Saturday, April 30, 2016

Three By David Daniel

David Daniel lives near Boston and has been the Jack Kerouac Visiting Writer in Residence at UMass, Lowell. His work appears often at thestoryside.com.


When Amy Winehouse Died

by David Daniel

Black lipstick made sense. Passwords were changed; phones silenced. Fans got her name tattooed on their hearts. My old lady said let’s do a bump in tribute, but when we discovered her stash was gone, an hour on the street produced not a single hookup. They were all in seclusion with their grief.

On the second day, against the fade of the long July light, I sat listless & watched the cat walk across the kitchen counter and step into the sink. According to reports I read online, Amy checked out in the wee small hours, with two bottles of vodka for company. She always was a night person. The bare ruined choirs were barer by one. When the cat mewed and licked the faucet it dawned on me he wanted water.

Whither thou goest, I will go. She didn’t look back. People who dug her said, yeah, b/c they knew. Her father, and her ex? They’ll wait a long time for peace.

On Bleeker Street, five hours short of London time, the morning wind played a threnody. Passersby wondered (as they did with Lennon, Harrison, the others) how they were going to fill the silence. A cat wanting a drink is one thing; a throng of the brokenhearted is something else altogether.  

Lady Day dropped a gardenia on the River Thames. We were stuck inside of Mobile with the Winehouse blues again. The Ghost Riders in the Sky struck up the band and played a dirge of welcome. Empty Henny bottles, each with a yarmulke on top, turned up on James Dean’s grave in Fairmount, IN and Kerouac’s in Lowell, MA.  

Driving in my car, I find myself imagining a Club 27 theme park, with holograms—Robert Johnson, Morrison, Joplin, Hendrix, Brian Jones, Cobain—and a stage, where Amy can snarl and play her ghost-white Strat and shake her tuchas.  

On the third day, abruptly, my old lady split. She left a note: "l'éveil jaune et bleu des phosphores chanteurs . . . y . . . "nasses / Où pourrit dans les joncs tout un Léviathan.” –Arthur Rimbaud, Le bateau ivre. No translation. Pretentious bitch. I don’t know a word of Italian.

One time, okay? One time. Look at me and say “A.W. 1983 - 2011.” Scat, cat. This bird has flown.



Alternative Hemingway

by David Daniel
After the cancer, the heart attacks, the prolonged depression, something wild was gone from him, some ingredient essential to his work. Where once he strode the earth a Colossus, continents his parade ground, now his steps were provisional, considered. His travels took him to the grocer’s, the library, the clinic, and home.

His consumption of alcohol, once prodigious, was reduced to a glass of sherry before supper. And the foods of which he formerly famously partook—lion steak, Escargots à la Bourguignonne, braised springbok—were a memory. He sat with a TV tray and ate Swanson’s Hungry-Man meatloaf.

Stories would not come. No more pithy dialogue, no lengthy lamentations of the soul. Nada y pues nada y pues nada. . .

Friends (I was one) offered their prescriptions: Take some time off, rest, recover. Privately, we waited for the worst, braced for the reverberations of the shotgun.

We’re still waiting.

He sits on a high stool in the shade of a candy-striped umbrella. His
beard, a pale wisp, hangs like savannah moss. He smiles in Zen-like contentment at passersby. He has a neatly painted sign:

POEMS WHILE YOU WAIT
Doggerel a dollar
LIGHT VERSE A SPECIALITY
Business is brisk.


The Poet David Daniel



If Lennon Were Here

by David Daniel

He’d be a different person. Older, face bonier, nose sharp as a box-cutter, hair like thin grass. He’d be wiry and spry, from yoga and walking everywhere (like Hemingway and Kerouac, he was never one to drive).

And he would still need glasses.

He’d think with wonder about being in his 70s, with a wife of more than five decades and full-grown sons. He’d be surprised, then annoyed, and finally amused when people puzzled at the origin of his middle name.

He would still be popular but not more popular than Jesus, whose stock has surged in recent decades. Nor would he want to be. If he was making music, it’d be for the same reason he did long ago as a sprout in Liverpool and then lost it for a time: Because he wanted to. He’d still like an occasional pint.

He’d sometimes stop and think about Paul and Ringo and George (RIP) and all the lovers and friends that went before.

He’d give away stuff: his books & records & paintings, things neutered by time. Yoko would turn his personal papers, correspondence & old contracts into collages & papier-mâché. None of it would appear on E-Bay, there’d be an agreement about that. His guitars . . . not so easy—the beat-up old Gibson on which he wrote “I Want to Hold Your Hand” long gone at auction. There’d still be a few Rickenbackers hanging on a wall in his apartment, and some gear next to Lake Erie in Cleveland.

He would not go on the road in a tour bus, city-after-city-after-city; leave that for the troubadours. Instead he’d choose to sit in his nowhere land, watching the wheels go round, making nowhere plans for nobody.

He would still imagine. The old fire would spark up from time to time—a letter to the Times against politicians making bullshit excuses for leading people to war, a word on the BBC about African elephants and rhinos, and folks who believe God loves only their skanky asses. His name would not be on any list of public figures calling for the banning of books like The Catcher in the Rye.

If you told him he would never again write songs as fine as “Help,” “In My Life,” “Norwegian Wood,” “Working Class Hero”—that no one can—he’d shrug, tell you to sod off, mind yer own fookin business.

On gray days he would sit in an English garden, waiting for the sun. And sometimes he would stand by the letter box, quiet as a ghost, listening to the wind, and waiting for a love letter from you.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Drunk At Midnight and Other Outlaw Poems By Dennis Gulling

It has been a bittersweet week for me. The arrival of the latest Zombie Logic Press book, The Blood Dark Sea, by Dennis Gulling, was a thrill last Friday. There aren't many feelings as an editor, or a writer, like opening that first box of your own books, except in this case, for the third time in a row, it was another writer's book. I said it's a thrill, but it's more accurately described as a relief. After months, sometimes even years of work, there's this short period where you really have no clue if the finalized files you sent to the printer will look the way you anticipated when they arrive on your porch. In this case I was working with Jenny again, so I knew it was going to be great. And it is.

Soon after the relief wears off you come to the daunting realization that you now are responsible for promoting and finding an audience for the life's work of another writer. That's a sobering responsibility, and one I take very seriously. Having edited and designed a magnificent book just isn't enough. Dennis Gulling's work deserves an audience. These are unbelievably readable and entertaining poems. I have read this book more than it's likely anyone else ever will, and each time I'm still impressed as a pretty sophisticated reader of poetry how effortlessly Gulling seems to tell these short stories with wit, precision, and a lack of condescension for the reader, or his subjects. That's no easy task or all that common in poetry, believe me. 

So, if you're still reading please do me a favor and give this book and this poet the credit they have earned. If you aren't interested in buying a copy, share the link if you think this might be of interest to others you might know. Help me promote a poet I think has written a classic of Outlaw Poetry. Go to here to learn more about this book and all Zombie Logic Press books

The Blood Dark Sea cover by Jenny Mathews of Rockford Illustrating

NAILS

He walked around town
Collecting nails nobody wanted
Twisted, bent and rusty
Kept them in old coffee cans
In his basement
When he had thousands
He set up a table at the flea market
And sold them all
To some guy
Who had a broken hammer
He couldn’t bear to throw away




TOMMY

He used to
Walk around town
With a sheep’s skull
Under his arm
We’d pay him quarters
To french it
The night his mother shot herself
He sat in his front yard
Smashed the skull with a rock
And danced
On the pieces

                            Tiny Drawing by Jenny Mathews


DRUNK AT MIDNIGHT

Drunk at midnight
Spade Jackson presses
His back against the ice machine
Outside West Street Minit Mart
Mouth harp
Invisible in his huge right hand
Head bobs and pivots
To Hellhound on My Trail
Left sleeve of his shirt
Hangs loose
Since losing his arm
Under a freight train 10 years ago
Stiff breeze catches it
And whips it around
He plays faster and faster
Trying to catch the rhythm
Of the dance it’s doing in the wind
His eyes bug out
Sweat beads on his forehead
He shuffles his feet
In a useless dance
As red light
Off Minit Mart neon
Gives him the devil’s face


Monday, April 25, 2016

David J. Thompson Has Fallen Into a Sex Pit and He Can't Get Up

Every Place Except Bed

I need a place to crash for a few days,
he says as he shoves a 12-pack of High Life
into my hands and steps past me into my apartment.
Nice to see you, too, I tell him, as he throws
his suit jacket on the coffee table and sits down
in my favorite chair. I take out two beers,
walk the rest out to the fridge. I was having
a little thing with this new girl at work, he yells,
told Heather I had to work late on some quarterly reports.
Nothing serious, you know, just drinks and sex
a few times, but tonight I didn’t show up at her place  
like we planned, so the little cooz called the house
and when I get home Heather goes all apeshit
on my ass yelling, You’re not going to get away
with this about a million times loud enough
to wake up the whole fucking neighborhood
I got nowhere else to go. You don’t mind, do you?
No worries, I yelled back, shaking my head,
reaching past the Maker’s Mark for the Jim Beam
in the cabinet over the sink. You need some bourbon?

Sex Pit by David J. Thompson


There’s still a few minutes left in the game
when he starts snoring. I look over at him,
mouth wide open, sprawled on the recliner,
shake my head, wonder how long he’s going
to stay.  Not long before he got married
he told me one night in a bar he’d spent
the weekend fucking and doing cocaine
in New York with his old college girlfriend.
Heather’s great, he explained, everywhere
except in bed. She’s a real Catholic, so
she feels a little guilty about sex right now,
but that’ll get better after we’re married,
don’t you think? Of course, I said standing up
quickly and looking only at the tv over his shoulder.
I steadied myself with my hands on the table,
asked him if there was something he wanted
to hear on the jukebox.

Souls In Hell From Sex by photographer David J. Thompson


I get a pillow and a blanket off my bed, chuck them
on the couch, figure he’ll wake up some time to pee,
and make himself at home. I turn out the lights,
brush my teeth, get into bed, start thinking about
how I’m going to feel at work in the morning.
I roll over on my back and say, Oh, shit, out loud.
I can’t help but think about the rehearsal dinner
and the little toast I made.  I don’t remember it exactly,
something about how great they were together,
how happy they’d always be, a little lie I always thought
I’d get away with until now.

When In Scenic El Paso Pancho Villa Makes Sure To Stay At the Beautiful Motel 6: Story and Photos By William C Crawford

My Late Night Rhapsody: Catching Up with Pancho Villa at the Motel 6
By William C. Crawford
Jimmy Pro delivered; he always does. He promised clean, cheap lodging. But no gurantees of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. We could save some big bucks booking by the week, the length of our West Texas photo shoot. Hard by the interstate, nestled in by the sprawling railroad yard, the El Paso Motel 6 was legendary in Jimmy Pro’s mind. And this was with good reason.

Urban skyline. Cheap, centrally located lodging. All night train traffic from adjacent sprawling rail yard. Rumbling, clanging  trains were part of the late night rhapsody. Golden hour sunshine that soon gave way to a howling West Texas wind. But on this Saturday, we just sucked on Tecates in our shirt sleeves.
He stayed here in relative solitude countless times. This dated, gritty sanctuary helped to launch his plodding photographic forays along the nearby Border and beyond. He swilled plenty of early hours coffee carried upstairs to his habitual third floor haunt.
He stayed here on holidays so slow that his rental car was the only vehicle in a deserted parking lot. Jimmy relished the empty motel when it came to pass. He never really got lonely,  and after all, there was the teenaged Latina desk clerk who was always good for an impromptu rap.
My jet lag left me and I lit up with excitement. I toted my ponderous photographer’s bags up to my third floor room via the worn, outside concrete staircase. I slid my key in the door which swung open to reveal a spartan, plastic appointed room which looked like it had been frozen there in 1974.

Room 309 as I swung the door open. Stephen Shore might have shot this in 1974. Would the obligatory Gideon Bible yield an inscription from the the trailblazing photog?
The acclaimed pioneer, minimalist photographer, Stephen Shore, could easily have shot a classic, color pic here. The caption might well have read “Racine, Wisconsin, 1974” instead of “El Paso, 2015.” I half expected to find a Gideon Bible with “S. Shore” inscribed inside the cover squirelled away in the ancient night stand.
I hurriedly pulled out my Nikon wide angle and grabbed three quick perspectives leaving my bulging luggage outside and out of my shots. I was checking into a funky museum outfitted with a sleeping bed!
We shot hundreds of images around El Paso barrios plying the expansive Border underbelly for the funk which we revered. The forensics here were highly favorable. The tricky January weather alternated between the Sun Bowl and the howling winter wind of West Texas.
As the weekend arrived the Motel 6 filled with shoppers and revelers of various persuasions. We turned in early after long days of desert shooting. Well after midnight, the unmistakable clicking sound of high spiked heels echoed off the concrete veranda outside my door.

No Ladies Of The Night in this late afternoon shot of the infamous veranda.
A wry smile creased my sleepy face. Lady of the Night, I reckoned! Nobody else up at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday. The sharp click, click, click stopped just beyond my door at the next room.
Sleep for the next few hours came hard. The dude next door was putting the Lady of the Night through her paces! He alternated between loud groans of ecstasy and shrill squeals of agony. The Lady was, however, stone silent. All the audio was wildly masculine.
Along about daybreak as I finally dozed off, I heard the sharp spiked heel strikes of the departing sex worker. Click! Click! Click! I mused that a good time was had by all next door, but over here in 309, Crawddaddy had lost plenty of sleep to the boisterous frivolity.

Later in the trip we foraged in Columbus, NM. This drug ravaged burg hard on the Border was once the home of the real revolutionary & bandito, Pancho Villa. Note signage.
After a few more minutes of fretful dozing, I struggled down to the far removed office to grab some free java. I immediately encountered the bleary eyed Latina desk clerk who was also just waking up. As she fiddled with her ever present smart phone, I posed a not so subtle question. “Who is that guy up in 310?”
I caught her off guard for just a moment and only half awake. She stumbled straight to her computer terminal and tapped in a query. “Pancho Villa,” she mumbled sleepily, unaware of the uncanny absurdity of the terse response.
I turned quickly away juggling my two cups of steaming coffee not so carefully balanced. I wanted to come back with an equally inane, historically related retort like: “Yeah! I just saw Davy Crockett up in 319!” But I settled for muffled laughter as I controlled both my unsteady coffee and my disbelieving reaction.
The next night served up a reprise of romantic gusto in Room 310. I noted that more frequent, intermittent clicks of dangerously high heels seemed to signal the goings and comings of three separate Ladies of the Night. A near traffic jam was building just outside of my door!
The previous night’s script otherwise unfolded remarkably the same. My sleep went by the bedside as I again enjoyed the edgy dialogue of masculine groans and squeals. Three rotating Ladies of the Night offered up no discernible audio. Maybe Pancho Villa was gagging his lovers, revolutionary style? You know-a bandito thing for the flashy dressed hombre!
Later, as I swilled my early morning coffee in Jimmy Pro’s room a few doors away, the subject of Click! Click! Click! happened to come up in a casual conversation about onomanpoeia. Jimmy had heard and immediately identified the origin of the passing nocturnal cadence. Moreover, his room was too far removed for him to savor the enthusiastic sounds which I enjoyed.
I relived my previous inane dawn exchange with the senorita at the desk. Jimmy remained stoically nonplussed by the senor’s creative choice of a nom de plume.
However, when I posed the nagging questioned as to why I only had heard male audio from the busy room next to mine, he responded with laser like clarity. He regarded me with keen intensity. Then he answered firmly with his thick Maine brogue still present after decades Down Under. “Well Crawdaddy, it might just be that Pancho is doing all the hard work in there.”
The simplicity of his brief reply was unnerving. Hell, I should have figured that out on my own! Jimmy Pro had delivered again; he always does.
Pancho checked out at Sunday noon replete in resplendent vacquero’s garb! My late night sleep soon settled back to normal. And Jimmy Pro didn’t have to answer any more of my dumb ass questions.
When I checked out a few days later, I noted wryly to the shy senorita on duty that it was great to have seen Simon Bolivar outside at the vending machines. She looked away and cooed some soft Spanish that was above my pay grade.
She regarded me further with polite but obvious disdain. Then she retorted, “That was General Santa Anna out at the vending machines. He is a chocolate freak.” Loosely interpreted I think  she meant something like: “gringo imperfecto!”

Plenty of spectacular views like this from vantage points around the 6! Oz Travel, Jimmy Pro's mythical booking agency, ensconced us here for $35 a night! Weekends were a bit more, probably to cover the late night entertainment. I paid extra for high speed internet. A photo I mailed out the first night was still uploading a week later when I checked out. And I ain't bullshitting!


William C. Crawford is a writer and photographer from North Carolina. He longs to become a spokesman for Motel 6.
.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Poetry By Michael T. Smith

Michael T. Smith is an Assistant Professor of the Polytechnic Institute at Purdue, where he received his PhD in English in May, 2014.  He teaches classes in the digital humanities, film, business writing, and cross-disciplinary technology courses.  His work has been most recently published in Tau Poetry Journal, Taj Mahal Poetry Journal, Asahi Poetry Journal, Renascance, SONUS, Kinema, and Bright Lights Film Journal.  He has work forthcoming in Symbolism and Cinematic.  He has most recently attend the 2015 CCCC conference in Tampa as well as the 2015 PCA/ACA conference in Arizona.  He will attend the 2016 CCCC conference and 2016 NeMLA conference this year.

e.e. cummings: love poem

so-so, Rain’s soft hands scooped up the 

red dog, blue dog, green dog, Sirius fog

Sunflower’s yo-yo, MY OH MY

Words of silence ---tune so loudly 

Do

You 

Know?

XXXXXXX

Origami flowers in beds so long -

(Are you real?)

Plastic X's on a long night sky -

All newspaper particles to the One Day

A vinyl swirl of peanut butter, a love to stay.




LIFE

The story of life is depressing:
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx…
And then you die.
“S/He saved…”
“S/He lied…”
“S/He tried…”
Whatever.  You know what follows 
Past the remou of tradition:
Like a bout o’ piblokto for the cold-hearted
Made of a bonsella of words.
So why narrativize it?
(Maybe life is a poem)
If not to modify the end:
To end the end by an end…




Saturday Night

I was me, which was me for you.
We watched [Censored] TV
(It’s a movie adapted from an e.e. cummings poem)
And ate caramelized fossils from a healthier age…
‘Cause every little thing is littler than a thought.
Our popcorn smelled like a weird memory,
And the couch hugged us tighter than we dared each other.



*error message* 

Gently tip-toe with the one-toothed deer                             
in hallowed halls with ghosts in night-gowns.                    
Words make love in the bed of our minds                           
into a sky of cookies and crème                             

From a melted Van Gogh (O! Angry sun)                           
a smile of thirty rungs can twist a lake                                
out of a scarf of skin, a dead Plowman                                
mourning cypress’s murdered sin un-begot.




The City in the Valley; 
Or, the Upside-Down Frown

My eight minds shine on the hollowed dark sun, 
Pushing me down to a tentacled ton.
A Leviathan green swallows me whole.
In a pit of nothing, no sleep, my toll.
I spiral down into darkness spread full:
E’ermore, E’ermore - to answer with a snore
The tapping, rapping of one with no role,
On this dusty casket’s creaking old floor
The blight keys of Sunday’s paramour’s wiles
Forever locked within fictional smiles.
Killers of another circle will write
A page on the sky’s black canvas tonight.
Why wish upon that dark, faded star’s shore
(Once bright) if I have no soul anymore?



ethics (lower case)

the wrot uf ethics is not on a black(bored)
butt is the dustk of chack- after-wards
it’s a hand-hold, post-morden 
like a dumball matching out on service




Lop-Sided Pyramid

Once,
Burnt Umber 
Carved a story
In Hieroglyphics of faith,
Including the unforgotten saviors-o’-men,
Utilizing th’ concrete personification of Fibonacci numbers
(Population architecturally distributing manufactured superstition unfathomably blueprinted).



Is this a Poem?

Poem.