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,
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,
Pad your stable.
The American frontier
is a corral on Main Street,
and daydreams of Carnival Cruises.
Masturbate on lunch break,
a few white tears
in a bathroom stall.
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.
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
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.
How many canes can one observe without finally exploding?
He walks with a cane and smells like a mouse.
He has food caked on his sleeves.
There are stains on his cuffs. He smells of urine and old socks.
His wife attacks him; she berates him.
The old man will die of emphysema.
My mother promised to leave. “Why would you go to his funeral?”
She didn’t want a priest or a minister, she wanted show girls and fireworks.
She wanted to humiliate him. She ended up disgracing herself.
She’s glad he’s dead. Glad he’s gone. “Hallelujah.”
He begs not be resuscitated, but she forgets.
He wants to die in peace, why not?
She is asked but is silent. The paramedics smash out his teeth
and jam a pipe down his throat. He lives for days.
He keeps a lock on the door of the den. He runs in there to hide.
She’d slap him in the face. She’d kick him. She’s a drunk.
She gulps a few glasses of white wine and wants to tell her tale.
It’s a story of abandonment, an empty nest. “Get out!”
She refuses to get his meds. She tells him to get them himself.
He can’t walk. He can’t drive. She is too busy: “I have a life, too!”
He is deaf but she accuses him of faking.
It is true that when we talk about money, his hearing comes back.
Suddenly, his hearing is perfect. When I mention money,
he understands the figures.
He smiles when he gets a bargain. Money talks.
When she complains, the batteries stop.
He can’t make them work. He turns them off.
He’s grown tired of listening.
Sixty-one years. That voice. The rage. The badgering. The nagging.
She wants him to wipe the shit off the toilet: “You clean it!”
Unhappiness is intolerable.
When does it turn to hate?
Why does it turn to hate?
She drinks white wine from a tumbler.
She calls her cousin in Kingston
and says she hopes he’ll soon die.
He is 67 but looks 80.
She wants some love before she dies.
She wants some male attention.
“I thought we were going out for dinner. I’ve been waiting.”
“You’re drunk. I can’t go out with you now.”
She can barely stand and stinks. She’s been drinking all day.
Booze makes her hate. It brings out the rage, the loathing.
She is ready to die to make a statement.
Oh, it boils over, like a chemical reaction: quick lime and water.
She overflows with self–hatred. It is volcanic.
My arrival sets the fuse. The hatred can’t be contained.
She belongs to the IRA. She is ready to die for a cause.
He sits on the floor in front of the heater giving instructions,
The body goes. He is cold.
When she says she has a friend who has offered to go down on her,
I take my cue. It is time. Where is the exit?
David Lohrey was born on the Hudson River but grew up on the Mississippi in Memphis. He currently teaches in Tokyo. He has reviewed books for The Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register, has been a member of the Dramatists Guild in New York, and he is currently writing a memoir of his years living on the Persian Gulf. His latest book, The Other Is Oneself: Postcolonial Identity in a Century of War: 20th Century African and American Writers Respond to Survival and Genocide, is available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of Machiavelli’s Backyard from Sudden Denouement Publishing.
when did you keep god under your tongue,
an uninvited pill
from that plastic nurse behind a wall,
and reaching out to hand you an orange
in a paper cup made in L.A.
for whom did your milky eyes blur,
or from whose unseen stare did the water
of your ribs buckle and hide
when you knew that worship was a mask we
that rituals and skin
give us a tendency to forgot how to say no?
i was born in a summer cage that sold
whispers to me
in body-sized trash bags, flung at donation
trucks where you wait and
where you drive up and pry a hole, pull out
unwanted secrets you can take home
and cherish as yours from other people’s
unglamorous lives; a boy scout’s book
on how to make a fire.
a girl scout’s book about how to cook on it.
my heart’s in a shot glass that says
‘i ❤ san francisco.’
on the floor by a fireplace
in his basement.
and i think that’s where i swallowed ‘god.’
[Sam does sixredseeds.]
Come and lead
Past the sallow
With leaden eyes,
And leaden mouths
Heaving leaden words
At our backs beneath
Come, come and find me
Down in the gutter
With the elixir still heavy
On my ragged breath
Call me to the gathering
With your voice like
Out the drawing of midnight
And the ringing of bells, pulling
Me towards the grey spaces
Where the Ankou waits
My golem is coming closer
Dead eyes seeking to take mine
Come, come and guide me
To the places where your sun
Blinds the darkness I wear
My funeral shroud already in place
I clutch it selfishly, growling curses
I will resist you, as you know I must
For I dwell in the houses of sorrow
And she is a lustful creature, despair.
Still I pray for you when lucidity
Come and lead me
Far away from here.
Image courtesy of Pinterest
Olde Punk is an editor of Sudden Denouement and the curator of Ramjet Poetry. Hockey, food and punk rock junkie. Total sci-fi/fantasy geek. He writes, right?
a city map is sewn in the scalp;
looped in the goat-milk, or spit out,
tongued in silky blades of stomped
i’m crowned with high-pitched fingers
clenched in fur.
in octaves only shades can bear, i simmer
in their holy cradles.
i become the roughened corner of a mouth
grinning at its own joke.
there, the receding home in ranch-style polaroid’s of a dirty blond stranger and my mother squinting in the sun; some home not mine or yours.
in a woman’s left grows tiny,
and in a man’s more supple.
i keep alive by milking goats.
some like lifelines, some like ulcers
the city streets are braided in my hair.
Samantha Lucero writes at sixredseeds.
I wipe the blood
From my nose
The sore needle holes
Dive back in
There are no more faces
So I try to smear your photo
From my mind.
So that even while
You dig into my head
When I’m lying in bed,
I’ll be able to forget you
And sleep for a week.
You’ll be a secret I keep.
[Rana Kelly was born and raised in the Deep South, and now resides in the Southwest. Her poetry, personal essays, short fiction, and photography has been published in anthologies and literary magazines far and wide over the years, ]
the lights are always on now, no one ever sleeps.
i am one of those dreamless alien lights; one of those nobody’s cradled in the teeth of a high-rise window. my building’s a fang that pierces an eye of god. i loved you more because you turned away from me.
i stare at my reflection until i become the memory of you; until i am become death and stones in pockets, and the formless outside in the velvet dark. you, the ghost that rushes in the corner of my eye, the reason i wear lace when it rains. i’m trying to read your mind, wherever it’s gone, but i can’t. i try to unearth the sandalwood smear of you on my walls and in between my fingers, but you’re not there. i’m not there either, not anymore.
and so i’ll go to the hudson where they sell fire for your throat when you can’t weep or scream, where there’s bad news in the laughter and they find you floating the morning after.
this mess we’re in will be over before it can begin.
With a rock in my hand, I lay you down and taste the sweetness of your lips. I make you pretty and breathe in a scent that tickles me just right. With my fingers around your throat, I squeeze them tight and tell you that I want so much to believe. Among a bed of roses in a part of town others have no need to tread, I watch over you as the sun is replaced by the milk-white moon that makes you look like a porcelain doll my sister used to own. You, my beautiful secret. You, my only regret. You, the only one who knows me for how I am. Sit with me a while and hear my reasons. Give me a little time to tell you how this came to be. Speak some truth to heal these sins. Say something that will ease our passage to a place we were never meant to resist.
With a rock in my hand, you move with such speed. Like a cat, you twist and turn as I stumble trying so hard to make it known that despite my deeds, I am indeed a good man. But the more you fight against it, the harder it is. The more you move away the closer I come until the only way I can make you understand is for you to see a part of me I try so hard to hide. Hitching up your skirt and sliding down those tights, I smear your lipstick and kiss your throat. Touching you where I feel God the most, I whisper to you knowing there will be no answer. Pulling your hair and sinking my fingers into the ground beneath your head, I hear no birds. I sense no movement at all as the world we used to know turns without us.
This mess we’re in will be over before we know it.
i could be the smooth arms of angrboda.
i could hunt the heat lost in you somewhere like a tremble of life, find the skeleton key that unlocks all locked doors. i could keep one dying secret down in flames. i could birth in kerosene the chained wolf-child, your half-dead maid, an immense snake that cradles the sea. we could be the myth. we could be the end, for fragments like us to fit in life’s hands, full of dirt.
i’m spit miscarried on grass, i’m all the things i thought, except the thing i could’ve been. i’m lost in my head, and you want me here. swallowing all six red seeds, I still starve in spring. i like it in the dark, with you believing, and you want me to believe in good men, when they would bury vestals alone with a lamp. leave me on a road that i can hitch hike to hell on and think, think… !
think about a time in red converse. stepping on your toes just to get a close up, listen low so no one else can hear, fuck them, late night in a leather jacket and a pin with a gold tooth and vampire fangs. warning label. 2 packs of american spirits until we’re dry, and anne boelyn’s ghost in the tower of london. a grin of blood they never found on the wall. hell can be real. it’s here; but your face in my hands, watching me cry, that’s worth it.
“time is a flat circle.”
if we have one moment that matters,
this mess we’re in can happen over and over again.
With a rock in my hand, I use the other to cradle the base of your skull. You used to be my woman. You used to be my girl, but you just wouldn’t be tamed. I never wanted to clip your wings. No, I never wished to see you like that at all, but you never gave me a choice. I could’ve been your man, could’ve been that someone to watch over you when you needed a friend. I was here to give you all of this, yet you went a different way. You gave yourself to those who know only how to betray. It should never have come to this, but what was I supposed to do? Just allow it? Just let you fall further from grace? I’m not a monster, I’m a poet, and all I ever wanted was for you to know it. It was your choice to make.
With a rock in my hand, I dig the soil with the other. You speak to me but it’s too late. I’ve made up my mind. And yet this isn’t the end. You are the seed that shall be planted. You are the nucleus of what I shall become. You will be mother and lover, and as I lay you down and watch you grow, the past and the future are already dancing on the same page. You have this voice but it needs to be silenced so I can hear what you have to say. You have this beauty but I need to cover it because others will surely come and attempt to sniff you out yet again. Y’know, I’ve never been this open with anyone but you. Never had the chance to be so close. It’s not how you wanted it, I’m sure, but with time you will understand, I can feel it in my bones.
This mess we’re in gives birth to everything.
[ S.K. Nicholas is the man at a haunted hotel, alone on a snowy night, trying not to have a drink at My Red Abyss, and Samantha Lucero is the crumbling, lone grave on a hill poking out like a little rotten tooth at Six Red Seeds. ]
when you become a parent,
you become less
a p p a r e n t.
until i disappear completely,
i can weep into the liquid face of a mirror
and speculate about who used to dwell in
my iron & carbon skull, before i was
the me that faded.
i held onto me like a movie ticket
in the back of my wallet
the one we all keep
that just becomes a tomb
like a placeholder in our hearts
for a special day we end up
i’m perfunctory now, roiling,
knocked up by rainstorms
and lightning writhing down like a noose
on his red beard, drinking snake oil
maybe the world’s a cat’s eye and i am shattered faith
my shoulders a hewn epitaph of hopes
am i lucid dreaming, i never fell asleep.
these days, i lie down in a trance
and never wake up.
[ Samantha Lucero is the phantom haunting six red seeds. ]