Tag Archives: suicide

…of a Failed Artist

my tears are those of a failed artist

my heart beats like the muted hum 

of a speed bump 

on top of a hill

my aches are those of a body un-worn

and worn out

seeking to stretch its limbs and flesh

across the space of time

always searching for the right moment

to dance

or just take a nice walk

running has ceased to exist

the only mad-dash is in my head

thoughts reeling

like the uncleaned movies

i could not make

the dismal drips of paint

i could not splash

all brewed in some slight

retardation of a brain-soul

that simply may have been 

too smart for its own good

or too dull instead where it should

have glimmered, have spawned

at least a dozen bright memories to 

be shared and recalled

as opposed to a handful of ‘dusty almosts’

that face is the mask 

of a king forced to wear the mask

of a jester

no

the face of a man

unable to face himself

because although he may have been 

a foot ahead of the others

when they finally arrived

he was unable to move

and he stayed in their dust

when their feet 

peddled

up that barckled mountain

splinters heaving back

into his eyes

that’s why they’re red

it’s not from his passion

It’s from his pain

when angst has no outlet

it eats itself

like a stomach hovering

over a stone cold prison floor

empty

or a malnourished child

dead before noon

but the hunger in an unrequited man

lingers forever

with the nausea

of a failed artist

or the shadow of a man

whose cast 

has grown tired 

of its subject

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Love N Roll

Remembering Sibyll Kalf, artist-musician-mensch-dreamer-gypsy-extraordinaire.
 
1967-2016
The quirky perennial outsider Sibyll Kalff

The quirky perennial outsider Sibyll Kalff

The death of a friend made me realize not how fleeting life is or how precious moments are, but how little time we actually shared enjoying ourselves.
She was aloof, eccentric, and at times utterly mysterious.  A fellow outsider artist, we’d hear from her, correspond intensely over several weeks…and then not again until years later.  Always in waves.
Through her I was introduced to the work of poet Robert Mitchell (rest in peace) and Lynda Crawford, who was one of the first (if not the first) American editor to publish my poetry in North America (Manhattan Linear poetry magazine/site).  Nina and I met Sibyll online in 2005 while living in Berlin, slowly emerging from our own hell and getting involved in a whole new phase of living, feeling, and being. She read some of my poetry, admired Nina’s photography and began to send us recordings of her music and sound poetry – many of the songs, in fact, with texts by Robert Mitchell.  We fell in love with Sibyll’s spirit.  She, in her own idiosyncratic way (she would always share our art work with whomever she’d come in contact with in Cologne and in return we’d do the same) represented the Last of the Romantics. She was peripatetic as we were and always seeking, searching for the next landing on that great mountain we all climbed – or tried to: Transcendence.  Her death sent chills up my spine because the last art-work she sent to us recently was a hand-made notebook she wanted me to use for some new poems I was intending to write and send back to her.  I never did.  Another collaboration that will never take place.
Sibyll, you were relentless in your optimism — or rather in your insistence on being hopeful in the face of all that life’s ugliness and daily unnecessary cruelty flings at us…But that’s also how we as artists burn out.  The desperation for something better, for a life in flow, for some harmony in and out of all that we do…Sometimes it never comes.  When good spirits fall to their knees – it is not they who lose out. It is the rest of the people in the universe who never got a chance to experience just a glimmer of what you share with some of those lucky enough to have been in your orbit – however briefly.
Thinking about the child-like rawness and the lovely crudity of your art-work, of course my mind goes back to the heart and soul of rock and roll which you loved so much…and in particular the punk of NYC’s old hey-day.
Sibyll, I know you yearned to return to the Big Apple. But trust me, NYC did not deserve your death. While a person’s death doesn’t matter as much as their living — there are constellations of energy in thie life that simply do not warrant our impassioned pleas or cries of resistance. New York has not been the city you first visited in the 1990’s in nearly 20 years and maybe it was good in a way that you never returned to see the mess and disappointment it became.  It, and the world, has changed so much, too quickly — that the promissory notes you clutched tightly became worthless.  And maybe you sensed that something around you too was just simply not worth it.  And I don’t blame you. Your courage is inspiring.  I hope your exit was joyful, wherever you bowed out…and I hope you keep them honest in the artistic pursuits beyond the stars or the molten lava.  Wherever delicate and beautiful souls like you go.
This song is for you, darling.
The Jim Carroll Band: “People Who Died”

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Anger

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They’re shipping knock-offs to Haiti.
(They forgot to send me.)

Somewhere across the ankles of the Atlantic beneath a sign for second-floor SUVs and torn up pink-slips, un-housed and dispossessed eyes peer through the gates that protect the imposter goods.
Officials cringe
when the boys
eyeball
the sneakers
that fell from their boxes like frozen feet that had been cut off and tossed out the back of the truck, sprinkling the broken boulevard like raindrops on an ice cream cone.
A cop lobs fake Nikes at a pensive boy with a Veteran’s limp and oversized coat. He laughs as the boy hops home with two left shoes and the cluster of police cruisers split into a compass of blazing sirens
each car
thinking he was the
North Star.

A red scarf emerged from the dispersing crowd.

This crimson-caped man’s
mad-dog
hands
clutched the air around him in freak-spasm night.
He lost his shoulder and dropped his jaw foaming at the mouth:
And a sound fell like a flame that had been fanned from the deep well of an executioner’s oven.

Ship.
Me.
To.
Haiti.

And the
blisters on the balls
of his feet
cut through the thick rubbers he wore and eventually rooted him into an eternity far beyond slums or beaten down blocks or inner city apathy.

Ship.
Me.
Or.
Shoot.
Me.

His fingers crawled like worms sprouting over a dead soldier’s bayonet. His scarlet fever snapping in the breeze like a matador. He waited to rotate in the barrels of the city’s finest. He just hoped their bullets would be as bright as he was.
An old woman shook her head and said to her husband, “That boy is crazy. Too much anger. Ain’t gonna bring em nothing. Bad for the heart”, she said.
He blew a kiss as they whisked by into their steeple.
He’d never be this again: a tsunami in the drone of the limping ghetto night.

For blood
is less likely
to boil
as we
get older.

…So I ask you have we truly hit the end, the rusted sediments, the ancient depositories of whales long dead and barnacles who swamped and sucked to stay alive?
Just a school of fish trembling, tremoring, and trying maybe that’s all we are: A school of fish, doomed.

Maybe we’re all madmen in scarlet scarves
knowing that shadows don’t lurk or loom
they simply stop being,
cease to follow
when there is nothing but stagnant air and a muffled heartbeat that barely brushes against the skin.
Deep schadenfreude
high as the cotton of a Mississippi nightmare

Ever seen a house on fire in the distance?
You know what every man is thinking?

“How beautiful that fire burns.
I’m just glad it’s not my house.”

(c) 2009, 2010 – from “Lying Meat & other poems beneath the Oil” by Dennis Leroy Kangalee

 

 

 

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Henry O.Tanner's "Thankful Poor"

Henry O.Tanner’s “Thankful Poor”


*
The General’s son studied the picture with the patience and skill of an art expert, gliding his hand over Nancy’s crayon streaks of torture and sentiment.

“It’s Bruno,” he finally said, putting the picture down. And he rubbed his eyes the way he’d seen the General do or the way adults do when they remove their spectacles.
“Who? The bear?”
“Yeah. He was a bear in the forest. They called him Bruno and he returned to the area for the first time in over a hundred years…and they shot him.”
“What!?”
“Yup. I saw it on the news on Wednesday. After we had dinner in the rec room.”
The General started to pace. “They killed – ”
“They shot him, General. As he was bathing.”
“Perverts.”
“What’s a pervert?”
“Someone who shoots bears.”
“Have you ever shot a bear?”
“Do I look that sick to you?”
“I’m sick. Maybe I’ll kill a bear, too.”
“Never. I wouldn’t allow it.”
“Why do they kill horses?”
“Cause they can’t shoot artists.”
“What?”
“They starve ’em instead.”

— excerpt from my 2006 novella, Where Ladybugs Go to Die

Where Ladybugs Go to Die

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