MAT BLACK ONLINE MAGAZINE
W.J. Nunnery was born in Madison Wisconsin. Recently, his work has appeared in Yes Poetry, Mad Swirl, and Vox Poetica. He currently is a sophomore at Concordia University in St. Paul.
The Old Johnson House
Funkedelics “Maggot Brain” was playing in repeat, blasting from the paint chipped silver boombox—a Christmas gift from Uncle Luke, probably stolen—that stood isolated on a square glass table at the room’s other end. Across the street, The Dropouts were burning down That Old Johnson House, hurling Molotov cocktails through the windows and pointing blow torches at the shrubs and pouring gallons and gallons of cheap gasoline through the inside’s hollow, on the walls, the carpet, the furniture.
Me and Dad watched it on the nightly news, both sitting silently on the same warm leather loveseat. In my gut, I could feel the engrossed flames rising, like the sound of a wolf’s cruel howl as a concrete colored full moon slides further towards some windless night sky’s unseen peak—that point when driving in a car or glimpsing out a nearby window, just for a second, one might think: oh, wow, look how gorgeous the moon is.
Mom was gone. Dad said a week earlier at breakfast “Of course she’s coming back, but for some time, here, it’s going to be just you and I. We’ll be fine, though, trust me”
Against my face, the television flashed white. Everything smelled like gasoline. I wanted to open the door. But the whole thing, it was all on the screen, right in front of me, so there was really no need and that night, me and Dad, each of us not sure exactly how long “sometime” was going to be, we feel asleep on that warm leather loveseat, flames cackling in our ears, shoes still on, he in my arms, me in his, a pained electric guitar seeping timelessly throughout our forgotten dreams.
there was a three legged dog that followed us like we were her tail
spit sapped tongue dangling half dead from her open mouth
she asked us to walk in a circle
she said please
so we did
the same circle
day and night
one night after two quick barks
she made a run for it
she made a run for it
and we watched her hobble off and we
let her go
Play it again. I know there’s almost no one here. But play it again. The place smells like cigarettes, even though there’s a no smoking sign dangling on the wall and the piano’s gazing at the night’s moonless burden and there is so much cold in where I sit that the lights are shivering and mumbling cuss words towards the custodian. He’s wearing a white tuxedo stained brown and all sorts of blues and greens and dark reds from times he told me worse than these and he’s drunk on his own gin and the girl next to me’s gin because she said he asked so politely and looked too dirty to be trying to clean anything. I’ve already forgot the song. But I remember it was in a minor key and that the melody, just a moment ago, belonged somehow to the both of us. I’m not sure though; I might be mistaken; occasionally I am. So just play it again, just once more. We don’t even have to start at the beginning. Only somewhere close.
Born East London but now residing amongst the hedge mumblers of rural Suffolk, P.A.Levy has been published in many magazines, both on line and in print, from ‘A cappella Zoo’ to ‘Zygote In My Coffee’ and many stations in-between. He is also a founding member of the Clueless Collective and can be found loitering on page corners and wearing hoodies at www.cluelesscollective.co.uk
somewhere on a lonely planet
was the first hand i ever held
that i could feel an inner silence
of a lost song within
the blue eyed
shared affinity with
the orphaned pulse of our shadows
but the surrender of blood
to let go
and now that song can no longer be heard
we’re just left holding hands
with our ghosts
Talking to the Hanged Man
The small crowd disperses. The air
hums with fragmented hymns. Sunday
always feels too vague, the hills
burdened with what Yeats called “autumn
glory” and others call “sorrow
of leaf-fall.” Somewhere a python
digests a full-grown man. Somewhere
a bomb erupts in a trash can.
Somewhere a mob of rapists
plots to ravish a tiny village
where the men have died in war.
Here in the brassy roadside weeds
of New Hampshire, plastic bottles
sulk unredeemed, little crimes
that define us. I consume
more than my share of culture,
but like the snake spend little time
with mastication and far too long
with digestion. This afternoon
the slant of light re-sculpts the trees
to suggest a Halloween terror
not even tiny children believe
but everyone wishes were real.
I recall the garage down the street
where a man hanged himself to prove
his love for his unfaithful wife.
More than half a century ago
I tormented myself by staring
into the dark of that ruin
until I saw the hanged man hanging
and forced him to catch my eye.
The creak of rope on rafter
still lingers. The whisk and shudder
of windy leaves across the highway
suggests many lost conversations;
but my foolish attempt to talk
to that hanged man is my only
instance of self-defining speech.
Freelance Security Guard
As freelance security guard
I roam the streets in search
of guilt and find it everywhere,
A man gnaws an English muffin
with a smear of butter on his cheek.
A woman drags a tiny dog
that wants to pause to sniff the spots
larger dogs have deployed. Teen
age thugs spout obscene laughter
at a wino slopped on the curb.
The short autumn day bristles
with angst. Voting season rouses
famous cultural pornographies
historians will someday enshrine,
including a former governor’s
career as beauty queen, a slur
of epic proportions uttered
by a senator wannabe,
and the first public accusation
of witchcraft in a hundred years.
I want to arrest everyone
running for office, but the badge
I bought in a pawn shop offers
no authentic power but that
of the public scold. I deserve
a dunking, but the shy criminals
on the street lack kinetic force,
and the lawyers and realtors plotting
in plush offices lack conviction.
I scold and scold under my breath
and flash my badge at children
skipping school. I drag the wino
from the curb to a bench and drape
a crummy blanket over him,
then point my unloaded pistol
at the sky and fire a single shot
only witches and beauty queens hear.
I only ask to die
Before the tragedy sets in,
When all I can see
Is a happy ending ,
Believing the world
To be a comedy.
Relaxing and still awaiting you,
I wonder how this feeling survives,
I can rest and sleep, expecting
Your arrival, do I already know
That it is going to happen, nothing
Delaying your return this time?
How quickly you disappeared,
But how much time it has taken
For you to stitch your world
Back together again, with every date
For coming together missed,
And the excuses so finely woven,
I could not begin to think of the truth.
And should I begin to trust again
The words you send me, not even
Spoken, nevertheless all I have now,
Even the memories I cannot believe,
And offer up for sale to anyone interested
In a picture show that went nowhere.