From Potato Head Journal
Friday, August 19, 2022
Proud to be included in the last issue of Deracine
i find you taped to his walls,
paper -thin & only a sketch,
as if a work -in -progress.
beneath my feet
the crunch of pencil shavings.
in the kitchen he's slumped in a chair,
eyes still as moth balls his skin ashen.
he must have died before completing you.
gently peel you down
carefully removing the adhesive backing
as if stuck to my own skin.
i carry you home trying to breathe life into you.
color spreads across your face
your eyes turning watercolor blue then it all fades.
exhausted, i quit. & i am left
with the blind wrinkled hands
that once fed you solid food.
Published at Lothlorien Journal
Five Senryu Poems
the two of you
of mad butterflies
we never click
underbelly of the sea
selling method sex
to men who can’t fly
By Kyle Hemmings
Saturday, August 6, 2022
from Fiction on the Web
From Cease Cows
Two Rare Flash
by Kyle Hemmings
When it rains, I try to sing in the octave of night. My voice goes funk-hoarse. It’s been raining tuplets & crazy riffs for three days & nights. It’s been raining droplets encapsulating tiny dancers, ones resembling Judy Garland or Gene Kelly. It’s been raining an old hardcore rain. Because of the rain, Zin & I are trapped inside on a dance floor. She tries teaching Fred Astaire grime & rave. But he insists on doing the Fox Trot with her across the floor of bodies fluctuating to a dub step of 190 beats per minute. He says “Girly, we’ll never get rich with proper dancing broken beat, but you sure have one mean funny face.” Zin insists that Fred ride her beat. Inside the club, it starts to rain.
The Acrobatic Dance
In a modern dance, she’ll love like a foolish princess miscoding dangerous mimes. He performs large leaps in a city of anti-Expressionists. With articulated pelvis & flexible spine, he’ll steal her polyrhythmic heart & her best foot thongs. Her side aerial view of dreamless pedestrians is: all fall & no recovery. They have such stiff knees. But her. She likes the swizzle & the round-off. The amazing handspring. Sex is contact, twist, release & surprise. After-sex is a forced giggle & a broken toe. A girl prettier than she will arrest him in a slow dance. With limbs isolated, with the gravity of her own weight & resistance, she’ll perform tricks solo. Or take a day job at The Watermelon Trust. She’ll be an Isadora without scarves or suicidal lovers. She’ll laugh at her own crippled nymphs.
Wilderness House Literary Review 4/4 — 1 — Kyle Hemmings Hunting Season
You drop hand-formed rabbit pellets, oval-shaped, dark, along rub lines and bedding areas. You do what papa says. Lying down in soft grass, you wait for a lone buck to bed. The sky undresses itself, dons a nightgown of swirl, from the bottom up. Slow sundown. A sharing. Consider papa’s Interdiction: make your mark as a man or you are doe waiting to be hunted. Squatting, you make out the burly figure of your brother, cradling a .28 gauge in his lumberjack arms. Then disappears past a thick of red and white oak without mast. He will search for early scrapes from a mature buck, scrapes under a sweep of branches. Playing papa’s game. If he naps, papa will thrash and make him whimper. Such a strange pleasure papa derives from making men feel small as acorns. Your slow witted brother who is still a city virgin. You snuggle against your .20 gauge and swing your head, watching papa saunter in a northwesterly direction. Listening to his grunts and rattles upwind, watching him hold his human decoy--a head of medium sized antlers that will make a buck aggressive without fear of smack down. Papa loves to fake them out and soon he is gone too. That harbinger of all fake-out and doom to cruising bucks and coteries of sweet doe. You have this vision: a lone deer will remember your papa almost crawling through, but eventually succumbing to the smoke. The cabin on fire, his greasy heart and his careless matchsticks. That same deer, the one papa could not kill, limps in your backyard of chewed apples and leafless stem, night after night
From the Zin chapbook, (2013)
Poem: Zin’s 14th Street Demo
By: Kyle Hemmings
We are glitter-puppies in a dance temple of extended happy hour truths. Some of us will die in our distressed jeans. Who is the closet lipster with too many au cell phone lives? So wasted in those buckled high-heeled sandals & waist-tiered crochet shirt. On Wednesdays, the 70s disco night, I imagine her heart to be a sponge. On Saturday Classic Free Style, it is a terrorist on high pump. No cause for alarm. Everyone’s false eyelashes will fall straight, sooner or later. & the Bobbsey-Brothers are approaching Zen-Oneness to dub step & wobble bass. When they play Madonna’s “Beautiful Stranger,” I want to be a tramp stamp on someone’s misaligned spine. Or a compressed shadow with strong techno inclinations. Outside this place the comets are cynical & keep missing the sleep-deprived. I will hand over my skinny frayed self to DJ Pharaoh Sun-Rah. My body, all patch cords & re-mixed air. I could fly for an instant like a homesick bird with prosthetic wings. In the morning, we will make love to our stalkers in double-breasted trench coats. We will recall with true Platonic form how our lead-footed mothers gave birth to us in S&M dungeons. They had such crazy whips. We will turn to tiny glass gazelles scattered on the streets, crushed by taxis rushing one way.
The Music Room
By: Kyle Hemmings
At work, her father fights a losing war with paper men. Home, Zin imagines wind scorpion women without musical sense, exoskeletons in the morning, left-overs of love. Some girls are cursed with supernatural powers of hearing. She composes a boy of blue half-notes. Outside her flimsy wardrobe of snapback hats, mini-dresses with illusion stripes, a scatter of old dollar menus, she develops allergies to cacophony, to boys who can’t rhyme for a dime. She supplements her income by being a sexy sibyl to a star-crossed man who lives in the past. Walking alone on cold nights, the clouds are musical compositions by Russian virtuosos, exiled to her brain. Her father brings the day’s casualties home. It is he who is dead. She wonders where the souls of chocolate-covered ants go. Her musical boy hums in her head. She thinks: Live with me forever or I’ll tear up this score. In a recurrent dream, they make love with crooked fingers & white keys. Her father enters the music room wearing an army helmet. He smashes the piano with an ax. Zin wakes up with a stiff spine & cotton mouth. She can barely dress herself. The boy is gone or is he? There is almost a face. In the kitchen, the sound of spoons & knives clang against the sink & table. Together means her, her father & the empty chair reserved for the boy who wants to sing. Together, it will be a jagged melody of hope.
Poem: They Could Almost Breathe as One
By: Kyle Hemmings
Her new step-mom keeps losing herself in supermarkets, especially in the aisle that sells kitty litter or retractable dog leashes. She loves little dogs & homeless cats & admits freely that she herself might be verging on extinction. She tells Zin that she once dated a man who hated dogs, who used words like chain saws, who grew a double head in the night. How did you know who you were talking to? asks Zin. Do I know my right from left breast? replies the new step-mom. She’s a chain smoker & coughs into her own oyster soups, her fish stews made with snapper or grouper. Zin dreams of being food poisoned by fish that can no longer breathe. The doctor says only a lung transplant might save her. At the hospital, Zin brings her brownies that crumble like her too-skinny girlfriends who are always laughing at their pigtail knots that keep coming undone & leopard sneakers that smell of feet feet feet. Zin brings her vignettes of her silly boyfriend who keeps crashing his bicycle into walls, who sleeps with a set of stereo headphones to block out the night. Or she brings her warm pretzels that leave zigzag salt trails over the bed sheet. Zin says I’m going to give you my left lung. I think it’s the better one. Don’t ask me how I know. The step mom asks for a cigarette. She’s puffing, performing the pursed-lip exercises the nurse taught her. Later that night, she stops breathing. Zin calls her boyfriend to tell him that she had a dream of the doctors removing the wrong lung, of losing a sea of salt-water & blood, of her dying in the step mom’s arms. Perhaps dense in his own dream, he doesn’t pick up.
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
Published in Unlost Journal
When he first learned he could fly, Pigeon-boy blushed at the thought of hand-me-down wings. Yet, he learned to dance on street corners, laugh mid-stream at the thought of being lighter than an idea. Then he was hired to carry messages between lovers. The distances increased & Pigeon-boy grew breathless. Sometimes, he delivered messages to the wrong lovers. The notes read I love you, still, walking on air. Some receivers at the wrong destinations died in air-tight bliss. When this happened, the world grew smaller. One day, a morning where everyone carried some form of artificial sunshine in their pockets, of paper planes released from the sweaty palms of air controllers, Pigeon-boy delivered a note that read: I don't love you anymore. He fell from the sky. A girl named Yugi took him home, brought him back to life with her songs of flight. From then on, Pigeon-boy was wiser with air-time, more cautious about his fly-ways. He circled & landed only within her. In total, they never touched ground. Whenever she breaks open a Chinese cookie, the message is always the same--When the world is cold, stay indoors.
Last Night I Thought I Saw Virginia Woolf Walking Across the Thames
Your first and only lesbian lover is a chemistry student named Esther. You meet at a frat party where the cheese is free and the girls sputter their theories of love while pressing chilled wine glasses against their cheeks. At least one girl, named Penny, rumored to spread a mysterious social disease, gets up to puke. They find her body, years later, half-naked, in the backseat of the professor’s station wagon. He teaches myths of the Mid-East. But tonight, you find yourself lying next to Esther over your mother’s hand-knit blanket, laced with pictures of...little horses? Palominos? Your head buzzing from the wine, you freely admit you never did it with a woman before. “Isn’t it strange,” says Esther, “how my name almost rhymes with aether. You know, Aristotle’s fifth element.” Her voice is somehow desert-dry, falling in shafts, as if excavating old truths. Even when she comes up for air. From now on, whenever you make love to a boy, you feel heavy, about to gush white lies, cultivating the energy required to hold them. When Esther calls, you cry for no reason or for a whole chain-link of non sequiturs. The room spins whenever you are alone in the fundamental element called night.
Published in Atlas and Alice 2014
published in One Sentence Poems
Published in Connotation Press
For Catie Rosemurgy
It might take a while to get over you, how to put things back together without turnkey or worm screw. My Siberian Husky by the fireplace, one eye, ice-blue, the other-- bottomless amber. Here are some possibilities for a hook: the two most repeating digits I learned in school, the first girl who raped my idea of a love affair, chaste and sound, those platonic moors. Come to me, she said, after reading some obscure Victorian romance novel. I brought the guilt-ridden longings, the glue, and my mother's broken Japanese tea cups. Excuse me for my falsehoods is what I wanted to tell her in braids and plaid dress. She was too old by then, and I always fell in love with bright surface colors. But she taught me that I could be split in half. Like you, she walked away empty handed, but laughing, full of herself.
Monday, August 1, 2022
From the Miss tHing Poems --Justin Bieber's Hair (published in A Bad Penny Review)
True Confessions, Episode 6: A Dogwalker Gets Dogged (published in Subtle Tea, 2011)
TODAY, I actually believed in myself
for ten minutes. Told the bitch off,
her, standing like Trump ready to fire me
when I already fired myself. Shit. You think
she grew talons for sport or maybe
stocked up on mace for the Second Coming.
But I told her that from now on, she
can walk her own dogs and while she's
at it, take some laxative to keep her
occupied. Then I walked away. Didn't
take a cab. I took the wrong side streets
and it was alright. In my apartment off Tenth
Ave. I adjusted the thermostat, did about 33
jumping jacks to warm up, turned on some
black metal, but I wasn't feeling a righteous
shade of self-murderous. Then I snuggled into my
bed with the sinking frame. With eyes closed,
I was turned again to still life without
dreams, just the core of an apple the world
had already chewed and swallowed. But for
a whole ten minutes, I felt really good
about myself. Tired as hell, splayed against
the bed, I leashed myself to the mistress
of night. I knew the rules about no barking
after 12, in this dark open mouth
of a studio, the place where I always begin
and end without a job.
(published in Scars Publications, 2012, part of the Cat People Chapbook)
Whenever Pixie-Bob and Kat get into an argument, he will tear his pillow with a Shonen knife. He will threaten to love girls who work in bomb factories. Or he will sleep under the house with the goat-boys, made homeless under the city’s new urban renewal program. They are dreamless
and have no sense of mute beat. If things get too heated, Pixie-Bob will get lost in L-shaped rooms under streets and gear-grind, doing the Trip Hop before hookers having ticks and herniated discs. When he returns home, he will be in a trance. For days, all doors will be closed. But Kat being a girl-rapper trained in classical, will stand in the rain. This is not to say that every time Kat and Pixie-Bob argue, there will be rain. The rain is not logical, and contrary to popular opinion, has no musical sense. The rain does not say Take off your hi-hat and dance with me. The rain may not be there at all. It’s just that in the absence of the other, Kat loves to stand in the middle of a street, oblivious to sky peddlers and pimps on parole. She will throw her head back and open her mouth. She’ll convince herself that it’s pouring — it’s there. She loves to taste the meltdown of reflexive clouds, their nuclear sadness.
(Published in DiddleDog, 2011. From the Cat People chapbook)
My mother told me never to trust girls who speak from the side of their mouths. But Zin, with her rainbow bracelets and flat vans, can’t speak any other way. A creature of ADD and zip-up leather, studded belt and the next No Wave, has mistaken me for the last fuzz boy guitarist who dumped her over a groupie into Goth and 50’s horror films that are HYSTERICAL. So it’s Saturday afternoon in a life of endless afternoons, waiting for balloons to fall, or poppies to emit milky juice through terminal pores. I mean I’m bored. So Zin calls and says what’s up and yadda yadda yadda and I’m definitely leaving for school at the end of the summer and yadda yadda yadda and why is love such an ugly brute and yadda yadda yadda and I’m like Why not? So we’re standing in the throng of a Central Park crowd, sweating in our skinny jeans. It’s a free concert — Blackie Ghoul and the Undertones — who are from the Michigan area and formed as a high school band back in ’64 and who have since recorded three singles but can’t get picked up by a major label. And Zin is looking too cute with her chubby thighs and Ultra-glow pink lip gloss and I’m thinking of flowers falling but are they free? An announcer enters the stage and lists upcoming acts for the summer. Zin is whispering some crazy shit in my ear, like how she would marry a boy who was her best friend or some lines from her poetry like how the sky raped her but she lusted for the sun, or how the mushroom is not a symbol of the penis, it’s just a vegetable that grows in her poems and I say, Zin, like you’re tickling my ear. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Blackie comes on stage dressed as some glitter cowboy with shades. I’m starting to think what the Fall will be like with Zin gone. It was always a thing of Almost Love or there’s somebody else just a notch above you. Zin is bobbing her head to Blackie’s tune about devil women. Zin is holding my hand. Zin tongues my ear and smiles as if to say Fuck it, right? Blackie asks for a volunteer for his next song. But where is Zin? She’s joining a commune. She becomes a shadow underneath your everything. I’m having flashbacks of Zin on a tricycle. We even shared raspberry popsicles at the age of eight. Was it so wrong? I’m raking through the crowd. I’m interrogating faces. Where did you hide Zin? My mother’s voice answers: She will not be the girl you will marry, Honey. She’s been around. No, mom, she’s just a showy girl with too much black eyeliner. Inside she’s crumpled petals. I was always unripe. I push my way to the stage. There is Zin belting out a Blackie tune. There is Zin on stage, outrageous and flirting with the crowd, making them beg for her smile. There is Zin looking down at me. I love you, Raspberry, she sings. Marry me, I shout back. She throws her brassiere into the crowd and I jump into space like the guitar solo I never could play.
Horse with No Name
(published in Metazen, 2014, part of a Edie Sedgwick series)
So Andy was throwing this like monstrous dig at The Factory to celebrate the opening of his new film Beauty 2, which starred me & these two other guys & I was buzzed on something this freak with outrageously thick black glasses & in tight gabardines & untied Hush puppies, called Horsefly Juice, whatever the fuck that is & the ludes were still keeping my gravity on & Andy was talking to this cute photographer named Mitch & Andy kept ignoring me because he said he was sick of hearing me complain of when I was gonna get paid, he said Don’t worry, you’ll get your money, bunny, but I keep finding dead ants in my cereal boxes & in walks in Andy’s new superstar, Miss Ovid Blue, with her fucking hair
dyed what other color? Blue. & she’s greeting everyone like she’s the new fucking Queen of England with her size Z tits, the sequined gown clinging to her overstuffed figure like a mold she’ll have to live with, I mean the bitch can’t act for shit, like Antonioni or Wyler are really gonna cast her in some Tennessee Williams four-way street collision with lives instead of cars. & the bitch can talk up a storm not like she’s selling herself but injecting herself & she’s lousy street heroin. Somewhere in the calamity I loose a
fucking shoe & have to crawl under ten pair of legs to find it. Like I’m a fucking Cinderella but freaked. So then this guy shows up, one of Warhol’s studs with big dippers but their talk is all salty anti-climax. The guy’s name is Max or Sterling. I can’t remember. But he comes up to me after he’s done cock-teasing almost every male variety in the room & says Would you like to ride my horse? I’m like Are you shitting me or something? I didn’t know you could get turned on by a girl. So I keep turning away & he’s like No, you don’t understand. I have a real horse parked outside. It’s a nice night. Let’s take a ride. Anyway, it’s foggy in here. So I tell Stud have a nice day, but next time,
get some better acid that makes you hallucinate raccoons or butterflies in the middle of the night & he takes me to the window, five stories up, and sure enough, if girls aren’t all marshmallow & melon whore, there’s a horse! & he’s not taking No for an answer. So he drags me downstairs & after several times sliding off the gorgeous brown stallion, or whatever it was, I’m sitting with hands clasped around Max the stud not the horse & we’re fucking touring upper Manhattan at 3:30 in the morning! & maybe to show off, Stud actually gets the horse to trot down an empty sidewalk. & what people are left on this strange planet called Manhattan stare at us like we’re from fucking Mars.
Actually, I think they’re jealous. So I yell out, You want a ride? You want a ride, you marshmallow whores who will never get famous? When we get back to The Factory, so many people are either gone or passed out, some naked or making strange motions with their curved fingers in the air, like they wanna be cats or panthers or they’ve entered a new level of existence, maybe some bullshit karma stuff with levitating gods with hidden mushrooms & I go up to Andy & I say, We just rode on a horse. & Andy is like Please don’t interrupt me now. I’m having this really important conversation that will ultimately lead to the best blow job of my life & don’t you know it’s rude for little girls to be rude? & I’m saying No, Andy, it’s the god-honest truth. He waves me away. But it was, I swear, the best ride of my life, it was such a beautiful and elegant horse.