Theresa Haffner

Rookie - 81 Points (August 25,1945 / Plainwell, Michigan)

A New Place To Live - Poem by Theresa Haffner

We need a new place to live.
Alternative environment
new
pad crib lay up
hide out
maybe even
cabin in the rough

You know when those
welfare checks and government pensions
get thin
after all we all get our checks
for mental disabilities emotional disturbances
crazy enough to qualify too fucked up
to pay us off put us on the old
once a month pay day routine
full moon tweaking on an 8 track
hiding in the laundry room
they say it’s a progressive condition
tried really tried to be straight upright and true
Section 8 subsidized our ware then got too fucked up
even for Section 8
we need a new kind of place to live

Rent too high to pay so checked out
the communal scene and cooperative forms
of living socialist dialectics lighting
up our Marxist non revisionist eyes

A rooming house room was about the best
share the kitchen and bath

with a hundred other roomies and freaks
and their games and jealousies
and treacheries and betrayals

and their friends of their friends
and opera at 8: 00 in the morning
but oh please
play your synthesizer low

so trying to deal drugs our of the pad
laid us out
pay the rent
pay the connection
the house a public thoroughfare
lost the sound system
lost the color tv
lost the synthesizer
then the homeless bit you know
on the back porch in the back of the
station wagon in the stolen vw

then living for the better part of an extra
month in an abandoned car
parked next to Carl’s Junior
and Osco Drugs

without running water or clean clothing

car started but wouldn’t drive
broken axle
we finally bought the car for $60
when the owner came
three weeks later and found us living in it
beer cans and Carl’s Junior paper cups
building up around the car
with the stench of urine

Police gave us two days to move the car or else

By then Alpha Beta and Osco Drugs had
gotten plenty tired of us pan handling
change for the telephone and me of course
dollars for short dogs the usual morning
recipe of Night Train or White Port wine
that became a necessity to keep me off the
curb and out of the gutter

and using the rest room at Carl’s Jr.
to clean up in

The car ran only two days but it
took us to San Fernando Dept. of Social Services
to get a hotel voucher on General Relief

Finally lost the car after it stranded us
the third time
lost our clothes lost
the tools lost all our provisions of course
lots of layed up food oranges and god knows
what else moldering in plastic bags in the
interior lost everything we had in the car
when it was towed
but it got us to the hotel
on the voucher and we started making it
back up the ladder of success.

got a couple of synthesizers
made a bottle harp from empty Sundance wine coolers
for a jam session
started dealing a little drugs
you know hands on feeling like we were
once more our human selves
get terribly dependent on a welfare hotel
with a voucher
kept renewing the damn thing
dropping out of the program and starting over
just to get the voucher and all that security
NO VISITORS AFTER 10 P.M.
with a roof over our heads
potted palms in the lobby
messages in our message box
thought we would stay on there forever
maybe buy the hotel
invested in the whole fourth floor
thought we owned the place
jam sessions from midnight to dawn
filled the place up with mirrors and syringes
but the hotel kicked us out eventually too
and we had to move
now we need a new kind of place to live

We started hanging around with these two lesbians
who are friends of ours who are prostitutes

Medea writes punk rock lyrics and sings
She used to be with Black Flag
Her going and coming and late night jam sessions
helped get us kicked out of the hotel
And Anne who is very quiet and reserved
underspoken where Medea is outspoken
Medea turns tricks and makes a lot of money
Anne gets SSI and keeps an apartment
Together they make out alright

We began to think in terms of incorporating
them into our radical game plan of unconventional
living arrangements
Teaming up with them so to speak

After we opened up the nailed shut bathroom door
to make adjoining suites at the hotel
hotel kicked us out last week we decided
a little more wide open life style might be in
order

We don’t want to pay a lot of rent Section 8
and living in abandoned houses for nothing
has conditioned us to not obligating a great portion
of our meager income for somebody else’s landlord
not more than half for rent
not more than 30%
not more than well you guessed it we
want about the lowest rent possible
save our bucks
for expensive motel bills and dealing at a loss

And we don’t want a lot of restrictions
We don’t want to have to be in by 11 or keep
our synthesizer down after 12 or keep the
number and type of visitors who visit us
on the wrong side of 13 or african or asian
or real long hair

We don’t want to be interfered with though there
be a constant stream of single gentlemen all one race
or small groups of long hair obvious street addicts
hanging around at all hours of the night and morning
for whatever purposes we don’t like them
to make assumptions We Are Professional People
We have rehearsals recitals Poetry Readings
We don’t like anyone to point a finger
We don’t point a finger at anyone lest we
in turn be judged

We want to climb in and out the windows
take the doors off the hinges tear out the smoke
detectors make vivid black and white abstract paintings
on the walls and window shades
drag in tons of surplus vegetables and frozen foods
from supermarket dumpsters
and
make loud music
have a continuous party make house repairs hammer nails
do remodeling late at night every night
and not answer the door or telephone on Tuesday
and Wednesday morning all day

We like other people around but we like our privacy
too We like to make love often for hour after hour
sometimes for days before these ghostly mirrored walls
our reflections glistening in the intimate shadows
far into the utopian distances

We can use a little supervision too got used to it
in the county jails and voucher hotels No Visitors
After 11 under penalty of eviction or DEATH works well
on us free hippie spirits too optimistic to say no

We envision a warehouse a store front a live in garage
a mobile home tree house undersea cavern high rise
office or cupboard under the sink

We like to remake our environment into our own
likeness and if this means unconventional
disorderly or outright destructive it is because
we take the shortest course between two straight lines

Our aesthetics are internalized not externalized
We don’t judge by appearances We look below
the surface of things
We spend our lives in search for the true nature
of reality and seek to penetrate to the burning
coal within
We seek to get to the heart of each experience as
life unfolds its tapestries before us
We know there is a mystical truth not unlike
Nirvana that gives our lives relevance and meaning
We suffer ecstasies too strong too exquisite
too unbearable to ever gauge ourselves in terms of
any straight person any 9 – 5 corporate worker or
housewife who never takes chances always pays their
bills on time never speeds in traffic and never looks
beyond the hem of their taffeta petticoats

Ours is a simple credo

We do not feel guilty about our various illegalities
only regret that so much unhappiness this way comes
We are culpable for our felonies and our misdemeanors
We realize that we have stepped beyond the boundaries
where
we can make our living within the reins of legality
and that every person is entitled to make a living

The nature of our crimes then is not moral but
political

We recognize that it is money that is behind it
and when there is no longer any money in it
our crimes will become legal

We do not ask for any forgiveness only that you
let us be do not disturb or distract us

and keep your distance from us even as we must
keep our distance from one another

If you do not involve yourself with us
you will not be hurt by us

We know that we did not become the way we have
become
by being timid or by refusing to fight
and that each of us is prone to episodes of violence
and uncontrolled temper

Do not interfere with our self styled barbarism
as we befoul our dwelling places and make our illegal
money

We are the last stanchion of the lost hope of humanity

We looked in the paper this morning An odd
ad in the classified section reads “Hotel/Storage
$10 a day” We called up It’s an old apartment
building but its condition is not good It’s not
inhabitable unless you want to do some major repair
for free rent Sounds just like up
our alley

So we move our stuff over to this filthy
plumbing overflowed four story brick walk up
on Vermont Street By now Medea and Anne are at
each other’s throats
arguing constantly and we are running
out of dope and out of money

So we pay our $10 and start filling the place up
Looks like we’ve found a new place to live


Comments about A New Place To Live by Theresa Haffner

  • Sulaiman Mohd Yusof (8/4/2008 10:15:00 AM)

    what a masterpiece theresa my dear.deep from the bottom of my heart, i really enjoyed your writes.marvellous.the story lines were superb.i'm gonna look out for your pieces soon.appreciated pal. (Report)Reply

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  • (4/25/2007 12:53:00 AM)

    I'm at a loss to say anything profound about this; it's a bit like the first viewing
    of Guernica, back when it was fresh and not an icon. It's a movie, a novel,
    it reveals you as I hope you want to be revealed. I got the motorhome
    and a cell phone that I never answer.
    (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (4/24/2007 7:07:00 AM)

    a gentle (to me anyway) flowing tidal ferosity of tangled biomechanoid psycho-
    political gremlin tragicomedy I've come to know and love.
    (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
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Poem Submitted: Friday, March 23, 2007

Poem Edited: Tuesday, May 17, 2011


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