(Bomb) Shelter | Prose that Sucks

The outside was nondescript, looking for all the world like an abandoned office building in any low income neighborhood in the US. Perhaps that was the intention, so that no undue attention was brought to its doors – though more often than not that was the case.

The narrow corridor that led to the front door reeked of 30 years worth of piss that had been baked into the cement by countless summer suns. It steamed off the sidewalk rising in hot waves and marinating me in its musky, testosterone laden stench which caused me to silently choke as I walked into the oldest homeless shelter in the city.

The place was a hovel – no better than the abandoned buildings and alleyways the city’s worst addicts squatted in and it certainly smelled the same. Piss was merely a lone thread in the foulness than blanketed the place; ammonia, sour body odor, festering infection and the unmistakable burnt plastic smell of crack all mixed together to make a putrid stew.

Packed into the narrow room were countless dilapidated couches that served as beds, each infested with lice and bedbugs which caused those brave enough to spend the night to slap and scratch themselves wildly throughout their slumber. The permanent fixtures of the place had acquired an immunity to the parasites, and out of the sheer terror of their bed being stolen opted to never leave their perch, instead sending trusted friends to the store for them and sneaking a smoke whenever the caretaker wasn’t looking.

Needles of natural light filtered through three greasy windows which caused the paint on the walls to peel like rotting flesh adding to the general neglect of the building. Yet, looming ominously in a darkened corner was another wall that drew your attention like a mosquito bite on tender flesh.

“All of those are people who lived here, on and off, since the place opened in 1985,” the caretaker explained when she saw me staring at the wall.

Tacked to the wall with cheap plastic pushpins were funeral programs – thousands of them – spanning floor to ceiling, corner to corner. Photos of thousands of people stared back at me; black, brown, white, old and young alike – a veritable wall of death.

I felt a chill creep over me as I prepared to depart and when I stepped into the sunshine I inhaled deeply in an attempt to shake off dark thoughts of suffering, addiction and death. Once again I choked on the smell of the piss soaked sidewalk – the only indisputable material evidence that those thousands had lived, loved and were remembered.

Dangerous | Poems that Suck

The problem with
calling yourself the
muse of a girl 
with daddy issues,

and a habit of
using men's bodies
to masturbate with is
that the love may

be fabricated, and
when she's used 
you up and the well

of inspiration has
run dry, you'll be
thrown away like a 
                   shitty diaper. 

Love and Heat Stroke | Prose that Suck

It was the last seven days before the beginning of the month, which meant that the normally aloof hospitality room had detonated into a cacophony of noise; voices calling out to each other across the room, muddled music from the ancient TV tucked into an alcove high on the wall and the bone-jarring sound of hard plastic dominos being slammed down onto the unforgiving metal surface of the card table – “Domino, muthafucka!”

The heat was oppressive, bearing down on me like an interrogator moments away from their coveted confession. Sweat rolled down my back and beaded in the fine hairs of my upper lip producing a salty mustache that I could taste each time I smiled. Outside the shelter the city broiled, topping out at 95° but inside the 125 year old brick storefront it was a holocaust.

It was in this Purgatory that 150 men were packed, as close as lovers, the air fetid from the stench of unwashed crotch and armpits, the spice of anti-bacterial soap, cheap cologne and the wild, sour fecal smell of the mentally ill who’d been sleeping rough for years. I wove my way through the tapestry of foul air and flesh, squeezing my way between crackheads, AIDS patients, schizophrenics, prostitutes, alcoholics, pimps, cons, rapists and pedophiles to find myself on the other side of the room, glazed with the sticky sweat of those I passed.

I wavered for a moment at the edge of the crowd, the perimeter of my face humming with the threat of succumbing to the heat, when I felt the ghostly hands of Grace creep over me. It was not a profound feeling, no, rather one of quite certitude: I love them. For all of their flaws and short comings, for their undeniable humanity, and for the mere fact that we are, together, wading chest deep through the shit and piss of the world – I love them.  They are wholly mine, and I theirs.

History of Present Complaint | Reviews that Suck

1A few weeks ago I tweeted the #writingcommunity to recommend me their chapbooks; the first response was @HLRWriter who recommended me her CNF chap, History of Present Complaint. 

I read the summary on Amazon, and was interested enough in the premise to buy it. When I went to check out, however, I realized that the book is only offered on Amazon UK – which meant exchange rates and what I knew would be a lengthy shipping time. A little reluctantly, I went through with the transaction, and waited patiently for the book to arrive. 

Arrive it did, a little bit ahead of schedule, on Saturday the 3rd and in my excitement I immediately began inspecting and reading. 

Book Details

History is approximately 86 pages long, and is roughly 5 x 8 inches in dimension. It has a glue binding which held up under (my very intentional) stressful bending, folding and other sorts of general fuck-housing – which means the binding didn’t crack and no pages were lost. 

It has a lovely glossy cover which feels thick and durable, and is printed on reasonably good paper which doesn’t bleed under a highlighter or a fountain pen.  The font is legible – Garamond, I think – doesn’t smear when you run a thumb over it and while it’s just a hair smaller than the standard, it’s still totally readable. Get some fucking glasses.

There is a content / trigger warning directly after the title page. 

The contents is beautifully laid out and shows the care that was taken to put this work together. 

DO NOT SKIP THE EDITOR’S NOTE. It details how the book is structured – as it’s not linear – and you will, at first, need this as a reference point as you make your way through the book. 

Contents

The book details the story of a woman who experiences a psychotic break and is (involuntarily?) admitted to a psych ward in the UK. The story is presented in stream-of-consciousness style which leaps back and forth in time to events that happened prior to the break, the break itself and what happens afterward.

Review

Reviewing this book is complicated; I have so many thoughts about it that I’m going to need to break the review into bite size portions. 

  1. Time and Space 

Non-linear story telling is easy to fuck up – just look at Netflix’s version of The Witcher (I said what I said, motherfuckers). It’s significantly more difficult to do this on paper than it is on film – there are no cinematic cues that let you know you’ve jumped backwards or forwards in time.

HLR did this masterfully; she let’s readers know where they are in her journey by titling sections and poems with the headings Present Complaint, History of Present Complaint and Post Complaint – the definitions of which are in the Editor’s Note that I told you not to skip, you asshole. All in all, the transition between time and space is seamless and makes sense. She makes a notoriously difficult style of story telling look like child’s play. 

2. Style and Content

Complaint blurs the lines between genres; part creative non-fiction, part poetry, part stream of consciousness journaling which culminates in an incredibly authentic read that puts you inside her head as she’s going through these monumental crises.  

What’s really unique about this is that – in the editor’s note that I fucking told you to read – HLR doesn’t say this is her story… she says it’s YOURS. “YOU suffered an acute psychotic episode, during which YOU were detained under Section 135 of the Mental Health Act.” 

Very early on the boundaries between reader and writer blur, and you begin taking on her story as your own until you’re jolted back into your own reality when you realize “holy shit, I’ve felt that way before” and then are lulled back into the story again. 

I want to point out a fucking BREATH-TAKING line on page 44, “You dragged myself to the kitchen and stood in the doorway.”  Full stop. Read that again, do it slowly and hold that line for a few moments. You dragged myself. This is a mind blowing line; one that holds both the duality of reader and author and the coalescing of them simul-fucking-taneously! 

There are pages and pages of lines like these that both parallel and juxtapose author and reader that make you stop, and think, and wonder. 

3. Theme

I want to begin by saying this; you need to be mindful of how you approach this work. What I mean to say is this: it’s not a fucking sideshow for you to get your jollies off.

Complaint is important for so many reasons:

  • It restores humanity, which has been robbed by society, and the System, to those who live with mental-illness.
  • It depicts how very broken the Mental Health system is; simultaneously abusing and neglecting those who have the misfortune to find themselves jailed within it.

Overall

The testitucular fortitude required to be this honest and this vulnerable is Herculean – and HLR fucking NAILED IT.   I want to both acknowledge and thank her for that bravery. 

This is the book that Girl, Interrupted should have been – could have been – had Vintage had an ounce of backbone and didn’t neuter it to hell and back.

Is History of Present Complaint worth the exchange rate, and the long shipping time? Hell. Yes. I would buy if it was written in shit on a cardboard box. I would wait forever for this. I will re-read it fifty times over. 

Now… don’t be a bitch, and buy the shit. 

Trash | Poems that Suck

Who the fuck 
are you anyway, 
that my blood 
should turn from
rust to fire
at the mere 
closeness of you?

And who the fuck
am I becoming
with the shiver
of every orgasm, 
under the pressure
of your lips 
on my own?

Who am I?
Because I seem
to have lost
track - seemed to
have forgotten that
I'm only a: 

broken girl,
a fast girl, 
a foul-mouthed girl.

Who the fuck
am I? Because
when I look
in your eye,
and see myself
reflected there, 
I'm not trash
            anymore. 

The Worst Poetry Book Ever | Chap Review

imageI was window shopping on Amazon the other day when this chapbook came up in my Books You May Like feed. The title captured my attention because it’s the same type of fuckery that I would engage in.

I read some of the reviews, which were a glorious display of shit-posting that captured my warped little heart, so I decided to buy it.

Book Details

So this chapbook is rather large – 105 pages – and was self-published on Amazon’s KDP earlier this year.  It’s classified as Limericks and Humorous Verse, Internet and Social Media Humor, as well as Puns and Wordplay.  The author’s name is Lily Luverton – an appropriate porn star-esque pen name, appropriate for the content inside. Sits approximately 6 x 9 inches, with a matte pink cover and passable quality paper on the inside. The font choice sucks, I’ll be honest.   I folded the front cover back while reading and was pretty surprised at the fact that the glued spine didn’t shit the bed and rip off. Huzzah!

Content

This is an adult chapbook; definitely not meant for those under the age of 18. It consists entirely of sex and shit humor – which is my bag, entirely, but may not be yours. If not, steer clear.  The poems are all very short – shorter than most micro poetry – so it makes for a quick read.

Review

2When I opened the book, I immediately went to the Table of Contents and found this little gem which made me cackle like a fucking lunatic.

After seeing this, I was actually pretty excited to break into the rest of the book, thinking it was going to be right up my alley.  Like I said above, the poems are very short – shorter than most micro poetry – so it made for an incredibly quick read.

3The three pages are glorious! The poems are constructed in a way that lulls you into safety, and then the last line is so unexpected you can’t help but laugh. It’s authentic in that it’s plain to see that there was some effort made when constructing the poems, that there is a point in creating them the way they were created.

The next five pages are meh.  The intentionality that is present in the first three pages begins to ebb, rather quickly, and everything turns to shit. The next 100 or so pages is filler; packed with writing that tries too hard to be funny, shocking, and disgusting. You can feel the author straining to meet these markers, and it stops being authentic or funny.

I’m pretty well aware that the writer’s intention is to make it a shitty book of poetry (as the title implies) but the sad fact is this: it could have been something REALLY good and honestly funny. And it isn’t. And I am so incredibly sad over that because I thought I’d found my literary soul mate. Lily, Lily, why did you let me down?

Is it worth the $12 and shipping time? Nah.

Blood Clots | Poems that Suck

The 'feminine mystique' is
a river of wine-red blood
which flows like rivers
from between my rolling
thigh.

Of contractions in my
belly which wrack my
body so that it is 
bent doubled in upon
itself. 

Of pillowy tissues
tearing from my uterine
walls, slipping from my
vagina like boneless baby
squid.

Congratulations. 

You're not a daddy. 

2 Un-fuckup-able Steps to Handle Rejection | Writing Tips

As we all know, summer submissions have officially opened for an ass-load of lit mags. Which means we’re all sending our shit out like crazy, wildly hoping that our work will get accepted.

This means rejection season has started

I’ve seen countless friends and colleagues posting on social media about their rejections; with few exceptions they are mostly, and understandably, gutted. Rejections hit hard – especially for writers who are already convinced that their work is shit – and it seems so many of us struggle with trying to get out from under the gloom they cause. 

But, bitch, I got a solution. 

In two un-fuckup-able steps.

1. You have to emotionally detach from your work.

I know, I know. We all pour our hearts and souls into our writing. We spend what feels like lifetimes writing and cultivating a piece. This is our fucking baby.

But it’s really not.

It’s words on a page.

You have to sever the emotional tie you have to your work, or you’re going to continually feel like shit when the rejections roll in – and trust me, they will roll in.

This isn’t exclusive to rejections, though. It holds true for everything that follows afterward. If you don’t sever the tie you’re going to get upset and offended when an editor suggests changes or cleans up your work. Your ass hairs are REALLY gonna knot when there are bad reviews.

The piece is done; let it go. You’ve birthed the baby… don’t feed it, give it weekly allowance and send the little shit to college. It’s over. You’ve done your job.

2. Send it and forget it.

Remember what I said about severing the emotional tie? You’ve sent your little goblin in to the world, now leave it alone.

What I mean is this: stop checking your email every 30 god dammed seconds to see if the editor has replied.

If you have email notifications set on your phone – trust that the phone will send you a notification if you get an email. Opening up Gmail 30 million times a day isn’t going to manifest a fucking response. STOP.

Send the shit, and forget it. Move on with your life; write something new, submit to somewhere else, go to dinner, watch a movie, eat some pussy. DO SOMETHING OTHER THAN HYPER FOCUSING ON YOUR SUBMISSION.

If you do these two steps then you’ll find that the sting of rejection is no longer there. You’ll get the rejection and channel Ariana Grande and be like bitch, THANK YOU NEXT.

FUCK IT! | Book Announcement

giphyYa’ll, I’m not even going to lie…. I’ve got zero cool right now. My debut chapbook is about to drop with Newington Blue Press in 2 – 3 weeks!!! 

The title is Fuck It: An Explicit Chapbook (click the link to pre-order!) and it really describes the giant leap of faith I took last October.  I’ve been writing stories since I was five years old, and poetry since my angst-ridden teenage years back in the 90’s. I never shared any of it with anyone because… as the name of this website implies … I always thought my work was total shit.

Last October I was going through some rough shit, and was writing a lot. At one point I – quite literally – said, “Fuck it. I’ll post this shit, and see if anyone digs it.” I have to say… I didn’t have a lot of hope. I figured my work was too raw, or too sarcastic, or too gross for anyone to like it. But, Lo! and Behold! There are other twisted motherfuckers out there, just like me, who prefer the real shit to the synthetic garbage that’s so popular with big house publishers.

I’ve got 100 followers here on this little WordPress site, and almost 100 over there on the Twitter. I’m just… fucking blown away, and so grateful for you all.  So, I’ve got a little surprise coming for you all – just a little something to show my gratitude for all the love and support you’ve given me this last year, or so.

So… STAY TUNED!!