tanya's art for 'planet chernobyl' by pelicanman

"Planet Chernobyl" by pelicanman

an overview from Benito Vita
December 2022

The Spiel. The Back Story:

Planet Chernobyl. Poem, libretto, opera. There's more than one Planet Chernobyl. You'll find that here, in the words of poet Charles Plymell, the vision of bassist Mike Watt and the orchestrations of singer/composer Petra Haden.

   Planet Chernobyl. It's a state of mind. If the twenty-first century has taught us anything so far, it's that we're all connected, like it or not, and that our societal meltdowns aren't easy on anyone. It's the truth we deal with in navigating modern life - - that there's no escape from our individual and collective toxicity, and that there's a lot of remembering and forgetting that needs to happen for everyday things to get on, to feel "right".

   Planet Chernobyl. The title refers to the site of a massive nuclear accident in the Ukraine and it provides a context of what's to come, where we're at as a race and how to move forward. But this Planet Chernobyl is no mighty condemnation, no second guess, no daydream, no sweaty nightmare, no raging fire, no fancy art piece. This is a pure collaboration, an act of expression, a pure beat, made of words and melody, meant to be heard all the way through, start to finish. Its cadences tell a story revealing layer-upon-layer of truth - - simple, honest, percussive purifying clarity.

   Planet Chernobyl. The Chernobyl nuclear accident occurred on Plymell's 51st birthday - - April 26, 1986 - - but it was only after he read Svetlana Alexievich's Voices of Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster that he began to put words to his experience. As Plymell explains, "I used to think Allen Ginsberg was 'off' with his nuclear power protests, his trying to stop trains full of nuclear waste and stuff. Back then I wasn't behind Allen, but now I see how nuclear power can kill us all. After reading that book, I couldn't rest."

   Planet Chernobyl. When Plymell gets busy, things change; when he puts words to his experience, the results are extraordinary. Plymell's autobiographical Last of the Moccasins (published by City Lights Books in 1971) describes his coming of age in the 1950s and his being part of the San Francisco poetry scene in the early 1960s. French poet, artist and Beat translator Claude Pelieu found the writing to be "better than Kerouac". Despite that, Plymell's lasting presence in modern culture extends far beyond his writing. His expertise as a printer and his connections to talent led to the creation of Zap Comix and to the development of innumerable small press collections, literary chapbooks that featured the work of Pelieu, William Burroughs, Diane di Prima, Janine Pommy Vega, Michael McClure, Alan Russo, Herbert Huncke, Ray Bremser and many under-appreciated authors.

   Planet Chernobyl. Mike Watt picked up Plymell's initial Chernobyl drafts about seven years ago. "When I first saw it, there were 15 paragraphs," Watt remembers. "They read like stanzas. Each one was its own little world and kind of like the solar system, like planets around the sun, they were all going around a single idea. I read the 15 stanzas that way, as a libretto, as a story. I saw themes through the whole piece and I wanted to put my bass to it. I knew it was something D. Boon would want to hear."

   Planet Chernobyl. D. Boon. Mike Watt's childhood friend and his co-conspirator in forming the Punk band Minutemen, Watt on bass, Boon on guitar, with George Hurley joining in on drums later on. In December 1985, after almost six years on the road touring, recording, gaining a following, D. Boon died in a van accident, ending the Minutemen's run. At first completely silenced by the suddenness and shock of D. Boon's death, Watt has gone on to form different bands, play bass in others and explore countless musical realms. "I saw Planet Chernobyl, one part informing the other, not in the D. Boon/Mike Watt Minuteman way, but as an opera, a big piece made out of little pieces."

   Planet Chernobyl. Watt has brought three other operas to life, releasing Contemplating the Engine Room in 1997, The Secondman's Middle Stand in 2004 (featuring Petra Haden) and Hyphenated-Man in 2011. Each is composed of specific narratives and themes, Watt recounting, "In Contemplating the Engine Room, I used my pop being a machinist in the navy as a parallel to help me tell the story of the Minutemen, of D. Boon and me. I came up with a 15-part song cycle that took James Joyce's idea of everything happening in one day. I wrote The Secondman's Middle Stand after a sickness that almost killed me, nine songs following the form of Dante Alighieri's Divina Commedia, the idea of the sickness being hell, the healing being purgatory, and then I get to play the bass. Hyphenated-Man is 30 songs about being middle-aged - - it's not supposed to have an ending - - based on Hieronymus Bosch and the little creatures in his paintings. For Planet Chernobyl, I relied on Charley. I didn't need to have another layer of abstraction since I wasn't writing the words. I let Charley's words be the thing that informed me and my playing, and when I sent what I'd done to Petra I knew she'd make sure Charley's words would still be the focus."

   Planet Chernobyl. Petra Haden had never read Charles Plymell until Mike Watt sent her the libretto. Haden remembers, "Mike told me about this project about seven years ago. He kept telling me it was something I'd love. When I got into it, it broke me open, Charley's words and Mike's bass. That combination pushed me to do the best I could with what I had at the time - - which was Garage Band - - I didn't have fancy studio stuff - - to put my melodies to Charley's words. I started singing the instrumental parts I wanted to put in, which I later recorded as violin and mandolin. I did end up leaving a lot of my voice in, as a layer in the mix. One song is only my voice. It didn't need any strings."

   Planet Chernobyl. People in the music industry know Haden for her voice, her ear and her ability to improvise. In 2005, at the behest of Mike Watt, Haden recreated The Who's 1967 The Who Sell Out, prompting Pete Townshend to say, "I was a little embarrassed to realize I was enjoying my own music so much, for in a way it was like hearing it for the first time. What Petra does with her voice, which is not so easy to do, is challenge the entire rock framework...When she does depart from the original music, she does it purely to bring a little piece of herself - - and when she appears she is so very welcome. I felt like I'd received something better than a Grammy."

   Planet Chernobyl. Watt adds, "The thing is Petra grew up with a violin, she's somebody who grew up with no rock and roll. I gave her a cassette recorder that could record eight separate tracks and I put Sell Out on the eighth track. It was never supposed to be released; it was just something for us to do. Pete Townsend heard it and called Petra. He said he was way into it. He told her that she got the point of the whole piece. I knew she'd do the same with Charley's libretto."

   Planet Chernobyl. "I spent so much time with Charley's words," recalls Haden. "And there's no doubt Charley's words expanded my mind to another place. They're sad, like you'd expect; he's describing destruction, animals dying, people dying, but what came out of it for me was knowing that if I put my heart into something, I can do it. I don't exactly know how to unleash my creativity in a 'formal' way, I don't write lyrics or write out songs. I improvise, and I didn't feel like I was a real composer until I was doing this, putting together the music, the layers that Charley's words and Mike's bass brought out of me."

"Planet Chernobyl" by pelicanman, libretto by Charles Plymell

part 1:

Radioactive waves upon California shores, on our watch, in our blood. Oil spills, forever in our waters. Oh, brothers and sisters in catastrophic universe, catastrophic man. Oh, brothers and sisters, catastrophic man.

part 2:

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Fukushima. Chernobyl energy greed. Contaminated land and sea, ignoring, Mother Earth's plea. Silent radioactive death falls on nature, neon, suburban ennui.

part 3:

The mountains of Kentucky blue grass, flattened into chemically-poisoned streams. Radiation oozes cancer whispers in Paducah, West Virginia, all politician's pockets burn, to nowhere in Dakota.

part 4:

There is no sarcophagus large enough to contain, death that binds, all living creatures contaminated, transformed to death entwined, the viruses and bacteria, the germs unseen in chemical dead time.

part 5:

A string of paper dolls on a clothesline hung, best minds the age began, giant shovel claw dug in sacred earth maw. Stirred spirits that lay buried demons loose in minds of war, arms and energy prevailed, toxic greed earth in travailed, in ignorance and bliss, irreversible invisible Holocaust years.

part 6:

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Fukushima and Chernobyl lay invisible net, for the homeless in cardboard shelters to clean up for token pay, liquidators in Belarus kill life for vodka and medal from the state.

part 7:

Last gasp plutonium and chemicals dying in catastrophic universe, great to grasp for endangered life of rhinos, elephants, penguins, seals, whales, dolphins, dogs, cats, men, women and the pelicans.

part 8:

The black flag of time waves sub-atomic particles and endless grime, Kentucky blasted, Dakotas and Canada mountains gone in strip mine, abandoned cattle bawling for water with gas leaking in toxic brine.

part 9:

The devil closes the prison door, sweet mother I can no longer mind the store, bring the dosimeter and gun, eyes like fish, the dead bird of Sappho washed ashore.

part 10:

On pristine beaches no more, or beautiful ghost lake of Karachay, new Ferris wheel in Belarus radioactive seat on top, never used, all manner of deception, men with foam on their lips killing animals.

part 11:

On hills and mountains of poison they bury the earth within the earth, kerosene mixed with bleach keeps the skin from sticking to pillows at night, when the hollow children's hearts pump, heavily in lost dream, heavily in lost dream.

part 12:

Hanford toxic site, two hundred miles around more than town to town, where cowboy put the mustang down, grazing on bad ground because railroad dick man of old now, government clone to him told.

part 13:

Death thrown into the sea Pompeii, in mobspeak they say, make it simple, let the radioactive waste swim with fishes. Contaminated ships sunk in Mediterranean waters, where all marine life dies, beyond count after European Union restricts dumping toxins, toxins, toxins.

part 14:

Water in great Columbia River cools reactor coils until it boils. The engineering was marvelous, "Just amazing. Did heat the water a bit", official engineer exclaimed, as feathers on a Chieftain's headband drip, in ruptured tomes where white man buries earth in the earth and dumps.

part 15:

Government speak into the seas, of fatal dose, of half-million half-lives, once pure water under heavens, marked where jet streams cross the sky, in droves and no one knows, the smell of navels in ancient orange groves.

petra haden, charley plymell + mike watt (l to r), photo by mark reinertson & steven perilloux

"Planet Chernobyl" by pelicanman

The Bios. The Players:

Charles Plymell

   Charles Plymell was born in a converted chicken coop in Holcomb, Kansas in 1935, the same year as Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, but neither of them were born in a dust storm, and neither them had a mother who went out and shot rabbits and gathered cactus for food. He comes from a unique set of circumstances. Plymell can trace his family origins to the settlers of the Jamestown, Virginia colony and to the indigenous Cherokee tribes who were forced from their homes and into Oklahoma Territory. He recited his first poem at age 4, in the back of a truck on his way to California. At age 15, Plymell left high school in San Antonio, Texas in a new 1951 Chevrolet his dad bought for him and drove it back to Wichita, Kansas. As he recalls it, "That fall, I was about to go into my sophomore year, but then I woke up. I had a new car, gas was 15 cents a gallon. I could lie about my age, get a job anywhere and start doing anything I wanted. I put that high school in my rear-view mirror. There was nothing there, just a bunch of squares playing football."

   Plymell got jobs working on post-war "infrastructure" projects across the American West, building roads, pipelines and dams. He also fell into the jazz/R&B club scene in Wichita, a place fueled by Benzedrine, brimming with new fashions and a new sound. A night in jail with artist friend Bob Branaman led Plymell to take classes at Wichita University, which connected him to a new set of cohorts who later became part of the San Francisco art and poetry scene. When he moved to San Francisco in 1962, Plymell took over the lease on a seven-bedroom flat on Gough Street, previously home to a series of Wichita writers and also the place where Allen Ginsberg had written "Howl". A house party, some meth, some LSD, and Plymell soon found himself welcoming Ginsberg and Neal Cassady into his world as his new roommates, as they set about writing out Cassady's memoir "The First Third" under the supervision of Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

   Plymell's knowledge of printing led him to create a series of underground magazines while he was in San Francisco, including Zap Comics with R. Crumb and Now with Philip Whalen and Michael McClure. At the same time, Plymell was making himself known as a writer, with David Haselwood's Auerhahn Press publishing his poem "Apocalypse Rose" in 1967. While working on the docks in 1969, Plymell was recruited by two students of Eliott Coleman's to go to Coleman's famed writing seminars at Johns Hopkins University. After arriving in Baltimore, Plymell began work on Last of the Mocassins as his Masters' thesis. His degree led Plymell into a teaching career, where he provided guidance on literature and writing at various East Coast colleges and prisons, while also collaborating with John Giorno to produce The Trashing of America, a now rare and much-sought after poetry collection.

   A road trip to Cherry Valley, New York, to the northeast of Cooperstown, led Plymell to buy property there in the early 1970s. After settling into the store buildings where Samuel Morse first created his code, he continued to print and publish underground magazines featuring the work of his friends and visitors, including Roxie Powell, Charles Henri Ford, Carl Solomon, William Burroughs, James Grauerholz, Gerard Malanga and Mary Beach. Today, at 87, Plymell still lives in Cherry Valley with his wife, Pam, and a menagerie of feral cats. He stays in contact with people around the world, and encourages independent thinking, daily, by email.

   Plymell thrives in the underground, as a wizard of words, a beacon of mischief and a master of making connections. In 1955, he wrote the lines "shuffle on down slide away from the mass/wanna smiz zoke a jiz zoint of griz zass?" in closing out a poem describing a night out in Wichita, doing Benzedrine and smoking weed. That line predates the arrival of "the Beats" by a few years, Snoop Dogg by 40, and Plymell still smokes pot. In Martin Scorsese's 2019 documentary Rolling Thunder Revue, Allen Ginsberg credits Plymell as being the one who introduced him to Bob Dylan's music.

Mike Watt

   Mike Watt first met Charles Plymell in Northampton, Massachusetts in 2006, when friends suggested he come to a poetry reading. As Watt remembers it, "I think Byron Coley set it up, Thurston Moore was there. Grant Hart, too. They wanted me to read some poems, too. I met Charley and was given Last of the Moccasins. I really liked it. I read it in a couple days, and I got tied into Charley's email circle. A couple of years later, Byron put on another show, a daytime thing, in the Fishtown part of Philadelphia and this time Charley read poems while I played bass behind him, improvising, in the moment. It's a foreshadowing of what we do here on Planet Chernobyl - - I didn't really know what Charley was going to say until he said it. Charley and I also toured Walt Whitman's pad that day, and that same night I played in Camden with the Stooges. He and I ended up eating sliders, those burgers from White Castle, in between Iggy's trailer and Bob Dylan's trailer."

   That's Mike Watt. On-the-go. Talking. Playing. Learning. Amused. Amazed. His boyhood in the maritime city of San Pedro, California, has led him to combine practicality and hard work with a curiosity about people and where they come from. At age 13, he formed his first band, with best friend D. Boon on guitar and Watt on bass - - his bass in reality being a guitar short two strings. The pair played what they knew, what they heard and what they liked on the radio - - T. Rex, The Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cream, Sly and the Family Stone, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Captain Beefheart and John Coltrane. They booked gigs doing cover songs even though their versions were far different from the originals. During a halftime performance at a San Pedro High School football game, they were so different that D. Boon's dad had to help get them off the field and away from an angry mob.

   The influence of Punk in the late 1970s led Watt and Boon to form Minutemen. By the early 1980s, the group became known for short, efficient songs that whirled together aspects of psychedelia, hardcore, jazz, rock and folk with words filled with social and political commentary. Like the music, their tours were intense - - done from a van, no days off - - their workman-like reputation and to-the-point performances catching the eyes and ears of what is now known as the "alternative music" set. D. Boon's sudden and tragic death left Watt without a musical partner and without a desire to play "out".

   Friends and fans eventually came to Watt's rescue, helping him form a series of bands, starting with Firehose in 1986 and carrying through to mmsv, Three Layer Cake and Flipper today. Along the way, he's also joined bands for sessions and tours backing, among others, The Stooges, Gov't Mule, Kelly Clarkson and Macedonian jazz guitarist Toni Kitanovski. Watt's first solo album in 1994, Ball-Hog or Tugboat?, featured a who's who of like-minded peers including Black Flag's Henry Rollins, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vetter, Nirvana's Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, Beastie Boys Adam Horovitz and Mike D., Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner as well as Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. and Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth.

   In describing Watt's work, Flea says, "He's amazing--innovative, beautiful, melodic, and hardcore, all at the same time. His work on the Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime is phenomenal; he manages to be very busy and complicated without screwing up the song, but he can also play the simplest thing in the world and imply that he can play anything. He's one of the greatest bass players ever." Watt is a lot more modest when it comes to talking about his selective style of playing: "Physics actually punishes bass players because of our low frequencies. More notes, and you get smaller and smaller. It's always a search for the good notes, not the most notes. It's like chow. You get a pizza with 500 toppings; you can't taste any of it."

Petra Haden

   Also to be found on Mike Watt's Ball-Hog or Tugboat? are Petra Haden and her sister, Rachel. The two were bandmates in the Los Angeles-based That Dog, Rachel on bass and vocals and Petra on violin and vocals. The pair are part of a set of triplets. The other sister, Tanya, a cellist and visual artist, provides the artwork for Planet Chernobyl and together the three sisters form The Haden Triplets. That trio is known for backing bands such as Weezer, Beck, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Jimmy Eat World, Silversun Pickups and the Decemberists. To say the sisters are from a musical family is an understatement. Their father, jazz bassist Charlie Haden, changed the role of the bass player in group improvision in playing with Ornette Coleman, and their brother, Josh, founded the rock group Spain, with his earlier, rowdier bands connecting the Haden triplets to Mike Watt.

   "I've known Mike Watt since I was about 12 or 13," says Petra Haden. "Minutemen opened for my father's Liberation Music Orchestra in 1984 at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, and my dad sat in with them on their song "Little Man With a Gun in His Hand". The late John Chelew, who was the concert booker at McCabe's, told my brother Josh that the Minutemen were big Charlie Haden fans. It was a legendary show. In the mid 1980s, Josh had a punk band called Treacherous Jaywalkers and Watt produced their first album, Sunrise, on SST Records. Over the next few years, Watt heard my singing and playing in bands I was working with. He started asking, 'Can you play violin on...'. That's when our musical adventures started."

   Petra Haden first picked up the violin at the age of seven, after being inspired by watching street musicians play. She soon developed an uncanny ability to use her voice to recreate the sounds of the instruments she heard, and to develop elaborate pop, jazz, blues and classical arrangements based on those sounds. While Haden was in high school, her father bought her a four-track recording deck, on which she taught herself to overdub multiple vocal tracks. That harmony technique was part of the sound of That Dog, which had an enthusiastic underground fan base before it disbanded.

   Haden's solo recording career began with an experimental, nearly all-acapella 1996 release, entitled Imaginaryland. The album's 13 songs feature the sort of multi-layering of voice and strings that has since become her signature. The unexpected success of Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out, and standout collaborations with jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, accordionist Miss Murgatroid, percussionist Paul Motian, and the songwriting team of John Zorn and Jesse Harris, have contributed to Haden's reputation as a musical innovator. Her 2013 album Petra Goes to the Movies presented personalized reinventions of songs from a slew of Hollywood films, from Rebel Without a Cause to The Social Network, from Psycho to Superman.

   "I've always wanted to sound like I was in a choir or an orchestra. That's why I love layering my voice," explains Haden. "I would hear music around the house when I was little and mimic the instruments with my voice. When people hear Petra Goes to the Movies, I want them to feel what I felt when I first saw the films, even if they've never seen it. Whenever I collaborate with people, I want to put a part of myself into it, to make it sound unique and different. I like to Petrafy it. In layering my melodies to Charley's words and Mike's bass for Planet Chernobyl, I wanted to express how Charley felt in making the connections between the accident and everything that's come after, his reaction as a poet, his telling of how it all made him feel. There's an aspect of what Charley is saying that's like a country song and I used the mandolin and violin turn a subject matter that's pretty dark into something like a new sort of country song."

"Planet Chernobyl" by pelicanman

Production notes and credits:

   Charles Plymell wrote Planet Chernobyl on a Dell desktop and emailed it to Mike Watt. Mike Watt pulled out his 2015 China-made Hofner "Beatle bass" for this recording, getting its tiny, flatwound strings to give him the percussive, trippy, rubber band sound he wanted. He knew the Hofner was the right "machine" for the piece. Petra Haden used her voice, her grandmother's mandolin and her childhood violin, recording in her apartment, performing live, each take played all the way through, using the Garage Band program that came with her MacBook.

Petra Haden and Mike Watt did this piece as part of their _pelicanman_ proj.

Recorded by Petra Haden and Mike Watt at their own separate pads
Mixed by Mike Watt and Petra Haden at studio tHUNDERpANTS
Produced by Petra Haden and Mike Watt
Mastered by Cian Riordan
Photo of Plymell by Mark Reinertson; photos of Haden & Watt by Steven Perilloux
Art by Tanya Haden
Spiel & Bios by Benito Vila
music publishing: Cool Sally Music (BMI) and tHUNDERsPIELS (BMI)

   The poem Planet Chernoybl has been published by Three Rooms Press and by Peter Engstler in a bilingual edition in Germany. It's also available as the closing poem of Plymell's Tent Shaker Vortex Voice, published by Bottle of Smoke Press, the latest edition offering a blurb from Grant Hart that reads, "Charles Plymell did not bother to shout 'Eureka!' when he made this great discovery. His sample of Philosopher's Stone remains intact."

"Planet Chernobyl" (the poem)

by Charles Plymell

Hiroshima Nagasaki, Fukushima and Chernobyl
The silent death radiates in suburban ennui
They call me Dr. Faustus of the abandoned universe
of a never-ending chain of paper dolls.
The buzzing fly's string path invisible under the reactors.
I trade with the devil and buy used souls and your best minds
Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Fukushima and Chernobyl today
tomorrow the Mississippi, Hudson and San Andreas
the last gasp of all the living creatures on dying planet
blind radioactive paradise to China and the dead Dead Sea
You'll never see me the sub-atomic particles of time
open the great fissure to find out who abandoned them
down to where the sea claws gather them in poisoned pods.
The best minds of a generation split the atom that
Whitman sang belongs to each, now breathe the air and
split the cells that spiral to their own instructions to duplicate.
Radioactive cancer of times found the best minds in New Mexico
power from agencies overhanging Apache dark eyes no more.
Energy lines & high wires modern icons on the landscape
Scientists smash particles like angry kids at play and the devil
knows the price of soul and in white lab-coats throw Frisbees,
and know a thing or two about equations to build
the abandoned planet of catastrophe in zone of no choice
nothing but hands and in the sea are dolphins with brains.
Flee the soldier, liquidators and the criminal minds
when karma of coyote piss is bott led for perfume and
vodka is made of bleach & kerosene to keep the
hair & skin from sticking to the pillows at night
darkness comes over the game of win against whom
the atom or the physics or the universe of nothing.
A self-replicating medal to pin upon them while the
trees are scared too but they are quiet as a meltdown
the ancient Scorpion bombs genetic jails full of fear
until prison consciousness collides with larger culture
civilizations of souls smash in particle accelerator
Virtual mutant gene pools rising like tsunami
giant hand around planet breaks from its beads.

Tear down Kentucky mountains and fill the seas
with garbage real basic real fast fate of species
creating ourselves into techno-robots with our hands
no fear of death, comes with price no war, no soul.
Tracks of unknown Acuras and Cadillac gasoline
spent radon forever in petrified creature museums
back to die of shock when daylight breaks the hourglass
drums dream of nuclear fi res on wretched soil
already mystery of different people's disease
who know how to live in terror as a natural habitat
planet plugged with scraps of clothing, bones,
concrete, books, newspapers, stolen skates, dying birds
and the streets change without notice into
black sky nuke neon drugstore of new cures.

Human in the shadows of good and evil hydra hearts
and hands that built the world of energy from splitting
invisible secrets that pushed buttons for generations
into dead zone looking for something familiar
to hear someone say we'll win ask the voices from
Chernobyl with radioactive foam on their lips and
Vodka eyes listening to the beeps and silent clicks
biggest killer of all galvanizes skin radiation rising
Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Fukushima, and Chernobyl
where neurotoxins in the wind fades old glory gold
seagulls in the sky beneath the blood moon time
and space blinded self-replication Mississippi too.
Chernobyl with the hunted dosimeter and guns of
liquidators and animals crying looking in the eyes
of humans who control their fate again and again
one government with the gun of nuclear power and
military secrets national energy secrets arm sales
in a pact and prayer of old incantations of nowhere.

Gazing into eternities of toxic sunsets wiped clear
sulphur settles in place where skin sheds the leper
on the lizard's last rock hot on the inside and
cold on the out where it all began to lay waste
in the name of power and physics new childhood maladies
while last punk band plays on to one million raised hands

In every eye the universe in every creature the eye
the machine entangles animal life and time as loud as the
blasts that blows flesh in the bagels of outdoor coffee shops
black skies not far away fi re falls beyond the razor-edge fences
of those who go to bed alone like the fi sh in the sea finally
of all the blood of reality into compost of radioactivity
mountains of poison topped to bury earth in the earth
and stream under the pulsar stars at the edge of time
coal fi re bigger than the mountains of eternity in the event
of the unknowable psyche they all came to see the dolls
wearing the bling perpetual self forever exploited by love
in the econoline van that brings body & soul of love
erupting in a plume delivered in right time and space
address of the bird's song unheard by human occupancy
Sappho's distant cry when her bird died is heard still
the island child continuing its toil and hunger for life
Egyptian blood spills into sand of thousands of years
Geiger chatter replacing chants & songs of revolutions
carbon & crystal separate at undecipherable boundaries of the
dream alone in flight fascinated and frightened like shy animus
that escaped the sale to the devil
living for hundreds of thousands of years
under the sarcophagus or silent waters of the Hudson
we breath silent clicks of radioactive dust or PCBs
the urge to purge and puke through trash of cancer cells
and last change of clothing where senators of gluttony
graze like livestock to rape the sage they sat next to in school
and gnarl and rasp and grate and scratch rotten skin
doomed like innocent creatures in feed lots of television's
empty insane trunk where drunken computer chips
explode into cosmic dust forever detected cells
in blood of hard mud pies lung and liver pouring
from the mouths of blind throne empires lost lamps
shining like moonlight over the radiant seal's back.

Mr. Nuke, Dr. Devil, Mephistopheles, Christ O Mighty,
Messier Split of radioactive coffins in Isotope Russia
Japan and half-life America the material toxin pile.
Beyond the Federal Zone and nuclear wash
hanging forever clotheslines of plutonium
lace panties from eternity's wash, doll's eyes
consciousness captured in a crystal lattice
all animals dying from lack of love and care.
They are hungry and sick with radiation
liquidators shoot them like collateral bodies
under the breath of silent clicks of radioactive dust
that formed the brains of battlefields forever war
under merciful God who will comfort devil's wealth
can hold out to the last person but try to escape
like the poached elephant dead, only predator man,
its baby won't leave but dies of love trauma unseen
in Africa unheard as the prayers to escape nature
beyond Japan, beyond San Andreas, the Hudson,
the great Missouri rolls on like the lesson of Russia
Wars were nothing and now the real terror begins
in racial senescence of each breath & memory of the
apocalypse arriving in increments, look around you.

loop back to mike watt's hoot page

this page created 15 dec 2022