Fourteen | Poems that Suck

I wonder what I'd be like
had you not smelled my
daddy issues like, like a
shark scents blood in 
                                         the water.

What kind of life I'd have
if you never whispered
obscenities down the 
phone line into my fourteen
                                                 year old ears.

What I'd think about 
love, and sex had I not
given up my virginity 
in a one night stand 
                                    so you wouldn't
                                    be disappointed.

Or even if I hadn't learned
from you that love, sex, and
the person you're fucking are
of no consequence so long as
                                                         I get mine. 

It's no wonder that I
am terrified by love and
find sex to be hollow, and
have an overwhelming fear 
                                                 of abandonment.

Homelessness in Four Micro Stories | Flash that Sucks

I saw someone’s guts today.

By that I mean the gaping hole in his belly was so large that, when he pulled the brownish-yellow iodine and blood soaked gauze away from it, I could see the pink, lumpy tubing of his lower digestive tract, slick with hot, red blood.

He and my kid brother share a name – a name once made famous by Alan Ladd in the 1950’s. Both of them are tall and whip thin; only one of them has a Southern accent – the other has all of his teeth.

He had run away from the hospital after two months of doctors cutting away his flesh. Finally he decided that going back to the streets was the better option.

“They said I got cancer. Maybe I should go back south. My grand baby was born yesterday, and I’d sure like to see him before I die.”

***

In his father’s tongue his name means “the heart,” a name so apt that I wondered if his parents had some notion of the kind of man he’d become. He looked like a child to me; wide dark almond eyes, and wild curly hair that sprung from his scalp like a lion’s mane, as soft as sheep’s wool. Even his hands looked like a child; tiny and chubby, decorated with delicate fingernails.

I learned he was gay, HIV+ and suffered from a rapidly deteriorating mental illness that closely resembled schizophrenia. When I first came to the shelter I would find him outside, lounging in the sun. He gave huge smiles, tight hugs, told excellent jokes, and held my hand. But as the summer began to die, I watched my friend start to fade.

The days became shorter and his catatonic episodes increased. He’d isolated himself entirely – that is until crashing and screaming was heard from his room. He emerged, drenched in in blood and disappeared into the underbelly of the local hospital.

“Why would I talk to someone who doesn’t give a fuck about me?”

***

His right index finger was jabbed against the corner of his mouth giving him a deeply pensive look as he described the conditions at another shelter in a soft, deep voice. The very same side held a deep indentation at the temple, as if someone had gently pinched his head like a ball of dough. In the middle of his forehead was a deep, jagged scar.

The bullet was still in there, he told me while pointing to his temple, and another in his chest. He’d been cornered by a man with a gun, trying to roll him for what little money he had. It was fight or flight situation – he fought.

“The last thing I remember thinking was that I had to make it home to my kids.”

***

He was the first friend I made at the shelter. A sort, stocky white guy with sleeve tattoos, a graying beard, icy blue eyes and no teeth. We played cards while he told me about he’d been arrested for selling crack in the early 2000’s, and the abandoned garage and lumber yard he slept in at night.

He told me about his current struggles with crack; how he’d crawl out of that filthy abandoned garage, smoke crack and cry about how he’d lost his way so terribly. He’d ask me to hold his money so he couldn’t score, but he’d come back and retrieve it from me the next day.

Then one day he disappeared. Eventually I found him in jail for violation of probation. Now, months later, he’s been released and I cannot find him. Earlier this week a man matching his description was killed by a freight train….the identity still hasn’t been released.

“I hate this. I fucking hate myself! I don’t want to do this shit… but i just can’t stop.”

***Italicized quotes are actual words from the guests’ mouths.***

A Love Poem Told in Hair | Poems that Suck

I want you to find
 my hair in your bed;
  a rainbow of reds, pinks,
   browns, blues, greens, blonde 
     and maybe even a little bit of gray.

I want you to find
 it wrapped around the
  base of your cock when
   you take a shower, and

between your ass cheeks, in
 your mouth when you eat lunch,
  scattered across your favorite 
   clothes and clinging to your cat's tail,

plastered on your shower 
 curtain, and in thin, curling 
  esses around the drain of your bathtub. 

Welcome Home | Poems that Suck

"Welcome home,"
  and by 'home' I 
    meant my pussy as
      you slid deeply inside of me.

'Home' because
  you fit perfectly,
   your cock anchoring me
     to the ground of your being

where our
  spirits mingle with each other
   in the full embodiment of co-creation. 

First Week of Classes | Updates that Suck

The first week of classes is officially complete … and, holy shit, am I tired.

My first class with Cornel West was on Tuesday, and his presence is… stunning. He holds forth in the classroom, and like the best of Baptist preachers knows how to move his body and use his voice to draw you in, raise the energy in the room and hold that energy for three hours. He is intellectually powerful, and his spirit is Titan. Coincidentally, I met him on the street after class. I was smoking a cigarette while speaking with another student when he stopped to have a chat. I was amazed by the change in him; he was gentle, and very, very PRESENT WITH YOU IN THAT MOMENT.  And I don’t mean present with you like you feel you’re under a microscope – I mean that he is THERE. The only time I’ve felt that way is a few years ago when I was running from soldiers with a group of teenage boys in one of the conflict zones I work in — we were running, and I felt totally in my body but at the same time to totally present with these boys…. we were TOGETHER.

These brief interactions with him gave me a lot of food for thought as I rode the train to my room that night. I was thinking about how so many of my seminarian friends perceive me —  as the loud mouth that makes them giggle in delight. I never particularly understood that last part – why my sassy mouth would bring such glee. As the train was cutting through the city I thought about the contents of what I say – that my “loud mouth” is often a product of my frustration. You can say I have a particularly low tolerance for bullshit – and you know some shit is about to go down when I say something along the lines of, “let’s call a spade a spade,” which is always followed by me calling it how I see it.

And then it hit me; my goal in coming to this particular seminary was to “find my prophetic voice.” Prophets, as Heschel described them, are the scream in the night. Over the last year I’ve gotten less and less patient, which has caused me to become louder and louder in the classroom and elsewhere. Paralleling that, I’ve noticed that my care for offending people, pleasing them, comforting them, their judgement or their discomfort has plummeted to zero. I just don’t give a FUCK. I have no hesitation in calling someone or something out on their bullshit. I’m done.

And that’s when I realized that I’ve found my Prophetic voice. That I’ve become so deeply rooted in my own work and message, that everything else has burned away – that I can see clearly and move forward.

Now what?

Camping Trip | Poems that Suck

Camping Trip
I was once convinced
by an ex to go with him
to a music festival.

Three days of speed metal
during the daylight hours and
techno and trance at night.

We spent two days high
on acid, laughing ourselves
silly at random shit.

When we were finally
able to fall asleep, I was
woken up hours later by

the sound of rushing
water and when I opened
my eyes I saw my purse

float by. I turned over
to find him standing at
the mouth of the tent

and pissing into it,
rather than out of it;
understandable, really.

“Friend,” I asked in my
gentlest tone, “is this
prudent? Do you think,

maybe, this is a bad
decision?” He looked
at me, a mixture of

confusion and defiance,
and without hesitation
aimed his dick at me

and pissed between my
eyes. That day I learned
you don’t ask questions

in these situations, and
you can’t argue with
a pissed off pisser.

Seize & Desist | Prose that Sucks

‘God, I hope she doesn’t shit on me.’

That was the stray thought that flitted through my mind like an alley cat as I held Calva’s head off of the tiled floor.

I was the first to see her eyes roll and her face contort into the ghoulish carnival mask that foretold of the oncoming seizure – facial muscles jerking, mouth sucking at the air like a fish out of water – but a blockade of chairs and anxious lookers-on prevented me from being swift enough to stop her head from slamming onto the cheap tile floor with a crack that echoed through the room.

It was by luck of the draw that Nancy – another Worker’s girlfriend who was an RN – was visiting at that time, and that she was the first to Calva’s side. I hovered dumbly over the both of them, never having seen someone seize before I had no idea what to do.

“Go get something to cover her bottom half,” Nancy’s voice snapped me out of my useless fretting, and gave me a task to focus on. Calva had been wearing a dress, and was now familiarizing half of the shelter with the exact shape and texture of her genitals.

“Now what?” I asked once I ended the peep show.

“There’s really nothing you can do for someone having a seizure. You just turn them on their side and let them go,” she replied with a glance to her watch.

I held Calva’s head in my hands, her course buzz cut tickling my palms as I willed my comfort into her flesh. The seconds crept into minutes as her body continued to jolt until, bit by bit, her body relaxed and her breathing became steady.

Of course that’s when the ambulance came.

The slamming of the stretcher caused Calva’s eyes to snap open, and whip wildly around the room.

“It’s ok,you’re at the shelter,” I cooed as they roughly hoisted her body on to the stretcher.

“I’m clean! I’ve been clean for years! Don’t let them put my in jail!”

“Calva… CALVA!! You’re not going to jail – you’re going to the hospital, you had a seizure.”

“Shit, that’s all? Well, let’s go!”

Dead Dogs | Reviews that Suck

1Like almost all the other authors I’ve written about on this blog, Manny and I met on Twitter.  I think we were following each other before I sent out the call for book recommendations – but he did respond to my call with his own book, Dead Dogs. 

Book Details

  • Moonshine Cove Press
  • 151 Pages
  • 6×9 dimensions
  • $14 price point
  • Matte cover with glue binding.

Summary

“There are bodies to be disposed of and all the local dumpsters are full. There are armed terrorists in the backseat … and they’re all smoking sherm. Yuppies have taken over East Atlanta, and the drug dealers are at war…

Read the misadventures of two Atlanta misfits involved with a circus of outlaws and revolutionaries, coerced into various criminal activities.”

Review

So, I want to acknowledge something. One day, while I was reading this, Manny just so happened to tweet that English wasn’t his first language – that he had to learn it as he grew up. That bit of intel forced me to sit back in my chair and blink rapidly.  English is hard enough to learn how to speak, but to write it (and write it well) — the odds are against you.

This dude wrote an entire god-damn novel in a language that he had to learn — and wrote it well enough for me to not even question whether or not he was a native speaker. God DAMN!  Manny, you got the biggest set of brass balls I’ve ever encountered — and I mean that in the best possible of ways.

Moving on to the story —

Dead Dogs is a WILD ride! My head was spinning throughout the entire book, the most common questions being: What the fuck is going on?! Who the fuck is this?! What the fuck just happened?! Where the fuck are we?! What…. the… FUCK?!!! To say this book is dizzying is the understatement of the century. It’s fast-paced, it’s gritty, it’s good.  If you dig pulp, grit lit, transgressive fiction — you’ll love the hell out of this.

I do, however, want to point out a MAJOR miss for me — the editing.

This book jumps backwards and forwards in time – think of a Guy Richie movie – and while there are three parts to the book it NEEDS to have individual chapters to help that transition between time and space be more definitive and obvious to the reader. There were many times I had to flip backward to figure out the timeline of events – which was frustrating because it slowed the pace of the book.

Like I said, this is not a writing problem – the writing is good and solid – this is an editing problem, and that falls at the feet of Moonshine Cove. The editing just fucked this book for me — and I’m pretty pissed about that because it’s a damn good story.

I really look forward to the sequel to this book, which will be published by Outcast Press next year (I believe).  I trust their editors, and know that what comes next in the Dead Dogs series will be amazing!

Now, don’t be a dickhead buy Dead Dogs here.