The Tower Journal

Mark Meyer


Again, it's the landlord situation:
the selfsame mind-body problems,
psychosomatic complaints unheeded,
zero routine autonomic maintenance.

So I finally gave up ownership of the body
& moved everything upstairs, into my head,
just a cluttered one-room studio.

Nothing much to look at - -
rather stuffy & sometimes so noisy
I couldn't hear myself think.
But lived there in convoluted comfort
until winter, when it got drafty & dark.

Well, yes, there was that freak brainstorm,
a few boisterous parties up there
& then the foolhardy fire. Mea culpa:
frayed reciprocal circuits, blown fuses.
I lost any number of mementos & odd sentiments.

After that, just couldn't keep up appearances.
Living conditions worsened &
as you might expect,
I was rightfully evicted.

No roof over me,
spent some aimless years
wandering in nebulosity,
crashing thoughtlessly
here & there, nowhere really,
drawing occasional blanks for a livelihood.
Lord Almighty, I forget how long that lasted.

Then there was that ghastly sublet:
a spartan fly-by-night flat,
the rundown Anhedonian Arms.
Oh, that was by far the worst of times - -
Zoned-out somewhere in East Zohydro.

Finally, at wit's end,
a change of luck.
Got hold of the right agent
& together we discovered
the dwelling of my dreams--

It's a beatific bungalow,
all bills paid, dybbuk-free,
far above the mundane fray.
Great location über-uptown,
truly pie in the sky, so to speak.

Heard it's quite the place:
Well insulated, dry as a bone,
dead quiet. Infinite memory storage
& endless bucolic ancestral vistas.

Just put down the deposit,
signed the eternally binding contract
& I'm now on the waiting list.
Hope to be relocating in due time;
once this current lease expires.


The zombie wannabes &
white-eyed somnambulists
lurch onward down the block
The ketchup blood-soaked
the sunstroked, half-baked
fake walking dead
They shuffle by, stiff in
choreographed rigor mortis

Up next, a pageantry
of burned-out stumblebums,
multi-pierced and branded
shaved heads marching along,
parchment skins
stretched drumhead thin
bodies inked with red hearts, snakes,
black crosses & skulls

Petrified mummers pass by
playing out-of-tune tubas & trumpets --
assorted dystopian brash bands.
Crushed corndogs & warm beer
slithers underfoot. Hey there,
those two geezers dance to The Cramps
blaring on some Boomer's boombox

The dismal bat-winged clowns
& Black Death Majorettes twirling
boney white batons
march to the deadbeat cadence
of a drunken trigger-happy
paramilitary firing squad

Festooned spidery-veined witches
throw their juju beads - -
sugary green warts
and purple carbuncle candies
flung to a seething crowd
of ravenous offspring

& a frazzle-haired old lech
bumps n' grinds geriatrically
in his saggy bra & sheer tu-tu
leering at the teenage girls
who squeal & blow kisses,
as their parents squirm

We’re all just bug-eyed voyeurs
smug & smirking bystanders
hiding behind our tinted shades
as the bare-assed exhibitionists
whizz by on multicolored bikes,
sweating & huffing their way
towards the nearest vanishing point

Could this be the Day of the Dead
or merely one more goofy
Summer Solstice parade?
I’m afraid to be afraid...

So, let's celebrate, howl away!
It’s another cerulean, sunlit
pre-apocalyptic day
The merriest of outings,
a most festive auto-da-fé.

super ‘88 dream

"... Good morning midnight "
            X, Under the Big Black Sun

Just another mundane
B-movie dream: the usual
randomly spliced, nonlinear,
slow-mo pandemonium.

But then a fine ending
to undermine the morning.

Oh, it was a lovely party - -
Mix of the young and old,
well-knowns, unknowns.

Smalltalk & smoking,
drinking & clinking of glasses,
Mingus playing, I think:

The typical mingling
of the living & the dead.

Felt good to merely
drift freely among them,
weightless & buoyant
in an inchoate dreamfog.

The cool cocktail ambience
suddenly ices over.
Blue lights blare, music
gets Bartókian brittle.
Ticking repartée time-bombs
explode in partygoers' faces
as they rave & bluster on
in a bespoke dysphoric jungle.

Yet I remain calmly detached,
levitating deliriously aloof,
studiously observant hovering
somewhere above the fray,

growing strangely amused
& briskly invigorated
as mayhem escalates,
going from bad to worse - -

Now, that's entertainment!!

But somehow, simultaneously
from a pseudo-logical vantage point
in a preposterous spacetime
I watch as old Mr. Epstein

materializes from nowhere
in his phantomic white
'61 Olds Super 88.
Man, he's looking dead sharp:

translucently lustrous &
a transcendent 60's suave
in white shirt & eternally rumpled
dark sharkskin suit; I can smell
his Zizanie filling the interior.

He pulls up, parks curbside,
lowers the power window,
gazes right through stucco walls
at the pitiful misery inside,

shaking his fedora'd head
in world-weary resignation
with a face as dark with disdain
as his trademark 5 o'clock shadow.

Turning slowly my way
& in his tobacco-rasp
Lithuanian accent,
(so Lugosi-like,)

he mutters a word
I'd heard before,
but still had to look-up
first thing when I awoke:



I still recall that whiff of carbolic,
the bleeping monitor, yellow
spikes on the green screen,
the cold clinical gleam

of white hospital tiles along
the corridors of closed doors,
the meaningless magazines
strewn about the waiting rooms,

and then the timeless waits
as we held our breath
in the medicated stillness
of a darkened bedroom,
drab green curtains drawn...

the ghostly voicelessness.

Then, shattering the silence,
metallic clanks and thuds
coming from downstairs:
the ridiculous cadence
from a timeworn clock’s
discordant chimes

attempting to keep the time
Your impish humor
still there on the hour --
a mercy of distraction.

Words became too difficult,
the air far too precious.
Just narrowing ellipses of mist,
the softness of a warm breath
that gently feathers a mirror

as memories condense,
evaporating to pinpoint - -
the slow exhalations of time.

Now's the laborious climb,
an old mountaineer’s last,
his steepest approach
to the clear, airless summit
and it's absolute solitude.

Outside, in the evening garden,
your favorite plum tree
grows blossom-shrouded,
glowing white in full bloom;
it's latent pollen rising up
under an early spring moon

as your careworn body,
now unburdened, lifted
and soon consumed,
will dwindle down
to a purest white ash

and fine silvered afterthoughts...
Sight of the closing eyes,
the final sighs, a poem,
a rising hand, a kiss goodbye.

Copyright © 2014 Mark Meyer

Mark MeyerMark Meyer is a sixth-decade contemporary visual artist & retired educator currently living in the Seattle area, but he's also lived in New York and Texas. In a prior lifetime, he was a neurobiologist - - he still really misses microscopes.

These poems come from a series of recent work titled "Area 25," a region of the brain that's thought to influence mood, memory & sleep. It seems apt for what colors his writing.

His work has been published in The Licton Springs Review, Crosscurrents, & Each Has Spoken. He has recently felt compelled to devote more of his efforts to writing & getting it out; he can hear the clock ticking away.

Dedicated in memory of J.S. Edwards.

The Tower Journal
Fall/Winter 2014