Fri 3 Oct 2008
Come gather ’round cats and kittens while I laddle a little beat poetry into your soul waffle iron.
Here’s seven slabs from my book of beatnik poems entitled Burma Signs Express: Observational Poetic Hogwash bled from Skids Turmoil. Don’t look for it on Amazon or in Barnes & Noble, it’s published by copy machines I’ve passed along the way on my career path.
The backstory. I worked a couple crappy ad jobs, got fired, saw an ad in AD AGE for “Circus Marketing Directors”, laughed with a pal in a bar about how funny it’d be if I applied for it (sweet beer courage), applied for it, interviewed, got the job and ran away and joined the circus. I traveled ahead of the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus Big Top and pimped the show in glamorous locals like Methuen, MA, Oneonta, NY, Bluefield, WV, Greenwood, MI, Port Arthur, TX– you get the drift.
I was the lonely carny man, a stranger in town living in cheap motels and hunkered over plates in greasy spoons slurping weak coffee and fighting the madness of loneliness. A young man trapped in a Tom Waits world.
I did that gig for a circus season and came back to reality. Then, at the tender age of 23, finally got around to reading Jack Keoruac’s “On The Road”. Having just come off the road, the manic prose of that way gone daddy was like angels blasting my eardrums out. I had heart palpitations. There were times I had to put the book down. Had to, man, lest I bust.
I had always suspected I was born in the wrong time. Always thought I was born too late. I was late to the beatnik party and beat was what I felt I was. I was young man out of time.
So for the next year and a half, I casually explored my beat soul: working my ad job by day and exploring my beat world by night. I wrote 96 of these beat poems, assembled them in an order that made some sense to me and called it “Burma Signs Express” because like the old Burma Shave signs that were used along the road for so many years, together these poems would tell a story. Maybe they did, I don’t know, but the beat journey was fun (and much cheaper than therapy).
Oh, and the name “Skids Turmoil”, well, artsy fartsy types call writing under a different identity a nom de plume (pardon my French). I call it a fun beat name. These poems were written on an ancient 1950′s IBM electric typewriter with a gorgeous font and erratic key striking pressure. I think the machine added to the beat soul of the project.
Here then are seven swatches, seven signs along the road. Maybe they’ll add up to something for you, dig.