The Bluebook

From Plastic Tub


Collection of poetry by Steven Adkins (2002-2003). It is also known as Half-Told Tales.

Written between April 19, 2002 and February 26, 2003. The Bluebook covers the period during which Adkins met, courted and married his wife. These poems become much happier and exuberant than in previous tomes and were all written at 8, rue Jean Suau, in the very center of Toulouse, France.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

“ Never again: neither here nor elsewhere”

Section 1:  The Torments

15 Ave de la Gloire
16 hrs

So.  I finally got
what it was I thought
I wanted
And, for a brief moment
like those moments at twilight
where everything seems to stand still
and just hang there
the colors stretched into a general
I thought I had got
what I wanted,
I did.

But I didn’t get shit.
Just annoyance
and I kind of horror.
And I worried if I was becoming
one of those men
like Catholics you read about in books
who lust and repent
a cat and mouse libido
which at turns strikes and cowers
which elevates a woman
to sainthood
an unattainable object
then recoils when the objective is

Her head bobbed
lie a pigeon’s
It was revolting
The yellow scab
on the right side of her nose
teeth at angles
which in this case
were not jaunty
and those breasts….
the skin of her stomach….
her son did her much damage
The black skin of her twat
hanging shriveled
like fruit
dead on the vine….
Should I feel guilty
at such a stern judgment?
My own body
so scrawny
speckled with acne
Skin flaking off my had
like leaves in autumn
An autumn which has
come months too early….
I have no room to talk
No prize, me….
It shouts across the street
From the reflections of
mirrors on legs
Mirrors I cannot look into

Mirrors that disfigure
Funhouses with no fun

I cannot believe
the immensity of my chagrin
My sleep a tangled knot of
guilty memories and
unspeakable fears
Pleading for dawn
Slow examination of the shade of
light coming thru the window
Horror, the horror
Suicide again obsesses me
And yet I do not want to die
I only want to live
Burn like a Roman Candle
bright but slow,
and for a long, long time

Plod on, soldier
Plod on


International feast day
of heads and hippies
scapegoats and turncoats
turnabouts and hob-nob men
jackals, friars and wolves
so much false love
in this fraternity of green men
these fools who seek to unify the world
with an herb

The brotherhood of man has been ground
under toe
just another stubbed blunt
in the marionette parade
and we get lazy
and they get lean
and we go crazy
and they stay mean
they are in full sight
yet hidden
they ride us like mules
deride us as fools
and they are right
so right

“Power grows out of the barrel of a gun”
said Mao Tse Tung
unlike the flowers placed there by our parents and uncles
how quaint
how quickly it all fell over
when they shot those flowers into the air
and they landed upon four freshly-dug graves
in Ohio
and not long after
the son of man tapped down the dirt
with a diminutive doe-skinned boot
and a swastika carved into his forehead

do your own thing
take it to the limit
far out!
be all you can be
a cult of personality
don’t forget the acid
and the free love
a nation of sex-obsessed drug addicts
are the ultimate consumers
cuz sex sells
and the addict expects to be ripped off
tune in
turn on
blow up
cop a feel
stay cool, brother man
stay cool
one ice
in the icehouse
the house of arrested development
adolescent nation
thrown its tantrum
tantric pretension
the house of detention
we are all prisoners of this mythology now
if only
because we languish in the hands of its enemies 
because the Man does exist
a cyst on our backs
head like a monkey
tongue honeyed by ineptitude
we’ve come to expect no more
than this

let it ride
let it ride
let it ride

“You remind me of that song
by Neil Young”
she wrote
““Throw your anger down, son””
And I thought
“But if I do that, dearest,
I would scarcely feel anything,
at all.”

I was the when Le Pen
got his 17%
beat out Jospin for the second go ‘round

Round 2:
The right versus the extreme right
No one expected this
les sondages
wee for shit
a comfortable abstention
a split left
and there you have the fruit
of seeds such as this

Having in too short a time spent too much money
the old vice comes back to torment me
when, with mind firmly made up
I still stagger home under a cloud of tiny
bubbles, I know once again that I am

chaotic and weird
these jumbled packages
thoughts on a train to nowhere
I feel silly talking about the soul
Just as I feel silly talking about biochemistry
or the nature of the expanding universe
and grandfather is dead
Alex’s old man’s old man
I only met him on one occasion
he lent us his car and
the apartment of his already-closed store
we stayed in the rumpus room
gold-felt pool table
boxes discovered in the closet
years of Playboy and other soft-core
we smoked and drank and zoomed on shrooms
and now, Alex is the only one I see anymore
and his grandfather is dead

vague, nay
specific feelings
of uselessness

Heavy Weather

3 encounters with the goddess
	sex with mother
	downhill ride
	dating young girl

at first ----
hopeful expression
	waiting for a gel
	a coming together
and that waiting….
is it that I am incapable
of independent action?
without a school
without a leader
a forceful personality
I am nothing?

In my dreams
my father has
become cruel
and vicious
and I can’t
help but wonder
if the dead
are jealous;
and, seeing someone
waste something
they have not got –
something so precious –
they cannot
help but interject
with a fury
on the
horses of night,
which is a
violent stampede
of reproach
no longer designed
to put a fire to the heels
but to scorch
a withered heart

and beneath it
maybe they feel guilty,

le gauche main

small am I
a dot who
contains the universe
the one verse
(and only)

we smoke
more joints
than we
drank bottles
of beer
she was trying
to derange 
(but I did not succumb)

but in reality
this night is not over
and I write this as
a charm
    And not
a description


But I am cruel
and cold
because I cannot
say no
cannot end it
and she came again
last night
and Julie pretended
to be Stephanie
(who doesn’t exist)
and she is wounded
and possessive
and I am shamed
because in my 
weakness I laugh
at my cruelty
and Julie inadvertently 
caught up in the
mess of lies
broke my heart
when sad-faced
she queried
“Maybe I hurt her?”
Asking what I should be asking
I who act like
there are no feelings besides mine

Instead or removing
warmth and humanity
Instead of passively awaiting
for her to give up
Instead of all this….
I must….yes, I must

AND the river is in flood
the current swift and brown
the moon is still in orbit
but the stars have fallen down

The prisons are still standing
the schools continue on
we’ve got the gas and matches
to create a brand new dawn

The sun shines
I bronze myself
in pink increments
I have no American
yet speak English
with all of them:
French, Serb, Mexican
I lust so much it hurts
worry about money
think of her
wonder if alcohol will
enslave me
regret my cruelty
fail to study French
and thus progress slowly
do things half-assed
am still weak
nothing it seems
has changed
except the place

as if 
in this lazy refusal
there were something honorable
as if

Bartleby is a fiction
and refusal
	and refusal
	and all that is
	languishing on the end of a leather
	dripping humid
with fat animal grease
	Bartleby is not to be admired
and I am vain
and delmoral stretches upon his chair
and all that
a red arm bent upon the table
with nothing to say

someone to love
mute by oceans
and sleepy
someone may lie in the bed next to her
magical fountain
	spread wilderness
	of hair
all this cock and no one to show it to
Martipice, bollocking thru the farmington
small wound
	smaller brain
thumbs splayed outward
like the legs of a date-rape
rufinol and greek lettering
last remnants
no wonder it all faltered
long tucked under itself by a lack of flow
this image of subjection
a drunken will over an
	even drunker non-will
prestige of sickness
and what that all means
I have forgotten
some sick perambulation
of a diseased mind
shot thru with acid holes
and misapprobations
and pretensions

shadows gripping light
tempers templars
	haughty arrogance breeds
	premature downfall
	without a sympathetic eye….

Making my small lists
tracking the trajectory
a radical descent

the pace always quickens
when the pinnacle is passed

and a red rose in my mailbox
is just another agitating shadow
which rings my doorbell and
walks away

Je lui détéste
	il est un mal homme
	avec la silence
	les rendez-vous
	que nos yeux recontrent
	sans paroles
	sans emotions
	sans puissance
les moments qui tombent

Section 2:  The Joys

She is a dream transported upon the tough-beaks of swans
an egg hatched sideways, just as they always are
and I saw her teeth in every pebble of the Pyrenees

I have been able
to recognize the emerald
the gleam of its’ baby eye as the
sun reaps  rewards and the glamour
of love is cloven asunder in a tidal
wave of blood
like Moses at the red sea dividing the
two lobes of my heart
parading a bedraggled
army of seekers thru
these canyons
these loins
which before sealing them up again

I would gladly
offer them as loaves to her
two halves of something yet to be eaten

and today when I did not kiss her
and did the dishes before class
it was deference and not indifference
and now I am crushed to wonder if she
sees only that 
and overconfidence
failing to recognize shyness
with a gentle
prolonged kiss

I want her to say “wow” again
When, under the light rain
the canopy of green and the painted leaves
the impressionist brush-strokes of the canal
we kiss
it is all that
making love the fortunate  undertow

(because I just want to lie with her
	naked or no
in these days I want her to live with me
	I think of our children
And can one tell so soon
	if she will even be my wife….?)

Have I cursed myself by articulating?

	AND Yet
I would spray your name across all the rose-colored
walls of Toulouse
not yet wolf, not yet man
a gallant cut in half by desire
when you bicycled by my side
I would have gladly exploded
to be the fire that warms you
the flame in your eye that blazes
when I am around
your one and only
descent into the kingdom of the ape 

the brown ring around the green milk
the oaths I have sworn falling apart
to secure 10 more minutes
my eyes grow
the teeth I have procured to tear at myself
gives me the mien of a rabbit

products dropped
eggs, again
small gifts rabbits 
(fuck like)
in the shape of bundles
hung from the beaks of
tough-necked swans

Burning gifts upon the death-pyre of birth
The combustion which signals the end of
one form and
the transmission of energy into another

she is there, incommunicable
but there may be a weight
to crush me
to hook me
let it jump tracks and crash into
the wilderness that was up until
then a blur of trees in a landscape
traversed daily
		and as quickly as possible
  let us fall into those prickly trees
  and linger
	    bend fingers toward god and
	    rumble in our bellies like an
	    oncoming rain
	    black-tinged clouds elated in
	    purple hues of lightning

AND then….
    always at the gate
when the spoons are dancing 
among the condiments

in comes the lumberjack
	or at least his shadow
	a pall is cast
	        a freezing
	action stops  and the
	last night of the violin slides up
	the chimney
(I may not be able to understand or articulate

	Battering ram
	forests tumbling into
		a favorable weather condition
			gums wet and eager to
			      make up for the day
			      indifference which is
			      the false visage of

I implore
    beg the gods
let me have this happiness I feel with
a new dawning
    not an imagination overload
(because when she feels love perhaps
    it will hit her differently
        another one, an other
this other I have allowed in –
  as if I had anything to do with it!)

I want her to say “wow” again
        I want to say “wow”
Holding slow as the globe spins
	there is nothing to do but feel it move
	count the stars
feel the wind and pretend it comes from inside
loving life if only because you are in it
to catch her when she tumbles
to laugh when she
tumbles and is not hurt
to make strange noises when you put a finger
	in her belly button

to cry with a kind of tentative joy
please give me the courage to burn
bridges and give her a reason to
accept my prostrations
as a goddess accepts the ministrations
of concerned faithful upon
a statue
humbling oneself to something greater
to receive an even greater reward
both god and worshipper
    an act of faith incarnate

(hop-to, hopi son
	  you a wilderness
		encircled by fate)

	  age mocked
	  overly concerned
		but wanting to be so
			so ensnared
			and trusting
			perhaps it should not be so
			but it is
			was looking, yes,
				and have never really found it
			but NOW, NOW, NOW
			you, she, it
	  a clochard avec les yeux ouvert
		toujours ouvert
		et attendre

	si j’etais le roi du monde
			je serais l’amoreus
			d’une femme qui prende
			une grande feu
			dans ma cœur
			ma cœur perdu
			et attendre
			toujours attendre
				et, j’ai deja tu dit?

Beasts beasts beasts beasts
					they run rough-shod
					over an artificial wound 
					an inability to wring
thin  shit by the floral handshake
	(he resorts to old methods)
luckily there is no Roman army to invoke discipline
to march in square shoes upon the heads of
	the worn-out tribesmen of my brain
God how I desire her!
	Not wanting to scare her off I must
		bite tongues and pull on pud
		to clinch-off love canal
I cannot return
	At all costs I must not submit
	the pressures of money cannot cause me
	to retreat
Burn the bridges!
	We have come this far and must destroy
		all incentive to return home
I have written under the narcotic haze
	have stabbed myself
	with dreams
	(thinking them me)
And in her I find a future
	and not a decidedly robotic
	or fixation of shared experience--
			a past--
A Future!    A Future!    A Future!
	look ahead
	don’t cry foul
	do it, yeah?
	do it

	be the finger
	be the moon
	be the animal


Without you
I am an empty socket
breathing hard
I want you next to me
to lie in sweet slumber
the sun on your back
the depth
and no one listens
except us
except us
these frail fingers
I reach to you
please, don’t forget

I will eat stones 
I will fall thru the cracks
sink like a puddle into the spaces between
slowly disappearing
	wet water in a pan upon the hotplate
Your kisses I wait for
		magnificent swans taking flight
		upon the wings of clouds
Disappearing into you
	When we lie together without language
	Smiling upon one another
		like eyes that tear w/joy
	Sounds permeate as I write
	    disturbing the natural rhythm
	    of my reveries
	Future of thin bodies rapt
	round one another
		in fascination
		in tight bandages
	wounds we heal in silent grace
Machines bug-out upon hills, spread
	their dangerous gas
We lie upon grass and breath it all in
	the chemical cloud
	happy to die together upon the
	brown dust of a green beach
	aside a red river
	    a rust which burns
	    a lust which runs
	and turns into a piano riff of
	    troubled fingers
	    it happens that we may find
	    this to be true:  disillusioned
	    and angry….
	    why go to this place?
	    this is not where I wanted to
		go  to  go

Now—all I know
	is that protolove rears a head
		and burns into the heart like
		an iron rod on fire
My heart flutters and my breathing 
goes fast
	My brain burns and my feet lap
When you sit next to me I want
	to cry and yell with joy
	You hear ye mountains?
		Ye clouds!
		Ye worms?
From feet to teeth I tremble
	and wait….

I want to seep into the cracks
like rain on hot cobbles
puddles gobbled up – tiny
volcanoes in the dust

yes, we were a bit drunk
but there were circus tents
beside us where people
danced and the band played

then it was all coming to an end
some people were passing out sparklers
and they stood there waving them about
like initiates at some Greek festival

then the rockets started going off
green sparks cascaded over our
heads low and pure, throbbing like
hearts in flight

then it came, the ambuscade
the glowing booming crescendo
and I wrapped my arm around your
waste and spun you to my lips

and yes, we were a bit drunk
but our moist teeth were soft
and our eyes lit up like chinese lanterns
with birds on fire

with grass seeming to grow into
the cracks of our toes
we were rooted for an æon
as the sky erupted with fireworks

and when it was over
we looked at one another
breathless and wobbling
basking in an afterglow

the gunpowder smoke around us
seemed to escape in clouds
with each exhalation
and settle on the river

it had changed direction to encircle us
we an island of silence
in a babble of drunken joy
experiencing a little piece of forever

By comparison
	these days
	like today
	can be incredibly dull
The downside of going so high 
as when tangled limbs knock over
spilling wax onto the floor

I told her lying next to her
was better than making love
well not better I said
but as I gazed upon the curve
of a shoulder that commanded an
arm draped across my chest, a shoulder
bronzed and flittering in candlelight….
it was almost so
maybe another time it would be
but not that night
when she flipped onto her back
and quickly, almost timidly said
“je t’aime”
and me, like a 12 year old just gleefully
panted “oui?  moi aussi, je t’aime	je t’adore!”
and smiled and observed the closed eyes
always inscrutable, my anxious mind casting
them in trouble bronze
and again
“ohhh je t’aime” as we spiraled towards 
climax, and me saying “ I want to have beautiful babies with you,”
only half-hoping she didn’t understand
and I gushed across her belly
and pressed against her
the stickiness like glue between us
I never thought I could be so content
downright joyous
sometimes I look at her and just giggle
sometimes after sex I just laugh and laugh
sometimes like today
I wonder if it all a lie
we’re strangers really
and I want her so bad
that not being around her is like
being ill
my guts as twisted as my mind is by this thing
the intensity something to experience and not observe
fall headlong into the aura and look out upon the
world as if from within the inside of a lightbulb
but there are moments of reflection
where I am no longer “in the moment” 
where I am of two minds
on observing The other
The ear of experience
turning into the tongue of innocence
and becoming the Winking Cynical Eye
an eye that saves images and
sees backwards into time to a phrase,
flashing across the page of the air
saying:  who are these fools who come off
a nine-year relationship and get
married within a year?
Who could be so careless with their heart
as to leave it lying open on the upturned
palm of the hand, the blood trickling down
the forearm and staining the rolled
up sleeve of a button-down Oxford shirt?
And then again this person is myself
of a month ago
Not this hollow chest whose treasure is
temporarily removed
Too much space in there
This is the sickness of love in its newness

And feeling it I want to poop and cry
excrete something, anything
so of course, I write
bear crude homage to
that which is without language

she snores and grinds her teeth
but somehow I don’t mind

And in other news
we are ruined by dwellings
the heat of voices
singing together
	brings upon a density
	which is worrisome in its
Something in there about destiny
	Unruly fates
dangling feet like
	the pitchforks carried by
	cunning farmers	
	talking crows implement
	desperate plans of destruction
Tiny tornadoes graze the cheek
	the stubbled field
	recently burnt
	the cheek of a masculine earth
	mother having given herself over
	to the peach
	the insects of doubt flung aside
	upon the Mistral
		the clouds making stratospheric
		upon the rotten nimbus of
			nearly ruined men
        	up and
there among the wheatstacks
        	& haybails
	the sworn parade of swains
	a solemn procession of suitors
	to a would-be man
	images that present themselves
	as choices
	    identities not to cast aside like masks
	    but a series of graphic transparencies
	    to be seared onto the “character” and
	    form a plasticine palimpsest
The hard plastic molded about an unlikely armature 

	and agitated
	a strange song emanates
	from a box in the corner
	they mirror the motivations
	of underwater mermen
	!!black lines connect the satyrs
	of the land and the sea!!
	spanking the waves with their
	shaking apples out of trees,
	these Atlantean daydreams
	always bring a snigger to
	my chin

Frozen-tufts, ultimately
	broken up upon the heel of the earth
	now woman
	now a man
		again a woman
		(burly and tender)
	Broiling steaks upon the iceflow
	we melt our glacial boats
	Long pants’ pennant fluttering
	the sky rippling as if a million
	eyelids were fluttering
		as if in a dream
		of fucking
Sheets bulge like little Mt. Shasta’s
which is something like a little lord Fauntleroy
When you apply a torch to the oil-drenched
feet of a recalcitrant Templar
or when extracted teeth suddenly jump up
from where they’ve been thrown
and do a little circle dance about your feet
while the cotton-stuffed sockets of yr mouth
refuse to stop giving blood --
				-- just donating to the cause
buckets collect the red sap of your removal 
microphones record the steady schlup
incarnated again, dead relatives
do the hoola as they sweep aside the
remains of what once were a lovely set of
    like giant apes stamping upon
    a tribe of pygmies

And in other news
We are still thinking of how you said “je t’aime”
Is that why you are staying away tonight?
Or is it that I’ve already been planning
What languages our children will speak?
I have a feeling you women have a feeling
about that sort of thing
Oh   I want to burn in you like an ember
	my presence a gentle breath….
	instances of Flame leaping in thin blue jets
	from between your ribs

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

See Also