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John & Philomene

Poetry and Prose from John Thomas and Philomene Long

The Beats: an Existential Comedy
by Philomene Long

Laureate at Ceremony

My Philomene

Illuminating the Wasteland

Majid Naficy

Van Gogh's Ear

Kate Braverman

Lynne Bronstein

Lynne Bronstein's Venice Poems

Ballad of Reading Jail

Wanda Coleman

John Kertisz

Stuart Z. Perkoff

John O'Kane

Clair Horner

Eavesdropping on the Boardwalk
by Anne Alexander

Venice Poems

Zendik poem:
Buck-or-Two Blues Rap

Gas House beat HQ


In Venice CA




John Thomas: the Last Days

John Thomas & Philomene Long

John appears shaken. He tells Philomene that for 2 hours in the morning he had shortness of breath and that "It was like "being on the top of Mt. Everest without an oxygen tank." He says this three times. Philomene asks for details. He repeats two more times: "It was like being on top of Mt. Everest without an oxygen mask."

An assistant comes with another wheel chair because there are no foot rests on the one John is sitting on. John grabs hold of the threshold to the door, his arms and hands tremble with the strength it takes to raise himself up as the assistant substitutes the chair. He stands for a few moments -holding with all his strength then collapses into the new one. He is so weak he asks for the attendant to "lob" his feet onto the foot rests.

John: My heart felt weaker this morning but I think it will get stronger.

Philomene tries to remain calm, but a thick tear runs down her left cheek.

John: No! Please don't! You know how it pains me to see you in pain.

John's eyes become an intense dark brown, focused with great power on Philomene's as if knowing these might be his last words to her.

John: "THEY"- S&G (Sodom & Gomorrah) did not touch it.
Our love, our connection-- nothing can touch it.

I have written my anniversary poem to you.
It comes from a dream I had of Heaven:

"There is a Heaven coexisting alongside us,
even interpenetrating,
and that you and I
can step into it
in many strange ways--
through pigeons, seeds,
the final hand clap,
through abandoned garbage,
by an out-of-business coffee shop
in Death Valley."

Our love, Philomene--
If I die, it can't touch it.
If you die, it can't touch it.
If we both die, it can't touch it.
NOTHING can touch it.

They sit in silence. Philomene whispers to herself: "He's dying. He's dying."

John: My Only One. My Only One.

Philomene: My Only One. My Only One.

Philomene leaves, walking down the hall alone saying aloud: "He's dying. He's dying. He's dying. He's dying. Love, Love, how will I bear it?"

April 5, 2002

"Now, like the gods, he is invulnerable.
Nothing on earth can hurt him."
-- Borges

John Thomas: stretched upon a gurney
A thin plate of steel; thin steel legs supporting him
At times his enormous body appears suspended in air
It seems to me as if he lies upon a make-shift altar

He had said to me: "This is happening because of our love"
And again, in my mind's ear, I hear the mocking; the laughter
"Look! He does not even know how to work his wheel chair!"
"Look at his belly! Is HE pregnant?!"
Again I hear him say: "Forgive them. Forgive them all."

Before his pale corpse I cry aloud:
Then place my hand upon his chest, whisper:
"I'm here, Love. I'm here.
You died. You died on Good Friday
At 3:00 in the afternoon; the very hour 19 years ago
When we made love for the first time
I have written our anniversary poem
And in it I say the: 'Risen John Thomas!'
The last words of the poem are: 'Immense' and 'Golden.' "

"And, Love, because that Easter 19 years ago
When I asked how you were, and you said 'Resurrected!'
I have found you a tomb (It is OUR tomb)
In the Mausoleum of the Resurrection
At Holy Cross Cemetery
For there are many resurrections
And this is OUR resurrection"

As I say these words from his body
A soft golden light rising
Finally, encompassing me
It is both passion and oblivion
As the world falls away
The room becomes
A mirror of suns
And we--
As if exploding
Into the
Eye of God

YouTube film of the last reading given by John and Philomene

John Thomas - 5 Years Gone

Beat-era Venice poet John Thomas died 5 years ago on April 5, 2002, at 3 p.m. (It was Good Friday, which falls on the 6th this year.) On February 17, Sponto Gallery hosted a tribute to John. Philomene had this to say:
"My thought for this evening is -- conjoined with the "spontanicity" (Keroauc's term) of the evening -- that there are not so much readers and an audience -- but all giving tribute to John -- the "Dead Poets' Society" with "LivingPoets' Society" in the present -- each giving a word, a phrase, a sentence which completes "John Thomas is...." from which we will create the Zen accident -- poetry of spontanicity to honor him -- so there will be musicians creating music -- painters creating paintings - and there will be the act of creating a living poem to honor John Thomas."

Webslave's Note: This came in the mail, a suggestion that another perspective on John Thomas be offered here. This L.A. Weekly article and the follow-up article are well worth reading.






















photo: Pegarty Long

© 2004 - 2012 Pat Hartman
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