Peter Case


The Plane That Never Flies (from Epistolary Rex)

There is a plane warming up it’s jets on the tarmac. It’s long & white & the windows are all blacked out. It is the Plane That Never Flies. Late at night it pushes back from the gate and heads out on it’s mysterious errands,taxiing down a back runway to the other end of the airport, passing out through a concealed gate and taking to the streets of our streets & states. Once it gets out in the city, it takes on the appearance of an old dumpy off-green ice cream truck. There’s a little song that plays, but don’t be fooled. It’s traveling at mach three, that’s three times the speed of sound,and it bears a crew of 153 highly trained Navy Seals…

No one knows where it goes, why it goes, or even when. No one sees it return, yet in the morning, there it is again, parked at the usual gate, silently embodying all the great enigmas of our time.

The president has received a briefing on the PTNF… but to date, he has never been allowed on board. Oh well, them’s the breaks!

The air whistled through a hole in the hold– a stream of many colored waters pours out of it’s wounded side. The window is cracked only to reveal another cracked window beneath it. This is the only true story of it’s last flight: or shall we say: The Final Flight Of The Plane That Never Flies. 

It wasn’t a flight at all, and you and I are the only ones who know. The others look and walk by, as if they’ve seen nothing. That’s the way it is these days. It’s dead around here.

Liquor is the motor for people slow to drop.  Confession is the logical extension of knowledge, but guilt is the answer to paradise. The PTNF is on a waterless landing pattern, blessed by the Scotch-Hop General & radically insane: search for the missing Nation and destroy it in it’s Nowhere-ness with Nothing Blasts.

Marshall this you drum-tap fools: you can cook my jaw!

The Plane That Never Flies (pt. 2)

I was husked by age

feet tied together

by invisible bolts

my look is like headlights

on a mountain road

my breath like a bad accordian

my memory is like a wet newspaper

my habits unspeakable

my imagination is a trained bird

one wing clipt

flies in circles round the house

but neer breaks away

into the sunset out by the inlet

when the water flows ’til your pants are wet

& the palm trees sway in a straight line curve

makin’ you wish that once you had the nerve

to get up on top open your shirt

dare all the arrows you lost in the dirt

just once take the chance & bare all the hurt

spit at the words take the long ride

let the world know what yr breeding inside

no hiding inn or retractable pen

this is the trial that you’ve been facing since… when?

this is the plane that never flies

it’s blip is pasted on my fretboard

it’s outline is sinking by the seaside

this is the plane that never flies

but it tells it’s story with head held low

all dressed down with no place to go

but up & out & in & then

down & out & back again.

this is the plane that never flies

but is always working on a plan.

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What did you learn in the forty years since the Nerves played Max’s Kansas City?

I learned how to cure the spins.

I learned how to split a quarter in half.

I learned how to tie my shoes while running.

I learned 37 names for the police.

(the fuzz, newts, the royals, the peelers,
rocket boys, black & whites, G-men
boys-in-blue, bobbies, john law, rangers
gumshoes, the gang, officer krupke
constable, the chaperones, mounties
catchpole, beagles, roundsman, feds
mace-bearer, tip staves, beadles, coppers
blue coats, bull, flatfoot, gendarmes, shamus,
dick, pigs, flattie, Dogberry, New York’s finest
gestapo & The Man.)

names for G-O-N-E:

• cheese it! vamoose! head for the hills!
scram—make like a tree—jam—vanish
alacazam! dive—scat! git—be gone!
get along! away with you! get a hot dog!
on your way! get out clear out! allez-vous-en
shoo! “stand not on the order of your going
but go at once” “go and hang yourself”
buzz off! skidoo—skedaddle—make yourself
scarce—get lost! take a walk! take a hike!
go chase yourself—go play in the traffic—
shove off—step off—stand off—push off
take a powder—blow—& I mean, split!

• what kind of magic could I bring
to you, who knows all the answers?


illustrious, glorious, brilliant
radiant, resplendent, bright
shining, charismatic, glamorous
luminous numinous
& alacazam

I learned how to cook an egg.

I learned to make tacos.

I learned a recipe for chicken and greens
that I no longer make.

I learned the difference between flattery and praise.

I learnt that flattery is poison.

I learned to have a pocket for keys, a place
for my wallet.

—not to bum cigarettes from the gang on the corner.

what I learned

• to try and see what you can do for others.

•to ask a question and then listen.

•how to play in a big place for a lot of people,
without fear.

•the value of prayer

•to work & play with the people who love me.

•that a stitch in time really does save nine, etc…

“don’t follow leaders, watch the parking meters”

“always stay alone”

“the slowest tempo you can play a song at, without
it falling apart, that’s the tempo”

go see the elderly greats

•if you’re comfortable somewhere, don’t be in too
great a hurry to leave.

•be prepared!

•as you get older, all of your previous photos
will begin to look good.

•if you want something done correctly, do it yourself.

•the grimmer the ghost, the milque-er the toast.

•I should’ve worked out more

•we’re younger now than we’ll ever be

•don’t be too good.


“the most important thing about art is finishing it”

“there’s two kinds of managers: the one’s who love you and
the ones who know what they’re doing. (you need both in one.)

•don’t go out so much, stay home & work more.

•don’t lose phone numbers.

“if you have two lines, use the stronger line second.”


•pay attention

•listen to the messages you are being offered

•when you think of something good to do, always do it.

•he who seeks to exalt himself will be humbled

•you’ve got to reap what you sow

•one day at a time

•the Father, Son & the Holy Ghost

•God is a woman.

“the sound inside your mind is the first sound you can sing.”

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Days Cards of Prosetry, from a UK Tour.

I’m thinking about the butterflies, the money owed/ the time elapsed & the time to go/ anger in a face/ beetles and cellar mold/ big plans not quite/ big enough to launch/ a rocket or a row boat? pursued across the ice flow/ tortured with telephones/ threatened with lunch lawyers long distance calls/ why should I care?

In the end it seems like nothing is enough. I should live my life more recklessly. I admire the avalanche, good work. At night the hallway by the elevator is lined with ladies in wheelchairs, talking trash. ‘Are we on a boat?’ ‘When are we returning to Alaska?’ ‘Just walk me to the elevator, cousin, I won’t implicate you…’

‘Her old man’s in prison but he’s cool with it.’

What kind of questions do you ask on a day like this? What’s the message? I’m on a train, trying to stay awake. Green pastures, March winds, blue & cloudy skies, so far from home. Connections to make, retreat from engagement into head leaning? What town is this, anyway? ‘I have arrived, only to leave again in the morning.’

I need help & get it. Over & over I’d fall then fly then free all of mine. Over the tundras, the clandestine filaments, primrose, pecked in ordure. Galivant, supreme monochrome, devious & sprouting, troubled & wry, amid soft downpours & other silkings of the nude, the neomeyer, the closure of the Clancy’s modern, and spic & span as an old General.

Newcastle. My friend, I’m lonesome tonight in this cheap hotel, a room far from home, listening to the churchbells, counting their tones, bong, bong, bong, bong. The birds don’t know if it’s day or night. I wish I could sleep but ghosts do calisthenics by the bed. The previous tenant left his marks: used tea cups & towels, soap bar in the sink. There were only 20 at the show & nothing worked–like breaking into a house & playing in the living room.

Here it comes: ‘O Death pass me over for another year.’ A sick feeling in the bottom of my stomach,’where I live.’ Previous obsessions were a six week bout with moral paranoia. I feel dead already, the fear of cancer got me to the doctor in the first place. ‘Here it comes, hits me where I live & I’m dead already, lying in the dark, waiting for some sleep to come.’

It’s a good thing we ain’t on the ninety first floor–cupid’s cubicle & icebox free. Spent the morning casting gems at Shakespeare & walking green like a wayward child–I’m isolated in noise, distracted by the (no) drama–in love with nothing, that is, a vision of me, peaceful, strong and towering. Afraid of this, collecting tinctures & soft words to spread–this headache music for distracted lambs.

Connected in the weary ways & twisted too, like a country boy in trouble, but far & far, over Alamain trusted by deceitists, governed by blue clouds, and crushed in general by scotch work misdemeanors. Call me keen at sobbing, a spin merchant of my own gale, word mischief & battered by misconnects, in the wary weeze of simulacrum, soledad.

It’s been a week now of automatic doors, stale odours, trains & plains, skytoppers, faces in front & waters in back. Anxiety balances on a nail, the whole dark brick night set to topple & scream, collapsed to room size & a bare ceiling bulb, but I’m protected by the power of prayer, and by you, love.

The only thing I tried to steal was a picture of myself. Said goodbye to the countryside, also to the village, the town & the city, and heard NADA in reply. Feverish, thirsty. A bit anxious. Awaiting my beverage. No sign of green, no foretaste of April. And I’m in my Autumn? I’m looking forward to another Summer, fatal.



Hoops billyroved my targrave steed & nestled plump round a tingloss window. Weather incensed & multicoloured poured over the sheep coats, the headdown grazers & anxious swallows & squirrels. Up again & rested as the sun falls, the river rolls, time drips & drops, I’m myself & who else? Recuperation is daily, we’re all on a very short rope & it’s nailed to our hearts. Books are comfort. A warm, well lit lonely & carpeted room, between the beds, on the floor, the drawers are breathing, friendly, the bath a casket, sleep a death & now I’m reborn clean, on another highway.

I was nailed to a stick & lifted above the crowd, a clown among clowns, an inflateable fool, nose glowing like a painful red pepper & cheeks rouged- the orchestra played & I was forced to dance: no one fired bullets at my feet- the stage was simply heated & I jumped: the ceiling ripped open by a magic hook on a chain, which was passed through my solar plexus & I was lifted out, to the great relief of all.

In the movie Homeboy, Micky Rourke plays a washed up boxer, punch drunk, on the way down/ but everytime the going gets rough/ he smiles like a child, from the eyes/ an untroubled carefree look/ the crux of the film/ and from here on/ I smile too/ everytime the gloves come out or off/ anytime I’m scared/ whenever I get hit/ ’cause I’m not going down no more/ either.

No train line salve for the mendicant/ Britain. History of coughs. Tea work. In a tunnel, en masses. Chirps of the little men, trash coterie of distant loins, carpetbagged & beligerant. Same old ancient blue with corduroy earmuffs, news of the world & dream tissue. Years of this. No destination, only destinations. This years rubbish & trying ‘to make something of value as you go along.’ I’m wind last, unpaupered, ticketed, shoed, hatted. Vain glorius.

I can’t find my way & it makes me feel ashamed. You’re following me & I’m lost. RED CHORDS unplayed. Champagne melodies unsonged. Dead in the joints/ slow as stone scared as critters, a sick sad feeling like I want to quit, because I can’t tell you nothin’. It’s blowing like crazy, the trees are bent, & that’s my name, my game is laid out & pinned down. I’m shot.

Nerves of steel, they set up a smudge on the prettiest block of green. Black towers & clouds over the trees, at the end of the fields. The people bore up like pack rats, moved down to the seaside, inebriated on cheap twaddle & bowl foam, gargling fine wines. Nels poured his pants full of nuclear steam/ history erected itself/ and there were horses at the ends, taxis beyond, and a fool prince.

5am the highway noise won’t stop ’til the cities on fire. The ticking, every clock set to go off someday. One at a time. The days squeeze away & wiggle slippery. Wriggling with the savage strength of beasts: manta rays, snakes, or moose in the high beams. O Cambria what joyful nights of immigrants, O LA, what sorrows out of doors? O beach towns, what sun dried ignorance what water logged bleaknesses? O body what depths?

Sponge baths & oxygen tanks almost bear the wisdom & a team cheer in the rain, Methodist/ trance fingertip mythology. Brutal weighting of claustrophbia. Beatrice of the party flight, supper & sculked like a dagweed toon, prefigured, gloom ridden, pushed, trimmed by wing sliders & called to Boston, Santa Domingo, & points South.

Eyes like Cleopatra, arms of the Sphinx. Arms like Cleopatra, miles like Muhammed. Diamond sand cast like cannons on a drab civil door, I’m frayed, it’s been too long, please don’t make me suffer he said, but the boxers eyes & kindnesses of the flight control set me free, a little dog at 31, 000 feet, walking like Curly in the tomb.

They’re turning the heat up under me again/ but I’m no junkie/ no drunk/ I pay as many of my bills as I can/ sure, I work on the road/ take care of a sick Mother too/ but I’m just tryin’ to make my way/ nobody’s gon’ take care of me/ except you, Biggie.

Many the little sheepy-sheeps gazing contentedly on the sunlit fields, & the North Sea, grey & white capped & rolling off the end of the rolling hills. We could live here & be satisfied ourselves, in love, with what’s left of each other and the world, as the sky blue clouds gather for a sea voyage. Dark lights on the water, & way out yonder a craft we wouldn’t betray & we’d live in our dreams, giant.

The little things people say like ‘yr mushrooms have sprung,’ ‘tedium is in the eyes of the beheader,’ ‘cut the wigwam,’ driving me outwards. ‘Cliffwork climbers tremble at barroom srategy, catacombs are a mans best fad’ ‘struggle on yr own, crash awake,’ ‘Giggle to yourself, rawhide,’ all the while doors swing wide, trucks flap, calls meander like richman on Sunday, & the chorus unwinds & let’s you have it on the nose. The mouth of eyes. The chin of suffrage. The knees of travel. The final minutes of light.

The atmosphere was all salt. I sang about myself as sailors, doctors, and other adventurers nodded, filled, spilled and shot. Girls held the floor between immaculate teeth, spinning talismans of perceptible doubt. Salinas parted like a politician’s haircut & the night thrilled on. Now I’m sleeping, deeply removed, pounding on the ceilings of heartbrake culled from a poison romance, valentined & loaded, true.

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notes written on cards, from Buffalo trip, 2016

I crowed a temperate break-pest, lent to my own fault & never believed my stones, orbs eyes or slather, but edged reason to silence & spit in the wind of peace

Gathered my senses, stretched my extremities, pursued the drip drip drip of hollowed age bent on kindness but over my bent sensate confusion—or lack thereof

Calasanctious was the school of Gaynelle’s childhood horror & led to her death—the priest who never slept no doubt is sleeping eternally—as is she by her own hand

Particles always another bump down for October ’til the end Time gets out it’s bookends & destructions ticket doesn’t pay ’til the seventh race the one—where your hats on backwards your pants walk by themselves & Gracias

Catapult—shooting irons—the rack—turrets for the king wise treacle sucking K9—thats french for something—out of reach or rhyme for cloistered tenpin   challenges blue orange blue green blue yellow green ten to one ’til doomsday

Voices rising from the bottom—deadly traffic indistinguishable hand-riley bomblight—sheila—strengthened by dorm memory & pile on politics creeley fishing for sin to label high rise blow by farce

They sang with grace & stirred the ashes—tales of midsummer early morn & balanced on a chromosome—I bailed early on the off chance of a successful—retreated & nailed myself—guilty—moving backwards—a crab of sorrow—parental club loss—told you to get your weapons but it was church time

The pressure is on or off—the light too—this tiny constricted web—coffee minimalists trick the demimonde—biography fix—Im sad in my broken flesh but upward of thirty times in a garret or behind a wall of flavor & text—woven of fine tongue-lashings & freeways

I’m battling—something’s missing—someone left the party—many died—it hurts in & out—early winter I suppose—shoveling—tender tarpaulin never do that or this—forbidden patterns—money isn’t grubbed at gold rush creek—that isn’t what they do there—silver camp homicide fashion.

Strangled and stuttered shuttered in the green Pennsylvania battleground fields where this & that General hoisted a shot from his pearl handled fire stick—we lost now—move out of the sirens way—carried over fiery pits of furnace girls in boats & clean clear hair & bad music what do I know?

One of ’em had a nose ring, but heck, they all got them—one wore a suit too & a tie—another had a dick suit one dressed up as a flashlight in a dark room—one was painted like a one way street—the boss  came dressed as beach noise & a car barn—it was a weird operation.

It meant something before the moon crossed the road carried on a radio wave too tight for my skin but before I got sore—long drives thinking of her—white thighs shiny forehead empty pillbox peanut butter sandwiches rockabilly remnants & memories of the dead dancing behind a glass case to red hot.

Anxious pronouncements of side-seat terror echoing no twisting beam-like travel & I’m coasting after weeks of saturday nights & monday mornings & cross wise miles & torturing hours at the wheels—before lonesome crowds tempted by memory & sprung to achievements beyond my ken—clamber aboard ye pirates we’re going asunder.

A big lie spread & I rode it like a wave—cornered in the crosstown ink stand & shot forth a jelly donut—a Gemini rocket with a Scorpio booster—the struggles of work weigh me down—how to do good in a sloppy showroom.

Stupid things happen in my dreams of gargoyle high school—milk truck rendezvous—nebulous scatter track—shifters—like Darby—Daniel—other ding poppers of speechless sand imperiled frosting lickers—stoned—baleful— crotchety ass kickers “hope I’m not out of line.’

Updates every 39 seconds wipe the story clean but atrophy the flame retardant crime lab switch-eroo & useless video footage we’ll all believe but no one sees scam this you dullards shame coiled in a basket I know yr every catalog empty out those policeman’s britches & freeze

On the T slope & the hum of fans it’s the end of several months today is a skate tremor re-ledge tempest bait scat & throb the medicine, man.

I want to go but there’s no out I want to lay down but there’s no lay I want to climb & splinter but there’s no tootling horns no garbled tracts no voices there are voices  no voices & I hear them not now or ever claim the shackles of their memorial dream.

It’s as clear as yesterdays running water as plain as a dreamlike memory slats in a furnace the wrong preview that terrified the first grade covered in arbor jet sounds painted with a honey brush on the homeless & the homed only thing in

common is the falling rainbow.

In the big dusty hot as heaven corral—side long shotgun class concealed humanism of belt free trek—I’m lonesome here scarred for you my children swarm the knotted deck & load the artillery with chamomile edge water memory of their first second & third minute doors to paralysis—I might do some good now if we only could get up.

I sang Exodus like a chosen fool slipping & sliding in between Cumulous nebulous Fabulous endings & brand new dazed behavior like a child or or a wilde beast slinking sinking spraying members with Algonquin knives call it a re-up a revenant —a ghoul line stand.

Groucho of the trap door Morrison of the neighboring bar Liston & Clay on the streamlined product dumbwaiter Ali of the future killed or killing not a conscience or knee wound red & oozing cartwheels of dalliance frothing tenterhooks of and in the vain green scotch drawer shelf aesthetics.

Gathered my sense, stretched my extremities pursued the drip drip drip of hollowed age bent on kindness but bent over my sensate confusion—or lack thereof.

A landscape of bedding & soft light a sound wave of ritual coo & gathering of sore spots & pleasure shortlists—isolate by a silver highway that runs & runs & never lifts a finger around the house—escapee’s transport in question of return a satisfying reprieve the only thing that matters is here & gone.

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Dangerous Book (Plimsouls with Clem Burke) ( & a few words about my Bookstore Education, thanks to Acappella Books!)

Kool Trash (1998)

When I was a kid I read for hours in the local bookstores, working my way through the Hardy Boys detective series, then moving on to Ian Fleming’s secret service novels. I didn’t understand anything about detectives or spies, so it was strictly fill-in-the-blanks, piecing together a picture of the world from bookrack to bookrack, unguided, racing through the set-ups to the death-defying sex scenes.

I loved the nearest branch of the public library too, ever since the Friday night when I was six, in 1960: My pal Pete Damon and I had our first sleepover and brought five or six picture books about bugs back to the house to study by flashlight, all night in bed. That’s still one of the best times I ever had in my life, it was so much fun, reading about walking sticks, and praying mantises, sharing the pictures of anthills and beehives. Life seemed huge, friendly, ancient, inexhaustible.

But the reading experience at Ulbrich’s Books at the local suburban plaza, was different. They had popular titles, the latest things, like The Sport Of Judo by Kiyoshi Kobayashi and Harold Sharp. Me and Pete poured over that and eventually brought it home, learning to throw each other all over the yard, using Advanced Foot Sweeps, and the Major Outer Rear Drop Throw. That was 1965, when I was 10. I still have my copy of that summertime obsession.

Another big bookstore discovery, perhaps the most important, was in February, 1966, when a Dell paperback called Folk-Rock: the Bob Dylan Story, by Sy and Barbara Ribakove,  appeared one day on the same rack that held James Bond and Mike Hammer. “The First! The one and only!” shouted the cover in a red balloon. I purchased a copy for 50 cents. The book began with a list of all the times Dylan ran away from home, and told the story of his first flight, to Chicago, when he was ten.

“Destiny appeared in the form of a weathered Negro street singer strumming a guitar. Bob, awed, couldn’t pull himself away. ‘I went up to him and began accompanying him on spoons—I used to play the spoons when I was little.’ …Before the police corralled him and took him home to his parents, Bob spent three months tagging after the street player and his friends, one of whom gave him the priceless gift of an old guitar.”  Man, that’s better than Pinocchio.

As I got into my teenage years, I found and read Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media, a book that still carries a message for me. Norman Mailer’s Why Are We In Vietnam?  amazed me because the story was of a teenage genius named DJ, along on his father’s demented hunting expedition to Alaska. The novels that spoke to me the most were Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey. It seemed like you could base your whole life on those. Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Coney Island Of the Mind, and Leonard Cohen’s The Spice-box Of Earth inspired me to make my own poetry.  William Blake became important to my survival, and as life got more psychedelic, I had my portable copy. All of these eye-opening texts came my way at Ulbrich’s Books. I spent hours perusing books in the store, but the owners were patient, and never once threw me out.

I grew up, said goodbye to my pals, and got out of that town a few years later. I remember reading Ed Sanders’ book The  Family, before I split. It was a terrifying vision of California, and Charles Manson.  At the time,The Greening Of America was a sensation as well, though I never bought it, just glanced into it. And Future Shock. Well, everybody was living that one.

Despite Sanders’ warnings, I landed in San Francisco at 18 years old and began living a precarious existence as a wandering street singer for several years, no doubt inspired by my reading about Bob Dylan’s nonexistent friend.

My bookstore of choice in San Francisco was City Lights, an iconic landmark even then. I knew it was Ferlinghetti’s shop, and had read much of the poetry he’d published by Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and others. I’d see him coming and going about his business, as I played on the busy corner across the street.

During the day, if traffic was too slow on the sidewalks to bother playing, or if it was cold or raining, I’d go into City Lights, downstairs into the basement, pick a book out from the shelves, pull up a chair, and read for hours.  The Travels of Marco Polo introduced my imagination to the magic, mystery and beauty of the East—what a story! Charles Dickens, and his street characters in Oliver Twist captivated me, with tales of running away into city-wide adventure. I bought Hunter Thompson’s satire of ’70s America, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas and read it straight through, sitting all night at the counter in Hunt’s Donuts at Mission and 20th.

My next trip back to City Lights, I climbed the stairway above the front counter cash register and in the quiet room up there, devoured  Harlan Ellison’s  I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream. But my bible at the time was Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. The tales of Doc the marine biologist, and Mack, the king of the bums, mythically reflected the adventures I was having in San Francisco.  All of these books were spellbinders, opening up in vivid ways ideas of life beyond the world I knew.

Back downstairs, in the philosophy section, I was reading Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good And Evil, which left me dumbfounded. What the hell? I would have loved to go beyond that duality, but I didn’t get it. I was struggling, but enjoyed the aphorisms anyway. Martin Buber’s I & Thou—which I was led to believe by a writer named Stephen Pickering had been one of Dylan’s favorites—was about the quest for God. I reached, tried to understand, didn’t get so far. But it was fascinating. I was willing to know more, and that was a start. Not “getting it” was sometimes a major piece of my bookstore education, as I tried to come to terms with concepts that were beyond me. Anyway, I spent a lot of time in there, sometimes even nodded off, but the City Lights staff never pushed me out.

After joining a rock and roll band, I moved to Los Angeles in ’76. My favorite bookstore down there eventually became Dutton’s, where I became friends with a poet, the late Scott Wannberg, and once again spent a lot of afternoons hanging out reading, and talking, though I didn’t quite have the time for that I’d had before.

I’m back in San Francisco now,  after years of living in Southern California, and I’m happy to report that City Lights is booming. With online book sales and high rents shutting down bookstores almost daily, that is quite an accomplishment. I still make a pilgrimage there, going up to the poetry room, which is, without wanting to get too saccharine about it, like a visit to a sanctuary, a peaceful spot where life can be appreciated and contemplated, and important and beautiful voices can be heard.

I went there for the 60th anniversary of the store, walked upstairs, and there was the man himself, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 94 years old, pouring champagne for well-wishers and enjoying the day. I had a copy of his new book Time Of Useful Consciousness and I asked him if he would please autograph it. I took the opportunity to thank him for the poetry, as well as the store, for allowing me to read my way through it, in the ’70s.

“I used to go up in that room above the front door, and read. I was homeless at the time, and I want to thank you for your hospitality. Sometimes I’d even fall asleep up there. You and the staff were always so kind. I feel like I got a lot of my education here.”

“Ah yes”  he replied, “That was the science fiction room.”


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four year plan

No snow in Alaska
No bees in the field
No frogs by the river
No hands on the wheel

No leaders in Congress
No brakes on the booze
No magic experience
No truth in the news

No teachers on the playground
They can’t protect themselves
No songs on the airwaves
No food on the shelves

Low wages for the workers
No workers getting hired
No rights & no more unions
Speak up & you get fired

No days off the schedule
No end to the tasks
No answers to questions
that everyone asks

No pause in the battle
No one gets a pass
There’s no break for the poor
& no more middle class

No fire alarms’re working
The fire escapes are locked
No lights in the hallway
The fixtures have been hocked

No whales in the ocean
No robins on the lawn
No colors in the sunset
Firing squads at dawn

No social security
It’s stolen by a lie
No more going bankrupt
You’ll pay until you die

This was the land of plenty
& everyone gives thanks
Now its all gone to shareholders
& the CEOs of banks

They can’t agree to fix the roads
They’d have to raise a tax
They’ll never ask the rich to pay
When they can load it on some poor folks backs

They’ll make it in traffic tickets
They’re raising all the fines
If you can’t pay you’ll go to jail
Put you to work making traffic signs

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fortune cookies

heard the story on the evening news
‘bout the Capulets & the Montagues

ryan’s dream
on a private highway airport bound
the convoy speeds past shanty town

bannon’s vision
dragons on the sidewalk angels in the trees
children on the border cut down like Christmas trees

ryan’s sermon
he’s my rock & my salvation I shall not be moved
& tho a fire awaits you your credit’s pre-approved

miller time
the hate truck that yr driving
the wheels will soon fall off
the other pigs yr riding with
will push you from the trough

the union won the civil war
it ended in a rout
hatred never wins the day
Hitler found that out

yes on no
you lost your taste
for hearing truth
then got lost
in a polling booth

the city is silent
the sea is black
the sun is cold
the cables slack

the sky is brick
the clouds are fake
our votes were cast
into the lake

fortune cookie
“to see what is in front of one’s nose is a
constant struggle.’

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Magic In Reverse (Hwy 62 Out-take)

This track didn’t make the final sequence of the LP. DJ Bonebreak on drums, David J Carpenter on Bass, recorded by Sheldon Gomberg.  I worked on this song a long time,  and at one point it was 45 minutes long. That was too much!

riding in your snow-white car

I never thought we’d go so far

top down we chased a star

     that somehow fell to earth

like Magic In Reverse


on summer days we made up songs

down on the beach beneath the palms

silver fish flashing in the calms

    & I didn’t know at first

about Magic In Reverse


 the crack up  

    on the wall of skin

a mood that seemed to balance

    on a pin

tender voices as the night begins

then a change came over you

& there was nothing I could do


 the door hinge squeaks the staircase moans

the radio plays sugar tones

we’re fast asleep like paving stones

    thrown into the works //of Magic In Reverse


a magic spell but who believes

bouquets of flowers hidden up our sleeves

who cast the spell who was deceived?

the change came over you

this time it got me too


out on the street a drunken shout

this is the hour the bars let out

complete surrender waves of doubt

   I nearly died of thirst

for magic in reverse

Los Angeles, California: Peter Case in his studio (Photo: Ann Summa).




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