts of the past who still haunt the future ask
“What future?”
for tomorrow is but a distant dream being dreamed in castles along the Rhine
the Rhone
the Seine
the Thames
the whowhatsits?!?!

all for the sake of tomorrow’s children—while yesterday’s child lies forgotten
on the streets of Baltimore
“anywhere but in my hometown!” —old women who spit in scorn at the vultured remnants of that War “Why couldn’t you have just died out there?” they scream at soldiers

dead to the world
lost and forgotten in hospital bed and sanatoria for the half-gone

who have survived to tell of war’s horror
only to be despised for having told it
to have finally escaped the yaw of death

oh life
what glory?
what joy?
what hope?
what what WHAT?

devastated by this sense of mourning
I watch the movement of people like cattle
lost on the broken asphalt of city streets

I feel a sadness
a melancholia for Spring—as if the postwar era were but a season
I feel a longing for the Muse that strums the harp of the heart
—a dirge to the lonely drifter

compelled to express this burning
I sing a song to the open road
sped hastily on horseback
recalled in verse the sprouting wings of the jugular that enigmatically croon that very substance of lament
wondering why any one else should ever feel this way—except for me?

I would rather feel the kindness of the sun that smooths the wrinkles of evening’s drunken binge than continue in this destructive frame of mind

the aftermath of years frustrating over questions that have no answers
questions over the inevitable WHY?
the unanswerable WHAT?
the incomprehensible HOW COME?

only to end up where I left off:
thinking: you were right Jack—
the heart of the wild American night has died


5 Poems Published at Underfoot Poetry!

Five of my poems are now showcased on Tim Miller’s Underfoot Poetry. Much thanks go to Daniel Paul Marshall, and of course, Tim.

Read original at: Pablo Cuzco (5 Poems)

Paco – Biarritz


across the Charente | the gray Opel follows the coastline to the Spanish frontier; San Sebastián | Paco remembers those days gray; his memories in black and white—photos | it is not unusual

the family on holiday; driving through France, across Spain and Monte Carlo along the way | stop to visit Rosin | on the outskirts of Biarritz  ::Rosin was beautiful, a pale flower; stricken with infantile paralysis; immobile | the doctors said she was blind | but the mother swore she saw the child’s eyes follow her around the room; sitting comatose in a wheelchair | Rosin reminded Paco of a sad rag doll

at the spa, the huge swimming pool for rehabilitation | bottom painted blue; but reflects the sky a monochrome Ansel Adams | in a young mind (again the black and white | photos kept in family albums) | a great sky full of clouds | all the way to horizon

high on the slope of sparse grass; a plain | white cinder block pool house; chain link fence keeps out unwanted guests | a soda pop machine, dull red, oxidized by the sun, marked with familiar white letters; Coca-Cola | same green bottles; same dark liquid | quickly forgotten sadness and drink in the sun with Joaquin and Arabella | wait for the parents; their interview with hospital staff

return home trip stop at festival | drive through Bordeaux; catch the closing act | fireworks in the sky | a face illuminated in sparklers; flashed high in the air | “the Father of their country”—(Joaquin explains to the baffled boy) | sees George Washington on an electric dollar bill floating; in the French carnival sky

::Rosin died at the age of seven | in the care of aunt Celeste | the Bronx; cold winter of 1957 | the family on transfer to the base at Newport News | Paco remembers; the mother spoke to her sister in New York | hung up, held his hand as they walked from the phone booth | across unpaved red-dirt Virginia; a country store parking lot | “Rosin murio” she moaned | inside the car she started to cry | they all cried

A Rooster Trilogy – Morning’s Chanticleer

Morning’s Chanticleer

in a narcoleptic moment of reflection ~ a dirge


as the sun pushes the grey mists of morning across the sands; currents rush into the houses; down | windows accept an invasion; brisk | thickets and blankets of pillows and light; dream catchers | apparitions bleed into twilight; a shadow lingers past the night

to touch the grey; I reach | to clasp the mist; I feel | to hear the whisper; I strain | energized by sadness; tears of waking disappear the night | a figure blocked by sunlight; a voice from the stairs, a face in the clouds | wisps of morning obscure the marsh; there! in the sunlight—you vanish

please don’t shake me from these slumbers; delve in shallow breath | let me rest in my wanting; sleep | for you have beat me long enough; let go | I never asked for this; the tortured memories | my life waits for endless roads

::the ocean is a wall that blocks the current; the sun explodes the night; long but the days are shorter | a life deferred is a life lost

was I your servant or your muse? deadlocked | a flight to the Seahorse Nebula on Orion’s back; a walk on deserts with Don Juan—peyote visions | mescal; delirium tremens | pink elephants; ahor | a flashback to those good ol’ times! taste the cotton mouth; spittle washed down with Orange Crush

::into the sun; Icarus mourned but not forgotten; burnt—all future flights canceled until further notice, damn! I missed that plane; the Jefferson | but gained a button for my panic

aged men on limestone walls; frescoes | they look with wonder; admonish the lame | war was never meant memorial; eyes ravaged by sight | shadows hide the pain; veneers | tears hide the anguish; cheers! | we drank to the living and smote the dead! of this pain there is no end | repeat: of this pain there is no end | only the vapor of fading lamplight

prisoners grapple with bars; clutching | “Any day now…” they cling to the words of a vagabond; a child’s cry | a thief robs the house but leaves the night-light; on | a couch stolen; a sleep disturbed | empty pockets haunt the evening; derelict drifters and wanton wolves | wharf rats scuttle the harbor; hungry

::Mt. Shasta is a cold and lonely bitch in winter; trains spot run | it soars above the tree line; frozen—sun mottled | wake to the sound of a rooster’s crow; ka-doodle-doo! | or was it you that I heard? hallucinations sneak past the gates

::a wise man once shared his dreams; said

I can’t even think
to remember,
tho’ I know it
was something
quite clear.

did I hear your voice
on the mountain that day,
or morning’s chanticleer?

I know how easy
dreams are broken
when out of thin air
they appear.

Originally published on: Dec 9, 2017

A Rooster Trilogy – Doc Martens Sambas and Cigarettes


Doc Martens Sambas and Cigarettes


eyes—stare down corridors; blank at walls | linoleum tile and sterile góndolas; black wheels, rubber and steel | attendants in white—concise therapists; probe density | evolve solutions, misconceptions; life is a cherry, hard pits and sour

you roll the dice, draw lonely highways; search night’s crooked roads | creep with silent tires on gravel; lakeside—moon bright overhead | stars fall; winter follows | life is a carnival; bright lights and sorrow | magazine covers and bubble gum wrappers; idol talk and a 50 cent rapper | children play dress up; line up at school | lightning and thunder; clap  ::an omen; just before you collapse | leaves you shaken—eating disordered; flaking skin like a moth in the flame | the sacred cows and the sacred vows spoken | dreams goals and values; broken | swear words promises, spit in rage—bridges burned; freedoms chosen

::tho’ life doesn’t run like the wind; it takes a miracle to win | delusion and grand devices don’t matter; you give up on one and wait for the latter | stand at the threshold; desperate and worn | stare at disaster in a garden of thorns | linen bed sheets; newspapers torn | from bums in the alley you swore to protect | social workers and bachelorettes—community college, nursing degrees; tuition paid by the blood of your sweat | “Doc” Martens, Sambas and cigarettes

is it real or is it fake? the dealer on the corner won’t negotiate | cars drive by and curbs draw lines | street cars trolley to the end of the line | your room with a view, your isolate—fortress of solitude; heaven’s gate

::that crown of thorns becomes you; emptiness surrounds you | the sound and the fury of midnight’s crash; it’s only the garbage men picking up trash | the rooster crows and daylight reckons; the morning sun dries the clothes you slept in | dreams like plastic melt in the sun; you’ve climbed the ladder to the top of the rung | your rat race; run

the seasons come and go with the years; time drifts by like boats from the pier | paper trails fall from the sky; conspiracy theories drop like dimes | and all that noise about freedom’s chimes; rings hollow, like a bootlegged rhyme | the seasons come; the seasons go | the whistle and hum of the tightening rope  ::don’t it all just go to show?

Originally published on: Dec 23, 2017

A Rooster Trilogy – Flowers of Dawn

Flowers of Dawn


the sun rises; blurred and wrinkled | sky the color of pink; blood | the whirring spin of a circular saw; grinds its path on plank | Bang! Bang! nuclear splashdown; alcohol pools wave headaches on | music fills the air; the sound of harps | an angelic chorale sings heavenly music—Ave, Maria! | choking throat and dumb rattle of death; a harsh uptake; wake-up!

::a big yellow moon rises over the rooftops; striking | awe in silence; blue sky dark and twinkling stars | meld into street light; alleyways cluttered with wine bottles; clink | a cat howls in summer heat; rushing water washes away the smeared light | bleary-eyed and broken, I stumble among dust bins and the sediments of the living; crowned | with a golden halo of spirits; God, and Whisky—the One, and the Same | dusty showers of moonbeams glitter | a fedora of the night; a cap of dawn—a screw

Crow! Crow! a rooster crows | in this city he’s been strangled; by the roar of the automobile; the rush of the hour | traffic and a cop in uniform; drags cars through the crossroads; my mind | the Altiplano; the drifter’s horse and the gunslinger | Clint Eastwood on L-dopa brought to an awakened stutter; angst | plays cat’s-cradle; twisted fingers; angry gut | a dog’s hair to bite you; a pint of Schnapps; a fifth of Port | cold rinse and spin dry

a flower | rotted; ready to die
waiting on Euphoria; the downhill slide | the Eternal groan—
and that dark slow suicide   ::but it’s OK
I’m doing alright

Originally published on: Dec 26, 2017

The Road to Damascus

The Road to Damascus

The Sunday morning streets are quiet
except for the sound of the cold pavement. ~a pilgrimage

they say there’s a place in the
Sahara where you can buy Jeeps;
ride into the desert all the way to

electronic billboards replace neon
fountains | decorate Souqs;
vendors entice you with the
spoils of early morning;
devil’s horns
roast goat heads
fly covered dung heaps
and kefir washed Shish Barak

north past the palm circled Camelots
taxis weave in and out of traffic under the
towers of Babel through the
maddened crowds

enterprising Sumerian chariot drivers
scribble their fares on clay tablets;
1,000 dinar will take you
to the Northern regions
of Damascus

urban sprawl and
the smell of industry
where concrete underpasses
open to a long silver ribbon between
snow-capped vistas and the
mountain passes of
the Moab

there virgins bathe
in a river beneath the canyons;
they wave and say,

you who travel the road to Salvation
the road to the land of the Saints
the road to the Sun | where
Saint George once slew
the dragons of Zion and
God now sleeps;

Originally published on: Aug 30, 2017

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