postcards from gethenna

01 Jul



the master as moloch (postcards from gethenna)
most writers
don’t look back
as much
until they’ve reached the corner
they turn around
with hindsight
that they paint as reminiscence
in kaleidoscopic color
always a plimpton or chameleon
in one’s persnickety delusion
creating their own form of slightly fictional
running bare-assed out of the acheron of black and white
turned sepia, turned sulfur; smell
limestone, rotting teeth, decay, reconciliation with life,
bargain-begging for a breath, chalk, tutelage,
a new promise, possibility; the colors
they stream
a resurrection
you can see it
I guarantee it – you can fucking see it
look over there
it’s worth the mesmerism
a shiny golden token
sweaty palms, a Brooklyn arcade in the livid truancy of youth
more writers
look back when they reach the corner
but I’ve only gotten to the bodega
squatting in the middle of the block
but I still had to clock the carbons of shadows and light
reflected in the windows of the parked cars behind me
because I’m a thorough counter of crumbs
and paranoid to boot
and my way home has had more zigzagging
than a Russian anecdote about a swaying landloping lush
threnody or doggerel for a special occasion
reminding you that the four greatest words in our language are
‘peacefully in his sleep’
this is where I find myself
unnaturally, ungracefully looking back
as though I’ve lived a life like gold
as though I’ve truly ever known a thing


Something Coughing

18 Jun



I can’t hurt you



if you take down a painting off the wall

you must replace it with something else to see

I have black eyes, insomnia and regret that buys the bottles

(the man, crooking at the knees like a semicolon behind the bulletproof partition, says the Barton’s blended is the cheapest brown they got – $13.99 per liter)

you have black eyes, tears and too much eyeliner

(there were promises unkept, ruffled feathers and miles passed along Michigan in silence)

I commissioned you for renewal

you said, “man, that’s just some hippy shit!”

and kissed me

there was salt from the tears

but also apricots tasted

I gather, from the lips

and my own happy childhood pangs

of sentimentalizing a dacha and an apricot tree a few houses down

where my first girl

- the color of error and sunflowers

both of us six, we were married;

for a long summer at least –

she showed me how to get to the fruit of that tree

we had to climb a fence

a few skinned knees and some sweetness

a daring in two sets of eyes

a pulpy and blurred harvest buried peregrine

syrupy under the innocence that time has slung atop it

and now all I see is train tracks

endless trips, vocational commitments

loneliness and overcrowding, monthly support payments

stretch marks, a swelling gut that burns

the gnomon has begun to cast its shadow over me

and don’t get me wrong,

I’ve seduced some pleasure from this game

but only spades, the bitch is always on my back

she talks too much

jealous when I’m trying to concentrate

to write, to make you come

to stick around or just to blink

it all takes focus

a certain dematerialization

a desertion, but she keeps on talking

a susurrous coercion   

to accept

how far I’ve gone to please these walls

how much there is still left to do

the fruit there is still left to plunder

how I can’t hurt you

you are fire

you were meant to burn me whole

while I am vainly fighting back


spring song

31 May



why no vernal revelry?


why no vernal revelry?

why no strings? no music

no whisper like sand between her lips

keep going

no reality

no relative truth

no elastic in the process

no exercise in poetry

no begging, no vagrancy

no belonging to the club

no vacancy at my table

jewelry, lightning storms

I’ve got cloudy skies

not enough tattoos

never enough skin

who no vernal revelry, my friends?

why no vengeance? no applause

no summer toes like wind chipping off the face of parking lots

no more of these long sentences

keep going

no news

no myths

no exploration

no explanation

none necessary

but may I suggest

that instead, my friends

say yes

or more precisely, say

empathically, alright!


new breath

27 May



A Train (“una furtiva lagrima” by Enrico Caruso, 1911)


            like a prowling midnight wraith it passes

            like dust

            we travel

            all a temporary kin

            we are survivors

            thrown and shaking

            across bridges, tunnels and bad news

            sitting together, shoulder to shoulder, god to god

            locomoting through

            no destination

            where memory and culture try to find a solidarity


            so close we sit

            the kids dance for smiles and dollars

            swirling around polls as though the metal was a light and it was summer and there was cooking and we were flies alive, abound and peckish with curiosity like an explorer’s hide made grim by wanderlust and rain when it domes over you like falling locusts, like a growing parasol, like the flash of cameras over the pale skin of an American actress smiling for the last hello

weeks at a time

            I watch them before going back to my book

            out of respect for other artists

            struggling to make a buck

            I’ve tried performing on these trains as well

            but I’ll take the street instead

            too shy to preach the underground measure

            a cement that my boots could grab is good enough for me

            I have witnessed prodigies (in the archaic sense)




                                                through the blocks

            I have seen surrender and true love

            I have seen not all, enough

            with more a still filling drink

            a name

            a new name

            all we seek

            all we must change

            if balalaika’s life and banjo death

            then we must change the name along with the tune and season

            and meet again when we are all unconditionally different people

            still traveling to something new


A Terminated Contract (8 x 8 is back)

23 May



8 x 8 (In Neon)


In Hinduism you aren’t allowed to the let the books touch the ground. All of them, any of them. The ones that mean something to you and even that cheap mystery chapbook you bought to help you sleep on an apollonian train ride across a gold, idyllic countryside where nothing is meant to remain but time. This literature is the one you can climb into like into a bottle, soak up the words like alcohol, so that even when you climb out it remains with you, seeped into your skin, a constant smell, a new shade for you to wear. Impassioned, bardolphian, prone to flame, a match-head between your index and thumb.


a neon freedom across 23rd
and a plastic fish
disproportionate, kitschy
sitting on the wall
angled down
mouth agape
we’re waiting for our drinks
and our seafood appetizers
scallops, clams and shrimp
they’ll keep it open
because it’s raining outside
and the waitress likes me
a silver necklace hanging amethyst
for those purpled crimes
she winks with a beer for me
on the house
a neon freedom across 23rd


My little messes, I love all of you, of the literary and non-literary sort – pity, pity, but you are all living history! It’s up to you whether you’re recalled or not. Whether you want to be. Or safely collect dust – like all those passing footsteps that we drugged ourselves past – or trinkets (a snow globe or that little red riding horse in the corner, painted by hands now departed through a hospital bed, I don’t even remember the location, nary a cross street ) retired from childhood.


Mine is a city of missing sons. My neighborhood a sinkhole. Everything gets erased. But sometimes it can feel like home. No matter how warm and inviting, there are ways to designate us as prisoners within it. Home or prison, your mother’s womb, nineteen-eighty-eight. Surely there was crying. We were all eight years before. We had a chance. We were all potential.


Two sparrows kissing at my feet
I wait
to ride
hungover to my job
it’s Saturday
but that no longer seems to matter
because there’s bills to be paid
and honesty to charge
I’ve seen this platform
much too often now
a bench positioned next to refuse
I sit
we sit
we wait
to ride
hungover to the job.
Two sparrows kissing at my feet.


She liked the writers that we apolitical. I liked the ones with some sass. Especially the French. Revolution, rebellion and death. I can smell the gun powder, like she could smell the lyricism that lay underneath the language like a thin layer of sweat underneath a tired summer top. Green in her eyes, green smoke, green breath, we dance outside the offices that pay both our rent and our regret. We are the last ones here. She suggests that we get some bourbon. I’d rather touch her, read on the subway on our way back home. And there’s this, at least this, and likely more to come.

We smile because this is our sentence. Our moment to become the world we want.


Returning Into Something New

11 May



a blending of color
a blending of skin
this is how the world begins
this is us
this is future
this is past
this is crisp nothingness
            and Babylon
            and torch songs
            and freedom
            and the right to elect crooks with friendly smiles
this is America
and the third world
and endless ocean
and thinning air
rising gas prices, art
something sacred
something sold
something that resembles an emerald lost in a dead purse
money and history ignored inside a little pill
a shadow of sleep underneath your eyes
this is a graceful exit and a fresh start
this is cake for breakfast
this is a blending of color
stardust, eternity, all the other flowery bullshit that poets write about
this is the blending of skin
stay in bed, a hangover, late to work
this is how the world begins
this is us


not a gesture, just an honest memory of someone’s past [I don't remember]

21 Apr



untenable out of a book jacket


five foot two

four hasty tattoos

my tiny little heartbreaker

her pills and acid reflux cut out the wine from the diet

so we have to remain undrunk

and I still have to shake perceptibly

when she talks of hypothetic unions

potential precocious children

bedtime stories, doomed eternal love

literature and second chances

and it’s all light and airy and a load of shit

because we do this once a year

too long now

and we have both noticeably aged

but I always come back

and I will always come back

because I’m stupid and in love


like these damned do

for a kiss

and something warm to feel again



19 Apr





surrounded by love

like a bad smell

it’s been magic

and history

an empty conference room

where hands had been shook


I can barely refuse to take her dress off

the zipper along the curving gradient of her spine

and she reminds me that no island should remain unnamed

and that Gabriel García Márquez died today

both of us sweat through our clothes during a nervous night

tossing and turning through the city fog and the flush of something heavenly departing

me, because I’ve been drinking too much this week

her, simply because she likes to read


because despite her self-heralded external obstinacy

she still caught some of that thaumaturgy in her eye

it never left

because it can’t

because within it

we’ll live wistfully through millennia

and villages where goat milk is the way to barter

and love doesn’t hide on plates

or in wallets, lofts or zip-lock bags of the Cali Bubba Kush

bought in a pissy alley in Jackson Heights

it is a holy ether

clogging up the lungs

of the thing

– the mechanism –

that makes it move


breathe deeply, little darling

I see it moving


[for GGM]



another part of the madness

16 Apr





Jack the Ripper had a buggy

called a double-seated hack back in the day

only one got away

but most folks

don’t realize that loneliness is crippling



the ring is there

and I need to get some printer ink

in order to have the pages come out

like a killer

like a killer



and the drinking gets in the way

it’s first

or maybe somewhere around ‘42

and this consciousness is streamed

through blue ink

through black ink

through tattoos and mixtapes

a woman I no longer see

who therefore no longer exists

and there’s a filter

the rest is filler

and I’ll be the killer that you want

but most folks

will still not realize

that loneliness is crippling

it is ellipsis and a kiss

a scar turned orange over time

then white

then keys jangling by the door

a Hollywood bar that pours mean gin

and it gets wet, the timeline

we turn to face each other

infirm and starving

but with a thirst quenched


lightning bugs, empty, and it’s night

again, bioluminescence

spreading the last remaining light

through every hamstrung 3 am

levying the world to mesmerism


like a killer in a matchbox

looking for the few gray hairs on her head

beautiful; alone


hangover, or maybe love, who can tell at 3pm…

11 Apr






as empty

as a bible on another star

I wake

with a two day beard

and a beer I had forgotten to cap last night

gone warm

it’s a new day

and I’ve been sleeping with Dorothy Parker through the last few weeks

it might’a been two

and this broom

swept through the hall



as useless

as a room where you can’t smoke

I wake

with a two day bill

I have to leave this bed by noon

they’ll clean it up

spray some perfume

and I’ve been sleeping with Greta Garbo through the last few weeks

it might’a been three

and this broom

swept through the hall



as dead

as the sunglasses on her shelf

I wake

to blood and bread

a breakfast unchampioned, routine

I feel like there’s been nothing here before

she says, we’ll vacation in Tripoli

visit the markets and the Roman arches

and we’ll sleep like the moon

through the day

just a few

just us two

and this broom

will no longer abide


Jack Tsoy Tumult

Morose Pontifications and Other Poetic Ramblings

© 2011-2014 Jack Tsoy Tumult All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright