“Goldilocks at the Rubicon”
A Walk in the Woods
There was a car crash. One of those accordion-style pileups. Black ice. The cars were still skidding in, adding to the damage. I saw her trapped in the middle of it all. Blue-gray car. Make smashed out of all recognition. She was screaming. I was trying to get onto the motorway, but had to keep on leaping back over the barrier – scrambling down the embankment – every time another car came gliding in. There were people running out onto the motorway, waving, trying to get the cars to slow down, before the inevitable next vehicle skidded in, but they were simply coming in too fast.
Every time a car hit, and the ricocheting movement started, the woman would scream. Of course, others screamed along with her, but her scream was the most prolonged and the one which sounded most desperate, as though some part of her was trapped. Of course, she was trapped, otherwise she would have got out of there. A middle-aged man was filming the cars coming in, on his mobile phone. There must have been thirty cars involved as well as one HGV. At least thirty people (myself included) must have called emergency services, who else would they have been calling? Ten minutes must have passed since then. Where were they? The ambulances, the police, the fire brigade, the Automobile Association, the Royal Automobile Club?
I went over to the guy filming.
“I’m going in,” I said.
“You must be nuts,” he said.
“Shout out if you see something coming, alright?”
“Will you please shout out?”
“Sure. Sure, I will,” he said.
I climbed over the barrier. Looked back.
“Clear!” he shouted.
I started clambering over the cars. One colour after another. An artist’s palette. She was still screaming intermittently.
“I’m coming,” I shouted.
“Clear!” the man shouted.
“I’m coming,” I shouted.
I was on the bonnet of a white Saab. There was a yellow car in front of me, a 2CV; I didn’t know they were still going, well, this one wasn’t.
“Clear!” the man shouted.
I saw her clearly, the woman in the blue-gray car. A redhead. The colour combination didn’t work.
“I’ve come to help you,” I shouted.
“Car!” the man shouted.
“Brace yourself!” I called.
I clung onto the roof of the Saab. I heard the incoming vehicle crash, but it was a dull kind of hit and there were no reverberations. It must have managed to slow down some.
The 2CV was partly lodged into her door; I climbed over it, there wasn’t much left, and onto the roof of her car. She stopped screaming.
“Clear!” the man shouted.
I got down onto the passenger side of her car, opened the door and got in. It was a Golf. She looked at me. I looked down at her trapped knees.
On what remote frontier of heaven and hell
Shall time allow our divers ways to meet?
“You’re not the ambulance people,” she said.
“No,” I said.
“Then what … now what?”
I wound down the window.
“Clear!” I heard.
I took off my tan leather jacket and put it over her legs.
“We wait,” I said.
“I’ve already been waiting an hour,” she said.
I looked at my watch.
“It’s only been fifteen minutes since the first pile up,” I said.
She squinted over at my watch. A Hamilton with no second hand.
“You sure it hasn’t stopped in the crash?” she said.
“I wasn’t in the crash,” I said, “I was over there.”
I pointed past her head.
“In the woods,” I said, “Looking at the new buds. Trying to find the three-hundred-year-old oak tree.”
“Walking?” she said, “In this weather? It’s freezing out there!”
“I had a flask of coffee with me,” I said.
“Truck!” the man shouted, “Truck! Get out of there!”
“Better brace yourself, this could be a bad one,” I said.
There were a few seconds of silence. A real calm. Then it struck. Like thunder. I heard the grinding of metal. Other hits. The accordion being squeezed. The noise getting louder and louder.
“Brace!” I shouted.
“Fasten your …” she said.
We got hit. We moved. The yellow 2CV seemed to move backwards. A black Mercedes – driverless – shot by my window. Another car, one of those small Italian jobs, possibly electric, crunched into the passenger door of our car, pushing me over closer to her.
“Well, this is cosy,” she said.
“Clear!” the man shouted.
I could hardly hear him as there were still noises going on ahead of us. And screams, though it was easy now to figure them out as the screams of spectators, rather than the screams of participants or participant observers (as I took myself to be, not quite prepared to admit I was in the mix).
“I think I can move my right leg,” she said.
I lifted my jacket and looked down. Her right leg was gone.
“It’ll need a bandage,” I said.
I took off my tie.
“Bit thin that, isn’t it?” she said.
“Sixties-style. I’m a bit retro, I’m afraid,” I said.
“Shouldn’t we just try and make a run for it?” she said, “What’s up, can’t you get the other leg free?”.
“Best that we stay here till help arrives,” I said, “Now, you hold the jacket and look out of the window, while I …”
I got the tie around her thigh and made a tourniquet. There was blood all over my hands. I wiped my palms on my pants. I took her hands in mine – she seemed suddenly a little paralyzed – and I made her lower the jacket.
“Clear!” the man called.
“What’s your name?”
She turned towards me, her wild ginger hair all over the place, as though we were under water.
“You know, I’m an awful snob,” she said.
“Me, too,” I said.
“You’re just saying that to be nice,” she said.
“Ambulance!” the man shouted.
I wound the window all the way down. You could hear it, its siren, echoing.
“I’m just going to get on the roof,” I said, “You stay put.”
“I won’t go anywhere. Promise,” she said, “Have we met somewhere before?”
“No,” I said, “Look, I’ll just be on the roof.”
“The Swedish ambassador’s?” she said.
“No,” I said.
I climbed out of the Golf and up onto the roof. At the back of the pile-up, beyond a white pick-up truck, there seemed to be a bank of ambulances or police cars. There were flashing blue lights anyway. An army of them. And sirens, an army of sirens. I took off my shirt and started waving it.
“I’m going to kill john compton who doesn’t use capital letters.”
Is a phrase I uttered over the summer as I agonized over the most jacked-up word file of all time, while working with a different publisher at the moment.
Presenting the second edition of john compton’s intimate and unflinching poetry collection POEMS: TRAINRIDE ELSEWHERE…originally shepherded by the dearly departed Bill Corbett of Pressed Wafer Press, Dumpster Fire Press is honored to bring readers the second edition of a poetry collection not be missed for the first and experienced again and again.
POEMS: TRAINRIDE ELSEWHERE… is definitely off the rails and takes you to a whole set of tracks and I’m stopping with the railroad references right now, it’s my own choo-choo-choice!
Ha! That was terrible, someone other than john compton, kill me!
There’s a history between friend and fellow poet john and I. Both starting off as editors for Concrete Mist Press and going into two radically different directions with a multitude of indie presses in the technical and artistic aspects, TRAINRIDE kind of brings us full circle as it is one of the four books including: THE GRIND, John Doyle’s LEAVING HENDERSON COUNTY and R. Keith’s HONEYDEW: THE CORRECTED TEXT that initiated the genesis of Dumpster Fire Press, which I’m sure by now people have somehow been able to cobble together.
Essentially this marks the end of an era and allows DFP to fully fly unfettered, as it ever wasn’t and as much as I want to relay the ongoing, tediously conversations regarding: line spacing, file formats, table of contents alterations…I’m not because everyone would believe john and I are secretly in love and the last thing I need to do arouse ire of a jealous husband.
So social awkwardness out of the way…I’m going to let the poet himself speak as well as the exquisite art of cover artist Megan Merchant.
[sonnet]: we fucked like drugs
we fucked, null, in the shower
until i bled. his huge cock
embarked through me—bore power
that i craved—his hands were locked
to imprison me. he pumped,
briskly, painful ecstasy
& i screamed & begged & felt
the great desire he dealt
like i was a whore, sleazy,
& deserving it. he cummed in my ass a blast of cream
so hot it burned within me—
he held me in that hushed dream.
his cock softened inside me.
Check out the link below, and as irritating as it could be, it was a twisted pleasure to work with john and an honor to follow Bill Corbett of Pressed Wafer. This is what small press is all about, not always about your own voice but continuing to render certain other voices are heard as well.
Also we’ve got some cracking manic things heading your way in April…Poetry Month…the Cruelest Month.
Windows, Horses Broken
Vandal remnants, an old sweeper of glass
in an ill-fitting smock, almost embarrassed to look up
as if he has faltered in some unnameable way –
windows, horses broken, three different colours of graffiti
which may suggest the number of guilty parties,
morning foot traffic walking by on the wide,
careful not to stare as though they too feel some
discomfited humiliation at the sight of a kneeling red dustpan
and the sound of all that shattered glass.
Gym Rats & Field Mice
She’s as stiff as an old lady
and I’m stiff as a young man.
You don’t want to have a problem with me.
I have a problem with me.
–It’s lots of mufflers in the sound.
–It’s gym rats and field mice…
“For twenty bucks, I’ll give you the best
damn Lorca you’ve ever had!”
Crushed Glass in Chow Hall
The uneven shoulder blades of the window
are captured moisture,
it is strange how you can’t stop thinking
about the inside while on the outside;
the other takes a lot less imagination,
something akin to conjugal visits and dog-eared
doozies from the prison library,
that slow-wheeling cart with many kites
tucked inside the books so everyone knows
who to kill and how which reminds me,
crushed glass in the chow hall will get you banned
from the kitchen, but not before what’s done is done
and since those charged with investigating
are really just investigating themselves,
there will be a single fall guy who almost
certainly had nothing to do with anything,
maybe he refused overtures so now you are just
killing two birds with one stone which is
always best when you can.
He would never admit that he drove around
all night looking for the right one.
That he pulled up to the curb and chatted the girls up.
His wedding band tucked into his sock like a pro.
That he met this latest one outside an impound lot.
I started calling her: Sloppy Jalopy.
Just to piss him off.
Insinuating that he may have had too much to drink.
That Sloppy Jalopy may have been a tranny.
Had an Adam’s apples large as the sun.
He got very angry.
Started defending her as though she were his wife.
Not that he had any problem with “those people.”
I laughed and poured him another drink.
Asked about his missing wedding band.
He seemed to be losing on many fronts.
Taking the thing back out of his sock
and putting it on his finger.
I could see the panic on his face.
Like this wasn’t the first time.
I’d hate to be you wife,
I’d hate to be your husband,
He had me there.
No one would want to be my husband.
Not even Sloppy Jalopy.
The best blowie
in the entire impound yard.
I hope you don’t plan to sell her for scrap,
He knew exactly who I was talking about.
As though I had been right there in the car
with them the entire time.
How he drove to the place she suggested.
The money up front and then down to business.
“The Memory Twins Huff and Puff and Rescue the Day“
Poem for Danny Baker
The world of real life, the raw urgency of the moment—
the taste of black coffee, of charred red meat,
the recoil of the Glock in your hand, the poem that forms in your brain—
waits for us beneath history,
its mysteries passed down through
generations in the currency of moments
so intense they annihilate time itself,
moments that can be suppressed, discouraged and denied by
the rules, laws, and regulations that hem us in from every side.
We adventurers track these moments through this world
as hunters track the most prized of prey.
As long as we have hearts in our chest
we will find ways to them again and again.
History is haunted by its own karma—
the moment of freedom, of real poetry
brings all its unsettled debts back into play,
to be discharged forever so life can really begin.
What we want now are moments so overwhelming,
so irresistible that
the entire control system of regulated life
melts before their scorching radiance
When the world ends,
white dust will fill the air like
the curtain at the end of a play.
A rain of desperate bodies will fall from the windows
of burning buildings, drumming the concrete below.
Men with splinters in their eyes
will stumble though the streets choked with debris;
women clutching babies
will pick through the rubble and tear out their hair.
Our generation will go to its
grave shouting its
last words into a cell phone.
Or perhaps it will arrive as a thief in the night,
step by invisible step. Factories
will disappear overseas and corporations
vanish into thin air, taking jobs and retirement funds with them.
Cities dying from the inside out will spread like ringworm,
the shrapnel spray of suburbs slicing through forest and field.
Wars will reach from continent to continent and neighborhood to neighborhood –
the terrorists won’t make peace with the horrorists
who would enforce it at any price,
who keep trying to impose harmony between oppressed and
oppressor with fear and fire power.
Gas prices will rise with global temperatures and tides,
acid rains will fall with the last of the redwoods,
computer systems crash with stocks and stock markets…
until one day everyone has cancer.
Or else nothing will happen at all,
business will continue as usual:
prison guards pace concrete tombs,
psychiatrists contemplate madness,
demons glare from the eyes of ministers,
consumers are bought and sold in the marketplace.
It’s after the end of the world, whispers the homeless man,
don’t you know that yet?
Others, mysterious and knowing,
who have held themselves aloof from the discussion
until now, finally interject: “Which world?”
Dawn breaks over the East River
The poet takes a picture
(for Puma Perl)
To the Guy Snoring in the Library
How can you – yes you!
at a time like this
with all these books
magazines, CD’s, audiobooks
reference books, dictionaries
yes you! at a time like this
snoring learning against the pole
you looked like you were studying
but it put you to
and I was kinda glad that
a guy who works at the library
woke you up and also glad
that I didn’t sit near you
even though I wrote this poem
The Butcher’s Broom
Of that ilk
of that sort
a tartness in wine
harsh and stiff manner
won’t work with
groups of peasants
tenants in common
occupying a cottage
and some land
a happy little coterie
clubs and society
sharing the same attitudes
passion for particular topics
a tight-knit group
persistent, territorial, consistent
the rise against
their eponymous estates
speaking, pleading, personifying
a fitting etymology
for things made
things talked about
things to change.
Starved for Correction
The correction fluid
lacks nutritive value
it’s devoid of
significant value or
interest and maybe
a little juvenile
or puerile … jejune
just like you
the bottle’s empty
I poured it
out the meager
hungry paper dying
to be corrected
will have to
suffice on morsels
or curb its
appetite a rarely
satisfying proposition but
all it’ll ever
get in emotions
caring, empathy, sympathy
from someone like
& Bukowski Are Waiting
And You’re Running Late
(In Memoriam For Gerald)
One Poet Enters
Handing Over The Pen
It’s the story of
The world the story of
Words the story
Of what makes a
Poet a human being
And makes a human
Being a poet
Their own voice
To each their own
Gifts to share
We have been
To heaven &
Drank in bars
For & against
But in the end
We all walk out
The same door
Beneath the big
Sign that says
Every morning comes in
A vision through
We have wasted
All this beauty
All this precious time
From the damned
As our souls still
Bleed for better days
She was the universe
The black hole
You fell into
I was once
A part of all
After these times
After these wrongs
I’m just no longer
From all my friends
The bars & the big
Bad wolf called
With the fabric
A Non Entity
Just a memory
Or a song
GENIUS IS A
DRUNK IN THE BASEMENT
About the flowers
Something about love
Shufflin a’lone gainst
The night &
The darkness once more
She’s a ghost
She’s the apocalypse
Taking away her burning love
In a broken world full
Of broken thoughts
Lighting up another
Cigarette in the dark
What does that
What hasn’t been
Said that hasn’t
God is in the trees
God is in the closet
God is all around us
Touch that holy
Veil muther fucker
Touch that veil before
But the devil
Is hanging out
In the basement
And that shit
Is pure genius
Than any pushcart prize
Made of gold
Genius is just another
Drunk in the basement
Talking to himself
To a bottle of
That’s right…DEATH BY PUNK is heading your way in April the cruelest month, just in time for Dumpster Fire Press’ colossal series of events to coincide with Poetry month…even the anthology is more than just poetry…
So send you punk, DIY, counter culture and/or death themed work to
if you feel so inclined to be part of this milestone for DFP, it being the first anthology…
also get a chance to overshadow editor in chief Mike Zone’s own subpar writing as an added bonus…
March 1st is the Deadline
You can also still submit the ongoing VOICES FROM THE FIRE rolling e-zine/blog, no theme required and if accepted wind up in an actual tangible anthology that may or maybe consist of two volumes a year…things are rapidly shifting in this small press world.
Oh and in April because I don’t have enough going on, I’ll be announcing a new anthology with another fantastic theme…
Stay surreal, see ya’ next week for the next installment of VOICES…