Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Jeremy Toombs writes

See What Happens

See what happens.
The best reason for things is
for leading to feeling transcending
See what happens
not eating for a while: the stomach
working on itself, turning, turning.

See what happens
seeing a blind woman
begging, holding a bowl
your own fingers turning the bills
in your pockets thinking:
I have only big bills, and
reading Kerouac thinking.
See what happens
three months no pen to paper.
Reading philosophy.
thinking thinking thinking thinking
thinking I’m thinking too much.
I stop. And forget to do things
like eating, drinking.
See what happens
turning off words, seeing strangers
faces in closed eye visions with thought
preceding language, expressions conveying
meaning some even mean as my
conscience slaps across
my face leaving red handprints
like sunspots and burning all the while like
red and green but blue, mostly.
See what happens
with empty pockets and drunken
leaving, feeling maybe she will
remember something. Feeling
maybe a woman can love when
evidence is blatantly to the
contrary. I have never
seen this. Only a simulacrum
and distorted at that as though
through glasses too thick or through
the wrong end of a rifle scope.
Everything exists though: through
through through heartbeats and
brainwaves reaching for explanation, only
seeing the proof of agape in the polarity of
unconditional hate.
                        See what happens
when understanding stands still,
unallowing me to move: I’m
standing standing smoking
cigarettes on city street sidewalks
inner schism between heart and brain:
that old agon. What good is knowing?
What good the knowledge that things
fall apart, blow apart at times;
the shrapnel blunted or sharp
knocking my head over, piercing the
breastbone. What good
to know that it’d be better
to pull out the heart and set it
afire, running through alleyways
and avenues my hands burning, smoke burning
my nose. What good knowing
that knowing is a non-entity as
soon as feeling rushes in taking
the air from the chest; breath gone.
Such cruelty that
pleasure is bookended by anxious
pipe wrenching anticipation then the one
moment’s perfection toppled by inevitable
leaving brought on by insecure hated jealousy
leading to can’t sleep 37 cigarettes
and bourbon bottle blues:
that old healing game.

See what happens
taking refuge in blues harp solos:
Baby do you wanna go?
troubles gone blues
Life can be restricted into freedom of sound:
sight gone, smell gone, taste gone, touch gone
save for lips tongue cheeks bulging collapsing
breath creating life blows spading
inward into innards.
One day I’ll never stop
playing, never stop playing, the beat continuing in
my head. How long baby, how long?
Until my breath falls down/ harp reeds broken in
my reprieve.


  1. "inner schism between heart and brain: that old agon"... In Greek drama, particularly "Old Comedy" of the 5th century BCE, agon referred to a contest or debate between two characters, an actor and the chorus, or between two actors with half of the chorus supporting each. But more generally the term came to signify the conflict on which a literary work turns; to a contest in athletics, particularly the Olympic Games; to a mythological personification of the contest itself; to a challenge held in connection with religious festivals, or a struggle in the soul (as in 1 Timothy 6:12); or, in modern sociopolitical theory, to the idea that the clash of opposing forces results in growth and progress.
    To help him resolve his conflict, Jeremy invokes the spirit of Jack Kerouac, the American novelist and poet recognized for his method of spontaneous prose and his rejection of standard narrative values. He was one of the pioneers of the Beat Generation of writers of the mid-twentieth century who dealt with topics such as American and Buddhist spirituality, jazz, sexual promiscuity and exploaration, drugs, poverty, travel, the rejection of materialism, and explicit portrayals of the human condition. Kerouac characterized the movement as representing opposing concepts: "beat" could mean "tired" or "beaten down" but also "upbeat" or "beatific," and associated with being "on the beat" musically.

  2. I wrote this poem all in one go on the train from Uijeongbu down to Seoul for the SAN open mic!


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