Now that my ladder’s gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start
t In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.
WB Yeats “The Circus Animals Desertion
Farewell, 3-am dance move; hail thermapedic pillow. Farewell, Ricks Cafe, Negril, Jamaica; hail, sodium free cafeteria, Bishop Gadsden Retirement Home.
Ain’t got it in me no more. Brother Testosterone done absconded with his first cousin Recklessness. Gotta start calling assholes jackasses, spades trowels.
So I’ve sent that old demented muse of mine packing.
Young literary lions and lionesses, the unrealized projects below are yours for the taking, have been collecting dust in the mobile storage unit of my consciousness far too long. I consider them junk furniture put out on the side of the road, pick-up truck plunder for aspiring novelists, playwrights, and screenwriters.
Non-literary fiction: Pat Conroy meets Fanny Burney:
Cecilia Rhett’s parents drowned off the coast of Bermuda when she was five. The last Rhett of her line, she has been reared by her eccentric uncle, Middleton, a gay artist obsessed with the so-called War Between the States (he has decorated his East Battery mansion with his own works: giant canvases of battles, romanticized portraits of major Confederate combatants).
When Middleton discovers he has pancreatic cancer, he rewrites his will stipulating that Cecilia can only inherit his fortune if the man she marries takes her surname, a major problem because she has fallen in love with an impoverished French marquis who happens to consider descendants of planters nouveau riche. This escapist novel features the resiquite troop of Southern cliches: acerbic cotton-haired colored manservant, alcoholic fag hag, promiscuous vampish cousin, evil Republican inheritance-coveting lawyer.
T-Bone and Lemon
Modernist musical drama: Samuel Beckett meets Chet Flippo:
Liberal adaptation of T-Bone Walker’s stint as Blind Lemon Jefferson’s guideboy when the famous bluesman was a street performer in Dallas in the the Teens of the 20th century.
In this two act tragic-comic musical, T-Bone is only eight, a sort of prototypical Tween Hobo, at once worldly but innocent. With a rope tied to one strap of his overalls, T-Bone leads Lemon back and forth across minimalist sets where he moans the blues, encounters unscrupulous record producers, sleeps with golden-hearted prostitutes, and eventually freezes to death with a belly full of rotgut. Cryptic, poetic African American dialogue, plus killer blues.
Theme: life sucks, especially if you’re a blind black man living in Post-Reconstruction Texas and/or if you’re a human guide dog.
Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)
Full-length theatrical movie: Sam Peckinpah meets Salvador Dali. You can listen to the song as you scroll down:
Very loosely based on Dylan’s cryptic song from his Street Legal album.
Señor, Señor, can you tell me where we’re headin’?
Lincoln County Road or armageddon?
Seems like I been down this way before.
Is there any truth in that, señor?
Señor, señor, do you know where she is hidin’?
How long are we gonna be ridin’?
How long must I keep my eyes glued to the door?
Will there be any comfort there, señor?
There’s a wicked wind still blowin’ on that upper deck,
There’s an iron cross still hanging down from around her neck.
There’s a marchin’ band still playin’ in that vacant lot
Where she held me in her arms one time and said, “forget me not.”
Señor, señor, I can see that painted wagon
I can smell the tail of the dragon
Can’t stand the suspense anymore
Can you tell me who to contact here, señor?
Well, the last thing I remember before I stripped and kneeled
Was that trainload of fools bogged down in a magnetic field
A gypsy with a broken flag and a flashing ring
Said, “Son, this ain’t a dream no more, it’s the real thing”
Señor, señor, you know their hearts there is as hard as leather
Well, give me a minute, let me get it together
I just gotta pick myself up off the floor
I’m ready when you are, señor
Señor, señor, let’s overturn these tables,
disconnect these cables
This place don’t make sense to me no more
Can you tell me what we’re waiting for, señor?