A Prose Poem by Giuseppi Martino Buonaiuto
I get off the Belt Parkway at Rockaway Boulevard and jet aloft from Idyllwild.
(I know, now called J.F. fucking K!)
Aboard a TWA 747 to what was then British East Africa, then overland by train to Baroness Blixen’s Nairobi farm . . . you know the one at the foot of the Ngong Hills.
I lease space in Karen’s African dreams, caressing her long white giraffe nape, that exquisite Streep jugular. I am a ghost in Meryl’s evil petting zoo: I haunt the hand that feeds me.
Safely back in Denmark, I receive treatment for my third bout with syphilis at Copenhagen General. Cured at last, I return to Kenya and Karen.
In my solitude or sleep, I go with her to one hundred miles north of the Equator, to Julia Child’s marijuana herb garden–originally Kikuyu Land, of course—but now mine by imperial design and California voter referendum.
(Voiceover) I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills.
My farm lies high above the sea at six thousand feet.
By daybreak I feel oh, so high up, near to the sun on early mornings. Evenings so limpid and restful; the nights oh, so cold.
Mille Grazie a lei, Signore Pollock! Andiamo, amico mio.
Let it flow like the water that lives in Mombasa.
Let it flow like Kurt Luedtke’s liquid crystal script.
We zoom in. We go close in. Going close up to the face of Isak Dinesen’s household servant and general factotum. (Full camera facial) Karen Blixen’s devoted Muslim manservant,
Farah: “God is happy, msabu. He plays with us…”
He plays with us; He plays with me. And who shall I create today? How about Tony Manero for starters?
Good choice. Nicely done! Geezer Manero: old and bitter now, still working at the hardware store, twice-divorced, a chain-smoker, severely diabetic, a drunk on dialysis three times a week. Bite me, Pop: I never thought I was John Travolta. But, hey, I had my shot: “I coulda been a contenda.” Once more, by association only, I am a great artist again, quickly made near great by a simple second look.
Why, oh God?
I am kvetching again? I celebrate myself and sing the L-on-forehead loser’s lament: Why implant the desire and then withhold from me the talent?
“I wrote 30 fucking operas,” I hear Salieri’s demented cackle.
“I will speak for you, Wolfie Babaloo; I speak for all mediocrities. I am their champion, their patron saint.”
Must I wind up in the same Viennese loony bin with Antonio? Note to self: GTF out of Austria post-haste!
I’ve been called on the Emperor’s carpet before, my head, my decapitated Prufrock noodle, grown slightly bald, brought in upon a platter. Are peaches in season and do I dare eat one?
I am Amadeus, smutty and infantile, yet an irresistible iconoclast and clown.
Wolfie: “I am called on the imperial carpet again. The Emperor may have no clothes but he’s got a shitload of fucking carpets. Hello Girls: ‘Disco Tampons! Staying inside, staying inside!’”
“Why have I chosen such a vulgar farce for my libretto? Surely there are more elevated themes . . . NO! I am fed to the teeth with elevated themes, people so lofty they shit marble! “Confutatis maledictis, flammis acribus addictis.”
So, I mix paint in the hardware store by day, and dance all night, near-great again by locomotion.
Join me in at least one of my verifiable nine lives.
Go with me across the Narrows, back to Lenape with the wild red men of Canarsee,
To Vlacke Bos, Boswijk & Nieuw Utrecht, to Dutch treat Breuckelen,
To Red Hook, Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge and the Sheepshead.
Come with me to Coney Island’s Steeplechase & Luna Park,
And Dreamland (aka Brownsville) East New York, County of Kings.
If I’m lying, I’m dying.
And while we’re on the subject now, Bwana Finch Hatton (pronounced FINCH HATTON),
Why not turn your focus to the rival for Karen’s heart,
To the guy who nursed her through the syphilis,
That old taciturn darkie, Guru Farah?
Righto and Cheerio, Mr. Finch Hatton, Denys George of that surname—
Why not visualize Imam Farah?
Farah: a Twisted Sister Mary Ignatius explaining it all to your likes-the-dark-meat friend and ivory-trading business partner, Berkeley (pronounced BARK-LEE) Cole.
Can you dig it, Travolta?
I knew that you could!
Oh yeah, Tony Manero and the Bee Gees, a marriage made in Brooklyn.
They provided the musical sound track and I took care of the local action.
I got more ass than a toilet seat, a Don Juan rep and THE CLAP on more than one occasion.
Probably from a toilet seat.
Even my big brother–the failed priest, celibate too long and desperate now–even my defrocked, blue-balled brother, Frankie, cashes in his chips at the Archdiocese and starts taking soave lessons from yours truly, taking notes, copying my slick moves with the ladies
It was the usual story with the usual suspects and the usual character tests.
All of which I flunk. I choose the “vast, vulgar meretricious beauty,” my jumpstart to the middle class.
I spurn the neighborhood puttana, Mary Catherine Delvecchio:
The community cunt with the proverbial heart of gold and a backpack full of self-esteem deficits.
I opt out. I’m hungry and leaping and grab the golden girl instead.
She aspires to be something or other and has an apartment all her own across the Great Divide, across the East River on the Isle of Manhattan.
I morph again. This time I’m Gatsby in a white suit,
Stalking Daisy Buchanan in East Egg,
Her voice full of money;
My green light flashing at the end of the disco dance floor.
I, a fool for love; she, my faithless uptown girl,
Golden and delicious like the apple.
Capricious like a blue Persian cat.
My “orgiastic future” eluded me then.
It eludes me still.
Time to go home again to the place Prufrockian pissants ponder their pathetic dying embers.
Time to assume the position:
Gazing out from some trapezoidal patch of green at the foot of Roebling’s bridge.
Contemplating an alternative reality for myself,
A new life across the East River, in the city that never sleeps.
I crave. I lust.
I am a guinzo Eva Duarte.
I too must be a part of B.A., Buenos Aires: BIG APPLE.
But I am ashamed of my luggage, not to mention my baggage.
It’s like that last thing Holden Caulfield said to me,
Just before he crossed over the Brooklyn Bridge,
Crossed over to Manhattan without me,
Alone again, searching for our kid sister,
Phoebe, the only one on earth we can relate to:
“It’s really hard to be roommates with people if your suitcases are much better than theirs.”
Oh, that stung; that was a stinger.
Smithereened by a self-guided drone,
A smart bomb full of snide antigravity, transformational and caustic.
My meager allotment of self-esteem metastasizes into something base, something heavy and vile.
I drop to earth like lead mozzarella.
I am unworthy, unworthy in the full mendicant, Roman Catholic mea culpa sense of the word.
I am now Umberto Eco’s penitenziagite.
I am Salvatore, a demented hunchback (played flawlessly as a demented hunchback by Ron Perlman), spewing linguistic gibberish in a variety of vernaculars:
“Lord, I am not worthy to live anywhere west of the Gowanus Canal.”
By East River waters I weep bitter tears,
The promise of a promised land denied.
I am a garlic-eating Chuck Yeager, auguring in, burnt beyond recognition,
An ethnic trope, a defiant Private Maggio from here and for eternity,
Forever a swarthy stereotype trying to escape thru a small but significant hole in the ozone layer above South Ozone Park, New York, zip code 11420.
That’s right, Ozone Park. If you don’t believe me, look it up.
GO FUCKING GOOGLE IT!
And I just don’t know when to quit. So why quit there?
Work with me, fratello mio, mon lecteur.
Like you, I took the LSAT so long ago.
Why am I not a distinguished American jurist asking the one question that seems to be on everyone’s eugenic lips today:
“Aren’t three generations of imbeciles enough?”
I am Charly from Flowers for Algernon, a slow learner with a push broom,
Swept up in some dust from Leonard Cohen’s cuff,
Lenny, a grey-beard loon himself now,
Singing “Hallelujah” for fish and chips in London’s O2 Arena.
“Suzanne takes you down, Babaloo!”
At last, I am Jesus Quintana—
John Turturro stealing the movie as usual, this time in a hair net and a jumpsuit, made of a comfortable 65% polyester/35% cotton poplin, you can even add your own ribbon leg trim and monogramming for just the right look to be one of The Big Lebowski’s favorite characters. Mouse-over the thumbnail below to see our actual style (color must be purple). Style #: 98P, Price: $55.95. On sale: $50.36.www.myjumpsuit.com.
Fortunately, I am a savvy marketeer:
I understand the artistic potential, the venal possibilities of product placement.
Go with me to that undiscovered artistry, the humanities so far uninterrupted by crass gimcrack television ads:
That’s right, fucking commercials right in the middle of a fucking poem.
No, listen: Great literature has always been about selling something,
Even if only an idea.
Hey, fuck me, Herman Melville! We both know the publication costs of Moby Dickwere underwritten by the tattoo artists and harpoon manufacturers of New Bedford, matched by a small research grant from some proto-Greenpeace, Poseidon adventure in some great white whale-watching swinging soiree.
Murray the fucking K, pendejo!
At last, I am The Jesus, a pervert and a pederast,
According to Walter Sobjak—another post-traumatic Post Toasty, like me still out there in the jungle,
Still in love with the smell of napalm in the morning,
My bowling buddy, Walter, uncomfortably far to the right of The Dude, and Attila the Hun for that matter, but who gives a shit if Lenin was The Walrus?
(“Shut the fuck up, Buscemi!”)
“Once you hang a right at Hubert Humphrey,” said the streets of1968 Chicago, “it’s all fucking fascism anyway.”
That creep could roll, though, and–as we know so well– “Nobody fucks with The Jesus.”
Can you dig it, Travolta? I knew that you could!
INCOMING! Hey, I just heard from an old girlfriend who is miles away, teaching school in Navajo Land.
The Big Rez: a long day’s interstate katzenjammer, a Route 66 nightmare by car, but by email, just down the block and round the corner.
I had previously closed an email to her with a frivolous “Say hello to my stinky friend.”
It was a total non-sequitur,
An iconic-moronic, Ace Ventura-mutant line from Scarface,
Which may have meant–in my herbal lunch delirium—to say hi to some mutual acquaintance we mutually loathe,
Or, perhaps an acknowledgement that she–my surrogate Cameron Diaz–has a new fuck buddy, of whom I am insanely jealous.
Or maybe it’s a simple Seinfeld “about nothing.”
Who knows what goes on in that twisted bitch’s head?
She spends the next two hours in a flood of funk,
A deluge of insecurity.
A veritable Katrina douche of self-consciousness,
Interpreting my inane nonsense in terms of vaginal health.
Hey, you want to ruin a woman’s day?
Tell her, her cunt smells.
an excerpt from
Mr. McLuhan & Me: An Internet Age Narrative and Baby Boom Memoir