Archive for January, 2013

Fiction, Surely

29 Jan



Cheated Early to Win


I used to read books

but now I burn them

for warmth and for bitterness

that I miss from your absence

Dante, unabridged, in the original Italian, burns best


I used to drink heavy

but now I drink light as a halo in a NyQuil stupor

for forgetting and lack of else to do

a want of proper inspiration

“how thrilling it would be to see you small and naked in my palm”


I used to think about the future

but now I fear another day (and barely think at all)

for its coldness is transposed through a meaningless twitter feed

that forces an apology for missing funerals and Facebook updates

despite that it’s all pretty much the same


you’ve got to cheat early just to win

and I’m not ready yet

for all of that


Vovka (75)

25 Jan





The kings

they asked me to be prince

to play a modern Hamlet

without words to express my city

or my longing

nor the destination of it

a destiny of worried sweat

the nerves of a first wedding night

the last poem of Vysotsky

the last performance

and maybe I’ll find my way to Moscow

quit the theatre all together

or take a leave of absence

But, be shamed my beating heart

be hushed 

and by a sleep to say we end the heartache

so, suffer through

knowing the duration

time spent in the breath of clocks

until all silence is restored

and a parade of tears

follows me home

like a coronation


When It’s Done, It’s Done (Comedy)

24 Jan



Comedy in Black Lipstick



            My friend Andrey called me recently, in the middle of making the second short film with stolen material from my memoir; he was on set, hysterical, semi-drunk (a part of his process), frustrated by some girl that left him unceremoniously.

            “I mean she did it with a phone call.”

            “Well, how long were you two going out?”

            “Six weeks.”

            “Six weeks? Meh. Phone call is harsh, but acceptable. Middle-class family child probably, frightened by commitment. Analysis once a week since the time she had her first period, late bloomer. I prescribe six days of cheap vodka, followed by two days of milk and fast food deliveries. Bed rest. Watch a lot of brainless, campy action flicks from the big coke decades: 80s and 90s. A lot of Stallone: Over the Top and Nighthawks are great choices.”

            “That doesn’t seem very healthy.”

            “Well, that part is coming.”

            “What do you mean?”

            “Well, after the vodka destroys the necessary amount of those brain cells designated for rational longing – the next day gets hard: you’re pure and hungover, but vulnerable, you can have her hit you at any time – and besides, the bile in your stomach is going to start burning through the lining of your intestines and will start turning into bad acid reflux, so what you have to do is drink that milk to layer your stomach, cook yourself a lot of Kraft Mac & Cheese, get a quarter ounce of some decent weed – call that little Asian girl Chelsea that I introduced you to, she’ll hook you up with some purple urkle for $75 (that indica will lay your ass out) – and then we can move either into early Woody Allen or some cartoons, Family Guy and shit like that…”

            “Early Woody Allen? That’s not a bad idea. Lucy always reminded me of that great Woody Allen joke from Manhattan, when he described Diane Keaton’s character as being the recipient of the “Zelda Fitzgerald emotional-muturity award”.”

            “That doesn’t sound like information carelessly gathered across six weeks.”

            “Well, it was just six weeks now – really it was somewhere between six months and six years – depending on who you ask.”

            “Damn, brother! You better make it two full weed days.”         

            “I’ll try it out after this shoot is done.”

            “Hopefully you’ll be writing your own material from now on.”

            “I don’t even know if I can write anymore – my DP on the shoot says that I can’t write a script in the appropriate format, giving him an excuse to not read it at all. Apparently it’s hard for his eyes to adjust to words in any alternative pattern. I guess that’s valid for what it is. But, it seems like everyone I know starting out in this industry has gotten completely spoiled by assimilating format, time, structure, not enough coffee to ease the tension, everybody wants to work instead of working on having something to say. I know this sounds like the whining of a happy martyr or some shit, but it seems that they no longer care about the potential of making art, but rather only want an opportunity to work in a clearly designated arrangement, a conforming box with all the right angles. No more surprises, no risk, no getting out of the comfort zone of the stable and sane and similar. They’re spoiled and don’t know the roots of the industry: Cassavetes early guerilla shoots across the city shot chronologically; no permits, filming the reaction of an unwarned passerby when a staged shooting occurs in front of them. Early Woody, too – reading a book on directing (no two years at the New York Film Academy) a month before shooting Take the Money and Run, after he was appalled by how they cut Casino Royale. Early no budget Jarmush in the late-80s post-punk scene, young impetuous Copolla, fuck. Scripts – if the writing is good – they want the words, even if it’s in an improper format: Kushner handed Spielberg an 800 page play instead of some normative script for Lincoln.”

            “Hey, man – stop complaining. All those people showed up and shot for you for no pay. The no pay pays for taking on a few patronizing headaches. Everyone has to eat a little shit from time to time.”

            “Nah, man – you’re right – the whole thing with Lucy just got me a bit dispirited. I just told her that after all I wrote about her, that thing that inspired me to write it all was almost gone, like her ass via the kind of weight loss usually only reserved for a Liberian teenager (not that I was insinuating that her ass was where she kept her inspiring attributes), and I didn’t know whether I’d be able to find it again, I wanted to look, but why disappoint yourself over and over. She used to inspire me with just a little gesture, a simple word, or some Dylan tune that I’d catch her humming along to when I came to see her.”

            “Which song?”

            “She liked the break-up songs: something like “Girl from the North Country” or “If you See Her, Say Hello”.”

            “I dig it. Good records. I’ve always had a fondness for the history behind Blood on the Tracks.”

            “Anyway, whatever is going on with her – I’m tired of trying to get her out of it. Especially, if she doesn’t fucking listen to me. After all, there are so many ways to fight it, to get stubborn against it, without going numb. Without going cruel. Without becoming normal. I would know. I’ve spent too much time there.”

            “I get it. I get it. Go see Chelsea and get that weed, homey – it’ll be alright.”

            “I’ve got to finish shooting.”

            “Fine, after the shoot. I’ll call ahead and get you set up. She’s probably smoking through her product somewhere in Central Park right now. Maybe I’ll come by after writing for a while and have a drink with you, school you on how I got past Lilia.”

            “You didn’t get past her, you drunk bastard. Who do you think you’re lying to?”

            “Nah, fuck that. I’m over it – you know that the memoir is nearly done, I’ve just got to get the rest of it out on paper. Besides, there’s a girl out west that I’ve been dying to take out to dinner. She likes to draw, watch zombie flicks and seems to really love my writing.”

            “Well, most like your writing if they can understand it.”

            “Few do nowadays.”

            We hung up and I called Chelsea. Hopefully he’ll be alright. The kid seemed to get shyer and more soft-spoken by the day – almost like he was transitioning into a quiet Dostoevsky out of the Hemingwayian cocoon. While I’ve always though that that was the wrong direction to take – always thought he was just a fellatio from a stranger away from writing his own magnum opus, but he was too genteel and chivalry-obsessed to take advantage of a skank on dollar-beer night. He knew I wasn’t, so I let him live and write vicariously through me.

            In my perspective, love is an all or nothing negotiation. It commences at the passionate beginning and either last a short time or draws on and recycles itself to become a mutating eternity. One that isn’t always happy, but one that works. One that lasts.

            Like home sickness. Like needing to return. Even if it’s to a place you don’t particularly like, you simply know that you have to get back there because it’s where you belong.

            Regardless, I’m sure he’d be alright.

            And if not, I could always introduce him to Mephi and really get his fires going. .

            Doesn’t matter anyway – this is a comedy: all the heroes will survive at least until the end, and we might have a wedding to look forward to. Hopefully, not any one of ours.


We Could All Use a Friend Like Mercutio (No Vile Submission)

17 Jan



Tragedy (Ain’t No Shame) 


The battle started tenderly

like a crucifixion

in the voice of women whom I loved

Heinrich Heine quips wittily

wily from his mattress-grave

we speak

the blood rushing to my neck

across the shoulders

through the veins

like Christmas lights lighting up one at a time

“sleep is good,

“death is better;

“but of course,

“the best thing would to have never been born at all.”

I had a dream

and her mouth was cold

my vision clouded

a martyr waits to be confirmed

angry at the slow bureaucratic process

not a monster, but a visionary

he preached that “love

“is like burning skin,

“like ghosts materializing, singing

“chalk crushed against cement

“a child abandoned by his mother’s arms.”


It started small, with

“you should have let me go”

but then became despotic

we got high

while they worried about the devil

and other biblical fictions

which lock you up

teasing at an unfathomable freedom

a tourniquet in the shape of a rosary

oh, the humanity

I want nothing part of

just her and maybe a little space

a spade shining in her eye

a walk to blossom into

because eventually when the cigarette gets smoked

we wont be frightened

we’ll look firm at the expanding void

and mock whatever it was that evolved us

in a heavy Brooklyn accent

“if it’s your job to forgive us –

“you might as well take the day off.”


Supernova Hidden by Interstellar Dust

14 Jan



you are air turned to gold


you are air turned to gold

and I said that

because I thought you’d like

the Dr. Manhattan reference

I want to live in love

I want to be sweet to someone in this world

because in my neighborhood I always have to look mean

for risk of getting caught up

food stamp office in the ghetto

is Langston’s nightmare sped up

knife scars and bullet wounds on dour faces

bleak from the water you can’t drink

a thin tub of graceless bodies

sweat and cigarettes

a kid drops his mother’s coat

the floor is sprinkled with a set of needles

like rough uncut diamonds into greedy hands

teenagers talking about gauges hacking foes off at the knees

we all sit and wait to be reimbursed for poverty

and there I think

I want and need to be sweet to someone

because the only gods existing

are in your comic books



10 Jan


As you have seen, I have been providing a lot of new material lately – but, unfortunately, this has been causing me to disregard my need to finish editing Part I of my novel, as well as write the necessary chapters still missing from Parts 2 – 4 which have created languishing narrative holes. Throughout all of next week I will be focusing on this task, though if something new pops up in my head, and I can’t push it back (which I usually cannot without at least a liter of bourbon) – you will of course see it here. One new piece a week guaranteed. For the time being, please note that I have updated the Official Material (Crack & Vinegar) section to make the rest of the work more accessible.






With you gone I have nothing left to strive for but Immortality (Part II)

10 Jan


Rereading The Crack Up, thinking about her and whether she’d be Zelda or Elizabeth Taylor at the end of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, I came up with this one. But then again, she was the one that suggested that I should forget. We lose people all the time, so this should of never taken this long.

If you find yourself dating a Sayre – buy lots of ballet slippers and stock your cabinets with gin.



For L.


I will not try to shrink you

I want you to get there on your own

and if one day, off your pills

you might go mad

I will not put you in a home

you are in the enviable position of having cracked prior to failing

you are young and beautiful and damned to live as such

but do not worry much

because the life ahead will seem quite very short when ending

and when you’re 49 a decade quickly

I’ll still be pale and handsome

with flowers picked from your family garden

by my hands of ardent vengeance

that plead with ink for ascetic immolation

phony (but pretty) as a rubber check

when really we want the payment in the mail

and cash on hand

not struggling youth

but, both of us, two charming writers

becoming ex-pats somewhere overseas

garrulous and drunk in the night of no Invictus

no night that covers one

but covers both

and I will raise you out of it

even if I have to continue living through it

just to show you something new

a place to find us both, in

all the iridescence of the beginning of the world


(with thanks to Scott, Zelda and William)


With you gone I have nothing left to strive for but Immortality (Part I)

09 Jan





Sunday mornings

putting lotion on your legs

singing in the shower

to a Beach Boys song

despite the fact that I hate Bryan Wilson and his falsetto

you arch your back

wrap yourself around me

a strange hungover feeling

like atomic fission

energy dispersed

hair a mess tied back

no make up, no clothes

the heavy paper, at least three hours of pertinent information

hard to maneuver


soy milk, because you don’t do dairy


            your lips

                        my big bottom lip

six nights of passion

one day of rest  


Although a large amount of research has been carried out, the exact mechanism of action of ECT remains elusive, and ECT on its own does not usually have a sustained benefit. There is a significant risk of memory loss with ECT.

04 Jan



Love like Electroconvulsive Therapy


The poor dream big

(I know it to be true)

the beggars


———-burdened against god

and maybe you know someone like me

stifled by the eyes on the other side of paradise

and the music plays

like a madman

a savage in a monastery playing checkers with some demented Gogol

who spits like a limerick from a child’s lips


there’s a broken coffee mug with the vodka

that never made it to the freezer

sitting next to me

speaking in the mouth of Severin

“she can only be his slave or his despot, but never his companion”

and when I taste it

it swallows me

reminding me of how much I wanted you

the clouding of brutality

I needed you, I thought


I can’t write you anymore

the dreams you flaunt get lost like dirty socks

I know they all do

all did

but I can’t imagine you feeling anything


goddamn, you look good naked

and I wanted to see you

watch you

as you took the teddy off

touched yourself

while I said something strong

pretending that I was

pretending that loving you

wasn’t like rooting for the Mets

a futile exercise in sadomasochism


always travelling but never there

and you know how to

trade sex like a punch to the ribs

and I’ve been beaten and said “thank you” every time

you’ve gotten yours

and I’ve almost gotten mine

this adulation caused some seizures

first I was sick, then I was saved

and then they took the electrodes off

and I alleged that I was feeling better now

and, weakened but resolved, I walked out

to wander


and alone


Slipping in From Reality

01 Jan


I hope your year starts well. Hope to see you all at my reading tomorrow, it should be a good one. All necessary information can be found in the Upcoming Events section.



detroit rhyme in the city that you see, where are those arms around me


baby, you don’t need no perfume

because you’re the sweetest taste i could of tasted

but i’ll probably put all this badly

my poor little rich american girl

like a warhol celluloid

nearly dead like a hospital bed

with the plague sweat in the air

winking at the shrink

i love you, neuroses, truculence and all

my last drink upon last call

a rifle long-hanging on the wall


long after the fall

the clerk closing shop

daddy’s a religious artifact

(a capitalist in a dusty robe)

mommy’s a cold fact

(stoned oppression, eyes and teeth)

in a long black dress

so there’s never an apology behind the lips

we simply bleed into a wistful kiss

no wet behind a blue vein

she was naked when i saw her last

and i was talking about lennon

drinking tea

she put her fingers slow on me

and promised to stay

like a little girl who would be born one day

or a holiday greeting from a coke dealer i used to see

with (obviously) memorable frequency

before i chose to change

and exchange my memories for words

lost like all sympathy

she put her fingers slow on me


baby, you don’t need no perfume

because you’ve always been

the sweetest taste i cold have tasted

that wept

upon my skin

you left

the home where we used to live

screaming in a dream

monsters coiled around each other

needed for a while


but not to last


Jack Tsoy Tumult

Morose Pontifications and Other Poetic Ramblings

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