back in the 70’s
back in LA
I knew of him
as the uncouth Christ
of the drunk-again alcoholics
the naked emperor
of young trendy-cafe chefs and
of the intellectual
and the pseudo-intellectual
trust-fund kids who wished
to be like him by
living in decrepit houses
the lawns of which
they littered with
rusting appliances
somewhere in the
unorthodox mix of
the booze and the sorting of
U.S. mail
the air of absurdity
grew thick and intoxi-
cated his mind as only
absurd truths could
it was at the back of
run-down bars
among the derelicts
and the destitute
the desperate and
the prostitutes
that he could afford to
maintain his signature perma-
stupor that he wore
like a bullet-proof vest
he gathered
mostly off skid row streets
sharp shards of train-wrecked
lives and glued them with
booze-breath spit onto pages
of dollar-store notepads
through which their honesty shone
rivaling any Chagall
stained-glass windows
at the end he attained
the ultimate immunity against
the inescapable agony of
looking absurdity in the face
by embalming his soul
long before any undertaker
could have his way
back then I never
cared much for him
or his sermons
from the mounts
of the seedy parts of LA
I was young and ambitious
and life’s distractions
were attractive enough
and detractive enough
to lure me from looking down
the deep dark crevices
the ones from which I would
sometimes hear his sermons