20170222

Jesse Glass



New Century Skeltonics For JACK KEROUAC: A TED TALK

ENTER TED, A BALDING HIPSTER WEARING A LAB COAT, WHITE PANTS AND WHITE TENNIS SHOES, ABOUT 67.85 YEARS OLD, AND HIS DAUGHTER, A YOUNG WOMAN STILL IN HER 20’S, A FOLK-SINGER/ECO-ACTIVIST WITH A GUITAR. HER PROFESSIONAL STAGE NAME IS SHOULDER-HOLSTER. [APPLAUSE FROM AUDIENCE.] ENTER JACK KEROUAC’S BELOVED MOTHER, MEMERE, GRAY-HAIRED, WEARING A HOUSE DRESS AND AN APRON AND ATTEMPTING TO UNDERSTAND WHY SHE’S SUDDENLY ALIVE. SHE MAY WEAR A STUFFED CROW ON HER SHOULDER, BUT THIS IS OPTIONAL. SHE GINGERLY EASES HERSELF INTO A KITCHEN CHAIR IN FRONT OF AN OLD TV SET. [DEAFENING APPLAUSE.] SHE LOOKS AROUND, SHYLY SMILING, SLIGHTLY AWED, THINKING THAT PERHAPS THIS IS “QUEEN FOR A DAY,” OR “YOU BET YOUR LIFE,” OR “I’VE GOT A SECRET.”

MEMERE: Are you Groucho Marx?
TED: No, ma’m. I’m TED.
MEMERE: Are you Dorothy Kilgallen?
SHOULDER-HOLSTER: No ma’m, I’m Shoulder-Holster, a Folk-singing ECO-activist.
MEMERE: Is this the Steve Allen Show?
TED: No, ma’m this is a special TED TALK.
MEMERE: What the hell’s that?
[TED SHRUGS.]
MEMERE: Well, is this Heaven?
[TED AND SHOULDER-HOLSTER LOOKING AT THE AUDIENCE AND SPEAKING AT THE SAME TIME]: I don’t know.
MEMERE: I always thought I’d meet Hugh Downs in Heaven first thing. Where’s Hugh Downs?
OFF STAGE VOICE: Here I am!

[BLACK-OUT]

ACT I.

TED:

I am the hack
From the fishing smack
                              Who stayed in a shack
                                             With Jack Kerouac
                                                            Near the streetcar track
                                                                           That was pre-Road, and I
                                                                                          Knew that Jack by and by
                                                                                          Would be the famous one
                                                                                          Not just another bum
                                                                                          But a FIGURE OF OUR TIME,
                                                                                          transfiguring lit
                                                                                          even reinvigorating it
                                                                                          from where the false, Akademic
                                                                                          anemic pandemic
                                                                                          of college elitists
                                                                                          Van Dorens and Winters
                                                                                          and Lowells and Eliots
                                                                                          Shapiros and Nemerovs
                                                                                          Jarrells and other profs
                                                                                          had stranded
                                                                                          and branded
                                                                                          rank Individualism
                                                                                          wild spunk, Amerikan jism
                                                                                          as way out of order
                                                                                          as less-than-first-water
                                                                                          as barely pip-pip
                                                                                          what now we call hip
                                                                                          where one couldn’t go
                                                                                          without being in the know
                                                                                          about Latin and Greek
                                                                                          Et les autres classique-
                                                                                          s as the French say
                                                                                          and Love of another way
                                                                                          was found far away
                                                                           in the darkest shelf corner
                                                                           where a few could encounter
                                                                                          in meaningful mode
                                                                                          Verlaine and Rimbaud
                                                                                          Whitman and his beau
                                                                                          LGBT
                                                                                          (a new term to me)
                                                                                          the meaning of Gay
                                                                                          interest—but hey!
                                                                                          even that famous hick
                                                                           who jagged off in the tropic–
                                                                                          s, And wrote Moby Dick
                                                                                          was a whispered-of-topic.

                                                                                          Ass belly cunt and weed
                                                                                          cock, heroin and speed
                                                                                          stripping gears on a T-bird
                                                                                          revolutionized the Word
                                                                                          we know that right now
                                                                           but back then it was—like, WOW/
                                                                                          a secret Ka-pow!
[BLACK-OUT]

ACT II
                                                                           TED:

                                                                           Already Memere
                                                                           with her stainless steel hair
                                                                           sprawled in her chair
                                                                           wrote to Jack “take care”
                                                                           and that he could share
                                                                           their single bed
                                                                           now that Pop’s dead or fled
                                                                           just like in the old days
                                                                           when Jack played with marbles
                                                                           instead of with odd girls
                                                                           before Jack grew hair
                                                                           “Here, Here” and then “There”
                                                                           before his virility
                                                                           strained his ability.

                                                                           SHOULDER-HOLSTER:

                                                                           Muscled legs spread wide
                                                                           (she had nothing to hide).
                                                                           on the shrill TV; Tide
                                                                           commercials spun whitening
                                                                           Myths almost frightening.
                                                                           She gets up and stretches
                                                                           then curses the wretches
                                                                           her good son calls friends
                                                                           and always defends.
                                                                           Ginsberg she doesn’t trust

                                                                           MEMERE:

                                                                           (“ a nut-case Communist!”)

                                                                           S.H.:

                                                                           Burroughs who stinks of hash

                                                                           MEMERE:

                                                                           “But always has some cash,”

                                                                           S.H.:

                                                                           Needle marks up his arms

                                                                           MEMERE:

                                                                           “Mosquitoes bite him in swarms!”

                                                                           S.H.:

                                                                           Orlovsky who cannot think
                                                                           Corso who reeks of drink.

                                                                           MEMERE:

                                                                           “How could he run with them
                                                                           a good Catholic boy like him?
                                                                           Communists
                                                                           Anarchists
                                                                           Nancies and nihilists
                                                                           crooks and the Japanese
                                                                           girls bowing if you please
                                                                           offering strange disease
                                                                           along with men’s fantasies
                                                                           girls who dress up like men,
                                                                           hookers and Mexicans?
                                                                           They say Jack’s a crook
                                                                           but not in my ration book!
                                                                           who taught him to bugger
                                                                           to swing hugger-mugger
                                                                           and call it yab-yum?
                                                                           where did he learn that from?
                                                                           probably some street bum!
                                                                           or a black-listed chum!
                                                                           Do they think I’m dumb?
                                                                           Yes I’ve read his writing
                                                                           his notes, his inditing,
                                                                           his scribblings all
                                                                           since he started, this tall”

                                                                           TED:

                                                                           (she levels a moist hand
                                                                           raw from hot water/ “Spic ‘n Span”
                                                                           on the door-sill a penciled band
                                                                           plotting Jack’s yeasty growth.
                                                                           then growls forth another oath.)

                                                                           MEMERE:

                                                                           “By the mother of God
                                                                           my Jack is deserving
                                                                           of the Nobel award,
                                                                           but sometimes he’s unnerving.
                                                                           writing of pimps whores and drugs”

                                                                           S.H.:

                                                                           (She stops speaking of thugs
                                                                           and illicit drugs
                                                                           to adjust her jugs
                                                                           with a flurry of tugs
                                                                           checks the time and then shrugs.)

                                                                           MEMERE:

                                                                           “Why not write of pleasant things
                                                                           like authors in nice magazines
                                                                           Reader’s Digest, Family Circle?
                                                                           America’s a miracle
                                                                           we can’t pledge to enough
                                                                           why write this dirty stuff?
                                                                           Red, white and blue
                                                                           for me and you too!
                                                                           And that Neal Cassidy!
                                                                           A jail-bird, naturally—
                                                                           stealing cars
                                                                           sleeping in bars
                                                                           beneath the pool table
                                                                           to complete the fable;
                                                                           leaving his beautiful wife—
                                                                           to flick a switch-blade knife
                                                                           you call that a life?
                                                                           They all make me mad
                                                                           teaching Jack to be bad—.
                                                                           Snapping their fingers
                                                                           to be-bop singers
                                                                           on the radio
                                                                           shouting ‘Go man, Go!’
                                                                           blow, baby blow!
                                                                           making a real show
                                                                           ‘Looka me!’
                                                                           wherever they happen to go!
                                                                           Passing bad checks--
                                                                           I could have wrung their necks!
                                                                           Hop heads one and all!
                                                                           So ‘gonged-out’ one red eye-ball
                                                                           crosses the other—
                                                                           Jack and this so-called ‘brother’!”
                                                                           I was never Neal’s mother!

                                                                           TED:

                                                                           She spit-shines the trash can:

                                                                           MEMERE:

                                                                           “My Jack’s a better man!
                                                                           Ti-Jean got good grades!
                                                                           He was our private sage
                                                                           Writing page after page—
                                                                           What an imagination
                                                                           First-rate brain in the nation!
                                                                           He could have been a movie star,
                                                                           George Raft, Victor Mature—
                                                                           ‘cause his heart was pure!
                                                                           But I can’t talk no more
                                                                           ‘cause my throat is sore!
                                                                           Pardon me while I pray
                                                                           for God to take my pains away
                                                                           and for the Virgin Mary
                                                                           to help me lift and carry.”

                                                                           S.H.:

                                                                           She pulls out the Listerine
                                                                           she saw on the TV screen
                                                                           sips it like hot champagne
                                                                           then spits it down the drain.
                                                                           Now she’s cooking the great
                                                                           Canuck cuisine plate by plate
                                                                           she was Jack’s perfect mate
                                                                           early and late
                                                                           this lies beyond all debate.
                                                                           Jack and Memere were fate.
                                                                           Those fine cooking smells
                                                                           sustained Jack thru Bardo hells

                                                                           TED:

                                                                           If that rings any bells
                                                                           to those who’ve read the text
                                                                           of his Beat Buddha sutra, shelved next
                                                                           to a brail “Howl”
                                                                           then you can grokk Jack’s scowl
                                                                           in those final pictures
                                                                           of Jack wearing dentures
                                                                           but I knew him when
                                                                           we were studying Zen
                                                                           and there’s me again
                                                                           in the well-known shot
                                                                           of us smoking pot
                                                                           at City Lights
                                                                           (I’m the one dressed in tights).

INTERMISSION

TED:
And now, ladies and gentlemen, let’s put our hands together for SHOULDER-HOLSTER! [APPLAUSE.]

SHOULDER-HOLSTER:

Well, we only have time for one mighty ditty, so here’s “The Organ Grinder’s Song” from my Album, Empty for You: Shoulder-Holster Unplugged.

SINGS:

Meaning doesn’t matter much
But nothing else does either
So crowd around you witless bunch
And give your brains a breather

Can you reason? No you can’t!
Logic is old-fashioned
Can you write without such cant
As in your noggin’s fastened
By those modern studies types—
Pimps of every jargon
Who drive their students through the hoops
& Fleece them in the bargain!

So clap your hands and slap your brows
& say “by gum I thought so!”
Hang your brains upon the boughs
Of hat racks ‘cause you’re taught so
Poetry’s diminished now
Who cares about it anyhow?
I’ve heard the Text
Will get it next,
The written word’s a sacred cow!

Clear thinking is forbidden, dear,
As much a sin as killing
Fragmentation’s “scissor here!”
Is taught to all the willing.
Shakespeare’s gone the way of geese
Twain has done no better:
Any text must be suspect
Without a Marxist vetter!

So clap your hands and slap your brows
& say “by gum I thought so!”
Hang your brains upon the boughs
Of hat-racks ‘cause you’re taught so
Collaboration’s all the rage
For those who’ve “gone beyond the page”
Embrace a screen
To show you’re keen
& Soon you’ll be another Cage!

[NERVOUS LAUGHTER, A SCATTERING OF APPLAUSE]

[BLACK OUT]

ACT III

TED:

& Here is the dust
               and some of the rust
                              that rose in a gust
                                             from the famous, but lost
                                                            cook-out at Carolyn’s
                                                                           Neal was out barreling
                                                                                          Ken Kesey’s, “Further”
                                                                                          American murder
                                                                                          proceeded apace
                                                                                          with progress in space
                                                                                          I’m speaking of ‘Nam, dear
                                                                                          that was a time of fear
                                                                                          you weren’t even born then
                                                                                          to witness this Nation
                                                                                          slaughter and burn
                                                                                          then land on the moon
                                                                                          clap claws and skip
                                                                                          at the end of that trip.
                                                                                          Do you believe me now?
                                                                                          Time is Krishna’s cow.
                                                                                          Handsome Jack would have told you
                                                                                          “Let the dharma enfold you”
                                                                                          and sleep in a tent
                                                                                          and drink till you’re bent
                                                                                          and write about love
                                                                                          and dance when you move
                                                                                          to something called bop
                                                                                          and jive when you stop
                                                                                          and grin when they scat
                                                                                          and wear a French hat.
                                                                                          He wrote about hope
                                                                                          his most quoted trope
                                                                                          was a “Poo-bear” God.
                                                                                          Which drug-blistered lobe
                                                                                          or alien probe
                                                                                          did that one erupt from?
                                                                                          at best it’s just ho-hum
                                                                                          weak sentimentality
                                                                                          bathos, banality
                                                                                          suckers them in
                                                                                          to the Kerouac industry

[BLACK-OUT]

ACT IV

TED:

               I had to squelch
                              My need to belch
                                             in front of Lew Welch.
                                                            The next day I went sailin’
                                                                           with Philip Whalen.
                                                                                          He thought I was keen
                                                                                          as a piece of baleen
                                                                                          on the silver screen.
                                                                                          I called him “The Dean.”
                                                                                          He’d read “Paris Spleen”
                                                                                          in the original French
                                                                                          as he sat on a bench
                                                                                          in old North Beach.
                                                                                          He’d found his niche
                                                                                          dressed in his robes
                                                                                          writing his odes
                                                                                          teaching his kinda Zen
                                                                                          to all kinds of men
                                                                                          and women.
                                                                                          He wasn’t a drag, though
                                                                                          he lived in a Zen-do
                                                                                          wearing shoes with a hole
                                                                                          on his own Beat patrol
                                                                                          thinking aloud
                                                                                          before he bowed
                                                                                          to the adoring crowd.
                                                                                          He moved in a cloud
                                                                                          of great-smelling incense
                                                                                          bought for a few cents
                                                                                          (or in England one or two pence.)
                                                                                          I haven’t seen him since
                                                                                          his first great collected
                                                                                          poems were selected
                                                                                          for the “Mother Shucker” Award
                                                                                          of the year”—I was floored
                                                                                          but ultimately bored.
                                                                                          When I heard the good word
                                                                                          I was in a boat, moored
                                                                                          at Stinson beach, by a woven cord.
                                                                                          I ran to the phone
                                                                                          but could get no dial tone,
                                                                                          I felt so alone
                                                                                          when I put in my quarter
                                                                                          plucked out of the water
                                                                                          (I’d seen it out-gleam
                                                                                          the waves’ pearly sheen.
                                                                                          & I fished it out
                                                                                          without making a scene)
                                                                                          so I tried again
                                                                                          when I got back to town
                                                                                          and stopped for a drink
                                                                                          from Vesuvius’ sink
                                                                                          and to wash up a bit
                                                                                          (‘cause I’d started to stink
                                                                                          from my left arm pit.
                                                                                          Then I took a wild shit.)
                                                                                          Whalen’s words are so deft
                                                                                          if I don’t read them daily
                                                                                          I’m truly bereft.
                                                                                          Of Beats one and all
                                                                                          I’m here standing tall
                                                                                          because I can recall
                                                                                          a time when I hiked to see
                                                                                          Rexroth read poetry
                                                                                          and helped Gary Snyder
                                                                                          hunt down a spider
                                                                                          that bit him on the thigh
                                                                                          when he was eating apple pie.

ENTER A VERY DEAD JACK KEROUAC WRAPPED IN AMERICAN FLAG AND WEARING SUN GLASSES. HE LOOKS LIKE A HAPPY ZOMBIE. [FIERCE APPLAUSE.]

JACK KEROUAC:

Is that you Ted?

TED:

Jack, I thought you were dead!

KEROUAC:

Well, I guess I am, TED.

TED:

Did you hear all that I said?

KEROUAC:

It’s right here in my head!

TED:

Jack, this is my daughter!

KEROUAC:

She’s a tall, cool glass of water!
Nice to meet you miss,
May I have a k…

TED:

So what brings you back?

KEROUAC:

Well, I’m Jack Kerouac,
arrived from the boney back
of old Baron Samedi
whom I rode piggy back and helped with his Santa sack. He’
s Beater than you or me,
and …I dig (as you well know) all poetry
and yours is pretty special, Ted

TED:

I grokk what you just said
so much my cheeks are turning bright red!

KEROUAC:

And your poetic forehead is also red Ted …
I recall way back
We lived in a shack

S.H.:

Near a fishing smack?

KEROUAC:

I see you’ve kept track!
But now I’d like to tie off the cut vein of this verse
which seems like an endless curse
though I’ve written much worse
before I return to my Oldsmobile hearse
               and please the Kerouac Nation
               with a long-predicted, FINAL BEATIFICATION!!!!!!

[DRUM ROLL BEGINS. THEN KEROUAC RECITES THE FOLLOWING WHILE CLIMBING A LADDER TO THE TOP.]

KEROUAC:

So take me up
You ages.
I climb the
Transparent
Ladder
Of the wind
Into the
Yes & No rain!
I dip my
Poet’s Prehensile Apprehension
Into the slot
In the belly
Of Things-In-
Themselves & hear
The sound of
Worlds worlding
As I clear
The Ground of
Being for
The Work
That must
Be done
For Men &
Women
Of the 21st
Century
To be
Truly
Themselves.

& I didn’t
Have to stay dead
To do this!
I’m beloved
By Nobodaddy
So much!
I can still
Like Buddha
Attend
Great parties
Given in my
Honor if
I must. In-
Stead, let
Me look
Down upon
You from
My ever-increasing
Stack of post-
Humously pub-
Lished, pomes
Sketches, doodlings
Plays, letters,
And novels! I
Stand like
A ladder
To all
Lusty
Hands. This
Is my ascension.
I will not
Return.
Recall my
Sexiness, still
Aimed like a
Gun at the
Pimple on
Your brows? All
Questions are
Answered. I
Decree it.
See the stars
Clarified
By the lenses
In my palms
And the slit
In my side?
I always
Knew I was
Destined for
This. I knew
I would earn
My reward
If I worked
Hard, saved
Every written
scrap, said
Prayers,
Loved my
Ma,
& Cultivated
Connections!

[KEROUAC BALANCES AT THE TOP OF THE LADDER, PULLS NOTEBOOKS AND SCRAPS OF PAPER AND MANUSCRIPTS AND PICTURES OUT OF HIS SHIRT, PANTS POCKETS, AND CROTCH, SHOUTING OUT THE NAMES OF PUBLISHERS. HOLDS THE AMERICAN FLAG OUT LIKE WINGS AND JUMPS. LANDS ON AN OLD MATTRESS WITH THE WORDS “TRULY BEAT” PAINTED ON IT. [DEAFENING APPLAUSE.] MEMERE HUGS JACK AND FRENCH KISSES HIM. JACK WRAPS THEM BOTH IN THE AMERICAN FLAG. TED AND SHOULDER-HOLSTER HOLD UP SIGNS THAT SAY “BEAT FOREVER!” AND “AIN’T THAT SOMETHING?” [NIAGARAS OF APPLAUSE!] KEROUAC AND MEMERE WALK OFF STAGE HOLDING HANDS. BOTH SHOUT: “BUY JACK’S NEW COLLECTED LIMERICKS PUBLISHED BY THE AMERICAN LIBRARY AND ALSO HIS “ADVENTURES OF CLIO THE CITY KITTY” JACK’S NEW EARLIEST DISCOVERED NOVEL WRITTEN WHEN HE WAS BARELY 9 YEARS OLD BUT “A MASTERWORK OF BUDDHA WISDOM THAT SHOWS GREAT INCARNATIONAL POTENTIAL” ACCORDING TO ALLEN GINSBERG AT THE LAST SUMMER PAN-NAROPA SÉANCE AND SOON AVAILABLE FROM SIMONIZED AND SCHUSTER’D.]

TED:

That’s the mark of great poetry
if you ask me
some real Necromancy
bringing the dead back so you can see
the masters of post-post-post-modern literacy
and I ought to know
as these words ably show
I can go go go!
where only silk Skelton
once danced his Skeltonics
I dance them too in my muscular-rap-licks
that at first glance may seem an awkward meta-prance
but with the right music this old man will dance
with the gamest gals & guys here, I’ll quadruply enhance
                                                                           the scientific atmosphere.
                                                                           for I can foot the chicken wing
                                                                           far better than Sting
                                                                           and that old man Jagger—
                                                                           I can run, stand or stagger
                                                                           much better than he does
                                                                           and I’m not just a bragger
                                                                           for spoken or sung
                                                                           by a poet well-hung
                                                                           with poetic lore
                                                                           will prove not to bore
                                                                           those on chairs or rolling on the floor

                                                                                                                                       END.



Jesse Glass writes: "This play almost appeared at the Boog City Poets Theater in NYC, a year or so ago but they couldn’t find anyone to play Ted’s daughter, Shoulder Holster. The play is written in Skeltonics and is a critique of the Beat industry."
 
 
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1 Comments:

Blogger Lauren Thompson said...

100% readable
100% pleasurable
100% right on the nose

There's your dagger!

Robert Thompson

11:52 AM  

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