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"This blues is bullshit"
by Tom Devaney


smell the stink of nothing stinking
the overhead lighting won't stick to anything

it's up to you to buy your own lamp
I pray for general grid-lock

never a rest from the rest
my retired grandmom says, she doesn't get any days off anymore

behind the scenes, under the ocean
the movie, the felling, the telephone call

the rest & the west
& the west to the rest

after five months of no questions
after three days without any questions

the question on everyone's mind
the one no one asked & is remaining

the Grouch Marx question
the race question,

What's for dinner? Who's the winner?
is the answer, not the answer.

All day my upper (whiskered) lip has been channeling
the energy of a patch of tiny-petalled flowers

I won't shave it     can't tell where they're from
don't know how long they've even been there

I also haven't been listening to my left leg
it walks away from me when I walk

a man told me there's a cure for what I have in the fly kingdom
how many other things have I been unable to hear ?

My wife left me for shopping
My husband doesn't know what he does
so he doesn't know who he is-
Don't tell me we should talk about it,

He loved that shitty job
      & I love him enough not to ask

this blues and a page & a half of hear-say,
Leave your drinks half-empty at the bar

We take our fairness to the grave;
Wildcard Americana, pass for now.

Have you ever heard a background singer so beautiful, she's
so on it, and the rhythm guitar and she's

No one will ever tell me about 3 years in a room,
40 days without a word, 40 more Giving it a try,

Nothing to do with anything we can say;
And if we do, the facts would never check.

I hear a note, rounded like another chance.
3 volumes, open-closed. The question

"What's a good question?"
And its history;

Bible-like, best seller-like,
Question-like, these questions liked and dissed alike.

The real story, despite the wide while that is ours.
No one will ever tell me, Yes, I will wait.



There's nothing unclear about the kind of business
     you mean,

but it is unknown to me, the way you Are where
          you're going,

in-close, down the hall, all long and low-
     All up in the front seat.

No content to speak of. Thinking the song
     not the song itself.

The sound-perfect, everytime.
You know it before you knowthis, everything
     a backdrop.
Your pace, your walk, your You; Rooms
     fall away;
a dog, some kids, the birds out-of-the-way
     the path, cleared;
If there were dialogue (and there could never be),

it might be, "I'm from Philly, worse thanBrooklyn."
If it was a movie-it'd be hand held, but steady, verysteady;

And always, just beginning.
Starting again, another opening

to the door, the steps,
the Something, another every
every day-don't worry about the ending,
This guy, always walking in my head.


Seemingly sentenced to a sentence.
"Do what you want!"

The simplest question,
Most haunting melody, thrown straight;

right across the plate.

Nobody: pitcher, catcher, kids, blimp,
Albert Einstein Philmo Immigration Center-

No one saw it coming.
The question narring. Can we start now?
Another asking, "Why?"
Obeying our margaritas to Disobey.

Invited in for cover, for beers and porch stories,
fated to swim in the deep waters of

one playing another in a long line
play-by-playing, still no incoming calls.

All caseworkers couldn't peg the song.
The original trouble, our local contacts-on it.

Our sense of fairness locked-in, we won't evolve.
The 20-degree wind chill, still 20 degrees.

So last-to-be-on-the-bus;
The driver may be crazier; of course

Our trips are ours or so we shall insist.
Against the imperative against.

My own steps countering,

Slow-balling-it all the way.
There'll never be enough time to finish!

The truly great shits, jamming
the lines to call us back on ours.

Tom Devaney poems can be found in Skanky Possum and in the catalogue for Greater New York at the P.S. 1 art space. His prose has appeared in The Philadelphia Daily News, The Poetry Project Newsletter, and The Tricycle Buddhist Review Online. He lives in Brooklyn where he enjoys making mad dinners for friends; send recipes.


The American Pragmatist Fell In Love (Banshee Press, 1999)


A recent essay on reading the poetry of Philip Whalen is on Jacket #11: http://www.jacket.zip.com.au/jacket11/whalen-by-devaney.html

More poems can be found on:

A review of The American Pragmatist Fell In Love on Rain Taxi:http://www.raintaxi.com/frame.htm

Email: Tdevaney@brooklyn.cuny.edu

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