ARYAN KAGANOF


Aryan Kaganof has published the following books of verse: Tombstone Dues,
Drive Thru Funeral, Abandonment Boulevard and For Those Who Love to Die;
published by Pine Slopes Publications, P.O. Box 86, Westhoven 2142,
Johannesburg, South Africa. He has also published two novels: Hectic! and
Stones Again, also by Pine Slopes, and a limited edition chapbook of poems,
The Freedom Fighter by Illuseum Press.






Tenderloin Passage

From Alcatraz to Robben Island is a page
in my notebook away.
I said goodbye to the Devil last night,
bought him one last bourbon.
Tho' we parted as friends I won't see him again.
He's got a mean streak, is not to be trusted.
From Robben Island to Alcatraz is a
tightrope walk away.
Hope I don't slip or get busted.

Well I walked up Haight looking for my dream.
What I got was a row of shops selling me
packages of a scene.
Now anarchy's on offer and the Anti-
Christ's marked down,
it's a post-Apocalypso special.
But what I don't understand
is why the bars all shut down
at 2am in San Francisco.

The Devil 'n me we hung out
on Mason, just jazzin' with the deadbeats,
listening to their squalor, watchin'
the tables get turned. Changing of the
guard took place about six so we rolled in
to the Punjab. Waiting for our curries,
Devil got listless, start in to breathin’ fire
all over the place.
Damn! He irritate me.
I mean we buddies 'n all
but this flame-on shit jes draw attention
to the fact that we strangers in town,
who need that ferchrissakes?
Devil he jes don' give a shit, he say,
"I is Lucifer. I do what I please.
God knows I do. God knows."

I think about what God knows about
me. All those ladies I abused, especially
the ones that loved me, them the most.
Lord yes, God knows all that. Still shines
his sun down on me. Still breathes his
cool breath on me when my brow be
sweatin'. What about the Devil?
He got a conscience?
I ask him. He say, "All God's
chillun got a conscience. Conscience
like a sell-by date of the soul."
"But you the Devil. You got a soul?"
"I'm God's favourite Angel, nigger,
I am ALL soul!"
Devil snuck outta da Punjab.
I finish my korma. Sip that mango
lassi. Whoopee, Devil sure
one touchy sunnoffabitch!

Well the sun's shining brightly,
it's almost Spring equinox but there's
a cold wind blowing so I stay wrapped
in my pony skin.
I just ordered a second cup of coffee.
It's drinkable; my license to sit in
this lonely corner diner (9th and Lincoln)
writing this summons to you.
What more can I add?
Wish you were here to hold on to
when they kick me out of that bar
tonight at 2am in San Francisco.

Sitting in the Blue Front Cafe window
watching Haight Ashbury's multicoloured
petals of innocence unfold with the accuracy
of a razor blade or a judicious helping of
Louisiana Hot Sauce.
The world is cool now in the late
afternoon breeze and even the
trees can't be bothered to take
shelter from the man in the moon
and his candy coated darts of loneliness.
There is no cure for the underdose
of affection that's an inevitable side-
effect of the strychnine kick from
the tabuloid and the download bug
that pretended to communicate while
you got on-line. Then before you knew
it we were all in line for the sales pitch
fix that hooked us up to the brain-
machine that thinks our thoughts
for us while we go endlessly
shopping at the identity bazaar
looking for the requisite garments
to cover up the scars that were left
when they stole our souls.
The trees just shrug their wise
old branches, wondering when a man
mad enough to listen to them will leap
out of his life and simply climb to
the soaring heights of his own potential.
If that man be you I wish you well.
Me, I'm heading back to my Hotel.

"What route are you taking?
What circumforaneous path is the one
with your name on? Pale stranger
pray tell, is it Heaven or Hell that
you're going to or come from?
You gait like a sailor but you laugh
like a madman, you're garbed in
the second hand wardrobe of last
season's bard, nice touch, the beret.
I dare to suspect it's an important quest
that you're on' - your mission
to save the Youniverse from something
or other, I'm sure you know what –
your kind of Pale Stranger always knows
what the rest of us need saving from.
Well thanks for your time, I don't mean
to sound ungrateful, but I too was
once a Pale Stranger around these parts,
O, so many summers ago. I came to
save the Youniverse from something
or other, can't quite remember what,
it couldn't have been important
otherwise I wouldn't have stayed.
Here's my card. It's got my name on
and a map of my path as well as the number
of the route I'm taking. Call me when
you get to wherever it is that you're
running away from.
And God Bless you."

The Devil downed his last glass
of Woodford Reserve Distiller's
select Kentucky Bourbon. Snuck on
out of the Bijou. I never saw him again.

I was walking up Eddy,
turned left into Divisadero,
found you this birthday card
in a shop called Gargoyle.
Gonna mail it tomorrow.
When you get it I want you to know
you're my hero.
Yeah sure, I can go it alone,
I'm self-sufficient. I've got my pony
skin jacket, my boots made for walking.
It's not that I'm needy.
I'd simply prefer to have you at my
side tonight when they call last round
in all those bars that shut down at
2am in San Francisco.

Well the Devil was drinking Bourbon
when I sat down right beside him.
He didn't look up. Whispered straight
into his Bourbon glass, voice hoarse 'n
raspy like Miles Davis.
"I know what you've come for, I know
why you're here, but there's no getting out
of this deal. The contract's long-signed,
I've fulfilled my part of the pact. You've got
your fame 'n your gold, leave your soul
in the box at the door."

You know the Devil was sippin' Bourbon
when I delivered my impromptu speech.
"Mr. D when we last spoke
things hadn't been going too well.
I'd done gotten out of touch with
myself, lost track of who I was.
Thought that I needed silver and gold
and silken clothes and my face on tv
to be someone. Now I've had all of that
– thanks for the help – I realise that
I only needed to get it to find out
I don't need it. See I was born without a
wallet and I'll leave this world without a
stitch on my back. Everything you offered
me is incidental. What I am is Me.
And all I wish for is to be free.
So on our deal I must renege.
Here's your silver, your gold, your cape
of silk. My soul is precious to me,
it's the one thing I can’t afford to lose.
Sorry for the inconvenience,
but your malicious arrangement
I must refuse!"

Well the Devil gulped his Bourbon
down, looked up at me with an evil
frown etched all over his ghastly face.
This is what he said:
"Look here punk, you're as good
as dead, your soul is mine and you must
deliver or you'll pay the fine of 9000
lifetimes in purgatorial damnation waiting!"
He ordered another Bourbon with
a maleficient smile curling over his lips,
started in to sippin' it, steam rising
out of his nostrils. The devil's drinking
Woodford Reserve.
"You guys have to finish 'em up: time to go."
The barmaid's voice from the depths of the bar.
We stumbled out of there, the Devil an' me.
He held my hand; we hailed a cab.
He fell into the backseat.
I whispered to the driver:
"Take this man back to his hotel."
Held the release form under Lucifer’s nose.
"Just sign over here."
He did with an "X".
As the taxi sped away I smiled up
at the full moon.
Her 'n me 'n Woodford Reserve
done got the better of Satan!

March 20. Spring Equinox.
Last night I drank Bourbon
with the Devil. At 2am they
chucked us out. The Devil
cussed and threatened the
barmaid with eternal damnation.
"That may well be but still you have to go."
"Lady, do you have any idea who you
talking to? I am the Devil. Lucifer. Beelzebub!"
She look him straight in the eye,
"Bustah, you could be Brad Pitt
for all I care, Federal law requires
come 2am I haveta throw you outtahere,
'n that's what I'm doing!"
She upped his glass over his head
and suddenly two burly thugs appeared
out of nowhere, manhandled the both
of us out of that joint.
"Let's party. Take it to the next level!"
the Devil's gravelly voice rasped into my ears.
"Shut up man. You're giving me a headache."
It's 2:02am. Me an' the devil tryin' ta hail a
cab on the corner of 16 and Valencia.
Cabs ride by, drivers won’t look us inna eye.
We stumble on down to Mission.
"Hey man, if you the friggin' Devil
how come you don' snap your fingers,
summon us the archangel's chariot?"
"Point."
He clicks his fingers.
Boom. Woosh.
Gabriel's fire chariot standing on the tar-
mac. Huge motherfuckin' dragon bristling
at the reins. Devil hops on board. Grabs hold
of the reins.
"Whoa boy, easy."
Looks down at me, smiles a wicked
toothless grin, "Hop on board gringo,
we heading for Obituary drive!"
He laughs the deranged laugh
of a man who doesn't have to be anywhere
in the morning. Clears his throat. Spits.
I haul myself in. Next thing we're hurtling
through the cosmos like the friggin' Silver
Surfer. My hair catches fire but I don’t
notice until my head's burnt
down to the
neck.

In a hotel room on Mason and Eddy
the Devil sheds a few tears
Holds a few more in
sun peeks through a gap in the curtains
Devil looks up says "Hi"
sun gives the Devil a wink
they're old buddies
go back a long way
good ole days
Devil shuts the curtain
puts the tv on
CNN
Amen.

...and deja vu is a place that I've been
in a time to come or before
where that trumpet swells from a Sousa march
(or a funeral dirge by Chopin)
whatever the source, it's the one perfect note
balancing
between
the root and the fruit
of the tree of my knowledge of
God and the Devil
- the realm you have to go through
to discover yourself
and when you do
you'll find out that
you're all good –
even your evil…

I'm sitting on the corner of 9th and
Lincoln, got a Vegetarian submarine
#2 and lukewarm coffee spread out
before me and I'm wondering where
I'm gonna do my drinking when
the bars all close tonight
at 2am in San
Francisco.



Back to Front.