The Salt of Our Bodies …

woody-guthrie

Art is Resistance no?

I have a trio of poems/prose-poems/prosodies/”story-poems” (?) up at Vending machine press today and you can read them Here.

I had submitted these under the general heading “Poems for the Next great Depression” so will see if one actually comes.

I am very pleased to have some work in the always excellent Vending Machine Press – make sure you drop by and have a read. Much thanks to the tireless efforts of editor Mike LaFontaine.

Steve

Album Covers That Influenced My Prose

People often say “Steve, where do you get your ideas?” I actually get them from everywhere but I never put pen to paper (so to speak) until I meditate to these album/cd covers.

#1: Black Flag “My War”

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You’ll often here business described as “war” by the suits. It’s not – the stakes are much different, but writing is definitely a struggle. Your struggle vs. yourself, vs. the blank page, vs the suits – whatever. So “My War” it is. Not my favorite Black Flag album, but definitely my favorite cover. As an aside their live cover of “Louie Louie” is my favorite version of that song and it’s been covered about a million times. It’s even better than Motorhead’s and you won’t hear me say that about too many things.

#2: AC/DC “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”

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Because everyone has something to hide (except the dog, apparently), and writing is exposing it.

#3: Alice in Chains “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here”

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I believe the album title, when taken as a statement, to be true. I often meditate upon this image, and often, the skull dictates to me. I do not understand what it says, and it does not answer – or even acknowledge – my own queries, but I’ve gotten some damn good stuff out of these conversations. You did not ask, but my favorite Alice in Chains song is “It Ain’t Like That” which is not on this record.

#4: Matt Mays and El Torpedo “Terminal Romance”

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The only thing missing from this steel-cut heart is the duct tape needed to hold it together for one more beat. Write about love I say, write honestly and unsparingly and save irony for annoying your friends at parties. On this album, love starts with “Rock Ranger Record” and ends with the title track and man, look at that cover.

#5: Harlequin “Love Crimes”

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The sepia-toned painting and the right-hand drive vehicle interior belong to another age and tell a story. here’s another story for you – Harlequin apparently recorded this under the working title “Crimes of Passion” in the same studio at around the same time that Pat Benatar was recording her 1980 release “Crimes of Passion.” Benatar released hers first and allegedly stole their title causing them to rename this record. I have no idea if that is true or not but I heard that on the radio.

#6: Led Zeppelin I

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We can all only hope to do something as iconic as this. The wreck of the Hindenburg is only just barely mythic enough to frame the might, the majesty and yes – the mystery – of Led Zeppelin.

#7: Scissorfight “Balls Deep”

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A mountain man in some sort of MacGyver-ed splint carving raw flesh out of a dead buffalo while a wolf pack circles in the distance? Hell yeah – count me in. I think I can say that every story I wrote, and for sure every poem, (along with most of my blog posts – the ones that don’t end sadly with the protagonist crying alone on public transit anyway) – and what the hell – even some of my Facebook status updates – were aiming squarely at Scissorfight’s “Roman Boxing Glove” in terms of what I wanted for literary quality.

That song is not on this album – but go check Scissorfight’s whole catalog out. It’s all good. All of it. Bonus: I think they are back together and touring.

#8: The Dwarves “Blood, Guts, and Pussy”

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This is sometimes referred to as “the banned cover” and you can see why. This reminds me to hold nothing back.

#9: Black Sabbath “Heaven and Hell”

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Three angels playing cards on their smoke break. What’s not to like?

#10: Killer Dwarfs (Self Titled)

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This is a reminder to have a sense of humor. (I should say “humour” because the Killer Dwarfs are Canadian.) Everyone looks up to AC/DC of course but the Killer Dwarfs really did look up to AC/DC and that’s saying something.

So there you have it amigos/amigas – Like Thulsa Doom said to Conan once “You may contemplate these album covers upon the tree of woe.” So see where that gets ya.

Over and Out,

Steve

Nine Dead Darlings

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It was William Faulkner who first said “In writing, you must kill your darlings.” He may have actually been referring to his liver, (there is debate,) but this advice of Bill’s is generally construed as a writer’s obligation to edit out/delete phrasing and description, that although dear to them, does not serve the story written.

I kill my darlings all the time. Like, Every. Fucking. Day. And because I kill (delete) them … you can’t read them. However, some of these darlings do sound rather good, so I thought I’d post ‘em up on my blog for your perusal – along with the reason I deleted them.

1: “Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck,” she said, without much conviction. “Fuck.”

I thought this too alliterative.

2: “What’s up?”

Vague.

3: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”

Plagiarism.

4: “It was the pretty goodest of times, and the somewhat, more or less, baddest of times: Truly it was neither this nor that, nor here nor there.

Derivative, and MS Word’s spellchecker had multiple issues. This might be my second favorite darling though – at least tied with #7.

5: “But roses are red, and violets are blue!”

The use of italics and an exclamation point in the same sentence are excessive and leading. I was also convinced that no one would note the reference to poetics because no one reads poetry. The source materiel is too obscure.

6: “So I said ‘Don’t worry Peter, it’s perfectly normal to have those dreams and besides, it’s not like she’s our real sister’”

I had written this for some Brady Bunch fan fic and truth be told – I totally creeped myself out. And then there are italics again. (Note: If I could think up a decent pseudonym for myself I’d have sold this. Still have the original draft.)

7: “’There is no such thing as editorial genius. No. Such. Thing.’ He said this simply and truthfully, and everyone nodded.”

I actually have never deleted this phrase – and it’s in every story I ever wrote. But it never makes it in.

8: “Where’s the can, man, I’ve got a turtle-head poking out!”

Scatological.

9: “So the boys got to drinking, and accidentally killed the asshole-neighbor’s dog, and that was that”

Synopsis – it basically summarizes many of my stories. Summary is bad.

So there you go – those phrases are phrases you have never had to  read in any of my published material because I did my duty by Faulkner’s dictum and killed those darlings. I’m not actually a huge Faulkner fan, but rules are rules and it is not my lot to make new ones up, but to abide by those already written.

Basically, I have kept the blog alive until further publication news arrives and I can beg y’all to go read my chapbook and then, later in the year, a short-story collection.

Stay cool compadres, and don’t go killing any of your own darlings. I have done this so that you won’t have to!

Steve

Road Trip Rock: Part 2

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OK – like any neurologically impaired person I went “Full Canadian” this past weekend and motored on out to the University of Victoria and back. Reason? Bringing back the G/F’s tot. Given the weather it’s fair to say this is the favorite tot, and the G/F is highly valued. It’s about 14 hours & 45 minutes either way. The trip out was wintry, but manageable. Back? Misery. Not even Sasquatches were out – particularly between Salmon Arm and Golden. (Go ahead and google-map these places.) 18+ hours in the Goddamn vehicle and some of that in near white-out conditions. It was whiter and more myopic than a Darth Trump fan convention.  However – we lived. (Never again.)

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t road trip without a handful of CD’s, a 34-ounce single wall Easton Slow-Pitch bat from the 80’s, and a few dozen of those free coffee cards from McDonald’s. All come in handy – and here’s a sampler of what we had on the stereo while gripping the wheel and clenching our butt-cheeks in fear for our lives.

Teenage Head: “Some Kinda Fun”

Canadian punk Rock legends Teenage head (more roots rock/rockabilly if you ask me) had a clean guitar sound that hearkened back to Eddie Cochrane and a stage presence that owed a lot to Gene Vincent. I never get tired of this song or the CD of the same name. Check out “Shag Shack” as well.

The Monks: “Nice Legs, Shame About Her Face”

Ahhh, the Monks. Got me through middle/high school parties. Tight, tight riffs, rhythms, and witty lyrics. Stick with “Nice legs” to the end and have a laugh. These guys aren’t so much a one-hit wonder as they are a one-album (yes, album) wonder. I’ve bought this in every format it was ever produced.

Big Sugar: “Ride Like Hell”

Everyone Who Knows me knows I don’t ride without Big Sugar close by. And man, does this song ever fit the trip.

“Sometimes I wonder/If I’ll ever get back home”

Ah, sing it to me Gordie. Hurts so good. Jeebus! Was that a Sasquatch?

AC/DC: “Ride On”

There comes a point in every road trip from hell when you realize you are going to die out there and you make peace with it. This, the most blues-y of all AC/DC’s catalog, is there for that moment.

As an aside, it’s hard to find and original version of this on Youtube. Mostly it’s people covering the vocals and often, not very well. Norah Jones does an excellent cover – and I say that as a non-Norah Jones fan. Look that up if you’re in the mood.

“Think of Me” (Sarah Brightman/Andrew Lloyd Webber etc., From “The Phantom of the Opera.”

The GF’s background is in musical theater and she sings this kind of stuff real well. And hey – no one can be metal as f*ck for 18 hours in the car right? Variety is the spice of life.

So there you have it.

Next Road Trip I’m going somewhere warm, not driving so much, and I’ll have more music.

Stay frosty comrades, and have a Merry Christmas.

Steve

Pushcart Nomination Time

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A great big thank you from me to Rum Punch Press who have nominated my story “Bruiser” for a Pushcart Prize.

You can read “Bruiser” – a heartwarming story about a lost boy and a stolen dog getting together to bond over a little lucha, right here.

There is a school of thought out there that one should never make much of nominations, only wins, but in this business – where we mostly work for praise – a nomination is always appreciated – and I appreciate it.

Factoid that may interest only me: I got the title from the Misfits song “Bruiser” because some  wrestler who I could remember specifically used to use that song as his “walk-out” song. That said I don’t reference the song at all in the story. In fact I listened more to Fear’s “I Don’t Care About You” obsessively while writing the story. It had the right “Tone.”  “I don’t Care About You” has been covered a thousand times, fairly ably by both GnR and (without profanity, apparently to please the BBC) Soundgarden.

I’m going to go listen to it now and you should too!

Steve

PS: Wish me luck – this is my second Pushie Nom (“All of the Words to All of the Songs” was nominated last year but didn’t make the cut) and it would be nice to see “Bruiser” make it into the anthology.

S

That’s Why The Hornet Stung Me and Two Other Poems

I have a trio of poems up at Wax Poetry and Art, namely:

  1. The Crow (Culling Song #2)
  2. That’s Why The Hornet Stung Me
  3. Bury Me Face Down

You can read them Here

I think it’s high time y’all took a break from perusing the non-stop airing of electoral grievances (or conversely: overly smug celebration) on social media and read some sweet, sweet, poesy.

As an aside, I’m not really a poet – I’m a prosodist. Smart-assery aside I have never studied formal poetry and can’t tell you what dactylic hexameter or is or what constitutes a sestina. I admire those who can, but it ain’t me. My “poetry” is free verse (poetry that does not rhyme,) and more along the lines of quiet observational prose written out short.

At any rate, read and enjoy. I’ll be back before the end times.

Steve