“Sleeves Where Legs Should Go”

Today I did a reading at The Last Bookstore, along with some other talented folks: Justin Maurer from the Clorox Girls, Gabriel Hart from Jail Weddings, Kenneth Sonny Donato of A Poet’s Guide to the Bars, Jean-Paul Garnier of Loopool, Gitane Demone from Christian Death, James Carman from Images, Marianne Stewart from White Murder, and Zache Davis from being just an awesome punk rocker with awesome bike ridin’ LEGS!

For my own turn at bat, I read an album review of Johnny O’Donnell’s band, and also an original poem that I just came up with, entitled “Sleeves Where Legs Should Go.” I never thought the poem would be received so well, but people seemed to really love it, so I’m feeling confident enough to post it here. It’s a naked poem, and I hope to revisit it in the future, but here’s what I read.

Sleeves Where Legs Should Go

Sleeves where legs should go.
Albums stacked, strewn around the coffee table.
Surface stained. Wine red. Bottle rings. Scotch in my glass.
Room stuffed with sounds stuffed into sleeves.
Slides out like worried breath in, hhhhhHHHHH.
Egyptian Lover.
UH-ch-DE-n-NEE…
Sound where people should go, person once was.
Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, Stiv Bators:
Real people.
Not to make tea for, rub the back of.
To giggle like an 8 year old, sometimes like a mule. Hiiighn hiiighn!
Breaking her hand on the back of my head.
9 a.m. wake up, crust-nosed, half-asleep trip to the pound for what? Lhasa-apso mix.
Saved its life. Classes at the Rose Bowl. I taught it, him, to jump, lie down, shake my hand.
Hugging buddy at 3 a.m.
Now in Portland.
“My son calls another man ‘daddy.’”
Pressed tight between Bobby Bare and Tammy Wynette.
“It’s ain’t love, but it ain’t bad.”
Ani DiFranco said that.
Wiltern 1997.
NO SHAME.

Sitting, kitchen.
Daytime, dark.
Thick curtains block That Lucky Old Sun.
(Rapist.)
Bottle caps cluttered around the recycling bag.
Meal, not mine, smeared across the counter top.
Bukowski would be proud, though probably listening to Schubert. Not “Freak-A-Holic.”
Living room impossible.
Ikea right angles, rectangular prisms bristly with spines.
Slight grey cobweb above the wall heater, shaking gently like a grandmother’s arm.
Spinster at the mixing board.
Jerry Lee Lewis’s Old Tyme Country Music.
Younger than he is now.
Alone at the board.
Albums make no sound on their own.
Nothing.
Herzog native, Bible against his ear to hear the word of God. “It doesn’t speak!”
Nothing, just a man in a room.
Flotsam. Jetsam.
Line worker at Bama Pie, 1972, liked the song she heard on the Flip Wilson show. Twenty years under baseball bats in the garage, then estate sale, then a plastic sleeve, sticker saying forty dollars.
Now under 90’s Jabberjaw collection and Gnip Gnop.
Thousands of stories. Stories sticking, skipping, silent.
4 minutes, 33 seconds.
Super-saturated. New foot every two weeks.
Infinity plus 1 foot still infinity.
The void.
Liner notes on their backs—poetry.
10 thousand poems.
100 thousand songs.
Every turn of phrase.
Metronomes,
Gyorgi Ligeti’s hundred.
Clack. Clack-clack-clack, clack clack.
Arrhythmic.
Like shook flint rocks.
In a jar.
No spark.
No purpose.
Nothing.

The sun rolled around heaven wrong.
Rain.
Time was I’d sit out in the yard. Beneath the gazebo when the rain comes.
Now it’s not for me. Cuz…
Lester Bangs: “I’m a ghoul.”
No, whats-his-name in Almost Famous.
Cough syrup and a hermit crab.
Redhead as grey as the sky, scowling, jaw clenched, tight as the living room.
Sighing like a metal chair pulled along a cement floor.
Tight as time.
Wasted.
Permanent silence.
Packaged silence.
Infinite silence.
A black hole in a black hole.

But this record.
Save for a Rainy Day.
Mr. Dean Torrence.
Poor man’s Pet Sounds.
Very poor man.
First song, shitty cover.
Yellow Balloon.
Only I would have this.
A gift from someone who knows me best.
On the couch, the sounds of the record thunder, but gently.
“Like a Summer Rain.”

D. M. Collins

D. M. Collins is a journalist and writer based in Los Angeles.

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