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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Short Story: Brenton Booth ANGEL OF DEATH


Warning: Some Adult Content May Follow


       I was sitting at a table in the corner of the old sports bar on Darlinghurst

Street drinking bourbon and trying to forget—yesterday, last week, my whole

life. Earlier I had been attempting to analyse some of my previous mistakes and

come up with some sort of plan, to make things work a bit better in the future. I

quickly gave up on that one, who was I trying to kid? 

      The bourbon was now doing its job. It attacked the senses like ravenous

beasts on a fresh corpse, taking away all that I didn’t currently need—which was

everything. Bourbon was my good friend. He’s been there for me since I was 13,

and has never let me down. When I was drinking things always seemed like they

were getting better. It was the perfect elixir—the true potion of the gods. The

only thing that ruined it is when you stopped drinking, and it’s impossible not to

sooner or later. The body eventually wants a meal, a sleep: some fresh air. And

that’s when the problems start up again.

      It was a hot Wednesday night in Kings Cross. The air was thin and choking

everybody, all our heads were spinning through lack of oxygen and everyone

was full of life, the dark skinned doormen at the pubs and clubs were looking for

arguments and fights, the taxi drivers turned down crap fares and honked their

horns as if necessary, filling the sky with a never ending bleak toneless

symphony, the hookers wore gloves and bikini tops and mini skirts and six inch

clear heels, with freshly bleached golden hair catching guys like cheap bait

dangling in front of a baby fish, junkies sat drugged in hidden corners—higher

than constellations, booze and conscious wrecked men in suits stumbled home to

their crumbling families, tired police cautiously walked along the strip—hoping

for a quiet night, teenagers tried to hustle drugs and beer and talked tough to the

hookers, and naive tourists with stars in their eyes photographed the huge Coke

sign and all the neon clubs, dressed in their finest, hoping for a night to

remember.

      I was sitting alone. I was a regular at the sports bar. No one ever bothered me.

I really didn’t look like the kind of guy you’d want to bother. I stood 5’11,

weighed over 200 pounds, with a flat stomach and arms full of tattoos, covering

the muscles that stretched my skin. When I was younger I was always the

strongest and most athletic kid at school. I never did anything with it though. I

never had any desire to do anything worthwhile—broken families do that to

people. Occasionally I went to the mixed martial arts gym now and did some

training. It was great. Getting beat up by 20 year olds on steroids, or even

sometimes beating them really made me feel good. I loved it there: something

was happening, not much—but something.

      I stood up and went to the bar and got a couple more glasses of bourbon.

After that I returned to my small table and left the drinks there. I then headed to

the toilet. Standing at the urinal I noticed some freshly written graffiti.

Apparently there was a new guy in town called Steve, who had a big dick, and

wasn’t greedy with it. A mobile number was scribbled at the bottom of the

message.

      I saw a girl sitting at my table as I approached it. She was natural blonde with

dark slacks and a light-blue long sleeve top on. She looked out of place. You

didn’t normally see girls at this bar at all. Though you rarely ever saw them with

so much clothing on on this street. “ Excuse me darling, but you are sitting at my

table,” I said and she turned and gave me a thorough examination with

unmistakably sad looking eyes. She was really taking her time responding.

Looking at her carefully I realised she had a serious body on her, though her face

was worn and weary. She tried to hide it under carefully applied make-up. It

didn’t work though, how could it? It was her soul that was battered—not her

skin.

      “ I’m sorry. All the other tables are full. Do you mind if I sit here for a while.

I promise I won’t annoy you,” she said.
     
      “ I have never trusted promises. Though I don’t mind if you sit here.”
  
      “ My name is Liz.”

      “ I’m Robert.”

      “ You look like a football player. Are you a football player?”

      “ You got the wrong guy. Nothing special about me baby.”

      “ You and everybody else.”

      “ What are you drinking?”

      “ Vodka and lemonade.”

      I went to the bar and ordered Liz a drink. Shortly after I returned with the

drink and gave it to her. I sat and drained one of my two glasses of bourbon.

      “ You scared of alcohol or something?” I said.

      “ I really shouldn’t be drinking tonight.”

      “ Why not?”

      “ It’s a long story.”

      “ I don’t have anything else to do right now.”

      Liz gave me a long pensive look.

      “ Alright,” she said. “ You really want to know more about me. Well I work

down the street at Pinups. You know the place?”

      “ Yea it’s that over-priced strip club.”

      “ I guess you could call it that. Anyway I called in sick tonight.”

      “ What’s that got to do with you not drinking?”

      “ Well the place is run by the mafia. And if one of my bosses sees me here

drinking—I’m in serious trouble.”

      I didn’t respond. I just looked at her while I worked away at my glass. She was

starting to sound like my kind of girl. As I was looking at her I noticed a change

on her face, like she was relaxing a little. She then excused herself and went to

the ladies. I drained the rest of the glass then turned my head in her direction.

When I did she was looking back at me from the entrance to the toilets. I got up

and ordered more drinks.

      She was completely different when she returned from the ladies.

      “ Did something happen?” I said.

      “ One of my bosses just saw me.”

      “ The mafia guy?”

      “ Yea.”

      “ Did he say anything?”

      “ No he didn’t. That is what is scaring me. I better go. I was just really tired

and didn’t want to work tonight. Though I don’t have a choice now. Those guys

are really not good to get on the wrong side of.”

“ Hey screw that! You are with me right now. And no one is doing anything to

you while you are with me. I don’t give a fuck who they are.”

      Liz gave me a long piercing look. Then picked up her glass and drank it in one

hit.

      “ So you are a real man,” she said.


      We both stumbled along Bayswater Road—well I was stumbling, Liz was

continually falling: luckily even in the state I was in my reflexes were sharp

enough to catch her, and save her from the ugly reality of the asphalt footpath.

Several hours had passed. It was just past 3am and we’d recently been kicked out

of the sports bar.

      “ You’re too drunk,” said Charlie the doorman.

      “ One can never be too drunk. Not in this world anyway,” I said.

      Charlie didn’t quite understand the whole philosophy behind the statement. I

didn’t resist his request though. He was a good guy. We’d occasionally have

drinks when he wasn’t working, and sometimes trained together at the mixed

martial arts gym. I generally preferred not to train with him. He was a Kiwi with

a body like a Mack Truck. It wouldn’t have been his call anyway. The new bar

manager must have asked him to kick us out. He’s only been in charge a few

weeks now and thought he knew it all. Give him a few more, and he’d learn his

place, I thought to myself. It wasn’t so bad though. I had Liz. She was some

woman. She talked about depression, broken family, failed loves, failed dreams,

working crap jobs, and the occasional thought of suicide--she was definitely my

kind of girl. And to top it off, she had a body you wouldn’t believe. Charlie gave

me a big pat on the back and a wry smile as we left the bar.

      “ Why did he do that for?” said Liz.

      “ Cause we are good friends” I said.

      “ I sure hope so. Cause if you think you just scored with me, I am not that kind

of girl.”

      “ I know baby. You are a real lady--one of the rare ones. And I’d never do

anything to disrespect you.”

      “ Now that’s better.”

      We continued along Bayswater Road to her apartment. She was getting worse

and worse. I was basically holding her up now. There was no one much around.

It was nearly a deserted street, apart from a couple of other drunks kissing and a

few junkies crashed out in doorways. “ I want to stop here and rest a minute,”

said Liz, out the front of Bayswater Bistro. There were half a dozen black and

white tiled steps that led up to the restaurant. I lowered her onto one of the steps

and began kissing her. She responded eagerly. I worked a hand into her pants,

past her panties and slid in a finger. It went in without any resistance--she was

dripping wet. Liz let out a loud moan. I continued working it around in there.

      “ We can’t do this here. There’s people around,” said Liz.

      “ There’s no one around,” I said while mounting her.

      “ What about them,” she said pointing behind me.

      I turned around and saw a couple of teenage boys standing a few feet away

from us with sheepish grins on their faces. I couldn’t believe it. “ Is there a

problem?” I said standing up and moving towards them. They both quickly

walked off into the darkness in silence. Liz stood up.

“ I’m sorry,’ I said.

      “ Its o.k. The looks on their faces when you stood up and spoke to them were

hilarious. They were terrified! Come here tough guy,” she said kissing me and

sliding a hand in my pants.

      We continued along. Eventually reaching the gate to her building. It was

strange. Most buildings in this area were on the street. Hers was back from the

street in a large courtyard surrounded by other buildings and exotic looking

trees. I’d lived in the area for ten years and never even knew that her

building existed, that’s how well concealed it was. Passing through that gate was

like entering another world. You could probably do anything in there, and

nobody on the outside would know about it.

      We eventually made it up the three flights of stairs to her apartment. It was a

one bedroom with four windows that looked at a brick wall. It was pretty grim in

there, wouldn’t get much natural light. Liz excused herself and stumbled off to

the bathroom. I had a look around the lounge room. She had an impressive sound

system. Above which was a large reproduction of a Bosch painting—full of devils

and nudes and death and sex. I looked through a few of her c.d’s and found Black

Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’. I put it on and turned it up to a good volume. I was feeling

pretty good. I found a bottle of bourbon in the kitchen and poured two highball

glasses—putting more in hers of course. She was some girl and this was some

place. A girl like this could really shake up a guy’s life, I thought to myself.

      It seemed like she had been gone forever. I went to the bathroom door and

knocked. “ Hey baby, when you going to come out--I miss you,” I said. The door

then opened and there she was. I grabbed her hard and kissed her greedily while

lifting off her top. I had problems with the bra. It just wouldn’t seem to come off

for some reason. After a minute or so of fumbling around she gently pushed me

back and took it off herself. She seemed to have sobered up a little, well her

coordination had improved slightly anyway. I started licking her tits--she had the

good ones with the big nipples. After my tongue worked them a little they both

stood up like proud guards ready for anything. “ You like Black Sabbath,” said Liz

as I worked my hand into her panties. I nodded. She led me into the lounge room

and sat me down on the sofa. She removed her pants. She was now in a skimpy

black g-string and brown cowboy boots. She began moving around the room.

Doing a drunken rendition of a well-rehearsed dance of hers for me. She was all

sex this girl. And her ass was so high when she had her back to me I could see the

bottom of her pussy. She eventually worked her way back to me. Thrusting her

panties against my face. I pulled them off violently and began tonguing her thing.

It was light pink and tasted good. I started working on her clit. She let out some

moans. I kept going as if possessed. She got hotter and hotter. She was about to

cum and went to move away. I held onto her with all my strength.  Soon after she

let out a really loud dirty moan: no, it was actually more of a scream. The whole

building must have heard it.

      When she finished she kissed me then pulled off my shirt and pants and

underpants and started working on me. She was no virgin that was for sure. She

took that thing like an old hand with those expert lips. It was really something. I

could hardly believe it. A strange thing was happening though. It was really odd,

maybe I’d drunk too much, it didn’t normally effect me this way though.

Regardless my cock wasn’t really responding. It just lay there like a corpse, that

want’s nothing but rest.  She continued working away though completely

unfazed. I sat there watching her head and mouth work and work, to no avail. It

was starting to get embarrassing. “ Stop it,” I said calmly. She kept going as if

oblivious. “ I said Stop It!” I said angrily pushing her face away. I must have hurt

her. It looked like I’d hurt her neck when I pushed her. “ Why did you do that for

asshole! It’s not my fault you can’t get it up,” she said with an expression on her

face that infuriated me. I looked at her intensely for a moment. She sure had

some body. But the body couldn’t hide her face that housed a soul that had been

torn again and again. She had such a weathered face. Who the fuck did she think

she was? I lost control at that point. I stood up and slapped her hard across that

weathered face. She screamed and fell. I then kicked her a couple of times in the

stomach when she was cowering on her hands and knees on the floor. She didn’t

make another sound.

      She was bleeding from the mouth and nose and sprawled out on the lounge

room floor when I left.

      I awoke the following afternoon on the floor of my bathroom beside a neat

pile of vomit. I cursed and slowly stood. I looked at myself in the mirror. My face

appeared like it had gone a hundred rounds against Jim Beam and lost. I looked

truly terrible. I could smell a strong aroma of pussy on my lips then remembered

Liz. “ Fuck! What did I do? I have to be some sort of complete fucking asshole to

have done that to her. Why? Why? Why? “ I thought. It felt like a ton of bricks had

landed on my conscience, busted straight through the foundations, and fallen

directly where guilt lived. 

      I found a small piece of paper with her name and number messily written on

it in my pocket. I thought about calling it to see if she was o.k. I agonised over it

for a while. Problem was if I did, I might end up in jail. And that was somewhere I

really didn’t want to go. The thing was, I wasn’t sure if I’d given her my number

or not. If I hadn’t I might be safe. I couldn’t remember giving it to her. That poor

fucking girl!

     The following week was a hard time for me, I’d never really done anything

quite like that before, and didn’t know what the repercussions would be. When I

was out or at work I was constantly looking over my shoulder, and when I was at

home I anxiously awaited that hard knock on the door from the police. I was

terrified I’d go to jail for it. That was really something I didn’t want to happen.

Over the years I’ve drank on many occasions with men who had been in jail, and

they all had the same dead look in their eyes. Like something important had been

taken that could never be returned to them—not in this world anyway.

     Several weeks passed and I completely forgot about the whole thing. I was

back to my usual angers over working long hours for never enough pay, and the

helplessness of my entire life—no hopelessness, that’s a better description.

     I was at the gym one afternoon training with Charlie when my mobile phone

rang. I was actually glad to hear it. He’d got a good takedown on me and was

priming me for a choke.

      “ I have to answer the phone,” I said.

      “ Your kidding man. You never answer when you’re winning,” said Charlie

slowly letting go of my back in complete disgust.

      “ When do I ever win,” I said smiling.

      I got the phone out of my gym bag, accepted the call and held it to my ear. “

Hello,” I said and no one answered. I waited a few seconds and still no answer. As

I was about to hang up I heard a slightly muffled voice begin to speak. “ Listen

you bastard. You nearly killed me the other night.” Shit! I thought. I gave her my

number. “ You should be in jail right now. It’s bastards like you that ruin women.

Why did you do that stuff to me? I really liked you. You seemed a bit better than

most the other guys.” I didn’t know what to say, what could I say? I just wanted

to hang up, and get her out of my life. Problem was she had my number. After a

long silence she spoke again. “ Come round my place now and we’ll have a talk,”

she said then hung up. I guess I had no choice now.

      I got a shower and left the gym. I didn’t tell Charlie what was happening—the

less people that knew about this the better, I thought. I walked from the gym on

Market Street to William Street. Walking up William Street was the easiest way

to get to Kings Cross. It was the busy time of the day. There were lots of cars at a

virtual standstill on the road—full of people desperate to get home and forget

the day. The footpaths were crowded with hundreds of people in suits leaving

offices and heading home or to bars, and the occasional fitness group jogging. My

head was racing. What would become of all this? She really had me. I was totally

trapped. Everything now was up to her. Thoughts and images rushed through my

mind like a destructive whirlwind. I felt nauseous.

      After what seemed like hours I arrived at her door. She opened it before I

knocked. She must have been watching me through the peephole. I greeted her

cautiously and she retreated to her sofa without responding. I followed her and

sat as far away from her as I could. I fixed my eyes on the floor. I could see her

looking straight at me from the corner of my eye. I didn’t know what to do or say.

As far as I was concerned there really was nothing to do or say. There was

nothing between us at all. We weren’t friends, and we definitely weren’t lovers

either.

      It was getting quite uncomfortable in her lounge room. The atmosphere was

so tense if I had a sledgehammer I could have smashed the air into thousands of

tiny pieces. It was becoming ridiculous. We’d been sitting in silence for about 20

minutes now. Why was I even here if this was all she wanted to do? “ Look Liz I

am going. I really don’t understand what the point of all this is,” I said standing

and heading for the door.

      “ Wait you bastard. You nearly killed me the other day, and that’s all you have

to say.”
   
      “ What were you expecting? Why did you even call me?”

      “ I wanted to see you again.”

      “ After I beat you up.”

      Liz went to the kitchen and came back with two glasses.

      “ You like American whiskey right?” she said handing me a glass.

      I took it and drained it.

     “ Can I have that one too?” I said.

      She handed me the other glass and I drained it in one long bitter swallow. It

was strong stuff whatever she’d given me. Must have been 100-proof. It calmed

me slightly. I let go of some of my anxiety. This wasn’t so bad really. She wasn’t

so bad. She kind of looked like an angel with that lazy blonde hair and the white

shirt she had on. “ Look I am sorry. I am really sorry. If you want to get the law

onto me, feel free. What I did was wrong,” I said sincerely. She then hugged me

and began crying on my chest. I really didn’t know how to respond to this, this

poor girl. We’d met at a bar and hit it off, ended up back at her place, I beat her

up, and she didn’t know what to do. I felt truly awful. I kissed her on the top of

the head. “ It will be alright. Everything will be alright,” I said over and over. With

the hope that if I said it enough, it would actually happen.

      Before I knew it we were both naked on her bed. I was on my back and she

was on top. What was the point of resisting anymore? If this was happening, it

was happening. I may as well enjoy it.

      She worked away for quite some time. It was pretty hot. She really had some

special hip movements this one. She was making all sorts of noises. She was

totally getting into it. I was interested, but I just couldn’t really feel it enough to

want to cum. After a while I felt myself going soft. It was really no fault of hers: I

just couldn’t do this with her right now, for whatever reason.

      “ That’s it,” I said.

      “ You came?”

      “ No.”

      She slowly got off me and gave me this strange look. It really annoyed me.

      “ What’s wrong?” I said.

      “ Nothing,” she said in a smartass sort of tone while standing up.

      The way she said it made me angry. What the fuck did it matter to her

anyway? If I didn’t cum, I didn’t cum.

      “ Hey fuck you! “ I said.

      She became furious. She lunged at me. I pushed her away. She landed hard on

the floor. I got up and started getting dressed. As I was putting on my shirt she

kicked me hard in the stomach. I was slightly winded. “ Jesus! What did you do

that for?” I said. She took a few steps back. Her eyes were blazing. She picked up

a small gold Buddha off a shelf and threw it at me. It hit me right on the forehead.

I suddenly saw a whole bunch of small lights dancing all over the room. It must

have cut me: I could taste blood on my lips. She then grabbed hold of me. She

held on desperately with all her strength. I head butted her and blood streamed

from her nose. It looked like I had broken it. She stumbled back slightly dazed

then lunged at me again—as if possessed by some unnatural force. She looked

like an ancient warrior coming in for the kill. The expression on her face actually

made me a bit nervous. I hit her with a hard right jab. She dropped to the floor

without a sound. She was unconscious. I quickly left her place. My white shirt

had blood all over it.

      When I got to the street I took it off and threw it in a bin I noticed out the

front of a convenience store.

      Walking home the streets were as silent as I’d ever heard them. All I could

hear was my pounding heart.

      The next week I kept to myself, never leaving my apartment. I quit my job. It

was time for a real change in my life, I’d decided. What I had been doing was just

ridiculous. I couldn’t keep on living like this. Police or no police, what was going

on was not good. I stopped drinking. I barely slept. And when I did I just kept

seeing her bloody face unconscious on the floor. And every time I did, I felt sick.

      A few more days passed and I could feel myself changing. I could feel myself

now yearning for something else: something different than anything I’d ever

known. Was it possible? Who the fuck knows! But I was going to try: I was going

to try my best.

      I decided to start leaving my apartment again. I immediately went to the

supermarket and got some groceries, and a bottle. I thought I deserved it.

      When I got back to my apartment the door was open. Shit! I have been

robbed, I thought. It really wasn’t that unusual in my area. It boasts the highest

concentration of junkies in the state. I had actually been pretty fortunate so far,

I’d lived in the area for ten years and this would be the first time—not too bad.

The thing was though: what if the thieves were still inside? I mentally accepted

that they were. I put the shopping bags on the ground, cracked my knuckles, and

slowly entered my apartment. It was night so there wasn’t much light inside.

Luckily I’d kept all the blinds open, so it wasn’t pitch black or anything, you could

still make everything out well enough thanks to the moonlight. I couldn’t see

anyone in the living room or kitchen. I then heard a bang in my bedroom, like

something had been knocked off a shelf. Must be in there. Hopefully it’s just the

one. Will make things easier, I thought. I slowly moved to the closed door. I stood

in front of it a few moments listening. I couldn’t hear anything at all. They must

have heard me. They couldn’t have gone anywhere though: unless they jumped

out of a two-story window. I kicked the door open and couldn’t believe what I

saw. It was Liz. She was drunk and standing at the end of my bed. She really

didn’t look well. “ What the hell are you doing here?” I said turning on the light.

She looked at me thoughtfully though didn’t respond. I was actually a bit

concerned. She was really out of it. She suddenly started crying. I didn’t know

what to do. I just kept my distance. Standing in silence observing her. I don’t

know how long it went on, I lost all sense of time, I couldn’t seem to do anything

though: it was as if I was trapped in a bad dream, with no control at all.

      “ So this is it is it? This is how you want it. You just want to dump me, like

yesterdays garbage,” she said angrily.

      “ I don’t know what you mean Liz.”

      “ Yea that’s right: you and all the rest. None of you know what I mean. You are

all cowards. I have needs you know.”

      “ We all do.”

      “ You bastard. I thought you were a real man. You’ve gone soft on me haven’t

you?”

      “ What I did was wrong.”

      “ What would you know? Everything is wrong! Why change, nothing else

does. The wrong never does—fuck you!” said Liz and began scratching at her

face hard with both hands.

      The short tough nails penetrated the skin leaving thin bloody trails running

down her whole face. I winced at the sight of it. It was disgusting. It looked

completely natural for her though, as if it was a regular action. She was getting

really wound up and began letting out random screams. I stood there watching it

being acted out like a play, that I didn’t know my role in. “ Well why don’t you hit

me now. Hit me NOW you bastard! Finish what you started: kill me! I don’t want

to live. I hate this fucking life. It’s all a sham. It’s all just bullshit. I don’t want it

anymore—just kill me, take me away from it!” she screamed while continuing to

wound herself.

      She soon became a bloody mess, she looked like a car had hit her or

something; I had never seen anything like it before. Seeing her like this was

terrifying to me. Though it was all starting to make sense to me. She just wanted

to die, I suddenly realized, coming out of the dream like state I was in. This whole

time she just wanted to die. She went looking for guys she thought would do the

job for her, because she couldn’t do it herself. How many had there been? Surely

it wasn’t only me. There must have been more. She was so close to the truth she

was unnatural for this world. She knew what she really felt and wanted—

needed. She was like a divine figure. Like an angel: an angel of death, and

everybody she touched was destined for the same path, if they played along that

is. My whole life had been a never-ending series of loss and disappointment. That

started as early as I could remember. Things were definitely bad for me, though I

imagined they were for most others as well. It was different for her though; she

had no place here, no place at all. Everything was just too clear to her, life was

beyond bad for her: it was truly impossible.

      I made the decision to leave her. I wasn’t responsible for this. It was way

beyond me. I turned around and left my apartment. I left everything I owned, and

would never go back. I could hear Liz screaming for several streets. Eventually

her screams blended in with the sound of the night. As I walked along dark

familiar streets, hoping to stumble upon something new.


Photo: George Anderson (Waverley Cemetery, Sydney)


Bio: Brenton Booth lives in Sydney, Australia. His poetry collection “ Punching The Teeth From The Sky” is available from Epic Rites Press. To read more of his work visit brentonbooth.weebly.com

Holy & Intoxicated Publications Poetry Card Series 1


John D Robinson of Holy & Intoxicated Publications recently issued his 1st Poetry Card Series which includes the writers A.J. Huffman, Ben John Smith, Wolfgang Carstens, the late Josephine Austin and myself. The poems appear on shiny, tactile blue cardboard and are beautiful to hold.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

New Release: Tim Peeler Wild in the Strike Zone: Baseball Poems. Rank Stranger Press, Mount Olive North Caroline, 2016 (142 pages).


This is Tim Peeler’s 14th book and his third book of baseball themed collection of poems, which follow his highly regarded Touching All the Bases and Waiting for Godot’s First Pitch.

As Peeler writes in his introductory NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “The poems collected in Wild in the Strike Zone are gleaned from my work over the past fifteen years. They revisit many of the themes from my earlier work but also include sections on minor league players and outlaw baseball legends. This book is dedicated to R.G. “Hank” Utley who went to the field of dreams two years ago. Mr. Utley was a ball player and passionate historian who introduced me to the "outlaw lore." Wild also contains several poems based on the memories of my longtime colleague and tennis partner, John Billy Baird, who left us in 2014.”

You will find a diversity of highly accessible poems in this collection but a general knowledge of  baseball code and history will greatly enhance your enjoyment of the book.

Find four poems from the collection on BM here: https://georgedanderson.blogspot.com.au/2016/06/featuring-tim-peeler.html

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Book Recommendation: DOWN THIS CROOKED ROAD: Modern Poetry From the Road Less Traveled (Edited by RD Armstrong & William Taylor Jr) Lummox Press, San Pedro, 2009 (153 pages)


INTRODUCTION

I recently came across this old book  & found it interesting and entertaining to read and discovered some new poets working from the streets. In his Introduction writer and editor William Taylor Jr. says he was approached by Lummox guru RD Armstrong and was invited to solicit work from a handful of his favourite poets with the possibility of creating a book. It didn’t take Taylor long to draw up a list of writers and he says that they are not from any particular region or school of poetry:

“What connects these writers in my mind is obviously not location, or even style of writing, but more a spirit that I feel shines through in the work of all involved. All the poetry contained here is accessible without being mundane, well crafted without being academic…Poetry for people who might not realise they like poetry.

“It is my belief that your average reader can pick up this volume, open it to any page, read a bit, and think: This makes sense to me. This is a fellow human sharing their vision of what it is to exist, and it inspires me. Or, it could well be they’ll think something more along the lines of: This is some cool ass shit! That works too.”

The title poem ‘Down This Crooked Road’ is taken from Christopher Cunningham’s poem of the same name. It speaks of the uncertainty and daring of striking out on the road. The poem concludes:

we
are almost ill-prepared
but
there
is madness
and daring
in our eyes
as
we cut ties
and

stare back
at
the abyss,

laughing.


The collection includes seven poets:

Poet
pages
M.K. Chavez
11-28
Christopher Cunningham
29-48
Miles J. Bell
49-70
William Taylor Jr.
71-96
Christopher Robin
97-116
Father Luke
117-133
Hosho McCreesh
134-151
Bios
152-153

In this short summary of the book I will provide a brief overview of each poet’s work and will provide some links to their latest work, if available.

M.K. CHAVEZ


Chavez is the only female poet in the collection. As it says in her bio, she “writes about the beauty that can be found in ugliness.” ‘Ode to Methamphetamine’ is her strongest poem but ‘Mission Street Love Story’ and ‘Everything that I needed to Know about Writing I Learned from Being a Stripper’ are also highly impressive.

Her latest book Mothermorphosis (Nomadic Press, 2016) can be purchased here: http://www.nomadicpress.org/store/mothermorphosis

CHRISTOPHER CUNNINGHAM


Cunningham is a highly observational poet who compresses everyday experiences to often make metaphorical comments on life. The title poem ‘down this crooked road’, ‘GO’ and ‘bending, but not the other’ are some good examples. His writing is pared down, exceedingly clear and excellently conceived.

Find an old post on NYQ Poets: http://poets.nyq.org/poet/christophercunningham


Blog: Upright Against the Savage Heavens 2006-2012: http://savageheavens.blogspot.com.au/

MILES J. BELL


Bell is an English writer and is probably best known for his 11 page poem ‘Icarus Rex’ which appears in this collection.

Some of the other poems represent threshold experiences which prompt the speaker to make a realisation, such as, the need to move beyond the expected & to surprise yourself, that feelings like pain and love are fleeting and “will eventually fade to shadow” and the like.

Find some of Bell’s work online:



WILLIAM TAYLOR JR.

Taylor who lives in the Tenderloin area of San Francisco, is the best known poet in the collection. In these poems he wanders through the local bars and cafes in the search of  sad woman and material for his writing. My favourites include ‘Slow’, ‘The Strangest’, and in particular, ‘It is Enough’. The poems are highly observational and chronicle the passing of time, in which Taylor shapes his experience to make some subtle but profound metaphysical statements about life.

His latest book To Break the Heart of the Sun (Words Dance Publishing, 2016) can be bought here: http://wordsdance.com/to-break-the-heart-of-the-sun-by-william-taylor-jr/

Follow William Taylor Jr.’s latest  writing on Facebook:

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN

Robin brings to us the world of food stamps, of women with kids with foetal alcohol syndrome, of bathrooms which haven’t been cleaned for six years. He describes in blunt detail those who live at the bottom of the food chain. His best poems include the brilliant ‘Freaky Mumbler’s Manifesto’, ‘Infinite Joy In Spite Of’ and ‘Slingshot’.

Robin is a labourer from Santa Cruz, California. He has published  three chapbooks and is editor of Zen Baby zine, a self described “pseudo-literary train-wreck in print form since 2000.”


FATHER LUKE

Father Luke Miljevich from his 2009 bio describes himself as a person who “waits with a woman he loves for a perfect world.” He writes about the pain and loneliness of living on the fourth floor of an old hotel in an up-beat, often humorous way.  His best poem is ‘With A Seagull For Company’ about the death of  Little Bob, his aquarium crab.

Find Father Luke on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/Father.Luke.Miljevich/

HOSHO McCREESH

In this collection McCreesh writes grand philosophical poems about the inevitability of death, the lack of purpose, our loss of innocence, the snuffing out of the light & the approaching darkness. He likes using long-winded titles which emerge into the poem, such as, ‘You Never Want To Say That/ We Owe It To Ourselves/ To Be Happy As We Can Possibly Be/ For All The Many & Nefarious Ways It’ll Be/ Taken Out of Context, Be Co-Opted/ By The Greedy., The Self-Important, The Gluttonous, & Idiotic & Insatiable…’ and ‘As Madness Abounds, As Brutality Trumpets & A Cold, Hard World Gets Colder, Harder, & The Death Of All That Might Save Us Increases…’

Hosho McCreesh hails from the American Southwest and more information about his writing can be found at his official page for his books of poetry: http://www.hoshomccreesh.com/poetry/



For more information about purchasing Down This Crooked Road contact Lummox Press: http://www.lummoxpress.com/lc/