Writin “Burnin Down the Box” – Nathan McCool

I’m real sick of all the normal talk in this town.

So dig this:

 

I stroll into a convenience store wild-eyed

as any nightmare; and I trade

a satchel of moirai eyes and could-be prophecies

for the cheapest, darkest beer I can pry

from the cooler’s scary fingers

at this late hour.

 

By the time I get home my heart’s bluebird

is already drowning.

Just a damn lightweight these days. Or so my fates say.

 

As usual, the violin and the guitar have been into

another tuning fork fight over why the

power for the amp won’t come on.

And one of em popped a string before

cracking the other’s head.

It’ll get nursed with apologies splattered on

a pill-shaped pillow tonight while I

find the loneliest room in the house

to write a very long metaphor in story form

on the ethics and morality

of the mass acceptance of social stigma.

 

I cast Lemmy’s Rickenbacker as the main protagonist.

I pit it against an angry village of cereal

all armed to the teeth in a riot

and ready for another attempt to march

on a Frank Zappa album.

(Damn cereal never stood a chance.)

 

As I go to write the musical score

I stretch wide above the piano;

drunk, lanky, and weary

like a dope fiend scarecrow

in the fields around Greenwood, MS

waiting to croon with Robert Johnson.

I lean in and tell her,

“There’s a wolf in my heart for you, baby.”

 

I write a real slow song and end it like this:

“Sorry dad,

but I really ain’t no prodigal son.

I ain’t nothing to be proud of

when the day is through.

But you and mom are gonna be alright

and I’m sorry I won’t make it home again.

But there’s just a lot in life I gotta do.

And if you won’t cry when you think of me

I’ll smile when I think of you.”

 

And then I nestle myself way down into

the hole in my acoustic guitar.

Down where the light never reaches.

And I do what anyone does

when they don’t believe in a damn thing

and they got no one to pray to…

I wait for nothing.


 

[Nathan McCool is actually so cool, I can’t stand it. You can find the haint, dusk, and sizzling of his concrete snares on Instagram, or at his blog, Mist of Melancholia.]

Nathan McCool – Response to Mick Hugh’s Proper Disturbia:

I’m just gonna puke it up. All the worthless
words. The studies that didn’t mean
a fuckin thing. All the ways I was
taught to think. The shitty, remedial
lessons I learned in school
that were so pointless.

“Let’s focus on some boring writing that
says nothing, isn’t worth a damn, and most importantly… was given high praise by people
all conditioned to clamor to the classics
and the worlds of happy endings.”

My A.P. English literature
teacher was always so determined to
analyze what every poem meant.
But only in line with what the textbooks
told her it meant.
Things in my stomach still turn to rot when
I have to breathe in the words of people like that.

Our tiny little advanced placement class,
(Mostly just people who could offer
advanced payments for their A’s)
we were supposed to write our own poem
to be analyzed. A poem that fit some bullshit
rhyme scheme that I didn’t give a shit about.
But I did it anyway, cause I’m a sucker for
making a point.

And at the last minute I wrote a poem
titled “Prayer That Nothing Spills Out”.
And after the clichés and happy endings
and sad attempts to rhyme “good” with “God”, that teacher read my poem out
loud to the whole class.

And they all got to figure it out.
Take their turns at firing off assumptions about
what I really meant. Until it was determined
I wrote about all my internalized emotions
and the hopes that I never showed anyone
how much I suffer.

And when I was asked to explain my poems intent,
I told them. I proved my point about their
shit method of assuming what someone
is trying to say. And then I laughed uncontrollably
until I puked on the floor and walked out.

Because “Prayer That Nothing Spills Out”
was about anal.

 


 

[Nathan McCool is the dark lord over on Instagram at God Of Dregs.]

Haunted House – Nathan McCool

The doorway

has become dissociative. Things may

enter or leave without being taken notice

of in the slightest.

They will come to find the piano shuddering,

it’s teeth chattering and it’s body oddly

formed into a fetal position all huddled up

in a cocoon of drunken catharsis.

The paintings, they have become severely

bipolar and are beginning to melt

like naked candles fused to the window

looking outside and offering the false perception

that it is safe to wander between these walls. The Walter Anderson’s and the Dali’s,

the Van Gogh’s and the junkyard salvages; they

no longer know which expressions

are proper for making love, greeting strangers,

or for killing with their bare hands. And

the skeletons that hang from the

ceiling, they are entirely hysterical. They sing

long echoing lullaby’s and longer goodbyes

through a bass amp buried below them

and are often interrupted by laughter at

their small plights – their sexual organs

turning to dust and the chaffing of the

string that tethers them to this place.

Somewhere here there is a bed

plagued with anxiety and night terrors.

And on it a man with a guitar plays

a song about suicide

with a beer bottle as a pick. And any tears

in this moment, spilling even down to the

tattoos that beg you to read their ideals,

they are the purest of things; the least

haunted by disease or disorder.

 

I am the cracked walls and leaky ceiling.

I am the vengeful specter.

I am everything here.

 

Visitors are so fond of saying what resonates in this domain

is either ghostly or sibylline.

But, if you were to know the history

of this ancient vessel,

you would know it is only sublimely human

in all its love

and its capacity for great suffering.


 

[Nathan McCool is the dark lord over on Instagram at God Of Dregs.]

Critical Mass – Nathan McCool

There used to be a lake here but
it too is just drained now.  I may have once
been a ghost of water
able to enter and exit places without recognition,
able to touch a mouth and not leave a
taste or a mark – just
the sensation that something has been there
to calm a need.
Some days now I’m more just the spirit
of fire.
A ghost of smoke
A ghost of echoes
A ghost of ghosts
And I could truly be of the same amount
of use. My grass is overgrown.
Hasn’t been cut in weeks and I just
don’t give a damn. All my guitar strings are dead.
My Social Distortion vinyl skips on all my
favorite parts
because that’s where I’ve accidentally placed myself
again.
My fingers pressing in involuntary, pushed
by the weight of all I’ve done and failed to do.
I’m so full of everything. I’ve taken in so much
of what the world has to give, and I’ve
tried to take back so much of what life has
stolen. But sometimes I still can’t feel it.

There used to be a lake here but
it too is just drained now. I break in
in the middle of the night and step right
into its tomb.
This crater overflows with me
and I think maybe nothing and no one
will ever be able to hold all that I am now.

Need for a sick bag – Nathan McCool

I’m a rare coated stag. Gut shot for sport and
forgotten in a field of
painted moonlight.
The hunt is over, the storm is here. Beauty
all sheathed inside a gun barrel…
I think I’m dead now. I need a new scene.

I’m the out of tune keys on a piano, that
some rusted god keeps playing before he
heads off to a bookstore
where he constantly asks,

“Got any remedial shit with no substance?”

“Yeah. Check any shelf” the faceless
pseudo-librarian says back.

And the more he reads and the more he reads and
the more and more…
it’s just more hope he loses;
arms just getting tired of holding pages
burdened with
cliché poems and redundant stories.
(Have I read this before?)

“But really? You cut down a tree for this shit?”

It had more real poetry beforehand.

Now the rusted god goes to sleep and
now I am the rusted god.
And the only thing either of us still hopes for
is that if I publish a book it never comes here.

Not to visit.
Not to fuck.
And especially not to die.

***

Tucked away behind some shit book
about learning to love yourself I find
Nick Cave’s “Sick Bag Song”…
Now that’s a god damn jewel!


[Nathan McCool is the dark lord over on Instagram at God Of Dregs.]

Island Thoughts and Ship Songs – Nathan McCool

Call me down from the star splattered sky
of another opiate morning,
from bad dreams of your sails burning and
my body of wind passing through
uncatchable.

My limbs still shake from faltering flight
and the total absence of rapture’s acceptance. But fear,
I think it only finds home in the idea that you may
one day long for me only to feel my
fingers as morphine injections;
taste my breath as methadone.

So what if all I want is to walk the sea shore with the
solitary rose I harvested from your mouth,
collecting bowl shaped shells for holding
that nonexistent kiss;
your lips – a wreath of phantom accelerants.

I’m sinking way down to gather enough salt
from this ocean
to blanket pictures of old wounds.
An arm still reaching wide to hold hope,
a neck still turning to see our ideals of goodness.

You can have my wounds and salt, my dear. My
small amount of goodness that looks like
a corpse filling picnic baskets with
flashing images and blinding murmurations
of color.
I’m still an uninhabitable island in moon’s long
light. What else can I say, baby?
“Come sail your ships around me.”


[Nathan McCool is the dark lord over on Instagram at God Of Dregs.]

Wind Song-Nathan McCool/God of Dregs

The wind blows in from the west today, and
cigarette ashes blow from shaky hands
onto my feet – still vacant of motion and their pursuit
of love left paralytic. I put my lips on the edge
of a windowsill candle and I become the flame.
The wind blows in from the north, and I am
all crimes of passion and renewed faith
in beauty;
but you know it’s all drowning slow in this
mournful wax placenta.
The wind blows in from the south and
a flock of birds impregnates the air
one more time with songs of ships
and foreign lands. A single dove comes
to converse with my musical heart murmur.
The wind blows in from the east, and butterflies
nearly drown me in a river. It takes rest
on my silent, morbid shoulder and I lose tears
to a river when I think of how I should never
touch its wings.
The wind blows in from nowhere now, and
I flicker for the first time in so long…
It blows from an empty place where we sang about
love. Where darkness can never overburdened
our soft stomachs turned up to starry skies.
But maybe all the wind is telling me now,
is that it’s all just absence.