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Unread 08-04-2019, 01:18 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 4,313
Default Sun Like Blood, Malachi McCann, Savannah

The Sixth Omen: Sun Like Blood

The air is so smoke-choked, so thick and gritty,
that the amoral sun has come up blushing
darker than it ever has before
over the Hamptons, Floral Park and Flushing.

All night the fire leapt up into the city;
all night the firemen of the South Street Station
have battled it and still are waging war
at dawn. Yanked snoring from a creaky cot
and told to go and fight the conflagration,
Howard “The Hose” Petrosian has fought
and fought to save the roof of old St. James,
but he is all aches now, and perspiration,
and losing heart.
and losing heart. Expert in every law
pertaining to his trade, he feels these flames
are something supernatural, something more
than mere ferocity. He is marooned
(he fears) by hellfire. Claustrophobic awe
has left him gasping, and his back is sore
from aiming water at what won’t stop burning.
His hands, despite their leather gloves, are raw.

The sun (he thinks) is like an open wound
discharging scarlet on Manhattan. Turning,
he says to big Pete Teague beside him, “Bud,
this whole damn day is gonna look like blood.”

. . . . .

S3L6: "Petrosian" was "Yossarian"
. . . . .

Malachi McCann

There is an ugly village called Hornell
in Steuben County in upstate New York
where self-styled “General” Malachi McCann
has built a bunker called “The Citadel”
and crammed the place with canned goods, salted pork,
iodine pills, ammo and bootleg guns.
Oh, he is charismatic—he has drawn
in miscreants, dubbed them his “Chosen Ones”
and told them that they must prepare for Hell
in order to survive the End in style.
(They’ve all been waiting there for quite a while.)

McCann, a highly educated kook,
has read The Sermon of the Seven Suns
in Pali and believes Maitreya Buddha
signifies some coming plague or nuke.
He learned the language of the tribe of Judah,
then, angry with the GNB translation,
picked Greek up for The Book of Revelation
mostly, though he also loves Baruch
and Paul’s Apocalypse and often quotes
what Matthew says about the sheep and goats.
Oh, he is cultured, too—the guy can boast
of knowing Wagner’s Götterdämmerung
auf deutsch—but, listen, here’s what matters most:

he reads Mandarin and adores Xi Tung
and owns, complete, The Vision of Destruction.
His manuscript is no torn reproduction
but dates to the Eleventh Century.
(That is, he has the last four omens—knowledge
you don’t have.)
you don’t have.) When, on Malachi’s TV,
the late news features, first, this long-haired kid
posing, all smiles, beside a big dead squid,
then snow leopards and pandas from the Zoo
digging through trashcans up near Lehman College,
he recognizes omens one and two
have been fulfilled.
have been fulfilled. He goes and, taking down
The Vision of Destruction from a shelf,
mutters, ambiguously, to himself:
“Looks like it’s time for us to go town.”

. . . . .


You, Zach Berzinski, crack assassin, bad
mother, for all of your testosterone,
have cut out killing and become a dad.
That’s right: all day you have been home alone
with your insatiate baby girl Savannah.
You have fed her bottle after bottle
and read the warning signs—the squirm, the glottal
spasm—and felt the spit-up warm the pad.
Yes, you have even tried to serve up Gerber
Carrot Sweet Potato Pea Banana,
wiped her face and washed a plastic bib.
It’s time at last to put the li’l’ disturber
of other people’s slumber in her crib.
Nite-nite. The controversial Dr. Ferber
says you should leave her in the nursery,
though she is bellowing like mad, for three
whole minutes, so that she can ‘cry it out’
and learn to sleep without you. Here you go:
you shut the door behind you.
you shut the door behind you. O the slow
hand on your watch-face! O paternal doubt!
When her displeasure rises to a shriek,
you break and rush to soothe her. (You are weak.)

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-05-2019 at 07:25 PM.
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Unread 08-04-2019, 05:23 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 4,858

Hi Aaron,

Personally, I enjoy your poem with fewer likes in it, as here. I find this crisp and taut and well-executed, and I enjoy that the guy's name is the last Minor Prophet. On that note, I imagine "Paul’s Apocalypse" is a joke? It seems a little crude though.
I'd write eleventh century either with both in lowercase or both in uppercase. No other nits i can see at first blush.

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Unread 08-05-2019, 09:44 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 4,313

John, thank you. I do not intend a joke with "Paul's Apocalypse"--it is, along with "The Book of Baruch," New Testament apocrypha:

I have revised "Eleventh century" to "Eleventh Century."
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Unread 08-05-2019, 10:08 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Location: TX
Posts: 4,858

Aha! I’ve never run into that book. I think it’ll be on my shelves but I’ve not opened it.

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Unread 08-05-2019, 11:00 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Lazio, Italy
Posts: 4,925

These all read great.

The only nits I can come up are to add a series comma to line 4 of the first piece, and to change “scarlet” to the more blood-color color, crimson, at the end of that one.

The second piece is going to blow people away with its proper names and titles. I’m curious how you’re going to deal with that. Notes?
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Unread 08-05-2019, 04:25 PM
Allen Tice's Avatar
Allen Tice Allen Tice is online now
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY USA
Posts: 4,468

Howard “The Hose” Yossarian reminds me of a 30 minute NYC public service TV piece on what firemen do. It made frequent mention of the need to get a “good hose stretch” before much of anything else was done, in practice runs or live. This is not a criticism.
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Unread 08-05-2019, 04:49 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 14,530

I think the name "Yossarian" is inextricably associated with the hero of Catch-22, which could be a distracting reference unless you intended it for some reason. Just Google "Yossarian" if you don't believe me. Literally millions of results ensue. I have not reviewed them all, of course, but for at least several pages they are all Catch-22.
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Unread 08-05-2019, 06:09 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Location: TX
Posts: 4,858

I'd missed that but yes, now Roger mentions it, Yossarian is pretty indelibly Catch-22 for me.

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Unread 08-05-2019, 07:24 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 4,313

Hello, all. Thank you for commenting.

Andrew, I want the allusive section of "Malachi McCann" to read almost like a patter-song, with readers enjoying the sound of it. It is a catalog of apocalyptic lit in verse and it's enough for me if readers get that much. I hope not to include notes.

Allen, thank you. I hope you like the "The Hose" even more with the revision.

Roger and John, I had intended "Yossarian" as an allusion but I can see now the name is more trouble that it's worth. I will revise to "Petrosian"--better assonance anyway.

Thanks again,

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Unread 08-05-2019, 08:40 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 4,858

Petrosian was also a tremendous chess player. Which I think is all to the good.

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