Walk or Perish
18 November 2k18
“The Day the Flesh shapes and the Flesh the Day shapes.” — Frank Herbert
Greetings, Dear Reader,
on 16 November I once again celebrated Life after Brain Surgery.
Twelve years: Feels like a lifetime crammed inside a hot-minute.
I adapted to being broken. Then something changed. It always does, nu?
I moved to an Oasis in Spenard; whilst through the blessing of CBD,
the seizures that plagued me for years were finally reined in. Sort of…
So…I kicked that Wheelchair to the curb. And haven’t been in it since last Spring.
Eleven years is a long damn time to go on Wheels. I am still shaky, still sketchy.
But I have learned that with each step I grow Stronger…and Stranger.
I must go on walking.
Choices are for those
who have such luxuries.
We shall not speak of them. No, not here:
One step. Crutch-step. Two step.
S t a gg e r
Aluminum sticks splayed, guarding
against capricious Gravity, Her cruel insouciance.
Pain is no paltry obstacle
It is a taskmaster: the Instructor of Survivors.
Pain is a goad.
Walk then. Walk
lest I become rooted where I stand.
Ah! But the temptation …it is terrible.
To embrace the Winter of permanent Wheels, at last.
To become twisted—bone, tendon, gristle
into a secondhand scarecrow.
of my unremitting dreams:
gnarled branches I would grow
to crook into puzzle shadows upon snow
to croon with ravens roosting
as Williwaw winds keen raw
frost-finger limbs I would form
to drum rattle-a-tattle rhythms
aside raise the dead
sky swept flurries
Guttural—my song to ice crystals
bitterly encrusting twig, bough, and burl
alike during fathomless auroral nights
grown like brutish spurs of bone
on the sockets of worn, arthritic joints
will echo the baying of outcast wolves. Caught
therein, under the spell of loneliness and moonlight
A taproot I would send down to Queen Persephone
on Her throne in darkness built;
there to beg an Indulgence
for a small measure of Spring
come lavish, come too soon.
The weight of sunrise
burgeoning nacreous, lushly white
when land and sky appear as one
shall incite sleeping sap to flow
amongst fellow trees. Transformed
into rime-laden soaring sunsparkler cathedrals.
Standing sentinel in clouds of our own breath.
Ever so, greenleaf sweet
I must go on walking.
16 November 2k18
14 November 2k18
Greetings, Dear Reader. ‘Tis an entry full of frayed ends, of uneven odds.
Low cards again. Guess I just call ’em as I see ’em…
What could I possibly say this time? Should I speak of my father?
Well, seems I already have. But I left out one of his critical lessons: The Gambler’s Fallacy
Much has been said of it, and you’re welcome to draw your own conclusions.
But, while watching a herd of sheep all running one stupid way,
Pops said to me of the Fallacy, “Never fall for it, kid.”
He pointed at one old goat doing his own thing,
“See. Mind your own cards. You must learn to trust Instinct.”
Oi! Go ahead, flip a Fair Coin,
a full score of times—and you tell me, nu?
Did’ya fall for it?
Against Lady Luck, did’ya Count Coup?
:such is the tale of my Coup Stick.
One wing dipped in blood.
Hard to explain
what has not killed me served only to teach
my yet fragile soul how to survive.
I can’t put it down to Junkiedom, USA;
for of the score, Ah! So many…we were
blood enemies at first sight.
Now, my father was a consummate Gambler.
An archetype of the Old School.
A man for whom defunct notions like: honor, trust, respect
meant that line so thin twixt
And taught me in his own methods: the Way of the Gambler
He said, “Never welsh. Rake the table—
take what you will and pay for it.”
It took all of my cards : nearly a lifetime
to understand that a jackpot can reap a heavy loss
that so often winning is turned on its gilded head
that what is lost is never a loss. If you learn the lesson.
Count Coup upon your foes come away bloodied
and you learn Living is the gamble: even odds
Pops said, “Draw low cards and you play ’em
Play ’em like they’re royal.”
I have learned believe me…
Counting Coup against a Devil
it is best
on a river.
What happens before Coffee…
10 November 2k18
Greetings, Dear Reader. It has been kinda heavy ’round here lately, eh?
What with all the Painful Poetry…
Blitzes. Voting. Retreats. Returns.
Hard to keep track of all the Ethical ins & outs…lotta connect-the-dots pandering goin’ on; backroom good ‘ol boy circle-yorking;
all while shrewdly calculating, on the fly, just exactly who is still hangin’ on the POTUS junk?
Who is stabbing whom in the back? Who left the knife stuck there?
Who’s on First?
I hear Marble Hill politicos are gnawing on the skulls of the fallen and defeated this day.
Welcome, Cohorts, to the Ramshackle Day Parade! (Thanx, Joe)
Meanwhile, we’re all straining—stuck sittin’ & spinnin’ on the U.S.A. Inc. Moral merry-go-round v9.2;
judging from the forlorn squeal the thing is making, it needs some WD40…seriously.
During this time of year it can be damn hard to find a good laugh;
‘course bad laughs go for less than a dimebag, and are just as endemic.
The streets are littered with ’em, snuggled right up next to abandoned American Dreams, ubiquitous plastic flutter-bags,
old kicks sneering down from every wire, Faith disenfranchised,
and dumpster fires fueled with legislation of obfuscation,
plus pallet loads of overstocked, mangy, Presidential toupees.
And then there’s all this blog mucking about:
Comforting the Disturbed
Disturbing the Comfortable
The Empathy Hustle. Ah, merde! It can be that way, sometimes.
So it goes.
Today I thought we’d tap the brakes. Oi! Not that hard…easy. Easy!
Why spin out, unless you really wanna run amok, too?
B’sides, around here I’m 24/7, y’all. I’m just not always doin’ business, dig?
Yet, a Poet simply cannot live on words and smoke alone.
No…no, as well there must be Coffee
What happens before Coffee
I told a diffident cup
to get fucked this morning.
It fell on the floor.
I was seeking to set fire
in my black, lil heart.
So…I just loomed there in those long, long minutes
vehemently cussing out its timid, inanimate spirit.
I know ya think I’m a fruitcake, baby.
Hey, that’s just how I roll.
Guess you’d better know now—
In those minutes before Coffee
don’t dare hand me a match
’cause I’ll spark the big fuse
every every every time. Natch.
In those minutes
I stalk amidst twilight
in the Savannah of Kitchen
looking for trouble—surveying thus:
Lions kneel before a State of the Art, blood-rusty King.
Jackals, daunted, hide their wicked eyes.
Hyenas shut their cackling yaps in surprise.
Vultures, envious, take their young under wing.
Such a wild-eyed beast I am forsaken. In those minutes:
do not glance at Trumpery at dread news, whilst Coffee brews
for every time I do: sirens howl. Fire engines growl
something will go snap will crackle, will go PoP!
something will be throttled will be scalped raw
something will run for dear life will flee. Running red lights
something will get bruised something will lose
I give No Quarter
to my prey—
not to Hate, not to Seizures, nor to Pain
before sacred Coffee eases
my shattered-cup brain.
How Not to Kill yourSelf: gambit no.13
6 November 2k18
“Suicides have a special language.
Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build.” ~Anne Sexton
“You want it Darker. We kill the flame.” ~Leonard Cohen
Greetings, Dear Reader. There is nothing easy about this post. The last one was simple.
Rage always is; ’tis Empathy that requires work. Venting is easy. Living is difficult.
And while I freely admit to some cathartic venting in my last post, nevertheless—it needed to be said: Screamed.
However, I have recently learned that a Human I care deeply for made that Choice.
There is such profound suffering in this Life that some flounder beneath towering waves.
Please remember, swimming so far from land, that You. Are. Never. Alone.
L’amour soit avec toi, mon ami.
I have been asked, enough times to lace cracks in my heart,
“How do you survive!? How? With all of this…how is it that you survive?”
I could never answer.
I never knew how. Still don’t…not really.
It is just what I do.
I think that I am not special, in this regard.
There is no adversity I have endured
that you too cannot survive.
You must remind your battered Self
—It is not over…I am not Done.
Heels to haunch
in the mental whiteout
of a breakdown blizzard.
I cradle a flare gun
unsure whether to fire.
For every blind S.O.S.
carries a heavy measure
It is said that freezing to death
is like going to sleep.
It is not.
There is more icicle
in the reality of such a slumber.
Passing this skin-searing
metal chunk of grip
from cold hand to clumsy hand:
despite any resolve to soar away
there is no freedom
in a transition to fleshberg.
—rather they will find a broken bird
lying on pitiless tundra.
are ruthless when wrathful;
cruelty matched only
by sheer indifference.
A whore-frost gargoyle, Winter
skulking on your back.
Ah, the treacherous
all that you
know of you.
Wishing to die, you wane;
a winter scarecrow of fallow field,
shriveled remnant of the Self—
facing emptiness, you perilously
resort to stuffing in fistfuls
of moldering bracken, sour grass
wrenched by the roots
out of abject fear.
Being a Scarecrow,
the Ravens will help you
what you are made of.
Yanked apart at the seams
by rending talons, by bitter beak
to find what is good in you.
Raising the flare gun’s weight
up to an opaque vault of sky,
vexed by snow-borne wind into a fury:
fingers ice-gnawed into claws
I fumble in the maelstrom
—slip but for a moment
and pull the trigger.
Just between us
||who tread that bone-strewn path
as only the Suicidal can.
Among the ten thousand
useless ways to die
there is always a choice
to die well.
you do not see it coming.
Extrusion and Rivet
31 July 2016
Recently, Dear Reader, I was deeply honored to have my poem Extrusion selected by Cirque: A Literary Journal for Alaska and the Pacific Northwest for publication in their 14th. Issue, which was released this July. Mighty massive thanks to Editor Sandra Kleven, a savvy, insightful editor and skookum friend.
While I was unable to attend the launch here in Rage City, a dear friend, cohort, and fellow poet, Peter Porco—also featured in this issue of Cirque, I should add— intrepidly elected to read it during the festivities.
A thousand thanks, Peter, you made the plight of that little yard lizard, and our hand in its fate, creep into the minds of all who see the clip, and you do it with sangfroid. My hat’s off to you.
The video can be found on Cirque’s fab facebook page: Cirque Journal; meanwhile, if I can find a way to embed it you know I will.
I’m taking down the version that was featured here. If you’d like to have a read, please surf over to Cirque, where I am surrounded by a convocation of immensely talented poets, authors, and artists. Fully available online, you can also order a copy for a fair price. (I receive naught a penny on sales, folks…just that being a poet, I’ll always dig pages over pixels.)
It somehow feels unnatural, disingenuous even, to leave you without a poem. It is my job, after all. And you’ve come all this way for a sales pitch!?! I think not.
Lately the concept of redemption has been on my mind. You don’t have to look far to find symptoms of rot, apathy, and naked greed in our society, but in the same glance you’ll find countless souls seeking redemption; and so often it is these very souls that display the most remarkable acts of generosity, kindness, and human empathy. This is for those of us on the path of Redemption; may you find what you seek…
—Variant № 8
Redemption is a steel beam
running up your spine.
I recommend a permanent installation
affixed on the outside, a gruesome renovation.
There it can be seen by all, and
with ease polished to a high sheen
To avoid the unsightly tarnish
of blood, shame, and rust.
With hot rivets, hammer the bone-girder
right into your marrow;
Where in cannot become dislodged
by the innate brittleness
Of occasional backsliding and failure.
—Or did you believe the slate wiped clean?
You believed Absolution is final?
No, as with our mistakes
We are interdependent
with our Saviors.
So, strive not to walk too stiffly
beneath your bone-grafted burden.
Bear your penance with some show of dignity,
ignoring the desultory loathing
You will find in those unwilling
to fashion their own soul scaffolding.
Smile when invariably you’re asked why
you walk so strangely, as if
you had a steel beam shoved up your ass?
Just tell them that you have been Redeemed.
~by DC McKenzie
22 June 2016
9 August 2k15
“The atomic bomb made the prospect of future war unendurable. It has led us up those last few steps to the mountain pass and beyond there is a different country.” ~Dr. J Robert Oppenheimer
“Our world faces a crisis as yet unperceived by those possessing power to make great decisions for good or evil. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” ~Albert Einstein, New York Times, 25 May 1946
“Natura Potest Fieri Furioso” ~Unknown
Seventy years ago today, The United States of America, and her Allies, completed the first Atomic bombing campaign in human history when we dropped the Plutonium bomb, Fat Man, on the city of Nagasaki, Japan.
Three days earlier, Little Boy, the first and last Uranium bomb, was dropped on Hiroshima. In the months and years to come the whole world would learn the devastating impact that nuclear weapons cause to life itself; rendering the very Earth a poisonous, parched heap of scorched rubble. We know now the genetic blight that nuclear weapons bring.
However, there was one man who never saw the risk of nuclear weapons as being too high for their perceived value. He never admitted, to my knowledge, that the building and stockpiling of these weapons–the much vaunted Mutually Assured Destruction strategy–was a kind of paranoid madness that overcame much of humanity in the wake of the our thunderous entry into the Nuclear age.
Yet, more importantly for this discussion, I am speaking of the creation of the Hydrogen Bomb. Many—Scientists, Citizens, and Generals alike—argued that such weapons were completely unnecessary. But our man championed them. That man, widely considered to be the father of the H-Bomb, was Edward Teller.
Here was an archetype Mad Scientist if I ever beheld one.
It was he who put the final nail in the the career of Dr. Oppenheimer, who was an opponent of the Hydrogen bomb project.
Influential in many world-changing events such as being among the main driving forces behind Operation Crossroads (the July 1946 Plutonium bombing of Bikini Island and the Ghost Fleet), and other subsequent Nuclear tests, Edward Teller is also widely held to be directly responsible for Dr. Oppenheimer being exiled from Washington D.C., and losing his security clearance during a Witch Hunt. A vicious stab in the back to a man who gave his brilliant mind and most of his career to his country. Regardless of how we may personally feel about Dr. Oppenheimer, the man deserved better.
Edward Teller did not escape the consequences of his political machinations; nor did his single-minded pursuit of the Hydrogen bomb come without fallout. Indeed, I understand that a great many of Teller’s colleagues despised him for what he did to Oppenheimer, for his part in Operation Crossroads, and for his part in ensuring the proliferation of the most frightening and dangerous weapons Humanity has ever created. As for his legacy, Dear Reader? Being as we are history, I invite you to read more about Teller…then you be the judge.
Untitled Poem 235
Edward Teller has died, at last;
I shall curse him no more.
Still, I want to send him dead roses.
Petals fetid, craven thorns and all;
blossoms fattened on brine and nox,
—yes, and with sick, withered leaves
tied demure in a pink, cardboard box.
For siring the Hydrogen bomb
he deserves no less, and likely much more.
By now it has been explained to him
that security is a superstition;
that we can neither love, nor even live
that, like electrons, life moves in a circle;
and that what goes around, really goes around.
By now Edward has gustily slurped
the quark soup of our beginning
and found all of his answers, in the end.
Maybe there are no superstrings to bind our hands.
But, perhaps there should be…
From Edward Teller, at least,
there will not spring
any further ghastly surprises.
He has become glass without bubbles.
He has been struck on the Big Collider
—split, fissured, unharnessed.
And I will not curse him
for he has enough to worry about as it is.
by DC McKenzie
6 August 2k5
Umbra: or, poem that nearly was not
2 August 2015
“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?” ~Kurt Vonnegut
“The last thing we discover in composing a work is what to put down first.” ~Blaise Pascal
Some poems are fated to die before their potential, their full glory, is ever attained; in this way, as in so many ways I’ve discovered to my endless fascination, poems are much like humans. It may be that the Seed of Idea on which the poem depends never germinates, though we pour our life onto it; or that, like animals of the wild—including homo sapiens it must be admitted—they are abandoned due to some Terrible Trauma or similar ilk which Nature is so fond of handing out like a ruthless teacher with homework assignments; or simply because they smell wrong. Which seems ridiculous to you and I, but which is of undeniable mortal importance to a vast number of species.
This is one of a set of poems that came very close to perishing in the deep freeze of a year-long Writer’s Block. A state which to this day reminds me so much of what I imagine to be the outbound journey to aphelion that stellar bodies undergo in their gravitational orbits. Aphelion, that point which is furthest from the sun, is such an apt metaphor for the hell of chronic Depression, and concurrent Writer’s Block, that I find myself returning to its rich imaginative spaces for ore…the words that I process to fuel my life. Now that I have begun my own journey back to a poetic perihelion, the words have begun to trail out behind me once more…
But before the thaw, I had come to think this would remain a sad nebula of ideas and half-finished verses; a primordial soup lacking the necessary Promethean lightning. Digital debris destined never to produce a poem. Until a few days ago, when I found myself opening the old file. During the familiar alchemy of transferring it over to my working journal—ink and paper being capable of surmounting the sum of their parts in a way that computers never can—I stumbled onto the trail of uncanny ideas, and melancholy memories that had led me to begin writing it in the first place.
It’s an aspect of writing which authors are forever attempting to define, to describe—right in the face of our mandate to Show, Do Not Tell.
Yet, we do it because it’s so near to the heart of why we write in the first place. The alchemy of composition is honestly far more gratifying than the glory of seeing a finished, published poem, and it is also equally as personal.
That magic is what drives me to get up at four in the damn morning to scribble. I suspect that every writer, indeed every artist, shares this. Yet, in a vocation built on the finesse of description, it’s ironically one of the majesties of our art that most often defies definition. And, regardless of what labels are applied, in this bittersweet, ineffable Life you have to take your miracles where you find them.
Redhaired Amy daydreams
into smoke become nebulous in moonlight;
entwined Van Gogh-gyrations of gunmetal ghosts.
Undulating, with her haphazard smiles,
Amy drags the husks of dead stars in her wake.
Tonight Earth jealously eclipsed Moon. As we drifted
between Luna’s infernal lover, the sunlight unceasing
cast a ruddy blush upon her majestic face;
lest Moon, however briefly, forget to dance.
Amy smokes the way ravenous people eat
—all jaws and no tongue.
For hours on end, she stares ardently at Moon
as if her gaze tattoos love bites on ice-dusty peaks,
carves runes within secret, darkside craters.
If Moon slept
she would only feel safe
wrapped in the arms of Sol.
Redhaired Amy cannot live
away from the ocean,
but she will not swim.
When lethargy seizes her by the spine
her bones telegraph a rattle-a-tat s.o.s.;
her atoms become bored, they incite
subtle dances of cellular rhythms
and metabolic war cries
that only she can hear.
When we are honest
we speak ten thousand fragments
hammered from a cryptic core
far too brittle to be cleanly cleaved.
Each time we strike off misshapen shards;
which we string together like unfamiliar stars.
Until we finally stand in dismayed bewilderment,
listening to our own battering, forlorn echoes.
Head cocked, as if we cannot believe
such a din could ever come from us.
These poor words could never hope
to bear the loneliness we are dying to convey
—no matter how we burden them.
Amy has come to believe
that God sleeps when we sleep:
and that since there are so many of us now,
God is always sleeping.
Redhaired Amy breathes fire, daydreams into her smoke;
thinking that ‘reckoning’ is not
spelled with a W for a good wreason.
26 July 2k15
PS: My apologies, Gentle Reader, for the site’s editing program seems to have suddenly become stupid; or maybe it’s woken up, and is being obstinate. (an altogether horrifying idea, speaking personally)
So, if you dig this poem please drop by in a day or two and see it with its proper structure on.
Yes, it’s naked and shaky, but I simply could not wait to run it out of the pen.