March 29-April 5, 1998: Alan Kaufman and Lizzie Wann

week of March 29-April 5, 1998

Alan Kaufman and Lizzie Wann

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Alan Kaufman


My most recent book is Who Are We?, a collection of poems My poetry appears in Aloud:Voices From The Nuyorican Poets Cafe (Henry Holt) and is forthcoming this November in Identity Lessons:Learning American Style (Penguin Books) On-line I have poems appearing or due out in BullHead, Zuzu Petals, The Cafe Review, Subverse and Black Elvis

The following work is Copyright © 1998, and owned by Alan Kaufman and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.

He Makes Me Smell Him

among the faceless
masses on
the streetcar
i sit
trash bag stuff
the stink
that doesn’t
that residentially
.that is
.a prophecy
.of fallen


fell down
down the stairs
in a vodka black-out
black-out after punching
that russian russian
in the

over an argument
about dosdoyevsky
who he claimed beat
horses and i said
you asshole
that was
just an image in
one of his books

and ilya swung
past my
nose my
but i

what a stupid

pat drove him
to a clinic
with a red towel
crushed to
his face

i stayed behind
with the rusky’s
old lady, vassa
who mounted me on
the sofa pouring vodka
down my throat laughing
‘the victor gets the spoils’

which i got & yeah
it was good

then poured myself down stairs
back hurt bad, tea cold
and wallet empty, 
so empty
and now i’m waiting
waiting for the break of my
life waiting

but getting
only broken

how much
must i
sit here


how much
does it take

to make
poem that will

the sky felt

up all the time
haunting rooms and bars
between hours spent
with her
and when we were
her nerves and bones
in the deepest corners
my impatient kiss
i had no feeling
i watched green smog
run down her face
like mascara
the red water
trembled with
my eyes were
sewars filled
with shame

i don’t want to remember this

in the east village, just arrived
hiding from a war
running from the marriages
we’d murdered
the bare flat didn’t like us
yet we crowded it
with ghosts
let me tell you
when our bodies cried
i held her like a baby
in my arms
a broken chair
a damaged wall
the police began
to know us
and the neighbor’s
eyes looked away
and one day i
woke screaming
called her father
in canada
to come get her
and he did

let me say here

she did nothing
wrong but to love
the soft look
our eyes believed
in, that was real
as i led
her down
she didn’t
take her eyes
from mine
right to
the passenger
seat and with
a broken, un-
corageous smile
i said: “it’s time,
baby, it’s
time “
not knowing
what i meant

the model

in the bathroom
hunched over the bowl
puked up her father
without a thought
flushed them

her fist banged the wall

she turned on
the laptop television
ringer on the telephone

she had swallowed
the moon’s

now she waited
from a diet
of pink sky

on a bed of dresses
that didn’t

War Of The Worlds

say nothing
every day
sit facing
the bowl
the big
the bright
hear nothing
hear it symphonic
mute moving
my hand
waits waits waits
hey, you
up there
on venus, mars
down here
we’re ready
for conquest
Time, The IRS
and Ophra
have done a
lot of the
spade work
bring down
your ships
we’re beat
it’s 11:20
a.m at night
it’s worse
i’ve got
no plans
what’s your

It Will Let You Down

it will let you down
i mean: the world

run a train
over your legs

coax two drag queens
to piss on your face

open a cancer ward
in your spleen

hire the most
beautiful whore
on earth to break
your heart with
a gap-toothed smile

i know

all my baseball
card heroes
have fallen

still, i would rather
court dementia for
a wolf’s eyefull of darkness
then turn into a
lizard scurrying up society’s
white walls

the last

the blue truths crawl like
from poison whispers
and a plate on the table

no one sits down in
my house, meal over
the tyrant
but i speak, i speak

i talk to the
soul’s girl and together
we get up
and walk
to the garden
her smiles waltz me
and i think we
stand a chance

i help her back to the
house with her
from the well
filled with dead leaves and
.furious birds
as the afternoon chill

creeps over my shadow
the heart of the room
grows cold and there is no one
but this page
these words
this life
or any noise

but death’s
soundless roar


the brain weeps
a bad kind of weather
the moon
with blackened eye
looks about to go
home dirty, like
after a thrown
fight when torn
stubs litter the beer
floor and one by one
the believers file
out scowling at the pugs
who wasted their wives’
new fridges on phoney
swings in satin trunks
but for me that woman
who cut me off
as i crossed leavenworth
in her honda four door
skirt-hiked fat thighs
mapped the vericose
rivers of my sadness
for the little stuff, like
vietnamese b-boys gatting
my smile with scornful fallen
saigons yet so pathetically poor
in their cut rate hip hop threads
of false gold glitter, not even
remotely like their blood-plated
gangsta idols; or the old sod buying
up stale easter cakes this monday
morning from a tenderloin stall


i see me in my flop
under the dripping lightbulb
fangs, chin soiled with crumbs
rubbing a fist into my pink
eye, screwing, screwing
away the itch and farts life is in the dissapointing
details, the lousy hair-do’z,
the second-rate walkman, 
the crossdresser who really
thinks that no one
knows, the security guard
who dreams of making
a bust, and i walk and i
eat and i live and i wait for
something golden & beautiful
to erupt from the naked

crossing home

on the cold beach with
my collar turned
waiting for the endless
freight train to pass
to cross to home
over the railroad tracks
and want you to see
me sniffle, place your
hand to my shoulder as
an angel might and let
the rolling tears
drop off
my chin
i have canned so much
sorrowful preservatives
to spread poor me
waif of the smudged sky
huddled with flashlight in a shed
asleep under dirty blankets
not a man, barely a child
orphaned by secrets

The Living Burn Out Before Their Deaths

.but keep walking

one more butt to smoke
another ten round fight
to throw; it’s a mug’s

feed squirrels wonder bread
in the sharkskin gray dusk

follow hot couples into bushes
near the lake and imitate what
they’re doing
fuck yourself

run away when a cop comes
hide in the urinals
with face in hands
craving macdonalds

go to times square
for a little while
line-up for
a girlie flick
browse in the boob rags
semen beer
slush on the tile floor
your shoes contracting AIDS

and walk downtown down
down the town walk with steaming
manholes rising in ghosts
of the father who chained
you to a radiator
and beat you
with a pipe

because you were
bad bad
bad baby, a car would
be nice

but what’s the use
in the city
you’ve got the sub-
way you’ve got the bus
you’ve got cabs

used to know a lot of people
but not anymore

and on delancey street give
up go home
union jack hotel
the neon blinks
the flea-bitten bed
on your back sucking

a beer remembering how once
you had the the hopeful ability
to make candy scratch
nothing but now sense has gotten
to you and you know it is not scratching
and you know that you are friendless
and that it is nothing, it is nothing
and don’t even wonder at that
anymore .

Lizzie Wann


Lizzie Wann is an active part of the San Diego poetry community and beyond She writes the San Diego Scene report for Next .magazine and serves on the Board of Directors at The Writing Center where she also teaches occasionally and coordinates the First Wednesday reading series Lizzie started her own reading series in 1996 entitled Live Out Loud that has had five successful shows in San Diego, and more on the way Her work has been published in anthologies including City Works (San Diego City College, 1997), A Theater of Poets (Poet’s Tree Press, 1996), and Zip Code 92107 (Ocean Beach Poets, 1996) In 1996, she self-published a collection of her work called Familiars and released a second collection of poems entitled Naked Wrists in 1997

The following work is Copyright © 1998, and owned by Lizzie Wann and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.


it was almost divine
that I could get up
take care of necessary things
return to my bed
crawl across sheets
& return my bones
to safety of hand-made quilts
turn over to seek
cool spot of the pillow
to rest my cheek against
hunt more morning sleep

F & G

something resides in you
.in the curves of your throat
.it travels with your breath
pushes against your teeth & lips
to escape into dusk that is moist with new rain
.elation of unexpected laughter

you make people love things
.people like me
.remember memories
.like the best kind of loneliness
.an atmosphere
.matching soundless hours
.of your body sleeping
.under one soft blanket
.in the afternoon

A True Story

buttons of my pajamas come undone in the night
.I think of you
this desire & attraction that surrounds our conversation
has come to bed with me
.every move made between us leads to this
combines in perfect proportion
allows acceptance of my flawed & fortunate

This Afternoon

dragging a wet leaf across my fingers
is like you returning
you having come back
it is renewal
it is Cinco de mayo en San Diego
it is warm & luscious
& I have far too many clothes on
it came upon me suddenly
this change, this sense of love
& the simple thought of you
makes my breathing irregular
I wonder what I’m to do with this
I want to put that tree in my pocket
& shout out from the streets
that I know love
that I am alive with it


weathered pages between soft leather
a sameness that soothes
words that return joy after borrowing
tropical beat that drips sweetly
.like pineapple juice refreshing with laughter
sexy senoritas in fitted skirts with beautful hands
four stories above sleet, a lonely woman
sings a soft blues to her sleeping child
I said four stories above sleet, this lonely woman
coos a cool blues to her sleepy child
.her voice a living lullaby

I am a little bit in love with everyone I know
because each gives me hallelujah for my offerings
personal healer kept in green bottles
& lingering scent from new matches
intimacy translated into gesture
moving hair away from my ear
to share confidences of lifetimes ago
before we knew we’d already met

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