Oct 04

Review of Dancing Naked on Bukowski’s Grave

by Ben John Smith & Catfish McDaris
135 page Hardcover at Lulu.com

All night I dreamed of the poems of Ben John Smith and Catfish McDaris in their new book Dancing Naked on Bukowski’s Grave. I read non-stop the Catfish section which comprises the second half of the book, tore through it like the sex-crazed maniac I’ve always been, running down the street after that guilt-ridden fantasy bus headlined real life. Afterward on the bus, and in my tortured sleep, I began to understand the meaning of the ritual phrase that’s what I’m talking about. I formed words in my dreams to explain to Catfish how reading his amazing output was like looking into his soul, if anyone has such a thing, because oddly, he approaches soulful material through an outrage of the senses, because he talks about boogers and shit and glorious cunt-holes that most people lack the courage to discuss, yet isn’t that where we all live?

Take for instance “Even Rats Party in Hell’s Kitchen”, a fantastical portrait of the toilet at Dangerfield’s Comedy Club, the cooking up of a poetic recipe that starts out with some possibly true measurements. 1) toilets in NYC and Paris are in “dim decrepit basements, swampy funk-ridden holes”; 2) “the stairway is rancid”; 3) “a cloud of maryjane fumes engulfed me”; 4) “I heard female laughter and an Asian language coming from the Men’s Room”; the rest could be called imagination, or not, when it introduces “a talking rat” with “a tiny hard-on”. With these ingredients Catfish leaves the kitchen and enters the inner rooms of the soul, a mystical journey to jolt the jaded and wise-up the weary.

“While Bogart Played with Rock Hudson’s Balls” is another myth-buster. We knew Rock was gay but what about Bogart? I always suspected he was a real pussy with his various wives in spite of his tough guy image. I could imagine Lauren putting him to bed with a glass of warm milk. Sure, he smoked, but that only began as a way to show what a regular guy he was. Then he became addicted to sucking butts. Maybe Rock was the one with the real balls; gay, and enjoying his lifestyle to the hilt. Like the cops in stanza three. What’s this tough guy bullshit all about, anyway? Think about it with help from Catfish.
—Patricia Hickerson