"Even Though" - Larry Sheats
Even though I deserve death
You give me life
Even though You give me peace
I continue to fight
Even though You hold my hand
At times I’m still afraid
Even though I know You hear me
Sometimes I do not pray
Even though the sun may shine
I can only see the rain
Even though You have forgiven me
I can still feel the shame
Even though You’re in my heart
I can still feel the hate
Even though You’re always on time
I feel like You are late
Even though I know I’m weak
You’re strength You freely give
Even though I want to die
Your love makes me want to live
Even though I hurt so much
You comfort all the pain
Even though all I feel is loss
You tell me there is gain
Even though all I see
Is destruction from the storm
You tell me to have faith in You
And keep me safe from harm
Even though I feel alone
You are always by my side
Even though the world is against it
Your name I won’t deny
Even though I don’t deserve
Your love, mercy or grace
You choose to bless me anyway
And help me in this race
So Lord I’m going to tell You
Something You all ready know
You love me not for what I’ve done
But in spite of ‘even though’
I’m demented from exhaustion again.
It’s 5 am, and my conscious mind
is scaling my skull to find its own kind.
And I think I’m turning
wild in this wilderness,
tired of restlessness—
everyone’s abandoned the roads.
The wind rolls in like tides, like sin—
and I’m stalked by eyes inside these lines.
I want to run, erase all of it—
but I’m caged here till time unwinds.
So I’m fighting fear,
fighting tears tunneling my ears,
fighting demons that fill the stability
they’ve prescribed me over the years.
And those screams in last night’s dreams
lead me past the graveyard path tonight
where my goals and plans once traveled my head.
I’m unraveling sanity, tossing in bed.
I’m desperate to settle down my bones,
desperate for eyes to close,
so I can float in my ocean of sheets.
But even when I finally sleep,
my mind still roams the streets.
And I’m trying to sleep.
But I run through rooms
where lights are flashing.
I’m smashing through doors,
soaring over the floor,
twisting through carpeted corridors,
fleeing a roar, my folks screaming whore,
I’m unsure if I’m awake or asleep.
And even weed doesn’t seem
to work anymore. . .
Flooding blood swells around me.
Hell pulls me down to drown me
in the soundlessness of coffinssliding out to sea.
"Ambient" appeared online at Red Wolf Press (Australia) in November 2013. Catherine Zickgraf, aka Catherine the Great, was February's featured reader at Word of Mouth. She has three spoken-word DVDs, the most recent being Burying the Clocks.
(Christian Trevor Lisa)
The maniacal Netflix masturbator sits on his third generation Ethan Allen sofa at three o'clock in the morning earning his title.
"Yeah" he grunts. You know exactly what I want. Start me off with three episodes of The West Wing and finish the job with the last ten minutes of The Breakfast Club."
Skatters every cell of his body into the wind—school, binge-drinking, Bass Guitar, Radiohead, Kid Cudi, Peter Frampton, Johnny Cash, Johnny Football,
getting that perfect powerclean Olympic Weightlifting ass,
Will Ferrel, Xbox, Eminem, Greek yogurt, Gorgonzola, Naked Juice
Networking, Scorsese, Shark Week, Ted Talks, John Mayer, he actually bought James fucking Franco’s collection of short stories and put it under his “books” section on Facebook. Family Guy, South Park, Seinfeld, Chris Farley and his wood louse of a side kick David Spade, David Sedaris, David Gilmour, David Foster Wallace, David Bowie, Larry David, Larry the lobster
Is there a person beneath this amorphous amalgamated monstrosity of stuff?
And he’s so caught up in Postmodernity and self-reflexive semiotics that he left his Jeep Laredo running outside of Planet Fitness
The parental pylon.
He declares that he is a father in the same way that chartreuse declares itself to be a color.
Dad is bad.
Dad has a girlfriend.
Hop on Pop.
He has a girlfriend and a library of cologne and secret apartment. It sounds much worse than it is, plus he can justify it.
You see, dad is sad.
Dad is housing this infinite sense of longing and regret
contingent on things and people he has never seen
He wants something indefinite and shapeless
something he does not have.
something he has never had.
This is a fleeting feeling that establishes itself in vague, concentric pulses that orbit around his solipsism.
Dad is alone.
Dad is sad.
Dad is bad.
Life is sad.
Life can be bad.
Heretofore Life is Dad. Et Cetera.
This prompts him to take action
He goes on LinkedIn while he’s drunk and attempts to maneuver an interview for a sales job at Godiva, despite the fact that he is lactose intolerant and has a master’s degree in Psychology.
He gets red-carded by his secretary for sexual harassment after watching too many episodes of The Office, and then tells his wife so that she will trust him.
He uses his connections and fourth generation smartphone to teach a class at a local college and type a syllabus, respectively.
Hi! My name is Roger Fairfax, but you can call me Roger. My office hours are MWF from 3 to 5 inside of my Kia Rio which is currently parked in lot purple 22 at Sea World.
Between class he exchanges self-serving pedagogical philosophies for cigarettes and oral sex, but only until he gets bored with the job and resigns after one semester.
In a few years, he will retire to the third generation Ethan Allen and spend his days idly retweeting articles from The New Yorker in an attempt to bridge the gap between cultural relevancy and pretentious worldliness.
And then the daughter.
The self-involved, static-haired, sandle-faced, asshat academic suckup
Everything she says coming out in that really irritating
exposition-of-a-high-school-play type of manner
She sets her entire resume as an email signature, like a passive-aggressive reminder that she is alive
Toes dipped in paint, face in wax, head inside of a trash can listening to NPR on the way to the animal shelter
She looks like a Barbie doll that slept in the dishwasher
But take her seriously because she’s the recording secretary of her high school chapter of National Honors Society
Can’t you tell by her Princeton Lacrosse sweatshirt that she is going places?
Mom’s New Year’s resolution is to shed all notions of self and image and any conglomeration of the two and become a skeleton,
So that finally, without eyeballs or organs or life, she can sleep and forget about that family portrait hanging in the attic, getting uglier by the day.
from "Waiting for Ralph at the Milner Grill" (1992) - Aralee Strange
... Just goes to show you the power of words why you can build bridges with them if you just believe I believe I believe in love I believe in the innocence of animals I believe in dancing one two-three one two-three to a world waltz beat I believe lame Beauty could tame the beast in me but all I can say is May I have a cappuccino please? And Ralph commences jamming bandy legged and jive in another tongue Can you clap your hands (clap our hands) Can you stomp your feet (stomp our feet) Do the right words come when you need ‘em? Well drum! jump and cook a gumbo Free! all the deep down held back among you Allow it release! the one thumb piano plunk on a Sunday tambourine thumping ring around the shakey Pole who is unafraid exposed whose language transcends All do lament! another good man gone (to hell probably) Whose slit throat bleeds Whose black skin’s unseen bruise pains deep and overwhelms and I may be high on cheap wine and caffeine but I swear I see pale Death flying out the window flying over the used car lot flying across the unbridged flood muddy river headed west. Even Death has a home. And Ralph (yet untuckered) still stalking the wild improbable However you can man do you dig it oh ain’t it dandy (and I do) in all simultaneity and with silver tongue to sing “livid and aloud” ipso facto is allowed on the open read but try as I might I am just one more white cat on the conga line dancing to another man’s drum. Am I sufficiently engaged? Does my conscience work? When the right words come crude rude and dead on will I need ‘em? I have two good ears and listen. I have two good eyes and see. I have a mind that wanders how much pull blue yonder the wild turkey’s song (strong as gravity). ... And now Ralph’s working his way out there where the sun don’t shine and if we’re lucky he’ll come back singing looking to shake things up shaking things up better watch your back when Ralph’s around better mind your poetic skew and hew a new one everytime or why bother brother for we are Us here now and they are Them there then and the question before us is not when but How do we cross over if the bridge is blown in three sections and according to plan?
An excerpt from the prose poem "Waiting for Ralph at the Milner Grill" by Aralee Strange, which appeared in Evil Dog and is dated 8-27-92. The full text is posted online with the following note, and appeared after Aralee's passing in 2013:" .. there was a piece by Aralee that could be described as a prose poem or a non-fiction narrative. I remember hearing her read it at a literary event. Where that reading took place I can’t say, and visually I can’t recall a single detail. I still remember, though, what it sounded like when she read it—and I’ll bet that anyone who’s heard her read can imagine what it sounded like when she delivered these words."
I'll ask you if you think it's possible to love a bomb shelter
You'll ask me why
I'll say it's because that's what I pretend to be
When I feel like the world is closing in on me
My meditative happy space
To meditate or medicate
That is the question
These hands are not my hands
These feet are not my feet
This heart is not my heart
They are the brick and mortar
I bought with my defense budget
This skin is not my skin
It's 7 inches of hard, cold obsidian
To fend off the inevitable irradiation of an erroneous environment
You'll laugh at me because you think I'm making a joke about my dick
I'll tell you not to interrupt my existential crisis
It always will be
I'll tell you how some days
Every word said over me
And not to me
Whistles like the mouth of a warhead through the air
Terminal velocity until its detonation of impersonal conversation
When other eyes register my perimeter and then quickly look away
I feel like the landscape is splintered around me
The bombs go off in my vicinity
Barely missing me
Disguising this test of endurance
As a test of luck
I'll tell you how some nights
I can sit in a room full of people
And feel as desolate
as the aftermath of a nuclear fallout
The ruins of my city
Populated by the inevitable irradiation
This erroneous environment reeks
Of a macabre miasma
The smell of spoiled vintage
And silver aura radiating
Around the halos of skulls long in the tooth
No longer aged and wise
As our vitality pretends we won't
As our mortality portends we do
I try to ward off the vapor
With the salts and silver smelted in
The enamel of my too short teeth
But they stay rooted in their canals
Guards of show, not of action
Wanting for hands to cover my mouth with
Wanting for feet to walk away
Wanting for a heart to pump life and color
To differentiate me from this silver haze
I have become a macabre monument
To edify this radiated ruin
Populated by you
Fluent in the language of light
Clairvoyant future demystifying the fog
I stood still in
You stand at my barricade
You look me in the eye
Then down at the weeds encroaching on my perimeter
In your presence, the weeds whisper flowers
Forget-me-nots if you’re romantic
Roses if you’re not
You rub your fingers gently along roughness of my rocky walls
Spread your warmth on the coldness of my obsidian facade
Press your lips against my door
Reminding me of my mouth
And with it, newly formed I ask you
Do you think you can love a bomb shelter?
You say yes
I've even made it my home.
February 25; March 14, 2014
(Bob Ambrose, Jr.)
When catkins swell the tips of alder
red fringed auras
of river side maple
soften the bare edge of winter
In air set sharp
against the stale drift
and sullen throes
of late stage February.
You would not call this tame day
mellow – that is past and yet to be –
but buried deep in dead brown
sameness, spirits gather.
I wish these days would hurry on –
my mother’s presence
pierces years to conjure sun
and wrap the world in warmer tones.
And I hear his gentle rejoinder
that soothing faux-scold timbre
tinged with a twinkle –
Don’t wish your only life away.
Dad was the ever-enduring hills
she an effervescent air-kiss
the smiles and dreams of springs to come.
Now both are gone.
So I throw on a warm layer
zip inside my black hoodie
and huddle out back
in a broken pool of light
Wishing with mother for
ever warmth and winter’s end
and feeling my father’s calm
as if from distance – stay, stay
Spirits of the earth and air
are washed clean in cold breeze
beneath the bare-branch starling tree
on catkin edge of winter time.
(photo by Michelle Castleberry)