Friday, December 22, 2017

5AM--Dunkin' Donuts--Somerville

At 62 it is a lot harder to get up for the class that I teach at Endicott College on the North Shore --especially in the winter. I like to do a lot of my prep at the office--so I bite the bullet--and get ready at 4 a.m. I meet the morning demands of my cat--Ketz-- brush my crowned teeth, take a brush to the remains of my hair--and I am out the door.  I am a man of ritual-- my day starts at the Big D Tuesday and Thursday mornings--for almost a decade now-- at the Dunkin' Donuts on Somerville Ave., adjacent to Central Street. Often I am the first one there. My car is exhaling steam and so am I, often the moon is a vivid white, and the configuration of clouds and sky--a new breathtaking work of art. Before it opens I hear the last minutes of talk radio with Bradley J on WBZ--all those insomniacs trying to fill their void, the voices from the city and the hinterlands--a Greek Chorus to the opening act of my day. In my own imagination I have become an iconic figure there. If you can see my dark silhouette in the window, the brim of my baseball cap pointed to my java and my multi-grained bagel, then you know they are open for business. I must look like a figure from an Edward Hooper painting--in this early morning desolation.

There is a mini-subculture here that I am part of. The people at this time are bone-tired. For the most part they are not the hipsters and young professionals that populate Union Square Donuts. The donuts and bagels are good but they ain't "artisanal." The customers are not stranger to the elements, they have weathered a lot, and have that did that-done that sensibility displayed on their faces.

We all usually nod to each other, sometimes say hello--but we don't linger--we are tired and in a rush. The manager is a good 'ole girl who drives in from New Hampshire, and her cheerfulness is a much needed bitch-slap to the gloom of the wee hours. There is an industrious Asian women behind the counter, looking like a Keystone Cop as she briskly walks back and forth to help things run smoothly. There is a Hispanic gentleman, maybe a little older than me, that I have seen for years. We always respectively nod and smile at each other--and exchange the usual early morning cliches. He drinks his coffee and smokes his cigarette outside. He takes puffs and sips as he looks to the sky--it almost seems like he is having a spiritual experience.There are two women who arrive punctually at the same time. They seem to order coffee for their work crew. They are real Somerville types--not transplants--but I could be wrong. They croon the order with a rapid fire cadence--a sort of song for our morning. They cackle with deep Boston accents with the manager, laughing at life--bemoaning what's worth bemoaning.

This is the Twilight Zone limbo after the dreams and nightmares of the night, and before the mad rush of the day. Our cars leave the parking lot--high beams leading us to our journey into the light.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Sunday Poet: Marc Zegans

Marc Zegans ( Left)

     Poet Marc Zegans writes, 

"I was 2010 poet in Residence at Bascom Lodge, a 2004 writer-in-residence at Mesa Refuge, Point Reyes, California, and I enjoyed a fine run from 2010-2013 as Narragansett Beer’s first Poet Laureate.
As a spoken word artist, with a penchant for immersive theatre, I perform periodically with the New York Poetry Brothel under the nom de plum, Bellocq C. Obscura. My first spoken word album, Night Work, was released in 2007 by Philistine Records, and my book of erotic senryu, Pillow Talk, appeared in 2008 (G.Spot Press). My second album, “Marker and Parker,”performed and recorded with legendary jazz pianist Don Parker (2010), is featured on Tiny Mind Records. My latest collection of poems, The Underwater Typewriter, will be released in September 2015 by Pelekinesis Press.
My poems have most recently appeared in Wick, Lyrical, and Ibbetson Street. My poetry website is "


she let out a fractured cry
from this ancient crust body
legs purple from toe to knee
lighter than her nightgown now

complete congestive failure
a fact in seven hours
but here, now, was life
in defiant excess

hurtling up from her gut
in a mother’s terror now
of abandoning her child
an adult of no merit

who was somewhere distant now
as the rage to live burned low
deprived of fuel, not desire
in this devoted mother

her husband of six decades
tossing on his creaking bed
praying that she be quiet
knowing silence was the end

"It’s ok to let them go"
I said, holding her frail hand
As the New York sky lightened
in her South facing window

"And me too,” I said, “me too.”
“And what about the children?”
“They will live and remember.”
“Who? Who will they remember?”

“You. They will remember you.”
“Are you sure that this is so?”
“Yes. It’s alright to let go.”
“They will not hate me for it?”

“No, You have done well by them.”
“They will not die without me?”
 “They are strong and will live well.”
“I’m not so scared now.” She smiled

squeezing my hand in the dawn
eyes closing for the first time
in this night of lost demons
and final dispensations.

marc zegans, december 2017

Miller, Bukowski and Their Enemies: An Interview with Guillermo Joyce

I had an interesting discussion recently with author Guillermo O'Joyce, about his controversial book-- "Miller, Bukowski and their Enemies." (1996)  Joyce wrote on a blog post, "One, I am the only writer to expose the fact that a major publisher, Simon & Schuster, was out to totally discredit a major writer of indelible veracity--Henry Miller--by handing $80, 000 to a feminist to attack his reputation from every fashionable angle.  Two, I am the only writer to expose the world's largest publisher, Random House, for publishing a biography of a writer (Bukowski) whose work they had consistently rejected during his lifetime.  The object of Random House---make money and do it without the least ethical concern."

O'Joyce told me he does most of his writing at a cyber cafĂ© in Costa Rica, where he now resides. He tells me he is impoverished.  O'Joyce states:  "I type on old typewriter because most of the year I live where there is no electricity: mountains of Dominican Republic or rainforest in ...Costa Rica. . . . [in regard to new work] I have a critical piece built around new play in London in which a writer blackmails his agent but my notion is that we are really dealing with massive breakdowns in language." 

 Guillermo O'Joyce has published 11 books of poetry, fiction, and essays through small presses. They are all out of print. One of those - Miller, Bukowski & Their Enemies, essays - is supposed to be reprinted by Pinter & Martin, London.

I asked him about the genesis of his book... and his thoughts about Miller and Bukowski.


"The Miller, Bukowski and Stettner essays were originally published in City Paper, Wash, D.C in 1991, 10,000 free copies on street corners in D.C. so maybe 2,000 read the piece but 40 people xeroxed the Miller essay and mailed it to NYC.  26 years later the CEO of a corporation in NYC, under the label of "anonymous donor", through a 3rd party, put $2,000. in my bank account and called the Miller essay "the finest essay ever written."  He may be right because the essay explores the complete process of Hatred and how large money concerns are able to organize hatred and direct it toward a target (Miller).

But at the time, 1991, I heard from no one except the City Paper editor, Jack Shafer (now media critic for who wandered into my backyard, carrying a 6-pack and said, "All my friends have advised me to sever my ties with you." My reply, "Maybe you need some new friends."  Henry Miller, in discussing his students at a French boarding school,explains who Shafer's friends are: "They belonged to a category of colorless individuals who make up the world of engineers, pharmacists, dentists, architects, teachers, etc. etc.  They were no different than the clods whom they would later wipe their boots on.  They were zeroes in every sense of the word, ciphers who form the nucleus of a  respectable and lamentable society." 

Shafer went on to publish my essays but the silence continued.  Now as I think about it, it is truely baffling.  Bukowski had a few thousand followers as did Miller so why didn't I hear from them?  And it raises the question:  How deep does fear go among the liberal, intellectual crowd???  In 1968 I was fired from my first teaching job because I said I liked Celine.  In 1975 The University of Utah  banned its literary magazine Western Humanities Review be cause of my poem; they tried to fire the editor on grounds of "moral turpitude."  Did anybody squawk???  It goes on and on.  I don't want to bore you,  It comes full circle to Celine who says, "Perhaps by traveling to the end of the night I will find out what makes everyone so afraid."

If you're daring at all with the written word, you end up in a nightmare.  You end up on poverty row.