Alley Tags VI

Alley Tags VI (2020). Spray paint on wood. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Alleyway Royals

Fold the tent up, the party’s gone

night so short, workday so long

trading dreams for the everyday

little prices we all pay.

Call me crazy, that’s what Leather would say

but not late for dinner this or any day

the mad king of the alleyway

begging the courtesans –  Come away.

Up from a bardo

as the son of a martyr

a cosmic style and fire

with which to conspire.

He sparked the intrigue and blazed a trail

we all followed to little avail.

Once the pageant all we knew

became the demon we never slew

the spinning color of love’s demands

excite the eye and impair the hands.

Call me crazy, that’s what Leather would say

but not late to woo you this or that way

the mad king of the alleyway

should’ve seen him in his day.

It’s just minefield where we play

and a shadowland where we lay

he slams his heel against the concrete bay

but the structure don’t give way

and nothing changes in the alleyway.

-Danny Grosso

Neon Moon, No. 6

Neon Moon, No. 6 (2019). Acrylic on paper. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

There is much to do. All the nights are cold, and the darkness is marked at intervals, neon lights pulsing, changing everything around them for a moment. Life is like that too,  sometimes, for a moment. A pulse can change everything around it. Pulses of love, or hate, pulses of machinery or sound, pulses of water or fire. Pulses can beget rushes, and rushes, if rushes of love, can linger longer than say, the echo of a pulse of sound.

Long after that song ended, the one playing at the club the night he met her, past the echo of the melody in his head, his captivation with her resounded. Rushes of feeling, to infatuation, to love, to resignation – a sequential rite of the afflicted. Under a neon pulse, as under the earth’s satellite, all things are colored by a light refracted from a third source. The light of the moon is given by the sun.

There is much to do. He cannot light himself – he is crippled that way, a dead rock stuck in orbit, a moon.  His light, in his vampiric existence, came from the city’s neon display, and now he seeks more. A pulse can change everything. In the darkness he moves, lit up in a rainbow of colors, a Lite-Brite animation with a paper in his pocket bearing the address she gave him.


-Danny Grosso

The Traveler, 1982-1991, Strip 6

The Traveler, 1982-1991, Strip 6, Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

The Traveler first appeared in The Loyola Phoenix in 1982 under the title D.C.. Many of the original strips were damaged in the layout and printing process, so the author reworked them in 1990-91.


Danny Grosso

Mud People, No. 17

Mud People, No. 17 (2019). House paint on paper. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Smashing bottles in the alley. His feet, cold and wet from the slushy pavement, give him a strange sense of comfort. This is what Christmas is supposed to be like, like it was when he was a kid, sneaking sips of liquor behind his uncle’s tavern, running back inside to warm your feet and watch the holiday revelers drink their bonuses away. He’d learned to smoke at the bar, and to play dice in the back room behind the register. When the holidays came he made extra money walking the inebriated to their apartments. They’d tip him, if they were awake when he slumped them into their beds, and if not, he’d reach into wallet or purse and tip himself.

There were no Christmas songs on the jukebox back then, so the drunks would just belt out carols all night, accompanied only by laughter. Now, he hears them inside, blending their voices with this year’s Christmas tune, playing on the new stereo sound system. Not bad, he thinks, as he raises unsteady fingertips to the night sky holding a butt still lit, a holiday light, a Christmas star.

Somewhere in an apartment high above, a kid looks down at the lonely little light in the dark alley. It reminds him, somehow, of the star of Bethlehem. He thinks, because he sees this, that perhaps he will someday be a king.

-Danny Grosso