A Stable Life

by Mick Hugh

For three years I’ve sat up in my tree,
in the shade of dreams,
and the roots have slowly
been drying up.

For three years catching wafts
of the vinegar and rotted fruits,
of our American Dream,
recessive trait of responsibility.

Who knew at the age of 22,
hot-blooded crotches
and itchy skin for sunshine,
that a Fortune 500 would be their Jubilee?

What pederast had it out at 18
to be a financial manager
at corporate Walgreens?

The treelimb you sit on breaks,
and the fall takes a few months.
Rat cages and sychophants
fed twice as much for listening.

The heroics of monotony.

Remember your days
reading textbooks at your desk,
group projects and algebraic thinking:
Little Davey you’ve been cultivated for this.

No need for you to sweat callouses and rough hands,
they’ve got another desk for you.
Pear-shaped where the body-fat masses on their seats,
little economic engines-that-could.

Genetically modified flowers
blossom without sunlight,
without color or stamens;
a horse without nuts
makes an easier ride.

Have a house,
have a kid,
be well-fed.
Pad your stable.

The American frontier
is a corral on Main Street,
Maple Street
and daydreams of Carnival Cruises.

Masturbate on lunch break,
a few white tears
in a bathroom stall.

Life lived,
life lost,
100 million limp-necked stiffs
have cordoned-off unnecessary risks.

Welcome to your stable, kid.



Mick Hugh is a writer for Sudden Denouement, and the groundskeeper at Mick’s Neon Fog.

Cohen, Cave, and Joy Division Crash This Bar

by Nathan McCool


I gather up abandoned bottles kissed with

cherry lipstick and cigarette scents – bring them to my lips and eavesdrop on the white noise inside.

“Come on back in, one more time, for the encore of “The Butcher Boy”; come in for

the closed viewing of PSR B1919+21.”

And this is when the boredom of barrooms

comes alive.

Right at the moment I emit pulses

that tell the masses I am not part of them. I’m sending you a signal, you tiny, little world.

See me here spinning and burning in my own

mind. I hop on stage to sing you a melancholy ballad and follow it up with “Tower of Song”.

That’s where I am. Another hundred floors below Hank Williams

and screaming to tell you,

“It’s the loneliest down here.”


Nathan McCool is a member of Blood Into Ink and the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective. You can find the haint, dusk, and sizzling of his concrete snares on his blog, Mist of Melancholia.

Quietly incessant

by Oldepunk

I wasn’t always sure

About the noise in the background

Incessant, like the peeling of

A grimace in rush hour massacres

Pounding out the march of time

To rounded pupils and bloodshot

Veins that wrapped around conclusions

They claim names remain inane

I see some new faces on the pavement

air is thick with mistrust and ash

I know it’s not safe to breathe

There’s really no other alternative though, right?

Nodding on Himalayan chiba

Absorbing good news vibes

While the bad news bears play to lose

In the side streets, side stepping

Johnny law and copper johns

Did you hear that meth is a thing again

Don’t call it a comeback, it’s company certified now

Cheaper and harder than generic opioids and gin

Sundays and shit coffee and stale pastries

Freebasing the shame on the nails of

Mary Magdalene and asking if maybe

She was the one this whole time

I once knew a girl who looked like

My vision of the wife of a Messiah

Except she dressed like Lilith and wakizashi

She wrote me a Gospel unlike any other

My faith in her will be

the dirt of my grave

She spun up a speedball packed

With that Chelyabinsk fentanyl

Cooked herself the last supper

she ascended while surrounded

by a dozen other prophets

in a broken down rectory on

North Brother Isle

I would share her Book but I haven’t the words

To quite define the Spirit she conferred;

faith restored in self.

I regret I could not return the favor

Perhaps that’s how angels get back

Where they’re supposed to go

I tattooed Psalms of her movements

Upon the palms of my daughters hands.

Holy things can come in the strangest

Places that hum quietly incessant,

Prophecies behind a junkies teeth

_______________________________________________

Oldepunk writes in Texas with a pair of kids and cats.  Hockey junkie and music aficionado.  Read more at Ramjetpoetry.


Calling All Writers! Our Short Story Contest is Now Open For Submissions

The Contest is officially open!

Since its inception in 2016, The Sudden Denouement Literary Collective has had the privilege of featuring some of today’s most fearless writers. With members that span the globe and editors who share a passion for pushing boundaries, we as a collective have enjoyed reading, promoting, and watching the success of each individual artist as they have grown in their craft and left their mark upon the literary world.

Now, as writers and readers, editors and fans, we at Sudden Denouement Literary Collective are ecstatic to open up the doors to our outstanding, award winning collective, and invite you all in to pull up a chair and tell us your stories.

The Sudden Denouement Literary Collective, and Sudden Denouement Publishing, are pleased to dip our toes into the waters of great literary contests and announce our first ever short story literary prize with a call for submissions from all of you.

Our theme is ‘Things Would Never Be The Same’ and our rules and regulations are as follows:

WHAT: You can submit ONE original, unpublished piece of fiction that is up to 2500 words. There is no minimum word requirement.

WHEN: The competition is open for submissions from November 1, 2018, to January 1, 2019

WHO: Everyone, everywhere

HOW: The Submit button at the bottom of the page.

WHAT YOU CAN WIN: 

1st place:
$100 cash
One copy of every book published by Sudden Denouement Publishing
Three guest spots featured on Sudden Denouement Literary Collective
*possibility of publication in Sudden Denouement’s first short story anthology – 2019

2nd place:
$75 cash
One copy of three books published by Sudden Denouement Publishing
Two guest spots featured on Sudden Denouement Literary Collective
*possibility of publication in Sudden Denouement’s first short story anthology – 2019

3rd place:
$50 cash
One copy of two books published by Sudden Denouement Publishing
One guest spot featured on Sudden Denouement Literary Collective
*possibility of publication in Sudden Denouement’s first short story anthology – 2019

Honourable Mentions (2 places)
$25 cash
*possibility of publication in Sudden Denouement’s first short story anthology – 2019.

Good luck to you all, we look forward to reading your submissions.


submit

-The Editors of Sudden Denouement

Rehab Chronicles (excerpt) Jasper Kerkau

 

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The Rehab Diaries (excerpt) Jasper Kerkau

When I got off three vomitus days of detox, we had a game of Big Book Jeopardy. My team won. My prize was that I was given the honor of having a “little brother.” My understanding was sparse, but I was going to look after him for a week. I assume it is an easy errand, pointing out house rules, which I didn’t know yet, meeting schedule, telling him which members of staff to steer clear of, and where to put his cigarette butts. My “little brother” who looks like a broken down drunk, an elderly biker, with a long grey beard and a surly demeanor was actually a retired NASA engineer who had fancied himself a biker. He is shaking uncontrollably from the alcoholic DTs. Jacob, a young staff member, with an affable personality comes to me with a frantic look. He implores me to stay with Mike, my “little brother,” while they try and get the doctor on the phone.

He sits in the chair moaning. I lite his cigarettes and pat him on the back awkwardly. “You know all of my friends are dead. I have no children. I have a bad heart; I am going to die tonight and those cocksuckers are taking their time getting me my detox meds.” He stamps at the ground dramatically. I try not to laugh. I squeeze my eyes trying to figure out if he is going to die on my watch and wondering how I got into this situation. I ask him obligatory questions. He nods off and then wakes up to moan, curse and then regain a remorseful composure. He jumps up and grabs his heart, stumbling toward the office. “I am having a fucking heart attack, call 911!” I bolt after him and help him walk toward the office. David, a sixty year old who fluctuates between baffling ignorance and brilliance, is sitting at his desk. He seems to be in charge, though he actually job title is allusive. He looks at Mike and I over the top of his readers with a steely expression.

“What is it Mike?” he sounds perturbed. His voice is tense and raspy.

“I am having a fucking heart attack,” Jacob, the young tech has a deer in the headlights look. He seems to wants to usurp Dave’s aloof authority.

“Okay Mike, we will get you an ambulance.” He turns to Dave with urgency, “he said he is having chest pains; we don’t have a choice. That is the key phrase.” Jacob and I share a common peril. Neither of us want to deal with the Mike’s death.

“Bullshit Mike,” Dave barks, jumps out of his chair, regaining control. “You know good and God-damn well you are not having a fucking heart attack.” Mike stands with his eyes closed, clutching his heart. I get a panicked feeling. I want to go home.

“Fuck you David,” Mike opens his eyes and blurts out with a sudden alertness. David counters by kicking the chair. I automatically grab Mike by the arm and lead him out. He pulls arm away and turns to Dave.

“His name is Jimmy Boy, not fucking Roscoe!” Mike screams at David. I turn to Jacob shaking my head in bewilderment. He shrugs in agreement. “You can do a lot of sorry, rotten fucking things, like leaving your shit in another man’s garage for a year, but you don’t change a dog’s name.”

“Get the fuck out Mike, get your sorry ass out of the office,” Mike snaps back into his dying routine. I take him again by the elbow and to the door. David sits back down and tends to a bonsai.

“And the dog is Roscoe, not Jimmy Boy, you stupid fuck.” Mike gets in the parting shot as I close the door behind us.

“I guess you guys know each other?” I put Mike back in his chair.

“We were friends for twenty years, road Harley’s together. I tried to join the Banditos and David and I got into a fist fight at an AA meeting. It is a long story. He is supposed to be watching my dog, but he can’t perform one simple fucking task.” He never opens his eyes. “I am going to die. I need you to come and pray over me as I do.”

Happy Birthday – Jasper Kerkau

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Happy Birthday

The reason I get up in the morning is having a birthday. I remember standing in front of the hospital smoking, sending the pictures, beaming. Everyone wanted to know how much he weighed. I never wanted children until he came into the world. They told me my cholesterol was high when he was one. I drank apple cider vinegar and jogged a thousand miles. Before he was able to speak, he would clap his hands and bounced up and down when I came in. Life had meaning every time I heard his laughter. He was old enough to understand the night we had our last fight; he got down on his knees and cupped his hands and prayed. It broke my heart because I knew he sensed nothing would ever be the same again. He loves me more than anyone, even now as his bones pain from growing. I think about his birthdays, the Elmo cake he smeared all over his baby cheeks, the little boy birthdays with Nerf gun fights. Now there is the worst birthday. The one I would never see. The year that didn’t happen, the one that was stolen. I will light candles and think of the best thing I ever created. I will unwrap a present and patiently wait.

[Jasper Kerkau is a writer/editor/co-creator of Sudden Denouement. His personal blog is Jasperkerkauwriting.com]

The Logical Response – Stephen M Crow

The skyline illuminated
Bright razors against the night
Doing what cutters do
Finding humanity in pain
In emotional release

Pinballs crashing on the street
No eye contact to betray
Inch by inch we march
Hand in bitter hand
Into the belly of the beast

The wind picked up the message
Fall leaves blown asunder
Scrambled contrast across the moon
Throwing shadows
Signaling the end of peace

Burning our own homes in protest
Purpose with a side of death
Realizing we must tear it down
As we lay upon these flames
And go to sleep

[Stephen M Crow is a writer and musician who resides in Pasadena, Texas with his wife, Christy, and their children. Interests include cooking, watching horror movies, listening to music, and spending time with his family.]

Pull-String Playgrounds – Introducing JL Stevens

All these threads lead to the same endings.
The fabric of pain doesn’t shelter,
and it rains all the time.
I stumble among the defense mechanisms,
and the battlegrounds now stretch
like a list of forgotten names.
The devil may understand the broken,
but he is laughing
behind the cup of indifference.
These fractures are given labels,
beautiful categories,
pinned to the walls like wrists.
I am suffocating on all
the identities they are forcing upon me.
Hesitant to say a word
as the ink falls unwillingly from my eyes.
Every sin that once separated us
is now sold back with a smile.
And the sign overhead says: Play to Win.
We cannot thrive within
these pull-string playgrounds.
Because the game is tied
too tightly to ourselves.

 

JL Stevens is a writer of psychological fiction. She is currently working on her first collection of short tragedies entitled How The Story Ends. You can find her poetry on Facebook under JL Stevens and Chaos of Thought. She loves classic literature and has a deep passion for words. She is going back to school to pursue her degree in psychology and human development, and hopes to incorporate this into her writing.

Excerpt from Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective- A letter to someone’s saviour/Oldepunk

aletterto
Hey you.  Allah

I feel nothing anymore

If I do, I can’t tell

is it supposed to be this way?

Hey you.  God, why am I

screaming at the fact that you’re aware of my failure which I see sitting demure at a table sipping espresso as the aftermath of the encounter thickens the air and afterwards no one knows what to say and I want to sneer at our confusion but find I can only shout fears in tongues at the matador in front of the corner store

can you spare a holy smoke?

You know the man who said he knew you tried to teach us

he liked to play with the little boys in the parks after dark

my parents decided that he probably didn’t know you but must have had some good lawyers cause he packed up his show and moved on to the next town

anticipating sundown.

I need a cleansing

I wrote this for you.

Christ,

I thought I left ’em all behind

those friends I never knew

and the women I never loved

the things I’ve never done

and the truths I’ve never spoken

those tears should have dried

those emotions should have died

Buddha,

I should have left when I had the chance

and now I am alone and stoned and cold

no longer so bold, I wish I would have walked away

from those lies I’ve never told

pain I never endured

People I’ve never needed

friends I never saw die

the escape route always eluded me

draining my will to try

Do you offer a resurrection

for those of us who got it wrong

will you truly offer me a chance to start again

or was it bullshit all along.

if it’s really a redemption song

then maybe I too could sing

and see what  your new tomorrow

may bring

maybe, If I can be strong

it has got to better than this

Warmest Regards,

I was Wrong

Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective is available at Amazon.com, Amazon Europe, Amazon Canada, Book Depository, and other major book retailers.


You can read more of Oldepunk’s poetry at RamJet Poetry

Excerpt from Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective-Upon the Anniversary of Your Death/Jasper Kerkau

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I carried your books—Mencken, Nietzsche, and other misanthropist tomes—boxed up and sold by the pound, exorcising all your existential angst. The body still warm, I drove your mother in silence to bookstore, trivial task, your prized possessions discarded in the abyss, torn covers and scribbled footnotes heralding a new aeon. Ten years removed, I am still touched by unforgivable grief, remembering your deep laughter and explosive spark—the glass-smashing, room-clearing nihilism that left fragments of strangeness everywhere.

I carried your grief, standing in your place, eulogizing your father and all the sadness in the world. I thought of your heartbreak, his rheumatoid-afflicted limbs, the never-ending horror of merciless suffering that drove you into nothingness as he wasted away. My shoes too tight, among strangers, swallowing my tongue, perspiring, hiding under table, echoing I can do this…I can do this…I have to do this for him. Tie crooked, I shake hands with your family—“thank you for standing in for him,” they tell me with a wink and pat on the back. I bury my face in my hands afterward in the car. I will never again speak over the dead. 

I carried your energy with me into adulthood. Swimming in blue waters, experiencing the miracle of childbirth, thinking of your eternal resignation—Methadone and Xanax—as I pass out cigars. I can’t help but think that a child would have saved you, as I see the future in the helpless innocence of my fruit.  I “bought in,” pushing carts down long aisles, groceries, comfort, pitter-patter of little feet, bank accounts, and Sundays strolling through antique stores. All the while, I feel the spectre of your life casting its pall over my experience. The sadness is at arm’s length, though I know one day we will drink from the mead horn in the great hall. 

I carried your failure with me through tragedy, running in circles, ankles and knees aching, never stopping…jogging past your childhood home. Finding God at the worst times, finding life in the place where you surrendered. She walked out and you died. I thought of this when mine left, rose from the dead, evolved, while you lingered in my shallow sleeps, haunting me as I struggled to overcome. Every day I pushed myself further away from that place you created. I was only an inch away, pushed into the shadows only to embrace the light. I did it because you could not—I did it for you.

I carried your passion, your love of knowledge, finished a degree, never walked but hid in bathroom at work, thought of you as I visualized them calling my name. “It was all for naught,” I tell friends, secretly, of course, it was for you. Your brittle life redeemed by the marrow and bone pulverized and ingested in magic concoctions, secret rituals, great revelations thrown up in silly rooms with people I never knew as well as you. I bear the cross that people will never understand, never letting go—making the life that we dreamed of in the dreadful three a.m.’s when there were too many lines and too much talk that was all so fleeting.

I carried your beauty, your friendship, your combustible insanity with me. Sat on couches, bored, trying to find that madness, but I am cursed forever to a life of mundane drinks and civil discourse, dreaming of the past. I ask your mother if they ever got a tombstone. I think of your brilliance, unmarked, given over to eternity and worms—forgotten. My life is defined by you, looking forward, being better, not being swallowed by the same monsters that carried you away. You are with me in my dreams. After ten years, I think of you ever day.

Available at Amazon.com, Amazon Europe, Amazon Canada, Book Depository, and other major book retailers


Jasper Kerkau is co-creator of Sudden Denouement, as well as Jasper Kerkau Writing.