There is death everywhere, and I hate it. I hate having it follow me and sleep with me and breathe in my mouth. Death is a real thing, tangible, that people catch and never get over. Grownups laugh and talk about how you’re going through a phase, and it’s all horseshit because you know, as you never knew before, that you—personally—are going to die. You know this because death came to you at night when you were unawares. You were dreaming, or you’d just jacked off, and as your fantasies faded across your brain-screen a voice whispered, asking “Where were you before your birth?” Just like that all thoughts of some model chewing at your crotch vanish in the face of this deep well of backward running eternity, an eternity exclusive of you. As you peer down towards a bottom that isn’t there the same voice whispers, “And when you’re gone, what then?” Sweat covers you and night winds whistle in your ears as you comprehend eternity for the first time, and that voice, that crazy voice whispers, “You will be dead and it will be permanent, and that will be that. Nothing anyone can do about it. Nothing, period. So long, Jack.”

Suddenly you know how adults get so twisted. They forget, you see, what it was like the very first time they found out. Oh, they carry it with them a little while, and it scares the shit out of them, that hollow tickle at the base of the spine that flares when they let their guards down and leaves them trembling and weak. Finally they go a little crazy in self defense, and they push it behind them, forgetting it, but still it creeps back from time to time, insistent, and each time they have to go a little crazier to hold it at bay until finally they are thoroughly mad and they can’t think clearly at all which is why things are the way they are.

I sit in my room and I stew over this and no one—I mean no one—takes it seriously. But I am scared to death—that word again—and all the half-assed Dr. Phil philosophy in America isn’t going to make things any better.

Do you read me?

Nothing helps.

So I talk to my best friend, James, and he gets really serious for a while, but then he backs off, you know, like death is contagious instead of systemic. Systemic: affecting the entire body. It’s a great word that I learned in biology, the study of life. James isn’t interested in big words. He looks for any excuse to get away, watches me nervously with his wide eyes, mumbles frantically with his weak lips, until finally he puts me aside like a broken toy and disappears into his own peculiar madness, content to be like our folks, quietly nuts so he can pursue a career in systems analysis or some equally bogus thing that doesn’t count for diddley-squat.

I talk to my girlfriend. Not the brightest thing I’ve ever done. What a waste of organic tissue that bitch is. I forgot that girls are only fond of you if everything’s all right. I’m not really a boyfriend so much as part of her outfit, able to hang around so long as I go with her shoes. You see, the girls all have a system and in school they have to take turns dating all the guys who don’t actually ooze or something, so when the shit hits the fan the girl bails out all offended that this horrible thing had to happen on her turn, right? And you stand there numb as your friends begin to tell you how all the time you’ve been going with her and being good to her that she’s been doing it with some clown you hate who’s no damned good to anybody, and she never did anything for you and it makes you feel sick inside a little bit.

So then you get really weird, you know? And school sucks and so you get gloomy books to read and you shut up to everybody because they don’t care and why the hell should you treat them to your misery, right? They start pointing in your direction across the schoolyard and you can hear them whispering in the halls and you don’t care because all the time your mind is sorting them out and nudging them with its finger saying “you’re dead and you’re dead and you’re dead and you’re dead…” and you take some comfort in being part of all their funerals.

Yesterday Mom comes to my room and tells me the counselor from school called and said something seems to be bothering me. And now Mom is hinting that she’s been going through my room looking for drugs but she didn’t find any and if I am in that kind of trouble I should tell her and she will try to help. So I can’t believe it, and I tell her that as far as I know the only dope in my life is the occasional adult I have to answer to and she gets almighty pissed off and talks to me about coming down off my high horse and I grin and say, uh oh, more of that drug talk, and she goes positively spare and makes all manner of meaningless threats as well as real ones which don’t mean diddley-squat to me either and I just wish all these assholes would go away. At the end of all this she starts crying and acts all injured and I don’t have patience to take care of her and me both so I split and she hollers after me about talking to my dad which is almost terrifying if I cared, you know. He’s no prize, just sits there and talks about how I’m jerking her chain. “He’s always jerking your chain, Marge, when are you going to learn?” Like I’m some kind of course she’s taking that he’s already passed.

So now I go down to the school where they picked me as lead in this play for the drama club. Some mystery thing I read for and was good at and I was very excited about it for a while but now I think it’s so much crap. Before I go I stop in the garage for some stuff I put together and keep in an oversized gym bag and I been carrying this stuff around for days but I don’t dare leave it because you never know, you know?

And I go to the school and everybody’s in the drama room where there’s this little stage and they’ve been rehearsing and I forgot all about it and I’m not even sure why I’m here. And the drama teacher says, glad you could make it, superstar, like really sarcastic, and he calls a break and I go sit on the edge of the stage near this girl I’ve just noticed and I wait for the teacher to start some shit but he’s already preoccupied and I set my gym bag on the floor and start talking to this girl I’ve never talked to before but I always wanted to, and there’s no shyness—and I ask her—and I should mention she’s beautiful and that my heart feels swollen inside like I’ve really found something and her eyes are so intense they’re like movie eyes—and I ask her what she thinks of this shit and she’s confused a minute and says what the play and I say no the other play the one we never tried out for, life, and I say it real serious, for effect, but it’s not playing, it’s not playing, and I know it because I can see her the way she’s looking at me that I’m losing it like she knows I’m not real anymore, not together, not a part of her reality and then I know it, too, and I start crying and I sob hard and it’s tough to breathe and cry at once and I feel like Jesus Christ and I can’t stop and I’m only fourteen year’s old, and I don’t even know what I’m saying and the girl, the girl looks frightened and repelled and I think in the middle of all my passion how much I’d like to fuck her and that makes me laugh and then the drama coach is running over and I reach into my gym bag before he can get to me and take out the sawed-off that’s loaded and has been waiting there so handy and patient and right there in front of all of them I shoot off my fucking head and make sure as the last thing that I turn so as to get some of my blood on the bastards.

—Don Whittington


In Kickstarter News


I think the best idea for a kickstarter
is one that funds a cathedral
designed and run by Randy Quaid and Nicholas Cage,
to be sited in British Columbia,
to be made of cedar and gold
with dragons at the doors.
The dragons are golden, too,
and have lasers in their eyes
to help ward off star whackers
like the one that killed Kwai Chang Caine.
Who wouldn’t offer five bucks for something like that?
On Sundays they would give simultaneous sermons
with Nicholas as Superman and Randy Quaid as Plastic Man.
Evi Hellena Motolanez Quaid would take the collection
and go through the money to sort out any
Georgia quarters, because they are peach-evil.
Each service would end with Cage cutting his arms
singing “This is my blood, but only for vampires,”
while Randy and Evi couple clumsily in the baptismal font.
Tom Cruise would join in a heartbeat.

—Don Whittington


Extra!! News of the World

Post061_screenshotsMy news seems
overrun with
gossip, tits, and ass:
Miley’s cleavage,
Nicki’s temper,
outed athletes,
Kardashian’s Probability Theorem,
wardrobe failures.
Politics? I think not.
That’s not coverage
that’s PR, that’s Pander
playing to his god.
We already know what
politicians say
before they say it.
Nothing real in any of it.
What we don’t know is
how the people in Italy feel
about their future,
and what the ladies in Lichtenstein want,
and what matters most
to that Indonesian child,
and how does a Chinese
family relax at home.
Thank goodness for Anthony Bourdain
or I’d have forgotten
the rest of the world altogether,
how it feels to try to
understand a new people, a different culture.
Is that what things have come to?
Are cooks the only people left
who care enough to linger
in conversation
over a table?

—Don Whittington


I must remember, when I’m dead


I must remember, when I’m dead
to stop off at the Bar Playa
to wait for my sweetie.
Or maybe she’ll be waiting for me, instead,
with Manolo standing to the side
checking his watch,
tapping his foot,
putting off his own eternity
so he can once again bring us
café con leche, el doble
and two slices of strangely durable toast.
We can sit at the table on
opposite sides, holding hands
and staring across the Bay of Cadiz
to Africa, to Morocco, to Eden.
“Will you play again tonight at the Red Lion?”
Manolo asks, eyes glinting, cat slitted.
He moves gracefully in his old dark suit
humble service with a knife in his sleeve.
“Old friends will be there,” he threatens,
“ringed men and languid women
who are not afraid to sing and dance,
gypsies who see the future
and can not stop laughing.”
I look at my girl and say,
“What do you think? We’ll miss heaven.”
She squeezes my hand and answers, “No, we won’t.”

—Don Whittington


George Orwell


George Orwell
minor writer
twentieth century
(before your time)
book about pigs
not Charlotte’s Web
the other one
pig characters
not Freddie, the other one
animal characters
for children
science fiction adventure stories, too
not Star Trek, the other one
ray guns and plucky heroines
bulky suits
not Star Wars, the other one
bulky suits with
big old helmets
room enough
for a human head
plus a mongoose
plus a couple of rats
animal rats, though
not the other ones
he’s dead now
health is doubleplusungood
you should forget him
sit in front of the CCTV instead
read about the fifty shades
not the s&m manual
the other one
no truth (black…)
no lie (…is white)
nothing to see
he’s dead

—Don Whittington


When Jelly Roll speaks


When Jelly Roll speaks
it sounds like a wagon made of sand
is rolling ‘cross a summery lawn,
all whispery, wasting, but moving
always moving to the slow snake rhythm
of a sure, sexual heartbeat.
Tell me baby, don’t you like the way I grind…
He says outrageous things.
“I invented jazz. I am jazz,”
and you bite your tongue;
you hold your breath and listen
‘cause it might be true, it might!
All these young boys and girls who imagine themselves brave
should go back and listen to how a gentleman speaks,
how a dangerous man can snap propriety like a pencil.
There is lightning in those finger-breaking hands
and a sureness that makes the sporting girls
believe some days that they are fresh and creamy,
duck-butter spread on a pallett on the floor.
There is gentility in his speech and precision in his posture
and you realize, holy cow, he might be
if not the font, then one of three, or maybe four
or maybe he really is: the beginning, the father
of almost everything you ever danced to, ever.
Because it might just be true, it probably is.
What a hell of a thing.
Listen to him speak, mark his cadence,
and tell me there isn’t goosh in everything he says.
How can you doubt he invented jazz?
What is jazz anyway, but so much sex in the air?
The gentleman’s name is Mister Jelly Roll Morton!
Tell me baby, don’t you like the way I grind?

—Don Whittington



there was a time
when saturday really meant something
the networks cleared the decks on a saturday morning
it was all for the kids
no news, no sports, no talk shows
they wouldn’t dare
overture, light the lights
this is it, the night of nights
we had everything to choose from
that’s what it felt like
three hours to get breakfast down your throat
three hours to learn your merchandise
three hours that were all yours
then bolt into the day supercharged
and gay, zorros on bicycles
saving the world
free to be unaware for just this little while
free to scramble and ramble all over town
and all over town the big folks
got out of your way
on Saturday—
those were the days

—Don Whittington


i don’t want to scare anybody

vingt and apres

i don’t want to scare anybody
but when i lift my head in the morning
i can feel the world kick into gear
i hear things come to life for the first time
all of you who think you woke before me
are just fooling yourselves
my assembly of reality each day
puts those presumptions in your
imagined minds—
i am telling you this to free you
if you are not in my personal space
if you don’t cross the border of my self-founded country
then by all means indulge yourselves
because whatever you do, it isn’t real
be d’Artagnan if you wish
it bears not on my life at all
except in that it might be reported to me
by my own contrary fantasy
but if you are in direct contact with yours truly
then for heaven’s sake please wait until you’ve brought my coffee
before you go make trouble
with that saucy Annette

—Don Whittington


Deep Thinks To Be Used In Future Poems


What is life?

What is truth?

Does anybody know what time it really is?

I disapprove of the way other people poop.

On the other hand you have different fingers.

Does God love me?

I used to have such promise, but now I have a cold.

The fool is the analog of the sage, and parsley and thyme are pissed off about it.

We have less need for a mechanism to cut spending, than for one to cut stupidity.

Dope dealers should stop short of shipping a “record amount” next time.

Everybody has something they want blown out of proportion.

Does the universe swing to a woman’s hips? Really?

What is a man? What is a woman? Which do I prefer?

To be old and to be cool is kind of unexpected.

The new American art form/career: Being a person of interest.

If the government taps my phone, can I drink from it?

Here is what I think, old man: More of these people should be chastised.

I suspect life would have been better had Ennio Morricone scored my bathroom breaks.

And that was the year your grandmother and I moved to Antarctica to grow tobacco.

—Don Whittington


i am an awkward patient


i am an awkward patient
when i am sick
i prefer to be alone
if the doctor could just call and
leave his opinion with
the lady at the liquor store
my health care
would be perfect
i do not want rubs or kisses or hugs
i can make my own tea
my own soup—
go be the hero
in someone else’s fever—
i do not want to be healed
i just want to be well

—Don Whittington