Studio of Edwin & Marcia Ward

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


My Best Shot

James Ryan Morris Reads for the Last Time
Mano Mano with Larry Lake Denver Poets Day 1978

Transcribed & Adapted for the Stage
by Edwin Forrest Ward and Marcia Diane Ward

Passion Press/the Image Maker

© 2009 Passion Press / the Image Maker
the Poetry Subway & Bowery Press

As always
For ourselves and our friends

Cover photo: Marcia Ward, the Image Maker

Passion Press /the Image Maker
5475 Peoria Street 4-112
Denver CO 80239
303 322 9324

The Stage of The Greek Amphitheater in Denver Civic Center Park

James Ryan Morris
Larry Lake
Diana Morris
Jess Graf
T & T
Drunk in Crowd
Drunks Back Stage
Man in Crowd
(Jess Graf, T&T, Drunk in Crowd, Drunks Backstage, Man in Crowd, and Sam are played by one actor. Except for Jess in the beginning, all are only voices.)

(Jess is on Stage at the microphone. Diana & James Ryan Morris enter from stage left, and Larry Lake enters from stage right. All mill around and keep their distance from each other.)

JESS: All right everybody, welcome to Denver Poet’s Day.
We got a treat. We got a treat. We got a real treat, man.
We got two poets here. Man, I mean we got some poets here now.
These cats have kept Denver poetry going, man, over the last decade,
these two cats right here, through the Denver Mile High Underground and ah…

JRM: (prompts) Mano-Mano

JESS: yeah, and Mano-Mano/2, and all the people in it.
They are The Croupier Press and they are The Bowery Press.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Larry Lake
and James Ryan Morris.

(Jess goes backstage.)

JRM: Larry will read first.


I am the
last ol lady
of the west, my
needs are: bent
crushed poems
& a hat
to fit
heads to/
he is
puff footed poet
in Frankies center ring
is not
Harpo Marx
can not
opt for
the flesh

seeks word work
the single sun
She carries/
his eyes w/wonder

His finger
To Her

(JESS: (Clapping) Hey Great, man.)

(DRUNKS BACKSTAGE: Hey what’s that?
Free beer, man.
Hey, give me some of that.)

JRM: This is, ah, to dedicated to the poet Mayakovsky,
But I’d like to dedicate this reading personally to Larry.
We’ve been together about a dozen years now.
Still fighting.

Who stood alone
in your time

(DRUNKS BACKSTAGE: Do you believe this? It’s all foam.
What are they doin’ out there?
Who cares? Beer here.)

displaying an anger
& a concern for people
that still defies me

(DRUNKS BACKSTAGE: Hey let me pour man.)

I call out to-
I invoke for yr energies

(DIANA: Would you shut your fucking mouth? Can’t you see what’s goin’ on? That’s my old man. Be quiet!)

this day

For, my friend, they have reached me
And my strength is gone-

-If you wanna talk back there, why don’t you go on upfront. Huh?!

For, my friend, they have reached me
and my strength is gone-

O Poet, let me borrow yr ability to love
to insert smiles in mouths of hate
to call out against crucifixion…

On the table a revolver, a cup of cold coffee
We both know what to do with them –
O Poet! Reach out to me
this day
for I need yr vision & strength.

Everywhere I go
there is nothing,
nothing to offer peace
to this body
to wash away the need
that drives me on.

Faces, faces, faces – Masks!
given at birth to the masses
so they can forge a smile
make love seem truthful, meaningful
& compromise their dead-cold hearts

O Poet! I call out! & echoes answer
Shut up and die!
Ah, how they wld like that, my voice silenced
forever done in
by their ignorance.

But, I am armed, & they give me room to move in
solitary streets of no-one to confront,
mountains where the snow falls Black-

O come my enemies! Let us meet face to face.
My bullet to yr head or heart,
no matter, for you cannot win.

I died long ago & many times
…& hold on to my only…
and hold on to only my love as precious
and you have nothing/ not even a country
a country such as where I am buried.

No! this is not a song of joy.

How I pity yr ignorant dead steps
as the snow falls upon them
leaving nothing in their wake,
nothing but more mushed down snow –

No! this is not a song of joy.

If you wish that
Go elsewhere
Where all the bullshit gathers
In the midst of nite
& claps itself on the back

behind the tombstones
of those who tried…

(JESS: (Clapping enthusiastically) Yeah…Cool Man.)

JRM: I’m gonna sneak one in here for Larry.


When we used to drink a lot
Larry used to say: You have to give up the booze, the broads, the dope, the juice, and everything, you know.
I said, “What am I gonna write about?”
and this came one day and I wrote it on his wall.
So here it is, the shot:

Where is the crazy
dark rider of dreams
That none of us
will ever know
yet seek
in the arms
of women who’ll never
know us/ & least of all
understand us.

LL: I don’t think I ever said ‘give it all up,” did you think.

the stilt legged lover poem

how do I tell him magic
when he asks form
how do I say the Lady
when he questions structure
how do I teach leap
when he seeks motive

let the words walk
their own tite wire
there is the circle
here to complete
seen from the platform:
it is sawdust
open mouth
& a prayer
all will enter
thru the back
door gracefully

seen from below:
the tite rope walker
becomes a space
tension must fill
makes the act a balance

it is a meeting across
the fear & hope I speak.

Jack Armstrong 3 Good Deeds Today
Sneak Into A Matinee
Come To My Party How
Many Games Can You Play

I will write him a story of the
stilt legged lover, a monster
reincarnation, a button man
hurrying home for supper
dropping rubble poems
into the Charles Atlas eyes
the ripple face of neon mouthful cities
notes to build dislike when forgotten
& it was years of falling begging
her presence behind closed doors
bedroom solitaire & reach into my
empty duffle bag head
to fall & be cushioned
by her breast her thigh
cupping a round place
to fit into I will not leave again

JRM: I don’t know how many of you remember the day that Billie Holiday died,
and for your information: Diana Ross is not Billie Holiday, and never will be, she couldn’t even touch her. Square black chick, man; she ain’t even cool.

This is called “the Day, the Afternoon the Lady Died, 1959”

(DRUNK IN CROWD: “Fifty-nine?”)

JRM: When all is said and done . . .

- I don’t even know if you were born then yet kid, but you know -

When all is said and done
and only quiet remains,
we shall stand as one
between the thousand pains.

No more to rape and swear\
at the truth within.
No more to crush and tear
at a human skin.

There will be peace
for the living-
Death shall cease
and be forgiving.

There is this earth
and the voice that sings
knows of our birth
Knows many things-

you and I

black and white

sea and sky

wrong and right

Listen to the sound of Her voice:
face your heart, make the choice.

LL: Billie Holiday… Another eulogy: Wallace Berman, Los Angeles Artist.

(WORD RIB CAGE title not mentioned)

Wallace Berman died last week. Hit
by a drunk
going home

(whistle happy tune we are
sick today, got flying
on our arm sticks

She told him I Love You in a very
simple moment. He told her of
standing naked bleeding grey
neutral & indeterminate ash.
dust to the touch. Soon she was
purring on the inhale &
the exhale

As if.
Rightly so.

JRM: Ah . . .

LL(Aside to JRM): Let’s read all of our death poems.

JRM: The guy that organized this I believe told me before I came up here to make a fool of myself, ah, said he read this poem, which is a poem for John Garfield, who was an actor that was brought up before The House On Un-American Activities Committee and whose films are still banned from tv and died at the age of thirty-five during the hearings and was a great ( City & County Building’s bell rings: Gong Gong) influence upon me when I was a youth. So anyway (Gong Gong) it’s called

Seven Sounds for John Garfield.

Oh how long have I lived
the image of John Garfield…

- hey, right on time with the bells -

John Garfield with Jennifer Jones
machine guns blazing as Cubans
climbed all over the house he held up in…

“In 1933
Tony Fenner said to me – Gilbert Roland
predicting –
let’s strike a blow for Liberty!”

Long after the theatre lights went on
I sat in my seat feeling my image of self
change, walking New York streets with his walk
which changed always after watching him,

Cigarettes constantly lit, dangling from the corners
of my Garfield mouth.

And always, a fist-fight/street rumble with some-one
within a few hours after a Garfield movie…

John Garfield you were a strong influence upon me.

The day I heard you died while fucking
I got drunk and scored my 5th piece of ass
in my youthful hunger.

Now I am older and you are younger in yr Death
and I wonder just which one of us has made out the best-

&Cuba, you’d never recognize it, John, yet I’m sure
there are many who wish your cinematic machine gun
would return…
it would be great, John, to go there,
You and I and Fidel
smoking big cigars, drinking large glasses of rum
all of us practicing our aim
on a picture of John F. Kennedy.

John Garfield: know that my generation still
holds onto your image & that your
cigarette smolders in my mouth

day in / day out

DRUNK IN CROWD: Hey, John F Kennedy!

LL: Let’s here it for John Garfield, yeah.

logos is the gull
For Frank T. Rios

a white
flower, red
in the arms of one
who loves you/
how much blood
meets the eye

it is the near end
of the world roots thirst

under the microscopic lens
angelic death dances to
grandstand cheers empty
endlessly without sound

I think now of carriers
filled, some ash, others flesh
soft, bone

LL:(aside to himself) More foam than beer.

JRM: Yeah, well.
There was a guy, a friend of ours, who had a gallery in San Francisco
and it was called Gotham City and it used the Batman Symbol as its symbol,
and he called himself Billy Batman
and he was so obsessed with it that he had his ears pierced and had bats hung on them
and he also had bats tattooed on his arms and his tee shirts and everywhere.
I never even found out what his name was in death, so this is called

Elegy for Billy Batman

1. We only met once
in yr kitchen
yr wife nursing
the youngest
the living room chaotic
with other young mothers
a mad-house
I thot when I entered
but you made me feel comfortable
like a brother
right away
extending a joint
& after awhile
we talked business

Methadone,etc. as you were sick
& wanted to make it to Turkey
“closer to the main source.” You sd.

& being brothers I let you have what I had
for 200$ less than you’d expected…
and looking back, Billy, I wonder if I shd feel guilt

After dinner, we, Stuart Perkoff, Tony Scibella, you & I sat
on the back steps digging a circular box of beauty
and its contents which George Herms had layed on you.
I wonder where that box is now, Billy?

That you died so we wld continue isn’t the point,
we expect that from each other, being poets, and so its done.
But now with even beautiful Tracy Doyle gone-

for She too was there that day – the impact of our lives
is vivid.
& every time the dropper draws up the blood
I think of you, Billy, am I shooting you into
my arm, and if so, what messages are trying
to come thru
from wherever you are…

I don’t know abt this poem, Billy, perhaps it is
only guilt being inserted into my conscience, & being shaped
into a poem - & if so, let it be, for We both know better.

LL: Jack Armstrong Blues

he thot to look
at for one lady only
this city his

now look to see
steel bar
pain windows

Black, is the color
of his true
love’s lair

JRM: Ok, Man in Black

LL: Hello Sam

JRM: Hey Sam. How are you doin’?
I didn’t know you were in town.

SAM: Just touching base.

JRM: All right, like everybody else.

This is called November 10, 1958, November 10, 70.
It took twelve years to compose this piece.
Which is a long time.
I mean people get born in twelve years.

its black & the music is down

the street heavy
with fog, not a soul in sight
only Jimmy Giuffre
lighting up.
inside everyone
makes the motion
that’s no motion

my horn quiet
about love’s neck
& blues is the bag…

that was 12 years ago, a thought
layed down in the journal.

tonite’s the same. different state
different scene, different age, more
black, but the same.

do we ever make it? will we ever let go
and get away so as not to reflect, and
if we do, how about handling it?

For hung behind the life & the poem
is the figure
and behind the figure is

but quiet, I suppose

(T&T: Come on.)

LL: I got all day.

(JESS: Yeah, you got all day, Baby. Take your time.)

JRM: Cool I can run downtown for a beer.

LL: I know I got it. I know I got it.

JRM: Don’t be so picky.
They’re all dangerous.

LL: I can’t find the damn thing. I know I had it. I got it. Alright…

Poem And Again Poem

….twelve years…..

JRM: Yeah

LL: these are rich days. Many
of my wishes are granted. My body
is an instrument a
jeweller’s screwdriver
turn see the hands turn
Her turn. now give
us a turn

I will blow a note to you
a kite upon the wind

here is the string

O Lady

this much
of you

I need

that these works
will multiply
a manifold
life hold

JRM: Ah,
This is a poem titled “We Three Called Venice.”
Once upon a time in Venice California
ah, there used to be three of us who used to run together all the time: (microphone feedback and wind)
Stuart Perkoff, Tony Scibella, Frank Rios, and myself. That makes four.
But one was – what the hell is that –

(JESS: Well, the wind keeps blowing that son of a bitch – are you still picking it up. Try it now.)

JRM: Anyway

(JESS: Yeah, now you got it.)

(MAN IN CROWD: Sounds Good)

JRM: O.k., cool. Cool. Anyway, one of the four was never free. Like either I was on the road. Frankie was in jail. Stuart was in Jail. Tony was somewhere, in some other city.
So we got, you know, never crossed tracks ‘till here one time back in, what was that 73?

LL: 73.

JRM: OK, so this is called We Three Called Venice.
We thought we were the only three guys in Venice doing something.

1: It’s in three movements and different voice changes.

1. (all day the line

itself outstanding
from other lines

specific touch by
the third man

i.e of us whom
she fucked

one wild summer
in front
of those nine

we prefer to love
& consider ours

he the quietest
and most


got through to snatch the laurel,
to stand at the head of the street
& bare his chest
for the moon to stencil

“what eye you hiding in today?”
indeed. As if one could
attain that kind of position. . .
to sit behind someone’s
lens on the world, to
pick off the sights

the selves we don’t
know, to dare that
life –
no thanks!
Yet to deny
the line is to deny
the fact of that for which

we three always stood:

that different eyes make poems
of difference, for brothers know

love of the same

means love
of the same face.

2. that we are
different, obviously

(you, wood – me, stone)

gets something out
of the way, what of him
though? mud & bone
some beard

a lot

do we consider that
or go right past it and pray

it don’t move?

(on cold nites
you can hear him falling
thru the trees
on the way to Larry Lipton’s

- Larry Lipton died last year. I got drunk I hated him so much -.


3. She knew what it was about when she closed the door
(and so did he
New York City poet 1955
caught between the rush
for both coasts, catholic
nonsense loud

in his ears

no heirs to concern
himself with

no visibles to feed
come whenever

being, an act of insanity
so they said, give up that bitch
and come home –

put down the words
& the women, the juice

be a better man

He could do no more than die to show them

(but forged ahead into
that which is lonely,

the craft of opening
be it windows
or eyes.


he beat the cross
though, and to think
of it

that was all
he set out to do

& write a few poems

LL: Yeah, you know all the Bowery, all those broadsheets when we started publishing:
Jimmy, Frankie, Tony, Stuart, and after each one, people would come up and say,
‘Well, who’s the best poet of all four?’
No, Baby, that’s not where it’s at, they’re all different.

(Subway Poem title is not mentioned)

there is this time
a deeper going into/
the mind turns.
tunnels of cold winds
a footfall sun to star/
the mind stumbles
concrete knobs the
gun is jammed
in crowds one hand holds
another tighter/
thru the window:
rock. steel rails.
tom & beckys.
against closed doors there is
the haste to hurry home

JRM: Alright.

(DRUNKS BACKSTAGE: Can you believe this beer?
Such good luck, fuckin’ a.)

Can you hear it out there?
This is called The Handshake…

You and I are tight I said
friends to the end.

-Can you keep it down. I mean you can go somewhere else and juice, you know-

“You and I are tight I said
friends to the end.
I picked up a stone

(T&T: Hurry up old man.
Come on, Hurry up. Little T, waitin’ to read.)

And hit him in the head
And left him for dead
And walked off
Still holding his hand.

JRM: You can go somewhere else, like you know, to read.
Really man, you know. This poem is called


Better without
I thought once

Surrounded by assassins
Was the common reference.

(Drunk in Crowd: J. F. K. !)

& so leaving
all of it behind

I went away to here, this
isolation and study
the intention
but the nite falls
across the empty glass
& one wishes for speech

no matter how stupid or hackneyed

just that warmth
which human exchange provides

(from the mountains
looking down,
the lites prominent

its understood why

man built cities, came in from the cold
settled next to another tongue

JRM: Whose in the bullpen? Whose in the bullpen?

LL: (on the arfy-darfy)

It was the light
last thing of the night
done with it
I turned it off

Over my shoulder &
down to my knees
a learned discussion
if you please

Shut up! Roll
over, stop
dreaming! Doing
done we have

fun last thing
of the night
we do not fight

JRM: Hey John, Hey Jeff, You got anybody warming up in the bullpen?
You got anybody warming up in the bullpen?

(JESS: Yeah.)

DIANA (returns to stage and mills around)

LL: I got one more I want to do, and then I’m ready to quit. All right.

(T&T: Hurry up!)

JRM: Hey, oh great, Baby, I’ll be off in a minute. Woo, woo!

(T&T: Come on!)

JRM: Hey if you don’t like it, man, you can go dig Clint Eastwood, man.
He’s in town.
This is called Nothing Moves But Dies.
This is one of the old Bowery Broadsheets from twelve years ago.
Really. This fucking relic. It’s in tabloid form. It was great.
It sold for twenty-five cents in this city,
and nobody bought any copies.
Can you dig that? Larry Lake published it.
That’s how hip this state is to poetry.
Anyway, I’ll give you my best shot.


(T&T: Oh Great! Another one.
You ain’t done yet?)

the rules are
get born, learn
to see, walk thru it
and accept

the end.
this many years
I have lived it
yet can’t believe.

why should I, or anyone?

(T&T: Hey old man. Come on.
There’s other poets here.)

cut on stone, trees, the nite
anything will serve
for texts, this is the all

DIANA: You lis ten here. I’ll pull your hair out if you don’t shut your fucking mouth, bitch.

& the will to continue.
…but among it all…
among it there is her grace,

DIANA moving into crowd, her voice threatening: You ain’t got nothin’ to say! I’m comin’ over there and I’ll kick your ass sideways down Colfax.

that slight hand
thru the dark a gift

-Hey she’s throwing me off, over there-

a gift to these eyes, not enough tho.
in my acts the lines
are drawn, the face is evidence.
hands broken, decay on the teeth.

love is not preventive
against time. the high place
perhaps, no.
- that will not do, the poet Meltzer said –
both fail in front
of the real fact, the condition.

(Diana returns to stage.)

write some cold words & hold
off the real cold thing
that is death. a sort of lie
the poet Meltzer said to me. True though, but

death. even the word has weight,
outside of rules,
of texts, religions, colors, anything known.
and outside of that

there is nothing.

JRM: I’m through…..

(JRM & DIANA exit through crowd.)

LL: I got one last poem I’d like to read.
I want to dedicate it to my typesetter and
I can’t find it.

(JESS: Yeah, she went to Las Vegas with me.)

LL: She’s typed this poem about twelve times and it’s still not done.

Widow-Widow & The Angel From The Temple Of Man

given the ride home the key
in fits any door any body
wd be
sits in
stay awhile

it was love of the
queen of hearts &
we the twin fires
of the rage of scorpio

it was heavy desert dust
ten year rainbow riding
the colorado river straight thru
filling dixie cups of rainwater

it was to demonstrate the
the value of a moment the
register of a red flower
in the barrel of a gun

it was the tit, dry
how to wean one from another
the fantasy of self

it was stockings rolled to
the knee length of leg the
foot & ankle the mystery
of an economy of line

it was hair pinned to a bun
the shaking out toss of
the head draping shoulder
in a mantle of shimmer

it was the image the
sound & the noun the
ledge, the rock
the tao

here. within
this circle

the applause heightens
& a warm welcome home

Jack Armstrong left
this note:

“I have gone over
to the enemy

at the bottom a
I will be right

LL: Thank You.

(LL exits to backstage.)

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