Poems by Jack Henry

into the abyss

we are all orphans
now
lost in the desert
alone in a crowd
clichés all
but still
buried in deafening truth –

we used to walk
together
in times of conflict and chaos
in times of celebration and survival
but those days
i fear
are gone
those days
but a memory

we are split
divided
a thousand tribes
balancing on a thin
wooden beam
a beam that crosses
a chasm between yesterday
and tomorrow

we struggle with balance
maybe the beam will widen
into two or four or
enough for us
all to cross

without falling deep
into the abyss

blur

i sit at a desk
in an office
behind a door without lock or key
people come and go
ask me questions –

i stare out my window
a damning sun
bounces
on fat beams of translucent smog –

jesus cleans
his fingernails with a switchblade
his smile fat and wide
his two front teeth missing –

our eyes catch, he nods,
i smile, sigh, and turn away –
i failed as a poet and suffer
a similar fate
with jobs and offices
and windows –

indifferent past, present, future
crumbling worlds……………. do not stir me
echoes of revolution………… do not provoke
fascist wannabe dictators ..….do not incite me

i wait on darkness
on echoes
on a comfortable space
where each act has a price tag

and every sigh makes sense

a demon in my pocket

there’s a
demon
in my pocket.

sometimes
he talks
to me,
whispers
bad ideas
into my head.

this demon
has ideas and
when i say
yes
to his ideas
all the other
demons
come out
to play.

sometimes
my demon
and her demon,
the woman at the bar,
(or man, depends on the bar)
talk.

suddenly there are
too many demons
but, for the moment,

i’m not alone.

Los Angeles Terminal (Poems 1971-1980) by Doug Draime reviewed by Jack Henry

Before reading Los Angeles Terminal, I couldn’t pick Doug Draime out of a poet line-up to save my sorry ass. Blame that on my lack of being a true reader of the underground press. Doug started out in the 60’s and has been a part of the underground arena since. I had no idea what I missed out on.

Covert Press has put out another great chapbook in Los Angeles Terminal. It does what a good chapbook is supposed to do: it makes you hunger for more. Doug Draime is a true poet, one of exquisite talent, insight and observation. He is the bridge between the last Beats, Bukowski and modern writers. He is the poet I want to be.

When I first read this book I got pissed off. There are poets that challenge me, poets that make me laugh and not in a good way, and poets that make me want to shove a sharpened pencil in my eye. Doug made me get my sharpener out.

Twenty-seven poems with acetylene focus outline a darker image of Los Angeles. For those that live here you already know it’s a shithole, after reading this book, others will find out. But the color and life put into each line make the visit worthwhile.

More than a few poems stick out.

From Steak & Eggs Special, a haunting look at the search and fear of companionship in the big city.

a girl in a leather dress
a stranger
sits down across from me in a booth

you havin’ the special? she asked
yeah i say
i am too she says but adds:
separate checks ok?
ok i agree

It ends w/a kicker.

then she takes her shoe off
& gently puts
a slender
black-nyloned foot
against my crotch

There is certain loneliness and longing in LA that Doug captures well.

From All I knew About Her…

I knew she
chanted at a
box she called
an altar,
words in Japanese,
she didn’t
know the
meaning of.
I knew she
feared the
darkness &
ran from the light.
I knew, I knew,
the sound of
her tears.

There’s also a great deal of insanity in Los Angeles, which might be true of most cities, but in my travels I have never seen as many crazy people as I do here in LA. In A Night On The Boards Doug discusses the insanity of trying to get a beer and a sandwich, how reality can explode and mix w/the lunacy of survival.

…Someone laughed as Mary spilled a
pitcher of beer
on her hot new satin dress.
oh, jesus, i thought, all this shit
for a couple of free beers
& a sandwich?

The last poem is perhaps the best, in my opinion. Los Angeles Terminal: After A Friend’s Suicide Attempt. It’s a piece that harbors a sense of despair, a sense of detachment that is so common here.

…What we thought were smoke singles
(or whatever they were) have stopped
and now there is only the smog.

Indeed.

If you are a slacker asshole like me that never read Doug Draime you need to change that right now. Go to http://www.covertpoetics.com and buy this book. It is well worth your money, and it will make you appreciate truly great writing.

~ Jack Henry deadbeatpress.com