Sunday, December 30, 2012

Why I Hate Kansas


And so, here I am at the Granada—
Someday it will be a Bingo Parlor

The Baby Boomer days are gone—
I’m the last Baby Boomer Badboy

The old Snake Pit Drive In Theater—
Gone like Vegas Elvis the Pelvis

No more Sexploitation skin flicks—
Like Creature from the Black Lagoon

Gone the Giant Gila Monster—
And the campy Devil Girl from Mars

Attack of the Giant Shrews so cool—
And those awful Atom Age Vampires

You see, I Walked With A Zombie—
I was a Werewolf In A Girls Dormitory

The cheesy Plan 9 From Outer Space—
It was all about Cowtown Emporia

The Attack of the Giant Leeches—
Just look at the Re-Echo Yearbook

Those booze & dope Saturday nights—
Getting a Blowjob in the balcony

All those crummy high school dayz—
Cruising up & down the Main Drag

I got married to The Wasp Woman—
I ended up The Man Made Monster

I live in The House on Haunted Hill—
Don’t Look in the Basement 

Because I’m down there, baby—
Like that’s where I live now

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Dred Scott


It’s always sobering—
For an aging baby boomer
Like me to sometimes do 
A little Self Portraiture 

Outta the WW II womb—
And Great Depression 
Viola!  A bunch of us
Pampered spoiled brats

Drive In junkies—
We had cars back then
Postwar rug-rats and the
Whole world was ours

Hot Elvis the Pelvis—
Ducktail Rock & Roll!!!
Wild and Affluent youth
We had things to do!

Too good to be true—
They laid the nefarious
Viet Nam War on us to
Control our Generation

It seems like there’s—
Always intergenerational
Warfare going on between
Kids and parents

There were simply—
Too many of us wild
Turbulent youth so let’s
Have another War, dears!

And so they gave us—
Nixon and “Night of
The Living Dead” to put
Down our 60’s Libido

Body-bags and war—
Such dirty things but
What the fucking hell
War economies work!

“Love not War!” —
Proclaimed the Hippies
Counterculture protest &
Generational War began

It’s Still going on—
So many fucking wars later
Each generation faced with
The same denouement

NOW it’s gay lib’s turn—
We’re all just Fag slackers
“Bestiality” Bad Boyz the
Great Law scholars call us

Gay marriage approved—
Slowly state by state despite 
DOMA declaring its sanctity
Ever So Heteronormative!

Salome does her lovely dance—
Oscar Wilde gets another chance 
To dance with the Supreme Court’s
Esteemed Justice Antonin Scalia

“Heads” or Tails it’s bound to be—
The Dance of the Seven Veils
If only “Salome” Rita Hayworth and
Charles Laughton could be there

And so here I am, my dears—
Nothing but a minor little pawn
A mere Reductio ad absurdum 
“Fallen Angel” it seems for now

Not that future generations—
Will even remember the trials
And tribulations of what’s coming
Down in this so-so legal soiree

My whole life now seems somewhat—
Caught up between two important
Legal cases: “The Dred Scott Decision” 
With Blacks & me simply slave chattel

And “Brown vs. Board of Education 1954”—
Concerned with equal educational rights
And opportunities of African-Americans 
And now GLBT citizens as well, my dears

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Salome (1953)

SALOME (1953)

Nothing like a campy—
Hollywood Sword & Sandal
Biblical Epic to Butch me
Up for Sunday School!!!

To face the Christians—
Slithering every Sunday
Guilting me severely with
Damning demeaning Hell!!!

And to think, my dears—
Christians once back then
Such Fearful Closet Cases
Under the Roman sword!!!

Both Charles Laughton—
And Miss Stewart Granger
Such flaming LA Queens
What Faggy Filmographies!!!

“Salome” tells the story—
About Christian persecution
John the Baptist’s holy head
Plopped on a Silver Platter!!!

How things have changed—
Rome the New Religious Right
Jerry Fartwell & Jimmy Swaggart
Preaching hatred for all Queers!!!

Backed by rabid Mormonism—
And Revered Edie Long Dong
Christians the New Persecutors
Let Salome begin her Dance!!!

Please Stand By



"You can't go back home
to your family, back home
to your childhood”
—Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t
Go Home Again

Once you realize that—
The denouement of the novel
The film and the short story
Then you realize it’s shit

The sooner you realize this—
The better off you’ll be when
It comes to checking out the
Possibilities of who you are

You’re basically nothing—
But a shitty cow-patty plopped
Down in the Tall Grass Prairie
Beside the Santa Fe Tracks


“... back
home to a young man's
dreams of glory and of fame ...”
—Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t
Go Home Again

No more than a fucking—
Shitty cow-patty dumped on
The high plains down here
On the Fly Over State

So get used to it—
There’s nothing down here
Between the Neosho & Cottonwood
Other than you & Commercial St

We’re just simply a fucking—
Shitty cow-patty dumped down
On the high plains between
The Neosho & Cottonwood


“back home to the escapes
of Time Memory."
—Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t
Go Home Again

So get used to it—
The Kansas prairie will be
Here long after we’ve come
And gone our way

Look at it as a gift—
You’re a nice privileged
Piece of shit that woke
Up and walked around

Say hello to your—
Fellow Emporians who
Like William Allen White
Once walked this earth

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dark Victory


For Dr. Francis X. Allard

“Well, my dear” —
Bette Davis said with an
“All About Eve” twist of
Her swishing cigarette

“Better late than never” —
Referring to the recent gay
Marriage initiative passed
In the State of Washington

Francis had been dead —
Since 2000 after 27 years
Being my partner after
Meeting each other at UW

“Tell me, my dear” —
Bette said, standing on
The big winding staircase
Glancing down at the party

“How many are there —
I wonder, gay widows like
You now that the grand
Performance is over?”

I girded my loins —
Fastened my seatbelt
It had been a very
Bumpy ride, my dears

A true “Dark Victory” —
So many of us gay couples
Had lost our partners by
This dark victorious night

Monday, December 10, 2012

Filming in Cold Blood


An opening shot—
“Welcome to Emporia”
There on Sixth Avenue West

Dick and me driving—
Through Emporia, Kansas
Past the looming Plumb Mansion

Past Carnegie Library—
And the Civic Auditorium
Then a right on Commercial

Driving north to campus—
Down a couple of blocks
To Haynes Hardware Store


Some rope and tape—
To tie the Clutter Family up
Nice and real tight, honey

We’ll skip the fucking—
Catholic nun’s black nylons
For masks, says Dick

It’ll be dark by then—
There in Holcomb, Kansas
At the rich Clutter Joint

It’s a long drive, honey—
But this old Chevy will
Get us there that’s for sure

Driving Up Commercial


C’mon Perry, don’t gimme—
Your crazy, loony superstitious
Fucked-up premonition crap

None of your stupid boyhood—
Fucked-up Big Bird routine
And your usual paranoid spiel

By the time it’s over with—
We’ll be Fat Cat rich and on
Our way to Mexico, honey!!!

Little did Dick know though—
That Truman Capote would
End up as my cute lover boy


Past the Kress Five and Dime
Past the Strand Theater as we’re
Driving up Commercial slowly

Past the ugly Presbyterian Church—
Gothic brooding limestone wreck
Facing elegant Granada film palace

Past the bright flashing marquee—
The Granada Theater where our
Story would end up there in lights

Up on the Hollywood Silver Screen—
The whole sordid fucked-up noir
Movie of our wretched no-good lives

Driving to Holcomb


Doing the dirty deed—
What a goddamn wild goose
Chase it all was all based on
Floyd Welles’ stupid lies

Afterwards, Dick called it—
Misinformation that’s all
But I just smirked, it was
All just cheap Pulp Fiction

There was no Safe—
With $10,000 in the wall
Just waiting for us to grab
And make a run for it


Miss Capote opines adroitly—
The whole psychiatric spiel
Explaining why we did what
We did, all the reasons why

As if it was some kind of—
Detective Fiction Novel
Easily explained by Prose
Topeka brainy intellectuals

When actually it was all—
My own spontaneous rage
To prove myself to Hickock
I was a real Killer just for him

Blonde Chicken


I knew Dick pretty good
I knew his strengths there
In bed, but I knew his
Crummy weaknesses too

He couldn’t control himself—
Losing all of his common sense
Needing to get it off with chicks
Especially the young chickens

With no dough to show for—
Dick’s whole fucked-up scheme
He’d dreamed up because of
Crazy Floyd Welles’ lies


So it wasn’t in cold blood—

Like Truman Capote called it
It was just pure unadulterated
Faggoty Green Jealousy

All just to impress Hickcock—
How much I really loved him
And wanted to impress him
With my Thuggish Killer ways

It wasn’t cold-blooded at all—
It wasn’t frustration of getting
No dough or anything like that
It was just a Lover’s Jealousy

Kiss of Death


Truman Capote and I were—

Just a couple of the usual
Hardcore queens who got off
On goodlooking str8t trade

I wasn’t ever into rough trade—
Except when Dick wanted to
His mean disfigured sexy face
From a drunk car accident

Richard Avedon captured it—
Dick’s knowing criminal look
How he could flex his nice arms
And make me weak in the knees


Dick had those big sad—

Femme fatale eyes he’d bat
Just for me like some sexy
Fag noir bitch in heat

Sometimes he could be—
Butch and mean but other
Times he made me feel like
A million bucks just for him

I was a pretty good bottom—
For whatever he needed then
He’d whisper some cute chick’s
Name and fuck me real good

Doing In Cold Blood


Capote’s “In Cold Blood”—

Was actually a Three-way
Sordid pulp fiction Novel
If you know what I mean

A Novel and two Flicks—
Based on 4 grisly murders
In Holcomb Kansas back
In 1959 when I was a kid

Capote’s non-fiction novel—
Had all the class of tres chic
Sophisticated New Yorker
Style and Slick Decadence


The first flick in 1967—
Directed by Richard Brooks
And starring Robert Blake’s
Stunning portrayal of me

The second flick in 2005—
With Philip Seymour Hoffman
As the troubled, ingratiating
Ambitious queer Capote

The Clutter murders in 1959—
Capote’s book published in 1965
Two years later Brook’s film then
Hoffman’s masturbation piece

Doing Capote


Nobody could do Capote—

Like Capote did himself
Supposedly inventing a
Whole new Novel genre

The Novel as Film Noir—
The Book as a Movie
I saw it all in the Granada
Kansas turned into Film

Emporians weren’t ready—
Shocked by the Violence
To think that the Killers
Slithered through downtown


The weird thing was that—

I lived next door in Emporia

To Mr. & Mrs. Haynes there on

Constitution Street in town


A long elm-shaded street—

Stretching down lazy afternoons

Past KSTC campus to my small

Emporia High School 

The only murders I’d known—
Were the Hollywood ones then
In the Granada & the Strand
And the 50-S Drive In

Nonfiction Novels


The Clutter murders took place—

When I was in the 9th grade
The novels I’d read were
The usual banned ones

Especially “Fanny Hill” and—
“Lady Chatterley’s Lover” kept
Discretely in Mommy Dearest’s
Living room locked escritoire

I’d read William Golding’s—
Rather gay “Lord of the Flies”
And Harper Lee’s “To Kill A
Mockingbird” in 1960


Back then it was all—

Dove-tailing together for me
The novel, the movies, and
The Viet Nam War nightmare

Death in Dallas loomed—
Death in Holcomb Kansas
Death in Viet Nam and
Possible death for me

It was like Truman Capote—
Had put his finger on something
That was changing very fast
And getting closer and closer

To Kill A Mockingbird


Harper Lee had put Truman—

Right in the middle of her novel
As the young weird kid “Dill”
Fictionalizing the Deep South

Then it was Truman Capote’s turn—
To put Harper and him on the
Santa Fe Super Chief all the
Way to Garden City Kansas

That’s where he wrote it—
There in a motel with Harper’s
Help and William Shawn with
The New Yorker’s funding


How does this Novel—

Work nonfiction-wise for a
Kansas kid growing up in a
Small town like Emporia

It’s been over 50 years—
Since the Holcomb homicides
And Kansas will never ever
Be the same since then

William Allen White’s—
Placid little college town
Somehow stands still today
Like a Midwestern noir novel


—for David Penny


How nice of you to visit old Anita B. Rice—there at the retirement home way back then. But as you surely must know—the old bag kicked the bucket way back in 1994.

So there’s no way Anita B. Rice could be—ensconced here in Emporia in the lovely Kenyon Heights Apartments with me. I was just imploring a minor poetic conceit—the idea of Midwestern noir in the Flyover State.

The same with grizzled old grumpy Wood Bloxom—
his Hispanic Racism and Simmering Sexism with all that misogamist miasma of his generation. It would never be tolerated today—either by the academic administration or by the students.

The same with Albert Higgins and Ed Sands—why were they fired? Did they think they were above reproach—permitted to rule and lord over others like Bloxom and Rice? With the same old generational grudges—and prima donna privileges? Hardly.

Emporia has devolved back into what it always was—
a rural retirement small town community for Widows and aging Wrinklies. The Athens of The Midwest—is now Retirement City USA. Wasn’t it always that way though?

The Broadview Hotel there on Sixth Avenue—Kenyan Heights there on Twelfth. Full of retired people—aging Baby Boomer couples and singles. The Flyover State—one big Retirement community. Surrounded by ghost towns—and vast corporate farmlands.

Emporia Senior High School—will now be a great thriving Convention Center. I can’t wait to be the first guest—to be booked into the Wood Bloxom Bridal Suite!!! How about the Anita B. Rice—or Ed Price lovely suites with wonderful Views?

And the first corporate Convention in town—surely it must be the Hostess Twinkie Bake Sale Bonanza!  Or how about the Tyson Cluck Cluck Chicken Reunion Convention—or the Iowa Beef Stinkeroo Barbeque Memorial Get Together!

Ah Modern Maturity—comes to the Midwest. Ain’t it Great—ain’t it Wonderful? Just look at our lovely Class of 1962 Reunion Convention. Gathered together at the Granada Theater—for our grand Fiftieth Reunion Nostalgic Affair.

Too bad that our Neoclassical Emporia High School—hadn’t been restored, renovated and remodeled yet for our Fiftieth Reunion Get Together.

Oh well, but it’s kinda funny. How Bloxom, Rice & all those other Mentors—from way back then. Still are haunting my gaunt, gothic Imagination—Memories, Dreams and Flashbacks from 50 years ago.

But soon I’ll be just simply—nothing but Flyover State History. A brief Smudge & a mere Smidgeon—of that long gone Midwestern Noir moment back then.

“And you were there” — as Walter Cronkite said.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Letter to Emporia

Letter to Emporia

Dear David and Buddy—

Please don’t believe everything I write—
Whether it’s imploring midwestern noir poetics
Or being ensconced now in new Kenyon Heights

Miss Anita B. Rice died in 1994, of course—
There’s no way she could be living now with me now

Except in my midwestern noir fictional fantasy—
It’s nice you were able to visit her back then
At the Presbyterian retirement home though

One’s perception I suppose of those incredible—
Midwestern monolithic personalities back then
With the looming Easter Island image of Bloxom

Standing there at that same third floor door—
Greeting us with his continuous grimace back
Then each morning like he’d done for centuries

Photos of Wood as football coach back in 1938—
All of them standing there against the brick wall
Of the western EHS fa├žade below his class window

Teaching in the same classroom back in the ‘40s—
When my mother walked those same hallways
And sat at those same scarred bolted-down desks

It wasn’t just plane geometry Wood preached—
It was everything else under the sun including
The fact that Hispanics were surely doomed

Holding all those generations not so enthralled—
As he was with his high-toned lecturing voice
His features gnarled like gargoyles from Chartres

“Somewhere in Kansas the sun is shining—
But it’s not shining down here on Emporia today”
Was like his continuous rant and by-line message

And he was probably true as was Anita Rice—
Saying daily “I’m simply appalled, my dear” when
Nobody could answer her American History questions

That Wood was seemingly racist was bad enough—
But he was also downgrading and misogynist toward
Budding young women scholars like Connie Leonhart

Who won a National Merit Scholarship to Stanford—
There in Palo Alto like Larry Ballard to MIT but that
Was something we all had to put up with back then

I doubt if a teacher like Wood Bloxom with attitude—
Could get away with what he opined those mornings
To us his captive audience of denigrated youngsters

But that was then from another generation—
Can you imagine being nailed down all those years
To one class of dummies after another?

No wonder Wood and Anita were cynical I suppose—
And yet it was a job like his wife there at Walnut
Rice, Bloxom, Price, Parker all of them gone now

Being lock-step captives since Walnut Elementary—
All the way up through EHS and perhaps KSTC
Surely it was a rather unique social situation?

Growing up that way with a group of people that—
From Emporia who would’ve just been strangers
Had it not been for such a unique school system?

No wonder buildings like Lowther and EHS—
Standing lonely like Neo-Classical Temples there
On West Sixth Avenue could be so very haunting

And the YMCA across the street with its pool—
Basketball court, juke box and dancing room
Torn down now and just a forlorn parking lot

So much of Emporia history gone now like—
The Hood Mansion on State Street where
Marion Howard the Spanish teacher lived

Me and my divorced mother in a little shack—
Across the street on Seventh Avenue just up
From Roberts-Barnett-Blue Funeral Home

How gaunt and gothic the Hood Mansion—
Standing there in the Midwestern moonlight
Reminding of Hitchcock’s “Psycho” mansion

And yet it had its own Emporia history—
With Major Hood from the Civil War days
Cattleman mover & shaker bankster lord

The gone First Christian Church on Exchange—
Byzantine with its moody domes and its basement
Smelling of some kind of strange incense there

Baptized but not really knowing why it was—
That my County Commissioner grandfather and
G.A.R. grandmother insisted I get dunked then

Norton Hall on Twelfth on the KSTC campus—
Where I stood enthralled gazing horrified at
The bottled babies embalmed in formaldehyde

Vernon Sheffield coming to my comfort back—
Then when he was a math professor, hearing me
Sobbing forlornly there by the display cabinets

There but for the grace of God I could’ve been—
Bottled in bug-eyed perpetuity staring out at
The passer-bys peering at the dead embryos

Sheffield playing Chopin for me on the piano—
Soothing my shocked adolescent impressionable
Mind back then, his recitals were inspiring

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Midwestern Noir


Dear David and Buddy,

Well, I picked you and Buddy See because of all our classmates—both of you are pretty much the epitome of the Kansas intellectual elite.

The Kansas intelligentsia. You always were the cream of the crop and I’ve paid attention to how you two gentlemen have matured over time.

The same with Richard James—who saved my ass in the Key Club. I was pretty much an amateur asshole when it came to group dynamics and leadership back then. Others should have held that position, but I was ambitious for the Air Force Academy and wanted my dossier to show it.

What did it show? Blind ambition and naivete. A total child-idiot lack of any possible kind of leadership and so-called middle-class whatever. What a stupid little nincompoop I was—it’s laughable in retrospect. But then 50 years later—surely one wises up? And one asks oneself questions likeWhy was I such an asshole? Why such delusions of grandeur? Puffed-up illusions and petty superiority trips?

What about now—surely I have no such Midwestern noir illusions?

BTW James’s father Carl James worked with my grandmother in Concordia there in Republic County. She was for many years the County Superintendent of Schools in Belleville.

Of course, times have changed. Her position is no more—just like all the little county midwestern red school houses. And family farms. Gone now—corporate farming prevails. Satellites beam the way harvesters do their thing, the way crops are sprayed, the politics of GM wheat, corn and who knows what else. But that’s another story…

But back then in 1962 when we celebrated our EHS graduation—my grandmother Theresa Kelly recognized Carl James up there on the Civic Auditorium stage. Handing out diplomas for our class.

She greeted him from the audience after the ceremony was over. “Hello Carl!!!,” she exclaimed. “Well, hello there, Theresa!!!”—Carl waved back to her.

This perhaps was the kind of milieu—that’s what secondary education was like back then. A sense of collegiality—between Kansas passing generations of teachers and administrators.

But what do I know? I know Zip—about the Zeitgeist then or now. Theresa’s county commissioner office—abolished years ago—all the rural little school houses long gone. What can I say? Other than the classic art deco Republic County Courthouse in Bellevue—now a Community Center where she worked all those years. And the one-room school-house where she began teaching. It's all history now—so what's new?

The kind of professionalism that was real back then—well, it isn’t much written about now. The way Kansas has changed—the way RFD & city lifestyles have turned into what they are today.

There’s not much oral or written history remaining about this Midwestern history—the kind of excellent professionalism of teaching we had back then.

Most of our EHS guides—had Masters degrees from KU and some from back East at Columbia. We were lucky back then—it was truly an Athens of the Midwest. Kenyon Heights there on the hill—overlooking Emporia. I look out the window westwardly—the Maplewood Cemetery waits for me.

What constituted the excellence of the C of E and KSTC faculty back then? And now after all these years—how do I view these former mentors? Why did I mope in the Sunken Gardens back then—like Tennessee Williams in "Summer and Smoke." 

For many years, I lived next door on Rural Street to a rather interesting woman—who took me under her wing. She was Mrs. Shaffner who was the wife of the C of E football coach—and geology science teacher… 

The College of Emporia was known as a religious school from its inceptionuntil it gradually became more secular in the 1950s and 60s. In Conrad Vandervelde''s history of the schoolhe tells of some of the restrictions:

Smoking, card-playing and dancing were prohibited. Bible courses were required each year and chapel was held daily. Ball games were arranged so that Sunday travel would not be necessary. Monday was the weekly holiday to discourage travel on Sunday. The college laboratories and library were closed and athletic facilities were not used on Sunday.

But that’s a long convoluted other story—worthy of how many C of E recollections? That other first Carnegie Library building west of the Mississippi—standing there rotting and mildewing from dampness like me? It might get renovated someday—but not me that's for sure. I'm rotting away—into nothingness. These words—the only things left.

As you said, David, this professionalism we got at EHS—it’s not what the kids are getting today in their classrooms. Why? I dunno. I don’t profess being much of an academic intelligentsia—other than pushing the agenda that the English language seems to do the Trick for me. Rude like brilliant Doxtator—was I ready for what happened next?

Walking down the hallway once—this leather briefcase of TW Jaggard came sliding fast outta Doxtator's classroom. I stopped—then picked it up. Took it back into the room—where they were disputing as usual. 

Doxtator was trying to get rid of TW—but then TW was persistent. "C'mon now, gentlemen," I said. "Is this any way for the two most intelligent men in Emporia—to debate important issues of the day? They smirked—I smirked. We all smirked...

Our mentors like Doxtator, Bloxom, Price, Rice, Jaquith, Sullivan and Parker—they were the Midwestern noir mentors of what was to come. Even my mother knew them well—her fondness for Orville Parker so charming. Her pretty flute—encased in dark velvet. Up there—in the attic with her dreams.

Richard Stauffer’s giant looming stone monuments—standing west of Emporia. Looming ancient Stonehenge monuments—ageless Strong City limestone artistic monoliths. Reminding me of the decaying old fenceposts—still strung out there in the yawning emptiness of tall grass prairie silence.

Then there’s my mother’s generation of the ‘40s—as well as for us at EHS in the Sixties. The ancient, inscribed, bolted-down desks—lining in rows there in the EHS classrooms. My generation of the Sixties—her generation of the Forties. All one Piece…WWII and Viet Nam.

But what do I know—about such matters? Other than being there? The way time flows and forgets—the Emporia Gazette is full of obituaries. The delineation and demise—the reportage of this and that. First you dream—and then you die...

All the small town strange scenarios—the men who lusted after my red-headed mother. The lewd dentist —the ogling freak owner of the birthday party Roller Rink. She shrugged—perhaps even enjoyed it. She wanted me to see—that she still had some sex-appeal? Leaving "Peyton Place" in her Escritoire—for me to read and peruse... 

But really like who cares? These three EHS Echo yearbooks—sitting here on my desk. Not that much different than my mother’s three yearbooks—outta the long gone ‘40s Emporia past.

All her young handsome WWII yearbook lovers—you can see it in all their naive faces that the innocence was soon to turn into something else.  

The stark black and white Depression tensions—the looming precocious chiaroscuro of future WWII sacrificed victims—the cutie-pies already deader than a doornail a long time ago. The war economy ever since—to avoid the horrors of the Depression.

Deader than a doornail—the living dead of all the future generations waiting to be deceased. In this yellowing EHS Echo Yearbook from 1962—the Viet Nam dead stare out at me.

The yearbooks of the ‘60s—like Amy Jane's yearbooks of the '40s. They have a way—of telling stories about a lot of things. Things I didn't wanna know—things I wish I maybe I didn’t know… But like maybe that's why I'm writing this down. More for me than you...