This issue’s poetry section features the work of only three poets – Jim Davis, Ben Simon, and Kyle Chase. Davis’ contribution is “Set that on Fire” – a beautiful song that captured my attention from its first reading with its magnificent lyricism. Ben Simon’s “Generation Y” grabbed me by its anger and energy than its rhythm or beat. There is wisdom in those words, and a passion that captures the very essence of the Beat Generation.
Over the page you’ll find four poems by Beatdom regular Kyle Chase, whose first book, The Clinic and Other Poems, was released earlier this year by City of Recovery Press. Kyle’s work made a tremendous impact on my life, and has come to be almost inseparable from this magazine. His poetry captures not only a Beat spirit, but a terribly human spirit. His work speaks to us not as readers of literature, but as human beings. He is truly a poet for his age, and one who would have found an audience for his voice in any realm of history.
Kyle Chase is a poet and writer born and raised in the City of Sin. While still in high school, he got his start in journalism by writing book and music reviews for his hometown alt-weekly. Since then, he’s worked as a freelance journalist for such news organizations as the Associated Press, Liberty Watch Magazine, Las Vegas CityLife and many others. As far as his poetry goes, Chase’s poems have appeared in a number of print and online publications. He’s a regular contributor to Beatdom Magazine and his upcoming collection, The sickness which started him typing (City of Recovery Press), is expected to hit shelves sometime in the fall of 2010. Currently, Chase lives in Minneapolis with his wife and cat.
The final pillage of America
A sharp, mad stare
bloodshot eyes, crumpled brow
—an introduction to the madness we seek
as we boom, restless and reckless,
through Midwestern cornfields and winding
Rocky Mountain roadways;
A trek at terminal velocity
for a trio of terminal f(r)iends
Hovering a half-foot above hell-bound highways,
veins overflowing with nicotine and vials
of truck stop speed,
our travels are as much about finding home
as they are about finding hope.
Still, we would inevitably find neither,
though blasting our way past Nebraska coppers
and the warp-speed lights of Ike’s Tunnel
we would at the very least find escape:
escape from the sun,
escape from fools, and finally,
escape from our former selves.
For one wondrous week, we were not the weak
and we were not the worried or the wary.
We were the wild and the wicked;
we were the warriors!
And with my compatriot’s
stupidly sentimental desire
to soil the soil of every single state
through which we sped,
we left our stain—just as conquerors
once left their flags!
Until, at last, we stood atop a final hill
to behold the Apocalyptic red glow
illuminating the clouds above our
final destination: The City of Sin.
And like a sudden change in the direction of the winds,
my young friend’s face shifted from that mad stare
into something overtly innocent but with an
His breezy blond hair and piercing blue eyes
combined with a half-cynical smile and, at once,
he took on the look of a twenty-first century Rimbaud
—fitting, as he was our token L’enfant terrible.
The other, that tiresome ogre whose only
contribution to the trip was about two hours
of driving time, and a seemingly non-stop supply
of grunts and complaints—enough so that his whines
became a regular joke shared by myself and the Kid—
He stared smugly at the glowing sky and said nothing.
In fact, none of us did; crashing hard and fast, we silently
loaded ourselves back into the car, and at long last,
we made our way into the light.
—For Adam Sward and Scott Holmstrom
For once in my life, the cosmos aligned
in my favor—oh! but that was years ago.
For six years we orbited each other—
I was just a moon, but you should have seen her
But just as we came out of chaos
We were thrown back into it—suddenly, violently.
Such tragedy—such universal destruction—and
in the vacuum of space, all cries fall on deaf ears.
The universe cares not of our tears.
Has our star burned out and was its death an
awesome explosion, vibrant and magnificent—cosmically glorious?
Or did it simply flicker and fade into
the darkness without any effort to speak of to
let the heavens know it ever
Arrogant dead youth
When we were young
we arrogantly cried the Who’s
“Hope I die before I get old,”
and we meant it, Goddamnit.
But now our wishes are coming true
and I can’t stop thinking of you
—Will, Travis, Elliott, Mike—
and wishing we weren’t such snotty brats,
for we knew nothing of time
and not much more of death,
yet we stupidly welcomed it
with open arms—even summoned it.
Even those of us who’ve survived
have wrinkles far beyond our ages, and
wake up to brittle bones and swollen, painful knees.
I only wish we’d have celebrated life
in the same way we did mortality.
Oh, we had our fun; in fact, we had a blast,
but at what cost? I ask.
Those of us still above the grass
have ravaged livers and collapsed veins.
We’re reaping what we’ve sewn,
but who is left to save us now?
Hearts of stone still break like hearts
My heart, it has been filled
with so many poisons—so many
that you’d think by now
it would be made of pure stone.
Yet, it’s not, and in fact,
it breaks easily—just as easily as
it ever has
—only now it does so
with much more frequency.
It crashes like and old, hole-filled dam,
like waves against a rocky beach wall,
like the test planes that once filled my dreams
until those dreams were replaced by her.
When she leaves for good
—as, in time, she inevitably will—
I’ll know not how to live,
nor if I’ll have any desire to do so.
I doubt I’ll smile again
—at least not sincerely—
and, no that’s not melodrama;
that’s literally as real as I can get.
She changed my dreams forever,
so much so that I’ve forgotten what I dreamed
and now those dreams are falling
apart like pieces of an unglued puzzle.
If I could, I’d sing her
every lyric which ever made her feel
sentimental about me,
but as I reach these lines, every time,
my voice breaks in lock-step with my stone heart.
Negative two hundred and thirty-seven dollars. This is what my life has become: an overdrawn bank checking account, a stack of past-due bills taller than I am and a first name-basis relationship with the associates at my neighborhood pawn shop.
I can count among my assets a couple pieces of pass-me-down furniture, an almost empty refrigerator whose contents include bread and food-shelf peanut butter but no jelly, and—if you can call a woman an “asset”—a wife of whom I’m no doubt grossly undeserving.
My liabilities are many—perhaps too many to count—though I’ll try nonetheless. For starters, there’s my hereditary inheritance of a slew of neurological heirlooms; from bi-polar to autism, and from attention deficit to schizophrenic disorders, I’ve traces of each. Much worse, however, is my junk habit, the size of which is comparable to whichever Central American narco-state that happens to be supplying it at any given moment.
I’m twenty-four years old and, indeed, this is what my life has become.