lunes, 12 de septiembre de 2011

Dear Julie Brown:

~ Hakim

jueves, 1 de septiembre de 2011

I Killed Myself Last Night

Yes, it's true: I killed myself last night. I’d put it off for months, hoping against hope that things would get better, hoping that my life would change and I’d stop getting the messages, the pleadings, the gentle threats, the chorus of doom that plagued me every day.

But it didn’t get better, and finally, in a desperate act of self-preservation, I just… killed myself. I went to the cupboard and took out the implement I’d put away so long ago, hoping I'd never have to use it again. I put it on the table and took out the stack of mail that had jeered at me from the top of the refrigerator for months. I took the sharp letter opener from the drawer and held it in my hand a long time, then sat down and began my final correspondence.

It all started innocently enough. I’d gotten an appeal from one nonprofit agency or another, and I thought, Well, why not? And I sent them a check – not a big check, hardly a donation at all really, especially when you consider how much they subsequently spent trying to get me to donate more money. It could have been any of them – the ACLU, the NRDC, the Nature Conservancy, the ASPCA, the Sierra Club, KQED, Amnesty International, The Hiking Club, et al – but we’ll never know which of them sold my name to the wicked slippery devils who propagate thousands of labels bearing our names, disseminating them to every dog&pony show and claptrap manufacturer in the western world (and a few in India & China too).

It could have been any of them that started the avalanche too, and I can’t remember which it was that started the whole painful ordeal, but I wrote that fateful – and last night I laughed grimly as I thought that it was, in the end, fatal – check. The check that would change my life, the check that finally would end my life. But all this suicide business was in the future then, and I was blissfully ignorant of the desperation that would finally drive me to take my own life, over and over and over again.

I opened each piece of mail, separating the ‘valuable gifts’ from the dross. Let me say this: I have enough return address labels to last me the rest of my life. Well, the rest of my life if I were to live to be 125 years old. Which I won’t. I made neat stacks, the intensity of my task matching my determination to end the pain, once and for all, to feel the release from this continuing punishment.

When the stacks were made – one deep pile of opened envelopes and pleading letters on the floor beside my chair, one stack of envelopes and receipt/vouchers bearing my name and address on the table before me – I picked up that deadly implement and prepared to redden it. Red, the color of lust and passion. Red, the color of warning and accusation. Red, the color of danger and peril. The color of blood.

It’s funny: when I had played this deadly game before, the color was purple. But this time, I knew it would be red, and splayed across the receipt/vouchers before me, the blood-red sign of my final defiance would spell out my doom. I picked up the implement and hit it on the pad twice, three times. Then I touched it to the first receipt/voucher.

‘DECEASED’ was proclaimed in ornate capitals, inside an ornamental border, quite deliberately intended to resemble a funerary card. I stamped the receipt/voucher, right over my name, signaling plainly to the nice caring folks at the Nature Conservancy that they should stop sending me pleas to save the whales, or the polar bears, or the artic fox, or the Canadian wolf. Because I was presumably beyond saving myself. Thump!

Oh, it’s not that I don’t care about those endangered species, or that I think that they deserve to starve to death or die in slow increments from the encroachment of ‘mankind’ (or, as e e cummings had it, “pity this busy monster, manunkind, not”). No, no, no. I completely support the work that all those agencies do, from building homes for the poor and feeding the homeless, to trying to close Guantanamo and freeing Chinese prisoners who build our cheap tools in slave-camps.

But I can’t stand the mail. I can’t stand the two-a-month (or three- or four-a-month) distress calls, each with a warning that is more dire than the last. I can’t stand the thought that I initially spent a meager ten bucks on some ‘good cause’ and they bought stamps with that money to hound me into giving more. In the old days, I’d even put a nickel stamp on them, to guarantee that they’d get the message that I was dead by having to pay the postage due.

And in this batch, almost a dozen dire pleas from the Nature Conservancy alone… what gives? I continued stamping: Thump! Well, when they receive them all at once, each bearing their shocking news in blood-red letters, maybe they’ll get the message – they’ll be sorry then, and they’ll wish I were still alive, that they’d treated me better. I’d show them, once and for all.

In some ways, these charities are worse than vampires – because vampires will at least finish off a victim once in a while. But charities will keep after you til you’re dead. And I knew that only too well… That’s why I was killing myself.

And so I ended it. I continued stamping the blood-red message on about seven dozen receipt/vouchers: Thump! Thump thump! ‘DECEASED’ over and over and over, each time thinking of my actual death and how I’d miss it because – well, that’s what death is, missing things. My arm grew tired from all the stamping, once on the pad and then swinging over to the receipt/voucher and then once more. Yet I felt nary a twinge about killing myself off, because I knew that I might live a better life, that I might actually have some quality in my life – or at least that short part of my life where I put the key in the mailbox and extracted the communications to me from the outside world.

Well, ok, I felt a twinge. One or two. Tiny ones. After all, these people were doing good work when they weren’t hounding me for money, sending me nickels glued to cards and ‘valuable gifts’ – all in hopes of triggering my guilt over my privileged status in the world. I sloughed off the guilt, but I did put aside the petitions and letters to my representatives in our democratic government, and I will (once resurrected in the morning, after a nice long sleep) put them into envelopes and send them off. But for now, I’m dead to the world – or at least to the world that wants something from me in the form of donations. And believe me, I intend to rest in peace.

© 2011 Hakim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: use without profit allowed only with author’s express written permission. Please don't wake up my attorney. Please.

miércoles, 31 de agosto de 2011

Frycook-assisted Suicide

So a while ago, I took Gina out to lunch and we agreed to go to Al’s Burger’s a greasy-spoon on San Pablo in Albany. I ordered a double burger, leaving off the cheese, since that is just too much of the wrong kind of food for me, but Gina has other ideas about what is and isn’t good for her.
She ordered two hotdogs-on-sticks (battered and deep-fried), plus an order of onion rings (also battered and deep-fried). And she topped it off with a large chocolate shake. Ok, so the girl is sitting there, all 350 pounds of her spilling over the edges of her chair, stuffing her face with (a lot of) fried foods that can’t help her in any way – it can’t help her weight, it can’t help her cholesterol, and it certainly can’t help her heart.
I thought, Jesus, I’m looking at a fry-cook-assisted suicide here. I’m sitting here, watching my close friend commit suicide, and it’s like those nuts who attack cops in hopes of being shot to death. They call that kind of death an ‘officer-assisted suicide’ and write it off on the cop’s record as an occupational hazard. And apparently no one is noticing that Gina is slowly committing suicide by artery-clogging weight gain.

I mentioned something about it – not exactly in those words, but in words that indicated that it seemed to be a bit of a dodgy meal. Gina blithely brushed me off, saying, “Hey, I don’t do this all that often.”

To which my mind responded, Well, not all that often, but it seems we were only here about a few weeks ago.
At my slightly-askance look, she went on in a developing huff, “Look, I came to a junk-food joint – I’m supposed to order a salad?”

And at that point, I realised that Gina just doesn’t care whether she lives or dies, so long as she can indulge her whims in the moment. And the next thought in my mind was I can’t watch this.  I didn’t want to witness her killing herself this way – slowly, by degrees, by heaped-on calories and by ounces and by pounds.  I didn’t want to then, and I don’t want to now.

I think that Gina isn’t being completely honest with herself – she has no scale, so she says that she’s losing weight ‘because my pants are loose.’   But she never looks any smaller than she has been before, and she often appears bigger.  People – all of us, it seems, are stuck in ruts that we don’t know how to get out of, stuck in situations that we can’t find a way to change.

I know that it’s nearly impossible to change whole ways of life. I mean, it takes that triathlon super-hero gene to just take that 90-degree turn and stop a behavior. But I’ve seen people change by making one small shift, one little movement to the right or left, like a plane lining up on approach:  “Five right. Five right.” And by small degrees coming into orientation with the runway.  By shifting one small thing – even just an attitude – change can come. Big change. Significant change.  And sometimes that attitude is the first thing to change; often it’s the only thing you can change.

Heaven knows I’m not on some high horse here – I have my own faulted deals that need a shift, a small alteration, a change.  “Five right... five right.”  And I like to think that what keeps me from failing completely is that I’m awake and aware and I don’t lie to myself (I think).  And I live my life (often saved by this very action) as if it were the law that friends have some responsibility to each other to point out when one of them is acting foolishly or dangerously.

So one way to change (if one really wants to change) is to actually alter some smaller behaviors – like saying, “No, I can’t eat there, because when I do that I have no control.”   And that works for me… mostly. And ‘mostly’ is all I’m looking for, because ‘mostly’ means that I’ve reduced a situation from ‘a lot’ to ‘a lot less.’ And if I can do that enough, then pretty soon ‘a lot less’ will become ‘none.’

But Gina is different. She could try eating correctly, but the truth is that she doesn’t want to… and she doesn’t really want to lose any weight, no matter what her mouth might say to the contrary.

My big pal Ollie says that his weight is what keeps him safe, that he has 375 reasons to keep someone away from him and his broken heart… using his weight to keep people at a distance. And that weight also cues him to who may be prejudiced against fat people. Ok, so that’s Ollie. But he knows what he’s doing – he’s aware of his situation and how he’s handling it. And he’s not kidding himself about things. Like his true weight and how often he eats fat-filled artery-choking foods (and in fairness, his diet is pretty innocuous – he just eats a hell of a lot more ‘healthy food’ than his friends do).

I like to think of myself as not bigoted. I stay vigilant for signs of prejudicial thinking. And I understand that there are people whose weight gain results from physical conditions beyond their control. I also know that ‘will power’ and ‘controlled intake’ are useless concepts to persons with thyroid or hormone problems – or those who cannot exercise because raising their heart rate will create a panic attack.  I get it. But I have a little bit of trouble trusting people who once were slim and are now the morbidly obese. They’ve eaten their way into a corner, and while it may have been a picnic getting there it can't be much fun to be in that corner now.  And even though it’s got to be a tough corner to escape, still I want to shout, Jesus, get a goddam grip – it doesn’t have to be this way.

Does that make me a jerk? I don’t know. Of course, me – I can’t even lose this little pot-belly I’ve acquired in my middle age, and god knows that I’ve had in my life my own ‘excesses’ that could only be corrected with enough true and active intent. And pain.  And, listen – I still have a few so-far-not-life-threatening excesses myself.  But it seems that I’m comfortable in those excesses (and their consequences) and so they don’t change much because I’ve become habituated. So what the hell do I know?

Well, I know that I can’t watch a friend commit slow suicide. And I know I won’t be the person who’s always complaining about my friend’s behavior. And I won’t be party to fry-cook-assisted suicide.

So I won’t be taking Gina out to eat anymore.

© 2011 Hakim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: use without profit allowed only with author’s express written permission. Please don't wake up my attorney. Please.

lunes, 29 de agosto de 2011


for & after JG

I’m proud of my expensive scrapbook,
so I flaunt it to my friends.
It’s bigger than theirs
and looks like it doesn’t need repairs.

“How’s your scrapbook?” someone asks at a reading.

“Fine!” I chirp up,
jumping at the chance
to extol the many virtues of my scrapbook.

Pretty soon a circle gathers
and everyone’s discussing its size,
editorial control, the artwork, the sheer lettuce
it takes to put the damn thing out.
If someone stays in a corner
someone else might notice and ask about theirs:
they never want to talk about it.
So they join in, chirping you-don’t-says,
and isn’t-that-amazings and

By the time I get home
I’m exhausted from bringing up
the subject of my scrapbook.
I get home and there it is,
not much on humility or balance
or good artists without the money
to study scrapbookery with me.
It’s all sub-culture, all glitz-trimming
and illusory contours, not even bothering to cover
up the cliquey pandering of the maintenance quota lining.

Late at night
when no one’s looking,
I’m embarrassed and ashamed of the damn thing,
kick it across the room
and stub my toe,
then toss it into the fireplace.
Maybe even burn it.

But I’m unwilling to fix it, and
even though I use it to meet women,
I am a man who wakes up depressed, lonely,
frustrated, who tries to burn his scrapbook,
his expensive shiny scrapbook.
And I haven’t the courage to do even that.

Imagine burning one’s scrapbook.
The shame would haunt me the rest of my career.
So after a while I pull it out of the fireplace,
dust it off and put it on the mantle and go to bed,
hearing its weeping throughout the night,
the low short moan just before daybreak.

My expensive scrapbook.

This poem is part of an unpublished manuscript called SONGS & ECHOES ~ The Pastiche Poems. Pastiche poems are those written in the style of another poet. 
© 1992 Hakim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: use without profit allowed only with author’s express written permission. Please don't wake up my attorney. Please.


– for & after Tommy Swerdlow

How long can you wait

for the time to be right?

How long can you hide

in a silk mask of dreams

while the ticking tide of nightfall

bleeds the days out of your veins?

How long?

Street corners press your feet

and the women hurry by

evening cracks its knuckles

and you know you are alone.

How long?

The women swim around you

trailing several smells

and you wonder

if the brunet in spikeheels

knows the only question

or even the address

of a solid mental breakdown

as you walk in the neck of a cosmic disease.

You’re dizzy with the power

of this moving female mass:

actresses & secretaries

Cinderella’s sisters

streetful working girls

Athena on the rise

linguistics’ oldest teachers

and girls named for the moon.

Or those longthighed pinklipped schoolgirls

we hunt for absolution

going home to daddy

or a slice of cathode pie.

How long can you wait for her

to break through your looking mind

in a salient spark of flesh,

thrown down by lariat eyes

with a single twist around

your stumbled boyhood horns.

You hoped that she could change you –

but she’s late she is not coming

and now the street is empty

except for Van Gogh’s cab.

(One door is missing

and the driver’s always storming

about crowbars in the cornbelt.)

How long?

Until you waken sweating

with those dreams that fleck your skin?

Like the hot dried sweat of woman

and the tide of truth she holds,

this smell that nerves out something

from your Viennese valise,

some taste

remote & long forgotten

with a root deep in your past,

like the Hassidic revisionism

crashing in your skull.

But what you will become

can never be the things you were.

How long?

Til you see

that the only thing she’s hidden

is the orbit of her smile

in a breeze that drinks the leaves

of one morning’s gentlest tree.

And that’s how long.

© 2002 Hakim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: use without profit allowed only with author’s express written permission. Please don't wake up my attorney. Please.

martes, 26 de abril de 2011

What makes European cinema so unique?

This question was recently posted in an online forum, and indicates a true desire to learn more about the current state of cinema in the world today. But perhaps the question is framed incorrectly, and that framing shows a certain ethno- or culture-centricity on the part of the questioner.

Certainly each culture’s films are unique, and in the US, people tend to view US films as the standard – and all other films produced in the varied cultures of the world as ‘everything else.’

This perspective is a good place to start, and the reason so many people ‘position’ their arguments with relation to ‘American’ (read: made in USA) films is that the factory that is Hollywood churns them out and markets them, and so many ‘smaller’ cultures take in these (from their perspective) ‘foreign’ films, accepting them too as some kind of attainable or at least desirable ‘normal’ and then growing up with the Americanisation of their native culture as a fact of life.

No one is saying “why are European films so much better than Nigerian films” because the answer is quite obvious (if you’ve seen many Nigerian films – and I don’t mean to pick on them, it’s just that almost all of them are a bit behind the curve on filmic techniques, or were when last I checked; but the Nigerian film story is a fascinating story of its own).

Over the last four decades, it is quite true that European films and US films have grown much more alike, and there are several reasons for this. One is the marketplace itself: as Europeans saw that they actually could get films shown in the US, they started looking at what ‘Americans’ watched and then kind of mimicked some of what they saw (La Femme Nikita, et al).

And on the flip side, American filmmakers (mostly producers, it is true, but some directors too) saw the great European films and bought the rights and remade them by setting them in the US, in the process altering the stories as needed to make them work in US cities with US characters. I mention producers and directors – the directors chose largely to tell their own stories (Soderberg & Traffic, for instance) while the producers were much more happy to just remake a ‘successful’ or interesting film (The Toy, My Father the Hero, Three Men & a Baby, Three Fugitives, Fathers Day, etc etc) for the money that such a film might make in the US.

It seems that people look for facile answers, and often to facile questions, which is no way to educate oneself. To say that ‘Americans’ (meaning US) will lose their jobs if the films fail is no argument of worth, since there are plenty of ‘Americans’ (meaning US) who turn out drek and lose their jobs, who turn out good films and still lose their jobs, and who turn out drek and keep their jobs.

Films are made for a variety of reasons, some of which are:  just to spend a little money keeping someone busy, to pay back a favor, to balance the terms of a contract (“Gee, Steven Soderberg, make Oceans 12 and we’ll give you the budget to make your art film”), to keep someone from being able to be available for a rival studios big film, etc etc.

And the fact that Hollywood is a very small town, a factory town, should not be lost in the shuffle. The market drives American films. The market. That is why they play it safe, that is why they remake drek, that is why they take old crap from the TV vault and make into the next hoped-for summer blockbuster, that is why they look at something and say, “Well, the original was a hit, so this will be a hit.” Many of my friends and I agree that if they were serious filmmakers, they would take a failed film from the 40s or 50s or 60s and remake it – and make it better. That is to say, they would take something that ‘could have been a contender’ and made it hit the mark.

Hollywood has always dealt in remakes – from the very first handful of movies, they were copying each other (and themselves), remaking things that were popular. One of the first films was a camera tied to the front of a train and sent down a mountain (France? Switzerland?). Then it was done in the US. Then somewhere else. One historical document is a film made from the front of a streetcar heading down Market Street just days before the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. Streams of cowboy movies, the war movies (when the film industry was used as a propaganda arm of the US government during WWI and WWII), then gangster movies, then more war movies.

In Hollywood in the first 20 years of the 1900s, they would remake the same film two or three times in a five-year period. Later, they remade the ‘Maltese Falcon’ story TWICE before they made The Maltese Falcon (what a relief that Walter Huston finally got it right). And the market is what is driving that impulse to remake movies. When you are trying to satisfy an audience, it is an extremely fine line between giving them something they are comfortable with (that is the first part of attraction – and a reason that stars are type-cast) and giving them novelty (if it’s stale or a cliché, they’ll stay away, right?). And the bean-counters are always fiscally conservative.

But be clear on one thing. No one, not in Hollywood or Bollywood or China or Europe or South America, ever goes to a moneyman and says, “I want to make a piece of crap.” And yet that kind of movie keeps getting made, doesn’t it?

No one in US says, “Those silly French, making art – let’s make drek and make a killing.”

No – what they say is this: “The major US demographic sector watching movies is 14 - 24 year old males, and those people want to see breasts, cars, exploding things, and preferably all together. If we make that and show it to them, they will buy lots and lots of popcorn and we will make our money back, and perhaps some extra money to cover that piece of crap that what’s-his-name made, trying to do art, the loony bastard.”

I think that this perspective is aptly called “a race to the bottom.”

In Europe and elsewhere, they say, “Kids will watch whatever they will watch, but we are actually educated and think real thoughts that make real sense (unlike in the US where they are told that they are thinking when they are actually repeating something they’ve heard or read in a magazine). And we have an audience to please that includes a lot of adults and women too, so let’s make this movie from the great script that Francois wrote. The kids can always watch that merde from the USA, non?”

I may be wrong, but that’s the way I’ve seen it play out...

© 2011 Hakim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: use without profit allowed only with author’s express written permission. Please don't wake up my attorney. Please.


Strange as it sounds, I really believed I knew something about the human heart, as if a few romantic comeuppances... together with a taste for opera, sufficed to give me Stendhalian credentials. – James Merrill

Is it not


We stumble

through life, each thinking

mine the lone tragedy,

this pain like none other,

none ever felt quite this way before....

thinking her heart alone

the human heart.

How young the young ...

and my own romantic comeuppances.

A girl who loved me more than


but could not cross the space

to become the woman who knew how to love

the animal I was:

In her leaving

she took that terrible absence with her

trading another absence in its place.

" che non trouvo attia – ma non che trasu."

Or another girl, this one

torn from the light

and I put her in the ground,

her family staring: a pale young man

broken on

a casket covered with roses

and roses

and my life blanketed by

the petals of her memory,

her touch,

the whispers

crushed by our own confusion

and her lust for speed.

"...e una commedia, lo so,

ma questa angoscia eterna pare!"

My second wife I

ran over with the old green pickup,

her ragged screams drowned in

the engine's high whine

back and forth

the wheels crushing her fine ribcage


and again


only in my fever dreams

tossing east to west


night after night

after night.

" alba vincera."

My younger life so operatic…

characters arranged exactly,

their exits

their entrances timed with careful


to the phrasing of this or that aria

I chose to sing.

"...mi destino in la palma de mi mano

la gitana lo leyo."


would a wife of mine ever ride

to the funeral with my mistress

holding in their laps

between them

my severed head?

© 2011 Hakim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: use without profit allowed only with author’s express written permission. Please don't wake up my attorney. Please.

miércoles, 6 de abril de 2011

Posed Perfectly in Dreams

Had some i
nterest lately in my poetry, from folks who are into a rough-diamond look at the flow of the streets and alleys of the world that surrounds us, as well as the paths of my creative reportage on the slippage and drift of our culture.

And the news is that my 1992 book Posed Perfectly in Dreams is available again after being OP for a decade and a half. The work here work that "takes risks," in the words of poet (and Blood Countess Bathory scholar) Robert Peters. Poet (and bebop verbal stylist) Michael C Ford notes that the work "coaxes onto an inside track, where eventual wreckage awaits the runaway train of our emotional lives."

cache of the printed-on-nonbleached-recycled-paper slim blue volumes was unearthed recently by one of the publishers, so no one has to go without a solid poetry fix any longer.

This book was published at what many consider the height of the poetry scene in Los Angeles, when poetry nights sprang up almost everywhere, from empty sidestreet storefronts and Valley vinyl stores to chi-chi westside nightspots peopled by the literati and glitterati of the day (and often of the minute), to readings in the runoff channel under the Sixth Street bridge and on the upper reaches of the Los Angeles City Hall.

Even the old Venice Jail became an art gallery where readings jumped off, and a few poems in this book actually describe some of the poetry events and characters from that time at the edge of the continent.

Dedications of poems are to my friends and fine poets Lee Mallory, Lisa Rafel, Tommy Swerdlow, Meri Nana-Ama Danquah, and Scott Wannberg, as well as to a few non-poets and at least one hanger-on.

All books have two pieces of laid-in artwork one by librettist/director Phillip Littell and one by respected artist Sylvia Hamilton Goulden. And the numbered copies have an extra little bonus: a poem dedicated to Wannberg bound in on a gatefold page (the poem, 'Love Story,' is not included in the trade editions).

Posed Perfectly in Dreams is now on sale, via internet only, at 15 bucks a copy for the trade edition & $30 each for the numbered and signed copies (signatures of the author, the editor, and by Andrei Rozen, the talented Russian photographer who produced the surrealish cover photo).

Author will sign and dedicate each copy. Add 3 bucks for postage. Please email to at cinesource(at) to order your autographed copy and get payment directions.

leatherback patti awoke

The spamporn poem tells the story of Leatherback Patti and Leonard Stopwatch, and how his infidelity at the gym one day causes her to take a surprising lover, affecting their life.

Every line of this poem is taken from the subject line of spam received in my email box.

Found in italic, some of the words have been altered, or words added, in only 29 of the 142 lines and 438 words of the poem.


looking for some vigorous activity,
But panting. what continuation cultivable,
miner prostitution
hegelian buddhism
tension narcosis
Proclivity to servitude

leonard stopwatch
did wakeup on feast romanesque
insensitively elemental
he wanted his
Quill in miranda
But her childish features were enlivened by a broad grin of
nonsensical pretty love

Although the usual treatment would be to place a tube, or shunt, in her
his bit needed
operating linkers
a ridiculous blur
he dubbed against it
her need, it rips
Life is a joy, enjoy your life!

he Met this skinny slut working out at the gym.
Your perfect low carb combo->
Milfs tò méét!
For talk the bluff custard:
“Hi again” -
Selena said “hi”
“whats up ?-)”
grenade romantically
“Chéck ðut these” she said,
position available.
“new schedule?”
smile in wolves and lasso
enrogue tricky working
philosophies oscillating…
how come no one asked me...?
I just found out about her
something unusual…

to leonard stopwatch
Only one thought appeared logical and probable and that was
“I never pass up a chance to get a handjob!”
So exciting
s watch so breaststroke
haunch chemistry
Make her worship you!
joy, enjoy…
therefore, here we come!
splatter soft
ascendancy eyelid
A Tough Question for
cassock, My shady past
Which drink so psychotic
smegma sorbet!

And later smoke or shortie
Love has been Set Free!
Barbie, Ken should have used these
They're waiting for you
leonard stopwatch
Re: remnant, Re: “my wife
She is the most wonderful woman in the world,
leatherback patti”

at home
leatherback patti,
a solo analyst,
shows epidermis lightweight:
“Watch this detail
you tell my content…
You never message me anymore!
Make me worship you!
Or cancel my raja”
her meaty jealousy
cubbyhole glint latitude
con tantrum
stopcock rendition…

leonard stopwatch
identifies certain
verse, or shagging
his wife,
“I’ll do the disappointed

she answers
“deceive, and separate –
don't forget to bring this along on your next date!
how come no one asked me?
sovereign, Women everywhere will love you!
Everything you are looking for
Hõrny lõcàls...
a weekend booty call
Typically, offer a
whole area.
you want to look cool with incidental intrusion,
so fly, longwinded balsam
I want her matching –
Make her worship you!
premier deleterious,
No one deserves...
Insignificance, off-key

and Ruth says, pizzicato,
“keep up the good work
so go prettily
accommodate hunches
and without any expression.
fits existence.
make fate a clothesline
about celebration…
in grave try sandpaper,
detoxify, My
activity, how we
commenced at a
Middle distance –
mind became

© 2006 Hakim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: use without profit allowed only with author’s express written permission. Please don't wake up my attorney. Please.

Her progress

-- for my secret keeper

has the day ever had so exquisite a lover?

no, only the night
could know this luminous bliss….

only the night can know my joy
to watch

her palest face
over me
(as she inclines above my life)

hovering delicately
in an ancient delirium
gazing through a mist
of desire and forgetting:

then she blushes her way
through night’s fragile sky
to fall
(often weeping)
some near and welcoming horizon

in the rosy glow
of her own bright dawn

© 2011 Hakim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: use without profit allowed only with author’s express written permission. Please don't wake up my attorney. Please.

Zero ODs during ‘Headed for the Medicine’ on the phone…

Ok, so about six years ago, I was hanging out at home when the phone rang. I’d finally tracked Zero down and left him a message on his phone, like fourteen times in about a month. Not too many times, I guess, in the big picture – I mean, the guy was a junkie and pretty busy copping and keeging. We’d sort of fallen out of touch, and now it was like eleven years later.

Zero is a genius character, and we met in rehab – my last rehab, back in 87 or 88. He’s a radical purist, meaning that he holds a viewpoint that is waaaay out there, and he won’t relent. And not just one viewpoint, not just one outrageous belief – oh, no, not Zero. He has a whole philosophy that would put most sane people right up on one ear, feet wagging at the sky and a shocked expression singing it all out loud.

Zero, during the times that we’ve been in contact, had never been able to put more than 11 days together. Of course, as soon as I dropped off his radar, he was able to get like nine years clean and sober, did a bunch of films, and got some credits on some big pictures. I never got to see that part.

But when he finally got back around to me, it was late late in the dark hours of nighttime and he was gowed out.

We spoke for a while, about this and that, kind of catching up on our lives since we’d last seen each a decade earlier. We always had these easy conversations, and they always seemed like no time at all had passed since we saw each other. I didn’t know why he stayed away when he was clean, but that was his choice. I made a joke about doing a painting of the words in block letters: “Got a missing Ø here, people.” Or maybe a pic of me with a check in my hand, surprised & disappointed, over that caption. Or not. We laughed together, and that was good.

Then Zero mentioned ‘Window of Somnus’ and I started in my seat – a classic double-take. Not Danny Thomas classic, but close. It’s a poem I wrote many years ago, probably in that rehab: a few ragged lines about the pain and loneliness of the junkie’s empty night.

“I really like it.”

“Wow, Zero, thanks for the compliment. You remembered that poem.”

“Yeah, Hakim, that was always my favorite poem. Still is.”

“Well,” I said, “it’s just a little poem about junkies, a scrap. The real deal, the puro clavo, is Tommy Swerdlow’s poem.”

“Swerdlow’s poem?”

“Yah, it’s called ‘Headed for the Medicine,’ and it’s the ultimate heroin poem. I’m still pissed at Swerdlow because he wrote it and so I’ll never be able to put a pen to paper about heroin again. He owns the turf – and there’s really nothing left to write after he got through with it.”

“Who’s Swerdlow, man?”

“Brilliant writer I once knew. And, of course, a junkie. For all I know, he may be dead by now. You know, junkie’s always wind up dead.”

“Yeah. That’s true, man.”

“But he still wrote a great poem.”

By now, Zero was slurring, probably drooling on the phone – his voice coming through the wires sounded like it would crack into shards. “Wow. I’d like to hear it, Hakim.”

So I opened my computer and found the poem and started a command performance for a loaded ǜber-Deutsche tacato over phone lines stretching 400 miles into the long tunnel of night. I hadn’t read in a long time, and I was rusty at first, twigs cracking, but after a few lines I found my rhythm and I was back in the saddle, grooving.

I got about halfway through ‘Headed for the Medicine’ – the part about “I am Buddha, I am barnstorm, I am anything for the team” – when I hear a great thump at the other end of the phone. I stop, shocked as the sound of a handset spinning on a bare wooden floor tickles my ear.


“Zero, you there, man?”

I whistle into the phone, trying to attract his attention. Nothing. I debate what I should do: call another friend of mine (who doesn’t even know Zero) and send him over there? Yah, sure, if only I had an address. Call the cops and send them to his house (without an address)? They could trace the number, but they’d take so long he’d be gone anyway if he were truly out. And if he weren’t truly out, then they’d just lock him up and he’d have me to thank for it. Not that he’d thank me, you understand. Although, knowing this guy, he just might.

I finally hang up, stunned that I might’ve overdosed Zero on poetry. I mean, that isn’t what I mean, exactly – it’s just that, as loaded as he was, he might have gone over the edge at hearing this poem, because I swear I’ve had guys look crooked at me, one eyelid half-mast with their chins on their chests, even if they haven’t had anything for years, when I read this poem. Hell, sometimes I feel loaded just from reading the damn thing. Yah, it’s good.

Just my luck, just the friggin luck to have killed my junkie pal after not seeing him for years. And long distance – with poetry.

So I’m contemplating the weird symmetry of that one when my phone rings.


“Hey.” The voice is creaky, the rattling of brittle newsprint. “You didn’t call anyone, didja?”

“No, man. I figured they’d have taken so long, you’d be dead by the time they got there.”

“Yeah, that’s right. Good. Now where were you? Something about barnstorming?”

And so I finish the poem for him. And then I ring off, hoping that Zero finds the strength or the hope or the exhaustion or the something to get himself out of the long trainwreck of the life he’d been leading.

Zero, come back, man. Find your way back. We miss you, buddy.

© 2011 Hakim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: use without profit allowed only with author’s express written permission. Please don't wake up my attorney. Please.

Photo: Fair use.