hell has all of the amenities
showers that last as long as you can stand
a full spice rack
the names of your lovers
the sound of dead friends
a huge music encyclopedia
adequate leisure time
contests and prizes
social gatherings (carefully mediated)
a robust artificial intelligence system designed to give you what you want
a realistic landscape
full of trees and sounds
a violin and drums
a pressure to perform
ennui, packaged and shipped
stamped onto your face
written into your balls
a touch on your shoulder
a whisper in your ear
a heart attack
hell should curl and twist over your arm
take it up
a packaged arrangement
for your love affair
of no iniquity
of no distance
of no priority
the badge of honor
stamped and carved into your skull
the name of god
and the name of god's god
available to to call
beautiful as a winter storm
beautiful as a woman enraged
the color of the ocean
the gravity of despair
the writ of your permission
to rise again over the air
with your eyes on your quarry
towel and dry
perfume and wash
news at ten
art in the plaza
the name of the receptionist
a beautiful chinese woman
the parking lot attendant
with his huge telephone in hand
all your relatives
your superior officer
your wife and lover
your children and friends
of all your movements
the name of your event
colored in blue
hell is blue
surreal party for the coolest women
cut in the fashion of timeless angles
unreal against the light
your deepest fulfillment
at the correct hour
heated to the right temperature
coated in wax for you to eat
amenity is love
that which is able to be loved
the most pleasant of sights
the most pleasant of bodies
the softest skin
satin and lace
the mare of the body
the sigh of the sun
the color of the air
inside of your rapture
take me beneath the world
inside of your suitcase
I carry the love of your brethren
I carry your honor as my prize
silver and marred by the dangers of your clan
ancient and wise
dip me into the Styx
for my hour and weight
hold my hand in the fulfillment
of the contract
of the unreachable stem
hotel of all the finest enemies
my deep and caroled beloved enemies
splashed out along the plaza
buried in my grave
named for my children
deemed unsuitable for acolytes
in their rue and rain
lovers beneath the veil
wracked and warded for your investiture
my dear guest
please come in
Robin Wyatt Dunn was born in Wyoming in 1979. You can read more of his word at www.robindunn.com
Vodka OmeletMake it clear in my mind, Jesus,
am I whacked-out on Double Cross Vodka
or have I flipped out calling myself
Limburger omelet chef?
I hate question marks and angels
with crazed wings.
You know the type, John the Baptist
toking weed, stoned out of his mind, storyteller,
foul smells from poor hygiene, eating habits
open mouth, swallowing grasshoppers,
so silky, smooth as sweet honey.
Add 3 eggs in a skillet, Parmesan/Romano blend,
2 cheeses add-on, shiitake mushrooms, turmeric,
chopped kale, hint hot chili peppers, cheers.
Scramble me, I’m cracked.
I rock faith in jungle music, dance nude.
Everything is a potential poem to me.
My omelette, my life, my booze, master cook,
A Plastic Bowl of Snake
There was bowl on my kitchen slab
Its flesh was plastic
Or was it ceramic
It was the colour of seduction
Drizzling with beauty
Coated in nsibidi
Spiced with the language of the fathers
It drew my name
Wrote my name
Sang my name even
Beside it was a clay bowl
Screeching of ugliness
It called my name
Are you kidding me?
I reached for the white lid
Of the beautiful red plastic bowl
I flipped it open
Out popped the slithering head of a snake
As if it had long-awaited this day
The freedom promised someday
The freedom covered in hay
It stayed with my freedom
I fled with its fear
Kasimma is an alumna of Chimamanda Adichie’s Creative Writing Workshop, IWP workshop, and SSDA Flow workshop. She’s been a writer-in-residence in artists’ residencies across Africa, Asia, and Europe. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming on The Puritan, Kikwetu Journal, Kweli Journal, The Book Smuggler’s Den, Jellyfish Review, Afreecan Read, Orbis Journal.
DRUNK AND HELPLESS IN THE DARK
Some of us lie
Drunk and helpless in the dark
Waiting for the angel that never comes
Because there is no her
Beyond the sad spiraling reveries
Of the drunken insomniac
Smiling wanly in the glow
Of a halo
That exists only
HUMANITY IS DOOMED
I heard the birds that chirp at night
And I saw the cats under the tree.
I know the cats need to eat
And I know the birds want to live.
So here I am
In the parking lot of a Walgreens,
Rooting for nothing.
At high noon my wife smashed a fly against the living room window with this book in the middle of our first pandemic summer. The room erupted into puppy yelp, child screech, fly-wail and the desert sun breaching the ceiling, grabbing us by the ankles, holding us upside-down to drain us into our shadows. All this, especially the fly-wail, fits flawlessly with this book about fly swatting, language, number theory, action and surrender.
Hugo Ball was a German author, poet, and essentially the founder of the Dada movement in European art in Zürich in 1916—maybe you already knew that. Maybe you learned that from some stuffy-teacher-induced-research-based-half-cocked-noviate-solo-tour. Maybe you visited some cold websites in search of Hugo Ball. Did you ever figure out why nonsense is such an enduring quality of art?
Emerge Lane Chasek, from behind the purple beaded curtain, to introduce us to Dada and Ball—the way a friend might—in his new book: Hugo Ball and the Fate of the Universe: Adventures in Sound Poetry (Jokes Review, 2020). Chasek is anything but a stuffy teacher. He’s drunk—but it’s an airy-lover-don’t-mind-inviting-“My Back Pages”-kind-of-buzz necessary for this type of Hero’s Journey where the Hero seems to be speaking the most rarefied strain of white gibberish ever.
Chasek has found himself dangling from his own family tree like a crucifix on a dandelion chain wondering how to handle what he’s hearing on Democracy Now. Hugo Ball had the same problem. Like one veined bubble sharing a townhouse membrane with another in the vesper service of language’s aftermath: Chasek–through Ball’s sound poetry—connects us with the madness of the past.
The way this hitchhiker’s guide of sound poetry surveys post-language allows us to make discoveries right along with the author. The tone is serious insanity, congenial nonsense. For example, there’s a rando paragraph on page 76 that starts like this, “My poem would involve chinchillas. Lots and lots of chinchillas, since I really like chinchillas. And thousands of keyboards hooked up to thousands of main frames, all dedicated to storing the corpse that will be my magnum opus. I’d caffeinate those chinchillas and make them immortal if I could.” Will the chinchillas help our Hero acquire the superpower of not making sense?
Sound poetry is a kiss in the face of Shakespeare. Sound poetry is what happens when language stops feeling pain. There is scat singing and math and laughs in this book. There are childhood friends, new friends, and a few sound poems. American Puritanical Christianity™ is here too, “Sucking out all the poetic verve Christianity used to have. After all, there’s an entire book in the Old Testament that’s an erotic poem. Never forget that.” Had you forgotten that? I sure had.
By the end, Chasek has written his own sound poem; in an interview, he said writing it, “felt like a creative temper tantrum—uncontrollable, but oddly liberating.” Through the course of the book, he shares his process of hamstringing language; I felt comforted by his tremendously mellow and jovial tone. Maybe this book will inspire you to write your own sound poem. Logic is all there is to lose.
What brought mankind to
Its knees wasn't a nuclear
Bomb, or a movie villain
Or even an army
You can't see or
Or even fight
Man's own creation
Turned on him
To destroy himself
Tommorow we wake up
Hoping the movie will be
shh sh shhhh crack, “hhmmmm” he hums while he waltzes
shh shhh shhhh shhhhhhh shh crack he waltzes
shhh sh shhhhh shh crack, pop oh two at a time
I watched the man in the white suit, night after night, dance the soft shoe, then tap dance on the cockroaches, under the light by the pawn shop
sh shhh shhhh sh, crack “hhhmmmmmm” He seems so happy.
AVAILABLE NOW: FLORIDA MAN by Mickey J. Corrigan. You know how it’s funny and abhorrent because it’s true? You know how you laugh until you cry by stuffing cocked pistols between your eyeballs and lids?
…lilac Nehru jacket,
- you doorstep…
…pare sweet breads
deform, hand out.
Tump with cauliflower…
…retreats into a dive, yells.
“Something titanic, icy,
flush and gin.” The barman…
…we’d never waltz on shingle,
as vinyl purred…
Hagglers impressed, lurking.
I corner nosegay oils,
on disengaged hob
10-15 minutes. Baste…
…check-up. Paramedic eurekas
- something woefully awry –
…metro expired at Wallsend,
an hour to cloud-gather,
you’d never essentially…
…peachy-keen upbeat guitar
seesawed your hips. Taffrail clover,
…rattle all footloose. Chip walnuts.
Grease loaf tin…
…ventured into Bronx Flea Market,
cornered into a pin-stripe…
Overhauled drained instincts.
Only traffic faded…
single-filing my alley.
No cur whined…
…kibble, tooling rutty blade
of mincer. Dissolve ½ oz…
…Pegasus’ foals vamoosed,
so the knight…
…we quick-timed hours.
Not Quite June
air-cleared your nickname.
Evening shade diffracted urgency…
…groundwork panade. Turn out
as for béchamel, stargaze an hour…
…wolfed my quill.”
“What shall I do?”
“Take advantage of a crayon…”
…rule-breaking headaches spared,
though we blethered all…
POET STALEY’S TOP 10 RULES FOR WRITING ABOUT A SPECIFIC PERSON
1 allow yourself to acknowledge that you care about someone then sweep that someone out of your mind and onto the pages of your journal
2 dump the dust pan of that person as fearlessly, honestly and quickly as you can
3 surround that person with the concrete nouns that person surrounds themselves with then deliberately inject action verbs or slip them in when no one’s looking
4 keep writing everything you can about that person not worrying about the direction your writing is going, try rhyming about that person, try listing things about that person, try moving that person around in time, try writing from that person’s point of view
5 describe the person as though you’re describing the details of a photo
6 let your journal pages marinate overnight in the refrigerator or at room temp
7 cut away all the lame stuff cut away all the stuff that doesn’t deeply satisfy your aesthetic cut away the stuff you put in there just for the teacher cut away anything you’ve heard or read before
8 replace boring verbs with better ones cut away all the fake words sprinkle in literary devices until a poem appears (if no poem appears repeat steps 1-5)
9 break your lines. make it look like a poem. not a paragraph.
10 proofread and read out loud and tweak and fix and submit
Huerta’s rules about writing about people you know and people you don’t
1. Conversations about a past event will entice the reader to forge ahead.
2. Objects around the poems location bring realism to your story and will build a bond between you and the reader. Common household products and animals, for instance, are worthy objects. Politics and trauma are questionable.
3. Never write about your feelings or love loss. You’re better than this and no one cares.
4. If writer's block is something you are suffering from, try your hardest to live in the present with an unapologetic eye for your surroundings. Read the room, write it down. Repeat.
5. Creating a mad lib style game will force your imagination. Pick up the daily paper and create a story using the police blotter and your comrades.
6. Always mix imagination with reality. Because the best shit happens when the fresh river meets the salty sea. Where the tears from your fears clash with consciousness to create a story worthy of telling again and most importantly for someone else to repeat it.