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Weirdo ‘Frisco Hippie Druggie Perverto Cult Case File #06/03-188
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In 2008, Pierre Merkl wrote this short fiction at the request of City Lights editor, Peter Maravelis, to be included in a compilation of San Francisco detectives’ stories. This story does not represent historical events nor does it portray real persons, living or dead.


swing time

This project started over a few drinks at the Deluxe on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco in 1994.  Mr. Lucky had been a performer on the scene before the scene started, doing ‘post-modern’ lounge jazz since ’79, and got serious play when the pre-rock style came back, first as a grass roots culture in San Francisco in the early 1990’s. 
Towards informing the young crowd just getting into ‘30’s and ‘40’s jazz, Lucky started writing profiles on the great singers of the mid-twentieth.  As the ‘Neo-Swing Movement’ grew, politics accrued, and he started an anonymous column called “I’m a Sensitive Guy (But Then I Get Pissed)”.
Author’s Note:  Dear reader, a request to judge gently…these pieces were written during the waning days of innocent ignorance, the beginning of the end of the 20th Century, which The Mutants’ song named “The New Dark Ages”.  These articles came before the internet age expectation of instant, omnipotent expertise in all things historical per the ease of wiki.  Funny how www’s fingertip facts can dispel and create rumors with the click of an engine…we face up to the onslaught of delivery, while we gaze at the fade of local color…. In those days, amateur archivists were gathering up the vinyl at thrift stores and transferring lost treasures onto the permanent medium of cassettes, picking up bits of musical history from liner notes and George Simon’s The Big Bands.
Swing Time had only these and the San Francisco Public Library, with a loose tumble of books on a shelf in the music section, and scratchy, blurred magazine copy on those microfilm reels.  Swing Time editorial consisted of one smart Susan Lake, gathering info and editing all best she could on deadline and day job.  Lucky compensated for his factual shortfalls with whimsical commentary and personal anecdote.  So take a peek into one of the “Big Twentieth’s” little eras—we all had a great time...!


Swing Time Magazine Swing Time Magazine Swing Time Magazine Swing Time Magazine Swing Time Magazine Swing Time Magazine Swing Time Magazine
Swing Time Magazine Swing Time Magazine Swing Time Magazine Swing Time Magazine swing time magazine Swing Time Magazine  

211st,  PLEASE!



Poetry was a serious and consistent pursuit for over three decades, ‘70’s to 2000’s. In-person influences included May Swenson and Robert Bly. Robert Hazel was a teacher and mentor at NYU.
In the late1970’s and into the ‘80’s, he turned his poetry into performance art piece, Punch ‘n’ Banger, and wrote lyrics for his bands’ songs. 
In the 1990’s, he used lines from his poetry to inspire many of his ‘abstract humanist’ paintings.

The writing was influenced by late 19th century French and mid-20th century ‘confessional’ American and British poetry. Merkl took what in 1970 was a wild turn into a unique cadence:  full-bore off-kilter meters with sweet and nasty turns taking the corners, rhyming like a maniac. 
Just post-free verse and very pre-rap, it’s automatic, amped-up Beat with sneaky alliterations and snarky rhymes; a sensation sensibility, governed by a reckless pace to finish lines.

Merkl's art is featured on
Issue 3.3 of sParkle + bLink:
february 2012 (poetry festival santa cruz)















Oh, oh, if I reach that uh-oh,
I'll be a hundred and everything
will be dust on my pelvis,
with barely the breath to blow it

Webs, web, till the N. Y. Times
says you're dead, and the
revisionists cuff you off,
it's a haul, controlled, yet,
a virtuous, dolled up, drowned out,
dragged out, windy head bobbing
on the sea.
Land, natural crony of water,
yet, will you rake me? Will you
exceptionally? Scrape me like a
barnacle, lick me like a fudgsicle,
collect me, connect me, correct me,
cash me in, like Flynn?

7:20 turns into...

7:20 turns into 7:21,my friend,
in the blink of a dink,
a garage door sinks
as the staff pours out
into the drink on cue and
in flight from the bastard garbage
man down the street, terrorizing dreams.
So it's from up on the spoof to
out walkin' to clear the mud from
the head.
It's never deady if you're ready
but who is at this time of the norming,
everybody's mourning the morning,
ready to hit the crack,
the speck, the feckless spectacle
of initial rays seeking hapless
sacks of humanitarian seekers
squeaking the beakers,
cra†nking up the minutes to the
noon swoon--dunce time.
Then, it's fivedom again,
and all the little red barlights go on
like sirens beckoning to beer
and food cheer. On and on
to the disco for an olive with a twist,
yeah, memories are made of this,
when the coworker went goofy
over the Bensonhurst guy with the ass
in the purple light acting like everyone
wants to fight when its really only the mirror,
and a second chance but that's not
at the next light, only family is,
after getting over the slump
called the week.
Soooo, it's the sidewalks squalking
to the subway and its black signs,
somehow, someway, someday,
we all end up stoned at home.
The grey swamps the chimps
and the red sky holds off
pending my verdict of who's to care.
I say, they all stay,
they all will be he here for a while,
the grifters, the benders, the family
members, the homers, the homeboys,
the homeless, the boneless, the
constant, multiplying philanderers
of life.

A local response

A local response to the philosophie Francais,
touche'ski, pal,
I'm happy as a fuckin' lark.
Some gal bursting with energy, Jack,
ever been dat? Ever been
anywhere where anyone
wasn't depressed?
Confess, Confess, Confess...
Digest? You're full of tongues
you ate and are starving for goals--
I don't mean gold, I don't mean you're empty,
you're ready, you're sold--
on enfolding folds, on
colds, on lost souls.

all you little eras

I love all you little eras,
with sticks out of heads
and pointy shoes and party grooves,
and utter, uncomplicated following
quivers of thought, an arrow each,
a reach, a squeak.
The currents of the warrants
and who was being tracked;
get back to where you¹re wanted,
go tack on a tributary, lady.
So long, dear,
It¹s been a year but I still
love ya like come,
still love ya, hon,
you¹re the one plus one
I always dreamed on--
not just some someone to run
with, but a posi-traction
dual-action, genuine sprite
of a tractor with soul.

And...she's off!

You wanna call goofball? She's by the phone like a stone, like a needle on a record beckoning ears, some siren on the rocks, teasing cocks.

You wanna call what zone? You wanna die on the other line? Highlight the wire? grab the pliers and squeeze to contain the squeal?

Convinced the that makes sense, and...she's off! running like a paper thing in a heightened storm, she's too much to touch, too such, too banged, too entered, too centered, too contained, too concerting, too hurt, too hurting, always dependant on the kindness of danger, always remanded in the darkness to strangers.

Back to Back

You get older, you get pickier.
The lines you draw are stickier.
The decisions are few and far
between your
rational stations of the cross on the train.

Maintain, you keep telling the shelves,
refrain from
repetitive action syndrome, those old
excuses in the lumbar region
that especially enticing enigmas
of the shoulderblades:
the scapula is singing
to another scapula,
engines pulling us along.

Balconies abound off of clouds

making sounds like Beethoven confounding the ears on the planks
while baby ears sprouting out of stairs
climb for the peaches,
would die for the screeches of thorns,
for the outer ordinary morns.
In storage for this trip,
it should be a blip on the screen;
but due to machines,
the archives will be casting
for some time for smelts.
The dealt with are too kind.
Can't we make it smell lovely as a bird?
gimme the word, mon, the turd.


Base, Based on the basics, The phases we've all buttered, The trends, the bends are our bases, the spines are our faces, our structured luck.

I can't stop to duck, but it's not an escape, not a factual eclipse. I've just got to try, got to try on top of everything we've ever done, best of all, catch the run-off, the follow-through off the fountain.

Do I need some door? Roar! To the cave, the rave about what really happened among the also-rans of the golden era, baby, the big twentieth, maybe.

Base of a Pyramid

I couldn't, base of a pyramid. Stout column, I shouldn't... but I must enhance the solemn notes, those boats with sunsets on screens.

I must take all those beat-up cars and calibrate them to the warm light of jackhammers. Mercuries and Comets like jewels in the cemetery, Screaming reds bursting past blaring greens

Through pockets of lubricated horizons squaring suns against the streets into the exit lights of flourescents, the past lights of incandescents.

I shouldn't but I taste it. It's something you just build bricks with, trick, pour concentrate to achieve that bricky, stocky forehead to blockhead to soulhead

Flying into the sky full of rectangles, Full of trying perspective. Election night is drawing near, so lets celebrate moxie, the lines to the points hollering about their fate as bait to time.

Great colored buildings, willings, erections taking directions someone's sorting them out like buttons in the smog, godwilling, towering complexions tossing the sky into sections, protecting the atmosphere, learing, jeering, having fun at whose expense? Some mug? I'll hug.

Bi-i-i-i-i-g Past

I got a bi-i-i-i-i-g mouth and a bi-i-i-i-i-g past from a big ride, from a Queensying spawn to a Canadian dawn to a Californ to dawn, to dawn, to dawn.

A subway through a snowstorm, a cab whistling through the park, a shack in the woods, a stone hut on a hill, a teepee on the beach, a spot at the T-crossroad, a house on a cold river, a place with a murder in a well, a face over a stove, contemplative soup disturbed by a spoon, the ancient kitchen, the living, room.

I can't I can't I can I can't I can Break the ocean over the sky Crack the earth across the night darkness flooding the continents like read pages, ages.

Blockhead to Soulhead

Blockhead to soulhead, we've had our foments,
we've had our pieces of eights, rolling for sevens,
we've had our tete a tetes, our stairways to questions
don't let too many questions go... find out just in time--
it's got to rhyme, it's got to be a time.
* * * * *
the sky today, the other.
Gray, Gray, the delta's no dope,
traveling in all those directions, all gray,
don't have an accident, too corny.

Be born, be gray, be happy, baby,
Gray day, gray your mother's birthday, gray every,
be the only way you can be: gray.
gray mother, gray's baby, gray's maybe, no doubt,
gray's stout, gray candles, gray flames, gray the only
way it can be, gray laughs, gray paths like headlights on
that gray night. Gray stalks, gray something like sight.

Profound, pronoun, gray ground, gray sound,
gray strategy, edgy gray, stagey gray,
gray bay, gray plots, gray spots, gray noun,
gray with bright light shining off,
gray stuff, gray directions, bright spots,
gray dreams, gray stains, gray frames.

Burning Men Watching

Clay, clay, clay ringing out of the cracks the alkyd mist of the bowl of dust, the 500 mile disc of dust, clay sound sent off to the Granite Range, grains shifting off flat black rock and shouting edge after edge of that taut stream of seamless horizons.

Clay, clay, clay singing out forms of scorn, norms of ecstacy, and new pilots of renewal-- scouts at the edge of the mud, thudding the spots, echoing into the old earth like a meandering eye for the kinds of details, the whining, opining, witty crashes, the crooked dashes into the crust that make everyone smile.

Just a hint of song slipping like a million years through the thickness of the slip, a slice of ok life through the clay day, light going wet irridescent, erotic, spermic moments in sharkskin-- humCan coatings over whatever makes us sweat.

Yeah, it's an original, a something special in a tinker toy monument to prediction S, as in saw it coming, Psychics all, the new horizon of tufts 'n' bluffs,

a next adventure featuring cufflinks clasping Conan with Intel, drums with bums, history and crystals, whispering and the physical like mystical, the twirling of the trunks and the torches, the nude and the rude, the drunks and the monks, the mountains and the fountains, the skating connivors, the chattering survivors about what everyone lost, and lent to.

Again, again, the gang takes off, shuffling chaos and cares and calling it a next hand, calling it a burning man, burning men watching the burning man, firey hands pressed into clay towers hands sprouting from pillars waving at the comings and glowings of a new crowd.

Counting the Conundrums

Counting the conundrums
to all the way to the country
of taffy and difficult woods
full of stuck axes and destinationless
silvery branches asking for silence
and rebelling with fell swoops,
dishing and dirting with flickering arms--
it's the charmed life of mottos,
through the ups and down drama of
a modern farm.

Watching people jump over sheep--
it's an estimated tax till you relax,
over jazz and a terrible book.
I wish it would shake, shook,
it all up
some other Ótime in a frame
of certain lengths,
because we all have certain strengths
subject to curtains.

Counting the conundrums
through the wet streets like
penises, like pennies
falling and bouncing off curbs
of plenty,
leaping like shiny copper-wet minds,
heads, tails, wailing like walls,
tails, heads, answering too many questions with simply death.

Too many questions, not enough pesto,
not enough gusto or forsight
or lava lights
suggesting solutions in alien shapes,
halos relating to each other--red to green,
green to great
thoughts to keep bubbling up, by george
with a simple soluble,
make it global, globule
and we'll all be malleable, palatable, strangled, smuggled out of ourselves,
smacking ourselves,
outselling our wills.

Connect the Dots, Klotz

Connect the dots, Klotz,
connect the obese people
wandering like beers through the
Like tears through the old cheers
and cheeks requesting years.
Stack the stats, jack,
infect the complete people,
those with nothing new,
pile them like gomers,
goobers on the clerk parade,
clucking, stunting, haloing pomade,
the credence, the shampoo,
the ragu sign freckled with
bee stings, little holes in a
laminated sky, a million hives
like little spike hats.


Can you tell a barbell?
Can you contract?
an informal little lady
on her back, contracting,
a precise dose of can only,
suffer, can only buffer so
much before the onslaught,
the hurricane of flesh,


Eye to egg, seg to segue,
you"re a monkey
I'm a funky junky,
grinding ground guy,
scarfing trends to no end,
plucking lillies like silly
putty, some nutty guy
on the average, average,
under, over, your lips,
clips on my heart;
your lips, whips.

Cry, Map!

We missed the exit.
Whatdja' call it?
You know, like a bridge--not.

Cross the sky? Not a chance, not
with clouds blowing out towers
bursting out sight, busting billows of vision
teaming down in green-gray parades

into plum, and arriving orange-peach,
pastel against the thunderstorm,
a blasting reach--not--a screech
like a spigot of a spectrum,
patching on the south siding,
riding, bay, gap--gotcha!

Oh, that arc,
a sea-green car
striking across some burnt sea,
crying to make the other ply.
Absolutely, positively landing
this spinning crate, some tornado
travaling up the exit ramp
and skipping, scamping,
like a salt thing
loving the shore.

Did you ever, logically

Did you ever, logically, legally get divorced? Force it into limbo? push the planet into space? erase/ Have you never finally, exceptionally made perceptions the rule/ figured the final daydream, spend the separate you for a new view, a genuine clue?


Don't, it's don't, don't like the plague,
Don't like the aligators,
Don't like the plain planes
of don'ts,
of official can'ts,
can't help it, shelve it,
official that's its, listen to this.
Yeah, yeah, dump the raggedy
ever so scraggely look and feel.
Too real, not enough teal.
Spotless, baby, that's
how I like it now,
Breakfast on a mirror,
like an only child reading
like a fine wine powering
a slick, firey chassis
across your chocolate self.
Me, "oc", a wound-up waving hose
spraying lifetimes of light
across a cauliflower yard--
big white buds and birds,
yes, everything's birds
in the is land.


Family Will you be there for my
communal life?
My life with family, with wife?
My final life un-alone,
no phones, a harmonious tone
where everyone hears
the same sound: we found, we found


Frank, I need a second line
up to Shenier & o'Connor,
the General Building the Pan Am foils,
the escalator, the Grand Central,
the terminal, the sky box, the Kodak,
the spot you've got
on the beach,
on a blanket,
playing bridge
off a beach chair,
trumping the waves.
Frank, I know, it's heaven sent,
your death, that extra test
of will to get decked
and suckered into this thing,
and lay flat out rude and tubed,
carted, floating dude, a poor mess
of you, a bad place.
Then, you were there,
in some wheelchair, a red sunliner
up the beach, liking air, top down,
in form, retorn,
driving, whistling,
down the shore.

Gal Story

If she'd really building,
Then a block, a bank,
A car she drove down a hellish grade
A finally faucet of light
pouring hillsides onto the
afternoon of wheels.
She's dealing, she's got
to have a job, little miss marker
of sorts of chocolates,
a healthy spade
full of dirt on cue,
a cradle, a gravy boat
of organ music announcing...
arrive, bouncing, pounding


Go out with someone
Go out with someone You got to go Go out with, Someone who's Who's been there, can care, It's only fair, Someone your own age.

Someone who's Forty-two to tell you about, not a few, but each of the forty-two lovers and scrubbers who dumped her for Volvo stationwagons and roommates and best friends who danced like cranapples and bent to pick'em up at the hiball hunt.

Someone who don't like to drink but gets so stoned there's a key missing. Passed the wanker, the truckers, the rock star, that factor, So rockin' you can't get off the floor, get to the film, so don't plan a thing, go skating.

Gray Stuff

Gray, Gray, yeah, my favorite color, the sky today, the other. Gray, Gray, the delta's no dope, those directions, all gray, those connections all day, don't forget, don't doubt, don't mount the way, don't suck on precedents, don't have an accident, too corny.

Be born, be gray, be happy, baby, Gray day, gray your mother's birthday, gray every, be the only way you can be: gray. gray mother, gray's baby, gray's maybe, no doubt; gray's stout, gray candles, gray flames, white smoke, gray some way, some way it's all gray, gray laughs, gray paths like headlights on that gray night. Gray stalks, gray something like night, gray blight, gray mouth, gray sight.

Profound, pronoun, gray ground, gray sound, gray strategy, edgy gray, stagey gray, gray bay, gray plots, gray spots on gray ground, gray edging light shining off the ice, gray stuff, gray directions, bright spots in the parks, mimes of gray, gray heavens abšove gray stoves, gray love, gray sensibilities, grey skis. gray dreams, gray stains, gray frames.

* * * *

* * * * * the sky today, the other. Gray, Gray, the delta's no dope, traveling in all those directions, all gray, don't have an accident, too corny.

Be born, be gray, be happy, baby, Gray day, gray your mother's birthday, gray every, be the only way you can be: gray. gray mother, gray's baby, gray's maybe, no doubt, gray's stout, gray candles, gray flames, gray the only way it can be, gray laughs, gray paths like headlights on that gray night. Gray stalks, gray something like sight.

Profound, pronoun, gray ground, gray sound, gray strategy, edgy gray, stagey gray, gray bay, gray plots, gray spots, gray noun, gray with bright light shining off, gray stuff, gray directions, bright spots, gray dreams, gray stains, gray frames.

Gray, Gray, yeah, my favorite color, I'm dying to see you get a little older, you'll be easier to tease and aggravate into piqued and painted reveries.

Hello, It's True

Hello, it's true.
It's view, it's so...too.
It's such an inconsiderate thought
to go through with it,
but I'm here, I'm you, I do.
Hello, it's blue
and orange, us complements,
us side affects, us mix-ups,
us hiccups, us consonants,
us consultants, us pets--
why ask for vowels
when you got no whys only
whats, takes, gets.
Don't cringe, don't change,
it's the end of the range,
the last corner in the pasture
untouched by human hooves,
it's the untouched spot
you saved for the tree--
it's the round-a-bout way
you wanted to be.
Hello, it's me.
I stopped, I tinkered,
I tailored my shows.
I remarked how it goes,
how it snows, how it's plowed,
walker, talker, quiet
angler on the banks
pulling out the deceased,
so catch one that's fun,
catch something fat and lively,
catch a balloon, swooning,
an icon, moving,
a ship, wrecking,
a pie, beckoning,
a guy, cresting,
an arresting.

Hey, Kookster!

OK, trucks, get out of the way--
Beemers, I'm screamin,
you should live so long--
Snort my smoke...
And spin, locally,
doing day jobs
and corncobs
for a smacking living
like an engine, delivering,
like a child, shivering.
The blueness, the blackness,
the touchiness
of all this late century
hankering, collecting, correcting,
can only happen in sunshine--
so who's watching the mist, pissed?

I Told Those Fuckers--

I told those fuckers--
some wannabe shithead--
relax sticking a vibrato
where your voice works
and the toilet shines,
I piss in your face,
like mace.

In a normal light

You cast yourself in a normal light
and left the rest of us jumping
through the strobe, playing fools ball
through your scripted squares
bound for the big rectangle
and rows of stares.
You flew, you flew, you flew,
you drew from that ersatz sun culture
something like birth among laughs,
about wide streets stinking of sun,
baking one-stories, fumes from the frames
and drive-in coffee shops
bad burgers surrounded by hills pregnant with
meanings guarding the valley in celebration of oncoming
bliss and worshipping streches of hedges
bordering weird plants,
semantics in rows where
Rosemany goes and
nobody goes but she
across the valley of no fun,
rating second-rate chances, a gog
in a mist they call smog.
Then, there were dogs and more dogs--
your mother gave your room êto them,
and they lathered it up. Life got
to the point where the furniture smelled
and nothing jelled, least of all last year.
Race cars, sports cars, it was all an oval,
muscle cars to the hilt, flexing and belching
across a finish line little you pointed to
with, is that it?
On that note, daddy took you to Vegas--
a kind of distraction while he counted cards
and took the casino for a gym bag
up to a seventies hotel room with
glitter on the cieling and a hot blue
sky pointing at you while you couldn't
believe you were weird. Those rooms
have all been torn down, the early
nineties replacing the ground.
So it's bitchin in the Mission,
pool halls to dive into,
brandishing sticks and tricks
of the pen trade, your mini-parade
across stained sidewalks and
those lovely, penny-ante hustlers
writers write about on their off days.
One thing, pal, will you remember
the screen between us, the
shapely lights?


Insecurity, the screw of all evil,
that incessant second guesses,
those incommunicados,
those former members,
if you're walking, if you're real or a stalking wanna-be,
or another little brother
or a factory faking it, producing shore,
looking to conquer a dozen oceans or looking for something like a fan blowing
out everbodies' babies for freudian delight.
Insecurity, the mother of all sitcoms,
the dawn of all knives.
On your knees, please, the birth of
irregularities, the turf of aqgression,
of situations sprouting stupidities
and stupid people, unlike
but like in little ways, everybody else.

I'm writing it, I'm brightening it, o.c.,
of course, it's a positive spin, a winner
an uncomplicated acceptance of
everything that's me, a freedom
like a toast, a boast
with a big grin on a big mouth
slightly south.

It's all so fucking sad, ce'st la scream.
It's all just sad furniture with the
sad lamps in a sad afternoon with only
shakers of light falling
alongside the end tables.

The maiming and the blaming,
the explaining on the rug,
the fingers towards the window,
the hiding, the abiding, the formal
tails wagging politely, like shovels
out of pails, like cat sat in the cream, so beside itself it
couldn't figure out the other play.