Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Neal Zirn: Manhattan Cream

Manhattan Cream
by Neal Zirn
MuscleHead Press
BoneWorld Publishing
Russell, New York (2008)

Chapbook. $5.00. 56 pages.

What a delightful collection. If I were an employer, and if Neal Zirn presented this chapbook as his resumé, I would hire him on the spot — for any job, even if there were no openings. Later, when his drug test came back positive, I would promote him to Director of Marketing & Cultural Affairs.

On BoneWorld’s website, Zirn’s chap is billed as “Short fiction & poetry that thrust the reader into the world of drugs, sex, music, & politics of the 1960s New York scene.”

To that I would add “Told with all of the conversational warmth, wit, and timing of good autobiography.”

These short overlapping vignettes and poems are a pleasure to read. They turn on a dime, and many of them come with a lemon twist of Zen enlightenment, or something very much like it:

Blinky Cohen

was quite the guy.

He was originally
from Brooklyn
and working class parents
who were union organizers
and advocates for the equitable
distribution of wealth.
He lived in an East Village
basement flat with floor
to ceiling literature
that ran the gamut
from the practical
to the most high

Blinky, who was against
Everything Material,
ate like a bird,
dressed like a monk,
parceled his words
as if they were Torah,
and apparently dedicated
his life to the creation
of nothing from something.

Blinky Cohen-Aces
in a deck of Jokers.

After reading Manhattan Cream, something tells me fragments of its author are still roaming the streets of New York and Greenwich village, preaching the wisdom of Mary Cochran, manager and chef at the Screaming Zebra, student of Zen, and friend to Honest Red: “Rid yourself of gloom and assume your original state.”

Neal Zirn was born and raised in the Bronx, is a chiropractor, an exhibiting painter and printmaker, and has a Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies. He lives in Potsdam, New York.

Cover: Neal Zirn (click to enlarge).

Dreams: Another added yesterday to the Annandale Dream Gazette.

In the Forum: Manhattan Cream.

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