Stick with me, friend.
I’d like to make a distinction:
I revere writers but do not deify them.
My heroes and role models must be grounded,
Must have so-called feet of clay.
And there’s always something more in my craw,
Whenever I see scribblers carved in marble,
Glorified to the point of divinity and magic.
Because in my heart of hearts,
Reverence for writers,
Is an odyssey of disillusionment and
I fancy myself a man of letters,
Although “Humanoid of Keystrokes,”
Might be more apt; an appellation,
Digitally au courant.
I am a man on verbal fire,
Perhaps, I am of a Lost Generation myself.
And don’t you dare tell me to sit down, to calm down.
You stand up when you tell a story.
Even Hemingway--even when he was sitting down--knew that.
Let us go then you and I.
Moving our moveable feast to Paris,
To France, European Union, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy.
(Stick with me, Babaloo!)
Why not join Papa at a tiny table at Les Deux Magots,
Savoring the portugaises,
Working off the buzz of a good Pouilly-Fuisse
At 10:30 in the morning.
The writing: going fast and well.
Why not join that pompous windbag ******* artist?
As he tries to convince Ava Gardner,
That writers tienen cajones grandes, tambien—
Have big ***** too—just like Bullfighters,
Living their lives all the way up.
That writing requires a torero’s finesse and fearlessness.
That to be a writer is to be a real man.
A GOD MAN!
Papa is self-important at being Ernest,
(**** me: some lines cannot be resisted.)
Ava’s **** is on fire.
She can just make him out,
Can just picture him through her libidinous haze,
Leaping the corrida wall,
Setting her up for photos ops with Luis Miguel Dominguín,
And Antonio Ordóñez, his brother-in-law rival,
During that most dangerous summer of 1959.
Or, her chance to set up a *******,
With Manolete and El Cordobés,
While a really *******,
Completely defeated & destroyed 2,000-pound bull,
Bleeds out on the arena sand.
Although I revere writers,
I refuse to deify them.
A famous writer must be brought down to earth--
Forcibly if necessary--
Chained to a rock in the Caucasus,
Their liver noshed on by an eagle.
In short: the abject humiliation of mortality.
Punished, ridiculed and laughed at.
Laughing himself silly,
******* on one’s self-indulgent, egocentric universe.
If not, what hope do any of us have?
Writing for Ernie may have been a divine gift,
His daily spiritual communion and routine,
A mere sacramental taking of dictation from God,
But for most of us writing is just ******* self-torture.
The Hemingway Hero:
Whatever happened to him on the Italian-Austrian front in 1918
May have been painful but was hardly heroic.
The ******* was an ambulance driver for Christ’s sake.
Distributing chocolate and cigarettes to Italian soldiers,
In the trenches behind the front lines,
A far cry from actual combat.
Besides, he was only on the job for two weeks,
Before he ****** up somehow,
Driving his meat-wagon over a live artillery shell.
That BB-sized shrapnel in his legs,
Turned out to be his million-dollar wound,
A gift that kept on giving,
Putting him in line for a fortunate series of biographic details, to wit:
Time at an Italian convalescent hospital in Milano,
Staffed by ***** English nurses,
Who liked to give the teenage soldiers slurpy BJs,
Delirious ******* in the middle of the night,
Sent to Paris as a Toronto Star reporter,
******* up to that big **** Gertrude Stein,
Sweet-talking Sylvia Beach,
At Shakespeare & Company bookstore,
Hitting her up for small loans,
Manipulating and conning Scott Fitzgerald—
The Hark the Herald Jazz Age Angel—
Exploiting F. Scott’s contacts at Scribners,
To get The Sun Also Rises published.
Fitzgerald acted as his literary agent and advocate,
Even performing some crucial editing on the manuscript.
Hemingway got payback for this friendship years later,
By telling the world in A Moveable Feast,
That Zelda convinced Scott he had a small ****--
Yeah, all of it stems from those bumps & bruises,
Scrapes & scratches he got near Schio,
Along the Piave River on July 8, 1918.
Slap on an Italian Silver Medal of Valor—
An ostentatious decoration of dubious Napoleonic lineage—
40,000 of which were liberally dispensed during WWI—
And Ernie was on his way.
Was there ever a more arrogant, world-class scumbag;
A more graceless-under-pressure,
Sorry excuse of a machismo show-horse?
Look: I think Hemingway was a great writer,
But he was a gigantic gasbag,
A self-indulgent *****,
And a mean-spirited bully—
That bogus facade he put on as this writer/slash/bullfighter,
Kilimanjaro, great white hunter,
Big game Bwana,
Sport fishing, hard drinking,
*** I-******-Ava-Gardner bragging rights—all of it—
Just made him a bigger, poorer excuse for a human being,
When the chips were finally down,
When the truth finally caught up with him,
In the early morning hours,
Of July 2, 1961, in Ketchum, Idaho.
I can’t think of a more pathetic writer’s life than
Hemingway’s last few years.
Sixty electric shock treatments,
And the ******* still killed himself.
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So why am I still mesmerized by,
The whole Hemingway hero thing?
That stoicism, the grace under pressure,
That real men don’t eat quiche,
A la Norman Mailer crap?
I guess I can relate to both Hemingway the Matador,
And Hemingway the Pompous *******,
Not to mention Mailer who stabbed his second of six wives,
And threw his fourth out of a third-floor window.
One thing’s for sure: I’m living life all the way up,
Thanks to a steady supply of medical cannabis,
And some freaky chocolate chip cookies
From the Area 51--Our Products are Out of this World—Bakery
(“In compliance with CA prop 215 SE 420, Section 11362.5,
And 11362.7 of CA H.S.C. Do not drive,
Or operate heavy equipment,
While under the influence.
Keep out of reach of children,
And comedian Aziz Ansari.”)
So getting back to Hemingway,
I return to Cuba to work on my book.
During the day--usually in the early morning hours--
When “the characters drive me up there,”
I climb to my tower room,
Stand up at my typewriter in the upstairs alcove.
I stand up to tell my story because last night,
Everyone got drunk and threw all the ******* furniture in the pool.
By the way, I’m putting together my Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
I can’t decide between:
“I may be defeated but I’ll never be destroyed,” or
“You can destroy me but you’ll never defeat me.”
The kind of artistic doublespeak they love in Sweden.
Maybe: “Night falls and day breaks, but no one gets hurt.”
God help me.
I need to come up with a bunch of real pithy crap soon.
Maybe I’ll just smoke a joint before the speech and,
Start riffing off the cuff about literary good taste:
“In my novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, for example, I had Maria tell Pilar that the earth moved, but left out the parts about Robert Jordan’s ******* and the tube of Astroglide.”
Stockholm’s only a month away,
So I’m under a lot of pressure.
Where’s Princess Grace under Pressure when I need her?
I used to work for the Kansas City Star,
Working with newspaper people who advocated:
Those were the only rules I ever learned,
For the business of writing,
But my prose tended to be a bit clipped, to wit:
A simple series,
Of simple declarative sentences,
I’m told my stuff is real popular with Special-Ed kids,
And those ******* that run
The International Imitation Hemingway Competition,
AKA: The Bad Hemingway Contest.
The truth is: I always wanted to get a bit more flowery,
Especially after I found out I got paid by the word.
That’s when the *** and **** proved mighty useful.
I live at La Finca Vigia:
My house in San Francisco de Paula,
A Havana suburb.
My other place is in town,
Room #511 at the Hotel Ambos Mundos,
Where on a regular basis I _
(Insert simple declarative Anglo-Saxon expletive)
My guantanmera on a regular basis.
But La Finca’s the real party pad.
Fidel and Che and the rest of the Granma (aka “The Minnow”) crew
Come down from the mountains,
To use my shower and refresh themselves,
On an irregular basis.
At night we drink mojitos, daiquiris or,
The *** & coke some people call Cuba Libre.
We drink the *** and plan strategy,
Make plans for taking out Fulgencio Batista,
And his Mafia cronies,
Using the small arms and hand grenades,
We got from Allen Dulles.
Of course, after the Bay of Pigs debacle,
You had to go, Ernesto.
Kennedy had the CIA stage your suicide,
And that was all she wrote.
And all you wrote.
Never having had a chance,
To tell the 1960s Baby Boomers about class warfare in America.
Poor pathetic Papa Hemingway.
Lenin and Stalin may have ruined Marxism,
But Marx was no dummy.
Not in your book.