Friday, December 3, 2010

CombatWords, December 3, 2010: Degeneracy

CombatWords, December 3, 2010: Degeneracy

We're all in decline. We're dying. We're losing our value. Maybe we speed up the process. Let's hear about that. Booze and pills for the sloppiest of Joes and bad decisions for the prudes. Even those at peaks decline. Those in pits decline as well.

Combat Expiration: 12/6/2010, 12am PST
Critique Expiration: 12/7/2010, 12am PST. Grace period of 12 hrs for counter-critiques, to allow for rebuttals to last minute comments.
Bonuses/Penalties: +2 if posted by 8pm PST 12/3/2010, +1 if posted by 12am PST, 12/4/2010, -1 if posted by 6am 12/6/2010, -2 if posted by 12pm 12/6/2010.

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  1. Thursdays at the Hairy Monk

    Loneliness is warmer
    in the company of strangers
    and cheap whiskey;
    Irish, scotch or sour mash,
    no matter.

    In ten hours
    we will pour ourselves
    back into whatever chair
    we die in day to day.
    For now the drinks
    and sociable depression
    are better than isolation
    and personal integrity.

    I remember when I believed
    in something more,
    God, country, love
    or some other bullshit;
    life experience
    is really overrated.

    I can tell the hour
    by the neck line of the woman
    at the end of the bar.
    If she doesn’t score soon
    her tits won’t have enough
    cover to stay warm.

    there is a husband
    or wife thinking
    that there must be
    something better out there.
    Text me
    and I will bury that
    beside Santa
    and the fucking Tooth Fairy.

  2. Dutch Elm

    When the old man died,
    the spell wore off
    and the real boy reverted to his original state.
    At first it wasn’t so bad, but as time wore on
    his health started to decline. He itched,
    his skin crawling worse than a strung-out dope fiend’s.
    Dr. Bartolucci was of no help,
    but he referred him to a tree surgeon
    who nodded sagely and said,
    The fumigation rid his body of pests,
    but also killed his cricket friend
    and left him feeling rickety, deranged.
    The pesticides had warped his sawdust brain.
    He started to hit the sap hard
    and took to self-mutilation, carving his father’s name
    over and over again in the bark of his arm
    until it started to splinter.
    He didn’t even notice when the mushrooms started to sprout.
    He began palling around
    with a dummy whose ventriloquist
    had mysteriously vanished.
    They frequented a certain house in Little Moscow
    where he fell for a matryoshka.
    He bragged to the boys at the bar
    that she was “deep,” her personality “layered,”
    that she loved him for his...well, you can guess.
    Only after she left him did he learn what she’d shared with him.
    By then it was too late.
    His landlady found him, the hatchet wedged deep
    in his knotty head.
    She slammed the iron door of the stove
    without even reading the goodbye note carved into his chest
    and lit the kindling,
    cursing the dampness of the wood,
    the greasy, unsavory smoke
    that filled the air as it burned.

  3. A Dandelion of Disgrace

    Food and films as a fire crackles and flares,
    detergent blazing invisible chemtrails in the air.
    Paint-spattered, shapeless sweatpants and a fleece,
    bare feet, clean face, everything neatly in its place.
    Scented candles and a low, rumbling purr as I sink
    my fingers into fur and think “it really doesn’t take much
    to make me happy”.
    But I learn nothing of worth that way, keeping the world at bay
    being well-behaved and saving face. So I waste time
    in worse ways, clocking up stories of disgrace
    that will drift away like dandelion sails
    when my lifebreeze fades.
    My lungs will fail eventually so to speed up the process

    I hand in my notice and smoke noxious nicotine
    cloaking clean, cold night air with an ermine coat.
    That’s how you know you’re in control of the plane
    as it hurtles towards the inevitable rocky cliff-face.
And blood’s too good to wait for cancerous rust
    so why not make it a cocktail of dancer’s drugs?
    Fuck, if I can find a willing partner
    then fuck it and fuck it harder.
    Words are gifts, bestowed upon unappreciative gits
    who’d ask for receipts to exchange for more shit they don’t need
    so I talk like it’s Christmas and argue at funerals
    racking up points in Roman numerals and giving the Christians
    fuel for the furnace that fires their central bleating systems.
Each night is a lecture in debasement, lessons of how low

    I have to go before I know
    why it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

  4. We went out searching for Mary as the snow started falling. We had received no SOS and had been greeted by radio silence for years. Our chances were slim and we did not know where to start, but we knew that finding her was our only hope. We shared a look of determination, as snow swirled around us in a current of yesterdays yearning to melt into black sludge on the ground.

    Cold fingers were gripping the heart of the city, and the blood flow to the extremities had ceased hours ago. People were standing still all around us, mouths open, the paralysis of the sky spreading from face to face.

    My jaw was set and so was his, although his tail was still held high. The pockets of my parka were filled with the necessities of the search – mobile phone, batteries, flashlight, beef jerky and liver snacks. My boots yearned to tread the sludge, and his paws had been carefully rubbed in a special ointment to protect from the cold, salt and moisture.

    We were searching for Mary, but we did not know where to start. We had not heard from her for several years, and the reason we were in this city was no reason. She had last been seen here by us, but that didn’t mean that she had not been seen later by somebody else, someplace else. We shared another look of determination, I nodded at him and we set off.

    People were standing still all around us, mouths open, bodies frozen solid already, and we navigated the street carefully. We knew that to touch them was death. To understand them was death too, and when he lifted his leg, letting the yellow stream hit the frozen black suit pants, we became slightly more human.

    The snow was still falling, and we were no closer to Mary. Then the disaster happened. My hat got caught on the outstretched claws of one of the frozen bodies and a snowflake hit my forehead, melting. The wetness brought back the memory of digging his grave and I realised that he was gone.

    I was alone in the city, the only warm soul left and I was cooling rapidly. I was no closer to finding Mary. I was no longer sure why I was looking for her. It was getting hard to move. People were still around me, frozen solid.

    I whispered: “Where are you Mary?”

  5. Boy, I really like this batch so far.

    SMG: While this doesn't really rise from the cliche of the desperate folk sitting at the bar, it effectively expresses that desperation, and made me smile, however grimly, with commiseration. At 1st I didn't like the ending, but then realized that its snarky dismissive tone is consistent with the voice you've established. A big "fuck you" from the end of the bar.
    liked +1
    "life experience is really overrated" is such a fucked up, yet accurate sentiment, stated nice and bluntly +1

    Nay: I love the punchy, rollicking movement of the language, which counteracts the feeling of ennui, making it feel like you're battling it rather than giving in to it. I can hear this being read aloud. I would like it all to have the great rhythms you achieve in the lines following "so I talk like it's Christmas." This also bounces off SMG's piece nicely.
    liked +1
    great combination of comfort/destruction +1
    "so I talk like it’s Christmas and argue at funerals
    racking up points in Roman numerals and giving the Christians fuel for the furnace" +1

    forpuck, this is wonderful; I love the mystery and dread evoked by this piece. My only quibble is that it's a little wordy, you can streamline the language some. I kept thinking of the song "Waiting for Mary" by Pere Ubu, though that's not really your fault.
    liked +1
    excellent atmosphere, reminds me of a French symbolist prose poem +1

    Very, very nice job all.

  6. thanks rToady. It's written as a spoken word piece and I'm trying to get a friend to make a track to lay this on, which is why I wanted to create the repetition in the text, coming back to certain images again and again. As for the mood, I'm very happy that it communicates.

  7. @forpuck That could be really interesting. What kind of music are you going to use?

  8. rToady: We're both huge Alan Wilder/Recoil fans, so it would be something towards that direction. However, he's very busy and hasn't even respondent, so it's not likely to happen, I just wrote it with that in mind...

  9. Howdoo...thanks rToady, glad you enjoyed it. Funnily enough the "Roman numerals" line was the one I was prepared to get some flak for. Pleased that gamble paid off!

    I'm just about done with a hugely irritating article for my blog and then I'll be cracking with the critiques...really strong efforts this week, well done guys.

  10. I'm gay for rToady. It would be disingenuous of me to act like I didn't completely love your poem.

    I know it's late to post, but I'm going to anyway. This theme is too tempting for me.

  11. The mattress wicks my illness
    Gallons of sweat sucked deep to its creaking core
    I live in a dent, a small version of a crater
    As if I am some sort of fallen meteor
    There is a strip of pictures on my bed stand
    Of me from years ago
    Making faces in a photo booth alone
    I like knowing it will be there when I'm dead
    Like the constellations of star graveyards in the sky
    Proof through faint flickers that something once shone
    Somewhere in a pile of papers I have asked to be burned
    Upon my mattress full of fuel
    Like some sort of viking
    Who traveled great distances upon his ship
    Arrived at shores lined with savages
    And eventually died in battle
    Having finally found
    Something worth dying for
    Through the fever I dream
    Of lit arrows streaking the sky
    On their way to my funeral pyre
    In a life sapped of romance
    This is my poetry
    To finally be consumed
    Burning brilliantly for once
    Blotting out the stars for a moment with smoke
    To be the point of focus for eyes not my own