I TELL FOLKS TO CALL ME POMEROY. That’s a whole lot better than Eddie
Beasley—the name I was born with fifty-five years ago.
Pomeroy has class, style, and strut. And I ain’t got no choice ’cept
to strut. Don’t matter that I’m homeless. Don’t matter that I wear
polyester bell-bottoms. Don’t matter that I act a little crazy now and
again. Because I’m a stud—I’m a star. And sooner or later, a
star’s gotta shine.
Now a star’s gotta share himself—that’s how it is. So last week I
put an ad in a swingers’ mag. An ad for straight sex—none of this bi
shit for me. Hell, I don’t even buy muscle balm unless it’s Ben
Straight. So the ad told it straight.
Picture me one and all, it read. I’m six foot six with broad
shoulders, a narrow waist, and thighs like a stallion. I’m available
for one-on-ones or threesomes. I can handle two women at once. And I
look just like Queequeg out of Moby Dick. Contact General Post Office,
101 Hyde Street, San Francisco. Got a hundred responses, but I only
answered a couple of ’em. Sometimes, describin’ yourself is enough.
They got me on parole, you know. For statutory rape if you can believe
that. They could have gotten me for battery. They could have gotten me
for assault. They could have gotten me for threatenin’ a cop. Crimes
like that are worth braggin’ about. But they got me for statutory
rape. No matter that the little spinner lied about her age. No matter
that I wasn’t her first by a long shot. No matter that she rode me
like a jockey while all the time squealin’ like a pig. Hell, she
practically raped me. And then, when she turned eighteen, she came to
see me at San Quentin—guess I must have spoiled her for other men. But
I wouldn’t have nothin’ more to do with her. When a woman puts
Pomeroy in jail, Pomeroy cuts her off. I told her she’d have to make
do with my mug shot and a dildo.
They gave me a psych eval while I was at Quentin. The psychiatrist
looked at me like I was a bug on the wall and said, “Ahem, Mr.
Beasley, you got yerself a narcissistic personality disorder.”
“What?!” I said.
“Ahem, Mr. Beasley, you got yourself an explosive disorder. And an
antisocial personality to boot.”
That’s psychs for you—they gotta make a problem out of everythin’.
Just ’cause a man likes to fuck and fight don’t mean he’s got
problems. And just ’cause he can think for himself don’t mean he’s
I SLEEP IN THE MULTIPURPOSE CENTER on Fifth and Bryant across from the
San Francisco Hall of Justice. My parole officer reserved me a bed
there—no waitin’ in shelter lines for ol’ Pomeroy. The shitkickers
there all know me well. Whenever I walk into the building they say,
“Pomeroy, you’re the man. You’re the stud. How’s it hangin’,
I play the game. “Loose and full of juice,” I say and they all
laugh. But they’re full of shit. And they know that I know that
they’re full of shit. They just don’t want to mess with the baddest
dude in San Francisco.
I got out of Quentin a month ago so I’m still kinda trippin’ on
freedom. The nicest thing about it is that I can eat what I want to eat.
So I start each day with a hearty breakfast at the Sunshine Café on
Polk Street. No soup lines at Saint Anthony’s for Pomeroy. I have the
same breakfast every mornin’—two eggs over easy, hash browns,
sausages, and wheat toast. And three cups of steamin’ hot coffee.
That’s as close to heaven as a man’s gonna get. And there’s no
point in messin’ with heaven.
The waitresses there have all got to know me, and whenever I walk in
they say, “Pomeroy. You want the usual, Pomeroy?”
“Does a bear leave turds in the woods?” I answer. They laugh like
crazy at that old chestnut—that’s ’cause they’re really nice.
They don’t even mind that I sit there for hours and read every page of
the San Francisco Chronicle. First I read the sports pages and then I
read about the occupation movements over in Oakland and The Embarcadero.
And once I’m done, I leave ’em a ten-dollar tip.
When I’ve had my breakfast, I go over to Market Street and do a little
panhandlin’. I always pick the tourists ’cause they don’t know
what to expect. I say to ’em, “Oy. Can you spare me some cash for a
beef burrito?” I hate any kind of burrito, but I’ve got to tell
’em somethin’. And when they try to buy me off with a buck or
two—that’s when I go crazy. “Five,” I tell ’em. “I gotta
have five.” And then I start spittin’ like a faucet, rollin’ my
eyes, and lurchin’ about like a zombie. So I always get my five
dollars. But I don’t hustle more cash than I need—unlike some folks.
And once I’ve picked up fifteen or twenty dollars, I get the hell out
of there. No point waitin’ for the cops to show. The cops know me too
well as it is.
When I’m done panhandlin’, I walk over to the public library. I
don’t go there to sleep or shoot up in the bathroom—I go there to
read. ’Cause Pomeroy ain’t no illiterate, crack-smokin’ bum.
He’s a coffee-sippin’, Shakespeare-quotin’ bum. That’s why I was
assigned to the library at Quentin. That’s why nobody fools me—a man
who likes to read has got his own mind.
Now usually, I read the classics ’cause none of the modern writers are
worth a shit. Except maybe Charles Frazier. Cold Mountain got it right.
Don’t be dyin’ for no slave ownin’ one-percenters. But I prefer
the classics, and I read ’em ’til the pages fall out. Paradise Lost
I’ve read a dozen times ’cause the devil got it right, too. Don’t
be kissin’ ass in heaven when you can rule the whole underworld. Makes
sense to ol’ Pomeroy.
I kinda like Joyce’s Ulysses—not the story but the way he tells it.
There ain’t much story to it. An ol’ boy wakes up, wanders around
Dublin, sees a pretty crippled girl, and jacks off. And then he goes to
a pub and pisses off a racist. And then he goes home and has a cup of
tea. Meanwhile, his wife is lyin’ in bed ticklin’ her minnow. Guess
the ol’ boy couldn’t deal with her. Guess pocket pool was all he
could handle. She shoulda had a dose of Pomeroy. I’d have had her
shriekin’ like a banshee.
I like the poets too—especially that Yeats dude, his poem about mere
anarchy and all. And what rough beast, his hour come at last, slouches
towards Bethlehem to be born. I ain’t sure what all that means, but I
like it anyhow. That’s one big-dicked poem.
I’m a hell of a poet myself. I recite my stuff at The City Lights
Bookstore when they have their open mic readings, and I strum my guitar
while I read that shit. While I was there last week, I read ’em a poem
I wrote about that Bush dude—the fucker who stole himself a whole
presidency. I wrote it five years ago, but that didn’t make no
difference. The crowd was stompin’ and hollerin’ before I even
finished the first verse.
This man we call a president
is just a piece of shit.
He ain’t got no intelligence.
He got no soul or wit.
He’ll call on you to sacrifice.
He’ll send your sons to die.
But his hands are full of money
and his heart is full of lies.
Well, the shitkickers there went ballistic on me. “Tell it like it is,
Pomeroy! Tell it like it is!” they all hollered. So I read ’em a bit
Now he’ll claim to be a Christian.
Now he’ll say his soul is filled.
But all he really worships is the
corporate dollar bill.
I had to stop there even though I had forty-seven more verses. Because
the women were about to rip off their bras and shake their titties at
me. Write yourself a poem—even a fucked-up poem—and women are gonna
mob you. I was damn lucky to get out with my bellbottoms still on.
TWICE A MONTH, I go to the General Assistance Office where I pick up a
check for two- hundred thirty bucks. I cash it at the Sunshine Café,
and then I look carefully at the money. Ain’t it amazin’—the
shitbags who got their faces on money? There’s Jackson, an Indian
murderer. There’s Jefferson, a slave owner. There’s Grant, a drunk
and a butcher for the cotton guilds. And that goddamn Lincoln was the
worst of them all. Killed himself half a million people just so he could
keep the cotton tariffs jacked up. Talk about a one-percenter.
But that’s the way things go in this country. Steal a little and
they’ll throw you in jail. Steal a lot and you’ll get your face put
on money. Guess it don’t hurt a fucker to be on the right side of
Hell, even that Kennedy dude got himself a fifty-cent piece. I remember
his speech when he became president. “Ask not what your country can do
for you,” he said. “Ask what you can do for your country.” What a
steamin’ pile of crap that was. You might as well ask the
one-percenters to pick your pocket and kill you in their wars. Fuck that
shit. But they’re all pretty much the same—Kennedy, Jesse Jackson,
even Bill Clinton. They want you to be faithful to some cause or other
when they can’t even be faithful to their own wives. If a man wants my
vote, he can damn well keep his pecker in his pants.
WHEN I’M DONE at the library, it’s almost dark. That’s when I go
to the Multipurpose Center and chill out with the shitkickers. Usually,
we watch television—Survivor if it’s on. I like bettin’ on who
gets voted off. Usually, I win but when I don’t win the shitkickers
all shake their heads.
“You don’t gotta pay us, Pomeroy,” they say—that’s ’cause
they’re all scared shitless of me. But I always pay up when I
lose—even if it’s twenty bucks. If a man don’t have his dignity,
he’s got nothin’—hell, he may as well be on Survivor. None of
those folks on Survivor have dignity—if they did they’d get voted
off the first week. And it’s the biggest slime balls of them all who
end up with a million dollars—like maybe they took lessons from the
one-percenters. They oughta call the show Conniver.
I like American Idol too. Round up a bunch of pretty looking kids, have
’em sing other people’s music, and you got yourself a show. It’s
that easy to become a celebrity. It’s that easy to have millions of
people hollerin’ out your name. Now if those pissants can make
it—kids who don’t even sing their own words—it’s gonna be even
easier for Pomeroy. The shitkickers all agree with me.
“You’re gonna make it, Pomeroy,” they say. “You’re gonna make
it big.” And then I recite ’em one of my poems.
TONIGHT, THEY’RE PITCHIN’ tents in Frank Ogawa Plaza over in
Oakland. So tonight I ain’t watchin’ no pissants sing other
people’s music. There’s better entertainment on the news—all those
little spinner types wigglin’ their asses to drumbeats. Makes ol’
Pomeroy pitch a tent of his own. And those folks dressed like corporate
zombies are a hoot. The zombies keep shoutin’, “Money makes the
rules!”—like maybe they just figured that out. The zombies keep
shoutin’, “We’re changin’ the rules!” Fuck that shit.
Haven’t they read Animal Farm? I guess not—that’s a bit much to
expect from a zombie. What rules are they gonna change anyhow? Ol’
Pomeroy makes his own rules. ’Cause I think with my head and I fuck
with my cock. There ain’t a whole lot of folks who can get things in
That means I gotta leave Frisco for a while. Gotta change my routine
every now and then just to keep the cops guessin’. It’s too easy for
’em to pin stuff on ol’ Pomeroy. But the cops ain’t gonna bug me
in Oakland—there’s too many anarchists there that need bustin’.
And Pomeroy ain’t no anarchist.
But that don’t mean I’ll be missin’ the party—not when they got
food tents set up over there. None of that vegetarian shit for me,
though. They better be servin’ sausages if they want to keep Pomeroy
around. Gotta keep my strength up if there’s fightin’ to be done.
Gotta keep my strength up if I’m gonna play my music. And if I get my
face on the evenin’ news, I might just get a recordin’ contract.
Excerpted from "Call Me Pomeroy [Kindle Edition]" by James Hanna. Copyright © 2015 by James Hanna. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.