Tuesday, December 05, 2006

3 poems by Craig Lavin



I love it when
the President’s playing golf.
People complain,
“Shouldn’t he be busy?
He is responsible for the nation after all!”
As if it’s the intelligent
opinion to have, but
I love it when the president
and the entire fucking Congress
plays golf because it means
he isn’t in the White House
and they aren’t in the Supreme Court
making any new laws.

I burnt myself a few days ago.
The kitchen cupboards turned to charcoal
like a tree hit by lightning
and my forearm is a gigantic water blister.
An oil fire.

Through a previous childhood accident
involving a gallon of gas in a can,
a match and the cement driveway
I considered my personal fire painting canvas,
I became intimately involved with
the medicinal benefits of
A gel to rub on burns.
It doesn’t allow the skin to breathe.
No oxygen.
No pain.

I go to the local drugstore,
wince and shuffle to the pharmacy counter
and ask where they keep the Sylvadine.
This obscene prick in a white lab coat
tells me I need a prescription.
I ask him, “Why,
don’t you have any?”
He says, “Yes,
but I can’t sell you Sylvadine
without a note from your physician.”
I swing the bloated blood balloon
attached at my elbow
and it lands on his little chrome bell.
It stings like being hit
by lightning all over
I ask him if he thinks
I’m fucking kidding.
Through sadistic shit eating
pearly whites he tells me,
“I’m sorry, there’s nothing
I can do!”
Something he, I
and any other creature
with half a grain of common sense
is complete bullshit.

I start hollering
and people look at me
like I’m crazy,
“Are people robbing grandmothers
to support hundred dollar a day
Sylvadine habits?
Is there a chronic epidemic of babies
born addicted to Sylvadine?
Four out of five junkies prefer
Sylvadine to coke and heroin!
You start small,
simply rubbing it on
and before you know it
you’re cooking it in a spoon
for the winking needle.”

I storm out of the store
and call a doctor friend of mine
in Texas.
(We went to med-school together.
I dropped out
and headed west
to become an actor.)
He tells me to see a doctor
and I tell him, NO.
Absolutely, not.
Now that the days of
lollipops and balloons
are over,
with the exception of my
dentist who’s liberal
with the nitrous oxide,
I’m not going.
When he realizes I’m serious
about never setting foot
inside a doctor’s office
he finally tells me,
“Toothpaste works the same.
Serves the same function."
This time I go to the neighborhood
liquor store and start taking
all the tops off
the tubes of toothpaste
to make sure I won’t have to walk around
smelling of wintergreen, cool mint
or one of those other ridiculous scents
some toothpaste Nazi in a lab
believes the human mouth should smell like.
I bought some with baking soda
for $1.25 and some discount
tequila for $12.00.
I went back to my kitchen
rubbed the toothpaste on my inflamed forearm
and wrapped gauze around the wound.
I made a batch of margaritas
poured one and stuck
the pitcher in the freezer.
It worked fine.

Even if it didn’t work
there’s no way in hell you could get me
to see a doctor.
Like any other group
they’re inherently evil.
All groups are inherently fucking evil.
I love tennis,
it’s my passion,
but you couldn’t get me into a room full of tennis
players for five fucking minutes.
And I’m talking about a group
as passive as tennis players.
Doctors are worse.

Consider the facts that
1) They’re controlled by the government
The FDA who’d patent lettuce
and force you to get a script
for a Caesar salad
if it’d make them a fucking nickel.

2)They’re inhumane.
Medical students are required to take
a course to learn how to
make a patient feel
inferior, so you or I won’t ask
for a drug whose manufacturer
didn’t pay for the Doctor’s family’s
all-inclusive Caribbean cruise
or attempt any other question
that might slow down
the office door
revolving with clients
whose pockets bulge with
Blue Cross charge cards
eager to be ran.

I know. I was Pre-Med.
Texas A&M.
I experienced first hand the training
those entrusted by the state
to keep society
healthy go through.
During one of my forums
with three hundred students
and one instructor at the helm,
(a seasoned physician
lecturing on bone spurs or halitosis),
a young man had the misfortune of
experiencing his first epileptic fit
with the good fortune
of being seated in the front row
enabling him to convulse
at the honorable doctor’s feet.
Surely, for assistance,
there could be no place a person’d rather be
in such a crisis.

But, instead of helping this eighteen year old
boy and getting a spoon
or sticking his fingers
in the poor kid’s mouth
so he wouldn’t bite his tongue off,
the honorable doctor immediately
gave the paroxysm his undivided attention,
changing the topic at hand to describe,
systematically, the stages
of this poor boy’s fit.
Seizing the opportunity to expound
on his benevolent wisdom
and unfurl his peacock feathers
with their all-seeing eyes.

Then came the lab animals,
who didn’t pay tuition.
I never went to Vietnam,
ironically, thanks to a doctor
I knew from my pre-med days
who, thank Buddha, Vishnu, and Christ
randomly happened to be on the other side
of the ominous curtain
when I went for my physical.
If it weren’t for him
I most definitely would have been
tiptoeing through a field with
blossoms of flying shrapnel.
Trying to convince the shrink
I was gay and crazy didn’t work.
By the time I got to him
he’d seen the act more times
then New York tourists
have seen Cats.
Even though, now, I realize,
though I didn’t then,
I wasn’t really acting.
What I’m getting at is
the dissection labs and…

I love cats. I’ve always loved cats.
Had cats I would kill for.
Scooter Pie. That’s my cat now.
A miniature replica of any of the larger species.
Tigers and leopards are big cats.
The way they act and move are exactly the same.
The way Scooter Pie crouches in tall grass
stalking an unaware bird
and catches this, unapproachable by human hands,
thing, with the ability to fly
or the way she deals with people.
She can’t be bothered.
I can sit and watch Scooter Pie for hours.
People are shit.
Cats are beautiful.

They’d bring caged cats in.
We had to operate on them.
You take any cat
and put it in a strange environment
it isn’t going to cooperate.
I had to pet the cats
and say nice kitty
and get them to trust me
and relax.
Then, I had to stick a fucking mask
over its nose and mouth.
Gas it.
Cut it open,
perform a bypass,
remove its pancreas,
sew it up
and promptly throw it in a garbage bin
with a black and yellow
biohazard symbol on it.
It didn’t take me long to realize
the medical profession wasn’t for me.

So, I moved to LA
to become an actor.
And if this isn’t the most ridiculous fucking place.
The other night my neighbors from Argentina
were having a party.
About ten-thirty pm
helicopters start circling
with spotlights. The police
spill out of flashing
cars, bang on the door with truncheons
and force themselves in the house
treating people in their fifties and sixties
who’ve flown halfway across the world
like animals.
I can hear
their confused screams
from my front porch stairs
where I’m stopped from
interfering by a woman with her hand
on a gun at her hip
who asks me to please go
back inside my house.

You never see that in other countries.
Neighbors either join in or they don’t.
They certainly don’t call the fucking cops
who have no idea what’s going on,
except that some prick
with a rusty lead pipe up his ass
decided to make a phone call
and get not only squad cars,
but helicopters to terrorize
decent middle-aged people
trying to enjoy themselves
during a family reunion.
But, of course, I’m sure there are laws
that clearly state,
“People are not allowed to do whatever
they want in their own fucking house.”
and support evil bastards that can’t
mind their own business who feel the need
to cause those
who might otherwise enjoy themselves,

So, when I hear people complain
that the President’s playing golf,
“shouldn’t he be busy working with Congress,”
I’ll offer to pay his green fees
so the White House can remain
closed permanently.




Rimbaud and Verlaine look like
the Bradys next to us.
Their gun and knife wounds
are Alice’s cellophane wrapped brownies
on a plate
sitting on our grizzled kitchen counter.

And that’s the problem with you.
Wrapped in your prom dress
altered into a mermaid costume
for Halloween.
Sucking your thumb in the closet
laundry basket
with pink fuzzy sweaters
and dirty socks
embroidered with colored balloons
for me to hunt out
at four in the morning
like an Easter egg.

You turn one evening into several holidays.

Seeing you now
with a black wig on,
a belligerent Cleopatra,
in my bar,
three pyramids from reality,
I realize Dr. Daddy spoon-feeding you
percocets, since that time
he broke your arm
when you were seven and old
and the forklift
that arrives at your medicine cabinet
twice a month
don’t seem to be helping.

Now, you’re misinterpreting
what I’m saying,
as a person,
I like you a lot cuz
you’re an odd girl.
And you’re ungirl like.
You say, “Fuck off.”

Did I thank you
for the roast beef sandwiches
with nuclear mustard,
and the bucket of Pepsi
with pebble ice
like fresh hail
when I was broke?
Even if you owed me
for all those steak dinners
you promptly vomited
in the restaurant toilet.
You could have ordered a Nicoise salad
and saved me a couple bucks.
I meant to
thank you.
Can I walk you home?




Holding a bouquet of violets
beneath the leer of a fichus
in a white lobby
by a pay phone
that doesn’t take
incoming calls.