Akard Drearstone The Album Cover by Jan Pace copyright 2017 by Michael D. SmithHow They Came About

The idea for the novel Akard Drearstone came as I idly examined two sheets of blank square pink paper at my hated insurance job in August 1975. In a burst of inexplicable high energy it occurred to me to make these into a record album, which I proceeded to draw over the next hour, taping the sheets together to form a double album’s front and back cover with interior notes. I remember poring over the completed thing for days afterwards, enthralled with the results, song titles and band member names immediately calling forth plot and characters.

I based the album on the character of Akard Drearstone, whom I’d first used in the Fall 1974 comic The Story of Lester Quartz’s Fantastic Journey, much of which was also drawn at my Praetorian Mutual Life Insurance Company desk, don’t ask me why. The 288-page comic can now be termed a graphic novel, though I had no idea of that concept at the time. In any case it showcased Akard Drearstone, his obscenely-titled rock group, and his assassination onstage by CIA agents.

Soon after drawing the album I wrote fourteen loopy songs, as a novel about these rock stars would need those off the wall, satirical tracks for their album, originally named February Death Trip but later simply Akard Drearstone. The emerging novel prompted a two-page outline that turned out to be surprisingly close to the massive 1,587-page, 661,581-word rough draft which exploded 1976-1978 into the Ongoing work of Humanity.

The Hit Single: 29/Stairway/Absolute Albatross Greasies

The first two hit single songs come before the group’s masterpiece album. I’d written them a year earlier as stream of consciousness for the Lester Quartz comic. They came from poems I typed at work on rolls of adding machine tape, and they’re left intact in the novel in all their impenetrable foolishness. A young man hit on the head with a cinder block, and subsequently deciding he must exchange his print job shop for lead guitar, would write these kinds of songs.

29 stairway

softly reading by the baptist basement preacher window …
the midday potato chips
the ninth grade literacy test
the blasted light on
the Twenty-Nine Stairway!

cars on the dirty way
mind snapping at the ice bitties
sun drifting through some diagonal visor
vast spaceship leaking curare
busy trumpets on primitive commerce street
ungodly procreative new jersey suburbs‑‑
vacated for the canyons of
the Twenty-Nine Stairway!

absolute albatross greasies

feeling for the salty globes limping
out of the volume of the night square,
opened with a wonder wound of highness,
Peter Blitzkrieg came into the rest home of himself at last

the water vaporous wolf
sits with his back to the mushroom
on friday sunlight day november
as the newsline passes the message of neural pain

the sun, peaking, closed my eyes with jagged red lines
at the intersection of two orange moods
I can still see the polished snouts of the cars
as they come for me from vibration glare

to the south, a weary homesick drizzle waits,
mosquito pond at the roots of sightseeing flesh trees,
wasted by solar principles,
gnarled office dreams, the maturing of the day

Akard Drearstone: The October 1975 Album that Changed the Course of Rock History

While writing the first draft of the novel and generously dipping into the fourteen silly songs along the way, I decided that Akard would in fact be much more of a poet; after learning from his hit single how to better write verse, he would develop a rigorous rhyming scheme and serious content. The fourteen songs for the album were cut to eight and I vigorously reworked them through May 1979. “Neutral Mindglow,” based on a dream of alien contact, was the last done and the apex of all the songs.

I left the songs untouched through the major 1993-94 revision. Finally deciding to make Akard a publishable novel meant giving up the idea of including the songs as an appendix, and I decided I’d just quote lines from a few for flavor. I’ve retained this approach in the final 2017 Akard, but for the first time since 1979 I did revise one. A couple lines in “Streets Textured With Death” had never felt right and I figured they’d mar the final published novel. With that exception, the eight final songs, which appear in their entirety only on the website, are their sculptured 1978-79 versions.

Akard Drearstone – Side One

doomboat tar

this world expressed its omens and adjourned to get a boost
a battery in structure like the banquet it mateused
with buttons from the toilet baking patterns just like bread
and television horses charging through Borr’s scattered head
the membranes of the shapes Borr ate were not without their needs
their silver plates conducted bucks from Borr’s exhausted steeds
to chapters from the calculus inserting words in mud
as frogs squeezed Borr’s last treasure till it came apart in blood

the little dog had structure, then its spine spread for the street
to split with life’s inventions and let enzymes shine like sleet
until its veins had emptied and the cattle heard the horn
and sucked through carburetors from some zenith to get born
to spread out on the beaches that were borders for the mouth
that climbed the roofs of churches that were sloping to the south
and powered chiseled crotches on the brown slabs of the graves
that lay atop the ocean with the sun pressed on the waves

Borr stumbled through a dope stone to a corner of deep space
and grabbed the slackened cables that slashed back to wreck his face
he scrambled to some boats that docked in morning’s oily pall
and took a humid piss behind the socialistic doll
who stamped to life the lifeboats; Mrs. Bag was like the sphinx
and told the dolts she’d mold them so that all those missing links
would chant a mantra perfectly to slice Borr from his car
and send the sinner cruising through the hot black doomboat tar

his teeth were smudged with sewage from the sticky fountain walls
as palette knives broke both the yolks of juicy cowboy balls
they’d needled Borr to minister, to carve the lunar rune
and each pure baby in the boat then sipped it from his spoon
as empty dogs formed atoms that would chew into his cheese
and make him brittle once again, though flimsy with unease,
his pressure suit went nuts and made the atmospheres emote
and tar was culled from Borr’s patched skull and leaked out from his throat

adults threw shadows at him as they clanked out on the lawn
and welded girders in the night from which his feast was drawn
this memory did not police the cracked light of the moon
to judge black metal trees or get the streetlamps back in tune
for ancient lies were pleasant highs to those who built Borr’s load
to those who made assumptions that procured them settled code,
those wastebins full of pennies that just recently Borr tossed
to ward away australia in july’s bright winter frost

the den was nailed from cedar and its lions worked their loom
with matted fur like treaded tires they fashioned Borr from gloom
they ripped him from the peeling paint and glued him in the vat
where captain jack drew patterns when he walked inside a cat
for willful Mrs. Bag proved clean with seaweed on her arms
providing meals for subtar eels that gnawed upon her charms
and children overturning, as the doomboat buddhas said
won’t have to float when their fucked boat has berthed a higher dread

the lions fondled Borr who was hallucinating death
and shoved him towards texas on some substitute for meth
but then recalled pukes he did when picking at his sore
Borr signed up with the fascists who were pounding on his door
he sold his motorcycle and had all his lions flayed
but one lived on to lead him to the arctic where it prayed
it now looked like a polar bear and nuzzled at Borr’s knee
Borr’s boot came down to prove it wrong, to smash it into glee

a submarine immersed within a bad bay at high tide
contained a chessboard courtroom where Borr’s bullshit case was tried
well-stocked with pool hall concepts Borr was stitching up the felt
he’d stricken with his stick when he’d been struck below the belt
but even then an archer shot the hissing, sharpened cart
that held the tar of karma till it splashed into Borr’s heart
that swimming pool reversed itself, for Borr had gotten laid
at once it dried, and then the prized compartment had to fade

then pistons punched half crazy and they settled for no cash
to shove themselves through doubts they got from nosehits off Borr’s hash
those workers felt like rulers for a second in the boat
but then the ugly tractor came to publish what Borr wrote
a playground full of buzzers gathered carrion to think
about the wretched thousands filling pails with anti-drink
as headlights stirred the oilslick just to make venusian stew
the drained garage exploded through its knotholes right on cue

the stupidity shape of consciousness

a window joined the carpet and repulsive plants in chairs
saw streaks of mud from last night’s rain, dried beer in yellow squares
swell placidly and sigh, since little Billy hadn’t knelt
to graphite spray like slush arrayed to make the faces melt
so billy left the party as the leaves began to split
along the once-stressed patterns which wet highways must reknit

a priest from south america exhumed a food store cave
at three a.m. he slandered it and soon became its slave
and Billy flopped in combat as the street lamps lit the lime
this guy did not know english but he didn’t need to mime
he picked the puffy doorway with the solar slabs of light
and leaked into the brain waves of our Billy’s urban blight

at four one oil-slicked morning in the harbor of blank form
I capsized as the door unlocked and swung into my dorm
a college student framed in smears and sinking lights and smells
stood thinly in a vision like a boat without its bells
we lied at every roadblock and the yellow flashlight pain
was strumming from each booth along the abstract roads of rain

the teacher from our art class jacked this spaceship from the base
he got a graphic appetite for projects in deep space
but halfway there we’re leaking air, three outlaws slapping bugs
I try my first year spanish, but the teacher merely shrugs
“so one-way tickets cannot help us navigate,” he mopes
“we’ll have to crash this rocket on those punished martian slopes”

the ship is filled with garbage after gouging its parade
and me and Billy, pretty shook, uncrumple cardboard jade
to pump our final spacesuits, and then Billy is unnerved
to see the teacher’s pieces that the pissed-off sand has curved
but soon the drifting landscape simply covers up the fist
we wait for dreams of oxygen to make us not exist

the locked orange bridges sift through skies and heat the eager pest
that snarls and crawls through craters with its metal heading west
the power that we squander is a hard-won snake-haired muse
the rover tears up trenches and the moons begin to fuse
a necklace in the ether made from skulls and laced with wax
will glint upon our windshield like the biting of an axe

bullshit assumptions

in the white scepter weeds of an acre of hades
the devil is dual, explaining to ladies
that he took my friend Dave to a field Sunday night
with a kick of shotgun he blew the dude bright
disguised as two teens selling both moon and comet
who tricked drunken Dave into turning to vomit

a mirror of saturn lay deep in the prairie
rebending our light till we thought it a dairy
a boy locked in bed on a blank night in austin
distorted the churches his mind must get lost in
and phone calls were probably sent with the tarot
to reach rings of ice, where Dave floats like a pharaoh

I drove down to interview Dolly Disease
the triangle sunrise slashed black with her skis
she lived at the commune, her rent was a dime
but then our fucked buddy was shot twice by time
she folds up the paper as if it were dusk
the sidewalks still glow but she’s just lost a tusk

a parallel meadow of methane and magic
I wander with Dave as his smooth night turns tragic
the kids miss my head and I slide to a pool
immune to all troubles until Davy’s drool
turns streams into turquoisy things that he’s thought
I hide in his life and confirm that I’m caught

as murals of hills rot in brackish back rooms
I’m hunting the ripples of two teenage tombs
a big dream of toilets in underground ditch
where microbiotic religions get rich
I frown at the time I was chained to the zone
of a dry texas town in a criminal stone

in bricks of apartments where guard dogs resplash
the women wear gray to trap gravity’s trash
the shacks tight with rockets must flex by the fence
and brown cars burn blue through molecular dents
an ocean ammonia was poured through my wire
a cessna awoke me, my front room was fire

this Dave was a throttle, and though he was marred
by the symbols the soldiers had dumped in his yard
two kids with a tumor instead of a mind
rehearsed their own karma when ripping his rind
he worked through the mud but the midmorning claw
of a long curve was coming which Dave never saw

I drift to the tint that was stuck to the glass
of the bus seat that strew me, a chemical gas
through rivers of concrete which, built out of sleep
make two lion cubs lie in fog and then seep
the first three dimensions which clog up your drains
try lifting them up off your head past your brains

Akard Drearstone – Side Two

streets textured with death

electron snow and photon ice discharged this russet street
as little boys were stripped of rank and shot down in the heat
and brittle waves of asphalt that absorbed the solar gore,
in numbers cracked with meaning, socketwrenched into that core,
implied the buried pipes until the headlights from that dance
traversed the empty cylinders and fused in soulless trance

the sand had killed these skeletons that dared to cross the plain
the riverbeds had cracked and sunk to underworlds of pain
and robot tanks patrolled the streets and dug for hidden cords
uprooting slabs of sidewalks and their weeds as stiff as boards
while slimy glass that still prepared for twisters packed in shrouds
refracted lunar spray paint from the high disjointed clouds

though baffled, I was interviewed by magazines each night
reporters taped my answers as this hard street’s sleepless blight
was hinting at plutonium that melted down so deep
that even my lost stomach had to register a beep
I’d dreamed of it for years as little cats clawed through my shirt
to scratch down to a king who’d made his throne in that hot dirt

a shattered concrete sewer pipe lay open to his place
all overgrown with dim red plants in strobelight-broken space
I crawled through squirming tunnels and their ugly bright blue mud
and touched the grisly ventricles that opened like a bud
I saw the god of water who got sloshed on certain dates
I watched a dog and fish eat side by side beneath gray plates

his avenue grew castles which dissolved and made me blink
and flimsy creatures, self-propelled, sucked through their feet to think
he slept six inches under in his garden’s murky roots
I saw the leaves’ reflections joined to skies of dreaming boots
the night was chocolate pie and still addicted to this trench
a frog made low commotion in the green fluorescent stench

he tried to stop my chemicals from digging through his heart
but soon his lungs were boiling with the doggie bag of art
my eyes were smeared with rainbows and my nose was filled with waste
I came from simple combat in those whirlpools stuffed with paste
to steel the dawn in progress as I idled at low speed
exhaust pipes crammed in water made clear spheres rise from the mead

an iridescent opal in this bright diurnal time
on docks of death dissolving like a meteor turned slime,
the frog was made for mud and there I tucked his final fires
I noticed that my Pontiac was breaking through its tires:
a second chance for zombies like myself to visit Mars
and feel a dimmer sun upon horizons healed in scars

cop on a ten speed

avoiding the ballroom’s diseased unplugged wires
in the time of pre-banquet, by balancing tires
a cop rode his ten speed and ticketed swords
hung on underground walls which, adorned with awards
awaited the liftoff of space station labs
with their sorceric tables in stacks like steel scabs

a hundred flights up where no cop can know ceiling
he tightens his eyes, cause the wind has him kneeling
he’s got a square yard which he tastes with each gland
he knows he’ll come off like the terrorists planned
they’re bombing the lobby, and this godless dam
will soon shiver lightly and drop like a lamb

a soldier on drugs with a long yellow tail
is young for his helmet, his grin is a nail
from Burgerking, Texas he came to fate’s train
to side up with saviors as suburbs complain
that terrorist armies pull guts out of cows
through flesh weekend mornings their dreams jerk like plows

two scientists hole in a lakefront hotel
and falsify drunks in a moist psyche’s dell
where oceans exist, through their thunder is failing
and scientist two sees a girl by the railing
while scientist one in his room with his image
is writing a book for an alien scrimmage

we’re back to that cop on his hundred buck feeling
his eyes turn to brain, and his brain is congealing
he’s freed from the teaching that mind is a beast
as she’s shot from the top of that bar of cracked yeast
the teenage mechanics loose-headed and slatted
receive his tarred soul which the contest has fatted

society cares, but not much, for that cop
as his thud colors pavement, condolences stop
a dog’s in the lot and his eyes let him swim
to crunch his blind mouth on the cop’s dented trim
I say “easy bud” but he whispers “no dice‑‑
I’ll eat this damn arm cause it won’t know me twice!”

the thought of the horses possesses the clerk
who’s tuned to a kitchen where carving christs lurk
the first month is swollen yet kerosene clear
at dawn frozen fog pats the ash from a bier
the seas of the moon use a code for that snack
the tea drinker types out a page of shellac

“I’ll let in the horses” I say as the doors
come open on schedule to chill our gold floors
a man like a mongrel worked years for our cause
while out there his horses must breathe ice and laws
to click to new channels of barns like black porridge
I take the first horse and I lead him to storage

Akard Drearstone – Side Three

overturned runway

the country doctor plays for me a backwards-strung guitar
upon a dawning planet in a rain that stays bizarre
within my crinkled saucer which was once my parachute
I used for my escape from the computer’s millionth root
the mud green gloom dissolves the tombs constructed for my health
to wean the nasty alphas and the gammas from this wealth
my yellow weeds were chiseled and their future vectors traced
from spaceships that foreshortened as they fattened in their haste

between we three deciders had been panels that would flash
to blast us all to pieces if we all refused to crash
I rode the starship’s nose cone where a cop trained his blank brains
on me, the navigator and our pilot who took pains
to land the cruiser sideways; but my paingun promptly mowed
those two down with the proper evolutionary goad
on intercom I warned the billion passengers that fate
bequeathed our final runway an event horizon trait

a continent surrounds me now, unmapped, without a past
of surfaces I’ve visioned it is one that seems to last
I miss the nightly sunset but I seal its envelope
and mail it to the dogs who foul all corners with their dope
the high schools built from brainbricks and the nerves of the unknown
have cut nocturnal highways from the sections of a cone
the apes torn down to sewers are the ones who learn to think
they push through frozen airlocks to this sphere of solid zinc

the three shapes of eternity crouch with me like the rays
that squander every cobalt bomb I crammed in these bomb bays
this world is then the first shape I see hanging from the cliff
to watch its weighty trapezoids slide down through me; yet if
the second shape is searching in its pants to pay the toll,
and syrup for a cough remains a puzzle to that soul,
a simple blaze of nighttime fear can pull to earth a Self
some skeleton turned inside out, pink seahorse, pointed elf

now somewhere there’s an outback where the television bars
play automatic pong while fibrous plants grow through green stars
the future is this third shape with a labyrinth kept clean
by black lines, white compartments, and the smell of gasoline
its wipers swipe off windshields and they twist it through my head:
this cup of scratched blue plastic is amazed to hold the dead
this planet bears its puppies triple-headed, quick as mice,
to foam and hide on mountainsides and pad through fields of rice

near portholes of the starship where old Goethe with his dent
had written out astrology by arches during Lent
the science fiction beer high wasn’t very hard to take
as bears piled in their trees and watched my thoughts begin to flake
they certainly weren’t artists but they blundered near the light
from ladders up to attics where the final slice of sight
was streaming from dimensions that completely slipped the bore
to float with dogs in open smog and sleep clear to the core

as captain jack knew solitude, and grieved for his lost earth
our old man Goethe with his hat, an elf, for what that’s worth
probed certain mildewed grottoes in the tiles which lined all walls
and shone from floor and ceiling down the starship’s endless halls
he chose a polyhedron from the deathless flux of darts
which symbolized the losses that unlatched the opaque arts
the brick caboose was there again reripping windtorn skies
so dull light on the runway could erect the winter’s eyes

the stratosphere is strange and all its arrows point to rugs
the speedfreaks wash their cars and leave detergents in their drugs
the rocks rehearse like trumpets and the prom queen’s sunny bites
remove the moviemakers from the steppe’s contested heights
the flaws of dogs in bushes are tobogganed into truth
their paw prints in the mud have gotten hard, but sharp vermouth
had shredded concepts I’ve endured and closed the gates I faced,
these vulgar pools I do not have to wait to see erased

Akard Drearstone – Side Four

the buried dream

as bitter will dripped from the wet wooden board
a pregnancy gunner unshackled his lord
the kitchen grease lumped with the oven’s black snow
decaying in rays of unknown status quo
shot five hundred fountains, to write us a ream
and cold war was spat in a lucid blue cream

when rockets went stairwise, the painters used lights
to replace all the stars with their patternless rights
I wanted the mescal that simplified mood
since the sun now comprised the spent shell of our food
the gray saucer spaceship had crawled east northeast
and crapped out on land in a pink plasma feast

the city was garbage, the buildings were burnt
they hung in false girders and were what they weren’t
the restaurants were roasted, the oxygen saint
revealed a resolve to dissolve human paint
all metal turned liquid, and car fenders fried
as wind killed and turned what this dry earth had tried

one born in the charter of world war two lace
may feel like a farmer in windshield embrace
the holy dark ages have swelled up and broke
they climb from my lungs where they glisten and choke
a lizard who lighted, alone in my throat
the drops of orange flame for this hot woolen coat

alaska is outlined in crayon and ice
the blue sky is distant and feels pretty nice
a northwestern passage is cut from the rocks
a river so hard that it loves what it mocks
the slabs groan with light on the triangle’s edge
pull algebra suns down to melt on each wedge

neutral mindglow

in memory polluted I had planned this party right
I knew the summer solstice by the waves of silent light
that spread from neutral mindglow lamps to chip the thoroughfares
as friends streamed to my house up all the massive urban stairs
to drink the blood of darkness: Jake and Marty got depressed
and Billy looked like metal getting blowtorched by this quest

I heard the whir of aliens and stepped out to my stoop
to watch their saucers scooting over downtown’s blocks of poop
they sailed in single file and all their saucers were old planes
from world war two refashioned into odd, disturbing pains
with extra wings and neon tubes and blinking lights so hard
that every speck of mud was like a diamond in my yard

so obvious that aliens would use our world’s thick air
to float a billion airplanes that would legalize despair
by changing fighters subtly and then crackling them with lies
they sent kinetic evidence that puttered past my eyes
that surely they had planned to put the human will in chains
and crush our clumsy race by simply showing us strange planes

I went inside to tell my friends that life was getting worse
but seeing that they knew it I just sat down with a curse
our rooms were bright and solid and my friends picked at their toes
to feel this world of weeds and dirt begin to breed these foes
they each cut up their stomachs into seeds but were too awed
to plant for primal times when all their minds would be declawed

when Billy pulled his pants down for this consciousness he loved
we took him to the bathroom where the best of us were shoved
and Dolly D. was sitting there to say to formless Jake:
“let’s watch the television and completely feel the rake”
at three a.m. Jake reached the screen and threw us down its well
which snapped to show the fighters flooding through their brilliant bell

by getting through that program we soon learned that tools had changed
by five a.m. we’d fully grabbed the shovel that arranged
this party in the atmosphere that dropped some colored beads
down through our flattened strata to make periscopic weeds
the saucers popped and disappeared to leave our planet prone
but vines had twined up latticework; their concepts were our own

 All words and images copyright by Michael D. Smith