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New E-Chap from Kyle Hemmings: Avenue C

I've known Kyle's writing for some time now--and was lucky enough to publish a couple stories--and he never fails to impress me. His e-chapbook from Scars Publishing, called Avenue Cfits more than neatly into the subject matter I like to read about. I'm somewhat jealous of these poems, to be honest, and that doesn't happen often. Here's the first poem in the book, the title poem.

Avenue C


She gets high on diesel dust
& mute reruns of Jack Benny.
This slinky white boot Barbarella
has got a rubber soul
that stretches into angel octave,
levitates in the nightly limbo
of bong & free trade
called Avenue C.

Claiming to be owned
by 3 bipolar Kings of Funk,
she breaks glass beer bottles
in the backseat of my old Cougar
& gives herself up
at least once a month.
She doesn’t even wipe
the rivulets of blood
spelling my name
with a missing vowel.

I drive my car
on methamphetamine rage
fill everything up
on zeroes.

At the club tonight,
the D.J. looking like
some fucked-up owl on Special K,
I dance with everyone’s girl
of a thousand bar butterflies.
She twists & gyrates
to the boom boom boom
& sonic Charlies,
shouting to the world
that her body is protein & crystalline salt,
addressing that constant hunger
of dead-eyed mystics,
shouting to the world
that she’s not wearing underwear.


After the artificial red smoke
& dancers with a thousand names
have cleared, he spots the old man
leaning against the piano
that the Siamese twins played out of key.
He’s wearing a flannel shirt that is just so
out of place. He thinks: the crow
must be a veteran of a foreign war
where everyone lost their left hand
& some buttons.

How much? says the Crow-man.
An arm & your left leg, says Banshee-Bob.
In the hotel room,
Crow-man pumps Banshee-Bob
as if channeling his very soul
through the only bridge-&-tunnel there is.
& tonight, neither trick or customer has wings.

When finished, Banshee-Bob looks up
at Crow-man and spots a squiggly red line
across his throat. He hadn’t noticed it
in the misty darkness of the club
that sold rum & quick-pop soul with ice.
It reminds Banshee-Bob of a snake.

But tonight, no need to call 911,
it’s just a mongoose on home turf
just a self-inflicted wound,
the snake’s eyes like tiny keyholes
into a room vacated by draft-dodgers
an old wallet photo of an Asian boy
how cold-blooded bodies can never be forgotten
except in Apt. 214d, last door on the right.


My pit bull girlfriend protects me
from dreams that form scabs
under the skin. I draw a fibrous lining
around my sleep well, or live within
the chain-link perimeter of
But despite the subliminal waterfall
of wishes, I do.

In bed, we go down like good cough medicine.

By morning, I am cradled by the love of fur.
I recall the dream of her white teeth
that are mountains & the sun & the moon
that are various shades of her eyes.
There is no trace of a calibrated whistle.

& what I have at the end of my leash
is something that will never return
only the outline of someone
who once found me too needy
of claw & red meat.

The poem is 'streetwise' and seductive in its rhythms, doesn't depend, really, on a narrative thread, though there's a hint of one, and uses its language to describe both what's happening and what might (could? should?) happen. It's rare enough that this type of poem isn't overdone or simply embarrassing. With every line Kyle gets better and better, with tighter control on the language and images. And the damned thing is free! Go get it.


  1. Thanks for the comments, Rusty, really appreciate them--Kyle


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