Ode To Koyne Miles (Upon His Death)


The drinking life

in pure finality

is the last dance of a vampire

immersed in mercifully dark holes

a slow eclipse

filled with the sweet air

of illuminated blue smoke

and dim red lights

strange pale faces, some fangless

and the croaking moans from rotting throats

of shriveled corpses for whom

the elixir is no longer a means

but the end

…Last Call.

For the younger undead


we awake in late afternoons

afraid to emerge before dark

into streets still too bright

for blood-filled eyes

a netherworld where passing voices

shriek offensively like a Burlington Northern in our heads

provoking primal rage in wracked bodies

still too weak to fight about it.

So we wait in fetal hibernation

until the gut holes that paint

our shit black with blood


dropping like the sun


The Thirst.

And on the streets we stumble

emerging legion

from broken doors and

foul alleys

and Cadillac cars.

Converging at temples

a simple apartheid of dives that separates the amateurs

and the weekend frat boy bingers

from the living dead

the pros.

For we make a daily Hajj

walking the faint trail of dried bile

blazed by the old stumbling giants before us

F. Scott, Lonesome Jack, Desi, Saint Lawford

Dylan T., J. Cash, Bob Fritz, dirty old Buk

(un)Holy Jim crowned with the thorns of a Manson-like Jesus at Barney’s Beanery

and too many others to weep over

fearful one day we may suffer Von Helsing’s wooden stake of the almighty AA Dry

and be resurrected like Alice Cooper in a golf shirt.

So the rounds are poured

and our voices rise

from sick murmurs

to a reassuring drone

shaking hands become blessedly


and with every new glass

slit eyes open wider

mouths gape for cran & Stoli nectar

and heads jerk back

like Kennedy in that Dallas limo

exploding in sheer desire for more

and more and more and more and…


the strength returns

the mind becomes clear again

laughter obscures our steady march

to Doom

it all makes a sick sense

destiny no longer denied


And in our majestic moment of decline

we watch the bartender

coast by on Gene Kelly shoes

singing in our rain

smooth as a Grey Goose on Cloud Nine

in front of tiers of bottles

that glimmer in the low light

like skyscrapers of a distant city

full of shimmering possibilities

of a life no longer lived.

— Mark Cromer

“We were just a couple of drunks

on a sea of booze.

And the boat sank.”

— Jack Lemon, from the ‘Days of Wine and Roses’, 1962.

[Written from the woods of Flagstaff, Arizona, in late 2003, and a former lover of mine, a spokeswoman for a major metro District Attorney’s office back in Southern California, called to tell me “I’m so sorry to learn of the passing of Koyne.” I informed her he wasn’t actually dead. “But your poem says he is dead, it’s dedicated to his departure,” she said. “Well, it’s actually metaphorically dedicated to a path we both took,” I tried to explain. “The surreal landscape along the way, flashing by the windows, the history of it all and the end result of which, whenever it arrives, is not in question. But maybe just worth it, at least juxtaposed against the pencil-pushers that die their own deaths in a misery steeped in a sick tragedy. Is there a ‘Pencil-Pushers Anonymous?'” She paused for a moment. “And you’re ok with this? You feel this is something ok to write about? Jesus, Mark. I don’t know what to say? I worry about you. I’m praying for you. And Koyne.” I pondered everything I had done with her not all that long before, in all of her faux Born Again Christian glory, splayed as she was so brilliantly atop the sheets, so willingly lost in her own mania, lost in the revelry of our debauchery. But now she prays. “Yes,” I said. “And while I thank you for your prayers, it’s the truth. And if you ever wanted to arrive at it, perhaps your money would have been better spent at the bar instead of in the offering basket. You have your miracle water, we have ours. And ours actually works, sometimes.” Click. And I haven’t spoken with her since. And Koyne is still alive.]