David Matlin: From 'The Libido for the Ugly' (A work in progress)

“The Libido for the Ugly” is the title of an essay the great American journalist, H.L. Mencken, wrote in the 1920s about the land and city-scapes he felt had been trampled into nightmare and belittling destitution as we, a hundred years later, are being trampled by presidential edicts which are the most invigorated corporate crusades to undo our Constitution and environment we have seen in generations. Mencken’s title provides some useful hold, and because it is part of our American Imagination I have brought it forward and include here another statement made in 1920 in the Baltimore Sun, I believe now was written in a personal sorrow rather than scathing announcement, “As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.”


Mencken’s title and statement cannot necessarily explain the mercury puddles Trump intends, but it may help to begin naming the treachery and fraud which at once is shattering and converting us into players who will, if we are not careful, be forced to live and die in a plot capable of making us dismiss what we have known and must know about the auguries and pantomimes now re-ordering our lives.


Can the ancient risks of re-conceiving ourselves and our societies word-by-word be enacted to live regeneratively and indefatigably in order to initiate fresh point-of-life labors necessary to private and political well-being our children and grandchildren will need. I am 74 years old and I think about my children and grandchildren and what I might leave them as a novelist and poet word-by-word to help them craft and enunciate a meticulous wonder to help them become specialists who can turn away from what Whitman defined as “… the blind fury of scrofulous wealth …” transforming each day in this time into episodes of cruelty and barrenness. They may need to be more sinister and alive in their experiment; garden magicians at work with care and charms and mastery, an elegance they can enter at last. To write this piece I’ve set out to explore the languages of pornography, the principles of nuclear explosions, sweat of caterpillars climbing bark to extinction. What are the civilization’s sum of deeds and how can they be spoken to.


Guccifer 2.0

DC Leaks



refers to the GRU or Russia’s Military Intelligence Service and the on-line person identified as “Guccifer 2.0” with the website “DC Leaks” used to spread rumor and panic into the election stream of America’s 2016 Presidential campaign.

“Guccifer 2.0” sounds like a pornographic free-for-all-penthouse pet; live, local, direct from the Dungeon. You can open any “Hustler” or “Velvet” magazine, then tune into the Call Grandma Today motel and hotel adult videos and take the Limo into XTASY with Vibrator Virgins, Jenteal Hyapatia Lee, the Gasmic Epicures, or look at the Las Vegas NUDE entertainment guides and you’ll experience the same sounds, the same lures, the same carnivores.

Give it “Shower Power” “Tub Tarts” the “Someone’s Watching” Guccifer girls and boys in the “We’re Gonna Finish You Off” details.

“Bionica” is there, “Felicia” in all her dialects, “Debi Diamond” and “Putin’s


“Queeroxes” from the White House to Jared Kushner’s all we want is direct access to where the back door really begins.

Guccifer 2.0/DC Leaks

Experience the wet

T-Shirt Contest



My entrance identification badge reads





CE                         RETAIL

ID 0492554 GR


Waves of cold sundown wind begin to move over the Nevada Desert as I check into a “Westward Ho” room, turn on the television after hours of dangerous Mojave driving in a Friday night two hundred mile traffic jam headed seven days into the new Millennium, and headed too for Las Vegas and the International Porn Convention. I’m an “official” guest of my son and his friends from the barrios of Carson, California, tough “Homeys” who come to this round-up every year, a posse of samplers ready for titty bars, lap dancers, and awards ceremonies for best blow jobs, best anal sex, best gang bangs just off shore from all of America’s versions of Christianity, though if you care to look, the edges of that continent still loom with irradiated angelologies, double formed satans, and congenerated harlot nights.

A commercial for the “Titanic” appears on screen. Items from the remote tragedy are on display at one of the casinos — clocks stopped in time, sumptuous jewelry floating in underwater scenes with hands pulling slowly, lingeringly apart at the moment of tenderest anguish. I notice the curtains are just thin enough to let in a display of neon so concise in its force, its dilations of hungers I don’t see at first the litter swirling everywhere in this arched, straining ground zero licked by writhing gold belly tides.


The drive has made both my son and me restless so we go down Las Vegas Boulevard, or “The Strip.” The sidewalks are covered with ripped and shredded porn advertisements taken from perfumed vending boxes located about every twenty yards.

You can call:                        


   dreamkittens, the

                                                ultimate purring girls,

                                                Brie (796-N6U8D3E3)

                                                Bad Ass Bitches

                                                Maggie the French Maid who’ll

                                                come to yer room, Little Boys Blue,

                                                Country Girls Gone Big City, Pigtails & Panties

                                                A Man Called Horse

                                                Lil, turned off by red meat and

                                                Watch Me Bend Every Which Way Kim


[NOTE. As a poet & novelist, as well as in his groundbreaking study of America’s prisons (Prisons: Inside the New America), Matlin gives us a political/mental/visceral mapping of the fate of America, its people, & the other worlds on which it has impinged in the course of our lifetimes. In his work, then & now, he displays the poetry/history combine that marks the best side of American writing in whatever form it takes. In an early description of that work Robert Creeley wrote of Matlin’s prowess & promise: “Unremitting particular powers of the human long before it got lost in the junk — where a bird can still sing it.” And Charles Stein, going still further: “Matlin’s work is not a comfortable ‘read’ — in fact it is not a ‘read’ at all — but an initiation, possibly, into the predatory condition of one’s own vitality. It is a poetry that bears witness to the occluded stain of violence across American life, local and historical; its means are an ear that is tense and accurate, and an attention, particular, conscientious, and cleansing.” The proof by now is overwhelming. (J.R.)]