To Quote Walt Whitman

by Mick Hugh

 

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Are there pastorals in a pixel?

I’ve heard it said so.

That a perfect moment holds life’s memories…

yet the playback waits for death.

 

No better than the world

in a meek man’s hands:

show me the roses growing naturally in the graveyard,

or a romance with a wick for the years.

 

We can get high enough

if we run the old Buick

with the garage door shut.

 

We can get high

walking the Lincoln Tunnel,

or gasping for breath

from a Newark overpass.

 

A thousand office faces

find their dreams in computer screens,

still glowing when the day shuts its lights.

Wither the aortic valve,

just from a lack of use.

 

Lazy eyeballs,

cataracts,

myopic Coke-bottle glasses.

The smoke-stacks in a Cezanne.

Mesothelioma

in the gold mines of a wedding ring –

are we done yet?

 

Febrile seizures on a death-bed

awaken his famous past:

canyons in the skin

that ran the red of roses.

 

He’d take his books for walks

till his legs got lost,

down by the waterfront,

down Washington Street.

 

The clamor of half-built high-rises,

soot of the tent towns

under the highways:

the fast clacking of sharp shoes on the sidewalks,

a briefcase to withstand the bullets.

 

Strange creatures that lurked down the streets,

mange and tendon and quiet whisper.

The dog with chopped ears

pawed the Plexiglass shell,

and whimpered,

as the clerks and the lawyers brisked past.

 

A daisy grew in a pavement crack.

A daisy grew and the seasons churned

on a playback twice as fast.

Stop.

 

Stuck at a stop in the traffic-thronged street was a truck,

hauling concrete to the next empty lot, being filled.

The driver could barely be heard:

the hum of idling traffic,

the overpasses rumbling above;

 

beneath the sounds of airplane thrust

and the debates of World News Tonight,

the truck driver,

red faced,

barely heard,

shouting out,

“I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass!”

 


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


 

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.”

Excerpt from Machiavelli’s Backyard- Poetry: Buy, Sell, or Hold/David Lohrey

I sent my new poem to an old friend who replied:
“I know nothing of poetry.”
Another said about the same. “I don’t read the stuff.
Sorry.” It got me to thinking.

Had I sent in a stock tip, they would have rewarded me.
I might have received a bottle of Chablis, maybe even a good one,
had I sent in trading data on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.
Who would have said, “I’m not into making money.”?

But one comes to learn an awful truth about one’s friends.
Not just their indifference; that’s painful enough.
No. It’s that for them poetry is something akin to masturbation.
They don’t want to hear about it. It’s an embarrassment.

My friends are always buying or selling. If I had produced a tomato,
I’d have been advised to set up a stand on the sidewalk.
The price of tomatoes is high, asparagus even higher,
but poetry is nearly worthless; like trying to sell one’s teeth.

Poetry is not a commodity. My friends are merchants.
It’s a shameful action, like going to Confession.
Can you sell your sins? How much do one’s dreams weigh?
Nobody wants to watch a friend display himself.

It’s not that poetry is disgusting. But it may be shameful.
It’s seen as a waste of time: not an adult activity, not a good investment,
something more akin to gathering pine cones or pressing leaves in an album,
i.e., kid stuff, or a hobby for little old ladies.

I feel like a cat taking a bloody mouse to her master.
As I drop my poem at my friend’s feet, she gives it a glance
and sneers: “What’s that for? It’s not very pleasant.
Your job is to please me. Go play in the garden.”

That’s the response of my once best friend. She sees herself as an artist
or at least claims to be artistic. She wouldn’t treat a painting the way she scorns poetry.
But then again you can own an oil. You can hang it.
Even better you can resell it.

Stocks and paintings are good investments, like real estate.
Cars and furniture lose value, more like a poem.
They’re best when new, but with art, the worth is in its place,
they say. It’s not just beauty; it’s location, location, location.

Poetry is a dying art, especially when the artistic disown it.
They’d rather have crème brûlée or pear mousse with walnuts.
It’s not only prettier but something sweet. Poetry is no treat, and poets
are a nuisance. They have the absurd idea that what they do has value.

Machiavelli’s Backyard is Available at Amazon.com,  Amazon Canada, Amazon Europe, Book Depository and other major book retailers.

Paperback, 106 pages/Published September 1st 2017 by Sudden Denouement Publishing


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

Poetry: Buy, Sell, or Hold – David Lohrey


Poetry: Buy, Sell, or Hold?

I sent my new poem to an old friend who replied:
“I know nothing of poetry.”
Another said about the same. “I don’t read the stuff.
Sorry.” It got me to thinking.

Had I sent in a stock tip, they would have rewarded me.
I might have received a bottle of Chablis, maybe even a good one,
had I sent in trading data on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.
Who would have said, “I’m not into making money.”?

But one comes to learn an awful truth about one’s friends.
Not just their indifference; that’s painful enough.
No. It’s that for them poetry is something akin to masturbation.
They don’t want to hear about it. It’s an embarrassment.

My friends are always buying or selling. If I had produced a tomato,
I’d have been advised to set up a stand on the sidewalk.
The price of tomatoes is high, asparagus even higher,
but poetry is nearly worthless; like trying to sell one’s teeth.

Poetry is not a commodity. My friends are merchants.
It’s a shameful action, like going to Confession.
Can you sell your sins? How much do one’s dreams weigh?
Nobody wants to watch a friend display himself.

It’s not that poetry is disgusting. But it may be shameful.
It’s seen as a waste of time: not an adult activity, not a good investment,
something more akin to gathering pine cones or pressing leaves in an album,
i.e., kid stuff, or a hobby for little old ladies.

I feel like a cat taking a bloody mouse to her master.
As I drop my poem at my friend’s feet, she gives it a glance
and sneers: “What’s that for? It’s not very pleasant.
Your job is to please me. Go play in the garden.”

That’s the response of my once best friend. She sees herself as an artist
or at least claims to be artistic. She wouldn’t treat a painting the way she scorns poetry.
But then again you can own an oil. You can hang it.
Even better you can resell it.

Stocks and paintings are good investments, like real estate.
Cars and furniture lose value, more like a poem.
They’re best when new, but with art, the worth is in its place,
they say. It’s not just beauty; it’s location, location, location.

Poetry is a dying art, especially when the artistic disown it.
They’d rather have crème brûlée or pear mousse with walnuts.
It’s not only prettier but something sweet. Poetry is no treat, and poets
are a nuisance. They have the absurd idea that what they do has value.

 

[David Lohrey is the author of Machiavelli’s Backyard from Sudden Denouement Publishing. He is also an editor for Sudden Denouement and a mentor for me personally – Jasper Kerkau]

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.]

First Look: Machiavelli’s Backyard by David Lohrey

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I just received my proof copy of David Lohrey’s new book Machiavelli’s Backyard from Sudden Denouement Publishing. It is beautiful book. We will have copies available in the next week. It is a very exciting week for SD. I would like to think those who have purchased Rana Kelly’s book Superstition. We will have the Kindle edition available any day now. We will also be giving away copies of both books. Though we have a lot to learn, we are on our way to becoming a serious publisher of divergent literature. This process has been the culmination of a year’s work. It could not have happened without the love and support of so many wonderful writers/editors.

Jasper Kerkau