Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Golden Age: A Performance Poem For Two MCs


MC One: Ice Cube and PE

MC Two: Biggie and Tupac

 MC One: LL and Humpty

 MC Two: Beasties and Pete Rock

 MC One: Dropping knowledge with BDP

 MC Two: Getting paid with EPMD

 MC One: On Broadway with Mix a Lot

 MC Two: Q-tip showing what he’s got

Both: They were scratching and cutting

 Flowing like nothing

 Like nothing could stop them

 Like no one could pop them

 The boots they were knocking

 The stereos pumping

 The kings they were rocking

 The bass they were bumping

 Man they were something

 Yeah, they were something

 MC One: Ice Cube and PE

MC Two: Biggie and Tupac

 MC One: LL and Humpty

 MC Two: Beasties and Pete Rock

 MC One: Dropping knowledge with BDP

 MC Two: Getting paid with EPMD

 MC One: On Broadway with Mix a Lot

 MC Two: Q-tip showing what he’s got



Josh Medsker is a New Jersey-based writer, originally from Alaska. His work has appeared in many publications, including: The Brooklyn Rail, OVS, The Review Review, Penmen Review, The Anchorage Press, Criminal Class Review, Haiku Journal, Everest, We'll Never Have Paris Greatest Hits, and The Zinesters' Guide To NYC. Since 2001, he has published the literary magazine Twenty-Four Hours (www.twentyfourhoursonline.org)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pictures

Her colossal enthusiasm
receding.
Her determination
stripped.
Her gentle exchange
stopped.

The pictures
cut like a pocket
knife. Grandmother
and the baby’s bed.

 How the steamer’s ladders
creaked and shuddered,
going to Paris, Italy… windows
open. Enclosed in coffee, liquor,
oranges and luxury.

(Note: This text of this poem is taken from Upton Sinclair’s novel, Dragon’s Teeth. It was created as part of National Poetry Month/Found Poetry Review’s Pulitzer Remix project. The words are Mr. Sinclair's, but their order is my own)


Josh Medsker is a New Jersey-based writer, originally from Alaska. His work has appeared in many publications, including: The Brooklyn Rail, OVS, The Review Review, Penmen Review, The Anchorage Press, Criminal Class Review, Haiku Journal, Everest, We'll Never Have Paris Greatest Hits, and The Zinesters' Guide To NYC. Since 2001, he has published the literary magazine Twenty-Four Hours (www.twentyfourhoursonline.org)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mr. Grossman



Mr. Grossman
By Elizabeth Dunphey

I wonder if Hanover will ever die.
If this one will just sit on it’s laurels,
A real classy joint
This Ivy College
High on the hill, some white paneled hotel
 to lure in ingenue sophomores
All of it beautiful: part hedon, part angel.

A perfection of icicles
Such unrivaled and terrible snow sweeps
The hill, the river, the thatched homes
Like Dr. Seuss’s evil Grinch.

Dear Buck (I write in my diary to a nice boy)
Forgive my
Transgressions and the sins of the rich people.

Mr. Grossman has engulfed my little life
and if I never write a book like his,
At least he kissed me.

The man I loved
Roney Grossman
His grey blue eyes
Some imposing fire
Piercing through your lies
His ancestors survived concentration camps
The beautiful and imposing nose
His book: Miss Jane’s Sugar.
Sweeping over out one night together
Like brittle leaves in fall.

But this was winter
To keep the facts straight
Christmas Eve
Bitter ice
With Joni Mitchell playing at the party in this rickety bar in town.

I drink Scotch because I am one sixth Scots-Irish
And half Caribbean with long dark hair
And smoky eyes
Roney drinks nothing because he likes to be in control
His flattery never ends
Spins like a dervish
And I fall into his arms that night
Though he’s 65
Older than the aged mahogany tree on campus.

We kiss in Ronny Grossman’s convertible
And I flee quickly
As he tells me:
No woman could ever be a poet like him
Nor anyone as good as Frost.

I reel from his academic phrasing
And cry buckets in my cottage frosh dorm
All at once my innocence capsized
that freezing indifferent night
I suppose I was just pretty.

Like those beautiful good American girls named Amber
Crystal, Rachel, Madeline and Lila
Girls who took it on their back
And at the dining room table
As if the 70’s had never happened

Later, I dialed that boy from home
Buck Mancuso
An Italian boy
Dark eyed
Very nice looking
But he hung up
He had another younger girl on the line again.

I drowned my worries at a Dartmouth frat party
Pure tension
Heaps of beer
Mean, rich, gorgeous boys swaying all lazy
In the corner
Their WASP whiteness, their power
Their Saabs, the hot ticket.

I watched the purple bonfire
And gazed at American kids everywhere
Drinking, leering
So aggressive, so cold
It reminded me of an amazing  book by Art Speigelman that I read once
A comic about the Nazi cats among smaller rats
Something wicked and powerful
Something bigger
And when you’re the biggest, you win.


Elizabeth has modeled, written stories forever, and loves winter.  Read more of her in the Eunioa Review and Milk.

Thank you for reading and your support.  This would not be possible without you!

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If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or anything else, please feel free to contact me at: LukeArchaism@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hidden Mass


Hidden mass

cherished and overgrown.

Hidden mass


awkward and confused.

Hidden mass

expanding in all directions (at once)

exotic and amazing experiments

expanding and contracting (in on itself)

until hidden.



Josh Medsker is a New Jersey-based writer, originally from Alaska. His work has appeared in many publications, including: The Brooklyn Rail, OVS, The Review Review, Penmen Review, The Anchorage Press, Criminal Class Review, Haiku Journal, Everest, We'll Never Have Paris Greatest Hits, and The Zinesters' Guide To NYC. Since 2001, he has published the literary magazine Twenty-Four Hours (www.twentyfourhoursonline.org)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ESTATE SALE! Today 10am-3pm



Little old ladies wonder the vast street shuttling floor lamps, empty picture frames, and souvenir tchochkes to their cars lining the road.  There’s a man bartering unnecessarily over a $2 pan in the garage.  The sleeves on his flannel shirt are at least three inches too short.  In the living room, a professional-looking couple evaluate an end table.  I’d love to tell them what my cousin did on that piece of furniture about ten years ago, but I don’t.  I wave to my uncle.  He’s eating a half-wrapped fast food burger.  “Hey, here’s da paperwork.  That should be ‘bout it.”  I hand over the documents and he scrutinizes them.

After Grandpa died, relatives swarmed and started to bicker.  I’ve been couch surfing since my uncle moved in “to take care of things.”  When I moved out, he oversaw my packing to make sure I didn’t take anything of value.  The whole bunch of them act like Grandpa was a noble member of the ancient landed gentry or something.  I’ve seen the finances and no one seems to believe me when I tell them “there’s nothin’ ta fight over.”  That just leads to my aunts accusing me of stealing some mythical treasure chest secretly buried under one of the rose bushes.  So, when everyone moved in, I moved out.

“Where ya off ta now?”  My uncle crams the last quarter of the burger in his mouth.  The grease on his fingers notarize each document in his filthy hands.

“Uh, not sure yet.  But, I’ll give ya my contact info when I know.”

“Why?”

“Mmm…” Good question.  “Just in case, I guess.”  No longer interested in our conversation, he starts harassing some woman who is apparently touching the cheap flatware too much.

I take one last look around the house.  How many nights did I fall asleep on the floor gorging on popcorn drenched in butter?  We’d watch old Westerns where “good” always triumphs.  A grizzled man lugs up a toolbox that’s been in our family for five generations.  It’s labeled “$3.”  Most of the rooms are bare and echo with the slightest sound.  The vultures circle around the last bits of the estate.  They tear and gnaw at anything of perceived value.  It is what it is.

Exiting the propped open front door, I park my ass on the stoop.  I’m not quite ready to leave.  The intensity of the sun beats down with a blistering heat.  It’s been a long, dry summer that has scorched this once beloved lawn.  “1…  2…  3…  Rrr!”  Down the street, a couple of scrawny kids heave my old amp into the back of their pick-up.  I stand up almost in protest.  They toss my guitar into the back and take off.  I’m done.  The golden grass of the subdivision crunches under my feet as I lazily drag my shoes to Main Street.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m meant for something if only I knew what.  The speed limit is only 35 mph, but I watch as almost every vehicle does at least 50 on this country highway converted into a sprawl collector road.  What are they in a hurry to get to?  I have no place to go.  I take a seat on the curb at the gas station on the corner of Brown Boulevard.  A grey box covered in beer and cigarette ads.  Again, I’m asking, “what should I do?”

“Nice shirt,” says a young man in a hoodie and punk band t-shirt.  He packs his cigarettes as he rests against his rented moving truck.  “Didja make it yerself?”

“Yeah.  Thanks!”  He doesn’t seem eager to get back on the road.  “Where ya movin’ ta?”

“Ta Portland.  My friends say they can get me a job out there.  Had nothin’ else goin’ on, so I boxed up everythin’ ‘nd took off.  Whadda ‘bout you?  Goin’ somewhere?”

“Umm…  Yeah.”

“Cool.”  He reaches through the moving truck window and grabs an energy drink.  “Where ya headin’?”

“Haven’t figured that out yet.”

“Really?  Well, if ya wanna ride with me, ya can.  I could use da company ‘nd ya can get out at any time.  Gonna warn ya: this piece of shit doesn’t have a/c or a radio.”  He kicks the tire in contempt.

“Thanks, but I can’t afford da gas ‘nd all.”

“No worries.  I got that covered awready.”

“Are ya sure?”  He nods.  “Okay…” I brush myself off and climb into the passenger seat littered with all kinds of junk food.

“Let’s go!” and he peels out (as much as he can in this clunker) onto Main Street.  He cuts off a couple of cars.  “Don’t worry, I got da insurance on it.”  Black smoke billows out of the exhaust pipe as the engine trembles.  I keep my eyes on the endless prairie ahead.




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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hospice



All of this is meant to calm me.  To trick my senses into thinking I’m in someone’s living room.  There’s a fake leather couch facing a fireplace with silk flowers lining the mantle.  A half dozen easy-to-clean pleather chairs are scattered throughout the room along with charming lamps, plastic floor plants, and strangely useless tables.  The wall art seems expensive and devoid of any meaning.  The only object on the far wall is a sliding window.  On the other side of the glass isn’t an ideal aristocratically manicured lawn, but a middle-aged woman under the crush of paperwork.  It’s an obvious ruse hidden under the smell of lavender.

“Are you the grandson?” A stocky woman with broad shoulders and puffy blonde hair asks.  Her blouse is a field of cartoon flowers.  I nod.  “Follow me, please.”  She kindly speaks to me, but I’m not listening.  I’m just worried about what I’ll see behind one of these faux wood doors.  Behind this door.  “Would you like me to come in with you, sir?”  I shake my head.

I try to slow my breathing so air flows silently through my nose.  For some reason, it makes my heart beat faster.  My clammy hand clasps the steel door handle.  As I patiently push the door open, there’s a distinct repetitive beep and an odor that can’t be covered by synthetic lavender.  I peek into the pseudo-bedroom as quietly as possible.  The curtains, veneered headboard, and plain couch don’t comfort or distract me.  Under a mound of domestic quilts is my grandpa.

I wipe the tears from my eyes as I take a seat.  His face is even gaunter than when I last saw him this morning.  A machine appears to be doing the breathing for him.  He makes a strained gargling sound with every expansion and contraction of his chest.  There’s a continuous infusion of morphine into his veins.

Grandpa’s arm sluggishly rises under the blankets.  I feign a smile and my eyes are rubbed raw.  “Granpa, it’s awright.  Whatcha need?”  His vision is glassy and the eyelids barely open.  He can’t speak.  “Is yer arm uncomfortable?  Lemme help ya get it outta yer blanket.”  His arm is so fragile and unrecognizable from the workingman he once was.  I gently massage his forearm.  “I don’t know if ya can hear me or understand, but it’s gonna be awright.  I’m just gonna talk with ya fer a bit.”

Grandpa was in-and-out for the next few hours.  I’d sit quietly holding his hand while he slept.  When his eyes opened I’d chat about funny memories, the weather, and just anything that came to mind.  The nurses would check-in and I’d use that time for a bathroom break.  I’d avoid other patient’s families because I had enough sadness of my own.  After some quiet time, I’d return to his bedside. 

I carefully place my hand on his cheek.  “Granpa, I want ya ta know I love ya.”  His eyes can’t seem to focus as his head rolls around.  “Yer da best person I’ve ever met ‘nd I’m proud ta call ya my ‘granpa’.  I waited too long ta tell ya this, I guess.  But, I wanna thank ya fer everythin’ ya did fer me.  I know it wasn’t easy.  It’s hard ta sum up a lifetime of gratitude.  No matter what, ya were there fer me.  Fer that, ya’ll always be special ‘nd I’ll do whatever it takes ta justify da faith ya had in me.”  I lightly caress his arm in silence.  The sensation appears to soothe him.

I didn’t notice it was after 3am until the nurse suggested I sleep on the pull-out couch.  “Oh, thanks but I’ll go home ‘nd come back in da mornin’.  I ‘preciate all yer doin’ fer him.”  I put on my hat, thanked the other nurses on duty, and hit the street.  Grandpa’s my all-consuming thought.  I don’t care about anything else.  The front door was left unlocked and I pick up some of the mess that was made moving Grandpa into the ambulance.  It’s exceptionally quiet in the house as I brush my teeth.  I climb into bed and wonder if I should pray.  Couldn’t hurt.  The darkness in the room amplifies as I plead on his behalf to the unknown.  To myself.  The phone shatters my concentration and I know what they are going to tell me.  “Thank you,” I reply, “Go ‘head with da arrangements as planned ‘nd I’ll stop by ta sign da papers tamorrow.”  I didn’t sleep from the rest of the night.




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