another Portfolio

out in the ’40’s, edited by Caresse Crosby, Black Sun Press, widow of Harry
Crosby who kept writing about suicide and the Black Sun until he did it
one night along with a prostitute in a hotel in Paris, anyhow at age
24 I submitted to Portfolio and got accepted.
pass a year or two, I am totally mad and trying to be a writer, I am in a
tar paper shack for $1.25 a week in Atlanta, no water, no heat, no   light.
I feel worse than Kafka and maybe lousier than Turgenev, I am starving,
everything gone, disowned by parents who didn’t have anything anyhow, I’m
out of coin, don’t even have a penny but I do have stamps and envelopes and
the old Portfolio address and the address of Kay Boyle, I write them both
5 or 6 page letters explaining what’s left of my soul and my flesh–both of
them rapidly dwindling, and I mail the letters and wait, I wait and I wait,
I try to steal an apple at a fruit stand and I   am caught, I am shamed, I
had never tried to steal before, and I waited and I waited and my $1.25 rent
got overdue but I was allowed to slide because the owner of the place was
dying, just like I was, lots of Christs on lots of crosses, and so anyhow
Kay Boyle never answered, that great liberal, that great feeler for the
oppressed, I never liked her writing style anyhow, too slick, no edges.
I had asked for $10, I had promised repayment, I would have, I am that
way.
anyhow, here came a letter from Caresse   Crosby, Portfolio was dead but she
remembered my story, great story, she now lived in a castle in Italy and
her life was dedicated to helping the poor, there were many poor in the
village below her and it had been good to hear from me.
there was no money in with the letter, I shook the pages again and again
in my dark shack, it was freezing outside and inside and I sat in my thin
California shirt and pants and then I ripped the envelope open and looked
in all the crevices—nothing.
were the Italian poor more worthy than the American, did their bellies feel
hunger more?
I got out of Atlanta by signing on with a railroad track gang going west
and I had to fight off a whole gang of guys because I didn’t laugh at their
dirty and dull and obvious jokes, “there’s something wrong with you, man!”
“yeah… I know it…just stay the fuck away from me!”…as the old passenger
car with the dusty and mud-caked windows took me from one hell to
another.