Lerner and I’s friendship ended back in 1988 after a stupid fight over the politics of some Hollywood poetry reading. He was furious with me because we were supposed to be down there to piss these people off, not get our picture in Interview magazine smiling vapidly between Dweezil Zappa and Ed Begley Junior.
We didn’t speak for years, then became friends again when we found ourselves strung out at the same time. Then our only vaguely literary arguments were centered around who gave the best prices on shoplifted books.
I didn’t want to write anything about David Lerner to read in front of his friends and family at the memorial because the David I knew these past few years had been a corpse long before his body finally decided to lie down, a state I was fast approaching myself, grey-skinned and gaunt In clothes I hadn’t wanted to waste any precious junk money on washing for weeks, sulfuric pus erupting like warm shaving cream from matching dimesized holes in both of my shoulders I was beginning to see visions of the Angel of Death like a giant winged slug with fever-green slits for eyes hovering over my bed, rubbery wings dripping webs of mucus down on my face My apartment was known as Charnel House because of Vylet’s sullen insistence on spattering blood over every tile or linoleum surface David was an occasional visitor there, slumped in chairs too small for him, nodding so deeply we’d usually end up slapping him across the face to make sure he wasn’t going out on us. David Lerner was high on the list of people who were under no circumstances allowed to fix in our living room Like the sign said, No Dying in the House Neither of us were writing very much, neither of us expected to live much longer and neither of us really cared there’s a poet across the room cursing you for sticking needles in your arms, like it was something you were doing to him personally David did heroin because the pain in his back was too great to obliterate with anything but morphine- based remedies Heroin is also the only drug on earth that can instantly alleviate depression, anxiety, and that queasy feeling that the afterlife is nothing more than a hallucination generated by synapses firing in a dead brain.
from (bull horn / special issue, august 1997) in memory of david lerner (1951-1997)
I was necrophilically skinny, worshiping Satan, and living on pharmaceutical grade morphine when I met this gorgeous little death rock heroin princess named Christabel in the Market Street Cinema dressing room. I usually dont like to pick up other strippers but I have a terrible weakness for emaciated things with black, white or blood red hair who still do whiteface and severe black eyeliner in 1992 and who look a lot like me. Besides, she actually has a Joy Division lunch box. I asked her to go to Squids with me for coffee where she told me she really liked me because she could tell I was “fully Gothic,” unlike her yuppy call girl lover who wouldn’t let her play her Christian Death tapes and who she was cheating on with this really cute Goth guy who hung out at the Underground and read poetry to her on bended knee. Most of it was really sad, she said. I gave her a copy of my book and told her I looked really good in drag and that my boy name was Damian.