Through the Eye of the Needle – My Manic Mentor


My Manic Mentor


you are daydreaming!”
he often interrupted
my practice this way

“Stay in tempo
one-two-three and four!”
he kept time with a determined stroke
of the baton

“Follow the music.
Not your temptation!
The sheet! The sheet… ah!
What’s the sense?”

he sat down
and rummaged
through his coat pocket
for his pipe

“Let me tell you a story
Mr. Dors,” —what he would call me
when it became obvious
I was all too maverick
to ever learn
the discipline

I had begun to believe that the professor
took me on as a pupil, despite my lack of talent,
simply because I (and perhaps I alone)
was willing to listen to his rants

ones he would set into with the same abandon
as the vagabonds who approach passers-by
on a busy street, engaging them in a witless banter
for the mere misfortune of having
caught their eye

in fact,
he confided in me
how he had discovered
that by putting a drop of saliva
across the eye of a needle,
he could see things
in minute detail

creating for himself an instrument
much like a magnifying glass—
but with a finer focus

I could only chuckle at his eccentricities.
Yet I found myself entranced by
my manic mentor

—being of a lunatic fringe myself
I didn’t mind listening to his tirades,
for somehow I saw a movement,
a poetic voice

much like the wildly ecstatic madness
of a jazz trumpet blowing notes
in sixteenths and thirty-secondths
on the musician’s wild ride
to the far end of the night

Originally published on: Sep 2, 2017


The Pneumatic Steampunk Doorway – Yellow Days

At a spot on the eastern edge of the scorched Mojave Desert, where the Colorado River converges on the Three State Lines, lies an area known as Cal-Nev-Ari. There, it is said once lived a terrible monster—a behemoth coal-fired steam power plant. Officially designated the Southern Mojave Generating Station by the engineers who created the steel and molybdenum beast, it was called SMOGS by everyone else. As if the infernal climate of heat and dust was not enough to make life miserable for those who lived under its shadow, at inexplicable times during the day, the giant erector set belched a cloud of noxious gas from its deceptively cheerful, candy-striped smokestack. This cloud of sulfurous ash hovered in the upper layers above the sleeping town of Cow Rock, a small resort just across the river from the gambling halls and casinos of Layton. The steam and vapor rising from the cooling towers, along with the yellow ash from its exhaust, gave a fearful impression. To the untrained eye, it was part living creature, part fire-breathing contraption—snorting death and carnage from its every orifice into the pristine skies of the bustling desert community.

Ned Bean was a tool room attendant at SMOGS. Immersed in the inner sights and sounds of the steam plant at night, despite frequent fits of yawn and torpor, the unassuming clerk tried his best to keep alert. Motivated by his muse, the never-ending night, Ned often experienced moments of lucid wakeful dreaming. These visions, coupled with the active imagination of a man driven by a surreal sense of reality, are preserved in a log he kept as part of his work duties. The letters which you are about to read, along with the accompanying Pneumatic Steampunk Doorway are the result of the experiment in mental purgatory that was the life of the steam plant clerk.




Yellow Days


“I remember when the sunlight had a special kind of brightness…
yellow days, yellow days”

Alvaro Carillo and Alan Bernstein
©1965 1966 Ed B Marks Music Co



the steam plant
nestles on the banks
of the Colorado River

on an alluvial slope
where the valley rises
to meet the mountains to the west
(another range flanks it to the east)

in a rocky
desert terrain
dotted with scrub greasewood
the electric power generator
stands out-of-place
with the idyllic scenario
of the small desert resort town
that lies just across the river

it seems contrary
that in a landscape so picturesque
surrounded by rugged hills that slope
down into a lake of dazzling cobalt
topped by a sky so perennially blue
the clouds become cameo
—lies this ubiquitous
mechanical skyscraper

a labyrinth of girders and platforms
a giant gray steel erector set
cradled in the bosom
of desert ecoloia

a spewing volcano
—it shrouds the basin
in its jaundiced cloud

“Yellow Days” originally published on Apr 19, 2015 

Through the Eye of the Needle – Millennium




it was the year 2000: an anachronism;
the expectations dubbed on the millennium
the years of speculation and science fiction
—doomsayers predicting the end

and here it was upon us—
we waited with bated breath for the events of history
to come to their fullness; for the world to start afresh

and where was I while all this history
was taking place? on my way to work
just like all the other 6 billion people
on this hot little planet

no apocalypse
no war of man against god
not even a three billion year old rock
hurtling through space to annihilate us

peace was busting out all over
bagpipes were blasting in Scotland Yard
people were dancing; waving freedom’s flag

walls came crashing, war tanks trashed;
the sounds of wild parties competing
with the cries of the crowds shouting
in the euphoric ecstasy of the moment

freedom had become a commodity
accessible to all; like toilet paper—
easily looted from your neighborhood embassies

now all these wondrous turn of events were making me thirsty,
so I wandered to the tap and topped-off another glass of death
clear as crystal; disguised as fresh from the mainline pipes
of metro H2O fabrication plants; filtered
to an exquisite dilution of river sludge
ground water seepage, invisible
to the naked eye

…and drank myself to death

-The Professor

Through the Eye of the Needle – Apocalypse




everyone seemed to become accustomed to it
it seemed ordinary; the bursts of rain chill and foreboding
the sudden cold fronts in the middle of August; July
warm spells deep in the winter months
floods and cataclysm everywhere
a tornado touched down
on the British Isles

what was happening? the secular movement
explained it off as mere fluctuations in mother nature’s moods
christian cults cried of doom—the end of the world—Apocalypse
conservationists petitioned for reforms that would save the earth

astronomers pointed to asteroids that hovered in the cold universe
marking a course for earth; intent on leaving us to the same fate as the dinosaur—extinct
scientists maintained that evolutionary forces were transforming our world
though not one would venture it would be for the better—
whatever the cause
we were inside the era
with little recourse but to continue existing

I was content to go on about my daily life
like a child whistling in a dark forest
ignoring the gleaming night-eyes
waiting for the right moment
to pounce

The Professor
(anno 2040)

On the Road to Satori – The Baby Blue Peugeot

peugeot 404 by zarkwebic


The Baby Blue Peugeot


winter was heading my way
the eternal summer
of the Southwest calling
I hooked up with two guys
and an old ’63 Peugeot
headed for Arizona

we kept the baby blue sedan running
twenty-five hundred miles
across Pennsylvania
along old Route 66
through Ozark hills
to the Oklahoma Panhandle

we cooked refried beans
over an alcohol stove
and popped cans of Coors
—you can only buy them
West of Tulsa—

they said

on rolling plains dotted
with clusters of trees
near a winding brook
on a night blistered with stars
we drank Rocky Mountain water
from a flip-top can

On the Road to Satori – Tucumcari

it’s a lovely day tomorrow by BWS




just outside Tucumcari
at a gas station
bar and grill

the attendant
in Levi jacket and jeans
pulls a lid from behind the counter
says twenty bucks

reminds me of workers
I met in New York
who were from Chile
wore cowboy boots
and red bandannas
and spoke so colloquial
they could barely understand
when I spoke Nuyorican

I listen to the jukebox
soft guitars and fiddles
old 30’s western sound of
hobos travelin’ singin’
songs in Spanish!
“Is this what you guys
listen to out here?”
the guy says “Yeah

he doesn’t get it
this stuff is not
on the radio
back East
this stuff
is precious

as I write I realize
I never got to hear
that music again

On the Road to Satori – State Trooper Blues


State Trooper Blues


we see the trooper’s lights
and hear the blip of the siren
turn to each other with a “we’ve been
narced by the guy at the Bodega!” look on our faces

the trooper snoops around
looking mean in his Smokey Bear hat
black Gestapo boots and a forty-five pistol

his ’69 Plymouth Road Runner
hemi-head dual exhaust
going varoom! varoom! shaking
like a dragster disguised in cop lights
and a New Mexico State Trooper emblem
so that we’re quite impressed!
despite the circumstances

he let us go
must have figured we were just
a bunch of wide-eyed college kids
on their way to see America
why toss ‘em in the clink
and ruin their lives forever?
let ‘em find out for themselves
when they end up
on the street

“your brake light’s out,
thought I’d give ya a warning”!
we slide back on to the road

welcome to New Mexico

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