“A very complex day today. Humans are so effortless.”
“They polish their knowledge with composed madness.”
“I heard a man begging for a month that wasn’t raw, a month that wasn’t savage. It made grave sense to me. I wanted a sip of his perceptions, so I took one.”
“You may have plunged into a very unnatural alliance with this man. Relay the crude details of your sip to me.”
“He had phobias. He wanted a wonderful fairness, a justness that would eventually connect all the dots, or at least take the plague out of them. His language was so layered, so comfortable, he built brick houses out of slang.”
“Tell me about the phobias.”
“He had a fear of amnesia and a fear of the sun. When he was inexperienced his father forced him to stare. Every time he blinked he was punctured. This never deflated him, only inflated what he already knew.”
“That he was powerful, vital and potent. His gift to this world would be captivating and effective. He eventually went blind from these enraged burns to his retinas. The gift would be a spectacle of illuminated intellect based on years without sight. With no eyesight you never have to blink, there is nothing to observe but darkness.”
“And memories. Tell me about the fairness.”
“I told you, you’re not ready for that perception yet.”
“Then tell me why we are here.”
“We are here because I wanted you to take a sip of me. So that the substance I am about to grant you with the dialect I am about to use will transfigure.”
“I am here because you pay me to hear, to listen, to question, to make you feel powerful, vital and potent. I am here because they found your new friend splattered all over some bathroom wall, phobias and all.”
“I did not splatter him. I transformed him. I transfigured him. He was unable to endure his own fairness. Fate was no longer a delight it was an irritation. Imagine that you are cunning; the most stimulating man in the world, but nobody will acknowledge you. No one will accept your realm, not even take a sip, because you are flawed. Are you evaluating?”
“Your logic is raw. You’d like me to believe that this splatter, was the right thing, maybe even a favor which even if it was, why’d it take you so long? They have you on camera engrossing this man for six hours, then placing a pistol against the back of his head. Is that fair?”
“He was a sorcerer, an illumination. As fate would have it, his warmth spilled eternally into me. Based on his understanding of his distinct darkness, again material he possessed that nobody else in the world could identify with, I was spoken into a very severe and intense disturbance. It was a very proficient trick, a twist of his tongue, a slang that penetrated the atoms of my form. It was fair because it was fate.”
“So, you meet a man. You fall in love. He tells you all this incredible slang and you spoil him with a bullet? Make me understand, relay his fairness to me.”
“He was an atheist, forever riding this safari, this menacing trail alone. He never had to choose a side. His fairness was his blindness. This was his gift. The ability to inspect the world without brutality and venom. His power was the darkness. His darkness was his shroud. I demanded that he love me but I was nothing more than a harmony, another voice, a confirmation, an exact utility that he would use for bigger and better tricks. Even his carcass was wise.”
“A man is smarter then you and you ruin him? You are an amateur, the poison to the gifted.”
“I’ve come to delight in my own darkness able to abide by the rules of two separate worlds. The carnal and the ethereal. I can absorb into one and effortlessly into the other. I flourish where poison fails.”
“I see. What made you cut your eyes out?”
“Everywhere that I went everyone had his face.”
“And your tongue.”
“All I could taste was his sip.”
Space to Sleep
I do not enjoy any bed
By myself, they seem so large,
And I feel guilty for not sharing.
Every mattress is built to absorb
The rising and falling snores,
The cowboy rides and restless
There is always room for another,
Maybe a third, in any royal frame,
Sleeping bunked up reveals nothing:
A lonely back on top,
Or an empty front on the bottom,
You can’t see it, but
Emotional telepathy knows it’s there.
We in the tribe of singles,
Must abandon all beds,
And sleep in hammocks,
Sleeping over the night air,
Bundled up like sausages
In their slaughtered cocoons
Hanging over a deli counter.
Then we will expect no company,
Nor be judged for sleeping alone,
Like sailors on a ship lost for a port,
We will be able to rest and travel
In the morning, without waiting
For another to awaken.
Open All Night
i stumble out of last night
into sunday morning
beating the church
crowd to denny’s
i keep a sweat stained
poem folded inside
my hat under the band
i pull it out sometimes
between night and morning
between a boilermaker
and a grand slam
when I leave alone
and all the sadness
poured in a glass
at closing time
follows me down
the sidewalk kicking
me in the ass
tonight i unfold it
unable to make out
under the sepia glow
of old downtown
i open my hand
let the wind–
an urban blender
mix the pieces
with old cigarettes
and blowing paper
waiting to cross
how many times
something is lost
on sunday mornings
just like this one
SPRINGTIME IN NEW YORK:
EXCERPT FROM THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EDIE SEDGWICK AS TOLD TO
It was Easter Sunday, 1967. Bobby Neuwirth and I had finally split up. He was the great love of my life and I can’t really say for sure why he’d left me. Although it probably had something to do with all the drugs ha-ha. I was no longer running around with Drella and his crowd of super-fabulous whores and faggots. That was fun while it lasted. But Andy and I had a falling out over Bob Dylan, who we both had our little fling with, I suppose, although only one of us got him into bed ha-ha. By this time, I was in a fairly devastating state of affairs. There was no money, which was so very typical. And I looked a total wreck. I was holed up in my apartment on the Upper East Side, hanging out with no-talent poets and drug dealers and shooting speed like it was going out of style. By 1967, it was. Everybody was slowing down with pot and mushrooms and getting into that whole love crowd thing. Which was no problem whatsoever for Mizz Sedgwick cos I’m just a girl who’ll try anything twice.
“Get up, Edie, dahling. That’s a girl, wakey, wakey,” somebody was blabbering at me. The someone had a high-pitched effeminate Cockney accent but it was probably just Chuckles because they immediately collapsed into a fit of giggles along with David and Genevieve and Robert and Netta and this smelly beatnik writer who was currently screwing me named Gregory something or other. I climbed over Gregory and hopped out of bed, looking hardly presentable but sensing an adventure and a crowd of people with drugs and possibly even cash so I was wide awake and fluttering all over the room in an instant.
“Edie, will you sit down a second so we can all get ourselves together here, man?” Gregory pleaded, pulling on a frilly stained unwashed white shirt over his hairy flabby torso and climbing out of bed. He lit a cigarette.
“Well, that’s no problem whatsoever,” I told him and proceeded to continue fluttering about in my hyper-excited state.
“…Look, Greg, if she’s a mess, it won’t work,” Chuckles or maybe it was David, either of whom could have been in charge of this adventure, was asking. Genevieve cast a doubtful glance in my direction, using that wise-beyond-her-years smoldering French glare she’d perfected. Mr. Buddhist Scholar Robert Thurman and his statuesque blonde girlfriend Netta just looked intellectual and out of place, as usual.
The adventure turned out to be yet another underground film like we used to shoot at the Factory. They wanted to shoot the opening scene at this love crowd thing called the Human Be-In which was taking place that afternoon in Central Park. David insisted we were making an “above ground” underground film. As near as I could tell, that meant someone’s rich uncle had staked us to more money than Andy usually had to work with and there would actually be a plot that everyone had agreed on in advance. But the plot was Chuck’s department, so good luck, dahling, cos you’ll need it ha-ha. The assumption or the delusion everybody was operating under was that the distinctly untalented Gregory Corso was my unofficial keeper now that Bobby had left. So we could only proceed once Gregory decided my health was satisfactory enough for the lead role in this “zeitgeist movie” as Chuckles dubbed it, although he could only speak vaguely about some sort of astrological theme when asked about the storyline.
We arrived at the Park flying on amphetamines, a delicious high which couldn’t possibly be described unless you’ve experienced it yourself. That was where I met my co-star, a beautiful young boy I would become very fixated with for a short time with the charming name Paul America. He was tall, blonde and devastatingly handsome. He was also a drug dealer, an addict and quite paranoid. Which meant things were never dull ha-ha.
The park was crawling with people, some naked and wide-eyed, most altered and searching for, well, I don’t know what really, but the same thing all of us were searching for back then I suppose ha-ha. I was feeling like the Princess of Manhattan and getting vaguely turned on by Paul’s creepy paranoid stares, thinking about the sex we’d have later and how big he might be.
“Edie, no! C’mon, be careful!” David shouted at me as I hopped up on a rock wall to escape the crush of the love children and to get a better look at the five hundred thousand lost souls filling the park on a bright chilly Sunday afternoon. It was really beautiful in that sad poetic way that always seemed to get to me when I was on drugs.
David and Gregory kept yelling at me to be careful, doing a good job of impersonating Mummy. But I ignored them, taking an extended ballerina-walk on the rock wall. Soon, I noticed Paul at my side, who’d climbed up to join me.
“Man, what’s their trip?” he asked.
“Oh, they don’t trip,” I giggled. “Do you…um, have any acid?” I wouldn’t drop acid until I shacked up with Morrison out in the Los Angeles. But it seemed appropriate at the Be-In.
“Nah. Sorry, man.”
“That’s okay,” I told him, suddenly feeling foolish for having asked. Absently fretting over whether this over-sized hat I was wearing that I’d gotten from Betsey’s Paraphernalia shop was going to look good on camera.
“I could get some for you,” he offered, graciously.
“Oh, okay,” I answered, thinking, well, sounds good, maybe some other time.
“So what about this film, man?”
“Oh, it’s just another film. David wants to pretend he’s Drella for a few weeks. Don’t sweat it,” I laughed.
He laughed. Then he kissed me.
Back at the apartment, we had sex and Netta joined us in bed but in that slightly stand-offish I’m Too Chic For This Crowd way of hers. Paul wasn’t the biggest I’d ever seen. That would be Fuzzy. But he was no slouch. Netta got him ready for me, using her hands cos she doesn’t do that other thing. After she jerked him and he stroked her, he climbed on top of me and slipped inside. What Paul lacked in size, he made up for in enthusiasm, fucking the daylights out of me while Netta continued running her hands over both of our bodies when she wasn’t busy touching herself. Everybody watched us and the whole thing was filmed for the movie only all of the footage was supposedly “lost.” A small portion of the scenes we filmed at the park were recovered. Confidentially, I’ve always suspected that the presence of future Columbia Professor of Religion Robert Thurman’s wife in an orgy with a couple of infamous drug addicts had something to do with those vanishing film canisters.
The above-ground underground zeitgeist movie turned out to beginning of the end of my misadventures in New York. Paul got spooked during filming one day and sped out of town, ending up in jail in Iowa or Idaho, I think. Becoming another boy who said he loved me but couldn’t handle the baggage that came attached to my fabulous body ha-ha. The endless reels of footage were a mess and so was our drugged-up cast and crew, especially yours truly. I floated away from the set and began hanging out with a charming Texan named Kit Carson, a legitimate filmmaker back in Hollywood who was writing a script he thought I’d be perfect for. He was also a first-class degenerate, though booze and kinky sex were his vices of choice. By the time the fall rolled around, we’d spent weeks hopping from hotel to hotel as man and wife under assumed names. We had fun with the names. “Archibald and Mrs. Leach” was one Kit came up with. I came up with “Dr. and Mrs. Strangelove.” But it became obvious Kit was never going to finish the script. Then, in October, Fuzzy died, and it was back to the funny farm for Mizz Sedgwick.