VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Wolfgang Carstens

Message from the Editor

VOICES FROM THE FIRE will return on April 1st just in time for POETRY MONTH!

Heralding DFP’s Poetry Month Event focusing on Poets (we’ve got some stellar new poets and artists joining the fray) in VOICES…along with past titles, the launch of several poetry titles including the first volume of VOICES FROM THE FIRE !

Until then, I’ll be catching up on correspondences, committing edits like a mad man in an attempt to get ahead of this month to crash into the oncoming mayhem of May…

stay surreal

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: R.Keith

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Harry McNabb

Harry McNabb

Volleyball Touchdown Get Beer Money

I was looking out over the waterpark that is bigger than planet earth with my boy Colton, thinking about the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and thinking that this was probably how they felt when they thought about California.  Like they were home.  And I was going to go down the slide at my own leisurely, reflective pace, but my boy Colton, as a goof, pushed me.  And I said, “whoa,” for a protracted length of time as I slid down the waterslide, and I felt grateful to Colton for pushing me because, though I was taking the time to appreciate a moment, I was not living in the moment and he had seen that and forced me into the tunnel of the slide.  Maybe that wasn’t his intention.  Maybe it was just a goof, but I have the power to create my own reality so I was okay with what was going on.  I said, “whoa,” for a long amount of time until my lungs were empty, and, when I refilled them with air, I said “whoa” again, again for a protracted amount of time.

I splashed in the water at the end of the slide – big time.  It was sick, like a barbecue with All Terrain Vehicles.

When I opened my eyes and took stock of where I was, I noticed that I had just interrupted a girl’s high school water volleyball game.

“Hey, you ruined our game,” said one of the girls.

“Yeah, where do you get off, you hunk,”  said another one of the girls.

The high school girls were so hot, and they were wearing uniforms with short shorts.  I was speechless for a moment.

“Uhhhhhh.  Uhhhhh,” I said.  I sounded like Beavis and Butthead, but I was not waffling because I was a degenerate like they are, I was waffling because I really wanted to make it up to these hot young ladies.

“Spit it out, chump,” said another one of the girls.

“Uhhhhh,” I said, “uhhhh.”

“Let’s ignore this lame-brain,” said one of the girls.

“No, wait,” I said, suddenly reclaiming my ability to speak.  “I’ll buy you all beer!”

“You and what wallet,” said the girl.  She had obviously seen the tattoo on my breast indicating that I was of the peasant class.  I had received the tattoo when I was five years old.

“I’ll-I’ll score a touchdown,” I said, “I’ll score a touchdown and buy you all beer!”

The girls didn’t quite believe me, but they were excited by the prospect of a full-grown man buying them beer.  They were not old enough to buy beer themselves.

“Alright,” said one of the girls, who seemed to be their leader, “you score a touchdown and get us beer.  We’ll be here until 5 when our parents pick us up.”

So, what did I do?  I hauled ass!

I hauled ass to the football stadium where you could make touchdowns.  I ran really fast and didn’t get tired because I was in good shape.  Those days, in my youth, I was toned like a Ford Mustang.

I ran really fast all the way to the football stadium.  I skipped everyone in line, and they were like whoa, dude, that’s not okay.  I ran to the ticket teller, and said, hey bro, you gotta get me in the game.  And he said, naw dude you gotta wait in line for your ticket, and I said, no dude, I don’t want to watch the game, I want to play in the game.

He had a disbelieving air about him, but when he looked me in the eyes, and saw the electricity of truth there, he believed me.

“Here,” he said.  He opened the window and after rummaging around underneath the ticket box, he pulled out a jersey, a helmet, some football pants, and a pair of shoulder pads.  “Knock ‘em dead, bro!” he said.

I bowed, as if he were my sensei, grabbed the gear and ran into the stadium.

When I walked into the stadium the crowd was standing up, cheering me.  It was the greatest feeling.  Like winning World War 9.  I saw players with two different jersey colors.  One group of players was wearing white and the other was wearing black.  My jersey was the white color, so I went over to where the white shirted players were congregated.  “What’s up fam?” I said.  They said hey back.  They were lined up in a row with their hands over their hearts, so I lined up with my hand on my heart too.  Through the speakers in the stadium they played a familiar song.  It was the national anthem long ago for a country on planet earth called America.  It goes like this:

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,

O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

So, that was the song.  Everyone in the crowd cheered and I felt that, though I was a little ant in the fathomless universe, I had a key role in the marvelous machinery of the galaxy’s and all of its stars’ and planets’ revolutions and rotations, births and deaths.  A tear bloomed warm in my eye.  But, all emotions aside, I had to score a touchdown, convert it into money, and buy beer for a bunch of hot teenage girls.

My team lined up to kick the ball away and I followed.  The other team lined up to receive the kick.  I did what my team was doing.  I put my hands on my knees.  I knew that when that guy kicked the ball to the opposing team’s player, I had to get that ball, take it to the endzone, and score.  Time was running out.  Soon, the girls’ parents would come to pick them up and they would be gone, and I would not be able to hold their hands or kiss them.

The guy on my team who was responsible for kicking the ball ran forward and kicked it.  The ball sailed through the air and was caught by a player on the opposing team.  I tried to run towards him, to get him, but his team-mates were in my way, attempting to stop, or block me.

It was time.

Time to unleash the beast!

I floated into the air and was struck by a red bolt of lightning from the clear blue sky.  My body shook vigorously as the demon entered me.  To pay for things in my life, I had rented out my body to the demon, Amon-Ra.  Back then, he fully inhabited my body for two hours out of each day and paid me for the privilege.  You may believe that I resented Amon-Ra, but I didn’t.  He and I were cool, and sometimes when I needed help, he did me a favor.  Like at that moment.

Propelled by the super-strength of Amon-Ra, I tore through the opposing team’s blockers.  They flew out of the way like popcorn kernels.  Pop-pop, Pop-pop.  The player with the ball was scared and ran in the opposite direction, away from me, but I closed on him and took the ball from his clutches.

Amon-Ra retreated into the sky and the referee signaled a touchdown as I sprinted into the endzone.

The crowd roared.  I really wanted to party with them, but I had another party to get to.

I went over to the referee and asked him for my Touchdown Money.  He smiled, pulled out his wallet, and gave me fifty dollars for scoring the touchdown.  “Nice work out there, bud,” he said, patting me on the shoulder.

“Thanks, Ref,” I said, and I ran out of the stadium to thunderous applause.  Everyone was so happy, you’d think that earth hadn’t been destroyed.

I ran to the beer stand, which was occupied by a fat, friendly man.  “Hey, Touchdown Boy,” he said, “why didn’t you stay for the game?”

“Oh, I’m on a mission,” I said, “I need two cases of beer!”

He rang me up.  “That’ll be 51 dollars,” he said.

“What?  51?” I said.

“That’s right, Touchdown Boy,” he said.

“I’m a dollar short,” I said.  I was crestfallen.  I did not have enough beer to get the teenage girls drunk.

“Hey, what’s this mission you’re on?” he said.

I sighed, then looked at him, “I made a promise to some young women that I would make it up to them for spoiling their game twenty minutes earlier, and I thought that, I don’t know, maybe we could get to talking, and one of them, maybe two, or three of them, would make the Oath of Intent, to copulate exclusively with me when they turn 18.”

We paused for a moment.

“Man, that’s beautiful,” said the beer man.

“Yeah,” I said, “it’s just a fantasy now.  There’s no way they’ll warm up to me if they see I only have one case.”

“You can have that second case,” said the beer man.

“What?” I said.

“As long as I can get in on that party, man!” he said.

We high-fived and both said, “that’s what I’m talking about!”

We made our way back to the girls playing volleyball, carrying our two cases of beer.  As we came into view, the girls pointed at us and made excited noises.

When we reached the pool, the leader, the captain of the team said, “we didn’t think you’d make it!  That is so gnarly, to say you’re going to score a touchdown and use the money to buy beer, and then actually do it?  Oh my god!  I have to say, I am already seriously considering taking the Oath of Intent with you.”

So, we had a big party of beer.  Colton came down the slide and joined in.  He had been standing at the top of the slide, looking at all the waterslides on the planet, admiring them.  Lost in the moment.  He had fallen into the same trap he had helped me avoid.  I sometimes wonder, when you live in the moment, is it the thing you’re doing now, or the thing you’re doing next?  I have no idea.

It was a great party.  The girls enjoyed the beer.  When the parents arrived, I shook their hands and offered them beer.  While the girls played drunkenly in the pool, I had a serious discussion with the parents about their daughters’ futures.

I’m not going to tell you if anyone signed the signed the Oath of Intent with me.  A gentleman does not kiss and tell.  Go ask my wives!

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Michael Lee Johnson

I’m a Riverboat Boy,

Poem on Halsted Street  

As sure as church bells

Sunday morning, ringing

on Halsted and State Street, Chicago,

these memories will

be soon forgotten.

I stumble in my life with these words like broken sentences.

I hear and denounce myself in the distance,

mumbling chatter off my lips.

Fragments and chips.

Swearing at the parts of me I can’t see;

walking away rapidly from the spiritual thoughts of you.

I am disjointed, separated from my Christian belief.

I feel like I’m at the bottom of sin hill

playing with my fiddle, flat fisted, and busted.

So, you sing in the gospel choir; sang in Holland,

sang in Belgium, from top to bottom,

the maps, continents, atlas are all yours.

I detach myself from these love affairs drive straight, swiftly,

to Hollywood Casino Aurora.

Fragments and chips.

I guess we gamble in different casinos,

in different corners of God’s world,

you with church bingo, and I’m a riverboat boy.

No matter how spiritual I’m once a week Sundays,

I can’t take you where my poems don’t follow me.

Church poems don’t cry.

Vodka Omelette

Make it clear in my mind, Jesus,

am I whacked-out on Double Cross Vodka

or have I flipped out calling myself

Limburger omelet chef?

I hate question marks and angels

with crazed wings.

You know the type, John the Baptist

toking weed, stoned out of his mind, storyteller,

foul smells from poor hygiene, eating habits

open mouth, swallowing grasshoppers,

so silky, smooth as sweet honey.

Add 3 eggs in a skillet, Parmesan/Romano blend,

2 cheeses add-on, shiitake mushrooms, turmeric,

chopped kale, hint hot chili peppers, cheers.

Scramble me, I’m cracked.

I rock faith in jungle music, dance nude.

Everything is a potential poem to me.

My omelet, my life, my booze, master cook,

vodka

omelet

2:38 a.m.

Family Feud

 Break

in the rain,

thunderstorms;

bolt angular lightning

slithers away west.

Walking,

nanosecond flash

family memories,

personal,

revert,

tautology fault of style

acerbic chats

daggers in heart these words,

confused,

dicey dungeon sharp spike.

A labyrinth, ruined passages,

secret chambers, cellmates, now

for life.

Wind storms move away,

young willow trees natter—

smallest branches, still snap.

I am the Dustman,

Clutter Collector 

 Surreptitiously

I am the dustman.

I am this lazy spirit

roaming, living within you

weaving around your mind,

vulture consuming cleaning

thoughts, space, your slender body.

I feel it all day,

this night alone.

I am your street sweeper,

garbage collector of thought the alternator

village dweller, walkway partner.

I am key door holder to entrance

man, to Summit house.

For years of abuse, I am dust eater.

I hang high outside on lampposts,

edged inside on top wall pictures.

I dim your lights yellow inside out,

ghost inspector.

Inside I roll the house over.

I am a damp cloth, Mr. Clean,

I smooth over, clutter-free,

tick-tock clocks, books,

antique silverware,

pristine future furniture pieces

solid state advances

fragment mistakes etched in mind.

Investigations exacerbate our relationship

unhinged.  My snaking gets me kicked out.

I still remember those piled up old newspapers,

future books, scattered across your

living room floor.

Shake myself, scrape out a new home,

cheaper, exasperated.

I am the dustman; dustpan shakes out.

The Cruelest Month (call for submissions)

April is approaching….

April is Poetry Month..

.April is the cruelest month…

according to T.S. Eliot…

The above is not a poem…I promise my poetry isn’t that subpar even though it has the potential to be.

Dropping April 1st (this is not a joke) will be the first volume of VOICES FROM THE FIRE…to kick off poetry month even though it’s more than poetry. This full color deluxe and black and white volume will collect all the VOICES FROM THE FIRE entries from January all the way through the end of March…featuring a plethora of poetry, writing and art from all of contributing voices thus far.

Cover by VOICES FROM THE FIRE #1 by Dillinger

I’ve also learned a few lessons along the way in compiling an anthology, so expect slimmer volumes as the year progresses to keep costs down for readers.

In addition to that release there will be several more poetry releases, which I will gradually announce as we get closer to April…

Now to the fun stuff…you the reader and/or contributing writer, poet and artist…

First and foremost POETRY MONTH-

let’s talk…the format for VOICES FROM THE FIRE will change featuring three to four poets a week. Send your poetry, maybe it’ll get published but in conjunction I need to art and so artists…send your stuff as well for art is visual poetry and everyone likes pictures of…whatever…

SO Poets and Artists send your stuff for April

To begin each week though Dumpster Fire Press will be featuring poets and collections that have been previously published in the early month in which I didn’t know what the hell I was doing and perhaps didn’t do enough justice to promote. This is the month DFP makes amends.

I’m not forgetting prose writers either….send your stuff to be a VOICE as well, I like the original format of one poet, one artist and one writer a week.

Submission guidelines can be found on the ABOUT page.

Eventually you can wind up in the second volume of VOICES FROM THE FIRE….

Pending Covering to VOICES FROM THE FIRE #2 by Dillinger

This is just a smidge of what’s going to be happening this year…

There are a couple more anthologies planned which I will be making announcements for in the near future along with a chance to send manuscripts in along some pretty cool creative projects in the works and the stuff already planned throughout the month of July is rather varied and perhaps even mind-blowing…

Hoping to gather more voices so we can burn together as we grind through the flaming dumpster deemed existence.

Stay surreal

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Dillinger

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Paul Tanner

meat like him

lonely? oh aye –

he’s got: no job. no friends. no girl.

the benefits office boots him out after he’s signed the forms. the jobcentre tells him to get back out there. his local boozer is full of couples and families, and any singles in there are usually too young and/or out of his league (some middle-aged divorcee once struck up conversation with him, but he didn’t like her hairy arms). hell, even the landlady would rather he wasn’t home during the day … she doesn’t outright say it, but he knows … he’s not stupid. just because he’s jobless and single, that doesn’t mean he’s stupid, does it? does it?

so yeah: indignities fucking left, right and centre.

but in a supermarket? he can stay all day.

in a supermarket? he’s entitled to human interaction.

oh aye – he can quiz the shop workers on anything and everything while they try to work. he can demand help while the shop workers are trying to help others. and if he’s careful – if he doesn’t raise his voice too much or swear – he can even get away with a few little digs here and there. he’ll say:

oh, I just thought you’d know how many grapes are in a bunch, you know, since you work here? but don’t worry …

or he’ll accidently walk into a female worker while she’s bending down to pick up a crate and he’ll be oh so sorry, he didn’t mean anything by it, honestly …

or he’ll graciously allow you to suck on a mint at your checkout station, even though, you know, you shouldn’t really, and a more vindictive customer would take offence because it is a bit unprofessional, but don’t worry, he won’t say anything …

and the best part? they have to respond. they can’t ignore him, because after all, not to put too fine a point on it, or sound like a snob or anything, but hey – he does pay their wage, doesn’t he, by shopping here? never mind they pay their own wage, by generating the tax to pay him benefits, so he can shop here – it’s not like it’s all their wage, is it? they clearly have enough left over to date one another, and not have to share a kitchen with a landlady who hates them, don’t they? like, they all fell out of the womb and into jobs and sexual relationships, while he’s been cursed to wander the aisles of their workplace jobless and horny forever, which gives them a reason to be here working. when they’re not flirting with each other on their staff nights out at his local boozer, you know, as he sits in the corner sipping at the one half-pint he can afford? watching as they gyrate and laugh in front of him like the vindictive exhibitionist maggots they are? even though we’re all meat. whether you work at the blessed supermarket or not, they’re just meat like him and as easily torn, aren’t they, the maggots withholding their orifices and luck from him?      

so yeah.

he’s owed these recognitions.

they owe him recognition.

they’re obligated to thank him and apologise and laugh at his jokes and let him accidently touch them now and then and get a few digs in and nod along to his fascinating insights on how they can improve … aren’t they? because they wouldn’t be them if he wasn’t him.

oh aye – capitalism is his friend. capitalism is his only friend. it offers the warm bosom of companionship. it promises all the tiny sly societal revenges against the women who ignore him and the men who have it all, the men who have:

the women who ignore him.

the jobs he can’t get.

the slightly nicer rented abodes that he can’t afford.

oh aye – he can, and he will do this all day.

until of course, the shop workers beg him to leave. until they have to insist, in a calm and reasonable manner: please, we closed half an hour ago and you’re not insured to be here. please, we still have a lot to do. we can’t remove you by force, but we don’t want to have to call the police, when there’s so many other important things they could be doing. please, let us do what we have to do, so we can go home back to our loved ones, in our slightly nicer rented abodes?

and he has to be careful if he wants to return tomorrow, doesn’t he? he has to graciously concede defeat, and return to his lonely room, hiding from the landlady, and wait eight to ten hours before tomorrow starts, when they open again.

eight to ten hours studying the random items he bought, after much discussion. studying them for defects that qualify for a refund …

eight to ten hours mulling over everything that was said to him, and how it was said, formulating all the polite constructive advice he can offer the shop workers, to help them improve their customer service skills …

eight to ten hours alone with no women to accidently brush up against.

eight to ten hours looking in the mirror at his little slanted shoulders and receding hairline, comparing himself to that massive brute who works on the deli section at the supermarket. him, with his six-foot gym frame and shaved head, even though he has a really low hairline. that dark peak in the centre of his forehead, as if to say, hey, I chose to be bald, and I still look better than you, with those pale blonde wisps dotted about your skull. hugging and dancing with that Karen on checkout 7, his big hairy shovel hands pawing her curves for the whole boozer to see, while he sips his half-pint in the corner with a shameful little jealous hard-on. it’s for his benefit, that is. they’re mocking him.

everyone knows he likes Karen. she’s half his age and he knows for a fact her dad’s a jobless loser like him, he’s seen him at the benefits office. he’s looked at his crotch, thinking that dick spat Karen out. he got close to it once. they were standing side by side in the queue, and he leaned in close and he could smell the cider on Karen’s dad’s breath, and he said: I’d like to rape supermarket girls, me, and you know what Karen’s dad said? me too, he said, and chuckled between his yellow teeth. cider breath huffing out in yellow jagged lines. he wondered if he’d help him fuck Karen. maybe they could take turns. maybe he’d allow Karen’s dad a go. he got the feeling Karen’s dad would be down, the drunken dirty bastard. that’s why he’s always giving her fatherly advice at the supermarket. he’ll say: if you have a boyfriend, I hope he treats you right, while she processes his refunds. he’ll say: just milk, no alcohol for me, you know, to so she can compare him to her real dad, and realise, oh, he’s like dad, but sober. then she’d call him daddy. it would be so sexy. why can’t she see this? why does she choose to flirt with the deli counter meathead? and then it hits him: she’s getting back at daddy, by flaunting with her fellow supermarket workers in front of him. that’s what it is.

the ungrateful maggots! he’s the customer! he gives them a reason to exist, a reason to work and dance and fuck one another, and this is how they repay him? this is how they repay the capitalism that keeps them all together? 

he’s half a mind to tie her dad to a chair and make him watch as he sodomises Karen. then tie Karen to a chair and make her watch as he sodomises her dad. then make them fuck and kill each other. he’s half a mind, you know, if he wasn’t such a nice fucking person?

oh aye – another long dark night of the half-soul, it is. 

but finally, it’s morning.

it’s always morning eventually – sometimes he thinks he’s lived forever! – and he hears the landlady moving about in her room upstairs (she’s probably looking for her underwear. she’ll never find it) and the supermarket will be open soon.

so, he’s down the stairs, hands laden with items to return, head full of rehearsed conversational starters and constructive criticisms to dispense … and he’s reaching for the door handle when something comes through the letterbox:

it’s a leaflet from the supermarket. Christmas is coming, it says, so they’ve extended their opening hours!

he carefully pockets it within the big inside pocket of his jacket, so it doesn’t crease. he could put it on the mantel and pretend it’s a Christmas card from a loved one, if his cheap room had a mantelpiece.

it doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t.

oh aye – I love you too, capitalism, he coos, looking around at the invisible yet crystal clear societal construct all around him. may those ungrateful maggots at the supermarket see you value and mine, he prays, as he heads on out.

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Michael Grover

The Last Poem Of 2020

 It’s the final hour of twenty-twenty

& I don’t think Poets are gonna save us

Most of them last seen bragging on facebook

About winning a fixed fight

Afraid to look at the corruption

In their own ranks

Pyramid goes up to nowhere

But it sells big dreams

But I know Poets that would

Change the World if they could

Some of them still try to do it

It’s been a hard year

Nine months of isolation

Like a pandemic is just a bad movie plot

My hair grows long and wild

I miss my friends

But love the messages

They’re all out trying to save the World

& some stupid fascist

Tries to cling to power

Never sees that power is an illusion

Everything is impermanent

It reminds me of the Buddhist roommate

That I used to have in Philly

I would ask him how he felt about Bush

He would answer I know he is impermanent

Biting The Hands Of Our Gatekeepers

 Seems like the Poetic thing to do

They’re all like power drunk politicians

Full of thoughts and cons to take over nothing

Or maybe they were just busy building themselves

Ego, there is nothing bigger

No craft, no art, nothing

They will come at you so arrogant

They can’t even look you in the eye

That’s fine, they’ll never see the whites of your teeth

Take a chunk, let the blood flow, let people see it

Let the blood flow, let it pump from the heart

Like words they can no longer conjure

Let it soak in

Biting the hands of our gatekeepers

Seems like the Poetic thing to do

It’s probably not going to free anybody

It’s probably not going to change anything

Food chains will still be food chains

Mafias will still be mafias

The Power structure will still exist

As much as Poets hate power

But you, the underdog took a bite of something real

Two Turkey Vultures In The Road

 Standing, puking

Over roadkill possum

From last night

Cloak of death

Black feathers,

Black feather hoods

Crown their heads

Natures scavengers

Part of the process

They step aside

As I walk the dog by

Then go about their business

DEATH BY PUNK: A Milestone

Today is a bittersweet release of DFP’s first anthology DEATH BY PUNK…

First the sweet before the bitter…About a couple of months ago I put out a call for an anthology that was going to serve as a giant love-letter to the spirit of : punk , DIY and counter culture in general with some fun existential stuff thrown in because why not…some of us never outgrew punk rock and Albert Camus…

I was taken aback by the amount of submissions and support from not only all over the country but all across the globe and what you’ve got is a majestic homage to all the above in conjunction with being the first anthology to be released by Dumpster Fire Press.

It all started out in my head as I was working an uptight corporate retail job when all of a sudden the phrase “Suicide by Punk” shot through my mind and simmered in my brain for days…was this a poem? A story?

Yeah I had a concept, even a loose story about a guy who fit the description above looking to end his existence via the execution from what he once was and maybe that story will materialize at some point but instead you got PUNK ROCK REAPER from me which was published by Punk Noir Magazine and is contained in the anthology.

Actually it was Dillinger, DFP’s official cover artist who really came up with the title…sort of…I don’t know…we may have been smoking an excessive amount of dope and drinking between chats here and there amid zany real life conversations concerning a pilot to a sitcom about 90’s radio that still needs to get fully written…

Anyway the man drew up some fantastic conceptual pieces for DEATH BY PUNK as he, I or both of us put it…(you’ve seen these)

Color version of Death By Punk Anthology
Link to the ebook and color version
Death by Punk; Black and White
Link to the much cheaper DEATH BY PUNK:BLACK AND WHITE

We’ve got several versions essentially… DEATH BY PUNK in all it’s original full color glory and an e-book version that is substantially cheaper.

Also evidently in a cool throwback and more cost efficient tangible manner we’ve got the beautiful DEATH BY PUNK: BLACK AND WHITE…

Now the bitter but don’t worry, more sweetness is coming…

A friend of mine back from the not really distant days passed away, our friendship was first based on political activism and as much as I’d like to share our story and most of the other things we had in common, I’m keeping it mainly private for him and his family. He was a good guy and I wish I could’ve been a better friend and I wasn’t…I’ve only recently stabilized my self over years of reeling from one tumultuous period to another. I don’t know exactly what happened to him and I’m certain I’ll never find out.

My most recent memory of our last in person encounter was a rowdy night listening to our favorite bands, babbling the body politic and sharing a mutual love for one another despite our faults as comrades and friends.

Before we departed, he hugged me and wept after a huge confession regarding things that transpired in his life and apologized for everything that had happened to me over the years, including my mother’s death and everything that came crashing down afterwards. Told me I was a good man which I sometimes doubt, because deep down I don’t think I am.

It felt like a final farewell…of course we still talked. Always a fan of my work which I still grapple with people enjoying…he was thrilled about the upcoming release of DEATH BY PUNK…

Now the sweetness…We were both the same age, and his passing is affirmation for how to live my life and to continue to do so in the same manner, maybe with a little more gusto towards progressive political activism…it’s been more than a while…

I can’t compromise on art and making a living anymore…this a calling and I owe him and others…

Lastly…I’m glad I can give him a send off he’d appreciate as private and reserved as it is…

“Ben, this one is for you…”

Glad to I could spill my guts and hope anyone who reads any format of DEATH BY PUNK truly enjoys it. Normally, I’d share a few excerpts….but this unfortunately isn’t a shameless plug.

Stay surreal…