Wylie made me sick. It wasn’t Wylie’s fault.
A two o’clock close in ’78 and there
was Wylie and me and Dave who didn’t belong
and a girl who had a name but no one knew it.
We trudged up Pine Street and climbed the stairs
to his tilted flat above another closed store.
And Wylie, large as his beard, who knew
while he might be starving hysterical he’d never
be Ginsberg and he so wanted to be.
And Dave who didn’t belong rolled joints
on a shoebox lid while we talked poetry
and the girl whose name was hidden curled in a corner.
Wine was passed from hand to hand.
Seeds clattered, rolled down the shoebox.
Joints were lit and passed and blessed,
small hand to big hand back to small hand.
Then Wylie chanted big, explosively boring poems.
Words piled on words that teetered as if more would be enough.
And Wylie prayed we’d think he was Allen but he wasn’t
and I wanted to be kind, to say something nice.
And we smoked and kept drinking the cheap wine—
Far too much wine too far into the morning,
and the girl was nameless and asleep
and Dave who didn’t belong didn’t stand up
and I was trying to find a kind word for Wylie
and it made me sick. It wasn’t Wylie’s fault.
Mark J. Mitchell was born in Chicago and grew up in southern California. His latest poetry collection, Roshi San Francisco, was just published by Norfolk Publishing. Starting from Tu Fu was recently published by Encircle Publications.He is very fond of baseball, Louis Aragon, Miles Davis, Kafka and Dante. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the activist and documentarian, Joan Juster where he made his marginal living pointing out pretty things. Now, like everyone else, he’s unemployed.He has published 2 novels and three chapbooks and two full length collections so far. His first chapbook won the Negative Capability Award.Titles on request.A meager online presence can be found at https://www.facebook.com/MarkJMitchellwriter/A primitive web site now exists: https://mark-j-mitchell.square.site/I sometimes tweet @Mark J Mitchell_Writer