Black Operations By Christopher J. Bradley
completed for WWW on October 25 2001
There was a war in Nineteen Ninety Six.
The month was January.
It was the first year
That I ran for President.
I had known it was coming
Because Jinx D. Cooley
Had dropped me the line
After a ride with a crack addict.
We drove in my Dodge Shadow
All over Buffalo
And that was Nineteen Ninety Five
He wouldn’t get out of the car.
We didn’t know who he was
When he ended up in the car
We had walked away from an addict
He had been with us and Jinx had invited him.
We found out when he told us
That his wife had kicked him
Out of his house
He was ex-army and hi-strung.
Jinx puked on the East Side
In the house where he visited his brother
While his “friend” who we’d also let in
Watched me ouside the house.
I thought he had a gun.
The simple fact was that he was bigger
And he was black.
A Black Operative.
He made us drive a long way
And we stopped at many businesses
That were closing
In the darkness of three past midnight.
It was a Wednesday in the summer
And I didn’t have to work that day.
I was the Iron Cow
And they liked my sweatshirt.
The told Jinx to marry me
And she said she couldn’t
Because of her "friends"
That was before I slammed his finger in the trunk.
The last stop had been Kentucky Fried Chicken
Where another of his "friends"
Had left a bag of garbage with fresh food in it
After loading the back I smashed his finger.
I learned that he wasn’t violent
Toward me at that instant.
He yelled a lot
And then got in the car again.
We dropped him at his wife’s
And his "friend" carried their fourty-ounce
And Jinx and I
Had sex in the basement that night.
She explained to me about the "friends"
And in Nineteen Ninety Five
I thought that she was crazy.
The "friends" protected her she said.
She told me that she wanted
To teach me how to survive
On the street without a car.
I told her that I already knew.
All of this happened before Boston.
I went to Boston.
I took an Irish "friend"
He picked our appartment.
We met an MIT Graduate
She was a scientist
Who told us about apartments
In a coffee shop.
The Irishman sorted through the list
And picked our residence
Correctly the first time.
The old man we lived with was a schematic artist.
The old man was a "friend"
He knew the owners of a bar
And we went there exactly one time
And played scrabble and learned linguistics.
I used my computer knowledge
Of Operating System 2
And Microsoft technology
And Voicemail and Facscimile.
I obtained a job
And used the bus
Subway and Taxi
All for work.
The Irishman was frugal
He despised the money problem
And didn’t like the nighttime
In a city that closed at two.
He chose our landlord
For a loss
And set us up
To have to leave.
Billy "The Buffalo" Graham
In nineteen ninety five
The winds of war swept Buffalo
And Bill Gates
Owned the year.
I worked for him for a while
On his supposed project
And when it apparently fell through
I went to school. And met the literalists.
At first I was disturbed
When I saw Billy Graham
Say that a powerful force
Had driven the man across the Falls on a tightrope.
Billy Graham was convinced
That it was time for us to walk the tightrope again.
Billy Graham had let me know
In a simple three minutes that the tightrope was mine.
Billy Graham was the savior
Of the supposed right
And the left well they aren’t really "friends."
Be aware of your behaviors he said.
I won’t tell you how he knew about Niagara
And I won’t tell you what sorts would alert him
That we were here And alive
And waiting to be brought to Jesus.
I was learning how to write
And Jinx was on my mind a lot
While I went to school
But how is it that you can write about Jinx?
Jinx D. Cooley
Jinx was a little edgy
For a "friend" of Seventeen years
She was into bikers And seventies punks
I’d just met her the second time before the Cracker.
She was the Irishman’s fault
Both times we saw each other
He had been out of sight
In the background Somewhere close.
A once a year sex freak
She spent our time in the basement
Both times in June.
And she showed me her copper bound knife.
Jinx was going to Florida
She’d done it the year before
With her boyfriend
A biker without a bike.
She was still seeing him
But she had needed to see me
Before she left the second time
Because she missed me.
She said she’d had an abortion
And she didn’t know whose it was
But that she hoped it wasn’t John’s
And that maybe it was well maybe not mine.
I will assume his name
Was John Smith
But there was never any reason
For concern about him He was a nice guy.
I dropped her off that summer
On a long road
The same place she’d called me from.
The New Scriptures
As I said I was learning to write.
I was the jungle-man
And described the Twenty Third Chapter
Of The Book Of Revelation.
I managed not to Damn my soul
By not claiming my words were truth.
And as you can see
Nothing has been added to the Book of Life.
And the war started in heavens
In "The Prophecy"
And there was no room
For a second demon in the conclusion.
Eric Stoltz was Simon at Gabriel’s right
In a war between Gabriel and Michael
Over whether humans should
Bathe in the glory of God.
I saw the film after the war
And I knew that it was history
Otherwise the story would never
Never have been told in proper form.
John Travolta My Uncle
The man from Washington
He was my Uncle
And he rode into Washington
In a Jeep from the Navy.
I knew that I’d seen him before
When he was hip in the seventies
And he danced in a nightclub
And wore bell-bottoms in Florida.
He complained about his ex-wife
And checks up on his kid
At least once a month.
His ex-wife is a Catherine.
We stepped into a Tops
And talked about Grandma’s House
And all of the fixing it needed.
He was my hero because he saved her.
Grandma was an Alzheimer’s case.
I sat with her all night in November
When she called on the phone
And her voice shook with the jitter of Coke.
Grandma only drank Coca-Cola
She only wore big-wool coats
And managed her life
From the telephone And a taxi-cab.
Grandma was a Black Operative
And she knew all the people
On the street in the Falls
And the Banks.
She was always looking out for me
And introducing me to the older ones
And keeping me out of trouble
By tucking a one dollar bill into my hand.
She said to keep them in the bed
Hide them under the mattress
Because that way the crooks would
Never take it away.
Now she’s in a good place
Where they bring her decent food
And she talks to people
Rather than bank tellers.
We talked about connections
At the grocery store
And how the mob closed
The bar I used to work for.
And my uncle
He picked up a pack of Jumbo Pop
And bought me a Wall Street Journal
Because he said that reading was great to be into.
I was in a Big Green coat that day
And he knew I was more than green
In fact The Jumbo Pop was in a blue package
And he paid for it with a fifty.
The assistant manager was notified
And he checked the bill
While I noticed my sister had a "friend"
Working at another register.
While we drove back
For Thanksgiving dinner
I kept thinking he’s going to save Grandma
And fix up her house.
My uncle did more than that
He took me to an Al Pacino film
Before he left for Washington
And I told him About my theory on Oklahoma City.
The American Irish Republican Army
A fat blond chess player
Alcoholic and Scotch whiskey drinker
This other Irishman Called Black Fourty Seven
Who had a Long Shoreman’s card
Told me at the cafe’
Within a day after the bomb
That I ought to know who I was speaking with
When I made comments about the military.
It would seem fitting
That we would discover
That McNicols was from Sanborn.
I thought better than to re-approach the idea there.
They hassled me all summer
He and a "friend" In ninety-five
While I drank coffee
About my car How they needed to borrow it.
And they kept trying to bet me a nickel
On a game of pinball
And they weren’t talking about Mary Jane or her sisters
And they wouldn’t agree on the term of "five-cents."
The two of them were interesting that summer
Before Jinx had come back
And before Boston
Because they got me cheap beer and places to crash.
On the way to Boston
I dropped off my headset
And a printed letter
To each department head.
I was quitting Sony
And telling Michael Eisner to find another sucker to screw.
Disney Interactive designed the worst software on earth
In Nineteen Ninety Four.
My job had been to fix it
For a hundredth of what it had been worth.
I liked the people I talked to.
Michael Eisner had fucked the company.
There is no way
To get ahead
On fourteen hours of work per week
And Michael Eisner I handed you the bucket of brains you wasted.
I made sure my own weren’t in there
And I know that Takahashi was smart enough
To know that we were smart enough
To take the dive Moving to the Atlantic.
Next Time I’ll be looking for Ed Asner
And Fred Astaire And someone young
Like Val Kilmer
Who knows the Score.
Black Fourty Seven
Black Fourty Seven drove me home
In my car
I was too drunk to walk
And the party was at his place.
He wanted to make sure I didn’t kill anyone
While driving the Eisenhower thruway
And the party was atomic
With The Jesus And Mary Chain.
We drank more there
A ripped nightclub security
And Lady Japan and her Chip.
I went to lay down after a round
On Black Fourty Seven’s bed
And soon made my way
To the bathroom.
The toilet had slimy rounded edges
And when I looked up after
At the shower
I could tell that the place was no paradise.
Black Fourty Seven got a bottle of Jack
That I delivered to his brother
Another Clive Barker
The next afternoon.
Chip sucked his thumb a lot
He was the "friend" after the car
His front tooth was chipped
And he was a Cafe’ clerk.
Chip said he owed a black man money
And he wanted the Shadow
To make Three Thousand
In two days.
I had to start inking out the line.
The car didn’t belong to me
It was my dad’s
And he’s ex-Navy.
I made my dad out for them
He was a dick
and he didn’t like people
and I was lucky he liked me.
He was actually his Brother
The man from Washington
Except a little more reserved.
He almost went to Viet Nam on a boat.
He said the chances were lower
Of getting shot On a boat.
And since he didn’t go
He must have been right.
There are three others total
Including Uncle Jumbo Pop
One is an Army historian
The other retired Airforce.
My Dad is very stable
And I remembered when I lied to Chip
That he was a teacher
For Naval Fire School.
During the summer
The green statue on Ellis Island
Waves the torch
Above the harbor.
She was copper once
A gift from the French
And now Iacocca
Has repaired her.
I bought my dad his first Iacocca
The book about the Chrysler turn around
And I think he read the second one
When I left it in the bathroom.
We talked in the snow
Just before the war
About Ellis Island And the Olympic Games.
In Boston I was on the subway
I was reading Windows Ninety Five For Dummies.
As we headed downtown at seven in the morning
Two Japanese Stepped onto my car.
I looked up at a Gucci watch
They were getting off at Harvard
I knew they had a briefcase full of job offers.
The ride was to an interview.
I got off at City Hall
And walked across the cement patio
To the steps to South Market
And waited to see a woman.
She was from Buffalo
And she set me up with a job
After a typing test
And fifteen minutes of talk.
On the ride back
I saw the poster
Of a watch on a fence link-chain
An Official Sponsor of the Olympic Games.
When I got back to Niagara
I bought two
And an extra battery
From a nice older jewelry saleswoman.
I tried to sell one
A week later
To Black Fourty Seven’s friend
But Chip wanted it too cheap.
One was silver and grey-faced
And another Black and silver cut.
You can see the gears inside
The six-point star and hear it ticking.
I had one with copper cuttings
At the beginning of Chicago
It was purchased in a Mall
In Toledo Because I’d left the Timex.
I left Chicago the year I arrived
In December while snow grew
from the sidewalk.
It took time to pack the car.
I could have stayed
My fiancé drew me back
I couldn’t not know my future wife
But her Mother wrecked her when I’d gone.
My part of Chicago was cold
The buildings were all Albany grey
And the floors all black tiled
Squeeked with wet sneakers all season.
I was a fraternal freshman
And our house the largest was amazing.
We had water wars
And beach volleyball.
We were rocking scientists
Listening to the Killer-B
And making Nirvanah
Smell like teen spirit.
We had three rectangled floors
And a basement.
We had a Halloween party
And learned to practice safe sex.
We were Dr. Seuss fraternity
With one named Larry
Who Re-Wrote the classic
And called it "Drunk-Man I Am."
And Drunk Man I was
With a mouthful of Whiskey Sour
In a motorcycler’s room
Every other night.
We carried each other to tests a lot
I remember crossing the busy street
At eight forty five
And getting a seventy in Calculus.
The first time I shaved my head
I was sober.
I was an Industrial Musician
Convening with the likes of Jourgenson.
I went to Wax Trax once with a Plastic Man.
His art was Plexiglass And tissue paper
And he and Morrison
Spent time On The Other Side.
My designer roomate
Had suspended my bed from the ceiling
With a single concrete screw
And a thin wood bar.
It came crashing down
The day after her visit.
His weak design almost killed us both
When the wood sunk into his designer mattress.
I finished my time there
In a private room
In a cubby hole under the raised floor
And dreamed of her at night.
Larry is an Italian Architect now.
He made it out
And continued through graduate school.
They made him an officer of the house.
Larry and I talked about Celtic Prose
And he explained why he hated his real name
And taught me about Archetypes
And Greek Jesters in his Literature.
Larry and I went to Medusa’s
An art club With music and noise
And Front 242 from Germany
Fueled the open theater.
The Plastic Man is a music collector.
He had gone to art school.
He insisted that the next big band
Was called Smashing Pumpkins.
I didn’t believe him.
I told him that I didn’t like Haloween
And I explained the story Clearly
About the suggested murder of a turtle.
He ordered lots of compact disks as Benjamin Franklin
From Columbia House
And BMG and every other club.
They delivered them regularly to the non-existant fourth floor.
Standard Love Story
She pulled me inside her
Naked on her sister’s bed.
In her mother’s room
And under the shower curtain.
Those were our first times
On the first day
That her mother left for Ohio.
There was a twist.
We’d been playing for a month
And I hadn’t expected her
To let me hug her chest to chest
The summer before Chicago
We knew I would be leaving
But we had to know our Prom meant something
Two hundred dollars worth of gold and diamond.
My living room floor was quite healthy
A light blue rug and a nice comforter
And of course the television
We never slept there was no reason for her leaving.
And then it crashed when I came back
And I wasn’t a smart boy anymore
With a shaved head and plans for Buffalo
Another idiot concert freak.
Thank you dear Mother-In-Law
I’ve learned that sex can be better
And you knew all along That she was a Burger King girl
Because you made her.
The Onyx Pickups started showing up in December.
They appeared first on Television
Launching through mid-air.
And next I saw them following me.
Dodge was moving them
Faster than lightning
Propelling them over snowy hills
Coated with micro-fine-print lease rates.
I determined through a series of assumptions
And past envisionments created by film
That they were driven
By Agents of the Government.
The Onyx Pickups weren’t inexpensive.
It could only benefit the economy
To effectively protect
The Nation’s Future Leader.
I watched them fall into line one night
Driving down Main Street
Pulling out from different perpendicular streets
Ahead of me And behind me.
I was giving them a test run
By wearing my sunglasses
To pick up a copy of the Journal
At the Supermarket.
The agents in the trucks spoke without words.
They didn’t need cell-phones.
They didn’t need CB’s.
They would listen for Alice In Chains on FM radio.
The idea wasn’t very complex.
They had been watching me since Chicago.
All they had to do to find out my station
Was flip to the ones that didn’t static out on their custom tuners.
Whenever I put my sunglasses on
Alice and Chains would play.
And if I put on my readers
The Onyx Pickups would be gone within minutes.
In this way I tested them
A couple of times over vacation
Only at night.
Sometimes Police Cars joined them.
Agents of the Government
There are several types of agents
Agents of the Government
In my realm of perception.
Some you see Others Just exist.
You easily spot the secret service
They jog with the President
In red white and blue
With thin light grey lenses.
Others have darker sunglasses
And they wear black suits
And run alongside his limousine
And look hyper-pro in the sunlight.
Others just show their eyes
Wiggling them up and down fast in their sockets
And they instantly assess miles of terrain.
The Mercs deserve a special note
They do a sweep on request
Of a building entered by the important.
Many have grey hair but look younger than twenty.
The "friends" do not get mention here.
They are non-existant.
Try to pin a "friend" down
And a "friend" will vanish to even the air.
Each of these has a secret horror to cope with.
Each of these has an undefinable cost
And Each of these Agents of the Government
Has sculpted talent for service.
In all of it’s gruesome form.
The Warlord was huge
She was an old Communist
Driving in a big dusty
A black Buick Skylark Limited Edition.
I met with her council
On the bridge once Sitting in a circle
And they had Old General’s Eyes
And wore heavy coats.
I told them I’d be running for president
But I didn’t tell them when.
They looked at me in the green coat
And thought to themselves.
We went to Rite Aid one afternoon
A new building on Military
And the new signs inside
Reminded me of an airport terminal.
The Warlord showed me her cafe’
And I had a Diablo Omlette.
We paid the Sweetheart Waitress
And I smiled at her and arranged her marriage.
The Sweetheart Waitress
This girl knew what the profession was about.
She smiled at me three times
And I knew that she was Catholic
A red guard with a hard philosophy.
She had medium long black hair
And brown eyes that looked down her nose
She wore no glasses
And I could see her bra.
It showed lightly through the white shirt
At the pancake house
I knew that it was her style
Not some strange accident.
That was the first time she smiled.
On the second
She leaned over to hand me my eggs.
She knew that The Warlord was watching us.
We were flirting like teenagers
Something we wouldn’t have done
If The Warlord hadn’t been there.
And she kept my coffee hot.
It was a war-torn smile she had
When she came back for refills
With the sweat of the kitchen on her brow
And she asked "Don’t we know each other?"
without saying a word.
The English Church
I went with the Warlord
To the Big English Church
To start the Holy War
I’d been to three churches that day
At each There’d been a different note played
Of the same Ancient hymn
That we heard on the Pipes that evening.
The stain glassed windows
Showed their colors only in shades of grey
And their shapes were no longer biblical
I pictured the crusades in their fuzzy night-time look.
There was an Operative there
In a long Red Jacket
With black lips
And purple under her eyes.
She looked degenerate
And I was sad to say I knew her.
She was one of the people who harassed Grandma
Because I heard her talk about her once.
The red coat or Jacket
Was worn by a blond woman
She was twenty
I could picture her lying nude
On a bed of Pointsettias
Spreading to get anyone
To drink their juice.
She was an unregistered lethal weapon
Of X culture
Armed with bayonets for fingernails
And poison lipstick.
I met her with a younger one
Who was far from thin
And there had been
Mary Jane in the ashtray.
There wasn’t any reason to talk
After I’d heard the story about the cat-lady
That crazy old grandmother
And her boyfriend The Hipster.
Now she’s a Black Widow
Everyone knows it
And maybe she’ll quit the free agency
And start understanding the messages
Start getting with the program.
The hipster had a big white ghetto sled
He dropped Grandma off once
A while ago.
I was busy working problems.
I told him thank you
And she gave him five dollars
And he smiled at me through his long hair
And lit up a cigarette.
When he pulled out of the driveway
I remembered him in a Tesla shirt
One of the rockers at High School
And how I’d never known him
To do anything in particular.
Happy New Year
Tigger threw a new year’s party
With red candles
And Blue and White Dresses
At his cottage under the escarpment.
We ate shrimp with sauce
And Played Taboo
And a lot of people showed.
Nickel Lucy Babbage Stacey
And The Forester
And Nikita and Case
Ghandi’s Daugther and her cousin.
Lucy and Tigger get it on.
They like Stacy Babbage and The Forester.
They all gave each other Christmas presents
At the last Party.
They did me the favor
Of picking up some wine with no kick
Because I’d straightened out
And I was proud of it.
I told them about the postcard
From Mr. Ohio
And they said they’d gotten them too
And we talked about Henry Rollins.
After the others left
Lucy and Tigger got me a nice blanket
And I wrapped myself into the folding couch
Before the fire of the television.
When I woke up
There were Bannanas In Pajamas
Playing on the beach
With Teddy Bears.
Mr. Ohio is a "friend"
He has a brother also
But I’ll get to him
The postcard arrived
Mail-marked from Costa Rica
On the same day
That Kennedy rescued a Hispanic.
She pulled him out of the fields
Of a work commune
And put him on the back
Of her moped.
Mr. Ohio is a Kung Fu expert
He ripped the card off of a cereal box
And mailed it back to the U.S.
To me And I got the message.
Mr. Ohio was coming back.
And "Yeeeeeeeeahhhh Boyee"
He was coming back.
We were going to party Mr. Ohio and I.
The night after the biker war
Tick walked into the cafe’
And asked to borrow the table
That I’d been sitting at.
It was post-Christmas.
He set down his helmet
And pulled his black Jacket back
To reach into the inner pocket.
His face was all scarred up
And his leather was coated with old punk
The torn T-shirt near the pocket
Had the skull of The Exploited spiking out.
I caught his night glow Timex
Just like Uncle Jumbo Pop’s
And I knew why he was there
With a chemical liquid in a balloon.
He making sure it had held
It hadn’t broken under his arm.
He was saving it for the set up scene
Where at least sixty death certificates
Would be issued.
"They were all my friends and they died."
posted by Christopher at 5:45 AM
~ Saturday, April 03, 2004