Phil W.

or Philip Wissbeck was born in Milwaukee and moved to California in 1961. He has an Associate degree in theater from Fullerton College and in between stints there served three years in the Army. He has written a play, Moratorium Day, about his time in Army Intelligence and continues to write plays. After spending 20 years in Los Angeles and 8 in the Palm Springs area he moved to Madison in 2003. His first book of poetry "The Long Tunnel To The Other Side" came out this year.


The Journey

The heat was leeching my strength
pounding my brain.
The politicos weren’t fixing the streets and more and more trash, paper, tires etc. piled
up in the empty lots driven by the wind into the cactus.
But now
the Candida yeast was gone and I didn’t need the heat to dry my sinuses so
I loaded the van to go away from the cracks and the shaking
to culture:
music and spoken word.

I bought my last twenty lottery tickets in Barstow
and turned up the air conditioning
I went through Vegas
very quickly
then into the Rockies
where two guys at a gas station
were going to San Diego from Canada.
What were they looking for?

the long tunnel to the other side
where the land runs the other way
and the rivers have water.
Now plants grow with just rain.

There were people along the way:

      1. The man who changed my tire at 3:30 in the morning
        after the tread fell off nine hours earlier.
      2. The man who put the right side mirror on in Nebraska
        after it fell off with the tire.
      3. The waitress who
        after satisfying my question about the population of Omaha
        said she just wanted to serve me.
        All I could think of was a bath.
        Why did I leave her?

Then I raced across Iowa
and through the blue-collar Dubuque
into Wisconsin
and the climb
to where the waters almost touch the dome.


Before The Waste Material

It’s the waste you see
that was screwing up my life
all those years.
mercury poison
and just shit
feeding on my energy,
taking my ambition,
my dreams,
and years
and years
of throwing up the past
in verbal meandering
to find what I lost somewhere
in the dark end of the world.
You get it back
one experience at a time,
the removal of toxicity
from your body
with every revelation
of your mind
until you find the clean young soul
you were underneath
shining through.