Subprimal Poetry Art/Music - Issue 13 - December 2018
Cover art by Ronald Walker
Issue title by Kym Cunningham
View: Everything | Contents
Good morning, afternoon, or evening and welcome to the Winter 2018 issue of Subprimal Poetry Art/Music. Once again, we are pleased to present various works from around the world, some with an accompanying audio recording. I hope you enjoy what we've assembled this time around.
As you may know, we frequently select a title for an issue from one of the included pieces. Although this didn’t occur to me – consciously at least – while I was making decisions on which pieces to publish, it came to me with a clap of certainty during production: An Earnest Exodus, inspired by and taken from the title of Kym Cunningham’s work An Earnest Exodus: Directions To One Final Humiliation.
The reason an exodus seems apt to me is because this is the final issue of Subprimal Poetry Art/Music, at least…
Listen: there is a lamb hanging in a tree by the Chattahoochee,
All night it hung there and sang till 3 am.
Those who hear it feel a hurt and think they’re hearing
The spring-song of the mockingbird.
Say: Sit up in your bed, then lay yourself back down if you can.
In October night-wind, the lamb’s head
Sways back and forth, and shines bright-black skin
The way moonlight shines on cotton fields and train tracks miles away.
The lamb’s fingers and toes cry for the body. Some boys
Hacked them off. It was harder work than they imagined.
The lamb cried like a man and struggled hard. But they finished
The job and ran off into the darkness that seems to hide
Everything. Men hang the bleeding body…
Regarding his work, the artist says:
Many artists out there create works that look all the same. My number one goal is for artwork is for it not all to look the same. After that I like to get emotion, movement, or depth if not all three at least one of them, prefer to get all three.
Regarding his work, the artist says:
The writing is improvised. Would be nice to be completely inspired by the music, and sometimes it is entirely, but more often I have a kernel of a thought which I would like to explore and the music influences.
Originally, the idea was to invite others to write together on the same page, hence text-tango. However it ended up mostly my own writing and I found it a useful format to explore ideas solo, with awareness that someone else was reading. The tango is between reader and writer. I eventually settled on the usual start: here you are reading this now...
drive stilettos over sunset until you reach the golden city that’s sold winter as vacation from sweating concrete and financed armageddon in the brittle grass of self-esteem
find prejudices lying in the cliff-side cheekbones of broken mountain ranges as you breathe sulfur and sea at the world’s end
watch mona lisa smiles climb up distilled glass cages, suffocating from egos too super for transcendence
believe in religion birthed from steel crates and know even the palm trees are transplants, appropriating the natural by pacific-named parasites as if you could…
If I thirst,
it is for silence.
I want no
talk of love or hate.
I prefer to be
an empty desert;
a shadow’s shadow.
Because we live on death it’s good to have a strong stomach. The young immortals we were, the original dreams we had that didn’t find footing on the earth, the way everything was, all gone, losses under our belts. Loss is our bread and butter, that and grief, and learning to live without. The deaths of our spouses, children, generation of friends—we weren’t supposed to be able to survive those. Didn’t we once vow to sit on the ground and refuse to go one step further into such country? Instead we’re like the crows, who learned there was nothing not on the menu—fruit, road kill, nestlings, French fries in a parking lot—and wear black in memory of who they once thought they were. As if everything that happens no matter how awful is good food on which to our shame we nourish and thrive, while envying those who give themselves mildly and sweetly to death, rather than learn to live on such dreadful fare.
Regarding his work, the artist says:
The Mad Rush...I work in a style I call "Suburban Primitive", this style combines my interest in the origins and functions of art along with life in the suburbs. It incorporates personal experiences both from a physical and psychological perspective. The Mad Rush was inspired by the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It seems as if everyone, myself included, are always rushing about. I find myself wondering why? If we finish first do we get a prize, perhaps a piece of cheese? In any case I will end this now since I must rush off, I have a million things to do!
We cross a narrow train track, onto a turning bay
for the bus. The earth is white and dusty, streams of water
stretching our steps.
We pass a dog, dead,
on its side, stiff and thick with fur.
It was not here yesterday.
The train passes a few times a day,
on to Bansko
then back to Septemvri.
We have seen goats on the tracks,
and wild horses. We sit on the old seats,
covered in dust.
No one cleans this area.
You tell me you saw a boy on a cart
hit his horse with a plank of wood,
to make it go fast.
We talk about pesticides on food,
and animal tests;
how hardly any of your friends want to know.
The bus arrives, old with no air-conditioning,
but it is cheap.
It is hot inside; the windows don’t open.
I say dobre den to the conductor,
take two blue tickets.
We take our laundry into Velingrad.
The bus drives over cobblestones.
Maybe a train hit the dog,
its body not far from the tracks.
What wind fails
the courage of
What blasphemy is
budding on this
fire curled, rain-washed and pearlescent
The scent of hungered Marches
sinking into branch-flesh
Who is the rain, who is the rain
What spindled limbs chatter
below my feet/ fungal-networked
and social climbing
root dominions —
connected — don’t you see? The roots are all
The branches are all thirst and desiring/
The trunk —
With a trembling planet as a surface
Under a grimy piece of newspaper
I write across telegrams
From Lucifer’s solid castle
And across black portraits
Of all his proud henchmen
These forgotten words: I believe.
I believe the hour of birth is upon us,
That all the wild shouts are contractions.
I believe the dark is enveloped by light
Still hesitating at the edge of night.
I remember ten thousand years ago
On the army road of my memory wander
Men with cannons, men with spears;
Each singing in his mother tongue
The same song. They fall.
But no one bends to help,
No one turns around…
Once we've latched the windows and deadbolted doors, we begin inventing our own monsters. Like most vile things, they’re scarier from afar but more believable as they get closer. Wielding machetes and hatchets, meat cleavers and baseball bats, but all the violence stops just short of the screen, even as we close our eyes and burrow deep into the false comfort of couch cushions. But now my friend says she hates horror, after her sister’s high school was splintered by gunfire one morning. Every murder onscreen feels like a gut punch in reality. Every sanctuary interrupted by a girl covered in blood, running and shrieking down a hallway. How she waited quietly, crouched in a bathroom stall, for death to arrive. But it didn't. And of course, it won’t, until it’s ready. Anxiety locked inside the cage of our bodies, incessantly banging, pleading to escape.
Regarding her work, the artist says:
Starving For Peace was originally meant to appear as a bleak, famished man without color and without the flowers seen in his hair and beard. I was initially interested in showing the bare bones of human melancholy, highlighting the calm disposition of a man that had lost everything and could gain nothing back. However, I realized that by adding clusters of colorful flowers gave a whole new meaning to the piece by contrasting against the otherwise drab figure. The flowers added a sense of purpose and hope to the figure’s sadness, and that maybe he had not given up entirely but instead was just resting.
In this version,
Irene wrings her hands
and sets her throat to sea.
a soft patchwork quilt
There is no regret,
but she has to say that, doesn’t she?
the fog that lines
the trees would turn
to mushrooms and rot
only a burrow of worms.
Irene, the earth
is too soft for me.
Give me acid rain.
Give me a place to rake
my fingers in sand
and follow a path out of here.
Irene, get me a belt
and a gallon of gasoline.
Get me a plastic bag
and a knife. Get me a hose
and masking tape.
The little stars keep watching
for a way out of the night.
If they can hold their breath
a little while longer,
morning will open its eyes.
But that was when I was thoughtless, when
important considerations did
not occur to me, though obvious
to everyone else, as if I were
some feral soul who’d never learned how
to conduct myself beyond picking
up the garbage I created as
I moved from here to there, my fate not
compromised until I had children
whose diapers entered the landfill, and
thus I joined the mystery of the
larger community that does not
mind when everything looks equal, a meal
at Olive Garden in Denver the
same as one in New Orleans, the plate
knowable despite geography.
Now I’ve shaken hands with tragedy,
made him my friend, a politer form
of sniffing tails and letting bygones
be. Our beasts snore on the rug by the
fire while we converse in low tones of
how we’ll work together to create
a life we believe we can endure,
a glass of alkalized water raised
to all who’ve survived shattering, and
to surprises still to come, our old
bruises obvious to those who look,
and on the bare skin of everyone
we meet who knows loss, recovery,
and the daily redemption of love.
You are running
In a hurry
Performing thousands of tasks
But it doesn't matter
You are judged
By your obligations to others
You didn't make it
Then there is blame
No right to stop
You keep running
In a hurry
Touched by love
Bits of tenderness
Without a finish
Sometimes, in the silent white-cold light that
Falls from skies grown grey with cloud here, the ice
Does not sparkle. It lays like lead. A flat
Dull sheet that slowly suffocates what lies
Beneath. Creating an empty world so
Clear and cold that there is no sound left here:
No tree limbs creaking with frost, no echo
Of bird call, no small scurryings. Austere
And stark. A brittle husk of time and place,
As frozen as the world it’s frozen by.
There is no hint of brightness then, no trace
Or glance of glint to quell. The cloud filled sky
Brings only dawns that do not break, but lay
Heavy and fixed like ice itself all day.