Summer is a destructive force. The dank humidity leaves me brooding and exhausted; Houston is unforgiving. The cement, cars, and teaming masses, coupled with my incessant ambition, leaves a trail of sweat, puts me in dark rooms, huddled by the throbbing sound of fans, hiding from the relentless assault of the merciless sun. I dreamt last night of the snow from a failed conquest in Northern Virginia years ago; the result was the same, hiding, smothered, seeking refuge from icy February that left me longing for the comfort of home, the soft Houston late-winter. The result is the same; I spend my life hiding from the world, looking for artificially, temperature-controlled spaces. In the end, I spend all my time hiding from everything. Loud people with abrupt personalities. Shiny, bright sorts with abrasive opinions and sharp condemnation. The truth is that I am a coward. None of it is for me. I am given over to fits of intuitive paranoia, deep sympathies for the outcasts, feeling the deep burden of guilt for failures, lost in a world of vapid people with sharp agendas packed away in pockets and purses. The summer is unbearable. The disappointment is too much to bear. There is never a point which I feel at peace with the universe. It is all slipping away, as I clutch my confused life with sweaty hands, secretly afraid of skin cancer and the world getting hotter by the day. I am one of the ones who ache in rooms with small talk about politics, puffed up bravado about personal exploits. I just want to sit in silence and breathe, feel the love and positive energy at the core of it all that is often so elusive. The heat will devour me. I will lose myself in August, burn and sweat out pounds. There is no escape. The world and all the magic it possesses is fleeting. For the time being, I sit and wait for this all to pass. Eventually, this summer will end, the superficial people will go away. I will be able to soak in the beauty of the life. Find happiness not tarnished by all the disappointment in the world. Everything will be okay. I just need to get through all of this heat. The world is a beautiful place. I just need to sit and ponder the future.
Jasper Kerkau is co-creator, writer/editor for Sudden Denouement.
The universe is amazing. At times I feel overwhelmed in the way all the cogs fit in the great machine that powers all of our lives. My life is a series of baffling events that propel me forward. I came home from wok and had a new book in the mailbox for the second time this week; it was the new book of poetry by Ms. Georgia Park, “Quit Your Job and Become a Poet.” The dedication stunned me. Thank you Georgia. Thinking of Georgia reminds me of the strange Fall that seems like a thousand years ago. It would be a severe understatement to say that Georgia had a significant impact on my journey as a writer and the development of Sudden Denouement. Georgia, like her poetry, is fierce and authentic, screaming truth amidst the cacophony of meaningless sounds emanating from a world consumed in triviality. I read everything she writes and am constantly challenged as a reader by her stinging honesty and unmitigated truth. The world is a better place with Georgia Park thoroughly engaged in the role of poet. Please pick up a copy of her book and check out her sites: Private Bad Thoughts and the feminist collective Whisper and the Roar.
It ironic that earlier this week I received a book by my friend in Japan, David Lohrey. It was Georgia Park who sent me an email telling me that she was contacted by an amazing poet that I needed to read. I told her to forward me the poems. My response was two words: “holy shit.” I was immediately stricken by the originality and depth of his work, replete with acute cultural criticism and subconscious self-analysis. Georgia brought David into my life. The universe thrust us all together allowing for our paths to intersect, pushing us in brave new directions. David’s book “The Other Is Oneself: Postcolonial Identity in a Century of War: 20th Century African and American Writers Respond to Survival and Genocide” (Lambert Academic Publishing) is available on Amazon. Congratulations David on publication of this weighty work. I look forward to giving both works my undivided attention in the near future. Hopefully, I can expound on my thoughts of these works soon. David does not have a blog but is a member of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective. Please take time and read his unique poetry.
Lastly, I just discovered that Nicole Lyons has a book that is available for preorder. I will be ordering a copy tonight. The title of the book is “HUSH.” It is being published by The Feminine Collective. Anyone who has followed Sudden Denouement and Secret First Draft knows I am effusive in my praise of Nicole Lyons. Not only is she an extraordinary poet who has a body of work that touches an enormous amount of people, she is also one of the kindest, smartest people I know. She has no idea of the impact she had on my life. She gave of herself selflessly in the worst of times. I don’t forget. I look forward to getting my hands on her book and spreading the gospel of Nicole Lyons. Please go to the Feminine Collective, preorder her book and take a moment and read more of her amazing poetry at The Lithium Chronicles.
My hope is that others will follow their lead. Thank you for to the brave ones for paving the road for the rest of us.
Jasper Kerkau 3/24/17
Sudden Denouement Literary Collective
I haven’t been this happy in a long time. The silence of Saturday night used to make me cower and cringe, panic in the restroom and bury myself under covers, waiting breathlessly for the sun to come up, for the vampire night to recede back into my nightmares. The fog of autumn burned off; a stillness and quiet flows through my empty house. I breath it in slowly, waves of peaceful solitude pour over me, smoothing out my idiosyncratic creases, taking me to a place most people live; a place I never knew–the world of normalcy and general complacency. Perhaps I could take up residence here, away from the shadow people and dark mental clutter that burdens me, leaving me washed out, shattered by suspicious conversations with everyone. Maybe this is forever. Maybe I am fixed, better than I was before. I can wake up on Sundays, make a big breakfast, do some push-ups, and spend a couple of hours in church with polite conversations and thoughtful meditation before returning to home and honest labor, cutting grass and sawing limbs, waving at neighbors before retiring to recliner to watch the game and dose off intermittently. Oh what a life I could have! How happy I will be from here on out. Everything is going to be okay. No more top secret distress over high cholesterol and the state of reality. Thankfully all the monsters and dragons have receded back into the darkness. From here on out everything is going to be okay.
Jasper Kerkau (1/28/17)
Sudden Denouement Literary Collective
At some point, towards the end of the night, I get into the pool with my clothes on. Adults are on the patio talking in hushed tones about divorce and lost nights from the early-nineties. Kids laugh and squeal, chasing each other through the house and around the pool. I hold my breath and float to the bottom, thinking of the mess I have to clean up. My life is falling apart. I gave my debit card for someone to get orange juice an hour ago. I ponder this and pull myself back up and repeat the process several times meditating on the mess, the residue from ribs, beer bottles, mistakes, dead ends. Eventually I sit on the edge of the pool and try to light a cigarette. My fingers are wet. The cigarette breaks. My f’ing luck! My son waves with a big smile, he is elated. I love you daddy. I lean over and hug his small, wet frame in the pool. My mind races. I have to get up. I have to get up. Everything will be okay. Everything will be okay. Eventually the house empties. I put the kids to bed and darkness washes over me. There is no path. I have to start over tomorrow. I have to keep moving.
Jasper Kerkau (8/17/16)
There is a place I can dwell, removed from silent gore of emotional life tied to humid residue of lost summers. From failure springs the renewing waters of new worlds laid out–removed of the impurities of dysfunction, bad relationships, tarnished pasts, regressed lives spoiled under the hot sun. A celebration of life! Turning from folly, the endless cycle of death and resurrection, the desire for absolution from a human problem: Lost in people, feeling tied to desire for healthy relationships, nuclear domestic dynamics. It is all so fleeting!
There is a place I can dwell, upright, given to spontaneous laughter, at peace with the balance of universal order, finding a person in the mirror I can live with. Slowly the last forces come in from remote villages, shoulders slumped, spirits broken, bones shattered; the light from their eyes extinguished by the long battle. Longing for the peaceful, tender embrace of loved ones, starting a new life devoid of the endless war against everything, their shattered nerves begin to calm. There is solace in the sun rise, the ceasefire that brings lost souls from a life of peril–and conflict–to the hearty meals, comfort on either shoulder: Silence. Is this merely a mirage?
There is a place I can dwell, benign rumors of demise, refuted with archaic parchment written on the heart, shown to elders who rub long beards, nodding silently as bread is broken, ceremonial wine consumed out of ornate cups. A world of possibility beckons with the hustle and bustle, normal lives being led in quiet satisfaction: Ah, everything is actually going to be alright! The grass eventually pushes the dark red stains of war off its leaves. The moon hangs passively in the sky as tired souls find solace in soft bed, the smell of candles and the laughter of children. The war over, the battered souls finally at rest. I find my place there, away from the carnage, emotional wounds heal slowly; at last, the world opens again with all of its blissful majesty.
Jasper Kerkau (9/27/16)
“You are a runner with a stolen voice. And you are a runner. And I am my father’s son.” (Wolf Parade)
The weather is changing. In the morning I can feel it. It is just a matter of time. Eventually a cold wind will blow away all the dank humidity. I think about running, my lost passion. Before the bad back, before the squeeze of domestic responsibility, I would put on my running shoes on a cold Sunday morning and run until I had exhausted my legs, lost my breath. It was exhilarating. My life transformed when I was running; it was the action from which all good things sprang. I could never envision a life without it. Of course, I didn’t visualize the obstacles life would put in my path.
Years ago my mother gave me some dusty mementos of races my father ran in the early-eighties. I never thought of him as a runner. Later in life he had a big belly and was a connoisseur of indulgent, greasy meals. He labored at times going up stairs and seemed frail. I wondered why he quit. Thought that perhaps if he wouldn’t have stopped running his heart would not have exploded two weeks after retiring in his late fifties. I thought of him as I ran. I felt close to him. Understood what he went through getting up on an early Saturday morning and facing down a half marathon. Perhaps I understood him in a way that I never did. It was something that we had in common all these years after his death.
Like my father, I stopped running. Life happened. I think the end started with a back problem that eventually became an excuse. I slid into a life of leisure. The drive vanished. Again, I understood him; the distractions, the work, the family all became more important. Suddenly, it became easier to stop running. I wonder to myself if he ever felt the guilt, pined for the long runs, or the silent meditative runs when all the problems of the world seem to be held at arm’s length, at least for an hour. If he would have lived to an old age, we would have those conversations. We would realize that we have a lot in common. Maybe we would have a laugh and realize that I am my father’s son.
Today, as I eagerly anticipate the first cool air, I think about him. I also think about running. My life fell apart; unlike my father, I was not able to hold it together. Now I have half a family, smoke constantly, and find myself given over to the same indulgent meals—though I have not yet fallen prey to the protruding belly. I don’t know how to fix everything, but I am sure that the only thing I can do now is take action, put one foot in front of the other and spend hours chasing the silent meditation that led me out of the darkness years ago. It is so far away but so close. All it takes is action, putting on the shoes, grabbing a water out of the refrigerator and start running.
Jasper Kerkau (11/29/16)
It was all so fleeting. The expression on her face says everything. After a terse exchange, I sense that we were both beholden to the past; there is no escaping it.
“Do you think it would ever be different?” She looks puzzled, lost. I am befuddled and confused. Incapable of doing anything. Words become useless ornaments that get discarded. It really didn’t matter what I said.
“I am going to go.” I posit, turning to the door slowly.
“It’s all very sad you know.” I can hear it in her voice. The finality is a haunting presence in the room. She continues, “I don’t know what to say. I just really don’t know what to say.”
“We should talk when I get back.” I suggest, but she and I both know that we will be in a different place then. It would be water under the bridge, just a dark pang that stabs the heart periodically.
“Okay, that sounds great. We will talk then.” Slowly she wipes a tear out of her eye. Embarrassed, she turns as I head to the door slowly, making one last attempt to think of anything that could fix everything.
“I still think of you the same way I did then, that day. It feels like a million years ago.” I walk out the door, silence to my back. There is nothing I can do; there is nothing either one of us could do for that matter. I get a lump in my throat and feel the sun beat down on my face as I walk out.
Jasper Kerkau (10/05/16)