Ray Sweatman grew up in Jonesboro, GA. Wandered around. Came back. Tried to settle down a few times, but the ground kept moving. Got an MFA in playwriting from Columbia. Was too young to know playwriting was dead. But the real education was New York City and a woman named Jackie. Didnít write anything for about 15 years. One of my exes called me the Smoker who talks about writing.

I squat now in an abandoned shack. Once the B-52s played there. Michael Stipe came by and Zevon asked him if he could borrow his band a little while. I canít believe heís dead. I guess he will sleep, find things to do in Denver. I wrote a tribute to him. It wasnít very good. Iím sure it put him to sleep.

I live with a couple of cats. Well, sometimes. One of the exes took them (all possible progeny had been aborted. Beats the old coathanger days, though). She could be bringiní them back any day. We had them neutered, spayed and declawed. Thereís some kind of connection there. We both wept. Well, maybe it was just me at the neutering part. I canít remember exactly which ex she is. She has to go back to Bulgaria. She does that every 6 months.

I listen to the polluted river flow. It flows just like a clean one. It flows by with more Wilsons than even Hanks Williams knew. I like to steal lines from all the bad poems I did. Some of them donít even have one line worth stealing. One day Iíd like to put together a long poem like T.S. Eliot, full of all the crap that didnít work. There might be fog. There would be no Latin. There would be plenty of allusions. I like allusions. Though they all come back to that picture of Farrah Fawcett in her bathing suit on my teenage wall. Google it. I thank God for Google. Actually, I think God is Google. In fact, I know he is. Every time I send a G-mail, he tells me in the margins everything I need. He knows every word I type.

I teach ESL. Have for a while. Thatís English as a Second Language. I teach it to adults. I like it. They believe every word I say. Iíve even convinced some that the erect middle finger means Have a Nice Day. Poetryís like that, too.

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