Darrell Dela Cruz: A favorite poem

To the Hustler
by Harold Norse

Some well known poems are known for themes like anti-war or technology.  The message is powerful, but sometimes those poems lack raw, chaotic, true emotion.  Conversely, poems that are known for raw, chaotic emotion from the depths of the human soul like love and depression lose appeal since there are so many of them.  “To the Hustler,” always keeps me on my toes because the poem is not strong enough to hold a powerful message, or hold onto emotion.  The poem searches for it — desperately searches — the search is heartbreaking.

Darrell Dela Cruz
Academic Coach
San Jose


To the Hustler

As Boris Karloff marches to the electric chair in The Walking Dead
you’re jacking off
But when you imitate the mating call of the Double-breasted Yellowbellied
Sapsucker
Out on the café terrace
You attract even the local birds to the telephone wires
Who answer with bird notes of love
because you are wild
and free
and scream with the sheer joy of being 20 years old
a giant of beauty and anarchy
and when you play the guitar and sing
You establish the live connection with pure pleasure!
Well is it love? All
we need is money
You say you will support me
We could bottle the perfume of your crotch and make a bundle
You get hard ons for TV
That I’m no competition for
but I could gaze at your lips and eyes
Forever
browse in your pits
explore those eyes
that see only yourself
in a child’s shamanistic dream

There’s so much to tune into
But when you break your word and lie
I’m unhappy
you’re breaking my trust
and love can’t survive a hustle
watch out baby
cool the hustler’s sleazy charm
life’s a bitch
the magic splits

Well this is a love poem
Listen!
Joe I’m talking to you stop watching that goddam television!
You’d stick your prick in the box if you could!
Those cretinous phantoms
make me puke!

Is our love Mickey Mouse?
don’t answer that—
this is not a psychology lesson
it’s a poem
but when I’m stoned my mind is cinema
the universe a lousy film
and you’re playing Magister Ludi
just a-hustlin thru metaphysics
full of weed TV and “foxy chicks”
Hey you’re jacking off again!
(even tho’ you’ve read Alan Watts)

I’m not Elizabeth Barrett Browning
This isn’t the marriage of true minds
just an old hustle
with a dash of mysticism
ESP and a high IQ
and you’ve read some Beat Poetry
and I introduced you to Tennessee Williams
who was grandiose and arrogant
but all you thought about was money
today’s hip hustler longhaired and lippy
able to talk about Siddhartha
and pick my pocket at the same time
a handsome kid of indeterminate sex

Well this is your friendly old poet speaking
The Good Gay Poet H. Norse who should know better
Who’s been around

Ah, but the loneliness
was too much
for an incurable romantic
too much
and the beauty of illusion
Two weeks of lyrical shell game
was it worth it
yep

So thanks kid
thanks for the trip
(Now segue to synthetic ending)


Harold Norse

(note: This poem was written in an unconventional form on the page that wasn’t possible to reproduce here. My apologies.
Sally Ashton, Santa Clara County Poet Laureate)


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1 Comment

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One response to “Darrell Dela Cruz: A favorite poem

  1. Pingback: Harold Norse’s “To the Hustler” | ] Outside The Lines [

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