Monday, 30 June 2008

20. Typical Girls

We burn brightly nightly
for after hours is where
the action is, when all the
vampires come out their
studio apartment coffins
to feed and the lycanthropes
roam and the revenants breath
the metallic tang of fresh
meat on the scene and we prowl
in our leathers and trinkets the scent
of the kill strong in our trained nostrils
always looking for the next thrill
the next kill the next lean young
antelope with flexing neck
and wide wet eyes yet to be corrupted.

I spy two at the bar, break from
the pack and casually walk over.

“Hi. I’m Axl. I sing in the world’s
best new rock ‘n’ roll band. I’d really
love to fuck you both, what do you say?”
They look at each other, roll their eyes
then as if on cue throw their drinks into
my face and clip-clop away, laughing
as Cola drips down my chin, stains my
In less than twelve months I’ll have
to pay a Jewish attorney good money
to slap restraining orders on this pairs’
milk-white asses, but not before I’ve
passed them round the crew for gobbles
and noshes and other life-lessons
in what happens when you disrespect strangers.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

19. Flyer


"A Rock N Roll Bash Where Everyone’s Smashed"

Guns N’ Roses

The Troubadour, Hollywood, CA.

June 6 1985

Guns N’ Roses is:

W. Axl Rose (vocals)
Slash (lead guitars)
Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitar)
Duff McKagan (bass)
Steven Adler (drums)

Monday, 23 June 2008

18. The Human Guinea Pig

I forget where I see the ad
but I remember what it says:
YOUNG MEN (AGED 18 – 40)
$8 AN HOUR. CALL -----------

So I call the number and
speak to some women who
takes my details and books
me in to show up the next day
at the labs of some research
place near the UCLA campus.

It’s miles away but I got all
day so I walk the first
couple of hours then take
a bus the final stretch, thinking
about how the money will
pay for a rehearsal space.

They have me fill out a bunch
of forms, most of it medical
stuff, lifestyle stuff, the usual
bit, then they have me do a
physical – running a treadmill,
squats, push-up’s, the usual bit.

They have to lend me some
sweats because I showed
up in my usual jean jacket,
vest, biker boots, torn jeans
and shades with three dozen
chains around my neck.

Then when they seem
happy enough with the results
this doctor guy sit me down
and explained what I have to
do. I laugh when he tells me.
I thinks it’s some set-up, a joke.

But it turns out he is serious.
“All we’d like you to do
for us today Mr. Rose,”
he says, “is smoke a variety
of branded cigarettes, while
we run some tests on you.”

And I’m like, huh? You
want me to sit here smoking
and that’s it? Damn. I almost
feel pissed that they’ve hauled
me all the way out here to do
what I’d be doing anyways.

But then I lighten up and
think, fuck it, getting paid
to smoke cigarettes? Well
it’s not exactly work that’s
going to kill me now is it?
I say this to the doc. I say

Shit, where do I sign? And
he smiles and points to the
bottom of the form. He asks
me how long I been smoking.
I say, all my life, bro. I aint
no quitter. We’re a dying breed!

He laughs at this, then he
open his drawer and pulls
out a zip-lock that contains
a few packs of cigarettes
and a lighter. “Nice touch,”
I say, “but I always use my own.”

I take out my zippo and make
a show of flipping it open and
lighting it on my thigh like I
always knew this little display
but would come in handy
sometime, someplace.

The doc takes me to a room
with this extractor fans and
a bunch of machines with wires,
monitors and stuff, which they
hook me up to and I feel a bit like
the kid in A Clockwork Orange.

And that’s pretty much it:
I light up and smoke away.
Though they give me water
when I ask for a coffee I’m
refused. Something about it
“interfering with the process.”

After about an hour and maybe
three or four cigarettes I’m like
OK, what now? Do you need me
to do some more squats or something
and they’re like, no, it’s fine, just
carry on as you are. Please continue.

And I’m like, awesome, this is like
the best job in the world, then to pass
the time I try to think of better jobs
And I come up with: whisky tester,
pussy taster, rock star and maybe
lion tamer, cos I always like lions.

Anyways, after a few hours I’m told
we’re done for the day and all I
have to do is sign another form then
I’m handed $40 and a couple of free
packs of smokes, which I unwrap
and get stuck into as I walk across campus.

Neat, I think. I really have got the best
fucking job in the world, and I make a
pledge to myself not to fuck this one up
like I usually do, not to get pissy and just
keep smoking those cigarettes, signing
those forms and collecting the greenbacks.

And I do. I ‘apply myself’ well.
I hold the job down for a few weeks,
Sitting there day in, day out, hooked up
to the machines, watching the doctors
as they me and wondering what in the hell
all of it means, but not really caring either.

After five, maybe six weeks, the doc says
“Thank for your time Mr Rose, we won’t
be requiring your services any more, but
your input to our research has been invaluable,”
and I’m half-expecting someone to present
me with a carriage clock gift or something.

But they don’t, they just have me sign
some disclaimer, give me some more free
smokes and I’m out of there, laughing my
ass off. The best thing is all these cigarettes
have helped my singing. I finally find ‘my voice’
and as a band Guns are – literally – smoking.

Friday, 20 June 2008

17. The First Rehearsal

It was like we’d been playing together for years
This was the only thing we ever agreed upon.

It was like we had been struck by lightning,
but in a good way. Lightning that gives life

rather than death. Yeah, that’s it. We’d been
struck by electricity and there was no turning back.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

15. Slash

I’ve smoked
Marlboro Reds since
I was, like, four
or something.

I like them.
I guess I
just like the way
they taste.

Sometimes I would
break them up and
sprinkle them
on my cereal.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

14. Duff

I never liked the LA thing
the glam peacock thing.

I was always more of a Seattle guy
give me rain, coffee and reality any day.
I was in this band called
Ten Minute Warning
who then became The Fartz.
We made some good music for groovin’.
That’s how I described us on the flyer
“we make good music for groovin’”
but no-one was interested.
Then this English band Angelic Upstarts
asked me to join them
but England is worse than LA
the chicks are uglier for starters.
So I went on tour
roadie-ing for the Fastbacks
and in January ’85
I’m like, fuck it, LA is a living hell
but it’s still where it’s at.
I guess I wanted more from life.
Wanted a spotlight to call my own.
I lived in this crummy apartment
scoured the Classifieds
went to a few auditions
switched to bass
joined a band called Road Crew
with Slash and Adler
which last precisely five months
before we met Axl and the Guns guys
and a week later we debuted
at The Troubadour.

This was June 1985.
But don’t quote me on that.

Friday, 13 June 2008

13. Tracii's Version

I was the first in LA to spell my name in a wacky way.

Ask anyone.

The way it was, Guns N Roses was never going anywhere.

I shaped them.

Back then LA Guns were true kings of the Sunset scene.

Ask anyone.

But Axl had an ego and a granite chip on his shoulder.

It’s no secret.

So I bailed. But not before I’d hooked him up with the hottest

gunslingers in town.

I created Guns N' Roses but has that fucker ever thanked me?

Has he fuck.

Axl doesn’t thank anyone. Axl lives in turmoil. Axl is fucking nuts.

Ask anyone.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

12. Forming

So I meet this guy called Tracii who has raven hair

and looks as mean as I do.

I kinda respect the fact he has this girly name, like

Alice Cooper or something.

He’s in this band, LA Guns. We become tight.

Tight enough to talk.

This guy, he has ambitions. I do too so we come

up with a plan:

Let’s ditch the deadwood and merge the two.

Strength in numbers.

So LA Guns and Hollywood Rose become Guns N’ Roses.

Like a joke, right?

A joke between friends that got drunk, got out of hand,

and forgot its own punch-line.

I mean, we seriously consider calling ourselves ‘AIDS’

for five minutes.

This in 1984, and we get semi-good playing out with bands

like Stryper and London.

But things, they just aren’t working out. Tracii gets pissy,

something about money or girls.

So I fire his ass and replace his ass with that of this

guy called Slash

and Slash had some wino buddies so they join too

Now it’s 1985 and

I’m just glad to be alive and in June we make

our home-town debut.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

13. The Dumpster Breakfast

If it is good enough for
Charlie Manson
it is good enough for me.

Monday, 9 June 2008

12. Wandering Days Of Long Dreaming

We’re just hicks, just kids
looking for kicks and pills
and chicks and highs we
know we’re nothing new
know we’re nothing cool
but still we chase the dream
chase the dragon scour the
classifieds, hang round the
Guitar Centre grading
assholes from afar: “Too fat”
“Too faggy”, “Too bald”
“Too good”, dreaming
and smoking and scamming
drinks and walking – yes,
walking – The Strip too
broke for cabs too high to
jones too paranoid to cop
so it’s back to the East Side
alleys and doorway dealers
and broken 14oz shards
shining in the afternoon sun.
Down here no-one robs the
have-nots, down here we burn.

Friday, 6 June 2008

11. Re-United

Izzy’s in a typical trick’s motel when I finally track him down
living off Dunkin Donuts and really bad speed
and playing his guitar for twenty hour stretches.

He’s gotten good. Really good. If he can move
beyond the Keef affectations, this might just work.
That’s what I tell him, straight out. I say

“Dude, drop the fucking voodoo feather shit that’s
hanging from your ear, stop talking like Dick van
fucking Dyke and maybe we can do business.”

“Oh yes?” says Iz in this really fruity voice, raising an
eyebrow like he’s James Bond or something.
“Well, that would be just tremendous and delightful”

and we fall about laughing on the bed-spread illuminated
pink by the textbook neon outside that flashes intermittently
and I say “I guess we’re not in Kansas any more.”

Thursday, 5 June 2008

10. Sunset, '83.

The light is different here.
The way it permeates and
penetrates like crooked lasers
bending around buildings that
perch over the city like mirrored
watchtowers keeping all that
ugliness at bay (a barrier between
the wealthy and the needy)
it reminds me of the ants I used to
burn beneath a magnifying glass
in that godforsaken hole of
a backyard they called Indiana, 74.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

9. Unsurprisingly….

I was expected to dish out BJs and hand-jobs
to these lonely trucker assholes freighting
containers of cigarettes and petrol out to

Fresno or Barstow or wherever the fuck,
but I’d already thought about that, so when

they looked over at me sideways with a glint
and a smile I was ready: “Don’t even think about
it buddy, I’ve got The AIDS, I’m heading out
to Cali to see a specialist,” but because they
were stupid or horny or both they’d say things

like “What the fuck do I give about some faggot
disease?” or “No gift, no lift” or, the worst,
“Hey man, it gets lonely out here on the road
away from my lady, I mean can’t you at least
jerk it a few times?”. But if none of that worked

I’d fake like I wanted them to suck me and say
“Sure man, but, hey, pull over for a minute,
I can’t blow a load when I gotta pee” so they’d pull
over and once I was sure they were relaxed I’d
sock them in the chops Tyson-style and

jump down from their rig and over a fence or into
some woods or up a jump-ramp to a truck-stop
hoping and praying that the place wasn’t full
of all those assholes I socked right across the USA
all the way from inner Indiana to the outskirts of LA.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

8. The West Is The Best

Thumb cocked
bag on my back
here I stand at the road-side
like Tom Joad
like the Beverley Hillbillies
like Jack Kerouac
like every dustbowl pioneer who ever headed West
crossing the frontier
to the silver sea
and the golden shore.

I am a white man with a black soul
red hair, yellow teeth
greenbacks in my blue jean pockets
and emerald eyes on the shimmering prize.
Even now I know that this is significant
the first true phase of the dream,
but how can you truly dream
when your stomach is growling
you’re nicotine sick and
your bed is in a different direction?

To the sea, to the sea!
I want to see the sea
but I’ll settle for the city
with the swaying palms and
the nine white letters on the hill
and the rainbow futures
and the girls - the girls!
Oh, the girls, they won’t know
what’s hit them, they don’t know
poetry, freedom, success, immortality.

I am no longer William Bailey
I am Orson Welles
I am Arturo Bandini!
I am the sky upon which the stars will congregate
I am the bomb in the bag in the booth
at the bus station
I am the hundred dollar tip
the ice melting in your drink
the casting couch you fuck upon
the red carpet you delicately tread.

A car pulls up.
I get in.

Monday, 2 June 2008

7. Birthing Izzy

It’s true
he had no-one.

I remember
the day we met

in a Driver’s
Ed, class for drunks.

He was

“I’m Axl,
who are you?

“Jeffrey,” I said.
“Jeffrey Dean Isbell.”

“That’s a pussy
name,” he said.

“You need
A new one.

Something rad
something rock ‘n’ roll

something that’s
yours. I mean

what do
you like to do?”

“I guess I
like to fuck.”

“Alright. Then
you’re ‘Izzy Stradlin’.”

And Gunners
was born right there, man.

6. Old Friends

As a kid I had exactly five friends:
the music of

Zep, Aerosmith,
Alice and Queen,

and a lizard
called Little Hitler.

5. The Pentecostal Church Of Indiana

I saw things
no kid should see
was taught things
no kids needs to know

like how to rid yourself
of lies and devils
that aren’t there,
like how to hate

your own imagination
how to hate
your evil penis
and all its vile potential.

I saw exorcisms
and brimstone rituals
shaking and screaming
and finger pointing

I saw book burning and
group coercion and

the church taught me
many things I’ve spent
decades trying to
reverse, the church

pushed me down a
path of discovery
of evil-doings and
much much worse -

it didn’t kill me; it made
me stronger it taught
me about hypocrisy,
manipulation – and the blues

because deep down
everyone knows
the devil always
has the best tunes.

4. Issues

In school
everyone pushed me around
the teachers
the jocks
the counsellors
the cops
my asshole stepfather

finally you just go
fuck it
you know?
fuck it fuck you
and fuck

Indiana too.

I’m going
West to

Los Angeles to become
a rock star

I hope you die
a slow death while
my song
plays in the background

you fucks
my therapist
said I had
“overwhelming anger issues”
dating back
to early adolescene
so I said
fuck you too, Jack
and hired someone
who agrees
with everything
I say

and things
feel much
better now -

I barely think
about the past
at all.

3. The Bailey Trio

We had a little vocal group going
my kid sis Amy
my kid brother Stuart
and me.

We were The Bailey Trio
three-cute-as-hell kids;
innocent, driven by nothing
but a love of music.

It was gospel mainly,
sung proud and loud at recitals
through gaps in our gums
Damn man. It fills me up

just thinking about it.
I kinda wish it could be
that way now:
no lawyers

no contracts
no bullshit
no rules.
Just purity – and love.

2. On Super 8

An angel boy
on the cusp of devilry
blowing dandelion
heads to the breeze.

He bows gracefully
leprechaun eyes
guarded to the world;
smile secreted.

The camera whirs
and clicks, soft focus
strong colours
full disclosure.

Unwritten futures
frozen forever
on fading film;

a director
lowers the lens
shouts “Cut!
That’s a wrap,”

packs up
wanders off,
mutters, “Now go
clean my car.”

1. The Voice

"Each man is the architect of his own fate."

Emperor Claudius (10 BC–AD45)

To sing is to be free;
the archetypal caged bird
forever silenced behind bars.

To sing is to speak
of nightmares, of a man who
beats a wide-eyed child

with a belt-buckle
for singing along to
Barry Manilow’s ‘Mandy’.

To sing is to scream;
of hands being pressed
to young mouths at dawn

of bible class guilt
and fire and brimstone
peripatetic preachers

of self-righteous hypocrites
spirit killers, pederasts
and fiends

To sing is to escape
this cell of a city
the door momentarily

left open wide
to the ex-Land of
the Indians.

Who would have thought
that the house of God
would provide solace

for this troubled kid
with a voice like
a fallen angel

and the appetite for mischief
and mayhem of
the devil himself?

Introduction (please read)


These poems are inspired by the career and music
of the rock band Guns N’ Roses and the life of
their frontman W. Axl Rose, yet are largely a
work of fiction and should be read as such.

This is not the truth, but rather a dream about it.

For chronological clarity, please read from the
bottom up: eg. Part 1, Part 2 and so forth.