My Own Personal Witch Doctor

Gerald H. Thomas


MY MEMORY OF 1962, AGE 16,




Enough name dropping!  Get the picture?


Can only a real witch doctor educate the Chinese

in that ancient art of creating the essence needed,

for mere wisps of authentic ham sandwich-ness?


*    *     *     *    *

As hayseed Pablum child,

my wisdom exploded into fear,

terrorized by Urban Pigs,

in squealing squad car squalor.

A tiny tattooed toddler, now newborn creep,

boasting fresh-etched Lyle Tuttle scars,

yearning for more hypnotism

by my very own private witch doctor,

happily following into his frenzied exile,

sharing sweet drugged confusion,

blissful bedlam, vacant mystic dreams

shimmering out of control,

with only a single rule:  “No Sleeping!”


And so at night,

when tourists’ wobbly legs

abandon our sidewalks,

we slink into Mike’s Pool Hall,

protected by my very own druggist witch,

my personal witch cynic,


blessed witch of thieves,

greedy dope fiend witch,

the invisible witch of laziness, and most of all,

my master of synthetic smiles!!

He is purveyor of dime-bag happiness

to seething clans of graceful drug-slut nodders,

forcing me to watch from inside my

self-inflicted itchy haze,

helpless, merely sixteen!


*    *     *     *    *     *

I can tell from your vibes

you’re not understanding me!!!!!!!!


Can only a real witch doctor educate the Chinese

in that ancient art of creating the essence needed,

for mere wisps of authentic ham sandwich-ness?


*    *     *     *    *    *

My nights fill with glowing dime-store junkies

especially in the presence of my Witch Doctor

hustlers hustling hustlers

while Chinese fry cooks hide

in ketchup stained white tee shirts,

flashing lethal knives at Pool Hall sounds,

spewing forth unwritten laws,

eternal rules of every drug infested, cheap-ass

midnight Frisco flop-house pool room:


“No masse shots, no gambling,

no whistling, no coins on felt,”

but most of all:  “NO SLEEPING!”


*    *     *     *    *

But beware: 

With that my own Witch Doctor

pierced by nasty sneers

from anarchist drunken sailors,

brashly assumes his goodbye pose,

bids a masterful adieu,

ever more audacious

in his filthy, greasy overcoat,

cast off mangled Converse All-Stars,

too long strawberry grey witch locks

primed with eternal stench of Dixie Peach Pomade.

He desperately tries to melt

into Frisco’s liberal tourist fog,

leave his 16 year old apprentice

before fresh fireworks begin

and yet another juvenile addict drifts into dreamland

igniting fresh mayhem

in panicked Chinese fry cooks.


*   *    *    *   *

My Witch Doctor takes backward baby steps

     toward escape. 

I have his drugs, he has my money, I follow his cue:

I too must dissolve before our Chinese hosts

vent rage with their lethal knives,

threatening illiterate children of the night

with cold and juicy chaos

just to obliterate all evidence

of authentic ham sandwich-ness!


*    *     *     *    *


Your just not paying attention!

The question will give the secret of life,

it’s more important than the De Vinci Code,

And I’m giving it freely to this GIN JOINT CROWD!!


Can only a real witch doctor educate the Chinese

in that ancient art of creating the essence needed,

for mere wisps of authentic ham sandwich-ness?


*    *     *     *    *

Is it yesterday’s sour French Bread,

is it gooey white mayo,

is it mounds of cold pink iridescent ham,

or is it that heavy thick slice of raw ONION,

which renders pure terror,  

forcing Witch Doctor and I to race insanely

out the door, fleeing into Frisco’s clammy night!


*   *    *    *   *    *

“Hey, kid, I got stuff ‘cross town needs attention,”

he whispers gravely

voice long drained,

his passions parched by eternal paranoia,

then vanishing into vast unknowable night

on his opium scented carpet made of lies,

leaving me alone, hallucinating in drizzling fog,

puking on wet sidewalks, in darting shadows

of his magnificent cheesiness!


*   *    *    *   *    *

But I survived, I always survived,

knowing that next time

at Mike’s Pool Hall

might be my last!



The Chinese knew me:

Satanic Baby Witch Apprentice,

gonzo teenage voodoo child,

street punk panhandling thief extraordinaire,

and most of all, their spiritual beatnik poet boy,

ever tight with Witch Doctor,

his loyal trusted artisan, chemically relaxed

while my sorcerer made fresh vampire rounds,

casting his demented spells on

hollow-eyed pasty thugs, fresh fodder

for Mike’s Pool Hall.


So I sat alone

with no fear of fry cook’s lethal knives,

totally consumed by blissful intoxication,

laid back mellow mainline cozy intoxication!

Like a slowly building storm,

my joyous haze grew crystal clear:

Like . . . you know, like . . . .

no matter what the fry cooks did or said,

no matter how long their violence reined,

I could see that . . .you know like . . . that it’s like . . .

like, you know . . . like . . .

it comes from NOWHERE, and

like, . . . you know . . . see, it’s like


‘Cause it’s just a fuckin’ ham sandwich, Baybee!  

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Gerald H. Thomas was weened out of childhood in San Francisco’s North Beach during the tail-end of the Beatnik era, and resided in the Haight/Ashbury during the entire Hippie fiasco of the 1960s and 1970s. He has regularly published fiction and art reviews in magazines & newspapers since the 1970s. For the past 30 years he has been involved in creative art projects throughout Northern California. He's also a member of the State Bar of California (for 42 years), now specializing in International Law and Taxation. :

©2015 Gerald H. Thomas
©2015 Publication Scene4 Magazine




October 2015

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