Writin “Burnin Down the Box” – Nathan McCool

I’m real sick of all the normal talk in this town.

So dig this:

 

I stroll into a convenience store wild-eyed

as any nightmare; and I trade

a satchel of moirai eyes and could-be prophecies

for the cheapest, darkest beer I can pry

from the cooler’s scary fingers

at this late hour.

 

By the time I get home my heart’s bluebird

is already drowning.

Just a damn lightweight these days. Or so my fates say.

 

As usual, the violin and the guitar have been into

another tuning fork fight over why the

power for the amp won’t come on.

And one of em popped a string before

cracking the other’s head.

It’ll get nursed with apologies splattered on

a pill-shaped pillow tonight while I

find the loneliest room in the house

to write a very long metaphor in story form

on the ethics and morality

of the mass acceptance of social stigma.

 

I cast Lemmy’s Rickenbacker as the main protagonist.

I pit it against an angry village of cereal

all armed to the teeth in a riot

and ready for another attempt to march

on a Frank Zappa album.

(Damn cereal never stood a chance.)

 

As I go to write the musical score

I stretch wide above the piano;

drunk, lanky, and weary

like a dope fiend scarecrow

in the fields around Greenwood, MS

waiting to croon with Robert Johnson.

I lean in and tell her,

“There’s a wolf in my heart for you, baby.”

 

I write a real slow song and end it like this:

“Sorry dad,

but I really ain’t no prodigal son.

I ain’t nothing to be proud of

when the day is through.

But you and mom are gonna be alright

and I’m sorry I won’t make it home again.

But there’s just a lot in life I gotta do.

And if you won’t cry when you think of me

I’ll smile when I think of you.”

 

And then I nestle myself way down into

the hole in my acoustic guitar.

Down where the light never reaches.

And I do what anyone does

when they don’t believe in a damn thing

and they got no one to pray to…

I wait for nothing.


 

[Nathan McCool is actually so cool, I can’t stand it. You can find the haint, dusk, and sizzling of his concrete snares on Instagram, or at his blog, Mist of Melancholia.]

Conversations with Jasper: Spoken Word Artist Billy Pilgrim

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[Sudden Denouement is interested in all forms of poetic expression. Spoken word is one area in which we are trying to do outreach. I had an opportunity to do an interview with Billy Pilgrim who has a very distinct style of spoken work.

Jasper: I enjoyed your style of spoken work a great deal. I was very engaged by, not only the content, but also your production value. Give us some context about who you are and the evolution of your project.

Billy: Well, asking somebody who they are is a pretty deep question. So let’s start with the basics, we are a Norwich, UK, based duo. One spoken word poet, and one digital music producer. Interestingly we are second cousins, and we spent a lot of time listening to music and sharing ideas growing up. More recently as THK finished his degree in digital music, he was tasked with a collaboration project, this is really when Billy Pilgrim got involved. What started out as university project, spanned into something bigger. Now we produce music together, as well as gathering work from other spoken word poets and creating beat tapes which showcase other styles of poetry too. Really our aim is to put poetry back in the atmosphere and get people talking about it.

Jasper: I have always been a huge fan of spoken word, having worked the scene in Houston in the early-nineties. When I hear your style, I think of Sage Francis, who evolved his spoken work into quasi-rap. What are your influences in terms of spoken word?

Billy: It’s a strange one really, because as far as spoken word goes, I’ve listened to a lot more in since I’ve been writing it than I ever did before. I mean, of course I admire the work of Sage Francis, Kate Tempest and Scroobius Pip as much as anybody else, But thinking about it, my influences come from all over. You know when you put a ‘further reading’ section at the end of an essay, because you don’t have any direct quotes to put in, but those books had an impact on your ideas. Well, my further reading section would be, Johnny Cash, Mike Skinner, The Notorious B.I.G, Kano and so much more, but I guess the link between those musicians is their narrative style. I like to listen to stories, and I like to tell them too.

Jasper: The music seems to be an essential part of your performance. It is amazing. How important is the music to your project, and do you feel that opens your music up beyond a poetry audience?
Billy: The music extends our reach, people who would never give poetry a chance can perhaps have their interest peaked by the music, that’s when the poetry might get them. THK works hard to create a balance with the poetry. It is important that it doesn’t overshadow it, but it can’t go unnoticed either. There is a symbiosis between the forms (we think!) that makes it something brand new.

Jasper:  I do a lot of interviews, and I always ask about to whom you own a debt in terms of writing, for me it was the Beat Generation. What writer’s inspired you early on and helped guide you in your journey?
Billy: Well the first person worth mentioning would be Kurt Vonnegut. I owe him for my name, Billy Pilgrim is the main character in his novel Slaughterhouse Five. In fact, that novel is what got me back into literature, and ultimately into writing and performing poetry. If he wasn’t dead, I would send him an email saying thank you for opening my peepers again. I really enjoy the abstract nature of his work. As for poetry, I like to read the works of Jack Underwood (another East Anglian poet) his poems give a fresh insight into the modern world. THK says his favourite novel is “Less Than Zero” by Brett Easton Ellis, he likes the dark undertones of it all. He gets inspired by themes when he makes music, novels like that effect his mind state, and help create a mood that develops into music.

Jasper: Give us a brief overview of your latest project, where we can find your spoken word, and what plans you have in the near future?

Billy: We recently released a demo, consisting of three tracks. We imaginatively titled it “Three”. The first song “I’m Afraid” (which also has a video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXM7kxi0t8Q) explores heartbreak and control within relationships, but more than that it explores the impact these feelings have on life in the modern world. The second track “Ajar” is heavily allegorical, it follows a journey of discovery and development, the narrative features in this poem attempt to determine what sadness is and where it comes from. And finally, “love Affair” is a response to addiction, a breakup letter to alcohol which doesn’t hold back. Funnily enough when we perform this live, people think it’s about a woman and tell us they feel the same way about their ex-girlfriends, I always think jeez, that must have been one toxic relationship, ha. You can listen to the demo here (https://soundcloud.com/bpthk/sets/three) and download it for free. You can also follow our facebook, twitter, and word press.
https://www.facebook.com/BillyPilgrimwithTheHeartseaseKid/
https://twitter.com/bpwthk
https://bpthkspokenword.wordpress.com

If there are any poets out there who want to get involved in something exciting, we are working on a collaborative project called “words with friends” (https://bpthkspokenword.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/spoken-word-poetry-what-is-words-w-friends/) which is still collecting submissions.
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Rana Kelly – Until Her Darkness Goes

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Today I would like to highlight the first novel of Sudden Denouement writer Rana Kelly Until Her Darkness Goes. Her book is available on Amazon.  Rana is an accomplished poet, and her novel highlights the scope of her writing. Her website is 2nd star to the left, straight on ’til morning. Please take a moment to step into the mind of Rana Kelly by visiting her site, and I would strongly suggest purchasing a copy of her wonderful novel. A review of her work is forthcoming. We are also very excited about the prospect of publishing her chapbook in the near future.

Synopsis:

Rachael Sullivan is NYC’s top music producer and owner of Red Hand Records, a private record label and a legendary empire of recording studios across the globe. But the music industry is in the toilet. Rock is dead, money is dwindling, and Rachael is on the cusp of losing it all. One night in a dingy London bar, she happens upon a raw talent that makes her believe in rock and roll again. The band is Murder of Crows, and her saving grace is Nicky McCallum, the genius frontman who is overcoming his damage. Both of them connect and find profound love, but they soon discover music and love aren’t enough. Drugs cloud the band’s success. Nick struggles with his addictions and demons, while Rachael fights her bipolar disorder and endures a harrowing loss that tests the strength of her soul. The two fight to save one another and remember what brought them together, before it’s lost in wreckage and blood.

Jasper Kerkau

 

 

Tumble Weed Blues – David Lohrey

There can be bebop and billowing skirts,
hot pastrami and cold beer, but only if
we’re good.

That’s the catch. We’re weighed down by doubt.
Can all this wonder be had for free? It’s
time to take stock.

All the pretty horses can’t put humpty dumpty
together again. It’s partly a matter of will
power, sure.

It’s mostly a matter of power, pure and simple.
And the will is half-hearted. There’s no
zeal. There’s no roll.

Ketchup, but no mustard. There are eggs, but
Benedict died last June of a stroke. Whoever
said we could have it all, lied.

The billowing skirts were not the first to go, but
the girls get tired of playing. They’ve
been recruited by the army.

Now women carry guns. Our next loss is jazz.
Without the blues, there’s no rhythm. The
country’s lost its beat.

Everyone is out of step. The problem
is not the booze. It’s the money. We’re all
too rich for our own good. We’re unhappy.

Louis Armstrong was elated. Count Basie, giddy.
Think back. You remember. Jazz was rollicking: horns
toot-tooting, the pianist on his feet, the drums exploding.

We’re all miserable. Fattened up for slaughter. Now
we wait for the other shoe to drop, as the centipede
crawls toward the exit.

We know it’s just a matter of time. It can’t go on like this forever.
We’ve become too refined, far too delicate, too fat for
good music.

Anyway…no one has the oomph. It’s all petered out.
We’re out of gas. There’s an energy shortage,
you know.

For the most part, pictures will be enough, for a while,
like those of farmers. Nobody wants to get his hands dirty,
digging in flower beds, plowing, changing diapers.

No one wants to turn potatoes, feed the pigs or geld the stallions.
What is there to celebrate if there are no children?
That’s the question.

If there’s no harvest, what’s the point of drinking? And
now they say there’s no purpose in planting flowers.
The suburbs are obsolete, no pleasure in squirrels.

No need for dogs to bark. No need for evening walks. No
need for games of catch. Eliminate the lawns, they decree,
which are nothing more than symbols of Farmer Brown.

There’ll be nothing to remember, not even the sound of crying babies.
Family life is finished. Dirty floors, mother’s milk, chicken pox
are all a thing of the past.

Now the smell of grass must go. It’s no longer the Age of Aquarius;
it’s the age of exhaustion. We’re entering America’s very own
Cultural Revolution. At the end of the day, they’ll be hell to pay.

It’s the age of recrimination. People stand around pointing fingers,
as the time French women were made to pay for bedding
enemy soldiers. They were driven through the streets, naked.

It’s an age of exculpation. We all want to wash our hands of it.
The only music left is what we demand to see others face.
Otherwise we want silence.


[David Lohrey is the Shadow Lord of brain-seizing, heart-piercing poetry, and a medium for the ether words. He 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 is currently writing a memoir of his years living on the Persian Gulf. Also, he’s freakin’ awesome.]


Continue reading “Tumble Weed Blues – David Lohrey”

a shriveled love note in the barrel of an empty gun – samantha lucero

the man i loved who never knew
was tall like most men girls love & never tell
he was  t h e  unreachable one in missing scenes of my other life — one i could’ve had, but couldn’t, & now i can’t at all —
he was that untouched  n a m e  i never murmured aloud
a strangled sonnet that i would recite to a chasm in each yearning lover’s prison-grey heart,  wet-eyed with a desert-tongue and a diamond gun,
because you’re holding the smeared organ
the holy medal in my scalded dreams, where no one can hear what i whisper into my own nebulous mind,
so i scream in my head when i see you,
even in this inner-woven world where i can confess
to the fake piece of you that isn’t really there,

i don’t, i wouldn’t dare.


[Samantha Lucero writes stuff sometimes at sixredseeds.]

Maraschino Cherries-Georgia Park/Private Bad Thoughts

I cross state lines
to lay on your piano
and complain about
all the boys
ive scared off lately
(“Oh, do you really care?”
“…nah, not really.”
“Good. Now you have
more time for reading.”
“Yeah, that’s exactly
what I was thinking.:)
and eat maraschino cherries
like its sufficient
I tell you,
I’m involved in hip hop
and you warn me
not to get shot
and that’s it.
*
I turn around
and drive home again.
*
you said I was a poet
and I could do this.
yeah. ok.
Ill try again.
*
I had a meeting
with my publisher
right after
I did backup
on a rap hit
I signed up for a show
on 4/20, dig?
and I didn’t even
get shot or anything.
see? I can listen.
*
yeah. you say.
you can do anything.
but you really shouldn’t
need me to tell you this.
-try not to forget
ever again.
*
yeah, ok. I am a poet.
I am, I am.


[Georgia Park is creator of Private Bad Thoughts, curator of Whisper and the Roar a feminist literary collective, and a writer for Sudden Denouement. She is a wonderful poet with an enormous heart. We can’t imagine this journey without her. Please check out more of her wonderful work.]