8/28/18

I have been feeling weird and anxious all day, and unable to place exactly what lay at the source of that anxiety. I’m in the middle of packing all my things to move and struggling to get an abscess tooth taken care of adequately with my inadequate state health care. I even lost my patience with an overworked healthcare worker today, saying “I have a fucking infection in my face, and all I want to do is get it treated without losing more of my teeth. This cannot possibly be this hard”. I almost immediately apologized and told the worker that I knew they are just doing the best they can. I’m just so frustrated having been trying to get this tooth fixed for weeks now. None of this is exactly out of the ordinary though.

Then I realized what day it is. My father would have celebrated his 80th birthday today had he not been dead for 24 long years. I didn’t know my father well. He worked tirelessly and came home exhausted and checked out nightly. He would eat dinner sit in front of the television, drinking and smoking until he fell asleep, only to get back up with the sunrise and do it all over again the next day. He looked old past his years, with strangers often confusing him for my grandfather. I didn’t realize until I was well into adulthood that my father had a drinking problem, much like his father before him and the dependencies inherited by my older brother.

Tonight I am thinking about all my friends. I am thinking of all the people I don’t know who I am afraid for. I am thinking of everyone struggling to care for themselves sufficiently. I am thinking of everyone I have ever loved who struggles to live well because they have always been told they only deserve so much. I am thinking of all the people who the world has a way of knocking down anytime they find a way to stand a little too tall. I am thinking about everyone I love who I worry is literally working themselves to death. I am thinking about low intensity class warfare laying waste to all the cities I have loved, making them uninhabitable for the people who made them what they are. I am thinking about the houseles folks whom Relic and I gave some things my emotionally abusive ex sent me unprompted for my 36th birthday to last night. I hope they liked that soft gray blanket and Joy Division shirt. I am purging things to move and they had been sitting in my room long enough, reminding me of the text messages that followed their arrival in the mail two winters past. “Hopefully you like them. The blanket was expensive.” Gross. I am thinking about sitting next to one of the great loves of my life earlier this afternoon, feeling wave upon wave of exhaustion exude from them, and feeling how much the potential of loss scares me even more as we go deeper, get more vulnerable, and as we get older, as if I held them tighter death wouldn’t be as much of a certainty.

I went for a bike ride in the late summer night until my heart beat right again. My chest has physically hurt with anxiety all day today. I am so tired all the time, and the wildfire smoke surrounding the Puget Sound has made it hard to want to exercise lately. I wanted to move my body and not tread down the path laid for me by either of my parents, ignoring despair and inertia. Though I do hope my father’s ghost rode along with me for a bit. I sat on the hill beneath the water tower waiting for the moon to Rise, listening to the music I have loved for more than half of my life. I listened to early Cock Sparrer LPs. I remember my how my mother hated the music and subcultures I was joyously diving into when I was fifteen. Inexplicably, she liked Cock Sparrer. “I think your father even would have liked this” she said.

Go figure.

The moon rose, full, ancient and yellow. I remembered a night so much like this one back home in Appalachia with one of the other loves of my life. We fucked in the cemetery, sweaty and joyous and in love. When we finished the mountains stood silhouetted by the moonlight and I felt the immediate sensation of someone having touched my soul in such a way that I felt like I had been here with them before.

My remembrance was interrupted by the kiddo walking up and taking a seat on the pavement next to me. We listened to a few more records there in the dark, with the moon rising higher and the sounds of the city to our backs. Percy Sledge, Lee Moses, Maraboots, and Symarip. I can feel a shift coming. For once I’m not overwhelmed by the darkness behind and ahead. I’ve survived so many nights of going through hell in this city by keeping going. For once those nights feel like they add up to something.

Thanks dad.

Thanks lovers (Save for that aforementioned one whose gifts now grace the hands of some of Olympia’s houseless population.). Thank you friends, past and present.

Thank you moon.

8/28/18

Apocalypse Summer

A burning yellow sky summer settles into place
Like a toxic haze across a bone-dry Rain City
I wear Leather like armor for skin too thin
A wet bandanna over the face
To walk the late night streets of an apocalypse maze

The sound of my best friend’s paws on pavement
Make for the surest, sweetest company
Against the hushed highway hum rending
The burning world to the bone

The air smells of smoke and ruin
As we walk the path of ash
Empty streets paint portraits of dead time
Old photographs, too late at night, one more backward glance

Come four AM, we give in to rest
Windows shut tight, and the curtains drawn closed
Electric air filter running on overdrive
Filtering out the filth, working as hard as the night is long

Lie in bed and wish to want nothing
Here in this stuffy and darkened room
The sepia toned cinema of memory
Spins off of the reels in the golden gloom

I remember you.

You were always so gentle, my love
Or at least as gentle as your scars allowed
Before we grew to love one another
You were just another face in the crowd

Could have been anyone or anywhere
Lining the haunted avenues and alleys of this town
Living hard and cold in the land of
“I got no friends, only people I know”

Ash falls like snow, there is no way home
No reason to look over my shoulder on the way out the door
The past is a dead country
Sinking to the east, burning down to the west

In solitude
I long to set sail
Away from a burning empire in its dying days
Away from bruised hearts and industrial haze
Untouched by loneliness, longing or sorrow
Into the beauty of the possible and futures unknown

Apocalypse Summer

First poem in a while. Consider it a work in progress.

I am tired of writing poetrybridge to nowhere
While the world burns down
Set to the droning sound
Of helicopters hovering in the skyline
Like I have been tired
Of so much for
The past five years
The past ten years
The past life

All my loves
Wear worry lines
Into fragile smiles
Brittle eyes filled with
Visons of the fire next time

But we have been dancing
In the flames
For our entire lives
Save for brief respite
Of breaths
Shared in rooms safe as houses
Doors locked against the cold outside

Standing at the edge of industry
In the weeds
With my friends
Burning Bridges to nowhere
With a blueprint for
Breaking my own heart
All over again

I wonder just how
Far we have to fall
As a (death cult)ure
Where is the threshold?

Fall asleep with the breath
Of emptiness exhaling whispers
On the back of my neck
Spectral eyes stare
Hell into skin too thin
For this fucking planet

First poem in a while. Consider it a work in progress.

Signals Fill The Void Mix Volume One: Apocalypse Dread In A Dead City/Gravity Pulling In Reverse

It has been one of those days.

It’s one of those days where the gray sky has been dripping cold rain on my face for days and days without relent.  In my anxious state, it’s just all too easy to worry the winter sun may never come back when it sinks beneath the slate gray sheet of sky at four PM.  As the long night falls, the ever-pervasive clouds snuff out starlight and moonlight alike, giving an eerie abyssal feeling to the sky.  The darkness is pervasive as it is consuming.  So much so that I get the feeling walking home sometimes that the blackness towering above me wants to reach down and pull me into its maw, swallowing me whole.

Like I was never here.  Like I was never supposed to be here. Like gravity pulling in reverse.  That’s how I described my feelings of alienation and displacement in conversation once.  Like the world as it spins now, does not hold a place for any of us.  It’s like that episode from The Twilight Zone, where the three astronauts return from a mission, crash landing their space shuttle.  One by one each of them gets the feeling “they aren’t supposed to be here” and fade away.  That’s what lonely nights in this city feel like.

Like gravity pulling in reverse.

On quiet nights like this one, were it not for the internet and panic paced twenty-four hour news cycle, I think it one could almost forget the world exists outside this city and its dim streetlights.  As if the world just falls away into nothingness once you hit the city limits. So I go it alone one more night, hunkering down to write to my favorite songs in my small bedroom, shut away from the world I’m so desperately afraid of fading away from, but don’t know how to rejoin at the same time. Tonight it feels like all the clocks died at two minutes to midnight.  Fuck, the whole last year feels like that.  The kind of apocalypse dread and desperation that reminds you what attracted you to punk in the first place.

So tonight I lose myself for the millionth time, slipping into the spirit of sound.  Ensconced in the wail of guitars and D-Beats drumming out a battle march with all the rest of the lost souls and bitter children.  Screaming at the madness and sheer fucking senselessness of it all.  Because I don’t know about you, but I haven’t gotten a good night of sleep in what feels like weeks.  Ever since that intercontinental ballistic missile false alarm last week, mushroom clouds have haunted my dreams almost nightly.  All across the city, everyone I love just wonders when the hammer might fucking drop, and that then that’s it; lights out for all of us and the roaches have their go.

Punks have been freaking out about the end of the world for forty years now, my entire adult life.  I inherited these deep fears as much as the next oversensitive ex-spiky kid.  I mean, shit.  Discharge made a few flawless records (Let’s just pretend for tonight that Grave New World just never fucking happened, okay?) and a career off these fears. Beyond that they inspired legions of leather clad, paranoid emulators.

I don’t really know how to end this, except to say that I’m scared sometimes.  I’m sad sometimes.  I’m strong most of the time.  If you’re reading this and we know one another, I love you so much, and I’m glad you’re alive.  I want you to keep living.  If you’re reading this and I don’t know you: I probably like you.  I love your lives and your stories because you have them and they count for something.  Here’s some tunes that I love that have been on heavy rotation the past few weeks.  I hope you find something you like.

This mix represents my first attempt at what I hope will become a more regular feature of incorporating my love of music and my love of sharing music into my writing practice.  As always, thank you for reading.  If you’ve got feedback, or just wanna tell me what songs you loved or hated, I wanna hear it.

Track List:

  1. Chaos UK – No Security
  2. Icons Of Filth – Fucked Up State
  3. Skinny Puppy – Nature’s Revenge
  4. Confuse – Hate (Is It War?)
  5. Black Flag – My War
  6. Ash Borer – Waves With No Shore
  7. Body Of Light – Burn As One
  8. Larm – Chemical Suicide
  9. Cemetery – 4:30 Blood City
  10. Gauze – Unknown Title, unreleased song. Live, May, 2011.  First show back after the Fukushima Disaster
  11. Lydia Lunch – Suicide Ocean
  12. After The Bombs – To The Void And Back
  13. Youth Code – The Dust Of A Fallen Rome
  14. Nausea – Here Today
  15. Killing Joke – This World Hell
  16. Broken Bones – Death Is Imminent
  17. The Comes – Ningen Gari
  18. Part 1 – Pictures Of Pain
  19. Pharmakon – Sleepwalking Form
  20. Lebenden Toten – Near Dark
  21. Drift – Mirage
  22. Bellicose Minds – Orwell’s Troops
  23. Scumraid – Tsar Bomba
  24. Crude – Stand And Fight Again
  25. Life – The World Lies Across Them
Signals Fill The Void Mix Volume One: Apocalypse Dread In A Dead City/Gravity Pulling In Reverse

Best of 2017 Mix

What a brutal, beautiful, terrifying year.  Everyone I love struggled and everyone I love strove to do their best.  I don’t really know what else to say.  There was tragedy and triumph, and most importantly communities getting stronger.  Here’s some of the music I loved this year.

2017 Year End List Mix

  1. Cold Cave – Glory
  2. The Gift – Blank Stare
  3. Converge A Single Tear
  4. King Woman – Hierophant
  5. Falls Of Rauros – White Granite
  6. Outreau – M.D.H.
  7. Clayface – Sister Is Dead
  8. Hide – 91 Lashes
  9. Ritual Veil – All Black
  10. Chelsea Wolfe – 16 Psyche
  11. Bromure – Catacombes
  12. Akatharsia – Groveling Towards Oblivion
  13. Vatican Shadow – They Deserve Death
  14. Ritual Howls – Their Bodies
  15. Nidstang – Ergi
  16. False – Hunger
  17. Cigarettes After Sex – Each Time You Fall In Love
  18. Rixe – Tenter Le Diable
  19. Limp Wrist – Como Vos
  20. Wear You Wounds – Shine

 Favorite records, in slight order: 

Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper LP – (Profound Lore)

This is actually my favorite LP of 2017.  The only reason it didn’t make it on the mix is because the song is massive, clocking in at 83 minutes.  If you somehow haven’t heard this, go listen to it.  Easily one of the most haunting doom metal records ever recorded.

 Cold Cave – Glory (Heartworm)

Cold Cave rarely release a record that’s a miss for me.  Glory is no exception.  Maybe I’m a fanboy buying into the hype, but goddamnit, this song is just so catchy and Wesley Eisold is one of my favorite lyricists, constantly capturing the foul ennui and alienation of a burning world, but making you want to dance your black heart out as it burns down around you at the same time.

Ritual Veil – Wolf In The Night Tape (Self Released)

Go to Ritual Veil’s bandcamp right now and order a copy of this tape if they have any left.  These things went fast.  Ritual Veil make you feel like the 80’s and 90’s just never ended I mean this in the best way, because listening to this, I’m transported back to the smoky blacklit clubs of my youth while still feeling like this tape is just so fresh and exciting.  You get the feeling this band is headed for big things!

King Woman – Created In The Image of Suffering (Relapse)

I was first introduced to the music of Kristina Esfandiari sometime in 2015 or 16 and have been obsessed ever since.  Forlorn, hypnotic, heavy and intense.  Created in the Image of Suffering doesn’t let up, even in it’s quieter moments.  Somewhere I have a photo of their live date in Olympia.  Kristina had just dove into the crowd, wearing a homemade shirt that says “LORENA BOBBIT”, seemingly a message to all the meathead metal bros, not ready to relinquish their stranglehold on the scene.

The Gift – Running around This Town (Time For Action)

I surprised myself with how much Oi!  I listened to this year.  A friend recommended this, and I grabbed it on a whim.  Oi/Punk/Power Pop from France.  This record is light and infectious from start to finish.  Perfect for listening to on those crushing days when you want to forget the world for a minute and focus on dressing sharp as hell and loving your friends.

Outreau – LP (Une Vie Pour Rien?/Crom Records)/Rixe – Bapteme Du Feu (La Vida Es En Un Mus)

More OI! from France, but this is what you listen to when you want to psych yourself up for throwing rocks at cops and setting Nazis on fire, looking good while doing it.  Music for hooligans, by hooligans.  Morte Aux Vaches

Clayface – Sister is Dead LP (Total Negativity)

Local to Olympia, I have seen this band a bunch, but didn’t manage to grab a copy of this LP until almost the end of the year.  This is the authentically tragic DIY Goth record Robert Smith wishes he could still make.  Deeply personal and haunting.

False – Hunger EP (Gilead Media)

I also surprised myself by how little Black Metal I listened to this year.  False was a big exception.  Crushing, weird, and unlike most of the other metal out there.  Best experienced in all their throat shredding live glory.

Hide – Black Flame EP (Joyful Noise)

Having heard Hide’s previous EP, Widdow and I went to see them at sparsely attended show with an odd mix of bands at an upscale bar in Seattle.  Indie rock, dream pop, and then HIDE in all their menacing, industrial glory.  For forty minutes the bar transformed into a strobe lit, black leather and lace monster.  Widdow and I were so inspired that upon returning to Olympia, we swore an oath on the shores of the Puget Sound with the full moon as a witness that we would start playing music together.  Maybe we’ll get around to it in 2018.

Limp Wrist – Facades LP  (Leguna Armada)

Can you name a better hardcore punk record by a band that is approaching their twentieth anniversary?  Me neither.  One of the best queer punk bands of all time.  If you want to fight about it, I will see you in the pit with all the other sweaty homos.

That’s it for now.  I’m sure I forgot a ton of records that I loved.  I’m sure I slept on a bunch of records that other people loved.  I also loved every single record that made it onto my mix.  I guess I just didn’t have it in me to write about every single record, especially considering the fact that I don’t actually know how to write about music.  Anyway, the sun is out and I need to take my dog for a walk before the Pacific Northwest is plunged back into gray washed out rainy waste for another four months.  Thanks for listening.  Thanks for reading.  ❤ 

Best of 2017 Mix

Homecomings (Dear Lover)

Work in progress from a larger piece written about a trip this summer.

Dear Lover,
It’s somewhere near one AM. Sam and I are driving through the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. We are speeding along route 30 between the small town I grew up in, and Philadelphia. We should be arriving in Philadelphia just past one AM. We left North Carolina at nine this morning, stopping a total of three times between our departure and now.

We just left a diner in the heart of York County. The same diner where my friends and I used to spend hours rotting with nothing else to do; smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee after punk and goth shows in the 90’s. Sam was kind enough to indulge our stopping for two hours so I could have a reunion of sorts with some old friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in close to twenty years. We are talking the kids who formed the crux of the formative years and the person I’d grow into. I’ve practically written novels about these people, and here we were; all together again, and all grown up. Our reunion was brief, and joyous. Outside the diner I promised my childhood best friend and first love I wouldn’t wait seventeen years between to see her next time. I told her I’d come meet her partner and her baby.

I meant it too. I fucking miss the east coast. I miss the oldness of it. I miss my roots. If nothing else, I miss how compact everything is. I miss how trips like this aren’t so seemingly impossible out here. Sam and I had to coordinate for a solid six months to make our cross-country meeting happen.

Sam is leaning back in the passenger seat with their eyes closed, resting. I have the new Chelsea Wolfe record playing quietly on the stereo for company. I thought about listening to Sisters Of Mercy or Cock Sparrer for old time’s sake; I have those two bands on my iPod, and they helped define my youth haunting this old highway, but this record is just so fucking good. I’m listening to it again, and composing this letter to you in my head to stay awake.

The houses that line route thirty all have their lights long off. They feel like home to me in this strange way. Oddly frozen in time, as if I could just pull off the highway and settle here, like it was still 1998, and I never left Southern York County. I imagine moving into an old house; trading bitter winter walks to the post office and writing by the fireplace for Pacific Northwest winters drenched in rain. I tell myself I could keep in touch with the outside world by buying records and zines at 3DCD (or whatever record store that opened to take its place, since I’m sure it has long since closed.) again like I was a teenager. At this present moment the idea appeals to me. Funny, because I spent the entirety of my youth scarcely being able to wait until I was old enough to escape this place. Seriously, Melanie and I would talk about it for hours. We planned that shit out. We’d dream about running away. We would hold each other close, reassuring the other one just another year or two until we were eighteen and could escape. We counted down the days until our grand departure from Southern York County, never ever to return.

Now I’m laughing at myself in the late night hours for (however unseriously) briefly entertaining the idea of moving back here.

There was just a storm. For the first time in several days it almost feels cool outside. We have the windows rolled down. The air is thick with humidity and lingering lighting. A flash will crack the sky in jagged streaks every now and then, leaving the clouds red in the afterglow. I love it. I don’t know if I’ve seen a thunderstorm since I left the south. I have missed them terribly. The storm was torrential and massive, nothing like the pervasive Pacific Northwest rain we complained about all winter. I fell in love with you in that constant drizzle and gray. The rain smells differently out here, but I smile at the thought of how that love deepened to where I smell rain, and feel that love even three thousand miles away, in a place that feels light years away from the small world we know.

I don’t know if I miss Olympia right now. I miss you. I miss the sanctuary of my bedroom on my dead end street. It feels weird and indulgent to go on a trip when it feels as if everything around me is crumbling down and the world is a goddamn dumpster fire. Who am I to go running off to meet up with some of my oldest friends on the other side of the country when there is so much work to be done at home?

Over the winter, Sam and I often reflected on the nature of impermanence; just how fleeting and fragile everything feels. The world feels a shade darker than it did a year ago. In that regard, two old friends on a road trip makes all the sense in the world. Tomorrow we will wake up in Philadelphia and wind our way through crowded city streets to meet up with one of our other oldest friends. The three of us shared the stroke of luck to meet in this city almost exactly twelve years ago. We managed to forge the kind of friendships that survive the pitfalls and anxieties of old age.

We will sit on a rooftop overlooking the city that brought us all together so long ago. We’ll laugh at the follies of youth and be thankful for having left them behind. We will give thanks to for resilience and adaptability. We will give thanks for everything we ever outran. We will give thanks for a future that may be fraught with incalculable fear, but is still yet to be written.

Homecomings (Dear Lover)

Dream of apocalypse sex with apocalypse ex

A dream of you this morning
Three years on
Pressed against the wall
All filthy and tender
Open

We were never
Going to be anything like
The love of one another’s lives
Or grow old together
And that’s just fine

Because we both have known
That kind of love
Shakes you to your core
Pulls you out of your skin
To dance in your bones
The kind of love that
Will not let you settle for anything
Gets you fucking moving
And this, this just is.

An exercise in anything goes
An exercise in escaping emptiness
From one moment to the next
Running circular furrows in
All the same well tread paths
Until boots burn holes in our maps

In the afterglow
Beneath the flickering lights
Whisper your secret fears
Of the fire next time
Written into your genetic code
Whatever horror this world holds
You feel it coming for us
In your root of your soul

So here we are
All fucked up
Yet unbroken
Against the wall
In love and war
All at once now
For war
But never in love.

Dream of apocalypse sex with apocalypse ex