Literary Property

by David Lohrey


One doesn’t think of poets as money managers.

It must be nice to see one’s work issued by the government.

You have to give her credit for it, she made an industry

out of having had a hard time of it, even if today she lunches

with the likes of Oprah and Jessica Mitford.

Had there been enough good parts, she could have 

made a fine actress. She would have made a powerful Josie 

Hogan, you know, from that play by Eugene O’Neill, or that

haunting wife of Macbeth, or, better yet, Hamlet’s dear mother.

Instead, she became a bestselling poet.

Something about her reminds me of a circus, a tented

carnival with a snake-man called Scaly and a three-breasted

lady. Step right up and hear her tale of unparalleled woe.

Avoid the door on the right, or you might get her confused

with the tattooed midget in yellow tights and his aqua tunic.

Tell the tale of your miserable past: how

you were beaten and mistreated, and how

you experienced unwanted advances. Why not

explain once again what it was like to have to eat

barbecued bologna on Christmas morning?

Now there’s human suffering.

The royalties mount beyond anyone’s count.

Rake it in while it lasts. There’s the 5-bedroom townhouse

in a fashionable part of Harlem, the mansion down

in swampy Carolina, a wee property along the Hudson

and, rumor has it, a pied-á-terre in a posh section of Paris.

The newest new book is just coming out in a new

waterproof edition. The text, it is said, glows in the dark,

so it can be read underwater, or you can get one that floats.

It is scheduled to appear later this month in coordination

with her new show, Big Woe, the new Broadway Musical.

Have your say, as they say, but be sure to count your earnings.

Some might say it is too much to dare. When you wear earrings 

and things from Tiffany’s, it gets harder and harder to ask for 

sympathy. You might wind up like some of your devoted readers,

much too rich to notice a little girl in need of affection.


David Lohrey’s plays have been produced in Switzerland, Croatia, and Lithuania. In the US, his poems can be found at the RavensPerch, New Orleans Review, Nice Cage, and The Drunken Llama. Internationally, his work appears in journals located in the UK, the Netherlands, India, Malawi, and Hungary. His fiction can be seen at Dodging the Rain, Terror House Magazine, and Literally Stories. David’s collection of poetry, MACHIAVELLI’S BACKYARD, was published by Sudden Denouement Publishers. He lives in Tokyo. You can read more of his writing at Writing, Musing, Poetry

Interzone

by Jimmi Campkin

I remember she once told me; the funny thing about endings is that they never happen.  By the time you reach it, you’re already past it. Likewise we can never experience tomorrow, it is always just out of arms reach.  She was always saying stuff like this; it sounded profound but then she once told me that only men die, women just sleep until it is time to wake up.  I was having a panic attack at the time and this apocalyptic vision of women emerging out of a cemetery did nothing to help.  

I hurl another rock into a jet black ocean.  She’s running late but I have a comfortable spot, several small stones and pebbles, three pathetic little flowers clinging onto the pier and a few thousand miles of uninterrupted empty horizon to stare into.  

I dangle my feet over the edge and feel a vertiginous swelling in the pit of my stomach, up my esophagus.  I feel top-heavy as though I might topple forwards, and I’m aware of my shoes being loose on my feet. The stones of the pier sink into the silt below and I think I am sliding forwards so I grab hold of the ground either side of me and cling on.  Below me the water laps, disinterested in one more fragile little soul. No birds in the sky today, just heavy bloated clouds fighting through a film of brown pollution.

When I stare at the sea for too long I see faces in the waves.  Often they protest or cry out, so many drowned sailors and regretful suicides, but sometimes I see a beatific face beaming out, inflected by the rays of an underwater sun, a soul at peace with itself and its journey.  When the wind whips across from the frozen North the faces sink away for the white horses to gallop and crash, falling over each other and throwing their jockeys into the ether.

She tells me often that my eyes are like the sea; still and grey or furious and white.  She cups my hands, blows warm air into my palms and kisses my forehead. In those moments I forget that I have ever felt cold in my life.  When they arrive I run to the storms to watch the sea clawing at the land, allowing huge waves to crash over the defenses soaking me, and I feel the warm furnace beating inside my ribs evaporating the water from my body and leaving a film of salt.  In those moments I am untouchable, unsinkable, invincible.

I throw another rock and I see faces scrambling to devour it like so many hungry fish.  The ground feels steady now and I am brave enough to rest my hands in my lap, to kick my legs freely knowing that I won’t lose my shoes.  To my left I can hear the crunch of a pair of sneakers approaching. A pair of legs appears in my peripheral vision and a familiar hand tousles my hair and strokes the back of my neck.  

Crouching onto her haunches she asks me; what are you thinking about?  

Nothing, I lie.  


Writer, photographer and creator of SANCTUARY. https://jimmicampkin.com/

“I put my heart and my soul into my work, and I have lost my mind in the process” – Vincent van Gogh

Jimmi Campkin

Lost and Found

by David Lohrey

I am not interested in any poem that begins,

“I found myself.”

I found myself in a den of thieves.

I found myself a Hershey bar.

I found myself some leftover apple pie.

I found a dead mouse in the kitchen.

I found myself in bed with my mother.

If I had listened to what mama said,

If I had listened to what mama said,

If I had listened to what mama said,

I’d be sleeping on a feather bed.

Forget it. I am not about finding myself.

I’m lost.

I am lost to this world.

I am lost to myself.

I am lost somewhere between 5th and York.

I am lost in my sorrows.

If I had listened to what mama said,

If I had listened to what mama said,

If I had listened to what mama said,

I’d be sleeping on a feather bed.

I hate all lies and the liars who tell them.

I am a self-hating Jew.

I hate what we’ve become.

I hate my neighbors for coming and going.

I hate my wife for leaving.

I hate the Department of Energy.

I hate my Adam’s Apple.

If I had listened to what mama said,

If I had listened to what mama said,

If I had listened to what mama said,

I’d be sleeping on a feather bed.

You can say that again.

You can put that down to luck.

You can go to hell.

You can give me $3 worth on Pump #6.

You can put that where the sun don’t shine.

You can shut your mouth.

You can give me a kiss.

If I had listened to what mama said,

If I had listened to what mama said,

If I had listened to what mama said,

I’d be sleeping on a feather bed.

Won’t I ever see you again?

Won’t you please be quiet?

Won’t you be applying to Princeton?

Won’t your parents find out?

Won’t you live to regret it?

Won’t you please get down from there?

Why?

Why not?

Because all my cares be taken away.



David Lohrey’s plays have been produced in Switzerland, Croatia, and Lithuania. In the US, his poems can be found at the RavensPerch, New Orleans Review, Nice Cage, and The Drunken Llama. Internationally, his work appears in journals located in the UK, the Netherlands, India, Malawi, and Hungary. His fiction can be seen at Dodging the Rain, Terror House Magazine, and Literally Stories. David’s collection of poetry, MACHIAVELLI’S BACKYARD, was published by Sudden Denouement Publishers. He lives in Tokyo. You can read more of his writing at Writing, Musing, Poetry

Sudden Denouement Classics: To Quote Walt Whitman- Mick Hugh

whitman

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.


 

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.

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.


Gallifrey Is Gone

by Nathan McCool

gallifrey

My home is at the heart of nomadic wandering.

If you were to understand

this kind of isolation, you too would

have to be the lone survivor of

ancient desolation.

All the wars now are fought endlessly

among my triple brain stems.

These wars that will take all my love.

These wars that time and dimension

cannot escape.

These wars that will leave me alone –

the last thing walking in the shadows.

My dearest friends, my greatest loves…

You know me. But you can not know

what is in me. That I see everything

at all times;

even at the ruination of the world

and the resurrection of my body.

How the beating of my two hearts

elapses in the lacuna where dual suns shine;

echoing with all the death in my wake that could

engulf all of time and space.

For all my love and good acts,

there is perhaps an even

greater vulnerability.

Because I’ve seen it all.

And I can tell you that I am alone.

Gallifrey is gone.

 


 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.


 

To Quote Walt Whitman

by Mick Hugh

 

whitman

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.


 

Dyserotica-Basilike Pappa

He wants me to play dead in a clearing on Hymettos, under the open sky. I lie down on a flat rock surrounded by anemones and chamomile, and he spreads my hair in a fan shape.You are so pale,’ he says, as if he sees me for the first time. He arranges my limbs in different positions, and I can assure you his touch is clearly academic. He walks around the rock to look at me from different angles, talking all the time about aesthetics. His vowels are precise, his sigmas soft and his nus ring of the best education money can buy.

He drags a finger over the childhood scar on my knee, asks how I got it. I could invent a heroic story; but the rock is smooth, the sun gracious, the breeze carries the scent of thyme, so I just tell him the truth: I don’t remember. He’ll think I’m lying anyway.

His finger now follows my veins, starting from my wrist and traveling upwards until he reaches the web of angry blue that spreads on the inside of my elbow. Blood test, clumsy nurse. I don’t go into details. This is all about the skin, not what’s happening underneath. There is a stinging gleam in his eyes when he asks if it hurts. His thumb presses slightly on the bruise; I give him an exaggerated flinch and he withdraws. He suspects that if he really tried to make it hurt, I’d be making ribbons for my hair out of his face.

He lies on top of me, fully clothed, flat like a plain. ‘Pale,’ he says, ‘cool-skinned and with a heartbeat so faint it’s almost dead.’ Mouth against my ear, ‘Vrykólakas‘ he whispers. Even though his breath is warm, his sigma snakes through clenched teeth and bites. A tiny muscle twitches on my upper lip.

The next moment I laugh so hard and wide the mountain echoes; birds stop their chirping and take flight. ‘Impale me then,’ I say, shaking with laughter. ‘Why don’t you?’

He rolls away from me, thinks we should be going. I don’t do him the favor though before I show him by my own hand what an orgasm out of sarcasm is like. When I’m done, I put my clothes on with deliberate slowness – a reverse strip tease. Then, without another glance at his faint, lifeless face, I take the path down to where we left the car. He follows like a good boy.

It’s a quiet winding drive down to the city. He keeps his eyes on the road; I look out the window. As we reach the outskirts of Kessariani, the sky starts to pulse. Gold flows into the blue, making it transparent. Tides of gold over the white of buildings and sidewalks, pink glinting off side mirrors, glaring off glass doors. We stop at traffic lights. From the car next to us the first notes of Debussy’s Rêverie unfold, and we look at each other. We smile luminous. Smooth and easy. Together. And I think I feel. I think I know.

He wants to take me home; I say I’d rather walk.

We promise to call each other soon, but we won’t.

As a gift.


 

Basilike Pappa lives in Greece. She likes her coffee black, her walls painted green and blue, her books old or new. She despises yellow curtains and red tape. She can’t live without chocolate, flowers and her dog. Places she can be found are: kitchen, office, living room. If she’s not at home, I don’t know where she is. You can find Basilike up late with a notebook in the Silent Hour.

Bubble Gum Under the Table-David Lohrey

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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,

making judgements.

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.