Happiness is a Warm Gunner Hanson

March 3, 2012

Friday nights are my favorite nights and Saturday mornings are my favorite times of the week. Since I left my mom’s aftercare from my Heart attack and surgery in September at her house in Haddonfield (the house I grew up in from 8thgrade to college graduation) and moved back to where I live now in Fairview in Camden (the town I grew up in from age 5 until 5th grade). Both towns have changed through the years and I like the changes in Haddonfield much more.

I lived in Haddonfield from March 2009 to October 2010. The move was a wonderful and heartbreaking experience. I was financially distressed, just broke up with (dumped by actually) a yearlong girlfriend or whatever she was and a comeback from a short relapse to drinking after almost celebrating 17 years of sobriety. I was recovering from these factors and moving on and at the same time my adopted father (the one who raised me since I was 11) was sick with many ailments including the worst -Myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune neuromuscular disease leading to fluctuating muscle weakness and fatigability. It also lowered his immunities lowering his abilities to fight infections.

The three of us decided that it would be a great idea for me to move in to my parents house so I could help my mother with my father’s new needs and be an extra person in the house so she could relax once in a while. I was more of a back up and security than daily help. We thought despite his ailments he was to live many years assuming he continued with current treatments. Despite his surprising death from catching scabies that lead to a facial neuralgia similar to my own, I have happy memories due to the pleasure of getting to know him better than I have in my entire life. He died June 19th 2009. I stayed on with my mom in what I thought was a support to her.

In May 2010 I lost my job and my relationship with her deteriorated slowly until September when I realized I had to move out. Mom didn’t like a reclusive jobless son living on her porch, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes on the computer day in and day out despite the fact that it was one of my most creative periods of my life. As if God presented it Himself I was offered an opportunity I felt I couldn’t refuse. Without my mom throwing me out I went ahead and moved to Camden because my good friend owned the house, it was a bargain, it was furnished and it was cheap. I also had a friend that was in a similar situation that was ready to jump on the bargain. I loved the place when we first looked at it. Our decisions were made. I had the money and my new roommate had the money.

On the day we signed the lease I had a bad feeling as I was driving through the neighborhood. I saw the boarded up houses and drug dealers on the corners. I made the commitment so I went through with it against my last minute objections.

Here it is almost a year and half later and I am full of regret. I’ve since ran out of my savings, and due to my low income of my last job my unemployment barely paid the rent, My various mental and physical disorders got worse, I applies for disability so even if I could get a job I couldn’t, I lost my license due to not affording the NJ surcharges, I gave up my car, I lost my unemployment, I replapsed again and luckily couldn’t afford it and got sober once again, I went on welfare and I even got mugged once.

A lot of time I blame my move to Camden so you can see why Fridays and Saturdays are my favorite days of the week. A twelve to 16 hour vacation from the “home” I dread. I spend the evening mostly alone in the TV room watching cable TV that I don’t have at home and write. My favorite TV show How I Met Your Mother is on 3 channels at 3 different times to keep me happy. I love Neal Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan since the Doogie and Willow days. I go to bed early creatively satisfied and entertained.

I wake up nice and early around 6:30 am and pray and meditate, write and watch reruns of a crime show called Female Force on a crime channel. The morning coffee and cigarettes even taste better in my Haddonfield house. I either take a walk to help my uncle with his business for a couple hours if my pain and metal state are in order for the day or try and help mom around the house. Then we do lunch and I go back to “home” only by name and back to my on and off terror of my Camden environment.

I love Friday nights and Saturday mornings. I feel almost normal when I’m here


Bump Bang Bye – A Poem

February 27, 2012

Events cruising like Al Pacino through

Mutated sexual caravans filled with

Like-minded creatures of the day light

Bump Bump Bump

 

Her affordable anguish seems to cost

Her fiancé more than her

Mangle is such a felicitous word

Bang Bang Bang

 

Aortic anvils drop

Falls rapidly in the ruins

It’s delightful to my

Sad eyes

Bye Bye Bye

 

Exotic dumplings

Fancy affair

Dance

Sing

Cry

 

Bump

Bang

Bye

 


The Son of the Cockroach Lady

February 1, 2012

Caterpillar stairway leads me to the basement so I can hide from the monsters called reality. Comfort in the dark corner with worn warped plywood Grandpop set up as my office years ago complete with a make shift desk to draw on and read comic books. 1002 Niagara Rd. The invisible dog Grandpop warned me about never came to me. Was he teasing or crazy? I’ll never know. I liked it there hiding from hippies of my dreams that were going to hurt me somehow. My dreams, visions and creativity flourished, as an 8-year-old’s should.

It was much less scary than the House on Haunted Hill, The House by the Cemetery, The House by the park, The Last House on the Left, The Last House on a Dead End Street, The House that Jack Built and my former house on Monitor rd where I lived with my paranoid schizophrenic mother. The House of Cockroaches. The neighbors called her cockroach lady. I was the Son of the Cockroach Lady.

It was (is) a small part of Camden NJ. A village they called it. Fairview Village. Nice enough to my childhood nightmarish recollections. It was a big wonderland filled with talking gray trees, shimmering golden green grass, and dirty shirtless white kids that called my name and eventually called me names.

Daddy gone, mommy in crazy hospital, I moved on Niagara Rd with Grandmom and Grandpop. I got fat and didn’t like school. Too many children. Too many rules. Too many teachers. I made fun of myself after being made fun of for being fat. I wore pants that were labeled Husky. Kids called me Husky. I went to the basement or sat in front of the TV and I would draw and draw and draw.

The neighborhood worsened as I got older. I got worse as the neighborhood got older. I escaped when I was 11-years-old.

Now I am back. I feel more afraid than I did as child. I took a walk yesterday to see the 2 houses I lived in and they were different, smaller, odd. The entire neighborhood shrunk in size, grew in population and crime. I was almost the scared scarred little white boy being stared at and made fun of once again. I wore levis instead of Huskys.

Monitor Road House -in the middle


Paralyzed From The Inside Out

January 24, 2012

Paralyzed from the inside out.

My brain is functioning yet my body can’t move. Glued to the couch unable to even change the channel with the remote. I want a cigarette but can’t lift my arm to light it.

 

I can feel my insides shake nervously. Rapidly. My heart is beating a mile a minute yet I can’t move my body. My head is unfocused. The television is in front of me making blurred sounds and images.

 

I pray. I cry. I take deep breaths.

 

Finally, I can move just enough to get to the pill bottle and swallow anti-anxiety meds, I manage to sit up and wait. I fall back down.

 

It passes. Now I am worn out from the experience. Tired.

 

Whew.


Row Home Prison

January 10, 2012

I had a dream

Not like Martin Luther King Jr

Probably not

A nightmare

Did Dr King have nightmares?

I do

Not often that I recall

 

Incisive nightmares

I am a prisoner for a crime I never committed

Imprisoned in jails, institutions, and basements

I was a prisoner in a house

The house in Camden I grew up in

Didn’t grow up but lived there

Only access to the house next door where my cat, Betty

Was held prisoner also

 

I knew I would get out

I was innocent yet I felt guilty

Depressed and optimistic

My adopted mother was a prison guard of sorts

Not listening to me

Judging me

She always thought I was guilty

When other mothers said “not my son or daughter”

My mother would say “It was probably my son”

 

I was afraid and confident amongst fellow inmates

I knew from elementary school

From high school

From college

From the internet

And you were in the next cell

Laughing madly

 

I snuck next door in my Camden row home prison to

Visit Betty

She was happy to see me but afraid of getting caught

She gave me a kiss and hid under a bush

I was happy she was alive

My only love in this world had returned

I snuck into the house to find my valuables hidden in the basement

In a crawlspace

Rotted books, records, art and clothes

I held up a t-shirt covered in rusted buttons

For some reason I felt that I was being held against my will

As a result of my books, records, art and t-shirts

Contraband in some minds that lack freethinking

 

I woke up in the prison of my cozy bed

Sweating

Relieved

Until I looked out the window and the view

To the outside was the same

 

NOTE: HOURS OF VISITATION ARE FROM 12 PM TO 8PM WEEKDAYS AND 8 AM TO 10 PM ON WEEKENDS

 

Please drop by and bring cigarettes to trade for food


Joan or Arc, Joan Baez and You!

December 30, 2011

Joan of Arc

Joan Baez

And you

 

So young an beautiful in my mind as

You once were

 

Joan Hillen

Joan Marie Siani Hillen

Mother

 

Great mission                         from God

And country

Joan died                 for it all

So young

Brave

Young

 

“Love is a

Four letter word” Joan sang

Protested war

Civil rights

Entertained thousands

 

Joan brought me into this

World I am still figuring out

You spent years

In wards of hospitals

I never understood

They never understood                      YOU

 

Oh MOTHER. I understand now.

I love you now

Now that it’s too late.

 

Joan of Arc

Joan Baez and

YOU


Smith, Burroughs, Curtis, Scarface and Shepherd

December 23, 2011

This story starts early on a Sunday morning. A couple of friends and myself took a ride to West Philadelphia to the last residence of our closest departed friends, Marcus. Our mission was to gather his belongings and get them out of the house. Since our one friend was in a hurry we didn’t have time to go through everything. When we arrived Marcus’s friend who rented the room to him greeted us and had all of his belongings packed randomly in milk crates.

Let me back up. My story concerning Marcus started a week before he died. Once my “childhood” (in my mid-20s) hero, Marcus turned me on to many authors, poets, music and some films that I may not have found without him. He was my Shaman and friend and I devoured a lot of his interests. He had bee in and out of hospitals this year and ended up in a nursing home to care for his final ailment, celulosis. I visited for the last time (unknown to me while visiting) a little over 2 weeks before he passed away. We talked on the phone a few times the week before he died.

For some reason I started reading poetry that he loved out of the blue, authors like Arthur Rimbaud, Walt Whitman, Allan Ginsberg, Patti Smith, Jim Caroll and William Blake. It wasn’t a conscious effort. I was writing poetry and devoured the greats that Marcus turned me onto. For some reason I actually understood the poetry for the first time. I even mentioned this to Marcus when he was lucid and not in pain, over the phone.

The day before he died I started a poem about him because he deserved one for his accomplishments and his contribution to the world. November 10th I found out Marcus died from blood pressure and heart complications, I felt as though he jumped inside of me that day. “ghosts crowd the child’s fragile eggshell mind” to quote Jim Morrison who claims to have had dying Indians’ spirits he witnessed as a child jump into him. He stuck with that story until he died mysteriously in Paris, France in 1971. I felt Marcus in me for a at least a week or so. The extreme presence has faded but part of him remains in me.

The week of his service I was reading Arthur Rimbaud’s biography and discovered that Rimbaud also died on November 10th, 1991, 120 years before to the date. How appropriate I thought. I told his friends that knew his love for Rimbaud and they all agreed that it was some kind of spirits working there.

So, my 2 friends and me are at Marcus’s last house, his last home before the hospitals trying to avoid the temptation of going through his stuff and loading it into the car. I did manage to take a few minutes to throw together a crate of books and cds for myself. I tried to go through more while we were driving but I was in the blind spot of the car so I had to wait. I’m still waiting but in no hurry because I have months of books to read and cds to listen to.

I am.

The very afternoon I came home I started reading Patti Smith’s autobiography/ Robert Mapplethorpe’s biography written by Smith called Just Kids. Patti was in the top 5 of Marcus’s favorite performers, poet/lyricists and both he and other friend mentioned how great of a read it is. I have been obsessed with it.

Another related side story. My love for Patti Smith, like the majority of my sub cultural loves, have come from Marcus. I listened to her tender and abrasive mix of songs, the spiritual punk rock Queen. Marcus used the line “the sacred and the profane” to describe her, stolen from her own words at a show or interview. I had heard her on vinyl, tapes and cds. Watched video of her, seen endless photos of her. I found out she went to high school, a grade between, my biological mother and my aunt in Deptford, NJ. I had never seen her.

One cold December night in 1995, while living with Marcus, I passed on the opportunity to see not only Patti Smith but legend Bob Dylan at the greatest and at oldest (it has moved but still the same vibe from what I’ve heard) Philadelphia venues, the Electric Factory. I was in my depressive, isolation mode at the time. Sometimes I would create some original art in these modes and I felt this was one of those nights. Marcus felt different. He bugged and pestered me to go with him, he would pay for my ticket (I had no money and he had money back then), It will be one of the greatest experiences of my life. I fought for my right to pout and stay home.

He left. I was relieved. The thought did cross my mind when he and my other roommate went to see David Bowie on his Spider tour with Nine Inch Nails and I regret missing that one. I’ve seen both bands before but it was a different show. Marcus wasn’t even gone an hour and he came back home and burst in my room.

“I am not going to let you miss this one time event, possible the event of your life. I bought you ticket and you’re going back with me.” He said.

I was guilted into one of the best and the most spiritual rock n roll shows I have ever experienced. Patti was first. Marcus made sure we were almost front row. I can’t recall the exact set list but she lived up to her “sacred and profane” performance and lyrics. The deafening speakers in our ears, the crowds cheering all became distant sounds as I became one with Patti Smith, with Marcus, with God. I was disappointed when it was over, walking to the back of the Electric Factory when the more than legendary Bob Dylan hit the stage. I’ve had an on and off love for Bob Dylan and his music. Patti blew me away and the several times I’ve seen her since.

Reading Patti Smith’s stories of New York and her relationship with the controversial artist Robert Maplethorpe almost mirrors my own memories of Marcus and I, Patti and I, art and I, God and I. I can’t stop thinking about Marcus because of our mutual connection.

In 1996 or 97, Marcus and a couple other friends went to a record store for Patti Smith’s book signing. Marcus had been into drawing his favorite writers and rock stars on t-shirts with markers or Sharpies to wear and show off his art, Patti Smith, Keith Richards, Marc Bolan, Walt Whitman, and his personal favorite Jean Genet. Knowing that Genet was Patti Smith’s favorite writer, he brought it to the signing, to show her (I thought because it was his favorite shirt). When it was his turn to talk to her get the book signed he gave her the Genet t-shirt and told her he made it for her. A mountainous sacrifice for Marcus to part with that shirt with his painstaking time consuming beautiful art covering the front. When it was my turn I told her that my mother went to high school with her. She shot me a dirty look and said “oh yeah?” I was speechless and grabbed my copy of her poetry book signed and followed Marcus, giddy as a young artist showing his first work to his teacher. I left pissed at Patti Smith for a while but got over it when I thought of how stupid what I said was or could have been interpreted.

To the last time I saw him, he swears that she wore it on stage at a show he attended. He was so proud. I missed that show. Oh well.

A few nights ago I had a dream about William S Buroughs, one of my favorite writers Marcus had introduced me to. It’s a recurring dream I’ve had for over 10 years where I have conversations with Burroughs or I am chasing him down at a convention of some sort. The next day I read about Patti Smith having a dream about William S Burroughs, one of her mentors, and then actually meeting him the next day. This blew my mind. I knew it was Marcus at work inside me.

The next day I went to Social Services in Camden, NJ. In the waiting room there are clothes for people to take. It’s mostly women’s clothes so I never bothered looking. This day there were 3 boxes of books. I didn’t expect much besides best sellers that I wouldn’t read. First I spotted a Howard Stern Book I already own. Then an AC DC biography I grabbed and put to the side. Like it came down from heaven I spotted the name Jackie Curtis on the spine of one of the books. I grabbed it so fast and gave up on the AC DC one, knowing I might not read it with all of the books I’ve been acquiring. I’ve always owning beyond my reading capability. It started with my comic collection. I had to read everyone I owned. The book was called Superstar in a Housedress: the Life and Legend of Jackie Curtis. Jackie was one of the early Andy Warhol’s drag actors. There was Candy Darling, Holy Woodlawn and Jackie Curtis. You might know the names from the Lou Reed song Take A Walk On The Wild Side. He mentions them all by first name. The book came with a dvd documentary about Jackie Curtis. Once again I knew Marcus had something to do with it being my only friend that knows who Jackie Curtis is and my fascination with over the top drag queens. My favorite was Divine from the many John Waters’ films.

I was feeling sick all day so when I came home I relaxed and watched the documentary. I loved it. I learned a lot about the actor, the writer, the poet, the addict and the superstar by the name of Jackie Curtis.

I was looking for another movie to watch after the documentary. For some reason I watched Scarface, not having seen it in years. I figured after watching a documentary about an artistic genius drag queen superstar I needed to even it out with a movie about a Cuban druglord. I usually watch the featurettes and extras when I am finished. I did. The featurette made references to the original Howard Hawks’ Scarface movie from the 1930’s and the phrase “the world is yours” was used in both versions of Scarface.

After dreaming about transvestites, fame, writing, Patti Smith and Tony Montana, I awoke confused, groggy yet awake and ready for the day. “The World is Yours.” rang in the back of my mind. My morning rituals, when I don’t have to rush off anywhere, are to find some decent light music to listen to, drink coffee, write and read, alternating the reading and writing. I even alternate which novel, prose or poetry I write and the books I read. The Patti Smith biography, Just Kids has been winning out as my reading choice more and more.

I came upon the part of Patti and Robert’s life where they are living at the famous worn down Chelsea hotel in New York, home to celebrities (underground, big names and has-beens), junkies, prostitutes and everyone in between. They get in with the Andy Warhol crowd slowly by showing up every night at Max’s Kansas City another celebrity haunt. Patti meets Jackie Curtis and is asked to be in her latest avant-garde play called Femme Fatale playing a male role, playing opposite sex roles was common and almost mandatory in a Jackie Curtis production. Marcus at work again, I thought after reading this. My mind was blown further when I read a comparison of a neon sign Patti and Robert were looking at to a scene in “Howard Hawks’ movie Scarface where Paul Muni and his girl are looking out the window at a neon sign that said The World is Yours.”

I used to think Marcus was full of shit when he would tell me of his visions and special stories or that they only happened to him Now they are happening to me with Marcus there every step. I’m not the only one.

A few of his closest friends and even those connected with him from a distance are feeling his power, his life, and his soul. Some are in the form of lucid yet surreal recurring dreams while others actually see and feel him while conscious.

In life he wanted to be famous, to be remembered. In death he’s keeping his dream alive. He knows if he comes to me I will write about him and keep him alive.


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