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Kyle Hemmings

Kyle Hemmings is the author of three chapbooks of poems: Avenue C (Scars Publications), Fuzzy Logic (Punkin Press), and Amsterdam & Other Broken Love Songs (Flutter Press).  He has been published at Gold Wake Press, Thunderclap Press, Blue Fifth Review, Step Away, and The Other Room.  He is obsessed with 60s and early 70s garage and psychedelic music.  He idolizes Arthur Lee and Jeff Beck.  He blogs at upatberggasse19.blogspot.com.

The Lives of Rock Stars

All You Need is a Drop of Rain

Benny Alonzo Cates, guitarist and singer of Quack Nation. Started as an underground FM group that eventually went mainstream. Biggest hit single, “Sabotaged Love.”
(b. 1956–1998).

So my agent is sitting behind this big-assed desk like you think it belongs to some Pentagon official and he’s smoking a cigar, cheap like his fake alligator shoes, and he says, Benjamin, close the door and sit down. So I says, I don’t need to sit down, man, just deliver what you got to deliver straight and fast. Okay, he says, and takes another puff like he’s enjoying the suspense and this crack down on my spirit. The truth is, Benjamin, nobody cares that you’re gay or that you dress like a rainbow, in fact, in this business, being different is what it’s all about. So, like I’m waitin’ for this big fat punch line, like maybe the girlies don’t find you cute or maybe they’re too young to remember Sal Mineo, or maybe your tight red pants is getting them too hot and their mamas have to slap them when they get home. It’s like this, Benjamin. Bill doesn’t want you playing at the Fillmore. He says It’s nothing personal, NOTHING PERSONAL, but he doesn’t think the music you play is music. Call it metal-against-metal, call it angry robot chicken fallout, call it gonzo post punk trash, call it Oliver Twist on Dexedrine, call it retro-beta-wave-neo-post-modern slice of life in E Flat with some angry theatrics thrown in, call it whatever you want. But he doesn’t want you playing The Fillmore.
So I’m thinking hard about this. Who the fuck is Bill, anyway? In ten years, he’ll be nursing warm milk with a straw; he’ll be so demented he’ll keep calling my name at night and scream what a mistake he made. So I says to myself, Benny, you gotta start over, man. And when you start over, you must start at the bottom. So I go out, full blaze of summer day, bodies, nobodies, somebodies, drifting nowhere, anywhere, uptown, lowdown, East of Columbus. So I’m bopping along the sidewalk with my seersucker threads and I station myself, MYSELF, in front of these three black gents, all sitting against the wall of a bank, not doing much of anything. So I start tap dancing for them. A one and a two and a buckle my shoe. And so one takes out a harmonica and he starts playing. And another starts marking time, fingers tapping a garbage can lid. And the other starts singing Eartha Kitt’s “Mink, Schmink,” and a crowd begins to gather, little kids trying to copy my moves, leather soles flapping, and the mothers are tossing coins into the hat belonging to harmonica man. And I’m thinking, Fuck Bill. I don’t need him. I’m starting from the bottom. Gonna tap my way to heaven.

Jeesus, Sugah! I never heard of Bill!

 

Itinerary

Les Richter Jr. Former front man for the Death Metal Band, Lizard-Us-Foreplay. Found dead in his apartment at the age of 56. Cause: Heart Attack. Besides music, he left several slim volumes of underground verse.

Three women almost gave me a voice.
One thumb picked me on cherry summer days,
but being so much younger I was out of reach;
never recovered from a single wound.
The second was all fluttered notes
and glissando dives while the boys
from Ann Arbor Bay floated straight up.
Their hammer-on lives could not stay
nailed to the bone. By the time
I met the third one, a girl who could
see that I was nothing but a switch,
a tremolo, and an empty cigar box
left around my parents’ home,
I became the virtuoso of silence.

Girls from a Payless shoe source
hanging from spice racks
or death by oversexed mechanical poets.
Whip my arctic monkeys into shape,
they are dying from Vesperian despair,
Krypterian tongue-lash, the Lux Occulta
thing. You know. You know.
My Mayan contacts are predicting
an apocalypta,
but not before my placebo girlfriend
on wax and Rimbaud’s Zombies,
who cheats on her taxes,
gets in from robbing Wendy’s.
Oh, onion ring goddess
of charcoal grilled despair,
penumbra of slip-shod desire.
She’s under suspicion,
usually ends her affairs
with a blow torch.
As for me,
Moi dix mois in the desert
to dry out. I thank
my Saxon witch for not smoking.

Shadow of a Voice

Dr. Kalamity of Venus Shudders. The aftermath of a party to celebrate the kickoff night of The Babes in Whiskey Tour.
(b. Detroit, Michigan, 1958–).

Come back, little Serena,
and rest your lazy-love lips
on my rock-hard silence.
Don’t let the dyed-blue hair,
the wrinkles
from smiling at too many happy vaginas,
the too-tight spandex and roly-poly bulge,
don’t let any of it throw you
out the suite. You are sweet.
Just give me another wine
to forget the other wine,
and help me off the shag of floor.
I’ll grab the hollow-bodied acoustic
and sing you a song
about a girl who was as pitch-perfect
as my mother’s plastic wind-up doll,
named Rosa. When she sang,
nothing moved. Nobody talked.

My mother, you see,
was brain-damaged after the accident.
But she loved that doll
and she loved a voice
that could sing.

Soul Singer

Jesse Ingrim Smith, pop songwriter and ex-guitarist of the post-punk band, June Cleaver’s Mistake.
(b. Toledo, Ohio, 1968–)

Three women almost gave me a voice.
One thumb picked me on cherry summer days,
but being so much younger I was out of reach;
never recovered from a single wound.
The second was all fluttered notes
and glissando dives while the boys
from Ann Arbor Bay floated straight up.
Their hammer-on lives could not stay
nailed to the bone. By the time
I met the third one, a girl who could
see that I was nothing but a switch,
a tremolo, and an empty cigar box
left around my parents’ home,
I became the virtuoso of silence.

Tour in the Middle C of America

Mickey “Jazzy” Carter of The Ambivalent Exhibitionists. Thoughts along the Midwest bus tour to promote the new live album, My Daddy Can Still Rock His Ass Off!
(b. Toronto, Canada, 1972–)

We’re stopped at a McDonald’s in Indiana
or what could be Indiana if this means
everyone wears white sox and speaks in low keys.
I’m in a back booth frenching and submarine
diving with a Korean girl who can’t name
a single mountain in California. I ask her
to try Indiana. She places a dab of ketchup
on my lower lip and laughs like a pulp fiction
girl-assassin. Forced and loud. A roadie
in the side booth turns and gives me a dirty look.
I say good-bye to Pulp Assassin and scribble
an autograph on a napkin. I promise to perform
at her university, where she is studying Anthropology,
and if time warped, she will perhaps dig up my bones,
pieces of bus wreckage, and some broken strings
from my Stratocaster. She’ll make up some story like,
I once loved a singing dinosaur but the time bubble
proved fatal. On the bus, body graffiti by Giorgio
Hun, who did some walls along East Houston, N.Y.
we sleep like bats, but it’s only our heads
that hang upside down. In a dream, we’re terrorized
by White Aryans with bull necks and bullet-shaped
skulls. We’re stuck in some mud and they keep
rocking the bus, making monster faces at us,
noses flushed against glass. An explosion.
A white cloud of smoke. Ten Pulp Fiction Girls
looking identical to the one I made out with
at McDonald’s have kicked some brutal ass
and pushed our bus out of the mud. I jump out,
looking for the girl who has my autograph.
A bump on the road jolts me back into real time mode.
The equipment manager sitting in front of
me, who happens to be a vegetarian, turns
and says, You got some ketchup on your lip.
I don’t know. You kids from Jersey.

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