Chicanery Row


Nowadays, with a bit of good will, you can call anybody crazy. -Jean Cocteau, “Intimate Relations”

Down Chicanery Row
the street lamps are lynching poles
and mortuaries are shopping malls.
The dead never rise up again
like they do in the movies
or scripture:
They stay down,
Down Chicanery Row.

The worst kind of charlatan:
the one who believes in his own illusions,
fancying himself a magician
when he’s really a tragician.

Down Chicanery Row
sweet tramps carry empty lunch pails
and shady strays don’t ever wail
because the denizens already know
and accept
that they’re down,
Down Chicanery Row

The best kind of martyr:
the one who’s more into the auto-da-fé
than the going away
and laughs at fiery ablutions.

Down Chicanery Row
every table’s red and black
but there’s no money to stack.
The Fell-Behinds never get ahead
in their heads
Down Chicanery Row.

The dumbest kind of poet:
the one who thinks he’s cleverly riffing on Steinbeck,
gets halfway through the poem,
and realizes he’s dangerously close to Dylan.

And this poet has already had more Dylan comparisons than he can stomach
(mostly on account of not being able to sing very well
but still.)

Sorry, Bobby.

Abandon ship.
(That’s probably fucking Dylan too.)

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