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The Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Edited by Andrei Codrescu
ec chair poetick kultur anti-amthropomorphism
gallery zounds the making and unmaking of person
new economics of late capitalism
diaries and memoirs translation and her retinue
working class sweat
the corpse reads classics letters the book of revelations and epiphanies
the making and unmaking of person
Working Class Sweat & The DTs (best band of the oughts)

Three Poems
by Al Frank

I need a good woman... I know that she exists
but where is she upon this earth
as the whores keep finding me?
          --Charles Bukowski

A Very Strange Night Indeed

I had to get up at 4:30 am to make it to my job at 5:30. I was never a morning person, plus I worked all day over vats of hot acid, so I needed my sleep. I used to have problems sleeping when my wife was out, but I got over that quickly after a few days of sleep-deprived factory work.
      The phone rang at 3:25. It was my wife's friend Charlie. "Come get your wife," he says "she's drunk, and acting crazy!"
I throw my clothes on, and jump in my old Trans-am. It wasn't far to Charlie's apartment yet I still had time to wonder what she was up to this time. I pull into the parking lot, and mount the stairs to his apartment. I can hear her loud garbled voice through the cheap plywood door. I knock.
      Charlie lets me in, and the first thing I notice is all the crack pipes on his kitchen table. My wife (Natalie) is stalking around the room, angry about something. I grab her by the arm, and try to pull her out, but she bites me on the hand, breaking the skin. She doesn't want to leave it seems. Charlie looks on. I get her by the back of the neck, grab her purse, and struggle her out the door and down the stairs. I'm opening the car door when she turns around, looks up the stairs and screams out, "That's right! Just fuck me and leave me!"
      I wasn't thinking about her statement so much, as I was thinking about what to do with her. I try to get her into the car, but she's struggling, and cursing me. She rambles off a string of drunken obscenities, as she staggers down the street. I'm following her, feeling like a detective finding clues. Her purse, on the ground, then a shoe, her jacket, then the other shoe. I go back, and get in my car, waking up the whole complex with the sound of the 400 big block through Thrush glasspacks. I find her at the end of the block, by the Pakistani store. "Get your drunk ass in the goddamn car!" I yell at her. Surprisingly, she does.
      Back at our apartment, I'm asking questions. She's rolling around on the bed, alternately crying and evilly mocking me. I'm only getting bits and pieces of information. I go to the kitchen for a glass of water, and I hear her on the phone, "I love you Charlie! Don't Leave me!"
      I go back into the bedroom, and wrestle the phone from her. I speak into the receiver, "Next time you talk to her, I'm comin' over there to put a foot in your ass!" then I hang it up, rip it out of the wall, and throw it across the room.
      "That's right," she says "I love him! You never loved me! You never cared!" I argued with her for a half hour, before I realized that it was futile, and I had to get to work. Man... how was I supposed to work all day in that hot assed factory, with this on my head.
      I only worked for about half an hour, when I turned to my supervisor, and told him that I had to go have a talk with the guy that was fucking my wife. He seemed very understanding.
      I banged on Charlie's door. He didn't answer. "Open up Charlie," I said, "You know who this is!" The door creaks open. I come in, Charlie's holding a baseball bat. I sit on the couch, and stare a him. He offers me he bat saying, "Go ahead, get it over with!"
      I tell him to sit his ass down, all I wanted was information. He was reluctant. He didn't understand why I wanted to torture myself.
      Here's he story: For the last nine months of my marriage, Natalie had been buying cocaine from Charlie. This explains why she was so crazy, and why I was so broke. When she ran low on money, she'd give blowjobs for coke. Somewhere along the line, she fell in love with Charlie, and was planning on moving in with him. When she told him so, he said it wasn't going to happen. She freaks out, and he calls me...
      "We wanted to respect the sanctity of your marriage," he said, "so I only fucked her in the ass."
      I knew it wasn't his fault. I really didn't want to bother with it, but I had to end the visit somehow. So I said, "Charlie, from this point on you're not going to have any contact with Natalie. If she calls, hang up. If you talk to her again, I'm not going to kill you, but I'm going to hurt you so bad with my bare hands that you'll want to die. You know I'll do it too, don't you?"
      He nods his head. I walk out.
      As I drove back to work, the sun was coming up. It was the ugliest, brightest sun that I had ever seen... like a searchlight. I got on I-35, and tried to figure out what to do next.

The Year I Lost My Mind

People cling to their rotten memories, to all their misfortunes, and you can't pry them loose. These things keep them busy. They avenge themselves for the injustice of the present by smearing the future inside them with shit. They're cowards deep down, and just. That's their nature.
          --Louis Ferdinand Celine

1992, and we moved into that house. It was 500.00 a month, with a 500.00 deposit. The rental agent ran away with the deposit, I never saw it again. It was me and her, and 3 dogs. Two of the dogs would fight each other, ripping and tearing, trying to kill each other. We moved them around the house like chess pieces, so they never came in contact. That was a constant job.
      Frat boy Sr. was still in the White House, so I was having a hard time landing a job. I did a few temp gigs, a little commercial acting, and a few bucks came in from the comic book I was drawing, but basically I was being supported by a woman that was making six dollars an hour. How we managed to survive, I do not remember.
      It got hot that summer. Every day was 100 degrees. There was no air conditioner, so I sat in my underwear and sweated. There was no furniture, so I sat on a cinderblock in front of the television and waited to die. Every cartoonist in town came by one night, and asked me to party, there were about 20 of them. I was known as the guy who could draw faster than anyone else. I just sat on that brick and stared at the television until they left. They never came around after that.
      I would scrape together loose change and buy unfiltered Pyramid cigarettes from the dollar store. Those things were horrible, like smoking rolled sheets of plastic, but it was all I could get.
      Emo's had just opened up, and I would see all these beautiful women there, all dressed up in fishnet and leather, Mohawks and black lipstick, and I cursed myself for being in a loveless common-law marriage. I would take my pit bull (Melvin) with me. I rescued him from the gas chamber when I worked as a dog-catcher the year before. He only growled at skinheads. He was a good dog.
      The woman always accused me of things that never happened. She would tell me that I was going to leave her, that I was going to cheat on her. Every time she cut into me, I'd drink another cheap Malt-liquor, to replace the soul she was sucking out of me. In the end, she left me, but by that time I didn't care.
      We were too poor to rent a lawn mower, so the grass was about three feet high by October. When we opened the back door, a cloud of mosquitoes rose into the air, and attacked like a single living thing.
      Vermin, vermin everywhere. I bombed the house weekly, bought glue traps and pyrethrin spray, but the vermin were everywhere. You could see the fleas leaping along the hardwood floor, smell the rancid mouse urine in the air, but the cockroaches were the worst. Giant Texas palmettos like miniature tanks, indestructable, innumerable. I'd stopped sleeping in the same room as the woman, and the roaches would crawl across my face at night, and I'd jump up, yell, feel the adrenaline pumping through me. I'd check the room before I went to sleep, then put duct tape around the door seals, but they still got in, how, I cannot say. And at 3 am I would laugh to myself, as I wondered what could possibly happen next.
      When brother Bill got into the White House, I managed to find a job. I carried boxes of magazines in a warehouse, huge packages that weighed more than I did, yet I never got any bigger, just smaller and harder. I'd work there all day, and come home to the roaches, and the dogs, and the woman.
      When the woman decided to date other people, I was happy. It took about two months to get up to speed, but when I did, I had some beauties. There was Kristen, and Koshka, and Maria... and Eve. Eve was the craziest of them all, an atomic bomb of a woman. A stripper with a skin-bird haircut and the lack of caution and discretion only found in serious alcoholics with mental problems. I fell in love with her, just like I fell in love with the rest, but in the end I wound up alone, we all do.
      I suppose I should have been satisfied. I was dating whoever I wanted, drawing my comic books, had a job, was popular at Emo's, yeah, I should have been happy, but for some reason I was sad, and disgusted. I'd wasted 5 years in College. I was poor. There's no dignity in being poor, just anger. You're always lashing out at whatever is closest to you. I was full of love that I could not properly express. I had brilliant ideas that would never do the world any good. I had no way to let it out, I'd forgotten how to cry. I was imploding... entropy... death.
      This depression coated me like a filthy oil, as summer turned into the chill of autumn that year. Skeletons, pumpkins, frost-breath, cockroaches, and this thing screaming inside me. There was nothing for me to do but wait for it to be over, and I've been doing that ever since.
This memory is dedicated to the beautiful yet deadly women who refer to themselves as "Exotic Dancers".

1999 (Twiggy)

I came up with the name NORTH LOOP POSSE. We all lived on North Loop Blvd. in Austin. I was in the apartments that were set behind the Japanese grocery store and Rich's house. Rich was the only other black punk rocker in town. People use to confuse us with each other for some reason. Other than the long hair, we looked nothing alike. It was the difference between Wesley Snipes and Lenny Kravitz. Next door to Rich was a house with two cute girls, and next to them another two cute girls, and finally the weirdo house. I shouldn't call them weird... we were all the same, I just keep remembering the clutter of bicycle parts and junk glued to the white frame house. Sometimes we'd all go to the State hospital cemetery across the street, and drink and run the dogs.
      There were a lot of parties at Rich's house, seemed like every weekend was a drunken mess. One night I showed up after working a second shift job, and went on in. As usual the first thing I did was grab a drink, and scan the room for women I didn't know. I was immediately caught like a deer in the headlights, by the gaze of a pixie. She looked like a faerie. She was slim, and just plain beautiful. But those eyes, they were big and dark, glistening. I was caught, and actually had to think about what to say to her.
      Her nickname was Twiggy. I sat and talked to this magical 19 year old goddess for about an hour, and finally left with her. We walked back to my apartment, (good old #105) and hit the bed. I remember it well, because we were in this missionary position, and I was propped up on my elbows. I was still wearing my wife-beater and socks, and had a beer in my right hand. Twiggy had a beer in her hand, which was behind my back, and she kept spilling it on me. I reached around and grabbed her beer, now I'm on top of this gorgeous animal, with a beer in both hands, and I'm thinking, "Nobody would believe this kind of luck exists". I thought about framing that wife-beater, beer stains and all.
      We never had sex again, Twiggy and I. But we became pretty close friends. After not seeing her for about a week, I asked Rich if he knew where she was. "Didn't you hear?" He said. "She tried to kill herself".
      Turns out that two of the pretty girls in the posse had insulted her somehow, and like a true sensitive drunk, she went home, grabbed a knife and slashed her wrists. This was no razor blade bullshit either, she took a serrated steak knife and dug 2 giant mouth looking holes in the left wrist. She tried to do the same with the right wrist but it didn't work out so well...the tendons from the left hand were too badly severed.
      He told me that she was in the nut house. Unfortunately none of us knew her by her real name. It took me four hours to find out that it was "Rebecca".
      I'd had girls at the state hospital before, so I knew what to do. I got her some magazines, a carton of cigarettes, and made her a stuffed toy. When I saw her, she looked well. Except for the nasty bandages on her arms she seemed fine. I couldn't really talk to her too well. This other nutjob kept interrupting...hitting on me.
      When she got out, I gave her a futon mattress for her room. Her old mattress was like a giant used maxi-pad after her attempt. The next day she comes over and starts talking about the white worms all over her room. "Well, shit..." I thought "she's cracked up".
      I go down to her house, and sure enough, there were white worms there. Maggots. Falling from the ceiling on to the floor. Why it was raining maggots I do not know, but I did consider it rather biblical, and told her as much. That's when she moved in with me.
      I had a small efficiency with a large walk-in closet. Twiggy lived peacefully in that closet for two months. She handed me some shears one day and asked me to shave her head into a "Chelsey". Me, who hadn't had a haircut in 7 years. We sat there on the front stoop, in a neighborhood of crazy drunks, and nobody thought it was trashy to cut hair out there. It was a good time. She was like Robin to my Batman. Hell, she even went with me to check out a blind date. The girl looked good, but we found out later that she'd had two children and seven miscarriages. Twiggy warned me, but I already knew. I had my eyes open. I just wonder how open they would have been without her as my conscience...
      Last I heard Twiggy had gotten married, and was having a kid. That's good. Perhaps the best parent is the one who knows what the end of the night looks like, yet managed to come back. I can see her as a happy wife and mother. Mostly though, I remember her for those big dark eyes, that held me there the first time I saw her.




home archives submit black market comrads hot sites search ec chair peotick kultur anti-amthropomorphism
new economics of late capitalism gallery zounds the making and unmaking of person
diaries and memoirs translation and her retinue
the book of revelations and epiphanies working class sweat
the making and unmaking of person the corpse reads classics letters

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