Max Blagg’s
‘70’s [Slight return]

My daughter offered me a hundred dollars

to eat a dead moth a habit picked up

from her mom who was always insisting

I eat live things on a dare

caterpillars and flies served up on leaves

wasps and worms shaken and stirred

but I just couldn’t crunch that spider meat

like I would have in the bent frame

of youth when I understood nothing

and drank everything,

waiting in the wings for something

to begin to kick in to be real

real gone again waiting

on the starving actors who

cluttered the booths at Phebe’s

on the Bowery all of them

destined for misfortune

unless they got a real job.

They dream on subways now

that last curtain call the applause

as rich as velvet fading into

the latticework of morning

as the train pulls into the underworld

of Grand Central Station.

There was no art in life just raw bodies

colliding in the chemical night

soft explosions of lust and battery

eclipsing the civilized as

the years poured down the drain.

Echoes of that loveless tune still resound

through the hallways of the Hotel Chelsea

epidural center of a numb youth

the hum of true Bohemia

coursing through the building

pulled me right off the bank and

ducked me in the river,

Underground USA, washed me

down in the blood of a wig

I knew what I would find there

as I swam through oily corridors

beguiled by pale submariners

abandoned in this morbid institution

who plied their cunty trade

with a feral resolution.

Their trapdoors opened like

the Jaws of Life I tumbled

down their mohair stairs to land

on piles of drugs and threadbare floors

of factories retooled for heels

of whores with hearts of gold and

daughters who would later work at Scores.

They were bigger than Life magazine

veterans of a thousand mimeo parties

fingers black with printer’s ink they drank

and stripped in rooms with a view

basements in the crawling dark

re-enacting for the squares

nocturnal clashes in the Park with

Minotaurs in studded gloves

who prowled the spikestrewn lawns

and lay in wait beyond the railings

to relieve the harried citizens

of whatever cash they carried

translating it to third rate dope.

A dollar for your life in hallways

enameled with the texture of nightmare

and when this innocent new arrival asks

what was New York really like back then?

I can reply without exaggeration

“Utter heaven.”


Max Blagg was born in England and has lived in New York City since 1971. He is the author of four collections of poetry, and several other books. His most recent publication The Little Dress Book [Shallow Books, NYC 2010] was listed in About Poetry’s Top 20 small press publications of 2010. He has collaborated with various artists, including Alex Katz, Jack Pierson, Richard Prince and Keith Sonnier. With Glenn O’Brien Blagg co-edited the legendary art/lit/tit magazine, Bald Ego. He is a contributing editor to Oyster, BG and  10 Magazine, a Visiting Professor at the New School and a member of the faculty at the School of Visual Arts. A book of stories, Ticket Out, and new collection of poems, Slow Dazzle, are forthcoming.

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