John Bennett

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The Handful

Don't expect
a return
from your
if you're
a poet.

A poet
doesn't invest,
a poet

A poem
is an
of a
mind, a
naked of
the soul.

Of course,
as Leonard
Cohen said,
there are
only a
handful of
real poets,
the rest
are phonies,
& he,
said Leonard,
is one
of them.

He actually
said that!

Wrote it
down in
a poem!

Or what
would have
been a
until he
said that,
because it's
not true.

A poem is
always true.

More than
that it's

It's no
easy task
to divest
of the
which is
why there
are so
few real

Me & My Angels

How many
angels have
two left
feet &
can they
still dance
on a
pin head?

Just how
big are
angels anyway?

Do they
have natural

Where do
they go
when they
cash in
their chips?

Back to heaven?

On to
the next

Up to
their room
in the

How many
people meet
the love
of their
life in
an elevator?

Do they
have sex
& bring
forth an

I've gone
places where
angels fear
to tread.

They catch
the first
plane out
of there
when they
see me
angels don't
have wings
to fly with.

See what
happens when
you take
their wings

You no
longer know
what they
look like.

let me
draw you
a picture.

I fell
in love
with an
angel on
an elevator
in Vegas.

We rode
all the             
way to
the top
& then she
flew away.

She had
after all.

I went
back down
to the
& put
all my
chips on
That was
it for
me &
the angels.

Just the Facts

Dragnet ran as a radio show from 1949 to 1956 and did two stints on TV ranging from 1951 to 1970, starring Jack Webb, who created the show.

TV was still in its black-and-white infancy when Dragnet came on the scene, featuring friendly L.A. detectives Joe Friday and Ben Romero who always knocked before entering to ask the woman of the house a few questions concerning a robbery or a murder, sitting on the edge of the couch in their suits and ties, pens poised over their notebooks. And when the woman of the house began to meander into speculation, Joe would clear his throat and bring her back into focus with: “Just the facts, ma'am...”

Probably 90% of the people who watched Dragnet watched it to hear Joe say those words, but what no one picked up on is he wasn't saying “Just the Facts,” he was saying “Just the Fax.”

Joe's saying fax instead of facts wasn't only a pun, it also played on his longing for a more sophisticated audience to communication with: a fax is a means of communication.  

Eventually, in his off hours, Joe became a burglar, a second-story man, and here too a play on words was at work, a story being a form of communication. Joe broke into highrises and stole fax machines from offices. He became known in the press as the Fax Burglar.

Living in secret isolation in plain view of the entire nation eventually got to Joe, and he rented a warehouse down on the docks, furnishing it with a couch, a stand-up lamp, a hi-fi record player and a whisky bar. Then he rented a U-Haul and moved in all the fax machines.

He'd go to the warehouse late at night, turn on the lamp, mix a drink, put on some cool jazz, and start up the fax machines. Then he'd stretch out on the couch in the dim light of the lamp, his drink resting on his chest, close his eyes and pretend that all those chattering machines were hooked into phone lines, and that he was in touch with the world.


John Bennett was for many years the driving force behind Vagabond Press which operated on the run from Munich to DC to New Orleans to San Francisco and beyond.  He’s published four novels, two novellas, five short story collections and numerous books of poetry, essays and shards, a poem/story hybrid of his own invention.

He keeps slamming out the words, if anything with more ferocity than ever. As Henry Miller said so eloquently around half a century ago, “You may as well have your say, they’re going to shit on you anyway.”