I Nomad Tribe 2014-2016 - Francis Palazzolo

Palazzolo writes ethnographic poetry with people who are homeless in NYC. Included in this gallery is a taped performance, several poems from this series and his photographs to supplement the narrative.

Francis Palazzolo reads his ethnographic poetry based his conversations with people who are homeless in NYC. Excerpt from "Leonia Talks," 2hr 20min., 2016. Filmed at Leonia Library 8 January 2016, NJ.


My Ding-A-Ling



Wow-ho whatz-up
I hurt both legs
How so?
I walked to Pennsylvania.

Ring, Ring
Ring-Ring
Oh man I got a problem
All this anxiety
I got this letter,
It came back.

Whadda ya mean?
From who?
Jury-Duty
Commissioner of Jurors,
My therapist
Wrote me an excuse.
But I didn’t put a stamp
What do I do?

It’s ok
Get a new envelope
Address goes in the middle
Yours in upper left.
This time don’t forget the stamp.
But it had a plastic window.
Trust me a new letter will work.
Really, really, ok, I’ll do it.

No way man, Pennsylvania?
Yeah, Pennsylvania Avenue.
Oh right, by the Garden
That’s still six miles away.

Want a chair?
Get off your feet.
Cop a squat.
Better not
Continue to walk.
Hope it wasn’t a bad weather hike?
Nearly eighty the other day.
No, just today.
But it was rainy and super cold.
Yeah, … I gotta go.


 


 


 

Cold Rain Don’t Cool the Heat



Many-eyes-glued-
To-a-bad-copy-of-Thor.
Overhead screen,
Undone,
Turn to WWE.

yah ha
fuck
weh-he
kill you

Corner man
Leaning over
Tying
And untying his shoe.
Where will it end?
Low murmur under breadth
Gives no clue.

ah shit
guh-ha muh-ha
ha-ha, ha-ha
god
tse, tse-sah
breeze butta
ha-ha

I’m not a child,
Phone chat overlap,
Girl I can.
You hear me?
Got me?
You know what I’m sayin.’

Yah ha
tse, tse-sah
butta breeze
weh-he

Soup truck arrived.
Laces in a bow.
Winter rain no end.

Many sinks in a row,
The stink I can taste.
Sticky floor or wet,
Face washing
Over and over again.


 


 


 

   Hit Pause


Christmas was good,
For New Years
I’m gonna get
Shit Drunk.

Me making people laugh
Depression stress anxiety
Even bipolar,
I want to choke
And kill someone.

A week of deception for me,
I acted out.
The guards came and got me,
Its embarrassing.
My son feels it too.
He can’t invite me
To his girl’s family.
I’d just blow it,
He’s so sweet though,
The tears start flowing.
For Thanksgiving
He invited me to dinner.
Just him & me,
Uncontrollable now.
Oh, I don’t mean
To make you cry.
Good, good
Don’t hold in the pain—
Guilt.
Let it out,
He loves you.
This is a safe place, too.

The bird
But wait I can’t remember it.
The story about the bird
It turns blue, white, red, or black.
What’s the color for you?
For me it’s black
Maybe black & blue?

I own this table
What I say, is, goes.
You gonna sit in that corner
Stay in your place.
Me & her
Been through some shit together.
Back then you were reserved.
Now I’m a monster.
She made me stronger!
I’m like, oh shit!
No No, you can’t sit there!

You're a gansta-chick.
Who is this right next to me?
Oh my god I can’t see the hole.
I can’t find it.
What?
What the fuck are you doin’?
Can’t see the hole?
Fuck,
Its normal around here.
That’s how people talk.
He curses like a motherfucker,
No tiene nada.

How is it you’re gonna drink?
On New Year's Eve.?
I’m gonna get stupid drunk.
The psych told me
I’m gonna land in the hospital.
I don’t care.
I talkin’ bout New Years
HELLO
It’s once a year.
I don’t care.
I don’t care what happens
I’m gonna have fun.
Promise me
No bad cheap wine
No mixin’ alcohol
Worsens the toll.

Ah, she’ll get stronger
Do that thing
Do that thing we yousta’ snap at.
Everybody
We battle each other.
The Queendome!
She got me with one of my tricks.
Oh my god,
Hell no!
Yo bustin’ a nut in a horsetrack?

Security stopped the fist fight.
It takes a lot to agitate me.
But once I’m there I’m off.
Buspirone three times a day.
Ya know, if you’re on death row
They’ll give ya that:
Three times a day
To keep ya from
Going after the guards.

I Got Lice


Bystander:
Bitches run around
Listen, listen...
They’re lying to you.
Call her social worker.
EMS 2:
We’re not calling the social worker,
That’s not our job.
We gotta take you
Where dispatch say so.

EMS 1:
We’re being courteous
Giving you a choice
Lincoln or...
But no Manhattan.
Claire:
Miss, let me tell you something
Bystander:
Stay sittin’

Friend:
(re)Memberrr…
During intake?
We were told
EMS don’t take us
To hospitals we want.
They only go
To certain ones,
You know that Claire.

EMS 1:
Too much mileage
Too much wear & tear.
Bystander:
Don’t get in.
EMS 2:
We can’t take you to Cornell.

Claire:
But that’s my hospital.
EMS 1:
That’s fine but we can’t do that.
Claire:
Well I could wet myself
And they wouldn’t clean it.

EMS 1:
We’re giving you a choice.
Lincoln or...
Choose.
EMS 2:
If she gets up, she goes.
Claire:
That’s kidnapping.
I made an agreement with da’ mister

EMS 2:
That’s fine,
But he didn’t
Call
Da’ ambulance.
Claire:
But da’ mister upstairs said,
If I call
Da’ ambulance take me
To my hospital.
EMS 1:
Who told him that?
Claire:
You did!
EMS 2:
Have you been drinking alcohol?
Yes or no?
Claire:
I don’t drink.
I don’t smoke.
I don’t do anythin’
Except I need a special light.
Friend:
She means
Do you got a Wood’s Light?

EMS 2:
Get up
Walk away from us right now.
Friend:
Oh my God,
Cuz she didn’t take a shower.

EMS 2:
We’re takin’ that as no
Or get in now.

Claire:
I’m itchy mam’
Real itchy
Just please take me to Cornell

EMS 2:
Don’t shake your head
Okay, you know what?
That’s enough of that.
EMS 1:
I’ll get you sprayed down.
EMS 2:
Either do
What I’m sayin’
Get in the ambulance
And go to the hospital
Or you walk away
Out of my sight.
Those are your two choices.

EMS 1:
That’s only two things
I can legally do.
I can’t
Chase you down the block,
Or, move you against your will.

Claire:
Well I didn’t know that.
EMS 2:
But we gotta take her.
Look at that!

Friend 1:
You got a lot of witnesses here.
Claire:
Really?
EMS 1:
You can’t go back inside
The shelter.
They’re gonna call 911.
Claire:
Well I’m going to a Manhattan Hospital.
Bystander:
Damn, yeah!
Friend:
Stop goading her!
Now, you wanna go?
Claire: No, listen to me.

EMS 1:
This is how it works.
Bystander:
I’m calling a cab.
EMS 1:
That’s wonderful,
But...
If you go inside,
They’re gonna call 911.
Police are gonna come
They ain’t listenin’
To a damn thing you say.
They’re gonna
Handcuff you,
And take you to Lincoln.

Claire:
Thanks for all’dis
Why my trouble?
EMS 1:
We give everyone a choice
Claire:
Do I have a choice?

EMS 1:
We’re trying.
Claire:
I can take care of myself.
Why am I so like…trouble?
You should have been detective.


 


 


 

  Are You Ok    Brother?


 

Why you gotta touch my phone?
Punch to the eye
A right hook smash
Bulge contusion puffs out.
Is that how its gonna be?
I’ll get you while you sleep.
 
Your nose bleeding heavy
like that
Just started from nuthin
Get that checked out
No man it ain’t that.
It’s too much party’n.
A one-time thing.
 
My arm,
My hand,
The pain
My leg all swelled-up.
I don’t sleep in a chair no more
I don’t care I sleep on the floor.
 
Just been one of those days
Some people can’t trust them
Took that necklace I made
Right outa my pocket last night
Nothing you can really do about that
Just try’n do what I can to get out.

Take it downnnnnnnnnn


How much does
The Federal Government
Think your life is worth?
A lot depends
Says the US News & World Report
On which agency—
Is doing the calculating.
It all depends on who you ask.
What is your life worth?
Time: It’s 6: 52.

Another minute—
Men don’t get it
Half d’thugs r’hooked!
Five nickels for’a dime.
Skinny, skinny stones light,
Holiday shit flood’n D’Bronx.
Uptown konks.
Afghan poppy
This wave honks.

Tide’s-a rise’n,
Hidden-“Sandy” hits hard,
High-tide in my ba-a-ag-g.
Hot sauce the street;
Global warming disregard;
Back-burner legislation;
War profit plantation;
Seedin' more poppy to--da-ay;
Dozing off, a stuper, crash-dummies;
Da'--Bronx--turns--to--lard.

Oooh, two times two is three
The leak is me.
Sea I see,
Tomorrow's TV
Rubbernecking for “Sandy!”
Red Hook, Rockaway,
Staten Island Ferry.

Ugh...,
What-up?
Da' forgotten borough?
News Media needs new specs,
Misses downrush,
No one stopin'
White-powder Fed-X.

Scratch my itch,
Rub my face,
Slap my bitch.
Plant’n dope
Iz-a’ cinch.
Eradication?
Never man!
Obama's hip
He’s no Grinch.

Soldiers shed more
Blood than before
Protectin’ the enemy’s
Heroin store.
Some-thin' for me man?
Give-up a holiday dime bag.
Trade-in my weapon
I'm a drug-whore.

Iraq;
Afghanistan;
My hood;
The joint;
Your local PTA;
truE GOd
The Bush White House.
Ego dopes-up
true god decay.

Cross a bit coin with bin Laden
How-to-End-Income?
Toss with Nozick & al-Baghdadi:
No Art & Anarchy.
Face-value free Narco-State,
Terror & Hate.

If and only if a poppy
Silence yet violence
Life and bloody death
If peace then love
But seduction
Or corruption.
Everything is coming up poppy
Just hear the bud’s voice,
God poppy—
God, poppy—God.

The scent,
 Invincible.
  Derived from heavenly taste.
   Commands love of the human race.

Become a flower,
 Messenger,
  Mender,
   Poppy save the world from terror.

Stronger than fear,
 And trepidation.
  Stands against time.
   Heroine Sheik mine.

How about everybody do’in heroin?
A lid a day,
All the time,
What calm in the air there would be.

Keep it chilly
Man on the take.
Sports/politics/business/
Self-importance/
Serious and/or fake.

Glued phone
Peel from face
No wars or backstabbin',
Just dope high
A planetary chill zone.


 


 


 

  ;figuring out

 
Saw open red handbag
On Chrystie Park steps
Grabbed cop b4 approaching,
Den’ undercover swoops’n,
It was a sting operation.
Nothin' on me
Bye I'm floatin.'
 
Coin liquor
Bar drink,
Penny, dime.
Bring roll.
Best dine
Cheap prices
Counrty line,
R&B
Till nine.
Quarter nickel
Hustle hustle
Meet people
Every time
Coin night
House music
Head spin.
 

Nut & bolt night
Date chooses tool
Hook up tight.
 
Oh-la-la,
Picture on hand,
The rain rained in.
Send Cardiff skate
Pamper your butt
With da’finga’ cream.
 
“Never Never Never”
Those are fighting words.
I’m da’ baby poppy boss
Of you all.
Share some nuts
And never get bored.
But don’t be wakin’ me up
With a thing in my face.
 
Escape gravity
Or it will do its work.
Swelling ankles
& calves.
Yeah that’s sleeping
Sitting up in chairs.
 
Any hope to quell
The swell?
Too much blood
I fell.
Get me a church-
Bed this week.
Leg fat is hell.
 


 


 


 

Knock Knock

 
I'm with chicken-wing,
Grandma had a boomerang,
Upside the head with her shoe.
 
Grandma grabs my cheek,
Nearly fell off,
Don't look at her wrong.
 
Come-over here son.
Bring me that branch,
Take-off those damn leaves.
 
Like stunod
I don't run
She tanned my hide for fun.
 
Way back when
Cowboys in film
Never drank good coffee, them.
 
Dirt black for them
Baby coffee for me,
A lot of sugar & milk.
 
Mornings up before the sunrise
Quiet before the storm
Relaxing easing into my day
After the first trip
I'm running all day long
 
e-Messenger
I work at Uber.
Not forever
Just enough to get out of here.
YEAH.
 
No lunch time
I eat in between trips
Enter the digital divide
e-messenger
 
Evening time
Tired baby tired
Sleepy time now
Tomorrow starts all over again.
 
When ahead
I call a cab
Get outta here fast.
Good sports can win
Gotta know how to say "see'ya"
Gotta know what's low.

You, Me, One & The Same

 

"Over the river, under the park to Moma’s house I go, back to a shelter for more pain, then finally capital gain"

 
Terrible flip,
Cards dealt me
Wife my-lover
My friend
No longer to be.
 
Overnight work shift
Seven-day week
Meat-pack district.
 
My balls worked-off,
Table the Beef.
She with top-coat,
Kids dressed neat.
 
Bank account cliff?
Big ass butcher
Working stiff
Never goes limp.
 
With no clue
Boss loosing bucks,
Beef on decline,
Chelsea turning,
(a)rt & the highline.
 
Messy bloody smock
Versus fine art schlock.
Style the walls
With vegan beef,
Tofu bacon
And buy-out pros.
My job on the chopping block
You’re fired my shock.
 
Before I’m stumblin’
Through the apartment door,
How many more
Shots of Jack in my beer?
Drown with guilt & tear.
Woman, children not here,
Greenbacks gone, too.
I hit the floor
Seventy Thousand
She just flew.
 
Broken I weep,
Then sleep sleep.
Out the door
In a trance
Sleepwalkin’ like a zombie creep.
 
Side walking the concrete
Harlem Heights 179th Street.
I struggle,
Cry,
Laces loose
Shuffle steps
River below.
 
On steel beams
Empty me crawl.
High over Hudson
On a rail
No solution I fail.
What’s left?
But to bail.
GW Bridge
Sends me,
Emotional gail.
Flat-flat, flat.
Leapin’ with no sail.
 
Disenchanting dark fall,
Hit the water on my back.
Crack-wack, bounce-back smack.
 
Blackout,
Fish me out
Trawlers hook
Like sea trout.
 
Saved
Or just bad luck?
Dire choices stuck.
Hudson burns
Inside & out
Ode to a dumbfuck.
 
Little left
Nurse me back
Broken spine
Feet to mind.
 
In bed alive
But dim all the time.
My world crush down.
Hit with my own
Wrestling pancake
Ass protruding gown.
 
Feeling blank as the wall,
Gotta get well.
Prescriptions in the hall
Pocket, hide pills
Don’t tell.
Split this hospital hell.
 
Tomorrow today
Hospital discharge
Released,
I got no say.
Central Park,
A tip from a guard
Gotta head underground
No way to pay
 
Bench sleep
Pushed’round
Bug eat
Stiff weak.
 
Under the park
Safer than above
A Crypt Netherworld
Dark & stank
Rat-like social rank
I’m the bum
Shredded clothes
In this homeless slum.
 
Tight clan down here
Hope hidden outta view,
Old stones soundproof.
Conspire together
Steal electricity
From cinderblock vault.
 
Stolen goods from above
That’s survival
Under the Ramble,
A Wheatie for the un-champ-yuns.
Tunnels everywhere
No I don’t stink no more
Dirt fills each every pore.

All due to job loss.
If flesh rots
Its to shed
Tomorrow is yesterdays love.
 
My children track me down
And turn time’round.
Yet wife MIA,
The plan
A Bronx shelter.
Dispelled
Betwixt,
Sons chuckle
This where they left me!
 
Soon, the best people I find.
Quik, room free rent
An old woman I met.

Mama to me,
Her son’s empty apartment.
House sit,
Just food
Money Moma's Public Assistance.
 
Alas, a measure of resolve,
A quiet roof
And compassionate dialogue.
Stave-off the coldness
Silence my son's howl,
I absolve.
 
Mama’s son returns
Briefly, only ever for a night,
His room always locked tight.
Never many words,
But he & Mama fight.
 
A shit storm knocked-in
FEDs at door
Raid blast us to floor.
Son nowhere to be found.
Heroin Kilo
Gun dealer, too
Stash in bedroom
Under bay window.
 
Back to shelter
My head again bent way low.
There I sit hour after hour
Night after night
Sleepin’ in chairs.
Legs swellin’
Lackin' oxygen kills hairs.
Skin turnin’ blood red,
Hobblin’ around nobody cares.
 
I wrestled,
Youth rarely saw defeat.
Rough tumble healthy,
What hell happened
To my heartbeat?
Focus, shine
Get back on feet
Leave sadness behind.
 
Once a week
An artist present.
The talk,
Listen,
Draw treatment.
The artworld pay-back
Will arrive.
Together
We paint
And thrive.
 
The artist
A wrestler, too.
Way back when
We almost knew.
A chance to regain
Glory
Of how to overcome pain.
Pummel
the upper bod
Duckunder,
Hand & wrist control,
Switch half-nelson,
Reclaim soul.
 
Section eight housing
Takes years,
My day comes.
With strength,
All scars
Of long life battle
Just like having a grapple.
Time to flip bad feelings
Knock’em flat on their back.
 
Winter shelter
Rarely spent well.
Spring helps
But stacked upon another.
Summer Shelter,
A burden missing fun.
Fall
Every dirt spot
Spirals like fractal Mandelbrot.
 
Paperwork done
Apartment waiting
City messin' with me.
This week ready,
No, next.
Loose ends
Another few days,
Papers missin'
Benefits ain't kicked-in
They're watchin' me stress-out.
Do I give somebody a whack.
Test me for crack.
Nobody cuttin' me slack.
More signatures,
Weeks go bye.
No longer available
Find a new pad
Shit fuck
Administration
I'm worse than sad!
 
Got my own place
Bronx-ass big,
But empty lonely,
Find Mama once again.
She cooks the best meal
We talk about how things feel.
State pays me good,
Lover missing though,
Damn bank account will just grow.
 

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