the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century




FOUR WORKS
BY CHARLIE NEWMAN

BRAIN NOISE KILLS THE FUTURE (redux)

bad news drops in like bad news always drops in
reading a list of grievances and demands
all day, all night, Maryann

I tell myself I never buy into it, but we all know better than that

now it's Katie bar the door
now it's time to face the music or turn a deaf ear

or

it's time to simply hunker down and wait for
something that looks like sounds like smells like tastes like feels
like salvation

even if it takes a lifetime or two ... or three

Keats, Shakespeare, Milton, they had the drill down cold
in spite of giving the appearance of avoidance and denial
learning their first grade lessons first time out
leaving the useless battles for those fascinated with failure and it's
rewards

sometimes - I am told - they even practiced what they preached against

the argument is mute
how you deal with it, irrelevant
even to those who love you

from where I sit
under the desk
the future is claustrophobic
until the all clear sounds

remember me

every day

================

NO MORE BUSINESS AS USUAL

on the street
my Father looks
over my shoulder
remembering things I never knew
everybody smiles, everybody nods, everybodys been there
but I am confused
unable to translate
subtle signs
ironic compliments
[Notice: THE TIME HAS COME TO GO.]
every word cuts two ways
separates me from my history
separates what will be kept from what will be tossed
a piece of advice from my Mother:
            
'See how everything comes together.'
underneath it all: love
some luck and a little guesswork
under the guise of expertise
and then: like a breeze, its all gone
like a breeze, its all gone

================

TESTAMENT REDUX

let's drink to what would have been...what could have been...what
should have been
(the real nuclear winter of our discontent)
whine & jeez & bone marrow revealed
jive talk & elegance & blood sausage all around

pardon me if I sit this one out

I am waiting
in the dim light that passes for explanation
dancing a tired ballet on the capillary-fine line between wars
with the skins & the heads & the bones of enemies
with no memory of why I am here
stripped & bent & unprotected
abandoned by what little I need
abandoned by what I myself abandoned
abandoned by myself

and I have it good

I'm not dead

the dead are bewildered by the beauty of their gods
the dead wear their rags as if they were Armani
the dead are writing secrets in last year's ashes
the dead are holding on stubbornly to their final defeat as the thrill
of victory cools down enough to feed the children
the dead are waiting for an express...but they'll settle for a local

despite my stockyard heart I am here wishing I were somewhere else
consider:
to keep from trembling
I dream I am dense
I dream I am unbreakable
I dream I am dead
consider:
if things don't improve...I will be

it all boils down to this:
in the headlights, we're all bambi

last call

================

MATTER (11.11.04.24 / 11.49.04.24 / 12.27.04.24 / 12.34.04.24)

every face
in the street hidden
behind another face
between two other faces
eyes opened eyes closed
dying by inches
every face
in the street reflecting
how many faces
there may be
under one or another
returning or retreating
every face
in the street going
nowhere you want to go
never noticing
one or the other faces
covered with childish graffiti
every face
in the street looking
grim or glad or grateful
nursing histories of
angelic dispair

================

IF THERES LIFE AFTER DEATH WHY BOTHER DYING?

pigs
racehorses
elephants of consciousness
Charlie Parker
ultimately proud in life
everybody dies
in the heat of the moment love lost out guilt played out desire hung
out [greedy to distraction for a piece of the action] overcome by
visions of paradise in expectation of devastation denied caresses
accepted like carcasses at the morgue agony given like another old
testament plague generous to a fault or relentless to a virtue everyone
got what everyone wanted even if they didn't know what they wanted
[some didn't know what it was or why it was theirs even after it was]
you were there as fashionably late as I was compulsively early
surrounded by the usual cast of faux-sophisticated characters
ever-so-carefully draped out beneath their stations in black cotton
linen wool silk leather and lace tulle awaiting the arrival of
photographers from various supermarket tabloids interlopers in some
real gone world
pinned ears
rosy flesh
every picture tells a story
one cigarette too many
centered in my memory
upon a delicious night
publicly displayed
in the past
edged in gold
destiny is one bum trip
you blenderheaded me in your gentle tender gender fender bender fantasy
stew until I was as lost in you as you eternally overheated hyperbolic
and blissed out on endless repetitious psycho somnambulistic passion
relentlessly eternally unendurably prolonged chinese fire drill in the
grey room unheard warnings ignored unknown meanings avoided eye contact
evaded a photograph of you and me in a silver frame under gauze on a
bed of rose petals
police cars
ruthless whores
elegant candor
optional treachery
Chester Burnett sings the blues
can you hear me?
unless you possess yourself
incest is inevitable
eventually you will submit
you touched me with your lips your eyes your soul your unpublished
agenda your sad undeserved history the way you said my name I caved in
like a house trailer in a tornado all twisted remnants of happy days in
a borrowed garden nights in heaven pawned for a quick fix in the alley
between the old mortuary and the new movie theater where forlorn
pornography played to small groups of dedicated educators politicians
cremation artists redundant participants in failed social experiments
and those not at all ashamed of their unendurable cravings easy choices
flowered into intricate regrets overnight and by morning the garden was
choked with weeds
one blessing sustained
shadows sought
eyes shunned
sorrows swallowed
in darkness
or neutrality
or occupied territory
buzzwords
stress straining at the leash
expressionless faces
said is said she said
in love or in loneliness
or in the numskull fairy tale forest
and the voice on the radio droned on and on and on saying nothing that
meant anything while everyone who was anyone listened hypnotized like
lemmings on the edge of their cliff except you except me except us
entranced as we were by the voluptuous disintegration of hope in the
black hole of our obsession terminating temptation by relinquishing to
it single bullet theory quick and simple
gentle moments in the heart of darkness
everybody turns away
nobody exempts themselves
like there is nothing left
except extenuating circumstances
to see to be a confession spoken in an empty room letters from ancient
lovers and other regrets kept like pets receiving gifts like back room
politicians addicted to the rush delivered in plain brown wrappers [if
not me, who?] one strategy for loving life another for loving you a
third for loving me all leading to what? me, condemned to playing Rick
to your Ilsa watching in fascination as romance after romance unraveled
like Sherlock Holmes mysteries in the final scene closure denied or
ignored a certain fitting end revealed reviled rejected if not that,
what? one strategy short of success a history annotated or revised to
fit the current mode couples came and went an unshakable eternity gone
like flesh and bone eruptions expectations eventualities disregarded in
heat in haste in hostile anticipation
irreverent sabotage
irrelevant tactics
tabernacles hatred abandonment taboos
irreverent tactics
irrelevant sabbaticals
turbulence hysteria abbreviated tenderness overindulgent religion
irreverent sacrilege
irrelevant triviality
numb overabundant tumult trustworthy histrionic attractive trends
irreverent tremors
irrelevant sacrifices
notorious overwhelming trembling traveling hidden agenda torture I am
sitting alone staring at the soul of my obsolete obsessions my dear
departed dreams my worn-out whims with nothing left to save save myself
and I cannot give myself one good reason to try
dead roaches
red roses
pickpockets in mittens
tender betrayal
the seven deadly sins
elevator music
old girlfriends that cling
these are a few of my favorite things