by Lee Foust

supported by
  • Streaming + Download

    Includes high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more. Paying supporters also get unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app.
    Purchasable with gift card

      name your price




Sputnik is a selection of performances of texts from the book Sojourner, stories and poems exploring the mysteries of place, by author and performer Lee Foust. I am offering the recordings as a free download to accompany the book. If you've not bought the book I would very much appreciate a small donation (5-10 dollars or Euros) to help with the overall publishing costs. If you want a signed paperback copy of the book please pay 15 dollars or Euros, send me your mailing address, and I will post you a book within a day or two either in the US/Canada or Europe.


released March 11, 2016

All voices, drums, keyboards and other sounds are here performed by the author.


all rights reserved



Lee Foust Florence, Italy

Lee Foust is an author and performer from Oakland, California who has lived in Florence, Italy since the mid-1990s. He teaches for various US universities abroad and is the father of one. Lee is the author of Sojourner, a collection of short stories and poems about the mystery of place, and Poison and Antidote, 9 Bohemian tales of San Francisco during the Reagan era. ... more

contact / help

Contact Lee Foust

Streaming and
Download help

Report this album or account

Track Name: A Dream
I dreamed I lay in an opium den in the Mission district
of San Francisco last night, drinking a bottle of Scotch.
I fell asleep and was awakened
by a belligerent gang of teenagers spoiling for a fight.
Instead of fighting
I threw a roll of sourdough bread out onto Valencia Street.
An ugly water glass fell over and smashed
all of my delicate and beautiful champagne and martini glasses.
Then I had to pay up and go home.
Track Name: Deep in the Houses
DEEP IN THE HOUSES (a song of sorts)

Deep in the houses
lost in the suburbs
porcelain fear, porcelain terror
teenage killers of lovesick parents

Out of the houses
into machine-wrecks
beer in the right hand, line in the left
teenage lovers in still-life car stops

Into the streetlights
America soul-less
another lost gesture, another enclosure
teenage murder in lovesick suburbs
teenage trauma in still-life mug shots

In the shadows I find
slow movement to pass
walking the strip-lights
it’s come to the end, love
it’s the end of this feeling
I saw a man inside there
pray to his god, love
nothing was seen then
nothing would open
it’s come to the end, love
it’s the end of this feeling
I saw a man inside there
pray to his god, love
nothing was seen then
nothing would open
it’s come to the end, love

Walnut Creek, CA
Track Name: Piazza Indipendenza

She’s drawing in her Pink Panther elementary-school copybook. They sell them in big piles on tables at the Oviesse, along with the neon-colored Evicta backpacks. That’s where she probably got the bleach, too. But that was weeks ago and the roots are well grown out. She fingers the tips of the tangled strands about her collarbone with her left hand while her right hand, drawing a palm tree, plows right through the paper.

She stops.

Her mouth twitches. She wonders if it twitches all of the time or only when she notices it twitching.

She flips to a further page and begins to draw a heart, remembering how cold it had been last night in the park in the fog. But there really isn’t much of a point in going any further south. Rome is more difficult and the weather’s probably about the same as here. It’s been winter in Paris for more than a month. Ha!

Her cappuccino cup has been dry for a while now. She had gotten it up at the counter, paid first, and then taken the coffee over to a table and sat down—as if there wasn’t an extra fee for table service—but nobody had said anything to her about it.

The old hunchbacked guy comes in and goes around the counter and into the back room. It’s more casual around here, off the tourist track, this side of the central market and in back of the train station. Via Faenza, etc.

She bustles around now, gathering up her papers and notebook and putting on her big yellow raincoat. No one pays any attention to her when she goes back into the other room.
The hunchback comes back around the bar and orders a coffee. He nods to everyone, drinks it off, pays, and leaves.

She comes back, after a while, and gathers up her belongings again, during a lull in business, when almost all of the tables in the café are empty. She goes and stands in the doorway for a long time.

It’s just getting dark.

Her mouth is twitching again. She gets lost somewhere in the bright violet BAR PATRIARCA sign across the street.

She turns abruptly, then, to the pleasant couple standing at the counter, smiles and says, “Bon soir!”

“Buona sera,” the woman behind the cash register replies politely, cheerfully even, but without looking up.

The French junkie steps down off of the curb and wanders cat-a-cornered across the intersection.

Track Name: Minerva

Space is time is space is
time and time is erased in
my mind

because you and I
were always out of sync
I think, lost in ourselves

—silences punctuated
with poetry: William Carlos Williams,
Ezra and Emily, Henry Miller,

a temple to Minerva in Rome
where I always thought of you.
This minute, now, pen in hand

professing my unbridled love
for your hair, your freckles:
why does an erection always remind me of you?

We did it too, didn't we?
in your attic room, in you
and your conscience,

that dorm room.
A student asked me yesterday
how to say, in verse, “I swiped him in

to the mensa” and I said, she did
that for me too—you—came home
and found you lurking

in this cool tomb, Minerva's ruin.

Track Name: First Light (On the Lower East Side)
FIRST LIGHT (On the Lower East Side)

(for M. E.)

Amber shadows shouldering old rememberers lost songs sold for beers and memories some long slow tolling’s goal ago when I saw my hand write you over. That was all stolen then, in the leathery scent of tense longing and all the haloes that pain laid like palm leaves into our bohemian hands. The behemoth wish to lose this tune for a listener goes away now in the quiet show I’m watching in my own melancholy and fear.

Turn the page, washing blue and gaping in the ruts and up onto the reefs of things to do tomorrow, forgetting again the grins and derisions of this now. This now is screaming too, enamored of its own remembering. Twilight beers in the glass brick glow of the Marz Bar take me upstairs to Vesuvio’s where I mapped the sensate world in loud pages of love—and cupping faith in a sculptor’s scarred palms, I let that liquid world seep into my shriveled fingers while the rest went down the drain with the bathwater.

We all live through others’ vile laws, act and are acted upon, player pianos whispering in the arctic draft of fate and, simply, the way things are done here. But Anchor Steam and Rolling Rock kept us running in place, asleep in each other’s beds but certain that affection and affectation’s faked fashion would be crushed in our embrace. ‘Cause we made stories happen upon their split personalities and they resented it when the climaxes caught up with them… didn’t we?

Track Name: Lubbock Elegy
LUBBOCK ELEGY (for Billy Boy)

Texas is a great hot
hollow balloon here
in Lubbock, a swollen
membrane; lethargic & frustrated
with bluegrass underfoot;
breezy and indifferent
storms pass, they soak
and they electrify
the red clay earth;
bobbing, here, at the end
of its tether, about
to feel that crack
of thunder; about to feel
one pair of feet fall
on its back, forever
and be gone, say, day
after day, after tomorrow;
and shudder in its own
slow rumble of thunder;
and be gone

Lubbock, Texas
Track Name: Survived By

Heart strap
thread of renewal
blood through a mucus membrane
stop—it don’t stop
thread through a needle’s eye
wet throng of need
don’t ever stop
need—the relative
pronoun implying possession

in the boom box
strung over shoulders
resenting rhythms
life’s train
can’t derail
dare not stop
taking ways

Track Name: NYC AC
NYC AC or,

(for M. T. and E. M.)

Vertical squeeze and the refuse blows, gets blown black again. Silenced humming appliances remind Saturday of some lost solitude. Instead, we go out, again; talking and reading, reading and talking. They write more words about fucking than fucking words. Plus the deranged barbarism of even your best friend to protect the pack when you refuse to buckle under.

Let revered teenage-years and words about fucking delude them into thinking that sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll are cooler than copyright: outside of style, a waste of time’s only a waste of time. There’s no arguing with content when the tabula razza is being raised like a fucking flag, forked in the ass, flipped over the flame, and gagged again; any waste of time’s still only a waste of time. More words about fucking instead of doing it.

You buy Charles Atlas a drink; pilfering masculinity, he sits at your table and HE WON’T EVER GO AWAY!

—you’ll never be able to lift him.

But, hey, this is America, where even pretend (fill in the blank)s buy it because it smells like Vogue or it molds like plastic. They hang it on their multi-cultural holiday tree, trash it out onto the sidewalk when they’re done, and set it on fire after New Year’s day. And it’s always fucking New Year’s Day in New York fucking City, always a party on Saturday night, when McSorley's meets the Life Café, and the people who pretend to see honesty in politics laugh common sense out of you with cocktail conversation and baseball bats in the Battery. They take out our uncertainty, our hes-hesitation, lay it on the table and eat—relishing the exalted moment of howling with the hyenas over the sensitive and subtle kill.

What do you know, Wolfen had it right.

Then they go home alone and write articles (about fucking) while you jerk off in the bathroom.

The freedom of elevators and AC is enough for this NYC fourth estate CIA shadow FBI. Sly sly sly. I read it on the way to work. I'm on my way, Goodbye.

Track Name: Fire on Monkey Island
Fire on Monkey Island (a real life parable!)

Penguin Island used
to be Monkey Island

but San Francisco is
too cold for monkeys

so they put up
heaters on Monkey island

but monkeys (being monkeys)
tipped them over

frequently creating
fires on Monkey Island

that's how Monkey Island became
Penguin Island

San Francisco Zoo
Track Name: Morpheus

Red haze purple blessing alarms don't sound today
i can't get up the sun's so hot
on sister morphine's eyelids
along her way to all the heart-stopping o.d.s
in "tiny Greenwich village apartments”
living the New Science where
not speaking does something
to sleep's tyranny
while history's blue recycling bins
get dug through by philosophers of the needle,
philosophers of Tompkins Square Park
where the Shadow's pigs go mad
again in their circular, again in their weekly
and if you sleep too long you'll never get up
if you sleep too long you'll never get up
and every movie you see's just another sonnifero now
every button on the t.v.'s another bitter
sleeping pill to swallow and the rich
are only happy 'cause the poor despise them
they don't own anything other than that
that's useful.

Track Name: Autonomy Lost (Anarchy Explained!) Pt. 1
Autonomy Lost
(Anarchy Explained!)


It won’t be difficult to follow me,
the restless poet
of Eighth Avenue
(“dalla Baggina,”)
through streets of white sheets
of wind-blown snow
over borders
‘n’ laborious landlords’ billets
blowing hard but never brooding
never staying long enough in places
to loom over disasters
or entangle his all-stars' laces
in repetitious lamentations
of past appointments kept and disappointments skipped...

He hies instead
down alleyways ‘twixt brick membranes
,abandoned buildings,
from above: a grid, airy utopias borne aloft;
a mappamundo con-
crete continuum;
an investor’s homestead of applicants;
seeds sown;
flats on their backs
never called home;
the lease we could do

He trips he tumbles
leaping green trash-recyclables
from out the snow plow piles
a lush
life luring the low life back
to sleepy east side ease;
(oh, sweet Bohemia
tucked up tight in tenement heaven)

but no!
he does not sleep, he rather
breathes wreathes of black smoke,
his own iron ire aimed at love’s intricacies
‘n’ his tangled tangents of ideology;
his body’s betrayal of white-bread in the bone
,crumbs crumbling,
he drinks a draught off
the Ouzo bottle in which Manhattan floats
and moves off happily towards the lunch counter of his dreams,
his pen itching to scratch out all our hypocrisies
in the Bonbonniere diner.

My illustrious cousin and I,
Fausto Festino, free citizens via our civil hands,
(packing heat)
plastered the streets
with Anarchist propaganda ’till dawn,
shunned our own unholy acts
and saw the monkey’s polka besides!
(so many times!)
Years later, for instance, in a barrage of post-apocalyptic flags
on TV screen news services, at CNN
at seven—film at eleven;

for something drastic has changed
between the composition of this
masked marauder of the poetic line
and today’s post-millennial America, hence
this protracted love-song 'n' its provisional re-inscription
of facts
of thoughts;
the poet older now, the city
younger, or at least less
experienced; frightened perhaps
of its missing shadows, its Ellis Island-forged
strength and all manner of iron ore immigration
immured itself out on the street, in on the date.

On, therefore, down all manner of avenue
to our industrious seventh heaven
then, a bit of song we were seeking, sung
to an old familial tune
with all new choreography. The Greeks
were gone so long
ago, really gone.

But epos, my lad, rears its meandering head and dons its maundering shoes
,even here, in order
to stalk nameless streets ‘tween numbered
avenues of no declared identity. The emptiness
of epos is its key, the giveaway, its lack of a hero its modernity.

Eighth Avenue might seem to you a dismal place to practice poetry
Remarkable in its generic effrontery
on an unremarkable isle
where nobody ever says, “I do”
sublimely mine today and, as such, beautiful.

But i did, do, have to have streets
because my hearth belongs to mommy, the landlady
got the paper on me, the loving leaseholder
—you can’t trust her
though, to love you forever ‘cause a scribe is so much better
at love
in writing
always building bridges ahead or behind
the mill of his redirected memories—you can’t know
that dwarf, our evil and feeble blunders
of innocent affection—
an effervescence
eventually bubbling itself up, up, and away.

We should-a been-a Casanova or a Valentino,
,anarchists of the heart,
or at least their poetic “I”s.
Instead we rented
ancient dogeared tenements
,were largely cowards before the law,
against the wall, rowed
boats in Central Park, drank cocktails on the dock,
watched the rulers rule
with good will and ill.

Then it was Sunday
and they tried to give us a day off.

Instead, this poet is trudging over sleep-filled piles of shoveled snow, black
as his heart, black as his lung;
Pancia verso ovest, ed ecco! we arrive far enough back
in time to leave
the telling of our history, our
most private oppressions, our
self-accusations even,
to collaborators’ apologetic memoirs
to talk about or not—a mamarama indeed!
(Why did I always fall
for such pedophilic women? their giving birth
a kind of masturbation?)

I will have the leisure, though, to let it rot—a bone
to all those swimmers breaking winter ice
accidentally brave
Titanically challenged by
clumps of Eighth Avenue.

Evviva Eighth Avenue!

Once bombs went off in basement apartments when we invoked our love
'n' carried our hearts
in precious silver chalices to market,
spent the soldier’s queen of hearts,
the jack o’ diamonds; all other poets’
heads buried in basil pots, in medieval scriptoria,
or floating down the Hebrus happily-ever after.

We thought but words
—singing her name again three times in succession:
“Eurydice! Eurydice! Eurydice!”—
“drank but whiskey
and borrowed but money”
back in a lonely place
too lonely to be able to think but what happened
surely happened, for we have written it
and it was never so sweet as when
we happened to pen the coming of the alternative
to Christ.

As humble and ordinary as Eighth Avenue
shoveled up in grime-collecting snow
—a turquoise February sun—
my heart of hearts becomes again
this long-suffering persona
come home at last
in quasi-total identification with a splinter
of some other, unnamed America
(Eighth Avenue!):
More liquor stores than banks,
God’s Lighthouse’s dim windows
and the precious Bonbonniere
,thick in steam and butter, its cat in my lap
whilst i’s eat.
I’m caught again stalking my own poetic back
doggin’ my own self around
out the mistranslated bath houses, the old folk’s homes, i once owned
the bars and them think tanks:

the avenue always seemed to
expose the lie that we call “home”
—where the hearth and hatred always hide.
Or is it simply
that i dared to love Eighth Avenue more than i was ever able
to love you,

First suspended 3/22/1994,
New York City
Track Name: Sojourner (Back in New York City)

You arrive and it’s spring, windy and green and the fever keeps you warm and sweating into it, without sleep. Living on fear and wonder and the freedom of not having to care about sleep for a day or two. You’re feeling strong after all that pain, but a little lost in all this familiarity. It seems long ago now that you belonged here and were always suspicious of its hold on you. Like sleep itself, you wake up in a strange bed and then remember, slowly, opening your eyes, that they’re all strange now, now that your link to sleep has been laid this slack.

You’re a tetherball, you decide, chipped off the knuckles, waiting to be brought down by gravity, heedless of your tether yet locked into an orbit for obscure reasons. Did it ever matter? Sleep? its locale? your partner in it? Was it ever anything other than a frame for the mirror holding your reflection, your various self-constructions? A nest in which you hatch yourself and from which you then fly?

You suppose you’ve come here for this: for the memory of so many constructive reflections, for the professional good cheer. Because sometimes you can only find the mirror by tracing the way its frame outlines the oblivion that may otherwise be divided solely by the gray border between sleeping and waking.

All these people passing, wanting to be admired without being looked at, without being seen.

* * *

It’s different because your native defensive hostility’s gone now, calmed by that European lack of liberty’s kick-ass rhetoric that makes people laugh instead of scream at their neighbors. All those things done in desperation that should have been done in jest. So your old friends chip away at you, happy to see that innocent need of re-instruction in your eyes as they needle you into sync with their own disappointments, which they’ve already termed tragedies, until they tap the universal vein of sorrow and can welcome you into the sacred circle of suffering either as an enemy or as a friend that they can resent as not as pitiful—or as deserving of pity—as they themselves. It would seem that they hate loved ones and strangers equally as they taunt us with their need to step on our toes harder and harder to make sure that we know that they’re there.

There was never any doubt. Only they're taking tragic pleasure, now, in the comradeship of our resigned groans.

* * *

And love is somehow more real sunk within the pause, in the somnambulism, without an accepted rhetoric or a pillow on which to rest its head. Love is the secret behind all coming and going. No amount of staring turns it out.

* * *

You begin losing things, getting confused; wandering in the streets you so often trod with purpose before. That was another of your nine lives, you decide, when your home was in another person, when you weren’t just visiting. It’s that easy to get locked out, to forget your borrowed keys, to have to kill a whole night with coffee and cigarettes—if you can find a place to smoke them.

It’s easy to blunder permanently into an uninvited acquaintance with one of these places of transit: a hallway in which you wait, a stoop upon which you sit, the greasy spaces of the grill behind the counter at Veselka Café. And, when you come to know these spaces, their resilience is astounding, their independence above and beyond our hurried passing, and we find their apparent consternation with movement of any kind disconcerting at best.

Two goodfellows pass, talking about time: a specific time that had been confused for the same time of another day, or an a.m. exchanged for the same hour p.m. You’d think, listening to them, that clarification could always be that simple, before or after the brightest moment of the day or the darkest moment of the night, a specific point on a discrete scale demarcating all of the incremental differences of the same proceedings. But our loves, our homes, their feelings and house keys, escape us. We wander familiar streets in a new daze, not looking for the things that we’ve mislaid but waiting for them not to matter anymore.

These are problems best solved with the solution of attempted indifference, committed deferral, a calculated ignorance of the situation’s gravity. Nothing to be done but not doing—the wind will eventually unfurl the flags of our consciousness of its passing—and to wait for things to undo themselves, to loosen like the string that we knotted in our haste to get ready, not to be late.

* * *

Objects get in their way, those who look too hard and strut drunkenly through Veselka’s on their way to the bathroom: counter stools, Sunday papers spilling off of tables, leaning mop handles. Objects are vindictive of those who, locked in to movement, believe themselves powerful. Objects invite us into the flow of the universe, demand attention, reflection and, ultimately, recognition. Perception alone isn’t quick enough to protect us from all of the objects that we put in each other’s way.

* * *

Distance collapses after four a.m. The fringes move in closer as the night slows down, and the losses loom larger and more irretrievable than ever, as the left hand of injury—or the recompense for the injuries that you have caused—begins to ache at your side. The sky turns blue, darkly, despite all of these predicaments, shifting locations and, finally, these scribbled locutions. Although one spends most of these transitory waiting-room hours praying for just this kind of symbolic event, they pass unremarkably and are only the tiniest twists in the unraveling of the knot. And knots are so easily tied, so easily bungled into when you’re in a hurry and nervous.

* * *

But one comes back into time as well, always comes back into the here and now from out of the waiting room. That’s the force of our construction of time. We always only digress, digress and return, return and stay. Sleep comes back with exhaustion and hunger, builds us a home as a haven against traveling, against lingering too long in the past, and all of the homes we've since been forced to vacate.

The trials of your distracted carelessness are almost over. You’re walking towards the door now. You want all the doors to open for you; you’d like to open up the windows as well. Once again your dwelling is sleeping beside another human being—and though you were not wrong to have trusted in the past, now you are more trusting than ever and this will assure the triumph of sleep over you, the rest you will need to be able to go on into strange lands again without being afraid.

Track Name: Pompeii on the Po

Broken bones. Broken bones and banks.

Streets long and narrow with poverty and spit. Spit spat up outta sore summer throats. Fever under a blackened sun. Perched on a porch in a plaster cast. Tequila—and broken bones.

Broken bones. Broken bones and banks.

Don’t have a dime—or belief in. Fever. Sneezing up a sore summer throat. You want to scream through the broken glass that feels like your throat. Spit on your hands. Plaster, poverty, penalty.

Broken bones. Broken bones and banks.

Cities buried in ash. A TV Pope and the clown of Tangentopoli sing “padania” for fun and profit. Oh, he’s alive all right and spewing ash over a culture that gets in the way of his bank breaking, cash. Hands up! They break your bones in the back; you spit on the streets. You’re afraid to talk through your shattered throat. Shoved down our. Fever-blackened sky. In plaster casts, centuries pass—still huddled by the sea, covering our faces with plaster hands.

Broken bones. Broken bones and the beat of the waves.

Waiting to escape. An ash-blackened sky tears at our eyes, tears at our throats. It tears at our hands. Your breath turns black, your back turns blue: beaten, despised—when the racists bank on a government backed by bankers.

Broken bones. Broken bones in ash.

Your sweat dries in the plaster cast.

Track Name: Romance (An Episodic Narrative)
ROMANCE (An Episodic Narrative)

Escape a taut tourniquet bent
torment not to drip drop drip
that tension out, to congeal
the temptation to taste the deep
at the nape, bristle in time
to brush past perfume sick
or sweat lovely, B-L-A-R-E, trestle
past the other train, not on time
no, never kept intact that
ticking thought

that wreck
that wrought this romance.

S. Francesco
Track Name: Betti Blu's Mortgage

Winter streets and frozen
fountains how easy
to forgive oneself the chill

leaves burning on the plain
'neath Orvieto. Your eyes
the same skewed colors as

my own, turned down
sterile, stern, on
our child in disapproval.

And now these giggling girls
you forgot yourself in
putrid memories, this train

sunk in soggy ponds
and the bloody chamber
of Bluebeard's secret room

where you walled us all up.

Florence-Rome, in transit
Track Name: Euphoria


New white electric sneakers, a row of lights in the rubber souls, saw-teeth scraping the blacktop at every step, fingernails down the blackboard, baby crying in the next room, like you left your cellphone somewhere strange, forgot to take your Lithium—and it's getting dark.

I, on the other hand, feel good right now. No dead-end hysteria today; no, siree. They let me up out of the airless tank today, and I don't care that nothing means anything anymore, that nothing means anything sometimes, or even that something doesn't always mean anything later on and that we'll all be dead in a hundred years anyway—all new people! Imagine that—or that they just elected that crook president again. They're all crooks anyway so who cares; it might as well be the crook we're used to rather than a crook we might trust.

Skeletons are smiling today.

These are the days during which I enjoy peeping through the creaking door and mentally groping the passerby.

Today it's armoire-changing weather. The Americans are already bra-less, tank-topped, their layered stomachs protruding—belly-button rings and all—over the brims of their low-waisted jeans. Flip-flops, dirty blond hair, stubble, sunburns and cow eyes; not exactly stupid, but ominously intent on sticking their muzzles into the short grass, endlessly still and green: Florence's infinitely chewable cultural fodder.

The natives, however, are all winter-zipped up to their throats (invisible steel poles still firmly fixed, from their ass-holes up through their spines to their turbaned heads) and pivoting their characteristically disapproving sneers from right to left and left to right as they exit their individual voting booths. No tan lines. Yet.

A half a billion cell phones connect to the other half a billion cell phones in a bitter exchange of pleasantries: “Dove sei?” and “hai mangiato?” Yes! Fried baby entrails with parsley and saccharine—doctor's orders, I'm trying to cut down on starch and cholesterol.

The war is over! Long live MacDonald's!

Of course there are the cars of Italy; old news, devastation, the collective expression of my own suicidal tenancies. The moment in which going back to smoking almost seems like a good idea comes and goes.

Even this city, “where the almighty willed that my lady should live,”* looks like potential cow cud today, endless waving fields of consumability on sale, snot dripping from a loose tendril or two. The sun comes and goes—a Doors LP cover to a London fog in a global something or other salad—and i'm euphorically alone on my park bench for the first time in eighteen years.

I'm attached to life today, in the trenches with Ungaretti—and the war's over. (Evviva il cellulare!) This is just mopping up operations, washing the dog shit from the sidewalks of Florence, fertilizing the Uffizi for the cows to come (despite the cost) this summer.


This, however, is the last academic IRT, freezing cold in early June, drunk and hard, alone and eerily alone because “Love is all around why don't you take it.”* I'm feeling the contours of the gray matter tonight, sensuous brain-flesh touched first by the gaze and then the squishy fingers of subway lovers, no pain despite the exposed sinews of pink and gray—the brain never bleeds like it should. New York City is always like this, inside out, talking to you in the street, pushing you out of the way, smiling at you, ignoring you, half dressed for the summer heat and the dampness of its own tenuous existence, opening you again and again to all desires and then plunking you down sweating and cold in a refrigerated subway car.

From island to island, coast to coast, death, blight and destruction incorporated of Saskatchewan, Ontario in the orange and black television screen—oak-wise from Oaktown a home is a home would smell as sweet would be a place if I were an I but I'm everyperson on this train in euphoric in-between Saturday night subway riding martini-smeared sensuality.

In-between again, like all good second acts.


And now I know that home—there is no home—desire—there is no desire—and that the heart is where the mind hangs its hat.

It appears that the summer has finally revealed what could only have been dreamt of in the spring: that the spaces through which I was destined to pass would be as empty as the heart to which I had for so long pledged my faith. I knew then that the boobs would come out for the summer and they have, that the Florentines would change their armor and armoires and they have, that the tourists, my fellow Americans, would come and go home again, chewing this town up like pizza and cannoli in the process, and that all of my prophesies have come to pass.

New York is alone now, hot and cold and humid, 8th Avenue has lost its voice and smoky Oakland swelters while the rest of California burns dry and golden in the sun.

Between veltro and veltro, I turn back to these pages for consolation and advice and the page mirrors my spaces perfectly, my expectations of both disaster and comfort, my loneliness, my solitude, my understanding and my now hopeful future—and this Cassandra can still see how it will be: it's going to be a long, cold winter.
Track Name: Zwariowany Kapelusznik
(For Jeff & Karolina; and also for Magdalena, Chris, and Anna)

“When you live in a place, you must eat the bread of its people.”
–Jeff Gburek

Will the Mad Hatnik ever relinquish his hoary grip on our hearts? He is a fickle fiend who desires his own undoing above all other enterprises. He met the Devil at the crossroads—Zürich, by chance, when his flights were rerouted—and had no need to sell his soul, having recognized in himself his own only single double indemnity policy’s sole beneficiary.

Hitchhiking back to Algeria, by way of Abernathy, he consoles himself with erotic daydreams and vodka suppositories. However, even in this he is not alone: for Alhambra Akhmatova, his accomplice, has laid the road bare by vanishing again and again into imaginary existence. The very trees tremble at the power of the misadventures that they silently vow never to effectively have.

And lies? He could tell nothing else, not even time, and yet his cell phone bloomed yellow and blue in the sun through cracks that led, all too predictably, to the underworld.

Yet suicide might actually be a way, so say I (and James Hogg), of rooting out the Devil’s truffle. However—no, not “but,” anything but “but”—however, descent was unnecessary for this, our own land, turned out to be that of the dead—a salvific portal to all places, a Slavonic city of the central plain, so necessary to the nomads of the steppes and the rioters of ’56, a place of heartening renewal, where union is celebrated from the bottom of a beer glass up: where love cannot matter and, devoid of matter, is ever so lovely.

Craven indeed is that helpless double who cannot look himself in the eye, buy at least half of his own soul, ring his imaginary lady’s finger, smile at the camera, doff his hat, and save his own soul through the suicide of a lady’s man.

Poznan-Florence, in transit
Track Name: Florence

Like a lover, spread
before me, unrelentingly
itself, indifferent to me
and all my bitter euphoria.

in the rain, clouds seeded
with desire spent, and desire
regained and that sad old fucker
,full in the sky, over my shoulder
followed me home

—then, when the smoke cleared—

An habitué of years
of lonely Florentine nights;
I pissed on the Fortezza,
walked along the Mugnone
,invisible as Calandrino,
—no heliotrope in my pockets—
writing text messages as your train
lurched towards the Apennines, lurched towards the Alps

and I found your scent
in my room:
It was like coming
face to face
with my own ghost.

I named her Florence.

Track Name: What if words
but what if words fall short?
what if, unaffected, the world
and our terse faces
keep on falling

through days, down streets
of insidious intent, on the road
and "bent to it"
as the prosist says?

Americans: on the way
to all our metaphysical nowheres—

the film plays at six, eight, and ten
(two and four on Saturdays and Sundays)
we'll sit through it w/out speaking

the abyss doesn't bother me

i can use it
to understand.