Vivo Fino Alla Fine – Tony Nesca



When the rain is heavy and wild
you walk the streets shining and grey
the music soaked through gleams deadly
moments torn from your sunshine-memory
and the sweetest smile –

you think heavy glory under the brick-house awnings
water pelting away up-top,
that high saxophone hangs in the air
then the piano eases its way in,
and the barroom tremors cling like shadows
their gloom making it just right –

another one for me, jack, you
say in the wild of the moment
another sing-a-long beat happy rumble,
crazy young girl in the deep throes of your night
she’s doing it on the bathroom floor baby
blissful and tragic and forever laughing –

the unreal happiness sets in with long easy bursts
you crouch low brain washed down in somber yellow
teeth bashing an uneasy truce
and what a sad-beautiful sound it all makes
don’t it?

when the rain is heavy and wild
you walk the ragged streets
soaked all the way through with that
forlorn music
torn from your best sunshine-memory…




deadly silence got me low-down-hungry
thinking about that hot-dog stand on the dismal corner
beside the old beggar hand extended
16 year old virgin in hot-pants looking mad-bad-dangerous
crimson fireball streaking across the sky
middle-aged hooker front tooth missing
she beckoning my weary ass one I love absent in world-gone-hungry
Dixieland trio singing happy songs amidst angry
downtown laughter low-down drug-mood feeding me
blue music pornography rattling my brains
wrap your lips around my broken heart happy
whiskey bottle-shards hitting the off-keys feel that
fucked-up saxophone tickling your ribs
atom-bomb-luvly feed me sin-soaked dead flowers on my grave
warm kisses moonlight smiles
her distant touch,
her long-dead-musings,
her love-gone-missing,
her hips arching in the afternoon lust-dance,
and your blue velvet beauty grinding away from me
in the gutter-love sunlight…




rain just finished
slick sidewalk tasty-sweet
neon sign singing end of days
guitar chainsaw deadly as bass goes dum dum
night alive on fire in love man,
The Rezillos cranking the stage-dive-electric
shoes tapping a beat sidewalk-hooker-happy,
round face beauty we smiling kiss kiss
you so sweet girl nicotine-teeth lovely
vodka 7 in the red-light-madness,
early morning gray waiting in the
distant bottle rocket street corner,
what do you say punk-rock-crazies?
what do you say in the dark night wanting,
what do you say on the slick corner tasty sweet,
what do you say on the blue moon missing,
what do you say baby,
what do you say ’bout my melancholy




  – In the 20’s we had Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Sidney Bechet, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Speakeasys – what we got today? – 

   -Video games, he said, as they sadly tuned their guitars –



 – I’ve never met anyone that drinks like you, she said –

 – How do you mean? – I said,

 – You never turn into an asshole, she said –




 – When my dad died, he said –

  – Yes? She said,

  – Never mind, he said, got anything to eat?

  – Ain’t got shit, she said, as the moon disappears behind dark clouds –




  – I like when the saxophone solos at the end, he said –

  – I only like punk rock, he replied –

  – What about film noir? He said –

  – Talk fucking English, I’m Canadian, he said –




 A cigarette was lit and the room went black –

– That way they do it, he said –

 – Do what? She said –

 – The way they make you work for them – the way they trick you with money – he said –

 – Well what else do you want? She said –

 – The night isn’t long enough, darlin’, he said, and they rolled over and fucked again –



    – Didn’t your Poppa ever teach you how to treat a girl? She said –

   – No, but he kicked my ass day and night, he said –

   – Did you deserve it? She said –

   – Sure did, he said, and the silence screamed and the devils roared – 

  And I’m walking through the devil infested streets, and all I see are lights greasy and wanting, and all I see is violence and blood-red intentions, and all I see are the generals feasting on flesh, and there was an old friend of mine standing at a street corner with back against telephone pole just watching the cars go by and the lights from the liquor store red and blue and purple and orange and yellow and it’s metal-to-metal striking that note just right and the midnight crazies looking to fuck someone up, but we stop and talk and we’re not afraid and we’re not unhappy and we’re even bored kinda feeling the end of something, 

   “I’m just bored with all of this” I say, 

  He nods and smiles sadly and I wave goodbye and I see all the street-junkies hobbling along with their toothless grins and their one-note thinking, and I see the young girls with sad smiles holding on to nothing at all the predators never far, and I think of losing her suddenly and that tragic afternoon under the sun, sometimes a nice car pulls up to the liquor store and the well-groomed move forward their intentions and true meaning as rotten as everybody else’s and the bank accounts ring like a bell as their fucked-up night-world is about to begin, I think of the 1920’s and Dixieland jazz and Billy Holiday and sipping on cold gin at a Parisian café while Picasso strolls by screaming something wild and crazy, and the young victims died in back alleys then as they do now and as long as people are involved, the shit flows, and I need all your love, baby, all of it day and night…

  But I see something else now, I see a movie theater with light bulbs shining on the edge of the billboard full of smiling ideas, and I see a late-night pizza joint with small line-up of guys and gals laughing into the darkness, and I see a middle-aged couple kissing in front of a closed record store and I think of good friends and screaming good times and I’m talking about the light-filled moments everywhere all around –

 – and it’s day-time now and I am by a river beams of golden light coming through trees and green all around wooded path leading me into that cool-sunshine shiver and I don’t hesitate, I don’t hesitate to smile and to laugh and to feel alright, and the river ripples in the wind bright-diamond-flickers on its surface, opposite bank showing a few apartment buildings sprouting out from the ever-present green of the ever-present trees, a young woman jogs by thighs jiggling in the hot morning shadow, old man walks slowly leaning on cane smiling lovely and new his youth bubbling just under the surface, and we all wanna get along don’t we, between closed teeth she swears again, between lips parted he smokes and says goodbye, and the college students continue with their misguided learnings, and the proletarians can all kiss my ass, and the rejected rejects triumph once again, and above the skyscrapers the superheroes continue their homo-erotic wrestling, I shake god’s hand and give him a wink, he winks back and smiles and scratches his ass, all my love to you I say, and mine to you he says, then he cranks the electric guitar and starts playing some rock and roll, and all across the universe and beyond and through the back-alley love affairs and the switchblade mornings, the inside of my mind screams happy thoughts –




 No rain –

He sat up there sweating into the hot summer night not a breeze, not a wisp of air, barely a sound…eighteen stories down among the trashcans and the disfigured sidewalks and the bloody alleyways and the well-trimmed lawns and the money-bag corvettes and the long-lost bus-stops garbage strewn all over the streets side to side with the lost and the fulfilled and the almost-crazy, people running and cruising and missing the target always – maybe this was right, maybe it was time…on the ledge he felt alone and happy and the brick and mortar against his back was cool almost sultry and nothing in this poorly-lit world could take that away from him, nothing, below all quiet and small full of terror and fire and ice, his regrets swam around him and the cloudless sky was black like velvet, crescent moon down low arching over the skyline horizon all orange and distant and beautiful in its decay his hangover working perfectly with all this and his alone-ness like a blanket taking him to that right place… “I’m not afraid” he said looking down then up – “I’m not afraid” he repeated. 

  Looking back it hadn’t been all bad, not at all, it was the boredom mainly, the sheer repetition and routine and continual drive to consume, to participate, to accomplish, to acquire things, always THINGS, new smart phones, new computers, new cars, more suits and ties, another house, video games, pop music, superhero boots, lawnmowers, cigarettes, designer drugs, toys layered over toys over gadgets over electric wanderings no-win solutions and no more G.I. Joe with the Kung-Fu Grip – and the waiting, goddamn, the endless waiting – waiting at bus-stops, waiting at restaurants, waiting in line at the grocers, at coffee shops, at movie theatres, at that infernal doctor’s office, waiting for something in your life to change, anything, just sitting and waiting and thinking and…then there was the failed marriage, there was that, but it wasn’t his fault, no fucking way he said out loud, and even his children turned out to be boring and predictable and in the end far too uninteresting – the tears filling his eyes he said, “My name is Bob and I am a writer” 

    “So fucking what, does that make you something?”

  He turned his head in the direction of the voice and right around the corner walking along the ledge came Henry Miller – he was in a worn-out suit, bald, round glasses, young, maybe 40 or 42, he sat right down beside him and pulled out a bottle of wine, took a deep pull laid his head back and closed his eyes – then he opened them and started laughing,

    “Wonderful” he said “Just wonderful”

    “I thought you of all people would agree with me” said Bob –

    “Didn’t say I didn’t…but what makes someone interesting, think about it” And there was that beautiful Brooklyn scrawl,

    “I don’t know, don’t find many people interesting”

    “Usually, when one finds themselves bored, bored with people, with things and places, the boredom is within themselves, dontcha know?”

    “How did you do it, Henry, what kept you so interested for so long?”

    “Life is wonderful, as long as there is health, there is endless beauty – pass the wine, if you please” He took a long pull –

  Bob looked at the city skyline stretching as far as the eye could see familiar buildings screaming into the night, there was the City-Lights building with blue neon dancing up-top chimney stack reaching for the heavens, and the Artspace building down low where he rented a room once to rehearse a play he had written which never got made, just to the right the Bank of Montreal grinning its evil money-shit in the face of all that’s holy, and the Sportscentre where he saw the Chicago Bulls play in all the glory-days and glory-nights got drunk that night and the night after and the night after that – 

  Henry sighed, then chuckled, then laughed outright patting Bob on the shoulder and passing the wine –

   “It’s not that I believe humanity is going to get better” Said Henry “the world and our civilization is doomed, of that I have no doubt”

    “Then what’s the fucking point?”

    “Even though the world is busy flushing itself down the toilet, there is always time to sing and dance – you owe it to yourself – and to them”


    “The gods, of course”

Then he laughed and laughed….

Bob laughed too but the laughter died quickly – he looked at Henry and smiled sadly….a sparrow sang something awful then settled on the ledge beside him and just sat there, alive, purposeful and full of meaning – Bob stared at it and saw all the beauty that had eluded him his entire life and all the bullshit he had done, all the harm and ugliness, all the people that had crawled through his world full of mean and spite and absolute stupidity, and the sparrow looked back and grinned – Bob’s eyes filled with water but no tears fell and he looked back at Henry who was staring intently with sadness and feeling,

    “It all seems so ugly” Said Bob –

    “I know…I know….”

And then there was silence…and the silence was murder…and it was beautiful….then a cop car ran the streets and the sirens howled and painted everything red and blue – and someone screamed – and someone laughed – and the lights of the world went velvet blue and shone so bright it hurt – 

    “You see?” Said Henry smiling “You see?”

 Bob looked at the city and said nothing –

    “Did I ever tell you of the time me and Anais went to see Django Reinhardt play at a gypsy camp just outside Paris?”

    “Anais? Nin – ?” Said Bob,

    “The one and only – you know who Django Reinhardt is?”

    “Yeah, sure – the greatest guitar player of all time, they say”

    “And a first class hell-raiser, dontcha know”

    “You three could get into some trouble”

    “He was supposed to play a concert, at a hall, you know, but instead, he ran away just before the show and came to this gypsy camp he had frequented his entire life, I understand…he was always doing this type of thing apparently…Anais was at my apartment in Place Clichy, we were drinking wine and had just finished fucking…”

    “-Fucking Anais Nin…”

    “We heard about the show from my friend, Osborne, who in turn had been fucking a young girl that worked at the concert hall, and she had told him that Django had taken off, you know, disappeared, just before his show…my first novel had recently been published, Tropic of Cancer…”


    “Django, apparently, had read it and was a fan of mine and he had told Osborne, who he knew through the young girl, to tell me to go to this particular gypsy camp on the outskirts of the city, of Paris…well, we went as soon as we heard, of course, you’d be a complete moron not to. It turned out to be one of the most wonderful nights I can remember – the music was superb – the food and wine, well, was everywhere, there were beautiful women, beautiful gypsy women that were free, dontcha know, and happy and drunk, the light of the world was bright in their eyes, and we smoked opium inside trailer camps full of hard-looking characters that you knew had seen a bullet or two – yet they were friendly, and cultured it seemed, in a savage but intelligent way, so we danced, and we listened, and we drank, and we fucked and it seemed Anais and I would never, could never, split up….but of course, we did…”

  And there came that silence again as Mr. Miller put his head down, briefly –

    “But you know – even in that moment of sadness, when Anais finally – well, when it had become clear that we were not going to be together anymore, romantically, sexually, even intellectually, when it felt like the world and time itself was ending, I knew that even this, in some way, was beautiful, dontcha know?”

   “And what was Django like?” Said Bob taking wine gulps then passing the bottle to Henry,

    “– full of life bastard such as I have never seen before – I loved him – he died young, you know….”

  Bob looked down 18 stories to the street saw a young lady whistling herself into oblivion, saw a drunk man flexing big brother muscle and feeling no pain, saw young Kid Bucky take it in the guts, saw Sister Lucy rape her way to the top, saw Johnny B. plant a kitchen knife right into her forehead, saw a goddamn giant piece of shit hit the pavement and explode, then he looked to his left, to his right, up then down, then saw his good friend Henry Miller…

   “You were always my favorite” Said Bob,

   “Wasn’t I everyone’s?”

 They laughed, man, did they laugh – 

   “Well, I’m probably going to a better place anyway…” Said Bob –

   “For all you know, kid, the only place you are going is straight down to the pavement”

   “I had a night like that, like you just described – without the celebrities though…”

   “Go on…”

   “It was at an alternative rock bar, right when that Alt music was exploding in the early 80’s – great time for music, man…y’see, on the surface, music was horrible, but underground all this cool shit was happening….”

   “I wouldn’t know, I was already dead….”

   “It was a band called Me, Mom and Morgentaler, a Canadian band, I think…me and my friends were partying as usual, smoking pot, drinking – I was somewhere in my twenties, still single, still happy…trying to be a writer…I don’t remember when we first noticed each other, but I do remember that when we did, we couldn’t stay apart…we danced and talked and drank all night man…both our group of friends just disappeared to us, it was her and me, that’s all….looking into each other’s eyes like the secret to existence was there, a complete and total connection, right down to the soul….and always that great music roaring away, making us scream into each other’s ears, laughing, our lips touching….”

   “Wonderful, just wonderful!”

   “We were only together for about six or seven months, off and on, but her face is the one that sticks out most in my mind…her face on that first night, the way she smiled at me and flirted…the way we loved each other immediately….her name was Claudia…what an experience, it was something else, man…   

   “That alone should tell you something, kid…”

 The sadness fell down and around Bob as the sirens, once again, painted the night red…a gust of wind blew his hair across his face and he smelled gasoline and chemicals and vitriol and shot-gun-madness, he looked at Henry – there were tears in his eyes but they did not fall, 

   “Always bright and merry…” Said Henry,

  He turned away, breathed in hard and heavy, looked back, and Henry Miller was gone…

  The city was alive with sound all black and purple and red and tragically alluring full of everything he was, golden and rotten…he looked down, unsure for a second, sad, happy…happy, sad –

      And then there was silence…and the silence was murder…and it was beautiful….