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.

Meet Sudden Denouement Collective Member Jonathan O’Farrell

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The editors of Sudden Denouement Literary Collective know that our strength is our writers. We hope that you enjoy getting to know them through our new Writer Interview Series.

What name do you write under?
Jonathan O’Farrell, but also to be somewhat developed and further adopted ‘ misterkaki ‘

In what part of the world do you live? Tell us about it.
I currently own a house near Leicester in the Midlands of England. But to be honest I have not actually stayed here more than a couple of months since November 2016.
It is a rather unlovely ex coal mining village, albeit it is surrounded by England’s biggest and longest term land regeneration project, The National Forest.

Please tell us about yourself.

Semi-nomad at the moment and in the moment, Creative life transitioner, blogger, photographer, tentative shamanic student and, apparently, poet.
Forthcoming, my first two photographically illustrated anthologies, 2018; ‘Trinity’ and ‘Seasoned in Time’. 2019; ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors, Fire!’.
As rich as the creative experience the current life is, exploring Portugal, France, Spain and later Ireland, by winter 2018 I hope to have ‘settled’, a ‘tiny house” or similar, with sufficient land. The vision; create an abundant garden, for lost souls, separated loved ones, under the sun. A meeting place, with coffee, inspiring books, poetry and healing, however it may arise.

If you have a blog or website, please provide the name and the link.

Misterkaki.wordpress.com

misterkaki-writer.substack.com

When did you begin your blog/website, and what motivated you start it?
I began on WordPress around the spring of 2017. When I started WordPress it was more for somewhere for me to record short ‘thought pieces’, a few travel tips and to some extent a minor showcase for my photography. Since then I have posted much more poetic content, as this has burgeoned. Substack is a new venture, taking over from my presence on Patreon. It will I hope be a platform for a monthly newsletter that can be subscribed to.

What inspires/motivates you to keep blogging on your site?
Of itself it is enough essentially to be a living archive of my writing and visual creativity. Of course the regular and supportive presence of a subscribing and most importantly, commenting readership is a big factor too.

When did you join the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective?
As I recall July 2017.
Why/how did you join Sudden Denouement?
I sent in a poem or two. I subsequently had a number of very enthusiastic online conversations and emails with Jasper Kerkau.

What does “Divergent Literature” mean to you?
In an overstimulated and seemingly homogenous world literature and other multimedia expression that authentically and without compromise cuts through this perceived predominancy.

SD Founder Jasper Kerkau frequently talks about Sudden Denouement writers using the ‘secret language’. What is it?
I perceive this as a brotherhood / sisterhood, even a cabal of writers that, even given our inherent divergence, essentially ‘get’ what the ‘otherness’ is saying.

What are your literary influences?
Ian Dury, soul / punk / funk wordsmith and songwriter. Chap had severe disabilities, but yet a big inspiration. More conventionally, in literary terms the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke is, I have to say, a fair influence in the genre of poems I might call ‘love letters in transit’. Also figuring W.B. Yeats, Rumi, Khali Gibran and our very own S.K. Nicholas. But to be honest, you are as likely to see me reading books on celtic shamanism at the moment. Let’s just say my influences are eclectic, divergent even!

Has any of your work been published in print? (books, literary magazines, etc.) How did that happen?
Published in: Harbinger Asylum: Winter 2017 Paperback – 22 Dec 2017 ISBN-13: 978-1981623723

I wrote to Dustin and submitted three poems and two were published.

Do you have writing goals? What are they?
Forthcoming, my first two photographically illustrated anthologies, 2018; ‘Trinity’ and ‘Seasoned in Time’. 2019; ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors, Fire!’.
More collaborative writing. Thus far I have done some poetry with Canadian author Mary Rodgers. They are in the process of being submitted to Enrealment Press.

Which pieces of your own writing are your favorites? Please share a few links.
Lucid Learning Moments

The Well of Presence

Ritual

and finally, because simply I am fascinated by time and try to live in a present, created afresh in the moment, this, my very latest and curiously, longest by far, poem:

those days

What else would like to share about your writing, Sudden Denouement, or yourself?

A bit of a reveal; as rich as the creative experience the current life is, exploring Portugal, France, Spain and later Ireland, by winter 2018 I hope to have ‘settled’, a ‘tiny house” or similar, with sufficient land. The vision; create an abundant garden, for lost souls, separated loved ones, under the sun. A meeting place, with coffee, inspiring books, poetry and healing, however it may arise.

You see, whilst my writing is my doing; my doing is my writing.

Finally, I must say how very encouraged I am by the latest SD developments, not only that, but by those who had the vision to initiate this divergent literary revolution in the first place. You have my gratitude.

 

Shipwreck – Allie Nelson

There’s the pull of the tide of Azazel, dragging me down to obsidian depths where lampreys from alien worlds suckle at the teat of Leviathan.  Your arms are the Cambrian ocean, and I am a fabled creature long extinct, many legged like a sea scorpion, scuttling to your lips to latch on with pedipalp that can breathe both in and out of water.  My progeny will leave your bosom and flee to the shore, shipwrecked on pearly sands, and weave webs to capture sparrows and dragonflies and voles.  Feasting on your salty skin, I know the great extinction is fast approaching, be it comet or climate change or ocean acidification, and your shores will dry up and your cliffs of ice at the poles will pummel me as glaciers crash against my chitinous exoskeleton.  This is just a metaphor for how we fight, me the small arachnopod navigating your waves, for you encompass worlds with your H20 and I am just a small resident in your underwater hotel room, and you are the whole of Atlantis.  They will say your treasures were buried ten leagues below when your pride became too great and you challenged the gods, but I know Jormungandr was thrown into the sea because he grew so great he could eat the nine realms, and you are ravenous – for my kisses, for my sex, for my breasts bobbing in your aquatic hands and my whole body in the mud of the Dead Sea, healing in your salt.  It is all a dream of sailors, to marry a mermaid, to pledge their troth to a nokken that fiddles desire and tricks on cold Norwegian seas where my ancestors roamed.  And so I say, Poseidon, grant me one wish.  To forever be your siren, singing humans to doom at your breast aback the undertow of your liquid love.  I will serve you well I promise, o my captain, for I am like a buoy, constantly riding out tempests with cheery red and yellow paint so my lobsterman – you – can find me and the Maine treasures below.  The ocean takes all, nutrient overflows and algal blooms and bodies rotting so only the feet float above, and it has claimed me since I was baptized in your cold New England waters.  In truth, we are the shape of water, which has no shape, but we can boil, and we can steam, and we can bubble, and we can freeze, so I say, let us be the transformation of each other and discover what this love means when the mast falls and the captain’s daughter falls for the admiral.  We can be pirates of the Milky Way, plundering nitrogen oceans for diamonds, sailing Jupiter’s storm, and all the while I will be singing sea shanties (all sea songs are composed in your honor, oh great Oceanus) and throwing prisoners off the plank.  The sea is not merciful, the sea is all-consuming, and so we feast on each other, drinking down starlit riptides.  I fill my belly with the waters of God’s Deep and then I know, I am just sand and coral and dissolved calcium carbonate, a statue sunken deep, and you cradle my wreckage so softly, so love, consume me with your gravity, and let me drown.

Proper Disturbia – Mick Hugh

Endstation Sehnsucht / Streetcar Named Desire, A

I’ve again picked the wrong major, ten minutes into the second class I can already tell that – this isn’t the scene for me. Black cashmere, Eddie Bauer plaids; retro Doc Martens, soft spoken emotions: your poetry better enunciate pulpy vulnerabilities. The Professor has asked me to share my thoughts and my diaphragm spasms a smile. I am trying not to laugh. Because what I’ve written down is absurd and too honest to be expected, my thoughts here transcribed for our homework assignment. My thoughts on Tennessee Williams’, A Streetcar Named Desire. The room is silent and serious in its all-ears respect of my turn to speak. I am having a hard time not laughing. I compose myself. I begin to read.

“A Streetcar revolves around the personal absurdities of three individuals forced to live in close quarters. The main protagonist, Blanche, is [silent laugh] definitely a lunatic.” I bite my tongue, deep breath quivering stifled laughter. They are expecting something serious, intellectual, insightful [inward laugh]. I sigh and compose myself, begin again.

“The reason we find this drama an authentic representation of human life [pause to suppress laughter] each character is defined by contradictions,” which reminds me of the absurdity at the bottom of the page [face twists to hold in laughter]. BIG BOLD phrases towards the bottom of the page. Breathe, clear my head, begin again.

“The entire drama is founded on the dichotomies of social stratification, intra-personal relationships, and psychological,” [laughter, uncontrollable childish laughter shaking my body]. I am screaming, roaring red-faced boisterous laughter. I am being stared at, glared at, all the more to laugh at the unexpectedness and disapproval of this laughter I’ve kept bottled.

“I’m sorry [laughter, tears-on-my-face laughter]. I’m sorry I can’t [indomitable laughter]. I can’t help it!” Why so serious? Hahaha! Hahaha!

“Mr. – ” starts the professor. “If you have to excuse yourself – ”

I collect my books and notebooks into a pile on my desk, peals of laughter coming to a rest: I feel now almost blissful from being caught in this cataract of unyielding laughter. I think – they have no idea what I find so funny and this laughing so flies in the face of expected decorum that it’s –

Tremors in my diaphragm I begin to laugh again. My head bangs back, bright clouds of laughter to the ceiling frame a word bubble: “He blew his head off! [laughter like bursts of flak] Her husband! She was this [laughter] precious Southern Belle [laughter] inadvertently [laughter] she inadvertently made him [laughter] blow his fucking head off!” [laughterlaughterlaughterlaughter].

I am no longer taking English 106.

We hope you enjoyed this classic piece of writing from the Sudden Denouement archive.


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

 

I am a F*cking Writer!- Jasper Kerkau

I am a writer!

I sit on the left-hand of the gods and have a special dispensation to decode the secret, universal rhythms, find patterns in the whispers which are inaudible to profane ears. My role is that of an observer; a quiet, meditative force who has a holy charge to record the divine misery, the blind mysteries, the eek-and-turn everyday struggle of life, seen through the eyes of one who has divested himself of all worldly goods.

Who are you?

I am a fucking writer! I am convicted, given over to the great purpose of wresting the truth away from the earth, buried under layers of silt and sediment, caught up in the swirl of the waters that lean to the great gravitational forces as the world mercilessly spins in the great unknown. The curse is the burden, the pulling back the veil, looking into the languid eyes affixed on the gloss and glitter of shards of glass and bits of triviality, finding the gift in otherness, turning away from the doomed, and, alas, finding a tribe of others who beckon the same call.

What do you do?

I am a writer! Though during the day, I am an undercover laborer, engaged in the task of finding means to an end. Looking out of windows, staring at watches, waiting…waiting for life to begin. The toiling is for naught; it doesn’t define me. I work for a living, but when I put my head on pillow, or look in the mirror, I know exactly what I am. Touched by the hand of god, beholden to vision and in collaboration with a silent minority, hiding out, going through motions, learning, and watching. I am anointed by almighty forces, who picked me up and spit me into the world with love in my heart, to stand in the shadows and pay the price for all of the beauty and all the unhappiness in the world.

© Jasper Kerkau 2016

 

We hope you enjoyed this classic piece of writing from the Sudden Denouement archive.


Jasper Kerkau is a managing editor and writer for Sudden Denouement and editor and writer for The Writings of Jasper Kerkau.


 

Blank Verse – David Lohrey

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Blank Verse – David Lohrey

I’m asked to ignore too much…look the other way.
In fact, I should call my poems empty poems.
“Never-mind poetry,” that’d be a better name.
I’ll write poems about nothing. Poems that say
absolutely nothing but say it well. I’ll write poetry
that resemble Rothko’s paintings of voids, great hollow,
pulsating works of art, undulating existential blobs
from the bottom of the heart, written down but just
as easily forgotten.

Poems celebrating everything that’s good and wholesome,
that’ll be my racket. Easter eggs before they’re broken,
poems about Elvis as a matador printed on black velvet, with
HOME SWEET HOME embroidered in sequins and little
plastic pearls, with hymns to the Almighty. They’ll be called blank
verse and can be served with dessert toppings like apple sauce,
chocolate or maple syrup. Those would be apt subjects for a howdy-doody
poet like me. We’ll call them frozen yoghurt poems and serve them on a stick.

Today’s editors dictate the content of poetry. They remind poets
that anything found to be inappropriate will not be tolerated.
They are little Ivy League Gorkys. I’d be happy to write what
they want but only in exchange for a dacha on the outskirts of Moscow.

These sensitive souls demand a poetry that doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
These self-satisfied prudes are backed by their attorneys. “Mustn’t give offense.”
Poetry is to be edited like church letters in the 1940s. They’d change the title
of Ginsberg’s “Howl” to something like, “Help Me!” Hallmark America.

By the time I’m finished editing out everything offensive, I’ll be left with
4 or 5 safe words: the, yet, then, too, and but. All the rest relegates me
to Facebook. Everyone is offended by my rubbish as every decent
human being in 1957 would have reviled Charles Bukowski’s poetry,
or T. S. Eliot’s, Henry Miller’s and surely Jack Kerouac’s, too.
The New Yorker did so and refused to publish them.

The internet editors now take it upon themselves to enforce common decency.
So off we go, back to the genteel tradition, back to placing covers on piano legs,
back to saying nothing that gives offence, back to the times when dreams
meant nothing, back before Freud, when a pickle was just a cucumber in brine.
And for what? The defense of Christendom? Not at all. No! So we can be nice.
And all this on the advice of corporate lawyers and the guys who make cereal.

The purpose of poetry after all is to make others feel good. This was cooked up
by some madman, a recent graduate of the school of insanity. Be sure that the fat
feel good about being fat, that blacks have black power, and the disabled are made
to feel they can do whatever the next man can even if they live in an iron lung.

I’d prefer to go back to the mimeograph machine, or back as far as the quill.
Forget internet courtesy and creative writing school notions of politeness.
Twenty more years of this and we’ll be back to where we were in the 1900s
when Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein left the country. Back then the boobs in charge
were mainly little old ladies holding a Bible in one hand and a pistol in the other.
Now the magistrates of decency have MFAs from graduate
writing programs with certificates in censorship signed by the Governor.
They can have it.

[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.]