The Lizard King in a Poet’s Basement at Dawn

(To James Barrett, Sr., a garage sale PhD)

Somber November,
a young real estate agent posted
“For Sale” sign in Ray’s front yard.
Agent wore Lebron James sneakers, bow tie,
carried an Ace Hardware hammer,
a ballpoint pen gripped within teeth.
Having gained another foreclosed home to deal,
the salesman understood Scranton’s filled
with both young and old people, down and out,
some having to enter assisted living, shelters,
others pursue state “Renter Relief.”

Tap, tap, tap… Ray accepted what’s befallen.

Inside basement, 69-years old,
Ray’s no A.A.R.P. magazine “cover-boy.”
Life on fixed income, house in need of new roof,
sewer line pipe-to-street busted, school taxes,
he could no longer afford anything.
Ray listened to the hammer pound upon
a stake which would shatter lizard life
and hold the “For Sale” sign down in ground
for however long it took for another “closing.”

Tap, tap… how many nail guns has H.U.D.?

Sort of sad for some, a Vietnam veteran,
Ray removed old tools from peg board,
rusted screwdriver, chisel, and manual drill.
The lost house told unwanted stories,
he left behind his crazy “only” son’s
colorful poster on the wall,
Stop NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia!
Ray did not care too much about
fractured Balkans, he believed,
“young pikers would get more outa’
lookin’ at and learnin’ to use my tools.”

Anthracite coal furnace kicked-on
for final time while Ray had anything
to do with thermostat control.
He listened as coal passed through
mechanical “snake,’ rumble, rumble,
and passed into fire – He rolled cigarette,
farewell to $6.50 packs of Pall Mall,
the US Surgeon General failed to mention
anything about C.O.L.A. fatalities.

Crackle, crackle…
The chimney accepted what’s befallen Ray.

Tucked away inside decayed wood crate,
Ray found Silvertone phonograph, and The Doors
vinyl album, Live at the Bowl 68.
He blew dust off record,
took note of wavy surface curves,
lowered needle to turntable, spun the record,
track # 7, a shaman voice in the basement,
“The negroes in the forest brightly feathered,
they are saying, forget the night,
live with us in forests of azure
out here in the perimeter
there are no stars…”1

L.A. Woman scream all that remained…
it doesn’t matter anymore what’s befallen
King Louis XVI and Morrison in Paris.

The Lizard King, hot breath –
you can kill lizards with your hand,
but you cannot make them do ten push-ups.
Jim Morrison told Ray about loss of God,
L.B.J.’s loss of “Dinbinfoo,” the loss of property.
Lizard King said, “We have constructed pyramids
in honor of our escaping.”

Pop, pop, an Egyptian soldier’s herniated disk…
Ray had to take care of his own, make escape!

“For Sale” sign on every pyramid in Ray’s town,
azure forest afire, decomposed prayer in Debtors’ Prison.
Acquisitive creatures wanted to know
where dead beat Tex-Mex Pharaoh resided…,
what Ray could afford,
what immaculate entitlements shall bestow upon him?
Ray turned phonograph volume on full blast,
he hoped prospective home buyers, “perimeter” vagrants,
would consider looking at his basement, take pause
as to what happened to an American home.

  1. Lyrics from The Doors song, “The Wasp (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)”. I admire poetic songs written by Jim Morrison, the unique myth-making, myth devouring son of Admiral George S. Morrison. After years of extraordinary heavy drinking and drug use, Morrison developed a belief that he could control lizard behavior by power of the mind. Knowing that shamans and US presidents traditionally identify with animal deities, I as a Byzantine Catholic (long-legged and minus a tail), believe Jim was some sort of shaman. I’ll let others judge on the basis of the following line by the Lizard King, “I’ll tell you this, no eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn.” []
Charles Orloski lives in Taylor, Pa. He can be reached at: ChucktheZek@aol.com. . Read other articles by Charles.