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



It's funny to watch the poets of France
 standing on chairs when everyone's drunk
  fulfilling the stereotype that they are.

 At the beatnik joint around the corner
  guitars are playing and everyone's singing
   as the Poet composes his face serene
    like all those before him
     who dared to bring
      their poems
       to Paris

the lyrically loyal quiet the house
 "Shut Up For Poetry!"
   somebody shouts

 a bilingual tempest ensues:
  "Silence!" "Shuddup!"
   "Claquez Ton Bec!"

then after a moment
 of respect for the Poet
  whose mission it is
   to divine a cliché
    he flowers forth
        his bouquet

     blooming with words
         like "roses" and "birds"
          as the French love to do
           until "Turds!"
            as they also do too

 "Merde!" shouts the Poet, "Merde Alors!
   Mon Frere! Mon Pere! Mon Derriere!
     Brulez-Moi! Enculez-Moi!"

until Voila! Fini!
 and the Poets steps somber
  down to the ground
   drowning his gaze
    in the depths
     of his beer

 "Pierre!" we shout
  "Hurray For Pierre!"

meanwhile, over at St. Michel
 the new poetry of France
  explodes in the Metro
   splattering bodies
    all over the place

we run to the source
 see soldiers, copters
  stretchers, smoke
   bodies bleeding
    beneath Notre Dame

        and verse
      written in Algerian
                what it means though
               none of us know
                    and none of us care
                   except for



Chim comes in, backpack on
 just back from Spain

  Hey, I say, where you been?

I been at the base of things
 Chim replies
They are fascist down there
 They put me in prison because I am black
  and had me a white chick
   but I got out
    and fast
     I was at the base of things.

So we go to the neighborhood beatnik joint
 where I roll a hooter and it goes around
  until some guy looking like Zappa
    throws in some chunks
     then music, redwine
      glasses spilling
          words spewing

 there are gals on tables
  dancing with their asses
   while Pierre howls
    about the Arabs

Constantin's stoned with moonhole eyes
 nodding at Old Pipe-Smoking Lady
   spouting off about Slut Mother Mary
     and showing us her tits

        puff puff puff
      glug glug glug

Just-Got-Out-Of-Jail Guy has new blue tattoos
 and is sticking his face
  in every face
   trying to get
    punched in face

 and Simon with his big Brit voice
  and mad Dr. Frankenstein hair
   is singing Delta blues
    he knows all the Dylans

         we get drunk
          stoned, stupid
           put it all
            on Mastercard

Next day: the police stop by
 tell us no more music
  no more poetry
   no more 60s
    in the 90s

 Chim objects
  they haul him off
   he is at
    the base of things.



Not since Hitler, a standstill like this
  Paris has stopped:

        The Metros are on strike
      The trains are on strike
       The Post is on strike
           Telecom threatens
            and so does the power.

This country with the finest healthcare in the world
 wants to retire at 55.
  No space for students
   they burn their own books
    smash computers
     like Prague in '68
         according to the papers.
Police squads scream through the gridlocked dawn
 blue lights flaring, sirens blaring.
  Military vanloads
   offload everywhere.
    But at least there's been
     no bombings for a week
      though nuclear testing
       still on-going
        as acid rain drains
            from the gargoyles.

Then last night
 en route to storm the Bastille
  (which, now, has become an opera)
    followed 10,000 protesters stabbing the sky
     with pink triangles, blowhorns and whistles
      lying down in the street
       jamming the system
       NO CHIRAC! went their chants
             NO CHIRAC! NO CHIRAC!
            a cop came over
             asked what's up?

        An eerie army answered his question
            five green trucks abreast
        hissing with hoses and tanks
             two rows thick
          faceless like Vader
               spraying the gutters
                   orange lights glowing
                  blinking like eyes in the chlorine mist.

So later at Shakespeare
 I offered this image
  to some Korean writer
   adding the fact that everyone knows
    they spray down the streets after parades
     but there were no horses
      in this parade

He told me I can't
 go spreading this vision
  just because I think it
   he said my duty
    was being objective
   I said truth
    is what's important
          and that we need lies
      like peace needs crime

        which leads to more wine
         and ire
this, however, is beside the point:
  France is fucked up
   but so is the world.



Back in Nebraska
I pull into a Wendy's
and don't want to think
so order the #1 combo:
        hamburger, fries
        & a Pepsi

"Do you want the Biggie?"
        the drive-thru lady asks me
"Sure," I say, "gimme the Biggie"

        it only costs thirty cents more
        I figure they'll give me
        extra fries
at the window though
she hands me a bucket of pop
fit for a fatfuck

"Jesus Christ!"
        I tell the lady
        and hop back on I-80

On Radio Evangelism:
it has just been discovered
that hurricane damage
is up a hundred
and forty-six billion

"The weather patterns are changing"
        I am informed
"it is the will of God"

ten miles later
my exhaust falls off
so I pull over
on the shoulder
and the avocado Malibu
sinks into the dirt

there's nothing to do
but stand in the sand
sucking on my Biggie.

Dick Trickle was the Driver for McDonald's

Joe Montana
 was driving the pace car
even Hooter's
 sported a stockcar

the Nascar
spun out
 passing Miller Beer


Winston vs. Amoco
 Camel vs. Conoco
Texaco vs. Marlboro
 & Citgo vs. Kool

the Tide car
was the coolest ride
 like a jug of detergent
doing 195

  (while robots with
   computer triggered eyes
   shot live video
   from inside)

in the end
 STP beat Valvoline
while Wal-mart
 and K-mart
hung their heads
 in shame

then out came the owners
and bimbos
and champagne
at the Goodwrench 500
 in Michigan
where people don't win
 products do.



cruising east on I-10
I see a cop up ahead
waiting on the shoulder
and pass him
doing 65

he pulls out
chases me down
then pulls up
next to my car

I keep it steady
and stare straight ahead
just another white guy
driving along

he speeds up
checks out someone else
same thing
on and on

till he hits the lights
and pulls someone over

I pass them both
the care is pink
and the motorist



to bust these fuckers
speeding on the bridge

the speed limit here
is 60 miles per hour
for a very good reason
I have witnessed
every time it rains:

semis, buses
cars, trucks
they're in the ditch
they're in the swamp
endoed, smashed

driving this stretch
when it's wet
is like cutting through
an icy blizzard

crossing Whiskey Bay this summer
I topped the ridge and saw the smoke
27 cars had turned into a pile
of mangled metal

a tanker had tipped
and was barbecuing humans
as I sat there in traffic
watching for five hours

firetrucks rushed
across both lanes
rescue units blared
along with the cops
helicopters picked
victims up

the whole mass smoldered
for over three days
as towtrucks towed
the shrapnel away

they finally opened I-10 again
        (with a new gubernatorial speed limit mandated over night)
they kept flying by at 85
oblivious to the big black burn in the road
yakking on their cell phones
dying to get home.