Vampyre's Lament, Take Uncounted, Roll Film

"Vampyre is dead
fuck, fuck, fuck!"
those first words
spit out of my pen
come out of my mouth
as hard words
the slamdown of
harsh reality
as shattered poems
skitter around my feet
whining and complaining
unfinished and wretched
without sympathy
as the pink cell phone
sits limp in my hand
blinking blindly at me
as I curse death
and threaten it with sex

you see Vampyre always made fuck
a funny word
a desirable word
an excellent word
that should be well-used
before throwing it away
and getting down to business
was something
he always liked
he really liked sincere girls
who didn't wear too much makeup
who put out on the first date
and he always used that word fuck well
usually in a darkly sinister way
but still wicked and accurate
skewering each of us
on our well-satisfied petards
that word not-often-enough used
it's your bum, your butt, what you sit on dude
and he shouldn't be dead
he shouldn't be dead dammit

so this is a drunken tribute
to a man who should be standing there
regaling us with well-orchestrated mayhem
because his poem Fuck You Dr. Sunshine
is an absolute necessity
and should be required reading
for every counseling intern
every psychiatric want-a-be
who still believes in the delusion of order
Vampyre knew that was a lie
in a universe
still struggling
to achieve entropy
but he was still wrong in his poem
on at least one thing

Vampyre you might have been alone when you died
you might have been embittered
but you will never be forgotten
and in death
you didn't annoy the neighbors
who came up to Debbie V. and I
one by one
over and over
to talk to us
just to talk to us
about you

you stupid son of a bitch
you - stupid - son - of - a - bitch
I know why you didn't go to the doctor
I know why you didn't go to the emergency room
but still
you shouldn't have died

my sons smile as I drive
listening to me yell at the world
hearing you stupid son of a bitch
repeated too often
every time I hear Vampyre's voice in my head again
reading generic love poem malicious
singing another hilarious, dagger-pointed song
at 12 and 16 my sons get the cuss words -
until they see the tears
see me pounding the useless steering wheel
that will never help me find you again
you stupid son of a bitch
you should have listened to your friends
and gone to the god-damned doctor
but years of that chinese doctor
wrecked you

that chinese-american blue-cross special
wasn't a good doctor
and he had no value assigned
to a musician
that dirty word in his oh-so-proper mouth
and he wasn't going to look at your feet
he wasn't going to look at your ankles or your legs
he wasn't going to look at your back
although the San Francisco Pain Clinic did
they looked and looked hard
carefully documenting damage in x-ray after x-ray
and I saw the deterioration in your blue-lit spine
the decay in your legs
and that fucked-up little king doctor
who left you with a bad taste in your mouth for all chinese
should have seen the damage
he should have seen it
should, that awful, evil word "should"
your ex-bandmate Gollub knew its evil
submitted his take on all the shoulds in the world
for your laughter, for your approval
until he also had to hold a phone
and sputter oh shit oh shit oh shit
a fucking echo of my own pain at your passing
but that chinese certified doctor decided
you played rock and roll
so you must have been looking for drugs
not pain management

if you had only known
if we had only known
but there is no epitaph
written and readily available
for the grief we share now

"I wrote shit down" you'd say
"it's ready and waiting" you'd point out
"just run with it damnit"
that's what you'd tell us
if you could
and your ghost is still talking
your ghost speaks to the Vinograd Oracles
who oh so often are still bending their ears down
and laughing
over and over
harder and harder
reciting your poems
to an audience
of painted fruit that makes your mouth water
and head shots painted from the many friends
who will always know your worth
just as any audience will
even if they hadn't known you
or the value of true gold vices
the value of platinum pasty awards for the biggest tits
the value of your voice
just your voice
that still echoes over and over in my ears
a voice that is not still as the singular god
you and I grew up with
but a voice rich with the vice of life
a voice crying out into the wilderness
about a civilization
that sold its soul long ago
to the monster mayhem of market manipulation

but this is a drunken orgy about you
and somebody reading this
may not have met you
so they need to get drunk on your poetry
they need to get stoned laughing to your songs
they need to get sober and remember your utter kindness
that you tried to hide without success
even though you kept
friends laughing
as they coughed out their lungs
into air that wouldn't receive them
as they sewed up their heart
because the world wasn't ready for them
not yet anyway
so before the world can appreciate you
they need to put a price on what's priceless
dollar tags on laughter
bar codes on Vampyre promises
and even a final receipt tag on you
but it won't work
we know the true cost of your graveyard golf
it's a six-pack of beer
a paper bag of laughter
and your wicked smile
smile for us Vampyre
just once more
god we could use a million more of you

2. - better, butter, best

better better said the bat
butter said the jackass
best said Vampyre Mike

better to go in your bat cave
warmed by your books
and the worn plastic covers
filled with the Grim Tales
you regaled
and tick-tocked the night away reading

butter said the jackass
his mouth melting away from good taste
as he watched your reflection
his eyes filled with the fiery vision
of you, in your mirror
dark looks drawing in
every female you ever encountered

no food spits out the bat
as he glances at the thinned-out skeleton shadow
still hovering above the bed
he ate so little near the end worries the bat

no it is better to slip into that silent sleep
surrounded by friendly and fun unfriendly faces
surfacing in the paintings glowing with music
framing out of the promo posters for the Ice Wyrms
newspaper and chapbook photos vying with each other
arguing for space on the wall
until the sheathed ring of the silver sword of banishment
silences the competing four walls
Vampyre quilted out of the darkened underside of a rainbow

but, but, butter, and then the jackass is silenced too
as the sword is unsheathed on a high note
as it slices through the argument
slinging out the high-toned words of lament
it speaks

better to die here in darkened peace
bat cave prepped for honor
jackasses locked behind the closet door
so much better
than tied tubeway to Sunday
in a crisp, tied-down hospital bed
corded up to blinking machines
that measure each clogged breath

better than anxious friendly nurses bustling about
looking at you with eyes too kind
even Nurse Ratched cracking open an unused smile
none worrying about roving fingers
as your paler and paler hands twitch uncontrollably
on the crisply whitened sheets
knowledge a saddened burden
in the nurses' strong, tense palms

the skeleton grins a toothy, lustful grin
as it shadows the bed
hands restless over sheets
that have felt such heat
borrowing the heart of every instrument in the room
with the guitar and bodhran taking lead
to sing out the better desires

dream women are found in this room
the skeleton gimble-gamble-dances
cackling as he magics the musicians
and the instruments dance up around him
gorgeous women seep from these walls
slip blond fairy sideways from photo albums
lovingly taping dead memories together
slip singing from pagan tapes
long hair jagged with notes and staves
laugh their way out of the chapbooks
filled with poem after poem
of my soap opera of women
dark sexy kittens that bite
elegant long hair unwrapping poem after poem
so many women bringing a spiderweb net
filled with such hot, sticky-sweet memories

Vampyre laughs
steps out of the shadows to join the dance
grabbing the silvered sword
offering shoulder to the bat
kicking closed the closet door
on the braying, unbuttered, uncooked jackass

best of all to be still alive he ghosts
best for more hot memories to be made
to be pounded
into the soft edges
of my crushed velvet bed
of my crushed velvet women
best to thrust
into the soft curving edges of a new woman
long hair sweaty across
the tender mountains
of her still-to-be explored landscape
best to let my fingers read the book of her body
letting her own new lines
in my next poem

better, definitely, said the bat
butter brayed the closet door junkie jackass
yes better sings the silver sword
better cackles the skeleton dance
better, butter, best sighs Vampyre
easing back into the welcome shadows
better, butter, best

©Debra Grace Khattab
April 2008

Also by Debra Grace Khattab
Without a Hat for Allen Cohen
Dancing with balloons in the smoke for Susan Birkeland

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