The Love Call of F. Scott Fitzgerald

by Alan Soble

Hogy túléljünk, imádjuk az
alliteráció istenét‏.
[Не транслитерация!]

For Philip Milton Roth
il miglior spazzino

I. On the Jewish Question

Matzoh is the driest bread,
made on the fly, Exodus declares.
I eat blueberry in yoghurt topped
with walnut-and-cinnamon sugar.
In which diaspora did we fress as well?
I was assimilated by Jewish Rye
while “We built this city” on borscht and lox.

I live on a freshly brewed,
integrated Starbuck Earth,
sprightly sipping esoteric strains
from Guatemala, Rwanda, Timor –
a dark roast, a medium Pike, aromatic decaf,
odors that make me cosmopolitan
and turn my buds Turk, Arab, Greek.

I smell, much too near,
a Bukovinan Albert, Allen, or Alvy
adoring my healthy punim
but mostly staring at the deep dish
of seasoned fruit with glazed-over
graceless starvation understood
better by Pavlov than Plato.
Brutish envy is the sharpest pain.

II. Sexual Revolutions

In plush powder rooms,
the women come and go,
speaking of my cool Angela,
a tsatske girl no cuter
than two-day-old shtetl kasha,
adorned by not one poppy,
no onion bit, raisin, garlic, or seed:
The Everything’s accessories.
She’s a plain unbedazzled Biały
whose familiar warm scent
keeps me aroused, and spent.

The women come and go,
dissing circumcision,
with words toned
by English abhorrence of Jews
which Tom learned well
in his counterlife
along with tea at four.
I feel no genital disgrace,
as if Shylock’s prick
had no right to be as stiff
as Sweeney’s erect.

T. S., you missed rock-roll bands:
too late to bard with jumpin’ jack packs,
the devils who let it bleed and paint it black.
You missed Clapton-Knopfler guitars,
“Driver’s Seat” and “Stairway” stars.
You missed the lexicon of gangsta rap:
“shorty,” “piece,” “phat” – all that crap.

You missed the I-net,
where your skill is free,
along with Auden, Igor, and Klee,
where bloggers hack “Prufrock,”
become Facebook friends
with Lou’s poor, bored Jane
who clerks the day away,
tokes, gets wasted once again,
drags a brush across her head.

You missed Steinem, Friedan,
and that Portnoy guy.
Like you, T. S. E., he
had not been ready
for Larkin’s 1963.
Neither was I,
the one lingering naïf
on either stretch of coast
who committed a marriage
before committing a sex.
Call me Pisher.

The Allman Bros. dared
to slurp the juicy peach,
their stage britches tight,
leaving no dry seat in the house.
Stoned freebird roadies
scour the stained stands.
Daltrey and Plant, too,
had their pick and share and fill
(“Keep your hands offa my stack!”)
in the battle of the bands for muff.
The Doors, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd,
all boned the leftover girls (‘n’ boys)
in Winslow AZ.
Star fucking,
born voracious in ’63,
engendered night moves
of lying leaching hands,
fingering greedy and foul,
through marches, sit-ins, concerts,
from Columbia, D.C., Woodstock,
to the graveyards of disease
and infanticides.

My envy should not too much complain.
For my second love I, too, had remains.
I groped my Brit Lit teacher’s tuchas
in a tiny airport motel closet candle-lit.
We couldn’t see the floor’s filthy bed.
So adultery became my first “real” love.
Augustine’s pulpit rancor groaned.
He judged us “cheat” and “slit”
in a proper Latin that proved him right.

Tommy, we were humbled by your technique.
Neither the Bishop nor I grasp any Greek.

High school’s an adolescent waste land,
where diplomats train as lunchroom killers
aiming higher than cafeteria reform.
I often heard, too loudly,
from the putrid holes of goyische thugs
stuffed with sausage spice,
spewing their considered view
that Jew slits are effin’ easy.
I wouldn’t know, only foolin’ around
with my misinstructing kissing kin.
The goddess shikse I craved
dozed off in Psych and Math
wearing a short summer skirt,
her thighs falling unbearably

“In your wildest dreams,”
the mean girls mocked.

III. Death by Water

Solomon’s praise of passion
was doomed by arid winds
that cooked his burning eyes,
two desiccated yellow eggs,
on the dusty road to Dachau.
“Love is as strong as death”?
He was burnt, not tanned,
as the Good Book says.

Why dread a dip in Gatz’s pool?
Had we not already been gassed,
gladly we would swim.
Had we not already been gassed,
we would have done it all,
were we not wasted,
squandered – for flecks of gold
and cleansed Lebensraum.

I forgot (blame my sour senility) –
when fabricating shoddy lines,
constipated polyphilalliterative
strings of obscure miasmal smog –
that in a Southern-hot
August over ten years ago,
instead of fleeing Kristallnacht
I first-hand found that Petty’s buoyant
“Refugee” refrain was bogus.
The House of the Rising Sun flailed,
then foundered, in the floods.
Au revoir, szerbusz, שלום, до свидания, adiós
I offered to my big-hearted nightingales,
those devout, stoic bodies
bound to my debauched desire.
All were FEMA derooted and rerouted:
Cleveland Baltimore Atlanta
Cheyenne St Paul Tampa
Phoenix ‘Frisco Miami
and Providence (R.I.)


shifting, shoving, bouncing, dancing,
flashing, twerking, shielding
their stash of coke crystal crack
roofies pot hash and smack.
Even a charming Dom Perignon
lifted leisurely looting
a ruptured gonif ‘s Quarter bodega.


New Orleans, my Bukovina.
Pushed out, flushed out, washed out, flicked out.
(“And they put you on the day shift.”)
Rotund Nero,
Flawless Peter,
Falconer Yeats,
Waxwing Shade,
Boiled hard Spade,
Ghostly Anne Frank,
Machins of many colors,
Hoarded Yverts and Michels,
treasures buried with Gulf oil
in buses-bulging shark bellies,
and a thousand LP vinyls left behind
in distracting jackets for the Nazi troops
during the flight of whores, Jews, and blacks,
street sweepers, bag handlers, dishwashers, busboys,
the whole miserable crew right out of Toole,
stayin’ alive, barely, with fungal fever.

I wish I had a fantasy
while weaving
and shuffling
up I-55.
I wish I could pretend
I wasn’t running
but was a ramblin’ man,
tracing Fonda’s trip,
crisp clean wind
blowing out, on I-10,
my long brown hair.
In my dream,
there’s no shotgun
in a Southern Man’s Dodge.
I’d make it all the way
with Bogie to the Keys.

IV. The Breakdown

The war and that woman,
poor Tom-Tom, did you in, for a while;
your suffering, the spring of Great Art,
aping de Sade Van Gogh
Tchaikovsky Nietzsche.
My women and my wars,
multiplied beyond yours,
made bananas of me, and crackers.
I should have created greater Great Art,
greater than the Great American Novel
that eludes the gospels
of Herman, Toni, Saul, and Mark.
A Midnight Cowboy Philosopher.

Japan leaks radioactive cream
next to whirlpool garbaged seas.
Denver to LA is scorched,
taxing grapes, newts, and gnats.
Christian heads sliced and rolled
on the road, Damascus-Baghdad,
like kiddies play kick the can.
Trains, planes, trucks crash galore.
Boston’s finish line rages roar.
Exploding cafés in Tel-Aviv.
Bogdanovka, Újvidék, Port Gdańsk,
Watts, Harlem, Newark, Kent State.
Manhattan’s “falling towers”
(foreseen by you, Tommy)
clogged our throats with muck
and stuffed our pores
with bloody ground chuck.

More people die in heaven, hell, and earth
than in Cantor’s infinite cardinal dreams.

By two thousand and fifty:
Elkúrtuk, nem kicsit, nagyon.”
MRSA, C. Difficile, and TB
infect a terabyte of mankind
plus the greatest Great Apes.
No shelters trailers huts shacks
beach umbrellas tents lean-tos
outhouses carousels igloos
high-rise balconies gazebos.
Hordes of Texas armadillos,
bony dogs, hippos, snakes sleazy,
snarling rats, lizards, birds eerie,
gargoyles unleashed, coyotes
rummage streets of pipes
and fields of rotting rice
for prime cadaver chunks,
while we kill our neighbor to eat
and kill to eat our neighbor.
We maim and stomp to drink
thick water slick with jimson weed.
We hallucinate progress.

Swift is now a bad joke,
a second-grader’s sophism.

No more polished granite
engraved with names, dates,
and proverbs of hope.
In a vast blank waste land,
no monuments (no heroes)
pointing to a glorious future.
Celebrations of the Fourth
or for Mothers worldwide
are sarcastic exorcistic
“Robot Chicken” rituals.
No sanctuary in Frauenkirche,
Stephansdom, or St Mark’s,
nor in a Riverside church
where Attica is transubstantiated
into a paradise of illusion
that promises safekeeping
from zombies, pirates,
ghoulish gangs of bikes,
other Harry Potter dreck,
all manner of dubious
specimens of humanity.
Only in an Absentee Landlord crib,
is no one stupid, or evil, or insane,
and only here is Pope’s glib
“Whatever is, is right,” not arcane.

Prescient, clairvoyant,
you well perceived
a small panorama of waste.
Ours is boundless,
more than you could see.
When I die,
I would all this shit die with me.
Let it not boast
by having synthetic life
in someone’s cloddy verse
marred by tortured glyphs.

Tom, you praised it beyond desert.

V. Mortalities

The prostate is the weakest lump.
It would go first,
smothering slender ducts,
except psoriatic arthritis
had a head start and
did its malicious labor
on every innocent
patch of bone and joint.
Deaf-dumb doctors
offer no lotion or pill
from a fake pharmacopoeia.
So it ascends to reign:
Lord of the Ankle,
Lord of the Knee,
Lord of the Elbow,
Lord of the Thumb,
Lord of the Neck,
Lord of the Left Big Toe.
Thus we succumb to
the unmoved mover,
that meets and knows
no sovereign curb.

I would plead,
“Let us go, then, You and I,”
and engage our few good parts
(eyes that survived Dachau).
But all we’d do
is smoke and fall out,
nodding straight through
Mon Amour,
Bergman’s Scenes,
and Popeye cartoons,
until the screech
of dead and lonely ‘rents
wake us and beckon,
and we, too,
dry out to nothing.

Enough, already,
of this mandatory,
masturbatory wasted
time of old age.
“Elder orphans.” Ha.
A patronizing phrase
for our closing Exeunt.

I will not permit a drowning.
I will not suffer dehydration.
I will not lick a loathsome bug.
I must live till
I hear and smell and taste
the Mother of all bombs,
the Burka Burger
that slams into the slums
of fat, bald, cranky New York.

It will not be your London,
after all, Mr Eliot.