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Fall 1996, Volume 13.3



James Poulakos

James Poulakos (B.A., Georgia State University) is a hypertext writer and editor on the World Wide Web: ( His poems have appeared in the GSU Review and Weber Studies.  See other poetry written by James Poulakos and published by Weber StudiesVol. 11.1.


William S. Burroughs at Spring Break, Ft. Lauderdale, or, Acid on the Beach

At this particular time,
on this sandy heated strip
between a landfill peninsula
crawling with sweating steaming people
and the largest puddle on the planet,
there's just no way I could concentrate
on mentally cupping the buttocks
of these baked and staggering beauties.

The sun is marking me for life, burning
everything I have beneath it, cooking even
this new scar on my hand, this scar
like a piece of string
tucked under my skin,
anchored to something different at each end,
both ends hot like a soldering iron.

I cannot fit my sloppy self around another beer.
The acid burn of pizza sauce rages unseen now,
vomit and stink swirling in a ziplock skin bag.
Spices are now just particular sharpened bits
of decayed and dried wood,
plant shavings,
and the crushed dust of weeds.



I come home as usual, only this time home is a set
made of painted plywood, all pastels so you can tell
that my wife was the one who picked out the colors,
including that checkerboard pattern of white
& baby blue urethane paint that's already peeling,
& even the light streaming in the living room windows
is painted in a watery egg-yolk wash, garish
against the pink walls like the swaths of light
& dark in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
I round the corner into the kitchen, shedding tie
& other props on my way to the kitchen table,
& now I see that a wall is missing:
where the stove & refrigerator used to be
is where the audience now sits. My wife
is played by Kathy Bates, who I've seen
in Fried Green Tomatoes but never met in person.
She wears a gingham apron & beams over cardboard pie.

I play along & make table talk, & she acts
proud of me for dealing with disasters at the office.
I compliment her redecorating & carve a healthy slice
of paper cobbler. Now is when I notice we have a child,
played by Luke Perry from Beverly Hills 90120.
He looks like a Levi's ad, & as I unfold my paper,
I'm asking him how school is coming.

But he must still be working on his James Dean,
because he crumples up his napkin & pushes off
from the table, exiting stage right, which we didn't expect
so he has just screwed up everything. For a moment
Ms. Bates & I pause, not knowing how to deal
with this, or who will speak first:
he didn't even have the courtesy
to read the lines they wrote for him.


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