CCW ( / )

Sonja Watched

the entrance to the Surf Hotel
a prostitute but more than just that.
“Bad night
to be walking the cold ground, ” I said.
“Where’d you get the idea
it’s easy being alive? ”
When a guy crossed the street
she simply said, “I have to go”
and followed him into the hotel
where I watched as she undressed
her golden body.
“The Voices torment me
so what I want to know:
Will electroshock
do me any good? ” Jack said,
to interrupt my reverie.
“The current goes
from your brain to your balls
and they end up like little burnt chestnuts
stay away from the wires.”
“Well, then, I’m finished.”
“Finish your soup and watch the storm
do like the Doctor.”
And we devoured our barley soup
in silence and stared at the snow
heaving Heaven onto the earth
transforming
the broken streets of Coney Island into
an endless stretch of pure land
untrammeled and gorgeous
a born again
Garden of Eden in white
the troubled world at last gone serene.
Sonja returned
fifteen minutes work
at two dollars a minute
but for her money didn’t exist
except to purchase heroin
which kept something from her
and that was all she wanted.
“Bernstein, can you help me with a five
so I can get straight the whole night? ”
“If I give you this five
will everything be all right? ”
“Yeah.”
I gave her the five
hands soft, warm, tender
Thereupon she lunged into the whirling polar tempest
and began to march across the street
but before she reached the other side
she turned
and blew me a kiss
while the wind pummeled her hair
and the snow slapped her face
until she reached
a small man in a blue parka.
They spoke
impossible to hear their speech
but when she returned to Nathan’s
I had some idea of their conversation
and handed her another five.
After she had gone
I asked Jack, “Do you want to know the answer to your question? ”
“About the electroshock? ”
“I already told you about the electroshock.”
“Then about what, Doctor? ”
“About why life is suffering
and how to end suffering.”
I hiked to the center of Nathan’s
and howled, “How many of you want to know why life is suffering
and how to end suffering? ”
To my surprise silence greeted me.
“It’s so simple when you hear it
you won’t believe it.”
Then with a tremendous roar
I emptied myself utterly into “MU”
a one syllable Koan given
to Rinzai Zen students.
I turned to Jack and commanded,
“Do MU shouting with me
it’s your only chance for the good life. SHOUT.”
“I can’t.”
“Leap into the sound
until you and the sound are One.”
Then I hurled myself into a thirty second wail
to show Jack how it’s done
finally staring at him
and whispering, “Like that.”
He didn’t.
I trudged outside the snow still fell
I looked at it
this snow seemed to be everywhere
and without end
yet I knew it would never empty
the ocean
or overflow the ocean.
I thought to go inside
and tell Jack another
Secret of the Universe
of the Perfection of our home
balanced in the Void amidst stars
which we could never separate from
even if mind became encapsulated
by the chatter of punishing Voices,
but I had already enlightened him enough for one night.
It was his turn
to do
for himself.

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Comments (4)

Charles: This is still another of your gripping slices of New York life. It is compelling and touching. It stands in the great tradition of Kerouac, Ferlinghetti and the beat poets. Have a very Merry, Happy Christmas, Chanukah! Hugh
Charles, what can I say, a powerful narrative full of warmtrh and humanity. The lack of judgementalism; the way that it's almost as if the narrator is saying 'whatever! ', is superb. 'This is the way the world will end... not with a bang but a wimper'
I'm utterly amazed by this poem. It's so real-life, Charles. Your words held me from the first line to the last. Very powerful. Thank you. Warmest regards, CJ
Wow. Your work just amazes me. The images pull me into the page. You bring these people to life in such a poignant way, sad but also with a hope. This is real Charles. You make it so real.