Poetry by Nicholas Adell
Mystery Men, Owls, and the Nature of America
Crazy old man walks up to me
I said, a crazy old man walks up to me
Tells me what to see
He calls to me
Makes me an offer I can’t refuse
Washes out the flames in my eyes
Burns a hole through the fabric in my clothes
Faster I run
Clearer he comes
Am I running backwards?
I ran right into a pig
My father is a good American
Why does he eat so much bacon?
How can you be a vegan?
Preservatives are what preserve you
The man came to me tonight in a dream
Told me to remember
Remember the Hoover Vacuum Corporation
Remember John Sinclair
He told me “You ain’t cool, You’re fuckin’ chilly, and chilly ain’t never been cool, son.”
He dared me to ask if my money could buy back my soul
Tells me wearing a Che shirt doesn’t help anybody but myself
Tells me to collect postage stamps
Put your hand down
Put it down
Don’t talk out of turn
The next morning I walked to Washington Square Park
I only live a few blocks from there
But I took the subway uptown first
I wanted to see how the fancier pigs live
It was there I saw many people
Being dragged along by their furry masters
Cleaning up their shit for them
It made me wonder who’s really in control
My watch told me he was angry with me
He said I look at him too much
He doesn’t like all the attention
My phone told me he needs to daydream more
My wallet wants a polishing so he can go on a date tomorrow
But he told me he’s flat broke
Once I got to the park
I lit up a cigarette
I smoke because a talking camel tells me to
I saw a woman walk by
I thought she was beautiful
But the television tells me only the first 110 pounds of her is
Is that why she cries at night?
She had eyes so sharp they could freeze hot water
And a blazing gaze shot forth from them
The bridges into her mind were raised
I saw an owl in a tree
Speaking to me, he said “Be free”
This got me thinking
I think I should get a pet
They are on sale today at Walmart
Buy two owls get one free
Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie
I’m just being a good Amerikan
Take what you can get
Take from others
If you’re rich you can
But if you’re poor don’t try
Or you’ll end up in slavery for 3 to 5
It was half a pack and 30 minutes before I noticed the man sitting opposite me
He had on mirrors instead of glasses
I saw myself in him
I was scared of this
I stared myself in the eyes for a very long time
I told him he ought to get a house and a wife
He told me “the human dream doesn’t mean shit to a tree”
He asked me if Walmart was selling souls yet
He told me the government is a white man
He asked if I thought the water was still safe to drink
Make love not war was coined by men who wanted to get laid
I can’t fall in love
I’d rather be with my new owl
The man started to slide away
By the time I looked up
He was gone
On the bench were his glasses
Staring up at me
I put them on and got on with my day
I had a job to do
A Supermarket in California
Picking for eggs in a supermarket in a lonely town,
Inland of the California beaches and forestry,
I thought I saw Jack Kerouac, looking fresh and clean cut; still in his college gown.
But alas, it was just another man, shuffling and shopping quietly.
Oh! But what a man he happened to be.
He waved at the cereals and bantered with the breads.
I lugged my bags, heavy
With books upon a many forlorn times read.
In my amiable infamy, I had to wonder,
What if it was Jack Kerouac I came upon?
Would he smash my dreams and rend them asunder?
Or invoke his whimsical pen and whisk them through the fog?
I walked through the dense California forest haze,
Clouded with fog and green underbrush.
I’ve learned not to count my travels in days,
Because every night without fail, the solemn sparrow’s song is hushed.
Perhaps I will just continue on to the waters edge,
Some three hundred miles away.
For if I have learned one thing it is that this ledge,
Is one we all have to drift off of anyway.
So the crimson sun sets,
Its ink staining the trees like a ripe juicy pear.
A teardrop in the sky rises; as the ash of darkness descends.
Proposed with the dim, I just think back to what my very own Jack Kerouac might have said:
Never to fret, for it is always 3 o clock somewhere
Paterson, New Jersey
It is when I am painting Paterson
That my fervor is purged
And I am free to bask in my
Own extolling of this holy city.
It is when I am reading of Paterson,
That seven men with severed strings
Form an aggregate communion of disunity.
These seven men, with six strings,
Bought for five-pence apiece, march to
A beat in fours, and sing about the three.
They are never found without their other,
and the wenches dance to the nines,
decrepit lives drained to the lees
here in Paterson.
It is when I am in a place I have never been, Paterson,
That I am in a place I will never be.
Wisps of smoke snake over the horizon,
Steeples mark the times, and the
Occasional glimpse of a man walking by
Looks as though he is a Parisian blur,
An occupant of desolate streets.
A few trees bristle in the light breeze,
And the tidal shades shift over Paterson.
The remnants of the clashes of industry remain.
Rivers of water and concrete
Both sparkle with a typical New Jersey grey,
As though out of a Frank photograph taken anywhere in
The silent wildlife of low-rise American grandeur.
There are dogs scrounging around for scraps
Buried in the pavement
Down that street on the left.
And off to the right
There are men sniffing for bones
Thrown out by the shopkeepers.
A wheelbarrow, with specks of red paint
Clinging on due to the dependency of farmers in Cheyenne,
Stores the morsels men hold so dear.
It sits near a hill, just off one of the
Angular streets that claim to compose Paterson.
Trains and boats and planes
Lumber through Paterson with heavy hearts,
Eyeing the mythical monotony with arched brows.
Cars wonder over the Pulaski Skyway
And young boys dream out windows,
Inhaling the stench of time-charred waterways.
The night begins to fall and the
Doors to the bar housing the conscience of
The architects of this city begin to shudder. The
Furnished souls would shiver here tonight,
As something is amiss on the grease-kempt
Streets of Paterson.
Slick ignorance is belied by
The sedimentary dust enshrining Paterson. The
Hearts and minds of beaten leather jackets
And fading blue jeans are not to be won by
Snakeskin sharks from the North,
And Paterson will methodically resist
Any attempt to change its status as the
Agroville who stitches together
The surrounding landscapes.
The fall of America is a curious one indeed.
Among the boarded shacks and crumbling levees
Lies the true sepulcher of the wistful entity
That justified the possibility of the million-mile
Horizon stretching over the jagged hills of Jersey
To the far Frisco coast and some uniform place beyond.
Sipping whiskey out of paper-bagged bottles
Sit the contented denizens of Paterson,
Who watch the clouds continue to drift by
Even as the shelves of the sacred store lie bare.