Formerly Badass Horrible Poetry

This isn't just a poetry blog. Let's be honest, a lot of what I post is poetry but there are more often than not also postings about short stories. I do try to keep this blog separate from my others and post strictly creative work here. Some of it will be better than others, and much of it is in first or second draft stage when posted. These are raw works, and there will be spelling and grammar troubles at times because I use this blog to gauge what works and what doesn't. I use it as a place to get feedback. That's the reason it is "horrible". Because it's not finished-- And why should it be? We all want feedback but most of us are too afraid to put ourselves out there.

Welcome to my word.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

As He Looked Down

                  The crested hedge blocked the view of the campsite, but Elliot could smell the charring of apple wood. The bush was beautiful in its wildness and Elliot bashed it aside without a second thought to gaze down at the little fire, indented into the earth. The logs wore weak. They had aged, greying and textured with dried out wrinkles. Falling ash powdered his head to disguise him as one of them. The lapping vixens wound their way between the martyred trees. With each twirl, their heat brought the wood to life – in orange—and then, like gorgons, their embossed  innards transformed into dust. Elliot’s eyes joined them: he felt himself carried on the current of flames and he whirled the dervishes with them, broke into languid waltzes with them, was dipped into tango with them. Soon he forgot about the logs under his pounding feet. The vixens caressed his cheek. They wound around him now, up his legs, to tease his lips with warmth. When they nibbled his ears he felt himself evaporating into the sky and his legs become cramped with arthritis and his muscles atrophy, his skin grown taught. The thunder broke his trance.  When he glanced below again, it was the pyre that was puttering out. 

©2014 Lex Vex 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Roll 34

**Author's note: So... warning, I guess? This one involves the 1940s porn industry. It doesn't exactly get steamy or anything but I should probably put some kind of warning here just in case**
Roll 34

The delicate string glistened in the unmoving air of the attic. For how lace-like the sheer thread was spun, Autumn almost mistook it for a spider’s web. When the string slid across the nape of her neck, Autumn jumped, simultaneously bashing the crown of her head on the humidity sodden rafter and dumping the trunk with a crash. A timeline littered the floor, concentrated near the lid, its skull bashed in, and fanning out all the way to the corner where the bones of a mouse rested in a tuft of fur.
            “Fuckin’ A.” Autumn said, covering her faux lace skirt over her knees so that they would not touch the grimy floor as she knelt. She gathered as many of the Polaroid’s and photo-negatives as she could and plopped them back into the trunk. Swirls of floorboard residue came up with each stack. Most of it fell into the box with the photographs but what did not splayed into the atmosphere. Autumn could feel the inside of her nose becoming caked with the stuff; it would take more than a tissue and a few huffing puffs to get it all out.
            Amid the swath of pictures were strewn other things: spoons coated with dark oxidization, the Western Union telegram that congratulated Nanny Roselie on the birth of her first son, and the shards of a perfume bottle that had exploded and scented everything with pungent Hollywood glamour. Placing in the last of the items, Autumn absently rubbed the top of her head where the skin, under her coppery hair follicles, swelled. Her free hand picked up a small cylinder of white and orange plastic. The orange outer shell had a crack along one edge; in smeared sharpie it was labeled #34. She did not remember seeing it on the ground when she first clambered up the attic stair, though it could have easily hidden under the rubble of old newspapers and other junk. She also did not remember seeing it in the trunk when she had peaked inside.
             She had been expecting to find a secret trove of family wealth – deeds to old properties, stacked and loose-leaf bills that would float through the air when she piled them like leaves and jumped in headfirst, or even sparkling gemstones from some secret marriage. Alternatively, Autumn also hoped that she would find something dark and sinister – the bones of a lost child who had been killed playing with his father’s shotgun – she had seen something like that on television once. Instead, when she finally undid the neatly secured latches, all she saw were neatly tied bundles of bills, some old cutlery, other odds and ends and more photographs than one could know what to do with.
She had perused through them. Mostly they were the extra photographs on the roll, the ones with mis-aimed shots of half a persons face, or were otherwise too over exposed to hang on a mantle or tape into a book. A few were doubles of pictures hanging in Nanny Roselie’s living room. Then there was the small orange cylinder in her hands. When she pried it open she was dismayed to find nothing but more film, tightly wound around a center spigot. Unlike the other film, this was smaller and more delicate, absent of color and appeared to be a positive. It was a movie, she realized. She pocketed it, and hoisted the trunk down the stairs to where her mother waited with the rest of Nanny Rosalie’s belongings, tied and set to go to Goodwill.

“How come you get to sit in the armchair Laur?” Autumn’s butt enveloped Lauri’s spindly legs. She hoisted herself on meaty arms into the crevice between the chair and Lauri’s body. “How are you coming with the projector, Mia?”
Lauri craned her neck around to peer at Mia, who leaned on a table, her legs spread and her butt high as she inspected the inner mechanism of the projector with irritability. Mia’s chipped fingernail had been clicking itself against the tabletop like a metronome for several minutes as she tried to turn the projector light on.
“Maybe the bulb’s dead?” Lauri suggested. Her leg was going numb but she did not want to say anything to Autumn.
“No, the bulb itself looks fine – I just can’t get the damn thing to turn on.”
“Did you try hitting it?” Autumn asked.
“That only works with movies.”
“That is a movie.” Mia glared down at Autumn. She could not raise one eyebrow by itself, so both of Mia’s eyebrows arched in surprise. She hit the projector once, without force. The light bulb sprang to life. Autumn exclaimed, “Let there be light!” and Mia sighed, pinching her eyebrows together with her forefinger and thumb. She put her finger on the trigger.
“Wait!” Lauri squealed. “We should turn out the lights!” Both Autumn and Mia asked why. “You can see better and besides,” Lauri curled her arms around her legs as Autumn flipped the switch. “It’s a more intimate experience.”
The first beams of light showed nothing but a cellophane wall, crackling with blips of pure white. Sometimes shadowy artificial lines scarred the neat and vibrating rectangle of light upon the wall. The blankness stayed and the cellophane continually reshaped itself, as if someone was snapping it taught and loose over and over again. But the light remained blank. Mia said they should have checked to see if the frames had anything in them first. Inside, Lauri frowned at the thought of ruining the surprise.
“Maybe it got over exposed?”
            In one corner of the screen a dot blipped and something appeared for, at most, 4 seconds. A single action. The woman, devoid of color and set in grey-scale, wound her body around the frame. Her knees paired down towards the left bottom corner and she was twisted so that her face took up the largest portion of the frame. Her arm was raised behind her head so that her right breast, as it fell down the length of the screen, seemed perfectly round. Hair, that each girl imagined the color of their own, covered almost all of her other breast. The film, still shining with exposure, made the woman’s perfect, naked body glow off-white; each breast had only the hint of a shadow exposing the pointed nexus, and where her legs met it seemed as if a shadow had grown tendrils of fine vines. The motion was brief and dreamlike. The woman, who’s curved body revealed a small pouch of skin below the belly button and a lean waist, was what Autumn realistically felt she could someday grow into, although she never did.  It was the motion on the screen that transfixed the girls. It was not the pulsating figure of the man behind her, nor the arm on her shoulder as he held her in place. It was the rigidness with which she tightened her sweating body, the nonchalance as she pushed the man’s hand off. It was the smile biting her lip as she dug her nails into the dry dirt closest to the camera lens. It was the moment her hand blocked out her shining, white body until only her face could be seen, contorted and trembling with ecstasy.
            The projector clicked as the roll finished, but none of the girls got up to turn it off. Instead they stared at the blank frame each with her own inner fire burning, tinged with pink. Autumn counted the tiles on the floor as she thought it, Mia turned to listen to the mechanicals of the projector as she thought it, Lauri stared transfixed to the screen as she thought it. Woman was beautiful.

The operating house was on third street, past the liquor store that documents said had been newly opened 7 years earlier, although the owners had held the property and welcomed the drunkards, sloshing and lilting, for ten years before then. Rosé draped herself carefully in her plainest work dress. It had wrap-around cloth work but its dull granite color made it blend in with the surrounding city. The broach of colored glass kept her from feeling absorbed. Rosé walked brusquely, letting the backs of her oxford pumps rub through her hose; she knew that by the time she reached the studio it would be ruined, but thought, really what do I need it for anyway?
Jimmy who worked the front desk sat with his feet up on a stool, reading the paper. Rosé saw him look her up, look her down. He chewed on something in his mouth and Rosé could not tell if it was tobacco or his own cud. Her robe hung on a hook by the door. She grabbed it and began taking the pins out of her hair. She was supposed to look unrefined today.

She sat in the lobby, holding an unlit cigarette in her teeth. She did not really want it and so had not pulled out her lighter. Her partner was pouring himself a glass of water by the food table and to everyone’s annoyance he had not bothered to close his robe. Their annoyance amused her, the way their serious faces scrunched up. She loosened her own robe to feel the air from the open door.
Richard, flustering and bobbling, ran after Martin who spent most days drinking something very bitter out of a hip flask. Richard waved something above their heads. He was shouting about the ruined roll.
“I developed it like I always did Martin! Whole roll is a bust. Nothin’ on it but the puss on this broad at the end and even that is over exposed to shit.”
“We go to print on that one tomorrow, Rich.”
“None of it’s usable, I’m telling you.”
Rosé fanned herself with the sides of her robe knowing neither Richard nor Martin would pay her any mind. She was already sore today.
“Are we going to reshoot it?” Rosé would need to reapply the lipstick they said, and she would have to be rubbed down with oil and the men on lights would blow a gasket if they had to reset that design again, which had been too strong anyway, so no. Besides, they said, no one wants to see the faces. Best to edit around it, and just get a shot of him ejaculating on the camera for the climax instead. When the men had gone and left Jimmy sitting in his off kilter chair behind a newspaper, when there was no one around to see, Rosé reached into the wastebasket and tucked the small film roll, still wet with developer fluids, into her purse. 

©2014 Lex Vex (ps, the title was intentional) 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

the paramours you leave burning

burning never
thanked me when she gorged on the less
of all my being. In the 
smoke swirled souls of paperbacks, midst
the aroma of my melting playstation. of 
all bedraggled sacrifices
the 300 count zebra bedsheets that were offered
my childhood, I left to be squeezed in a grip
of devouring hands               
the rafters, timbers and carpet fought as honor-
-able martyrs -- struggling in 
formation to liberate me from the pursuants of
burning's self-immolating army. A decree
of destruction, coming from the fuzz: burn the                
christmas lights and mr. swaggypaws, the jaws VHS, and the wifi modem!                
even the sun suffered
as her daughter lit a fatal
cocktail in the minibar. Corpses of splintered casualties eclipsed
burning's body, longitudonal and 
inflated. light beams engulfed                 
every desklamp, compact, even wardrobe and her foster dresses: every glowing artificial star.
Which of my paramours, that burning could
not cannibalize, survived this pheonix'd death is yet to be seen. 

©2014 Lex Vex

Portions of the poem based around Cassius Dios book 62: 
"Nevertheless, in the midst of sacrifices that were offered in Agrippa's honor in pursuance of a decree, the sun suffered a fatal eclipse and the stars could be seen"

the death of aggrippa

pageboy cap in pocket, ashen-father joins the strike
even as the dilly whistles, so all the valley can hear
the stallion machines exhale an'
start mid-thunder clap. The cicadas-
-hum cushions clatter as the cogwheels strike
twisted horseshoes, here
in the forgotten factory, a boarding house for
a dragoon ghost: the one who's bayonet choked on this
chewed up arm-band and bore
the mind of jackson pollock near
it's pooling, blooming rose.

©2014 Lex Vex

based on a sentence in Cassius Dio's Book 62:
"strike here, Anicetus, strike here, for this bore Nero"
Nero and Aggrippa had a ... tense... relationship.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A 17-month-old girl survives on potato chips and toilet water for weeks in a house where her parents and sister died should be able to lead a normal life, doctor says.

-The Free Lance-Star – Nov 30th 1987

The whirring blades did not blow coolness through the room, only pushed the musty odor of rot, once every forty-five seconds, into the bathroom, where they huddled—the child, Liddy, sinking her head into a pit bull’s brown fur coat. She was quiet. The pit-bull, Warbux, perked its ears with each rise of the girl’s chest. Curled upon a haunch, she lay face to face with the dog’s curled body. The dry stink of her breath blew in and out by its nose. Past the tiled floor, in the living room, a harsh yellowing desk lamp illuminated the stains drying on the carpet and the nearby fan-head, on its 321st oscillation, clicked, motor sputtering, and died, leaving stillness and silence. Warbux barked, his eyes still closed. They opened slowly, one following behind the other, so that his view was cross-eyed. Scanning the doorframe, the dog waited. Nothing moved in either room.  After three or four minutes Warbux settled, resting its head on its paws, now licked clean of sticky iron, and watched the reflection of moonbeams dance across ceramic tile.
The night was warm and despite the humidity, or maybe because of it, Warbux’s tongue lolled, swollen, outside of its mouth where it was unguarded to the taste of spoiled meat. The coughs and panting of the dog resonated in the bathroom, amplified in the toilet basin, yet Liddy did not stir. Warbux smacked its lips. Without warning, he unwound his neck from the girl and sat at attention, listening as if he had heard some noise at the far end of the house. Warbux stopped panting. The sound came again. A sound like a croak or the widowed motorcycle in the garage grinded, muffled by the maze of hallways, listlessly in Warbux’s head.
Lifting its head, Warbux turned to where Liddy lay, nursing on the pit bull’s ankle. For a brief moment, as she shifted away from the contracting leg muscles of the dog, an eyelash fluttered; she twisted aside and grabbed ahold of a small dirty washcloth, which the pit-bull had pulled from the closet, and formed it in front of her like a teddy bear. She breathed deeper than before, only once, and slept.
Standing, the pit-bull smelled her hair, taking a few long pulls on it. Liddy was an earthy smell – of grass and oil and piss, a subtle reminder of life penetrating the suffocating smells of fermenting innards from the next room. Before leaving, Warbux leaned his head in the toilet bowl, as he had shown Liddy two days before, and refreshed himself with a cool drink.
The wood floor creaked under Warbux’s feet when he left the bathroom, as he skirted the shag carpet embellishing the center of the room.  It was as though the whole woven rug had been seeped with the poison that lay upon it. The dog did not look upon the man or how he had fallen upon the woman. His arms cleaved behind her, rigid and grasping as if they were half cooked spaghetti bathed in a sour sauce. His eyes did not follow Warbux, nor did the dog make eye contact with him. The pit-bull only looked towards the bits of jelly cascading, dry, rusty and thick, to the floor, or sniffed at the shattered bone ash. The woman on the floor watched him with opaque blindness.
Her head was tilted back, and she was in the middle of pushing the man away with her forearms. Her hands were clean of his filth but the delicate pattern of blood cloaked her splotchy arms to the elbow.
Warbux started towards her. It stopped just short of the maroon inkblot and the man’s lightening toy. Her eyes hadn’t followed the dog; they only stared through the bathroom door to the little girl in Dora pajamas, sucking her thumb. Three suns earlier, when the man and the woman had hurled thunder back and forth, when they both had gone down, her eyes had been the ocean – dark, sandy green and reflecting the desk lamp. Now they were clogged with the detritus of plastic bags and seagull skeletons. Warbux wrinkled its nose and sneezed six times, layering a mist of snot upon the dead on the floor. A sputtering cry came from down the hallway, near the other end of the house. The paw prints Warbux left on the floor alternated between half articulated red patches and nothing as he loped towards the noise.
Erin’s feet were still strung though the holes on the bottom of the baby bouncer and a different stain soiled the carpet of the nursery. Warbux’s nose sniffed at Erin’s forehead, but the impossibly small child batted away the wet and cold bauble with little fists. Erin made a hacking sound that lasted for almost thirty seconds. Warbux’s ears dropped and it backed away from the sound before circumnavigating the room and coming upon the baby’s other side. The next time the dog approached Erin, she let it come. Her head lolled from side to side and her eyes were half open. She reached for Warbux’s ears, and the dog felt the pinch as she tugged on it. Warbux did not move, but waited. The moonlight had not entered this room but light began to creep in from the east, bringing with it a new rolling current of moisture, and inferno. It was the sunlight warming Warbux’s face that woke him, not the gentle release of Erin’s hand. Warbux had not noticed when the girl had released him, only that now she had. It nudged the baby seat but no sounds came and when it licked her elbow nothing in the house stirred. The dog walked away.
Before returning to where Liddy slept, curled in the towels she had pulled from the linen closet deep in the night, Warbux trotted to the kitchen and pulled a bag of greasy chips from the shelf he had only been able to reach because he had long since learned how navigate the chair, kitchen table and countertop like a cat in his puppy years. The bag was almost as big as he was—one of those supersized numbers. He dragged it, a hunter and his venison, through the hallway, passed the door with the slumped baby bounce, passed the laundry room where a green light blinked on the dryer, passed the set of the murder suicide and the broken fan and the yellowing spotlight and into the bathroom. Two weeks later, when a relative came to check up on her sister, Liddy was given a new family, and the dog taken away by animal control. 

©2014 Lex Vex

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Taking Root

She dangled between slots. Two shaven
birches among 24 that supported and striped a porch.
She pretended the sinewy grasses
that tickled her ankles and dissolved down the delta
were a stirring flow tide from the river at the bottom of the 
hill. Stomach and thighs clamped against the wooden timber and for
a moment a curl glistened with pinioned copper
highlighting the sunlight in her raincloud eyes. The 
moment ossified and a haze crossed the sun. The mountains were
shadowed like cows. The sliver of weathered grain puckered her
upper leg, swelling the surrounding flesh. She glowed
but glowed a sickly amber. She should pull it out before 
it experienced photosynthesis. She could already feel the roots
worming their way inside of her and ten years later, a 
forest had swallowed this porch. 

©2014 Lex Vex

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Whole Slew of Frustrated

the kind that taps your foot
- the crashing cymbal-
halving the inter-
-val of ticks on your watch:
the frustration of a two hour wait.
that  frustration
that  goddamn  frustration
that frustration that
oozes between pores
the frustration when you run
and diet
and diet
lift weights
and diet
and the scale films a PSA that you've gained two pounds
the frustration of knowing not
how to rewind your mouth
or the hurt look that followed.
the literal burst of frustration
when a snappy looking woman
with tight lips and drawn on eyebrows
beats you to the single stall ladies room.
She is the same women who is always
asking for the manager.
the frustration of sister.
the frustration of parents.
the frustration of baby's first liftoff, baby's first altitude sickness
of his mother
of the other passengers.
The frustration when your narcoleptic boyfriend
passes out before he's texted i love you
or even goodnight
the frustration when you haven't seen him
the frustration when you havent had a good fuck in a while
the frustration when you've had no fucks ever
the frustration when all the fucks have sucked and know they won't get better
the frustration
of longing for  someone
a few towns over, someone
a few turbulences over, someone
you are over, someone
over you, someone
rolled over and nailed in some plywood box
someone unclenching his grasp on your fingers and
won't look you in the eye
or say anything
or do anything
the frustration of someone who lets you walk away with your pride.
thank god it exists to frustrate our lifespans
so we can feel as if we lasted longer
the frustration that it won't end

the frustration that it won't start
the frustration that everything is going fucking perfect
and seems too easy
and you are frustrated because you cannot describe
just how the sun is streaming
dappled light through mirrored glass
and caressing your

©2014 Lex Vex