John Roche


Thus Spake Sadakichi

"To be in any form, what is that?
(Round and round we go, all of us, and come back thither)"
--Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself"


Sadakichi Hartmann
what's in a name?
"fortunate if constant"
continents adrift incense afloat
"perfume concerts"
"color music"
(the first light show?)
"white chrysanthemums"
two absinthes "toast to the absent ones"

Your predecessors
"Listening to Incense"
in the Imperial Court of Nippon
floating poems
upon
the Dragon's back

Ezra said,
"It wd. have been worthwhile
to have been Sadakichi...
Not that my constitution
wd. have weathered
the strain"

First to write a history of American Art
First to eye the camera critically
Last to dance the fin de siecle


Douglas Fairbanks said,
"You have the eyes of a saint;
the rest of your face is like that of a villain"--
cast you as the Court Magician
in "The Thief of Bagdad"
Didn't need make-up,
Rexroth said

Sadakichi "the King of Bohemia"
Sadakichi "the Man Behind the Mask"
"that damned Japanee" (Whitman)
"a grotesque etched in flesh by the drunken Goya of Heaven" (De Casseres)
"the most dangerous man in American letters" (Amy Lowell)
"the most dangerous man in the world" (Sheridan Ford)

Jailed in Boston for your play "Christ"
Investigated by the FBI during WWII
for wandering the desert at night
near clapboard shack
facing Mount San Jacinto
(American Fuji)
signaling the Jap bombers
to rain down
10,000 paper cranes
upon the unsuspecting
fools

 

Exchange
(On Columbus Day)

Reverberations
wind on water
sun fragments
each second
holographic tide
in view
dancing coins
for the taking
(so slippery!)

Changeable
day
no exchange
on bank holiday
honoring
sun pilot
boats followed
no counting
"waves on the shore"

no way to get to the bank
will checks bounce
like Nina, Pinta,
Santa Maria?
break the bank
American Dream
at Indian casino
Turning Stone's reverse alchemy
(Niagara Falls the Canadian entry--
cascade of coins makes dynamo hum)
better bank on putting by for winter
best if there's community storehouse
(Ezra right on that, at least)
corn aplenty, as Iroquois knew,
but we have Columbus Day sales
radio reverb reminders
sail away on a shopper's cruise
American Express--
Columbus wouldn't leave home without it
i.e., borrowed jewels to rue

Digital Bop

Now that we're  all
        slaves  of the algo-
                rithm
Can we still hear
         any beat but
the 010101010101010101 to infinity
       damnable disco drum machine
               lurking
                       behind
                               Mozart CD
                               Chaplin DVD
                               Public TV
                               Political POV
                                        ?  

Don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing

 

Workingman's Dead

Oh
a
cold morning
sidewalk
anywhere, USA
waiting
for
some
place
any
place
to
o-
pen

 

 

Moon Frog

Our no name bar
around the bend
at Cottonwood Point
once the site
of dance hall,
the "Moulin Rouge"
just down the road
from the "Pink Elephant"
whose exiting customers scared Jane, my landlady,
when she was a kid.
The dance hall went through several owners
and several names
in the 40s and 50s
until Jim Lemen
of Buffalo
opened it as the "Moon Frog."
He was shot that very night
losing an eye
and eventually his license
when police
grew impatient
with lakeside rowdyism.
Christ, it's been tame
ever since!

 

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