Jason Mashak

A Glimpse Inside His Beat-Up Notebooks


Eat me.


(excerpt of a letter to Jim Maddox)

One day we’ll be the new rat pack, laughing with red martini smiles, dressed up in Doc Martens, our attorneys dancing with our wives. We’ll get bent and call our creditors, demand to speak with managers, practice our yells. They’ll consider us the Age of Immaculate Consumption, when there was no more shame in pushing than buying. Dubbing to tape will be totem, burning a disc taboo. Our bowels will move without consent (and we won’t remember shit). The kids won’t know if we’re dead or asleep.


Sometimes I lock myself outta the house on purpose,
the last way I’ve not suffered in a while.
Sometimes I throw the vacuum down the stairs,
easier to reassemble than to carry.
I drink-drown and smoke-suffocate,
72 hours later.. renaissance.
And worthless anew, a penny in my heart,
I’m clichéd by a courtyard of doors,
each a different shape and color.
Some are elevators, and I could’ve been
yours - I had all the buttons but you,
short of my minimum capacity.
I couldn’t hold my own weight,
let alone the absence of yours.



You are not some fleeting beating of the heart
adrift at dawn’s arrival

You are a circus unfolding,
a trick with fire

You’re a messy-haired sparrow
atop the circus tent weathervane

You’re a renegade nipple
abreast of big heart



As a child (as now)
the idea of eternal life
scared me.

To live forever...
What kind of ego would that take?

The thought of being born again
when I’ve only just been born
I cannot fathom.

Today is eternal – it is Always

It is enough
to turn up the radio when there is music,

turn it down
when there are voices.

It’s enough to watch the waves
lick my boots, and finally

turn off the radio
in lieu of old vinyl.

It’s enough to remember
Mom and Dad teaching me to work
the turntable at four,
that 27 years later
I’m a master
of what to spin.

(I’ve pursued the deepest grooves
barely ahead of the needle.)

is having fingers in three places
of an open book
of a language not yet your own.
Eternities are simple cows
surrounding the cabins
of our warm discontent.

~ Anchor Heart Ranch
Bend, Oregon (30 April 2005)



There are times Coltrane
didn’t play the sax – he played
smack. There are times he played
eight cups o’coffee & buttered toast.

(For Charlie Parker)

The sun conjures itself
to follow the songs of birds
their magic in blackness disturbing
the hallucinating writer at 4am, or

Birdsongs conjure the sun in time
to disturb 4am ruminations
of a writer and the rest
of the working class, or

A worker's night dreams give way to
birdsong daydreams in dark
sky giving way to the sun
conjured by 4am.


If Levon Helm were mortal,
Maddox might be
his ghost surging Charlie Watts' loose limbs.
A woodpecker in the pants of Neil Peart
thump-thump-thumping blood, helpin'er
– like Keltner. Asymmetrically attuned,
indigenous sticks an extension of limbs, he's fused
from a breathblown pipe of glass
made from the sans (space) 'tween Orpheus' toes.
He rides and smashes symbols from the Bronze Coons' Age.
Gutters quake to his 8-track mind, where Buddha voodoo rhythms
remember holy monsters. His lips snarl to crack of snare,
hips roll in the thunder from under, where pillow holds the microphone
and a carpet grips the leg.



I lost control of the books
upon the shelves

so i put on some gospel music,
payed some bills.


Lemonheads and coffee wake
& take the taste of Prince
from memory's gnarled tongue

It's a Shame About Ray,
my grandpa – the cellar door was
open, he could never stay away

I love My Drug Buddy
even after he took
everyone's share and left us – alone

Two ambulances follow close by
one more slyly out of sight
both ready in case I snap


IN THE PLAYER (Albums that fell into the machine together)

Smashmouth – Fush Yu Mang
Kentucky Headhunters – Pickin' on Nashville
Rolling Stones – It's Only Rock 'n Roll
Smithereens – 11
The Who – Live at Leeds
Jamiroquai – A Funk Odyssey

Neil Young – Are You Passionate
REM – Reveal
Richard Ashcroft – Alone with Everybody
Willie Nelson – Stardust
Tim Easton – The Truth About Us
Sade – Lovers Rock

Pink Floyd – Ummagumma (Studio)
Traffic – Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys
The Replacements – Pleased to Meet Me
Lucinda Williams – Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
Steve Earle – Transcendental Blues
Eric Clapton – Money and Cigarettes

Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed
U2 – The Joshua Tree
The Smiths – Strangeways, Here We Come
Pink Floyd – Momentary Lapse of Reason
The Verve – Urban Hymns
Faces – Long Player

AC/DC – Back in Black
Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream
Jackson 5 – Ultimate Collection
Rush – Moving Pictures
Muddy Waters – Electric Mud
INXS – Kick

Tom Waits – Alice
J.J. Cale – Closer to You
Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska
John Lee Hooker – His Best Chess Sides
John Hammond – So Many Roads
Townes Van Zandt – A Far Cry From Dead

Ben Harper – The Will to Live
Tom Waits – Mule Variations
Willie Nelson – Teatro
J.J. Cale – Travel-Log
Muddy Waters – The London Muddy Waters Sessions
Ray Charles – The Very Best of

The Replacements – Pleased to Meet Me
Simon & Garfunkel – Greatest Hits
Neil Young – Zuma
Wilco – AM
Ryan Adams – Gold
Fleetwood Mac – The Dance (live)

Ani DiFranco & Utah Phillips – Fellow Workers
Pink Floyd – A Saucerful of Secrets
John Coltrane – Interstellar Space
Sun Ra – Heliocentric Worlds, Vol. I
William Burroughs – Call Me Burroughs
Tom Waits – Small Change

Jason Mashak (b. 1973) is a Michigan native who spent equal parts of his life near Atlanta and in Portland, Oregon. His poetry and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, most recently in Venereal Kittens, The Smoking Poet, Black Heart Magazine, The Refined Savage, and Heavy Bear. Several selections here are from his first book of poems, Salty As a Lip, which will be published in 2009 by Haggard and Halloo Press (Austin, TX). He now lives in Prague, Czech Republic, where he invests most of his time playing with his baby girl, Zoe.