by Catfish McDaris
Chazmo stepped off the train from New York, the heat was a stifling Boston strangler. We decided on a quick visit to the Art Institute near Lake Michigan. Five black kids were beating the hell out of upside down buckets, the sound ricocheted bullet like through the Chicago air, I dropped a fin in their donation tackle box. Chazmo wanted to see some Pablo and Vincent work and I opted for Grant Wood and Otto Dix. I gazed at a Wood and scribbled a poemthought.
Reading Between The Strokes
Standing in the city of wind
staring into a painting called
Death On Ridge Road
I am mortified
Unseen people in a car are
about to have a head on
collision with a monster truck,
death is a certainty
I wonder if it’s the plain
Jane & her farmer father
with his pitchfork from
Or maybe just a car load
of Grant’s imagination.
Two gorgeous ladies looked over my shoulder as I wrote. Chazmo watched, amusement dancing in his eyes.
‘Are you famous?’ hooter heaven asked.
‘Ever hear of Bukowski and Dylan Thomas?’
‘They’re nasty and our favorites,’ they squealed.
I fondled them both, to Chazmo’s amazement and slipped them a poem. They gave me a C-note and a stone bone, unfortunately I had no time to bury it.
Under the elevated tracks we ate chile rellenos and talked writer trash. When the trains rumbled overhead, the stems of our chiles shook like rats’ tails in a Mexico City earthquake. We walked and saw a Picasso sculpture and the Sears Tower shrouded in fog. Sipping double martinis in the marble slabbed Union Station, I showed Chazmo where they had shot the scene of the baby carriage bumping down the stairs in the movie, The Untouchables. We finally boarded the train for Kansas and our trip to see William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. The trip was uneventful except for the peyote dipped in honey and a pretty freckled face hillbilly going down on me.
A man with a sky blue turban and a handle bar mustache picked us up. He put paper grocery sacks over our heads and drove us to our destination. Escorting us from the car into the building, he removed our blinder bags. We were in a large room with stuffed bear heads, deer, mountain goat, lion, rhino, giraffe, moose, bobcat, and a huge catfish all staring at us malevolently from the walls and a full sized gorilla. Fractured lights reflected from lifeless eyes creating a strobe like psychedelic rainbow effect. An eye glassed gray man and a thin wild eyed man sat at one end of a long mahogany table, smoking what smelled like opium mixed with hashish and marijuana. Two places were set for Chazmo and I midway down the table. Chazmo had met them both many times, for me it was the first.
‘Have you ever known the ecstasy of having your anus penetrated and stretched by carrots and cucumbers?’ the gray man asked. Neither of us made a comment, we just looked quizzically at the zoo of death.
The thin man had three pistols of varying sizes lying next to his plate. Drinks were served by our chauffer. Every so often, the thin man raised a pistol and fired into the gorilla standing behind us. Every time the guns went off, the gray man would smile at our discomfort and squirm his ass around on his chair. It was unnerving to say the least.
The first course of dinner arrived, it was carrot and cucumber soup. Chazmo and I both declined, claiming we were strictly carnivorous, trying to offset the trend toward vegetarianism. Both of our hosts grinned at our obvious prevarication. They winked suggestively.
Excusing myself, I climbed out the bathroom window and escaped across the ripe summer fields of wheat. Chazmo also extricated himself from the queer surroundings and departed for the city of seven hills. I returned to the land where three rivers meet.
– Catfish McDaris has been active in the small press world for 20 years. He’s tamed wild horses, made cattle troughs, worked in a zinc smelter, & painted flag poles. He lived in a cave & wintered in a Chevy in Denver. He ended at the post office in Milwaukee, after 34 years, a catfish farm is next, he hopes. His biggest seller was ‘Prying’ with Jack Micheline & Charles Bukowski.