VS: Folk, 2071

Folk, 2071 is a marginally found poem I wrote, based on the masterful anime series Cowboy Bebop. It’s one of the longer multi-section poems I’ve written, and while I am reasonably pleased with the existing content, it is far from complete.

Those of you who have had the joy of riding along on the Bebop will probably recognize that the quotations within the poems are lines of dialogue lifted directly from the show. I should also note that the session titles are the names of the individual episodes with which each piece aligns. The rest of the content is original and meant to serve the richness of the music, color, and rhythm that make the original work so universally incredible.

See you Space Cowboy…

SESSION #3
Honky Tonk Woman

Neon, city baby.

Smoke hole donuts, and tick-tock hips
clock her walk across the boutique.

The clerk behind the counter, formaldehyde
squid and eel in rows, a pair of dark
round lenses,
below a buzz-saw
sun emblazoned on the hat, but above
a mantis moustache roofing
cigarillo chew.

She has a dark eye too, and skin
bared in vanilla spades
a Valentine leaning
over ammunition rows; sweets
to match the fine Cuban colony’s.

She lifts, he ignites. It’s an old
soldier’s dented cap lighter.

“I like those shades, man.”
“I like everything you got.”

Money on the table of the mind
can’t clear the lead from the air.

LATER, THE GATEWAY CASINO, SPIKE WITH LIT CIGARETTE

Tick-tock and elevator down
space, open space
(nothing there!) until the tube
plugs them into a sure bet.

“I’m sorry to mention this, but
no smo-
king in here.”
So he flips it
in and swallows. NOISE

“Say your prayers,” over velvet
and weighty chips. They win, they
win, thank his luck! Where’d he go?!

Flip, flip, flip, shuffle
flop––
“Mind if I join the game?” he neatly
spits a butt to the vacuum trash.
Lollipop-tails and spin-wheels
gather to gawk and mock
as he loses, gazing
past a welcoming neckline
and berry tea hair
to lily pool eyes.
“Another blackjack,”
her trick-anklet settled.
“What a shame. It appears I’m not
lucky, and I’m
not skillful either.”

Resting easy,
head in hand
he’s no ogler
his right eye
sees the present
“My left eye only sees
the past”
and the finger
keeps up its Morse.

Coded inks
bend chance.
“You cleaned me
out. All I have is
this one measly
chip.”
she awaits her
tipping point
the plan is
grip-sure.
“I think I’ll keep it as
a souvenir.”

Now the dealer, she’s
pissed but he’s only
in it for the
chase. Faye’d away,
like a last sip of water on the
simmer porch glass.

Tick-tock, the Casino
and his way of wandering into
trouble is refreshed in the vodka.
Tonic talks with the bouncers
come and the big one makes his
“Bad move.”
Time to go.
Swallowtail
kicks
across
their
faces
in time with slot sheen clang.

Enter the familiar, a funhouse
mirror of a hero.

Two of four colluding shoulders
knock chips
onto the boss’s shoulder
when they switch.
One, for the money,
two, for the session,
(it’s a secret weapon)
to the sky of the sky, back
in space suits
and boots to the faceplate––
Phosphor yellow lines off the rounds
whip by like road markers
on Bloody Eye tabs, ribbons of missile tail
Mobius weave and loop
“Get me out of here!”

But as polarity would have it,
their rockets relearned while
the boss’s back was turned toward
mag-tread snap, Faye sneaks
coordinates, map. BOOM
Spike, back, already in the mood
for napping:

A Romani, not just another pretty chase.
The queen of hearts folded and
SPIKE
“All this thing’s good for now is
one
last
bet.”

SESSION #6
Sympathy for the Devil

Harmonica cut me, like a cold
knife through butter milk. Chilled
scalpels and hooks, peel
back his right eye in the present-
past, his tendons cable tension
nude, strewn across the lab bench
like he’d been stretched to tan.
Masks breathe, breathing mask
plugging his openings
an eye, his right
a crystalline ball
for seeing only
the present.
See, the past has (his) left.

GASP Gasp, breathe,
gasp. Harmonica cool
him like a wet .45. Flashmuzzle
drool suck-up
back to being dressed and drunk
in that crusty club only
playing the funkiest of blues.
Solo harp on the tubes,
play me old, young killer
Spike does not yet know:
wise in powdery
green and black trim
he’s a child, eleven
(but man)
those licks
and his olive tie!

BOUNTY: Giraffe, Alive

And the pair set their heels in, to
Jet forward.
“Fatty? Fatty Rivers!” Distraction
frames the doorway, a
boy and his wheelchair
passing chance off like hay fever.

Little man, I see you
don’t have heart
stutter when you pull the
trigger on a cabbie.
Don’t blow sharp.

A Zebra in a chair, the highrise
blast out the window. Giraffe
is low-neck blown. “Don’t. Don’t
be fooled by him––by the way
he looks.”
“Don’t talk!” Spike pleads.
Collect the gemmed-ring
&
Bounty buys the farm

LATER, THE WAREHOUSE

“Sorry, but I’m not
a kid.”
“Yeah, all kids say that.”
“I know what
I look like.” Quiet, Spike,
after the pistol bit
red off his blue sleeves.

Kiss, kiss, bang, blown, gasoline
knuckles the stone into coffee
grounds. The kid
still stands taller than his four
foot nothing. Remains
of the wreckage smack
him giddy. He smiles.

I played washout notes
in the sun flicker, and our ears rang
with the summer water color, if only
their pulp was
thick as mine.
I smiled, the meteor shine
polished me and brushed the
rest away. Why could it be
they all died / only

me?

A planet stripped
and oiled like a ball bearing
but I am somehow remaining.

“From that day, my body completely
stopped aging. I
can’t die.”

Round that remainder to bad
luck humanity
and my only conclusion was
to keep out of the lab, keep
that stripy-horse and carriage
from naying, and feel
my incremental callouses;
each love line whittled to a fiber;
friend: noun, a prelude
to a funeral.
to float away, like each
stone I polished and
aimed high.

One––
Two––
Third shot––streaks comet
war paint on Spike’s cheek.
Still, he can’t deride
a child’s five-hundred-year-old slang
but he will free
the old man from skinny youth
with a gem right
between bluesy emerald eye-bullet-eye.

The boy laughs, it’s just like any other time he couldn’t di––

Wrinkle in time.
Brought spine, neck, low. And Spike
sighs through an old,
cold harmonica but it’s only wind
in the reeds. He polishes
and aimed high, propeller
song-clay
pigeon that he could
deadeye from the air
if he wished, only no
trigger, we look down
index barrel squeezing
just meaning from the
point.

SESSION #12
Jupiter Jazz (part I)

Higher than prayers can rise
in the smoke signals
a syndicate hall orbits

Ruby-vulture caw on his shoulder, he’d walk all the way to Callisto just to put Spike’s head on a katana (foil)
but the deal is in drugs,
Bloody Eye, and it’s unfinished there,
cold. “I’ll be fine.”

Replied the Elder of lies, three as one:
“True. Your heart is colder than any planet.”
“Colder than the eye of a snake about to strike.”
A viscous blade to match a loner’s honor-gun
Spike in the heart of his mindheart, nonmortal
Rival
“Vicious! Remember, a snake cannot eat a dragon.”

Zodiac turn ahead a year to look over his shoulder:
a glare, death contract(ed)
to his devoid-grey hairs
now to waft Julia on the airwaves
like crackling fish tackle
and see if a
spine gets stuck.

“Such old-fashioned thinking makes me nauseous.”
His aide is a crawl and Vicious patience flexes.
“Honor, huh?”

THE BEBOP
“We’re experiencing technical difficulties.” Jet’s low
rumble provides, gliding folded
paper zip-straight
line to his
catch––a two finger snip
to snatch it from the air.
It might as well have
rolled into a cigarette, but
unfolded instead:
I’m leaving without saying goodbye
Please, please do not look for me

– Faye

SPIKE
“After this
stunt, we’re not, right?”
JET
“She emptied out the safe, too.”

Gold or roiling coal?
An old flame that only warm cigarettes
tips or a girl with no
memory excepting
a beat-up beta
tape?

PLANETSIDE, THE BLUE CROW
Brassy neon, sing me sleepy.
Hair below the lower valves
Cast relief of only the lever stacks
in the red, the chittering valves
of Gren’s sax. Usual still
for Faye
Valentine, see someone
make her want to
spill her drink.
CODENAME: Julia
Long blonde memories spill over Spike
he’s stuck in the ground;
stuck in amber spectacle ways
stuck on a hard luck woman,
not hunky dory talks.

JET
“You’re not.”
SPIKE
“I’m going to look for my woman; you
can go
look for the other one.”
“I never did understand you.”
“I don’t understand either.”

THE BLUE CROW, INT.
Sax silhouette in the red and the murk-clack
of velvet, and cues, and bourbon;
Dexter Gordon session den, where
every cigarette tastes its best
and every lover drinks a lopsided
two-top:

Ash trays overflow with collapsing notes
Faye taps the bar
for another hit of bitters
and a runaway’s
melo’d eyes––she was still
too close to Bebop
too far from an honest
answer to herself. Callisto
was close and cold, and rife
with fistfights, she could win
old metal tins to fill up
with gems
and pretty things. Instead
she drank her earful
She mouthed
something into her cup
with a petite sneeze
as his set ended
and all moments of time belong to the one
that happens
and maybe when he throws his jacket over
she almost believes her heart rate
“I’m not
as simple as
I seem, Mr. Saxophone.”
GREN
“Women aren’t my type.” Face gentler
than anyone could justify
for a man, he was fetching
his last drink, she
blows him off with a wink.
GREN
“Take care.”

She can fight, platinum crazy. Sing
me to sleep, city ALLEY.

Tick-tock tut,
“There’s nobody here…”
to play, she wants
to put on her slim
gloves and not
chip a nail, but try to.

GREN’S PLACE
Wind, wind the music box
little crickets until the
spring locks
Wind, wind
A hand to stop
“I’m afraid it’s broken.”

THE SAME EXACT FRICKEN ALLEYWAY
“Sounds like some sleazy
wench’s name doesn’t it?”
SPIKE
“Yeah, it really does.”
(Sprite hook and
teeth play popcorn.)

He must be
here––the chatter pot
he shattered told and showed
him the Bloody Eye on Callisto.
So.
He found the man with a long knife
at the gunfight. Vicious with an old friend
strapped to
the motherfucker
like a vest.

VICIOUS
“Things have changed.”
SPIKE
“Like you using her
name for your stupid
drug deals. I truly pity
you for that. Lin,
get outta the way!”
“Julia was
here. Right in this town.”
“Step aside, Lin.
BANG a spike into the cold
dust of Callisto,
he’s dead yet, but
it was not Vicious, nor his
serpent’s
tooth, but Lin
who gently squeezed
the life from a
Spike in the
earth like
syrup and niter.

SESSION #13
Jupiter Jazz (part II)

You have to imagine
this in animation. I
normally wouldn’t
talk about the way
his boot slid as he
ran to him, to her,
no need for ammunition
and the icy dusts of Callisto’s
eternal winter
were just quiet enough for Spike
as he came to aide,
two comrades who never met.

Gren is Gren.
She was always sick; he was
always sad after that Titan’s
skulls in the blast sand
so they gave her
pills, pills, pills
and breasts grew from
the boreholes in
his heart. Unaltered
by the slow-inking
coda of expiration,
bloody coughs
&
Bloody Eye
deals were only a ruse
to wind the delicate music box Vicious gave her during the war.
It played an eerie plea; my own eyes flooded with each hybrid strumming and the tear-fall was its own sound echoed back. The song’s called “Julia”
by a thousand different names and faces, but right then
it plucked into vibration so gentle,
Vicious could barely hear
it over the rush of his ship
tucked among the loot in the back.
One last verse, it needs perfect chiming
and the thing wasn’t broken, it was a trick aligning:

Click.

Blossom the sky.

SESSION #15
My Funny Valentine

Gorgeous raven in the
popsicle coffin, surgical masks breathe
musky breath in the fridge.

Deposit her and read the bar
code etched in the hatch. Greedy
city, neon baby. Harp me to sleep
tangled straight in your pixie cut
purple more than black

BACCHUS
“Ms. Manley?”
“She is not acting, Doctor.”
Preservation cut a quarter
of the melon pie
“Faye Valentine.” pass go
collect all of your
romantic debt. Simply put,
a matter of compound interest
was more than that frigid
BnB could offer, no crooning
prince’s charm
break the sleep
of beauty weeping.
Willow tree murmur
as her clothes get
smarter, her ego
much dumb––she’s gone number
than cold can run.

“A prince has to protect sleeping beauty, that’s the way it works.”
“Whitney Hagas Matsumoto…” your
eyebrows are thickets and the fat
implants don’t fool me.
An expensive heart-shaped
card. Slinging
her gown up on the shoulder;
pity, patter her bare feet
on the smooth highway, to the border!
Border of where? Borderline, where
do you think you’re going?

“What do you have
to gain by [OMMITTED AT REQUEST OF SUBJECT]?”

SESSION #26
The Real Folk Blues (part II)

How can an equation
negating be
violence? How can the blade
impregnate a Jericho
941 tube one
hand tied behind?
Vicious debate for once
is the only settlement of the issue;
raise arms. Trade. Forgive.
Annihilate—

but wait

––Spinal Spike rent
deep, down to the funny
bone, but he breathes.
Descending the opalescent
stairway to heaven, as if
it were instead chipped
concrete, with craters
socked out by falling
feather’s caw
and cackle, from a long Vicious
tooth. And nails
from the molding tinkle
like rain mixed with
ash on the concrete.
It’s no funeral
when a hard luck
woman finds a fully
automatic rose
floating in a puddle
of the real,
Folk Blues.