Poem: Really, No Comment 2

The world will end in plasma

tax rioting, all stabbing all feeling life in the flow

of blood there is much made, to be

the known and to know, your fellow man

but not in his origin, or where he comes

and for what?  We are not shadows

from before making mountains

of planted flags, we are a king

unless we’re dead, which is the way of the now.

Poem: Really, No Comment 2

Poem: The Wartime

The battle was weeks of hell, baskets of mortar

dropped on a frozen rope, onto my friends trapped

with nothing to win, they are happy now

rendered headless, we chopped off what we could

to drop into the sea, we are war machine, screaming

merciless mantras, passing a chalice

boozy of humor, laughing with satan

at the suffering fireworks, burn the wound making

cauterized ruination, I fear sepsis

taking hold, but will die before its done.

 

Pandemonium marketplace setups

selling soldiers to the bidder, elevated not

though square dealing on the level

with rules to follow, and malice aforethought

you understand, for a known game is just

talk of death for traitors and spies

wearing suits, costuming a new hell

appearing as death in the mirror

again, the children are hungry

but nothing grows anymore period.

 

A cruel, merciless decision we made,

admittedly, to stand apart from fury

with sickly cowardice we turn away,

though we chastise ourselves and each other

for acting likewise, because flagellation feels

good when we use words, joy is diminishing

words we don’t like to use in public

but we still do, for wouldn’t you

if you had esteem waiting, but you don’t

because you only serve, like a lever.

 

Check marks, first thing is the first,

a nice fruity phosphate, Mountain Due

Condition Blue or something, tasting love

is sweet sunshine and comfort costs

money in peacetime, my arms rendered

useless but to pull a lever, push a plunger

off the edge, slipping into a dragon chase,

or maybe it’s a nightmare, but waking

in a box is a bad omen, I’ve heard.

 

Large in charge of the floor, big shot

all of a sudden, struggling still up against

a whiteboard colored in bullshit,

first buy the bonds, afterwards pay the piper

for the tolls that number sixteen

more than before, on the same street

all of a sudden, knowing there’s not a place

we could afford uptown, anyway

hunting a point out, precisely placed

because you might have just one chance.

 

Voltaire and Camus came together

to work on “All Quiet,” or whatever

it will be called, and directed by Dickens

with Gandhi producing, De Sade scripting

the tale of a lonely stable-boy in love

with a maiden of the conquered people,

but alas he is gutshot, and dies alone

in the dark, no dry eyes, best picture

contender at least, that’s for sure.

 

I feel like Django, dragging a coffin behind me

filled with my trespasses, and the yelping

victim wails that fell on deaf ears echo

in the night, haunting things I’ve done

rest in the unknown enemy’s moving tomb,

they would’ve done me as I did them,

but still they glare with hole eyes, sucking portals

sucking to a world of shit, so forever good night.

 

I wrote a book called “Push the Chips”

detailing my fall and rise, it was a whitewash

snow job poorly detailed emotional history,

just as devotees rise and shout praises

out of tune, paper away the detritus

pushing to next, and gearing up is the key

with a spiked helmet and chains,

you gotta mash the allies, tell no one

what you’ve done, it is a horror.

 

The movie’s have changed, and none remain

better then ever, though history clones are

all the rage bubbling, they disappoint

with cookie-cutter mechanics and terra cotta

characters, so open the door and pull ideas

off of the chaff pile, we will shield them

with complacency, I have to write

my new novel, the one to lift them up

by the heart, which is all there is.

 

The first time I attempted suicide

I woke up in the hospital, zippered

into my bed, joining rage and regret

in a blender, pushing pulse over again,

smearing pain and scrawling hate

on the wall, they started marking milestones

after a time, now not even a walker

with me, the sad kids get some hope.

 

This is my resignation not from chiefs

of executive office, in them a poison

growing from their heart through their pores,

making them seem soupy, and red

of brick and beet and tomato, but we know

what it really is, representing an ending

for everyone, I move to my forest cabin,

shut off, my kids won’t talk to me at all

now, maybe they’ll never, but I’m finally free.

 

The court calls me Notnow Neverwas

and they laugh, when I enter or leave,

they say it through a cone, long and loud

“Ladies and Gentlemen!  Boys and girls!”

then they lower the boom, pointing to me

a smiling finger, no, they cackle grimly

without humor, but they don’t even know

no one’s laughing, either and I have a knife

behind my back, time for some justice.

Poem: The Wartime

Sylvester (volume 7)

As I lay beside Sonia and covered her with my bare arm, for the first time in my life I had a dream in which I could fly.

I sailed above sand dunes in a desert, skimming just over their crests.  I whistled through the air at increasing speed, and had the sense that I needed to hurry, and feared that for some reason I would be late.  I didn’t know what my deadline was, but I sensed my time was almost up.

I hurried as best I could, and as my speed increased I began to feel that I would make my deadline, whatever it was.  There was a single great sand dune ahead of me, bigger than all the others, but as I approached its pinnacle, the ability to fly suddenly left me.  I plummeted down toward the sand, and at the moment I hit the ground, I started awake with a loud cough.

“You’re up?”  Sonia quested from the kitchen, where she sat at the small table eating a plate of eggs and toast.  “You slept for a while, you were tired, huh?”

I sat up and yawned, raising my hands as high as I could behind my back.  I swung my legs over the side of the bed and felt cold linoleum under my bare feet.  My eyes shot open and my spine straightened.  I trotted into the kitchen and took the seat opposite Sonia.  “I guess, what time is it?”

“Two,” Sonia said, crunching into her toast.  “Hungry?”

I said “Yeah” as I grinned, anticipating a tasty breakfast.

Sonia likewise smiled, pointing towards the stovetop at the laid-out components of a growing breakfast.  “There’s the eggs, bread, the toaster, and here’s the butter,” she indicated to a small dish at the center of the table.  “You know what to do, I’m already eating.”  She sat up in her seat with an impish grin on her lips, pointing at things with her fork.

I silently made my way to the stove top, cracked a couple eggs, and dropped their insides in a pan.  “Did you sleep?” I asked, over my shoulder.  I wanted it to seem as though what was happening was completely normal to me, and no big deal.

“Yeah,” she answered simply.  I breathed a grateful sigh of relief.  She’s playing it cool too, I thought.

I flipped my eggs with the spatula to my left and turned to the right, watching Sonia through the edge of my vision.  “Good,” I said, raising my two eggs over hard out of the pan with the spatula.  I placed my plate of eggs onto the table and joined it with a piece of toast, onto which I began to spread butter.  “So what’s up for you today?”

As I started to ask the question I could tell by the wrinkles in her nose that it was annoying to Sonia.  “I don’t know, what do you care?”  Her left eyebrow elevated slightly, indicating what could have been incredulity, but was more likely bitterness.

“I don’t know. . .” after this first phrase I let a pause hang in the air.  I thought about what I should say, and then I remembered our conversation from the night before.  “I care because I guess because I like you, whaddya want me to say?”

Sonia stepped towards the sink and began to slap her palms down on the counter to the side off it, laughing uproariously.  “Oh yeah,” she leaned over the sink and turned her head around to look in my eyes.  She smiled softly, as if grinning on her own in a private moment, and then lightened the mood with a joke. “Did we ever find a dick in the sky last night?”  As she said the word “dick” the teeth in her grin shined like the whites in her eyes and warmed my heart.

“No,” I said, returning her smile with my own as I did, “We can’t see stars in the city.”

“Right, of course,” said Sonia, taking the seat at the table opposite me.  We both ate our meals slowly, inspecting each other’s faces, staring into each other’s eyes.  “I bet if we could we would find dicks all over the place, though.”

I returned her comment with barely a pause, as if I were reciting written dialogue.  “I imagine cavemen did.”  I slowly took a bite of my toast.  “They probably saw whatever they dreamt about in the night sky.”  As I spoke I thought about the way that, in the past, before even literature, human imagination had to be ignited by perceived patterns in the stars.

“The stars were their TV, I guess,” Sonia chuckled to herself.  I couldn’t remember ever meeting anyone who chuckled as much as she did.  “I bet there’s lots of swastika’s up there too.”

I cackled furiously, and as we continued to discuss constellations, each of us burst into laughter over and over again.  We imagined seeing written messages in the stars like “WASH ME” or “FOR A GOOD TIME CALL—“ as well as comic tableaus that told stories of people falling on their faces.  Our discussion went on and on, accompanied by rising and falling waves of laughter, until I finally looked at the clock on the wall and saw that it was 4:03.

“It’s four already,” I said, smiling wide and flashing Sonia the most tender eyes I could.  “We’ve been talking for hours.”

Sonia, who’d just been sitting on the front room’s couch, yawned and stretched out onto her back.  “Yeah,” she said, allowing her voice to fade away as she stared at the ceiling.

“Yeah,” I parroted, thinking about all the things we could do together.  I imagined us as a private-eye team in the twenties; some cuckoo dame could come to us saying that she thinks her husband is cheating on her, but we would find something far more nefarious.  Or maybe we could be lovers and artists in 19th century France, discussing the signals god sends us through the clouds.  I could feel myself falling in love, for real, and then being in love.

I’d fallen in love in the past, or anyway I’d felt that great pain plenty, but I called it love only because of the cliche that “love hurts.”  This was the type of love I’d grown accustomed to, the unrequited variety.  This type of love is very sad, powerfully disruptive, and completely selfish.

I call this type of love selfish because when love is unrequited the loved figure ceases to be her own being, in my mind, and becomes my personal object of desire.  This both strips her of her own identity, and means that she can only become a symbol of pain in my life.  But now it seemed that I might actually get to “be” in love for a time, and I was excited to find out what that would be like.

As I sat on Sonia’s front room couch looking out the window, I daydreamed, allowing my conscious mind to flit around wherever it wanted.  “Have you heard back from your mom?”

Hearing Sonia’s question was like stepping on a bear trap, and I was instantly curled in pain.  Oh no, my inner monologue screeched, I forgot.  “No, I should probably head back home.”  I said coolly, as if everything were going splendidly and to plan, but inside I was a nasty cyclone.

You idiot, I cursed at myself silently through clenched teeth.  While trying to seem calm and in-control, I clutched at my right thigh as hard as I could, feeling the shape of the bone in my thigh.  She could be dead by now you useless, fucking loser.

“I’m in a show at Gallery Cabaret tomorrow,” Sonia chirped brightly, unaware of the emotional iron lung I was in.  “It’s a stupid kinda show, basically an open mic really, but you could come, the show’s at eight.”

“Eight o’clock, tomorrow?”  I spoke, thinking that I might not make it, because my mom might be dead.  “I dunno, might be working’ late at the store, Tuesday’s our inventory day.”

“Oh okay,” she said, chirpy as ever and showing me a smile.  Her cute, lovely eyes made me wonder why I’d lied to her.  Tuesday wasn’t our inventory day, and I didn’t understand why I’d claimed it was.  I said something nonspecific about hanging out later that day and got out of there.  I had one concern: I’d been away from my normal life for too long, and I needed to see about it.

Before I could look back on my own mind and guess why I’d become such a liar, I slipped my shoes on and hustled out the door.  I stalked onto the sidewalk in a big hurry to get home.  As I sensed a matt of flop sweat on my forehead I imagined that I probably looked disheveled, desperate and lashing out at the world with passion.

I half-grinned as I hurried along in my khaki’s, huffing and puffing in rhythm with the sound the legs of my pants made rubbing together.  ShvooBAH.  My fat little stub legs made this sound as they crushed into each other with a crazy rhythm.  It wasn’t more than maybe ten paces of this hurrying bullshit that my inner thighs felt like they would burn off.  But just as the pain seemed a bit too much, like my pants would literally catch on fire, I found the strength to go on.  I knew, as I saw Welles Park, which was about the midpoint between Sonia and I, I for the first time felt that maybe I would actually make it.

 

The pain was great and liberating.  My legs burnt and I breathed smoke.  I had collapsed onto one of the benches outside an organized middle school soccer game at Welles Park.  As I sat there panting and coughing, watching little kids run and run, my head dropped, planting my eyes on the sidewalk beneath me.  I closed my eyes, folding my hands between my knees.  I grimaced, bearing my teeth and emitting a painful groan; what was I thinking?

As had happened frequently during my life so far and was likely to continue happening for the foreseeable future, I raged at myself without understanding why I’d done what I’d done.  It was the right thing to do, I decided, to leave Sonia’s home for my own, as it may have been, but I shamed myself for doing it in such a sudden and unexplained fashion.

I considered going back, ringing her doorbell and waiting just outside for the door to open.  With the door open, I’d have been free to shower Sonia with kisses to my hearts’ content, but I realized in the middle of this thought that it would have been a terrible idea.  I calmed myself down, assured as I was  that Sonia really did like me.  I regretted leaving her as abruptly as I had, but I felt we’d really made a real connection, and that our connection could last for the foreseeable future.

I stood up from the bench and trotted home, the tension melting off my cheeks.

As I walked out of the park, my pace slowed greatly and I inspected every pile of leaves I came across, wandering over expanses of grass in lazy loops.  I retrieved my phone from my pocket and called my mom once again, expecting her to answer and place an order.  It was at that point around 4:30, and I knew that it was around this time on most days that my mother is overcome by a need to buy some liquor.

I rolled my eyes as I heard the start of the first ring, expecting my mom to pick it up after only a couple rings.  When she did not, and the answering machine picked up, I left a pointless message.  “Hey mom, how’s it going?”  I don’t know why I asked questions like this one frequently in voicemail messages, but I always have.  “Yeah anyway, so I had a great night last night and I hope you did too.  I’ll be home in just a few minutes, see you then.”

Theree was no real reason to leave such a message, when I could have just hung up.  I was suddenly gripped once more by the tremendous fear that I might discover my mother’s corpse.  As I turned onto my street, and stared down the long row of houses to the end of the block, my pace quickened again.

I thought about finding my mother dead on the floor, in front of the TV, with a line of drool trailing from the edge of her mouth.  Along with my fear that my mother could be dead when I arrived home came the sad realization that perhaps she’d be better off.  She’d been hurtling downwards into despair for as long as I cared to remember.  My biological father’s death, which occurred when I was only two years old, effected her more greatly, I think, than she ever let on.  Maybe if I found her dead, I realized, I could believe that she is once again with her love.

Of course, I don’t really believe that.  I believe after you die you will probably spend most of your time underground, and that’s about it.  If my mom died while I was out, I realized, then I wouldn’t get to tell her about Sonia, and that would mean that my mother died believing that I was lonely; and without anyone.  This fear more than anything, terrified me.  I’d been excited to tell her about Sonia the next time she was sober, but she could have died while I was out.

This possibility gripped my spine and pulled me forward, causing me to sprint down the final half-block, coming to a rest before my front steps.  As I slowed to a halt, my shoulders fell forward and I placed my hands on my knees.  Doubled over, I gasped for air as quickly as I could, believing that more air would stifle the pain in my legs.  I rarely run, because when I run my legs burn like the devil.

I moved slowly up my front steps and put my key in the lock.  I began to feel very powerful and conflicting emotions about what I might find inside.  I feared the grief that would overtake me when I saw that my mother was dead.  Though through my fear of the great sadness I would feel upon discovering my mothers’ death, I also anticipated great relief.  I thought a calming might overtake me, and it might be awesome.

This thought, that my mom’s death would be great, added a sharp layer of guilt onto my mess of emotions.  This type of guilt is very familiar to co-dependents like me, it is the guilt of not making sure your addict has enough of their preferred drug.  I didn’t need to worry, though, because when I opened the door and walked in, I saw my mother snoring, passed out on the couch.

As I’d long claimed to suspect, though actually I knew, my mother had several small bottles of vodka hidden around the house.  “Hidden” isn’t the right word.  I’d just say they were placed around my house, and while I was out my mother’ed downed a few.

She lay, passed out on the couch in the front room of my house, and I sighed theatrically, as if there was someone to complain to.  She snored loudly as I slowly approached to guide her into her bed, but before I did I noticed Scrabble was out and set up.  My mother had even put two words on the board, opposite each other; one for me and one for her.  I smiled, because this was the same shit she always pulled when we played Scrabble.

It was a joke we shared.  She’d set up a game of Scrabble for us, and she would place our first words.  Her first word would just be a random jumble she made on the spot, and my first word would always be something unbelievably good like “ZOMBIFY” or “PACKWAX.”  She would then say that these two words were completely random, and this meant that I began the game leading by one hundred and fifty points.

I never once bought it, though, and I would shake my finger at her.  I imagine I was probably really cute when I was five years old, sneering at my mother and scolding her.  “No cheating,” I would say, demanding that we draw again.  We would draw again, and she would absolutely destroy me.  I never was able to beat her, and I never will, because I don’t count it as a win unless neither player passes out before the end of the game.

My left hand rose to cover my mouth as I began to cry, softly and only a little before I was able to jam it back down my throat again.  Another wave of tremendous guilt overtook me, as I remembered leaving a message saying that I’d be home soon, and even suggesting a game of Scrabble “like old times.”  I thought this indicated that she was also excited about Scrabble, and that I’d driven her to drink by not coming back when I said I would.

I imagined her on the couch, setting up Scrabble, sitting and waiting.  Who knows how long she waited, but she waited.  I resented her to my core, for creating the circumstances that led me to feel tremendous guilt that I’d not made it home in time to play Scrabble with my mom.  She’d have been drunk anyway, I told myself, lifting my mother from the couch and guiding her into her bed.

She was very heavy, like me, and I wasn’t in great shape especially after the walk.  I regretted carrying her all this way, because I could have dragged her or just left her on the couch.  Grunting and straining, I put her over my shoulder and dumped her on her bed, collapsing next to her sideways over the mattress.  I realized then that I would love a sandwich, so I was off to make one.

Heading to the kitchen, I was excited by the possibilities.  Open-faced grilled cheese with bacon on top!

Sylvester (volume 7)

Poem: Khan

We gotta be an army,’cause it’s us verse them

all over again, warp speed five overdrive

and dammit, how did he know?

 

But you gave as good as you got, at least they can say that

you know, and we damaged their fazers

warp drive, and they ain’t goin nowhere.

 

A distinct possibility, barely sir suicide telephone

operator standing by, pen on paper planting

in your back a hoe, because you’re both bad at this.

 

Best we could do in two hours, a one mark three

two four, marching down a hallway

wearing an ascot, emergency lights abound around

 

Tactically inoperative, raise the shields

rushing down on a chariot, torpedoes fire

harking make them stark, stretched out like a bird.

 

Pre-emptive possibility, mirror facing cannibals

we could be sometime soon, was ego in my lenses

and is it still?

 

Are they shadow puppets?  In my mind

do they plot against me, tuckered in candle light

blanket forts, leaning and caressing.

 

Refracted reality satire is everywhere, in the walls

and copper wire, for it bleeds through the frame

when you spot it, feeling it in the pulse.

Poem: Khan

Poem: Contested Bloodbath

“Their skin is different and they’re coming!”

scream enflamed anuses, wearing masks and burning leaflets,

censored Wicker Man stuck in a Nicolas Cage,

“Rage is power” scream dire spokesmen, “Unleash and burn it all!”

stupid blades jag left and write, authoring wars of confused misdirection,

rope-a-dope movement, dump it in the fryer, sleep to the scream symphony,

“It’s my party and you’ll die if I want you to,”

delegates bound with twine, chewing cud and bullshit,

hanging from rafters and pissing on the electorate,

“”Plunge suffocation,” master says, “this man lost faith”

standing over onetime prophet, shoving his head in a bucket,

face force into sunlight, offstruck at the hinge,

“Not one of us will know rules but dangers are all around,”

read by the light of their glowing eyes, dream by the paranoid light,

the spies everywhere, false hearts in drunken frenzy,

“Look!” the hangman spouts, “to your left is a liar,”

bathe in kin blood, don’t look back, future reflective blindsight,

blodpile champion, leading down a darkened suicide,

“Hear the shouts and raise the blinds high, we finally come home,”

months after, the carnage was through,

the dead outnumber the living, and no one sings the old songs.

Poem: Contested Bloodbath

Poem: The Last Game

The host held the mic at its base, wielding it like poo on a stick and jabbing it at people,

“What’s the answer?”

words pointed sharp, loud and aggressive at first,

when young, sweat beaded, teeth whitened, a positivity tornado,

after three decades, he hates it all now,

everyone, braying bitch bastards, mistake machines and turbo divas,

making eyes at the camera, never for cue cards and kissy faces,

“God you are ass-ugly,  stupid,”

and they laughed, cheered and put him in magazines.

he stares straight forward, asking himself to monolog, but he forgot the words,

weeping on the white tile floor, landing a squish moist mat,

six bullets in the revolver, ready to bang a curtain call,

“Get this wrong and I die”

he threatens with barrel to temple, pressing and shaking,

“Honeydew,” she said, though the answer was cantaloupe,

two words, short and sweet to be his last,

“so close,”

bang said the gun, everyone screamed

retrospect hilarity, and they study it in school now, too,

he wanted to win oscars, now he’s a psychology thesis,

“Richard Preston, suicide champion, the dawning of a new performance art.”

Poem: The Last Game

Poem: Death Ceremony

The Prince is dead, anointed and mysterious,

poppy pills likely the blow, a set upon existence dealt,

for who he was all he knew was want, truckloads of never enough,

crouched in a foxhole, shrapnel cinders overhead,

loveliness and lovely loneliness, floating a gilded heart,

lip smack teeth taste, every eye all asparkle,

gaseous spite and ruthless desire, groundwater poison tattoo face,

too good to live, we didn’t deserve him.

Poem: Death Ceremony

Poem: Inevitable War

Blink with a whoosh and a rise up, doom leads the way looming, and it’s not like we don’t all know,

facing it in the sun and wash ourselves in the “oh well.”  Bisecting processions of misunderstandings,

no one owes or pays like ever, really.  Nihilism is my birth stone, and I’m adorned with dirt and tatters,

but perish and cherish, the shadow creator, you’ll terrace it all in a day or two.  My head stays dry,

understand that we don’t always know how we got where we are, just remember it’s pointless and,

dot dot dot you know, pointlessly pointed and dangerous deadly, and I just have to remember that.

 

But remember what?  Remember that?  Screw that it’s not, because tables have corners and good’s to be had,

kiss your best girl, make her a disco ball and see what happens.  Jab, center point, elbow intent, comrade gain,

capital G in the house, makin’ it like you didn’t know it could, and yeah maybe it’s not really him.  So scream us,

punctuate longing and it’s not a thing, nothing motionless exists at all.  God is motionless, that’s the whole thing.

 

I ask, how can you just stop wanting?

 

Chuckle little thing, snapping your fingers and twiddling a reed in your teeth, crossing your shins,

not a whisper seed concept possibly, none of it man is what the kids call me, freedom personified,

ready for all every of nothing.  It’s path is a memory-eraser, and who cares if shit is free, it’s shitty,

tyrant rise from ashes full afire, every wasted sentence will stick, sickness of a rush compact air,

the world waving plague tides, freedom sentences harshly, and punishment falls like raindrops,

so find the disciple within, steel him to the coming trials, and be the key, but more than likely not

 

Probably?  Is that what we’re saying?  Destiny Press Your Luck, Deal Howie and then laugh or cry depending,

knowledge of ignorance noxious stink tail, seeing eyes peer monopoly fractals, from and at every of every all,

sight is not vile, to be met with pancake batter, but sharded sharp-edge.  A samurai aim precisely pricked up,

point focus falter, as all else shatters and peppers the air, time is study, remaking cameras following my every.

 

You answer, why would you ask?

Poem: Inevitable War

Poem: Craisinella Rain

Artificially red from the sky over the inner city before the coming of the trucks,

it’s a tasty sticky-sweet super fruit mishmash, citizens have collection methods and sell pouches of it on street corners,

toxic slurry is mildly addictive, droves of children emerge all at once with their personal pots and pans,

immunization time and everyone comes with us, really it’s birth control and cataloging,

high servant class desperation is all they can really hope to hope for, but there are outliers,

the exception and not the rule lords their destinies in a finely tuned chord.

 

We tell them anything’s possible and it is in a sorta way but really it’s not,

“Remember when you didn’t have a dime?” fills stadiums with starry eyes and empty wallets,

dusky government addictions seep from on high, through the media zeitgeist,

all really needed is a tuning fork, set them to a mildly unhappy thirst quotient according to their station,

the psychobioheredity of class was finally codified in 2237, making things simple for all of us.

The occasional docudrama softens not our resolve, but now what we call out blood red perfection,

chance provides us our station, rolling triple sixes all day, proclaiming it as unearned provides a soulful contrition.

Invisible is the other way, so they head into their grinders filling out proper forms and wearing I.D. badges,

sustaining petroleum vaseline receptacle omnipresent, it’s everywhere

everyone look under their seats, you might find a peasant child compartment, congratulations.

 

Peasant children fetch six figures, easy, but that’s inhumane,

so just loan them to aristocrats with floors to scrub, and sometimes cocks to suck,

it’s sad but true reality, phasing through in flashes all superimposed,

lash yourself with the image, poor kids flashed, ignored and ridiculed, molested by adoptive parents,

business is business, and every cent you don’t leave for your children is a stain on your spirit

Poem: Craisinella Rain

Album Review: Vince Staples-Summertime ’06

Artist: Vince Staples

Album: Summertime ’06

Release date: June 30, 2015

Producer: No I.D.

Released by: Def Jam Recordings, ARTium Recordings, Blacksmith Records

The first hip hop album I ever listened to was Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Blackstar, and it changed my world.  That album began a lifelong love affair with hip hop, and I’ve intermittently been a fan of a variety of artists (MF DOOM, RjD2, El-P), but few have resonated as deeply as Vince Staples, and his debut album Summertime ’06.  The first thing that distinguishes Staples from any other rapper I can think of is the way he seems to rap downhill, so that by the time he finishes one line, he is already into the next one.  He achieves this effect by ignoring what seems like the most basic of emcee conventions, the pause between lines.

Nowhere is this more evident than on “Señorita,” the album’s chief banger, in which he describes the harsh realities of gangland life as if reading them off a stock ticker.  “That’s somebody’s son but a war to be won baby either go hunt or be hunted, we crabs in a bucket he called me a crab so I shot him in front of the Douglas, we cannot be fucked with we thuggin’ in public.”  This line from “Señorita” is delivered so easily that its sentiments, which could be seen as commonplace in the rap game, are given an extra sense of reality, as if Staples is simply describing his day.  This combination of harsh subject matter and effortless flow give each song a sense of importance, and lends additional punch to the album’s descriptions of hopelessness.

Early in the album Staples claims allegiance to the Gangster Crips (a large southern-California-based set of one of the largest gangs in America), and throughout Summertime ’06 he confronts the harsh realities of gang life with a shrug.  On “Jump off the Roof” the gang life and drug addiction lead to a twisted declaration of love, directly confronting the intractability of love in gangland: “I hate when you lie, I hate the truth too, can’t wait till you die, I hate that we through.”  On “3230” he describes the way he was “Soldier since the stroller” and the way the death of his brother was just “The price of bangin’ since my granny Alameda(’s) days.”  This fatalistic leaning that pervades the album would threaten to make it depressing, but the beats are inventive and addictive.

The album was produced (for the most part) by No I.D., a beatmaker so obscure he or she doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, though that will likely be remedied soon.  No I.D.’s beats are filled with unexpected instrumentation and complexity enough to keep my attention even behind a slow, soulful sing-song as in “Might be Wrong,” which contains the funniest moment of the album.  As he describes that when confronted with a moral quandary his sentiment is “Die to the world, I took the money” before in a softer way, as if in parentheses, he adds “wouldn’t you?”  This gag illustrates perfectly the album’s ability to paint a picture blacker than the night, while keeping me riveted to its incomparable flow and inventive beats.  Vince Staples Summertime ’06 has reminded me, once again, why I love hip hop.

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Album Review: Vince Staples-Summertime ’06