The poetry of another man has spoken to me. The voice of another woman has caressed my absent hair. The song of another young diplomat in the middle of a crowded room on CSPAN has further confused my view on politics. There is something missing in these walls. There is something missing in the vocal chords of our history. I used to think Allen Ginsburg spoke to me in those moments of lonely silences where my empty hands rub on the counters of dirty offices and my eyelids flash strange images into the orifice of another hungry and thickening skull. But after William Blake ignored my phone calls And after William Wordsworth chopped down my tree And after William Shakespeare drank my coffee And after William Carlos Williams stole my peach And after e.e. cummings cut through my course language And after Langston Hughes watched me dance through the railroad And after T.S. Eliot screamed at me in the thunder storm And after Walt Whitman swam with me in the river and drank my load I decided to turn my head and look forward For the poets of the past have burned their manuscripts And our schools have opened a new discourse Like the long whispers of an aging prostitute into her lovers ears As every breath howls from her pursed lips, like the movement of stale air in an empty basement still hungry for dust and the old bones of a lost memory If only Yeats could be here again and show us what rough beast refuses his walk back into Bethlehem for even now, the children of Babylon are thirsty and await a lunch wrapped in the old words of poetry. Monterey, Tonight Monterey, tonight is an endless dream; It is a mild frost pregnant with rainless clouds and naked trees that molt their autumn sleeves still drenched with the stench of an aging spring breeze and clothe the spoiled earth that knows no winter snow but shivers at the long howl of a bay wind playing an atonal waltz that wakes the white caps whose dance silences the symphony of whales calls who listen under the ceiling of their water walls for the song that woke the sleeping sea so they might learn that ancient melody Monterey, tonight sits beneath the low hanging summer sun that refuses to leave like a tipsy friend lonely for conversation; plants sigh as they wait for the darkness of sleep, that they might be ready for a hungover rise, ripe with cheeks still red from last night’s wine. Monterey, tonight is bad novels and paintings of mountains and trees and boring seas and streets of shops and also black and white photography galleries of naked women sitting on elephants; it is all cars and shoes on red-brick pavement and no good company without nonsense and noise; without fast food and bad gas; without rides to Marina and mad conversations on the way back; without empty minds full of marijuana; without cigarettes and hard liquor. Monterey, tonight is an anger without passion or an outlet; it is bored cops who arrest homeless men without charge and sit them in empty cells with only a hole in the floor for waste and the stale smell of water and naked brick; it is corrupt politics and lifeless wealth who sit in gardens behind high walls; it is old men who beg for marriage but are turned down for younger men of the night who are full of bad poetry and bitter barrels of brown beer that smells rancid, like rotting wood behind cellar doors; it is religious thought in long, clean Buicks that cannot make sense of homosexuality and social progress and instead drops aging hands into heavy pockets to donate ink-filled check books for God and Jesus Christ who promise eternal torture to young heathens of rock and roll. Monterey, tonight is an aging prostitute on welfare with four illegitimate children, bathroom mirrors hiding penicillin and anti-depressants, and two notebooks full of unpublished language that she promises to each paying customer will become a book one day, making her rich enough to move to L.A. so that she can write her screenplay about an aging prostitute on welfare with four illegitimate children, bathroom mirrors hiding penicillin and anti-depressants, and two notebooks full of unpublished language who does eventually become a famous writer. Monterey, tonight is a dead building covered in wires and the dusted outline of the last gift shop and fortune teller that inhabited the place before the previous gift shop and fortune teller, now bought to become just one more coffee shop that will claim subversity before kicking out every homeless customer. Monterey, tonight is a late night empty evening where conversation dies like the dignity of one more woman as she opens herself for a man that can offer her nothing in return but bad breath and a bad conscience. Sad Monterey, You crawl through empty forests, starving and lost and horny for love in those final moments when the mind spits memories into soggy eyes, projecting scenes of sports and sex on the white walls of the skull as light bounces from the floor into space, dreaming of souls that might escape, standing erect to a dull, snarling moon that sends its radioactive vision into cancer patients, pumped with poison to kill and review in family living rooms as toddlers choke on Lego pieces and fall to the floor, blue like the water reflecting a brilliant, cloudless sky that feels nothing.
Brian Sheffield is a young poet and student from Pacific Grove who has been writing poetry for approximately two years. He is attending California State University, Monterey Bay to be a teacher and ultimately hopes to offer a more radical pedagogy in the public school classroom. His poetry borrows from the immediacy of the Beats, the urgency of many of the contemporaries, and the aggression of punk rock while continually striving to search for his own voice and style with an understanding of the long lineage that he follows. His work has been featured in the Monterey Poetry Review and The Lone Cypress.