Uncle Ray


"Hi, this is Peter Coors.
If you've ever watched a football game during the holidays
you've seen me explain that I wanted to take an axe to a 'perfect tree'
and kill it because I am a Christian and so are you.

Then I give you this deeply soulful look
and suggest I had a last-minute change of heart
and didn't whack the tree.

Well, I do this because we need to sell beer to hosebags like you.
But I didn't whack the tree, one of our peons did.
If I knew how a saw or an axe worked I would use them on you.

But even that isn't true.
Peons are more than happy to whack other peons for us.
You should see how the mess you make looks from up here.
It sends me into a deep black rage
and that is when more than just trees are in trouble.

Sometimes I see the perfect teenager walking toward me
and I want to slip my hand up her skirt and lift her off the ground
while I howl like a rabid monkey.

Sometimes I want to use pandas for crash-test dummies.
Sometimes I wish I could burn your house down.

Sometimes my vision goes blood-red
and I want to scream so loud it cracks the earth into small pieces
and sends the whole madhouse into the void.

But I don't.
So go get some beer. Peace"


Gonna write me a tough guy script.
Never met one but I seen 'em in the movies.
Ain't no tough guys in real life.
You will not find one if you need one.
You will not find one because there aren't any÷

I'll tell you what a tough guy is:
A guy who never thought about it for a second.
A guy who did an impossibly insane thing
when he was forced into a moment that required it÷
and maybe he lived to tell about it but probably never does.

My Uncle Buddy was a tough guy
because World War II put him through hell.
When he came back he was as sweet and hilarious
as ever, for his whole life.
He drove a truck and he raised a loving daughter
and when he died his wife held his hand for three hours
before she could let go.

But I'm gonna write me a tough guy script
'cause that's where the money is.
And I see those bad boys up on the screen
talkin' tough 'cause some hutch-rabbit of a writer
wrote down those tough guy words for him to say.
Otherwise the actor would just stand there like the dickless ninny he is.
Those bad guys say shit like "give it a name"
and call each other "fucko" and yap back to cops
and wreck cars about 30 years old
'cause there aren't any tough guy cars left.
But damn, they look tough in those '70 Chargers in the 21st century
laying waste to everything that somebody else will have to clean up.

And boy, does it bring the gals.
Gals that look just like movie stars.
They all get wet when a tough guy wrecks a car
and talks tough and smokes a cigarette and has a gun.
And all the tough guys have money they got from somewhere.
If you wanna get you some nookie, do all these things
and you will hook up, jack.

I think I will call my tough guy script
"Cigarettes, Guns, Cars, Titties, Cigarettes, Cars, Money."
That oughta bring every tough guy in the world runnin', don't you think?
Sayin' "That's me up there on that screen."
Excuse me now, fucko, I gotta get to it.
Give it a name.


"I remember our dad going to work
before they gutted our industry.

there was something left in those days
and he could even send my older sister to college.
he got me a job with them.

then he got reamed
when they brainwashed the majority of his co-workers

and he had to go along with them
or be an unemployed blackballed pilot
with a daughter still in the company combine.

when the company put the thumbscrews to us
it was no longer a secret that
the stewardesses hated the passengers

and wouldn't mind leaving scorpions in some cockpits.

we heard him cry at the kitchen table
when he wrote out tuition checks.

He hung in there for me.

Then all hell broke loose
and now the asskissers he works with
are doing commercials

about how fucking great
their gig has always been.

He has stopped caring
who winds up in the cockpit
with an agenda

the results are pretty much the same.

Thanks, heroes."


This was a guy who used visits from the Hell's Angels
as comfort food.

his country couldn't kill him
so they tried to honor him
but when he showed up
they sometimes rescinded the invitation

reasoning the image is perhaps better
than the real item.

All he wanted to do was make you think for yourself
and drop a string of Black Cat firecrackers
on your shoes at the same time.

If Benjamin Franklin showed up on your lawn
you would run the pervert off
and tell him to fly his freaky-assed kite in hell


he was on a hundred-dollar bill
and dead.


I crawl inside that narcotic thing they offer.

While it is going on
it is like a crush on somebody.
I cannot wait to return
from work or the phone call
to that warm addiction
with this thing
happening in my head
between me and those words.

Don't want to meet the authors.
Don't need to.

They built me a shelter from the storm
and I stand inside with gratitude
dreading the end.


He knew when he was 9 years old
that his ride would be the Batmobile

and the babes would line up
and he would pull a roll from his pocket
that would choke a hog
he would litter the small bills

while paying all but a couple
just to go away

and every day of his life
would be the Rico Rizzo fantasy scene
from _Midnight Cowboy_.

The white linen suit
the svelte dandy tearing along the perfect sand.

The gimps, the obese, the cross-eyed, the poor
could only get that way with his say-so.

But he would be merciful in his bounty
and he would plug his guitar into the Batmobile
and hammer out "Peter Gunn" in the nightclub parking lot

pausing briefly to tip mightily the bouncers
who delivered up the JFK assassins
per his directives
then he'd take out his atomic gun
and shoot the killers like rabid dogs
and pay ALL the women to leave him alone
and refuse the call on his guitar phone from LBJ
offering up the ambassadorship to Mars.

After hammering out a Ventures medley
he'd fire up the Batmobile
and drive and sulk and smoke in a moody scene
being filmed for us
by his private & invisible cinematographer
with Sinatra doing "Angel Eyes" on the soundtrack.

But it didn't go that way for him
and every day of his life
he hates us all for it.


He put the dress on

he put the dress on and got in the lifeboat

I did not see it coming

up there on the high end

20 years

30 years

I did not see it coming

we talked about what we'd do

what we'd do if this happened

and his story didn't have a dress in it

he did not wear a dress in the alley

when someone attacked our friend

he was there like a mongoose with a cobra

I could not imagine him in frills

but he put the dress on

he put it on and wore it

and would not look at me

up there on the high end

where they were lowering

what he thought was his last chance at something

into the water

this was his lifeboat

and everything we ever did together

was a rehearsal

for the moment he would seize the day

and decide he looked pretty good in that shift


In every life there are goodbyes
and we do everything we can to avoid this fact.

The hugs upon meeting
and the hugs upon leaving

are a sweet way of hedging this fact

and I do this thing
where I leave without a word

like a bookmark
or a parentheses

that leaves open the lie
that I just went to piss and I'll be right back

and who's to say we won't meet again?

You can hug
you can disappear

but if you walk back into my life
it has only been ten minutes since I saw you

because time passage is a broken thing in my head
and whoever played this trick on me
and whoever set our mortal clocks to the fathomless universe
managed to set me outside of everything.

But set like laws of physics you cannot bend
are the last times you will see everyone you know--
one specific time for everybody--

and the heart pumps blood
and the clock ticks seconds
and you hug and I leave
and it is all right somewhere
and all wrong somewhere else÷
the heart is too small or the clock is too big
or the rules were too arbitrary.

It is too sad to see everybody for the last time
every time you see them÷
so we invented an afterlife
where it all goes our way
and that's where I'm headed when I disappear.


We could make it a jumprope rhyme.

"It was always there
a grinning skull in a pretty blue box
sleeping in the harbor
at one of our docks."

We can jump over the Manhattan Project
like so much sidewalk hopscotch chalk

and right into World War Three, which has started.

The Bomb didn't set it off
and we didn't set off The Bomb÷
it was always there

like a funny hop-toad
under a rock--

waiting, that's what we'd call it--

but not a thing that ever knew what time was.

Out it comes in a moment forever happening and happened
in dimensions we don't understand.

Turn over the rock or leave it in place
but what we don't understand is that it is there
and always has been.

Into our laps it jumps
Baltimore a blasted ugly wasteland all the way to D.C.

or Vegas finally Chernobyl

Seattle more gone than any volcano could make it
Detroit a hundred square mile throbbing chancre sore
more gutted and sad than our tribe ever made it

the whole west coast a smoking, writhing lizard
twisting in poisoned saltwater
the east coast an eel in bleach.

and the south:
the south gets the Civil War's karmic hangover
in the form of a new animal virus
that lays waste to every mammal
who ever hoped for anything but this.

It was always there
like a played hand of solitaire
the cards turned over and turning over
like they always have.


there was this guy who was kind of an eco-terrorist
and he threw beer cans out his car window

and when they asked him why he told them
he wasn't asked if they could build the road there
where it was kind of like pissing down the spine
of Mother Nature--

and I swear for the same reason

knowing full well that swearing was foreign
to the indiginous people of this continent.

So fuck "my" government anyway and this war they're about to have-- (2003)
motherfuck the whole idea of it--

they didn't ask me if they could have it.

And fuck the cocksuckers I work for--
they'll find a way to get in on it if it kills them.

Fuck the fuckwits who think this is a good idea
because they don't know any better.

Fuck the little punk in the White House
and his shoes and his ties and his daughters
and his do-gooder wife
who never stepped over a dead child
to pick up a snack dropped from the sky
by the people who killed the child.

And fuck his ranch and his whole extended family--
every cunt-fungus frat-boy hillbilly
and all their pets and their dreams and their things

and all their leeching intentions and greed and lies
and duplicity
and all the murders they've done we don't know about
and all their future murders we'll hear about
and have presented to us
as a good thing.

Fuck their calling a bad thing a good thing--
a bad thing is a bad thing
and fuck YOU if you don't know a bad thing
done without your permission
when you see it.


They got out there and slaughtered hogs for two hours
in his honor--
he was dead and you can really tee off on a poor bastard then--

they were too spazzed-out to golf
Amway didn't work
they had all the Tupperware they needed.

Scientology apparently didn't move them--
they were too disenfranchised for Meals on Wheels--

so they honored the poet--

no, I'm lying--

they marked the sale of the publishing concern
he and his publisher pretty much built from the ground up.

Speaking of ground up, by the end it was him and his writing
as sausage--
we bought it by the link and the patty
and I think they managed to use everything AND the squeal.

Shame on all of us--

but he WAS truly great when he was on
and he was on a lot more than he was off.

So they did the petting zoo thing at a library
that would have thrown him out on sight
and the special poet Velma Lovely showed up and performed poetry
and a smitten journalist
informed us that she danced and pranced
sliced and diced
barked like a dog
channeled Harry Houdini's mother
auctioned off a repo
made balloon animals
served a subpoena
did the Pony and the Okie-Dokie Stomp
sang "Run Joe"
got down in a three-point stance
lit a book of matches
blew it out with her coochie
sawed a woman in half
made fondue
gutted a bucket of smelt
cooked a three-minute egg in two minutes
told fortunes
balanced tires
delivered a baby
rewove a hole in some cotton slacks
got gum out of somebody's hair
with a hint she picked up from Heloise

and just pretty much brought down the house
for what's-his-ass.

The new owners of the publishing concern
said they planned to soldier on

and outside
the country got ready to drop a fucking nightmare
on the heads of the current people
they have differences with
and Velma wants to dance for them.


You only get so many days
then a long time to be dead

and out here between
the temple of one stone on another
and the void of fate's mathmatic

you get a day like this--
a day when your shadow is black ice when it hits the ground

and all you can do is hang fire:
curl up like a poisoned dog under the porch
pull the blanket over your head
roll over

try to ride it out
cross this one off your dance card
and smirk right back at the grim reaper.


They had this dizzy rabbit "journalist"
on NPR today
and the DRJ
explained that when the American soldiers
rolled into town--
the Iraq town where she was sent to cover the latest war--
she met them by waving from a bridge
and to her shock
a soldier pointed a gun at her
and she yelled that she was "an American"
(and confided to NPR the thrill of watching them from afar beforehand)--

I guess she wanted to hail them like a football fan would hail their favorite team--

somehow she didn't get shot
but I wanted to shoot her
before she could finish the story.

War: can there be a foot soldier who doesn't believe in luck?

there are taxis at the last second for DRJs
and water
and phones
and contacts--
and a soldier throwing down on you
suddenly turns into the high school quarterback
from your alma mater
and he throws you a kiss.

Somehow you believe this is your birthright.
Somehow you will never find yourself in a situation

where the silhouettes moving toward you
aren't silhouettes and they hate you--

I would not wish it on anyone
but darkest night in somebody else's country
waist-deep in a trench
filled with bodies and filth and death and disease
waiting for help that isn't coming

with the wrong language--
with chuckling goblins approaching--

might make a DRJ think twice
before she ever waved to anybody again.


The messiah rode into town on a Tuesday night
in a banged-up Oldsmobile
and spent ladies' night talking to a cockeyed girl
from the cannery for four hours.

They had french fries
and they played the bowling machine
and he gave her some money for the sitter
and drove her to the bus stop
and waited with her until the bus came.

He listened to the news
on the car radio
and all the usual holy simpletons
in all the usual holy places
cut and tortured and burned and raped
and killed and prayed and looked to the skies.

Tomorrow he would drive to a fair
on the other side of the state
and have batter-dipped zucchini
with another nice girl


a messiah's work is never done.


The girls talked about how boys say 'I love you' first
and how it meant nothing to them--
how it was a small coin to be spent on penny candy
before they ran away laughing--

the jumpropes the sheets
the kisses in the street

all meant nothing to them--

they'd rather have the matinee idol of the moment
kiss them outside the donut shop.

They'd pull their pants down in the alley
for whoever that was in a second.

They had never heard
"Further On Up The Road"
and maybe they never would.

Kisses are pennies for the hateful.

Sparrows are pennies to god--

you can never spend enough

love or pennies or kisses

on the wrong person--

and god watches you and the sparrows

and gives you a penny

whether you worked in his field all day

or the last hour.

I will never understand


or love

or pennies

or girls

but I do love sparrows.


Got me a square gig
out there with the squares
put on the square alarm clock
lay down on the square pad catch some square Zs
I even had me some square dreams peopled with squares
then I woke up to the real squares

I'm makin' the square scene with the squares
'cause they're square, dad

shave my square face catch the square news
the squares are blowin' up each other over there in Squareland
'cause they're square, dad

got me a little square bus pass
get on the big square bus park my skinny square ass
watch the squares blow by in their Squaremobiles

gonna take a lotta square dinero to keep it all goin'
but the squares'll do it 'cause they're square, dad

right outside my square window
in my square building
in the square moment of now
there's squares havin' a parade on the Fourth of July
once a decidedly unsquare day to celebrate a righteously unsquare event
back when you could swing a cat without hittin' a square
but that's all over 'cause the squares are square, dad
they're square and they're on the march

a square can bring down the Fourth of July
that's a square fact, jack
and the squares did it 'cause they're square, dad

if they can bring down the Fourth of July what chance do you have?
the square answer is none
you don't have a chance against the squares
'cause they're square, dad

well we have met the square enemy and he is us
we never had a chance against the squares
'cause we're square, dad

got a square necklace swingin' off my square neck
a Franklin half dollar I filed down to a square
he can go fly a kite if he don't like it--
a box kite
'cause it's square, dad


It was a white car on a Saturday morning
a transportation special--
a convertible with the top down and rust and dents.

A blaster was strapped over the windshield with bungee cords
and aimed at the front seat

and behind the wheel
was a guy they used to call a swinger, I guess--
the light was red as he rolled up and stopped
and he turned to a strawberry girl beside him
and began making out with her--

Here was a guy who knew how to live--
it was breakfast time
and when the light changed they headed up a street half a mile long
with fourteen bars on it.

I wasn't close enough to hear the blaster
so I can only imagine what it played
and so can you--

This was an enormous public service he had performed for free--

I get up every morning
and feel panicked
about dwindling opportunities
the absolute prospects of more of the same--
impending crises of both health and age--
the impossibility of turning the tide of fate--
the absence of love
the insanity of pursuing it in light of these facts.

And for a minute there
we all got to ride in the back seat and yell andale!


You knew it was only a matter of time

there she is with that face--

she'll go walkin' with the king

she'll marry your ass

she'll take you with her

don't tell her about when you did acid

or met an astronaut

she can top all that shit--

Christmas with Colonel Tom

lettin' off a magum into Robert Goulet's face

while she was still in diapers

shootin' flashcubes in a pool

with BB guns at midnight

with that hillbilly mafia re-loadin' for her--

suspicious minds are talkin'

in the ghetto

in a Tennessee trance

mama, mama

did you treat your daughter mean?

(I don't think so)

Jesus on a rocket sled--

that goofy actor divorced Patricia Arquette

after he brought her J.D Salinger's letter

while she jumped rope with her girlfriends in the street

(what a vision, no?)

and told him to chainsaw a Big Boy

from in front of a Bob's for her--

he went right ahead and married E's daughter for about a day--

suspicious minds went blank--

and I ain't even gonna mention

that trainwreck she uncoupled with--

suspicious minds are pukin'

Colonel Tom would have sold him

to a gypsy sideshow

in a parking lot at four a.m.

for ten dollars and no tagbacks.

"See the turkey-baster dad take off his nose..."

"dunk the freak for a quarter..."

families will kill you

quicker than a fall from a high building

and with less guilt

than an otter eating a fish

and they don't all have two first names

and terminal car trouble--

some will just name a plane after you and send it out for burgers--

suspicious minds have gas and hangovers and doctors on hold--


don't join the circus

don't bite the heads off chickens--

don't get into a plane or a car with a Kennedy--

don't get into a Kennedy if they move or stand still--

there ain't nobody to sign with but you will--

I can't see you

sellin' CDs outta your trunk in the parking lot--

too many photo ops
with the rubes who'll make you geek for them

suspicious minds are cringin'

honey didn't anybody look at you enough

didn't somebody care enough

when you stood up on the coffee table

at age nine

and lifted up your skirt?

Suspicious minds are wonderin'

why you couldn't stay home and solicit grants

for turtles or squirrels or ducks or frogs--

we'll lose the whole world without them--

and I just don't need you in a remainder bin--

next to the Ramen Noodles I'm reaching for---

reminding me how we all fuck up.


When I was out there paintin' houses
in the land of the lucky piastre

I walked right up on a coatamundi
in a cage in some shrink's garage

his eyes said "get me out"
they shined right in my soul

and squeezed up on my heart

he didn't have to learn a language
to sing a watered-down 'Heartbreak Hotel'

didn't need to throw a mic stand
or drop to his knees

to tell me he was so lonely he could die

to tell me he was dying
without another coatamundi

without everything a coatamundi needs to live.

If you've ever been to those music museums
they got guitars caged up and locked down--

there's that axe Duane Allman teased everything out of--
screaming "get me out"

and I remember the day I stood face-to-face
with a coatamundi
and did nothing
until the shrink's check bounced--

we unpegged the cage door while the shrink was writing a make-good--

later that night neighborhood dogs ate the coatamundi
and he was happy.


How are you going to tell
some goody-goody
that the big bang was just god lighting a fart

and it all went wrong?

send email to Uncle Ray at rev.silo@yahoo.com

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this page created 29 may 01