Most connections you make on the road are one-time hits. More often than not, you never see each other again. Maybe you add each other on Facebook, or something, but more often than not, the time for long-term friendships does not bloom.
It’s been two months back on the road, & 3,614 miles since our last post about Books & Shovels. Our traveling bookstore is alive & well, our shelves stocked, & hundreds of publications have been distributed during this trip.
& thru Books & Shovels, weird lil street ciphers, our work to inspire others, the constant run on sentence, wide pupil dazes, & being chased out of town, we’ve cultivated strong bonds w/ folks that, if never to be seen again, have obtained synapses in our memory.
Traveling kids, good hearted works, sad French boys, ‘the people your parents warned you about,’ beautiful buskers, the vast array of human interaction this trip has dosed us with has been much more stimulating than in the past, & even then, even then, those past trips have been psychedelic in their own right.
This journey kicked off with three days of nicotine-jitters & caffeine-shakes as we straight shot from New Hampshire to San Francisco. After performing at Lit Crawl w/ The Arts Resistance crew, we kicked it around the Bay before shooting down to Tucson to snag Neeko Ford + James Mulroy. We expanded the bookshop to include wire wraps + stones, & kicked off from the desert with intent to land in Seattle in the upcoming weeks.
These posts have some cliched nature, “nicotine-jitters”, “caffeine-shakes”, maybe I’ve said I’m a poet one too many times. I’m drinking an energy drink in Albuquerque after making half of the fucked up figure eight we’re carving our way thru across the country. Maybe we need to settle to go on an adventure.
“Well, aye, we’re not there yet. These bones are on loan w/ a shark named time. Let’s break some clocks!”
Our unexpected tour of the South knocked around our original plans like hangovers in public parks.
From Tucson to Flagstaff
to the Painted Desert
We pulled into Albuquerque making cracks about meth & Breaking Bad.
Downtown was a dead wander. We met another cat from out of town, & he offered his motel room for us to crash. Security slammed the door open, hands on guns, as they evicted us from the smokey room for having too many bodies crashing there. A tweaker with bloodshot eyes bobbing up & down with his fat belly & hairy chest opened his room’s door & watched, “come ‘ere, come ‘ere.”
Under the faux lights of 3 a.m. Denny’s, we shot a heart shaped stick of adrenaline into our plans & decided to head towards New Orleans. Pulling out under New Mexican stars, the group pumped me full of caffeine to straight shoot us thru the Texas range oil drill stench to Austin, the local liberal retreat.
Arriving in Austin was a surreal haze. It was raining. Our hands worked like they were confined to film. Our motions pre-determined. The neon crafted with emotional aesthetic intent. The clubbers were dying off into sleep. A pizza shop gave us two boxes of pizza that we distributed without prejudice as we meandered thru the wet streets to our car to sleep.
We hadn’t run the bookstore much. Books & Shovels had set up at the WHyld Ass Cafe on a snowy Flagstaff day, & at Kick Butt Coffee’s open mic in Austin.
We dipped out of Austin in a dead night that dragged our eyes thru the murk of Houston, thru the fade of vast fields into Louisiana swamp.
The last of our savings fumed out of our exhaust pipe as we pulled into New Orleans.
a sliver of nola: most entertaining values
munching clumps of brown sugar walking thru morning
my body is warmer than usual
it’s vibrating & hungry
afternoon asks night for a hug
& I’m trading jokes for smokes
& talking to cute girls who find my most entertaining values personable
& many more who don’t
like the smell of hay after fire
and fire under a blanket of ash is not this city
peeling back the facades & finding a bloodless skull
with a gaping jaw the size of a history book that begins when the hallucination of the past is a tree reaching into the earth with concrete roots shaped like millions of human hands holding the shape of a fleshy ameba concentrated in the space between everything never touching
& the branches reaching for the sky are spread palms spanging lightening
“oi brotha, can you spare a dime?
these poems of mine are too afraid to fill my belly.”
& my hands are holding onto the contract of New Orleans
signing the dotted line with a pen slick with the empty of my mouth, the wet of lips
& night is sucker punching the sun
& the streets are thick with music
& a poet types at a typewriter
& she is beautiful & I fall in love & fall in love again
& a bbq sizzles with meat like my appetite stretched along Decatur
& Spanish guitar sings darling darling & my ears answer
& there are no white boxes in these hands full of beer & hand grenades of Bourbon
& piss flows like flower petals of pus down grates sealing dramatic encounters in morning taunting the body’s bourbon
A swill of Evan Williams in Jackson Square
“another 20 years of suffering & you’ll find a balance. it’s inevitable for a heartbreak & mugging here” he says
“sometimes at the same time”
the sidewalk preaches as cars weave between pot holes & chickens & cats wandering
& the neon changes hues when you’re sober
& the blue dress of downers threaded with the sharp end of an upper sewing love into rusted lungs
& the station wagon hot boxes the air till your breath can’t take the beating & your chest is red & your eyes crusty
& I wake up still drunk at sunrise & follow the pink thru the bywater
& there is a woman I haven’t yet met curled fetal with her forehead resting on the sidewalks of Royal with her dogs leash wrapped round her wrist
& talk to folks of the biggest small town
until my signature shines like a lighthouse illuminating the contract my heart pumped blood upon
& following the hours down to hunger hallucination saxophone streets, in this city of masks
city of masks
algae blooms, flesh demands, the warm spot is a box of pizza on the ground & a brown stained cigarette & a swill of whiskey calm the boiling blood of dependency
candles & crystals light tarot in the square
a violin pulls vowels from the esophagus of the air these people breathe
there’s the head of a faux rose resting in my pocket blooming over brass knuckles
new orluns favorites new orluns favorites
49 miles of uninterrupted docks
“I ain’t got no money & I’m a fool!”
I sing next to piles of chicken flesh cackling like broken bones in flame on a bbq as a trumpet cracks silence over necks of green & red lights flashing from the club
riot squads on bourbon link arms & swing their batons at skulls & meats sacked of serotonin in the real city of sin
rival gangs smash each other up & smash up bars & smash the way they need to smash up
& listen to a campfire
& listen to poems from poets I want to cuddle
& listen to sing alongs w/ unknown words
& then eat cake with jailhouse honey in the velvet
& bacon fat in the white
& listening to hotel California in a shotgun house filled with bodies bopping & cigarette smoke & an age range wide like the smile of sparks clicking when the trigger is pulled before we exit to roam the weird fucking puzzle we’re lost in
like the chickens outside
pecking at the asphalt
or kids round lines of coke
in Marie Laveau’s home
pecking palm readings
spitting in dry brooks
scrounging for satisfaction
hoping to survive a flood
they’re not sure will teach them to swim.
That was written wandering New Orleans streets with wide pupils as the days rambled into two weeks of an unAmerican city that glazes your days with surreal varnishes.
We set up around town at a handful of open mics, including the Maple Leaf Bar, & Neutral Grounds Cafe. From there, we began setting up on Frenchman, trading books & stones for food, wine, rum, tarot readings, books, and financial donations.
We stalled our departure one more night at a friend’s house and a couple bottles of wines over palm readings. He gave us lightening glass & a long goodbye. We gave him an astrology book from our shelves.
We left New Orleans towards Arkansas. James needed to re-up on stones, & some of the largest quartz deposits are among their mountains. The hot springs sounded enticing.
& in the good ol’ lil town of Eudora, at the junction of Mississippi, Arkansas, & Louisiana, we were thrown into the back of police cruisers & booked. Thru searches we did not consent to, they found knives illegal in Arkansas. We were not breaking the law. After they ransacked the car, they threw everyone but Neeko in cruisers, & left him behind with a vehicle he couldn’t drive.
“We’re trying to help ya all out as much as we can. It doesn’t make sense to lock you up. We’re gonna give you citations & bring you back to the car. Then we want you to leave. Are you boys gonna return December 23rd for court?”
We rushed the fuck out of Arkansas to Kansas City, MO. As soon as we crossed the border, we felt the heavy air of the South lift off our skin,