Junkie Sax Player Johnny Favors Changes His Tune

I performed this last night at the Tasso Hostel open mic in Florence. It’s from Famous Actress Disappears.–Cary T.

Johnny Favors was a junkie sax player in the Tenderloin playing punky jazzy avant-garde new wave bebop when he got so strung out he couldn’t hit the high notes opening for Blondie and backstage Debbie Harry wouldn’t give him one of her last three Marlboros so he called her an airheaded cheerleader for the capitalist rear guard of New Wave sellouts and she called him a preppie asshole and he kind of made a gesture like he was going to punch her even though he wasn’t and that was when the Filipino bantamweight bouncer broke his jaw.

 

Johnny Favors didn’t get any more gigs in San Francisco after that and one rainy night on Ellis in the Tenderloin walking home from trio practice he got shot.

 

The bullet came at him from behind garbage cans in an alley off of Turk Street and he wasn’t doing anything but walking home with his sax case after trio practice, he wasn’t out to cop, he wasn’t even high, he was sort of even trying to quit and this bullet comes out of nowhere right behind his skull and it takes like the cleanest little nick of hair and scalp right off the back of his head and then he hears, from the dark pile of vague alleyway shapes and ironwork and brick wet with cat piss and beer urine and condoms and syringes lying about and a half-torn copy of the SF Weekly turned to the section of demo tape reviews and an empty box of cornflakes lying next to a discarded old broom and one foot protruding from the garbage can in the vicinity of which the shot had been fired, HE HEARS, in the mizzling rain of 2:30 a.m. on a Friday night in January, his hair wet and slick and the piece of his skull the bullet took off so tiny, just a tiny little sliver that fell down his shirt, and a few bits of hair on his neck, and him all startled and starting to run and he slips on the mucky garbage slick as he tries to run and goes down on the sidewalk but catches himself with his left palm and as he regains his footing, agile son of a gun that he is, HE HEARS from the alley way this kinda plaintive, whiny old wino voice saying, “Sorry mister! Sorry! I didn’t hit you, did I?”

 

So then he’s going to run but he’s kind of stunned and he’s already fallen down once so he’s like,

 

“What?”

 

“I said I’m sorry mister I don’t know what happened with this stupid gun of mine I didn’t mean anything.”

 

Then John feels the back of his head and there’s this tiny little sliver missing and that’s when he figures anything could happen and maybe he doesn’t have as many lives as he thought.

 

The next morning was a rainy San Francisco morning in the Tenderloin when he woke up and had no dope and after searching under the cushions and in the coffee can and in the pockets of his two jackets and under the rug and behind his copy of De Quincy’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater and behind the TV and under the microwave, it hit him that he was a fucking moron, an addict, a junkie, nothing more, a fucking lowlife junkie who would never amount to anything and would probably die behind a garbage can like that idiot bum who nearly took his head off last night and then in that moment he knew, he just knew he was done, done for good, if he could swing it, and he walked out of his room in the Luxworth Hotel on Eddy and Hyde without even locking the door and trudged up to Bush to Leavenworth and up Leavenworth to the Nob Hill home and office of his brother-in-law the clean-and-sober surgeon and rang the bell and when his brother-in-law the surgeon answered the door he told him he wanted to get clean.

 

“Finally,” said his brother-in-law, and booked him into a 28-day program in Napa.

New Years Day 2018

“I’m still alive!”
is something you shout
from the crevasse
to the rescuers
whose pick axes remind you
because you are still a poet although stuck in the ice
of cartoon implements from TV in Florida
and this is how you hope to go
one day but not yet because
the medicine was good and you are still here
a bit of a miracle but
as they with their chisels chip and hammer at the ice
that preserves you like an aspic of creative, this whole
human mess we’re in for a flash is also frozen like an X-ray
of the sun, leaping fusion mountains unsurfable
and now in tuscany looking west at rooftops
Two arms reach out a window shaking out a rug the
miracle of my rescue gets another dial click as
Scientists gather like in Florida TV sci-fi in black and white
and something I remember after surgery barely walking how I
Suddenly wanted pink and yellow shirts and
Soon as I could drive the V-8 Tundra I drove from the beach
down to mall and went to Nordstrom’s and bought these outrageous
pink and yellow shirts.