GREATEST

HITS
2004-2006
BY
TERRY
McCARTY
Copyright 2003-2006 by Terry McCarty
All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be used and reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written
permission from the author.

The poems contained in this book are both
fictional and reality-based.

Regarding fictional poetry, names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of
the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously.
Any resemblance to actual events or persons,
living or dead, is either coincidental or
intentional.

Most poems here are taken from the chapbooks
USE YOUR DELUSION, WICHITA FALLS,
ADJUSTMENT DISORDER, LOVE POEMS
and THE GREEN ALBUM. Others appear
for the first time in book form.

Thanks to Mark States, Adam Bresson,
Pete Justus, Helena Lazaro, Angel Perales,
Betty Schneider, Damien Stednitz, Marie
Lecrivain, Ed Houston and Mani Suri for past
and/or present goodwill towards me.

Thanks also to Valarie and Sinead,
Samantha and Tinker Bell for making
life worthwhile.

Thanks again to Sabine and PIP in Burbank.
First Printing August 2006
For Robert and Kal

CONTENTS
THE FCC EXPLAINS
TV CENSORSHIP
POST-HURRICANE POEM
2000-VERSION ONE
WRITING STAR
ALL ABOUT MY BLUE ANGEL
LOS FELIZ LOVE POEM
PRESUMED IRRELEVANT 2006
GIVE ME SOME OF THAT
OLD-FASHIONED XENOPHOBIA
LIVING WITHOUT
POETRY IS….
REPENTING
FOUR ROWS FROM THE TOP
CARTWHEELS IN THE DRIVEWAY
KEN LAY REINCARNATED
ALAN ALDA WON’T SIGN
AUTOGRAPHS
QUEEN BARBARA APPROXIMATELY
GRAVESIDE SERVICE
MY NAME IS NOT SLAUGHTER
DEAR BLOGGER
THE NIGHTBIRD
THE FCC EXPLAINS
TV CENSORSHIP

Teenagers having sex orgies
while wearing their underwear-
UNACCEPTABLE.
(even if no penetration is being shown,
children that tune in will likely watch
at least two minutes of depravity;
any more than that and premarital sex
is inevitable)

Two female college students kissing
in a bar-UNACCEPTABLE.
(female homosexuality is always
to be condemned-otherwise,
right-wing pressure groups will
demand the return of the
Television Code of 1946)

A young woman unbuttoning her jeans-
HIGHLY UNACCEPTABLE.
(from now on, only allowed on
THE 700 CLUB when Pat Robertson
narrates a cautionary video about
how teen girls get drunk and engage
in Satanic acts like receiving
lower back tattoos)

Use of the word “shit” or the phrase
“shit-eating grin”-UNACCEPTABLE.
Use of the words “dick” or “dickhead”-
ACCEPTABLE.
(“shit-eating grin” is forbidden because
children may be tempted to reach into
a toilet bowl and do something highly
unsanitary with excrement;
however, “dick” or “dickhead” used
strictly as profanity are acceptable
on NYPD BLUE or 24 reruns
since we at the FCC are fans of
coercion techniques such as torture,
police brutality and holding up
corporate megadeals until Viacom,
Fox and Time Warner pay their fines
and see things our way)

Not having a seven-second delay
on the 2004 Super Bowl-UNACCEPTABLE.
(even if Janet Jackson’s breast had been
covered, we would have regarded
Kid Rock’s American flag poncho
as an obscenity comparable to
burning an actual American flag)

Being absolutely clear about what
constitutes indecency or obscenity
in television programming-
ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE.
(all we have to do is propose a few fines
and the networks, by becoming
“extremely cautious”, do our job for us)
Thanks for reading this memo.
And if you think about creating something
that might be offensive or hurtful
to just one person
in this great God-fearing nation,
please remember that freedom
is only a word-
not a reality.

POST-HURRICANE POEM

Orwell was right.
Some people are more equal than others.

Kanye West found that out when
NBC-Universal censored him for
speaking the inappropriate truth
about George W. Bush not caring
about black people.
He found it out again when he performed
a song at another telethon
and the microphone just happened to
malfunction for part of the first verse.

The people of New Orleans
found that out when they were left
to fend for themselves for days
in overcrowded shelters,
praying to God that someone would
take them off the roofs of their
flooded homes before death arrived.

Those of us watching TV at home
found out that hard-news lapdog
Ted Koppel was willing to put just about
all of the blame for Louisiana’s misery
on the Governor and the New Orleans
mayor-letting the White House
skate away from the castration of
FEMA and the cutting of funds to

strengthen the levees.

But Ted got to be embedded
with the troops in Iraq.
He won’t dare be rude to the White House
and lose access to Presidential power.

We’re also finding out that a state
with a Republican governor-
my former home state Texas-
doesn’t have difficulty getting a more
rapid Federal response to
hurricane threats.
Of course, we can’t risk
losing the refineries.
The refineries are vital.
All the rest is merely
collateral damage.

And we’re now finding out
that the people from Houston
and South Texas that can afford to drive
are coming home to check on property-
defying a “voluntary” order
to return in orderly fashion.
Presumably, Federal troops
won’t make them return
to their previous temporary residences.

Last of all, we found out that
some moral cretin I won’t name here
credited God with clearing what he
termed “undesirable” people
from New Orleans.

Perhaps he wants New Orleans
to be rebuilt as a gentrified theme park
with the poor replaced by
grossly underpaid guest workers
from Mexico and Latin America
on 6-month-only Guest Worker visas-
and no African-Americans unless they’re
cultural conservatives like Bill Cosby,
Chris Rock and Larry Elder.
Those eminent people are eager to
distance themselves from the poor
and suffering, smugly proclaiming
that the misery of the Underclass
is the sole fault of the Underclass.

Some people are more equal than others.

And global warming will be an important
part of the New World Order
determining who will live
and who will die.

2000-VERSION ONE
(a late October 2005 milestone)

2000
War in Iraq can be won!
Just ignore the Liberal Media
and put a hell of a lot more troops
on the ground.

2001
Thank God for local TV news!
They treat this war like WWII.
Wasn’t it great when Channel 7
ran that story about military
wives/girlfriends willing to pose
for sexy pinup photos to raise…..
the morale of their boyfriends
and husbands serving their country?
It’s the perfect story-
patriotism plus superhot women!

2002
White House note to Roger Ailes
of Fox News Channel-
Pass along our new talking point
about how the media should quit
using the word “insurgents”
and replace it with “Saddamites”.
Pronounce it the Biblical way
(sodomites) to appease
the Red States.
2003
President Bush memo to
Vice President Cheney-
There was this old Jerry Lewis movie
last night on TV where a millionaire
and his four friends formed
a private fighting force during WWII.
That’s a great idea.
We could use flexible five-man armies
to protect the offices of Halliburton
and all the other companies
profiting from the war.
Wouldn’t cost the taxpayers a dime.

2004
Memo to Pentagon staffers from
Donald Rumsfeld-
Let’s keep this war low-budget.
The next time someone complains
about soldiers dying from inadequate
armored protection,
I’ll just remind them of the
General Sherman quote about
war being Hell and walk away.
And tell the UN they’ll enter Gitmo
over my dead body.
2005
White House e-mail to CNN-
We loved your balanced special
about stateside families who lost

loved ones in Iraq.
Keep emphasizing the parents
who have decided to stay loyal,
avoid public grief
and say We Can’t Leave
until Iraq can fight the insurgency
on its own.

2006
Note from Karl Rove-
Can we distract Americans
from Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson
and Scooter Libby by planting
either a live girl or a dead boy
in Cindy Sheehan’s bed?

2007, 2008, 2009, 2010……..

It doesn’t matter if the next President
is a Democrat or a Republican.
The war in Iraq will never end.
It really doesn’t matter
about the Iraqi people anymore.
We can’t lose face now.

WRITING STAR

I don’t want to go to parties.
I don’t want to drink so much
that I have to pull my car over and vomit
at least twice on my way home.

I don’t want to approach Famous Authors-
only to have them ask me who I am
and leave me cold and unappreciated
as they search for someone
more Important.

I don’t want to be a Writing Star.
I don’t feel like stressing out
and giving myself acid reflux
over whether or not I’ve been
properly reverent to pompous
local poets.

I don’t feel like telling someone
their work won’t amount to much
unless it’s published by a Real Publisher.

I don’t feel like shunning a poet
because he/she spoke out of turn
or angered a host or someone else
in what’s referred to as a “community”.

I don’t feel like going out
every night after work
and worrying about being seen
at the Right Places with the Right Writers-
and being so caught up in the social whirl
to the point where Being Seen
takes up more time and effort
than actual writing.

I don’t want to imitate
the Beverly Hills waiter
who hit writer Dominick Dunne
in the face because Frank Sinatra
offered the waiter money
he couldn’t turn down
to do so.

I don’t want to hang out with “friends”
who cackle along with me
when we dismiss people less fortunate
and “in the know” than we are.
Someday, they might rip me apart
in absentia to some of the Important
People we all know.

I don’t want to think I’m God
because I have a blog
or a column on a poetry website.
I don’t want to be a Writing Star.
I just want to be a writer-
even if I die from obscurity.

ALL ABOUT MY BLUE ANGEL

ONE
Life became more hell than heaven.
My wife brought her brothers
to our small house and moved out
most of the furniture,
causing the house to be
small but spacious.
I quit my job
and started depleting my savings.
Most days, I could be found
at a coffeehouse on Ventura Boulevard
in Tarzana writing poetry
and doing quick sketches of passers-by.

And then you came along.

You like my poetry.
You love my attempts at artwork.

Within a week, we are living together.

TWO
I love you I love you I love you.

You make me feel so uninhibited.
If you want me to, I could go on stage
at the coffeehouse dressed like
the San Diego Chicken
while you crack eggs

on the top of my head.

You love it when I’m sexually naïve.
You laugh so hard when I tell you
what I thought the act of 69
actually meant that you tumble off
the bed onto the floor.
You encourage me to join you
in a Change of Life.
Within weeks, we’re living in a
one-bedroom apartment in San Pedro.
I’m repairing computers.
You’re working as a barista
at a coffeehouse next to
the Warner Grand Theater.

We have so much fun on weekends.
One Saturday, we spend part of the day
trying to find the nude beach near
Palos Verdes I went to in 1993
with a young woman who looked like
the star of the TV show BLOSSOM.
Another Sunday, we’re riding the ferry
at Balboa imagining what it would be
like for me to grow old-
and you to grow somewhat less old-
in one of the expensive summer homes
on the peninsula.

THREE

I realize there’s a cold reality to be faced.
Each month, I’m paying all the rent
and almost all the other expenses.
You help out when you can,
but it seems as though most of your
money pays for just Netflix, weed
and dinners at Quiznos.
You tell me not to worry-
that someday you’ll pay me back
in one lump sum.
I’d believe you except I keep seeing
a certain guy always talking to you
whenever I drop by the coffeehouse.

But I realize that nothing gold can stay.
I hope we’ll part as people who can
smile and say “hi” to each other
without feeling awkward.
And I also hope I can write a poem
for you to put in your top bureau drawer
and take out and read
on those days when life
will feel more like hell than heaven.

LOS FELIZ LOVE POEM

O Barbara!
Please give me a chance!

I’m walking down Vermont Boulevard
towards your ancient apartment building
holding a paperback copy of
Jacqueline Susann’s
ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH
and a vase of faux pink roses.

I know we’re “just good friends”
and maybe nothing more.

But I want to see you smile and laugh
just this once
after all the pain you’ve suffered
from the asshole who dumped you
after two long years.

You’ve been saying things like:
“All men are assholes
except for the Dalai Lama”
and
“No more boyfriends-
no more bullshit”
for entirely too long a time.

Please allow me to come upstairs,
present my yard-sale-bought gifts

and take you to lunch at the
superfabulous Fred 62 diner
where we could talk about
how you’re going to survive and thrive
without the lying bastard
making your life a marathon of misery.

O Barbara!
I’m pressing the buzzer
at the front door
of your ancient apartment building.

Will you let me in?

PRESUMED IRRELEVANT 2006

On the morning of July 31st,
they came for me.
I was ordered to leave my home.
I boarded a bus that took me to
a secluded location in
downtown Paramount.

Once there, I was stripped naked.
I was given a medical exam.
I was vaccinated multiple times.
I was given a blue jumpsuit to wear-
after my clothes were burned.
I was ordered to board another bus,
bound for what was euphemistically
described as an Esteemed Older Citizens
Housing Project built by the
Trump Organization in Palos Verdes.

On July 31st, I committed a crime
against society.
I turned 40 years old.

After a few weeks,
I became adjusted to my new,
permanent home.
There was a laptop computer in my room
preloaded with the latest version
of Windows.
There was an aqua-colored iPod
programmed with all the favorite
songs of my youth,
even the ones never played
on oldies radio.
There was all the Frappucino
I could drink.
There was an unlimited supply
of Centrum Silver multivitamins.
There was an exercise room
filled with state-of-the-art equipment.
There was a chef who cooked all sorts
of delicious low-sodium, low-fat,
low-sugar, low-carb, low-cholesterol
heart-friendly meals.
There was a 200-inch HDTV
in the rec room usually tuned to
Time Warner CNN,
where we “esteemed older citizens”
could view the comings and goings
of the new leader of the Free World-
President Hilary Duff.

It was pleasant.
It was stress-free.
It was Heaven on Earth.
Nevertheless, it was still a prison.

One night in the rec room,
the HDTV was tuned to the nation’s new
Number One show-ONE TREE HILL.
As I gazed at the magnificent face

and body of that great actress
Sophia Bush,
a thought crossed my mind.

What will happen to Sophia Bush
once she turns forty?
GIVE ME SOME OF THAT
OLD-TIME XENOPHOBIA
(a memoir of the first wave
of the Iraq War in 2003)

They did it in World War I
when sauerkraut was known as
“liberty cabbage”.
They did it in World War II
when actor Eduardo Ciannelli
changed his first name to Edward.
They did it during the 1979-81
Iran hostage crisis
when pictures of Mickey Mouse
circulated widely.
Mickey raised his right middle-finger.
The caption was HEY IRAN!

Now, it’s being done again.
And it’s not even against
an enemy country.
A café owner in Santa Barbara
changes French fries to Uncle Sam Fries.
People, showing off for TV cameras,
threaten to boycott camembert cheese.
French wine is poured into the gutter.
David Letterman makes derogatory
jokes about the French in WWII.

I stay indoors,

scared of being scarred
by thoughtless hatred
wearing the mask of patriotism,
wishing it could be safe to say
“God Bless The World”
instead of
“God Bless America”.

LIVING WITHOUT

The waitress is not happy.

My 75-year-old mother
is trying her best to order
a quesadilla with nothing in the tortilla
but American cheese.
This means no green chili,
no onions and no beef or chicken.

The waitress agrees to take
my mother’s order, but not before
telling her with a hint of Attitude,
“This is New Mexico and we serve
Mexican food here.”

Let me tell you something
about my mother.
She lost her husband
(my father) in February.
She lost her father
(my grandfather) in May.
For the first few weeks
after my father died,
she would call me
and cry uncontrollably.
She said she didn’t know
what to do with the rest of her life.

It’s now the beginning of September.

My mother is staying in a rented house
in the mountains.
She bought a new minivan before
her four-month vacation began.
She has friends and family she can call
whenever she needs them.
A couple of days ago,
she bought a Native American flute
and plans to learn to play it
even though her hands are small.

Every so often, she wakes up
to find her husband sleeping
beside her in bed.
He hasn’t spoken to her-yet.

She cries less often now.
She watches her favorite movies
on VHS almost every night.

And she will never remarry.

POETRY IS….

Poetry is an escape
from ordinary language.
Poetry is a quiet trip
on a paddleboat
on a rose-colored lake
on a bright summer day.

Poetry is a group of poets
arguing on a newsgroup
about which poets or forms of poetry
are Poetically Correct.
(Recently, Charles Bukowski and
Jim Morrison were downgraded
to the status of nonpoets.)
Poetry is a poet arguing fervently
for greater adherence
to high standards of craft-
and always finding a receptive audience.

Poetry is a community
where a few poets with spare time
to launch readings, websites and
festivals become prominent.
The rest of the poets accept
the prominent poets’ dominance
because, to them,
poetry is a hobby giving pleasure
rather than an obsession
over who has more status and power
And I plan to remain one
for the rest of my days.

than others.

Poetry is a community
where a poet sometimes disagrees
with protocol and questions the values
and beliefs of other poets.

Poetry is a community
where other poets quickly tire of
having their beliefs questioned
and either argue with the rebel poet
or ignore him entirely.

Poetry is a measure of
how well-read you are,
how well-educated you are,
how socially adaptive you are.

Poetry is an organism
that will survive and thrive-
in spite of many people regarding it
as a dose of linguistic castor oil
to be avoided at all costs.

Poetry is, according to a resident
of Los Angeles,
“….a weird, atavistic thing to do”.

It really doesn’t matter
how poetry is defined.
I’m proud to be a poet.

REPENTING

Repeat after me:
The system works.
The system works.
The system works

I promise to play nice.
From now on, all prominent poets
will be regarded as the kind of animals
you give utmost respect to-
no questions asked.

I won’t answer their testiness
with further testiness of my own.
I’ll be as trusting as Britney Spears is
with regards to President Bush
and the Iraq crisis.
Poets all wear shiny clothes.
Don’t point out any holes
in those clothes.

Don’t goad prominent poets
into fits of anger.
I’ll be as cautious
as Amish youth are now
with regards to throwing tomatoes
at passing cars.
Prominent poets are prominent
for good reasons.
Don’t make them pull out shotguns.
Don’t dare say that poets hang out
in cliques.
I’ll be the best possible conformist
to the theory that poets everywhere
are brothers and sisters.
Criticize a poet and you risk
toppling the foundation of poetry.
Don’t criticize a poet in public-
do it in private instead.

Don’t dare praise a poet
who doesn’t “write well”.
I’ll be as obedient as can be;
poets are safest when they praise
the need for more craft in poetry.
After all, the world needs more
intricate metaphors such as
“chilled obsidian fingers”.

Repeat after me:
The system works.
The system works.
The system works.

Someday, I’ll get the hang
of this repentance stuff.
Wait-I used the word “stuff” in a poem.

I still have a long road to travel
before I’m a real poet.

FOUR ROWS FROM THE TOP

I sat four rows from the top
of Memorial Stadium
in Wichita Falls, Texas
with ten other members of
the high school band
I belonged to.

The band director exiled
all eleven of us
to the upper rows of the stadium
because of his displeasure
with our performance.
He wanted to “win”
every halftime routine.
He wanted to “win”
a Number One rating
in the district marching contest.
It was obvious he hadn’t seen
THE BAD NEWS BEARS,
with its message that all members
of a team-no matter how weak-
should play in the championship game.

So we stayed seated in the upper rows-
glad to be out of school and
curious to see what his vision
of High School marching band perfection
would look like.

It wasn’t a pretty sight.
The straight lines weren’t straight.
Few of the students picked up
their feet and pointed their toes.
The band achieved an amazing
imitation of a drunken slinky toy
when it came time to turn
in the opposite direction.
The sound of music
appeared and disappeared.

An hour later, the ratings for
District 2-AA were read.
Our school received…..
a Number Four rating.
The band director threw his cigarette
and said a word that looked like “shit”
to those of us sitting
four rows from the top.

The band director talked a lot
about “winning”.
He never got around to
teaching us how to lose.
CARTWHEELS IN THE
DRIVEWAY
A single kiss
became multiple kisses.
Kisses started in English
and ended up in French.

Sharon and I were celebrating
the end of our first date.
Then the kissing stopped.

“I have something to tell you,”
she said.

She told me of her day job
as a cashier in the cafeteria
at Sheppard Air Force Base.
Lots of “lonely little boys”
from West Germany were
stationed at Sheppard
for pilots’ training.

One day, Sharon fell in love
with a “lonely boy” named Alex.
It was an intense romance
that ended after six months.

Three months after their breakup,
Sharon decided she wanted Alex back.
Her decision came during
our kissing session.
“I know Alex and I will be together again,” Sharon said.
“My favorite song is ‘WORKING MY WAY
BACK TO YOU’.
It’s just a matter of time.
Thank God Alex is still stationed
at Sheppard.”

I did my best to change my persona
from ardent lover to caring friend.
“Thanks for letting me know,” I said.

Sharon escorted me to my car.
We stopped in the middle of
her parents’ driveway.
“Exercise is good for getting rid
of stress. I think you should try
turning a cartwheel,” she said.

“Right here?” I asked.
“Right here,” Sharon replied.

I looked around.
It was 2:00 a.m.
No neighbors were in sight.
I turned a couple of cartwheels.
Sharon applauded.

“You’re going to feel a lot better,”
she said.

Sharon was right.
I did feel better-
for at least the duration
of the drive home.

KEN LAY REINCARNATED

So this is what it’s like to be poor.

Kenny Boy: once the Smartest Guy
in the room.
Now, he’s a greeter for Wal-Mart.

His back aches
and his feet hurt
as he’s forced to be polite and kind
to people he never would have
bothered with in the previous life.

Kenny Boy works long and hard
for very little money now.
Sometimes, he goes to work sick
since Wal-Mart doesn’t care all that much
for unions or employee health coverage.

At the end of the day,
Kenny Boy takes the bus
back to his small trailer,
knowing he has a few days left
before the electricity is turned off.

He remembers the fun and profit
that came from turning lots of
electricity off-especially in California.

But it’s not that funny
when it happens to you,
Kenny Boy laments
as he stumbles off the bus
and begins the nine-block walk home.

ALAN ALDA DOESN’T
SIGN AUTOGRAPHS

It was twenty years ago today.

I was waiting with a few other people
outside the Inwood Theater
in Dallas, Texas.

Earlier, the USA Film Festival
had an advance screening
of Alan Alda’s SWEET LIBERTY.

Afterwards, Alda came onstage
and answered questions
from the audience.

He was as personable,
witty and charming
as you’d want him to be.

So I decided to wait afterwards
and receive a souvenir of the evening-
Alan Alda’s autograph.

Mistake.

Alda came out the side door
of the theater,
looked at all of us waiting for him-
a few holding posters and photos-
and said:
TO GIVE AN AUTOGRAPH
IS DEMEANING.
I WILL NOT DEMEAN YOU.

Then he rushed past us
to get into his rental car.

I occasionally think about that night.

I didn’t get what I wanted.

But I did learn something
about being a professional celebrity
and how those in that peculiar breed
can make you feel like a close friend
in a 500-seat theater
and like a carrier of West Nile Virus
on a one-to-one basis.

Alan Alda thought that signing an
autograph was demeaning to his fans.

It’s one of the few times in my life
where I would have been happy
to be demeaned.

QUEEN BARBARA
APPROXIMATELY

Sometimes the truth is bad.
It can be good to lie
when the lie is pleasant, agreeable
and acceptable to the Walt Disney
Company and its ABC-TV network.

An example of a good lie:
Elizabeth Vargas claiming that
pregnancy-rather than poor ratings-
was the reason she departed
WORLD NEWS TONIGHT.

An example of a bad truth:
Star Jones Reynolds stating
in a spontaneous manner
that her contract as one of
THE VIEW’s foursome
wasn’t renewed.

This was bad because it came two days
ahead of the planned orchestration
of the good lie
and caused headaches all around-
daytime talk shows are all about
carefully planned interaction,
not the real thing.

Besides, it pissed me off
to see the smile on Star’s face
when I had to respond to her disrespect.

So I had to go on THE VIEW the next day
to say that Star’s truth
was a bad truth
and to state in a nice way
that I never want to look at her again
in my lifetime-
therefore, her one-month-left contract
was torn to shreds.

These days, my favorite way of unwinding
after work is to watch the new DVD
of the classic film MOMMIE DEAREST.

I always imagine Star as Joan Crawford’s
ungrateful daughter Christina.
And I love to yell along with Joan
in the scene where she tells Star-
I mean, Christina-
NO WIRE HANGERS…...EVER!!!!!!!!

GRAVESIDE SERVICE

My sister-in-law asked for a Catholic priest to preside over
my father-in-law’s funeral.

The Impersonal Corporate Cemetery
(where quality of service
depends on the amount paid)
hired a nondenominational minister.

This might not have mattered
if the Reverend hadn’t made
a gruesome mess of the funeral service.

The Reverend, a man in his forties,
tried to be both humorous and scolding.

He referred to my father-in-law
as one of “God’s naughty children”.
(the Reverend never met my
father-in-law)

He looked at the assembled mourners
and referred to us as
“North Hollywood Yuppies”.
(untrue; we were too old
and there was only one of us
who lived in North Hollywood)

I could stifle a reaction
to the Reverend’s inappropriate
behavior.

So I sighed quietly-but audibly.

After the service,
the Reverend shook the hands
of my wife, my sister-in-law,
and other mourners-
except me.

I had just joined the ranks
of “God’s naughty children”.

MY NAME IS NOT SLAUGHTER
(for Kevin Smith and
Scott Foundas)

I can’t always tell you
what you want to hear.
And when I tell you
what you need to hear,
I’m ordered to disappear.

Have I truly done you harm?

I’ve praised your best movies.
And I hope there will be more of them.

But I’m not your PR man or your enabler.

I don’t want to worry about
what I can or can’t say
because some parent, some teacher,
some fellow artist made you cry an ocean
in your formative years-
calling you untalented
and suggesting you do something else.

So it’s farewell and I’ll walk out on my own
as you tell security to ban me from
screenings, public readings,
book signings and posts to the message
board of your official website.
If you’re only interested in controlling
what people say about your art
and what people are allowed to say
around you,
what kind of artist are you, really?

DEAR BLOGGER

You’re more like me than you’ll admit.

You think in circles:
love won’t come for me again
so it’s time to hookup with
oh-so-wrong-men
for dinners in Silverlake
where they never let you speak
plus bad sex in Hollywood apartments-
feeling pain when they leave
so it’s back to worrying about love
only being in the past.
I think in circles too:
love won’t come for me again
so I stay away from opportunities
to meet, greet, talk, listen-
and feel pain when the women
who express interest in me leave
because I don’t want to risk being hurt
so it’s back to worrying about love
only being in the past.

Will we ever change?

THE NIGHTBIRD

She was the DJ.
She wasn’t what she played.

The station manager of KKQV-FM
wasn’t happy when the Nightbird
went on the air and referred to
John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s
DOUBLE FANTASY
as DOUBLE NIGHTMARE.

“Our consultants in New York
know EXACTLY what the kids
in Wichita Falls want to listen to,”
said the station manager.
And, with her need for income
overriding her desire to spread
the gospel of true rock-and-roll,
she allowed her tailfeathers
to be pulled off.

The Nightbird fit herself into
the Procrustean bed of
playing unchallenging music like
Lipps Inc’s FUNKYTOWN,
Asia’s HEAT OF THE MOMENT,
Quarterflash’s HARDEN MY HEART
and the song she hated the most-
Stevie Nicks’
EDGE OF SEVENTEEN.
It seemed as if every young woman
in Wichita Falls had an overpowering
desire to hear EDGE OF SEVENTEEN.
Once, a 16-year-old caller
told the Nightbird about the ecstasy
of losing her virginity
while the song played on
her boyfriend’s car radio.
“When I hear that line
about the white-winged dove,
I get horny all over again,”
the caller said.

The Nightbird felt sorry for that girl
and dozens like her
who would grow up to be uncomplaining
Southern Baptist housewives
ready to settle for early childrearing,
Air Supply, Pat Robertson
and Ronald Reagan.

The best part of the Nightbird’s life
was always after the 10 p.m.-2 a.m. shift
was over.
She got into her car,
turned the cassette deck up,
and listened to the music
KKQV-FM wouldn’t dream of playing:
The Clash, The Damned, Lee “Scratch”
Perry, The Jam, The Slits and The Dickies.
“Pure heaven,” thought the Nightbird

as she resisted the temptation
to roll down the windows
and treat the good citizens
of Wichita Falls
to what they didn’t know
they were missing.

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20 GREATEST HITS
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