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.


 

The Glass Castle In A Vase (or perhaps Franklin or Einstein or Gauguin or your local sub-bridge bum)- Mick Hugh

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The Glass Castle In A Vase (or perhaps Franklin or Einstein or Gauguin or your local sub-bridge bum)

I find myself in one place: it’s too intuitive to be real. A man of stature and possibility beaming a light that shines no farther than the wall. Certainty is absurd said Voltaire. Yet I am certain I have four limbs and a set of ribs and a cock between my legs. I am certain I have a career, if I think long-term enough, and I am certain to have good graces of God if I keep my posture up. The calendar marks the days in the blank way of its empty boxes sliding by. It is now October: in a month the insects will be frozen dead. And next June I’ll find myself still building bones for a fortune they call a pension. From my office walls working for a pension. Life is great when your last 10 years are finally free. What a predicament to find yourself in. Children starving, wife crying, the mold creeps up the walls. Do or die comes wrapped like crepes harder to swallow as the years burn on. Morality sits like an empty vase too fragile to disturb lest it break. And what breaks isn’t the spirit it’s the table it sits on beside the door in the tall foyer. What breaks isn’t golden it’s a god damn disease, it’s the glitter and glamor and 8000 pixels on the precious TV. What scurries are the rats in the walls; and what throbs ain’t your cock if haven’t your balls. And every day I sit still in my gray-decored room is another the world passes always darker in gloom – For the sun doesn’t shine if a face doesn’t feel the energy warming its skin. What a madness to find yourself in. How after a stress-fest at work beneath surveillance lights I am punching a steering wheel in traffic. What hurts it’s just golden glimmers. What bleeds doesn’t matter. And by the end of the drive to sit in a parking lot while the local station gets the Led out: the pitter-patter of Bonham’s drums and the freedom I held dear. Just to find myself in every place, to know that it’s all there.

(Do children still make good wandering beggars?)
(I don’t know.)
(Have you ever kept ferrets as pets?)
(I have not.)
(Okay. Because those you can leash and teach tricks for
tips. I was
wondering if children were the same.)
(You seem to’ve lost your mind.)
(I have not.)
(But you’ve lost your cock.)
(Hey – who’s asking the questions, here?)


 

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

Glow-in-the-dark Annuals – Mick Hugh

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Glow-in-the-dark Annuals – Mick Hugh (Mick’s Neon Fog)

You were sitting outside the bar on the patio, picking petals from the daisies in the planter on the railing. I was seated at a separate table nearby, because you had asked me to find another seat. We weren’t speaking for the moment: the conversation had been high-tide with an undercurrent I was too stupid to avoid. I told the waiter I was buying your drinks, and had him fill the table with rum-and-cokes until finally he said Enough; my credit card had been declined. Last week we had left for a festival, driven an hour outside of town, just for you to decide you no longer wanted to go. I turned the radio loud to drown you out and you opened your door and I skidded to a stop on Route 70. You got out. And of course I turned around half-an-hour later and found you pouting in the dust the tractor-trailers kick up along the shoulder. We didn’t speak, but we weren’t angry. I had a difficult time being angry — we met when you were picking sunflowers in the park, and when I finally caught your eye you had irises as thin as mine. Your skin was as thin as mine, and it only took us a matter of minutes to shed our skin and expose the blood vessels that bubbled the beauty into our lives. The little pinches of flesh on your arms and the nape of your neck, soft as dawn and golden. You could sing like Janis Joplin and illustrate the poetry of the pouring rain, and when I reached inside of you I found home and the hillsides I’d dreamt of roaming as a kid. Your mother was a hippy, your father itinerant. We had everything in common in a box of mismatched shoes. And when I held your hand I had looked inside, and saw a little black star in a palm full of rising light. I admit, I was immensely drawn and intrigued. There was nothing for us in this timeline. I bought a trailer on the edge of the city because you were the first I could tell myself I loved. You let it last for four beautiful months. Yet I had seen the timeline. I had seen the fistfights and the holes in the wall and I wasn’t surprised to witness my fears come to life. But what I wanted more than ever was to crawl inside of you. There was a beauty there, and even deeper, something darker true. By summer you came and went as you pleased. Days gone to god knows where, cryptic text messages from the shadows of dawn. I ripped apart your nostalgic doll and left you no choice but to sleep in my car. Cry out your eyes and let me find the reason why I could ever be so stupid. Drink myself into a stupor, you drove me to it. Every night for a week listing names of my friends and every little thing you did with them.
But then again, I knew both of your parents were dead — still, I needed to see the blackened centers of the sunflowers.

[Mick Hugh is a writer/editor for Sudden Denouement Literary Collective and Sudden Denouement Publishing.  He is the creator of Mick’s Neon Fog.]