Freedom “Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field” — Langston Hughes America Where are your devices Were they lost When the ships came in The ships laden with Slave-wage servants. Come in, you said Come down off the plank (You cannot swim) Welcome to hell’s kitchen There’s a place for you On this killing ground. Lass “She Who searched for lovers In the night Has gone the quiet way Into the still, Dark land of death Beyond the rim of day.” — Langston Hughes The truly desperate Have no boundaries They cross every ocean They unleash their ghosts They have to be found They break hearts In chance encounters. So, be gentle with them First love will find them Then seek to destroy them In a thousand silent ways. Harlem “Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?” — Langston Hughes Soon I won’t know If it’s dark or light I’ll find a hotel Then walk into town. As the stars glisten And love is for sale A wolf’s on my trail So, I run. The street I am walking Is empty and flat My hands start to shake So, I run. I knock on death’s door There is a church choir They let me in So, I sing. Slumber “God slumbers in a back alley With a gin bottle in His hand. Come on, God, get up and fight Like a man.” —Langston Hughes This is the next ice age And it is all happening again. I hear you tapping On a drum, Your fife is long gone. I hear you whisper In my ear, Is it really haunted here? I think it is. You tortured and torpedoed its heart. My dear adder, Whatever is the matter? Is it too late To sleep or to wake? In the underground The demons are screaming And I am waiting For your silent apology. Boss “The boss’s got all he needs, certainly, Eats swell, Owns a lotta houses, Goes vacationin’, Breaks strikes, Runs politics, bribes police, Pays off congress, And struts all over the earth—” —Langston Hughes I hear the lightning rod of distant magazines— One more sister is lying in a camp, On his knees, a son who created is put to death— I am more than dead, I am more than six feet under, I have taken a deep dive into your underground, And I find life here is far worse— They crucify every Kurt Weil, They silence every struggling voice, And worst of all, the preachers Are making manic calls, Taking what they want As their disciples face firing squads Then roll over and play dead— Oh, look what is happening, The fascists are clapping, They’re dancing on our graves— With all the big money betting on borders, Don’t let it distract From your empty galleries Up and down these fair streets— They’ve bought up all your art And hung it over their mantels. Bio: Elizabeth Cusack is a recovering actress. Ever since playing Rhoda Penmark in “The Bad Seed” as a child, deservedly, she has endeavoured to keep up her end of the bargain. Elizabeth has been blessed with the best of teachers over the years, mostly from the school of hard knocks. She has championed and performed in fringe theatre in America. Elizabeth edits her favourite poet while not otherwise inspired by her muse to write.
Category: Elizabeth Cusack
Poetry inspired by Jack Kerouac and Joni Mitchell from Elizabeth Cusack
Jack They’re clamoring for Buddhists At the end of this sitcom Sometimes their hearts shake When nothing’s happening at all Like the gibberish they’re speaking Wondering what it means These underworld muses of Bedlam Who would like a drink Along with the monks On a Sunday afternoon After a brawl At a picture hall With mirrors breaking And stories they’re faking And IDs are required They find them eventually Then take off in a bus And strip off on a platform Separating the men from the dogs I’m setting love free Do not torture me Hate me But all love is blinded Whoever said otherwise Was laughing or lying Love always returns In a new disguise Like engines of blood Whenever it’s smiling But love will not work It returns later To pick up the dead With heads in the oven In need of more licks Should love be leaving? Oh no, it’s not leaving Although we have parted Love is our home I feel you above me When I am below you We’ve walked through these rooms Many times before You visit my tombs You break through my caskets And now we’re undone But love is the answer To all of our prayers And when you struggled Remember, I loved you When you were trying And I was blinded And my life was hacked And my eyes weren’t blue And you weren’t true And I was too small My darling, you knew I was past forty-four And I dragged and you sagged And I stayed as far away as I could Like a cat on a hot tin roof With Tennessee whisky And butane lighters And Marlboros in the drawer Don’t flatter yourself I won’t kill myself It won’t be suicide I’ll just be writing And smoking a bad habit Burning my sheets And pushing love aside I can smell fire Coming over these mountains My voice is slacking Your checks aren’t cashing And I’m not good enough We drunkards do amazing things We sit up at night And think about things And then play dead And go out of our heads Hear voices grinding us down Until we can’t speak Until we are sad We change everything Then we are glad When you go mad Will you return Or will you let love burn? Oh darling, let it die I’ll write every day That’s what it takes I’ll make some mistakes Don’t do anything It’s just a transaction My plan is to die With a bullet in my mind And no bible of great expectations I must run to you And be bold Though my love is so old and slow I try to imagine Being at rest in your arms But I can only muse On the night I die When I retrieve my heart I will say It was not a bad life Did I not sin Did I not sigh Did I not bleed Did I not weep All for the love of you Death will lie in my arms It will help me to know Who to believe I’m just walking through.
There’s a lot of things I cannot take with me I’ll never pass this way again But I’m searching for love And it’s so hard to find I can’t even locate a taxi Or an easy way around The trees in this park Waiting for the axe I lean toward love And the kindness of strangers Who show me tricks As the taverns close It’s hard to get stoned On these thickening streets Of honking cars But I’m grateful To be lost and then found By a man like you So, give me your love And after you do Our story won’t end I’ll write you a song I will say I am sorry You never understood Women like me come undone We’re mystic and not easily lead But we always remember you It wasn’t enough But that’s alright I stayed away But I’m not dead yet My music still plays So, I’ll say goodnight It’s just that we were never even You loved not enough Or was it something else What exactly I don’t know Did I surrender too easily Or did I try too hard My music plays on But love never comes around So I put your hand in mine Life is a puzzle Not a means to an end With a flick of the switch Or a spike in the arm It is gone Love is good, right or wrong Every day my heart is heavy Every day I’m closer to death Come and listen to me now As I play a refrain As if nothing ever happened at all Why did love have to hurt so much We flew the Atlantic We sailed the Adriatic We made up stories as we pleased I heard your pauses And I knew their causes I was battered and bruised easily Like a doll that was used Like the wives you despised I’m just so confused You wanted romance What else could I do But to make love to you How much longer Until my body breaks And my hands start to shake Catch me as I fall When you were lost And you loved no one You decided to try me Darling, I still love you So, lie with me now And when you shake And when you are cold And when your heart aches Or when you are lost On your love, I will wait. Bio: Elizabeth Cusack is a recovering actress. Ever since playing Rhoda Penmark in “The Bad Seed” as a child, deservedly, she has endeavoured to keep up her end of the bargain. Elizabeth has been blessed with the best of teachers over the years, mostly from the school of hard knocks. She has championed and performed in fringe theatre in America. Elizabeth edits her favourite poet while not otherwise inspired by her muse to write.
Poetry about Joni Mitchell and Jack Kerouac from Elizabeth Cusack
What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? — It’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies. Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Jack Fell Down
My first husband broke his neck I had a bottle of Jack Just after he fell down the stairs Then they asked me for a eulogy. I said, “Well, he wrote three novels And he never published a thing He didn’t trust me for a minute But thank you for calling.” My daughter wept, and I made her laugh She hadn’t spoken to him for years I said, “Well, isn’t that just typical? Gone in the blink of an eye!” They asked me for a eulogy And I suggested Jack Kerouac He never really did look back.
You’ll be brushing out a brood mare’s tail While the sun is ascending And I’ll just be getting home with my reel to reel There’s no comprehending — Joni Mitchell, Coyote
You’re Not Mine
A coyote does not hide in sunshine Behind mirrors and angles Biding his time But like a coyote you are self-contained And you lope and you saunter And you play your game You appear to be wanted You follow the crowd You remember me slightly But then not at all. I dress you to play At a cattleman’s ball I watch you smile And I watch them fall No regrets coyote It always ends this way With a sideways glance As you’re walking away I never believe A thing that you say I’m living with the dead anyway. I thank you for breaking My heart one more time I like your dance And I like your style I see it coming For a desert mile And I open the gate Hello coyote And goodbye again I’ll see you again Every once in a while. Bio: Elizabeth Cusack is a recovering actress. Ever since playing Rhoda Penmark in “The Bad Seed” as a child, deservedly, she has endeavoured to keep up her end of the bargain. Elizabeth has been blessed with the best of teachers over the years, mostly from the school of hard knocks. She has championed and performed in fringe theatre in America. Elizabeth edits her favourite poet while not otherwise inspired by her muse to write.
A November 2022 Poetry Showcase for Elizabeth Cusack
inspired by writer’s prompt “The Artist Never Sleeps”
It was a dream The sand, the wind, the future It was always only you My eyes are prisms now And that is all I am tripping through the universe Where love began You have the power To throw me off And you don’t You are a hard man With your bit in my mouth I hang on for one more ride I am your kind I am welcome In the lost and found I am crazy I hold on tight Am I irrelevant now Am I going blind Am I seeing double Am I going clear Baby, we’ll be alright Baby, you’re whispering What are you thinking Baby, I’m not blinking Everything’s tied up In a little bow Baby, keep relaxing No need to ask me Anything further Dinosaurs feed us Fumes of death Fumes of greed I love that I love I am that I am I watch the centers come and go. That is All We write, we waste, and we suffer That is all we do There is nothing There is just you Someone has made a hell out of heaven That is all Stray dogs love us They guard and follow us Mountain goats call our name The world is turning And no one’s to blame Hell is here, and we don’t know why. Already Dead When you know you are already dead That’s when life begins Before was all a dream We visit the graveyard in Paris Or the graveyard in the desert It’s all the same We are living on the graves of sheep or kings That too makes no difference When you are born already dead The undead, well, they just harvest The bodies of the poor The dogmen keep crying But it’s just for the show The fraud is most dangerous When he’s exposed The world is more dangerous When it’s exposed Dangerously complicit Like Cohen on the wire I will return to Ireland to expire The last champignon bitten With love in my mitten I will follow love home I do not screech into the void There’s no point to getting a cross You were born this way Your children are lambs of the damned There is no place for a poet on your street I get enraged because I know You earned your place from a slave in her grave Your screaming hives will not redeem Your lives spent tossing the poor another bone. Lost and Found Going to sleep with games in the lost and found All the artists have their knives drawn Ashes, ashes, that is all I am fed So what? I am spent The darkness cannot come too soon for me Nor for you and your thickening lovers Averaged by comparison. But I have eyeglasses, and I can pretend to begin again But right now, I’d rather sleep I am much more than an emollient A fly on your window screen An unfortunate consequence waiting in the hereafter But it’s so hard to make ends meet until we are complete And the whales are circling around our boat It can’t make up for my heart that’s broken So I sleep with vultures from the beyond And I catch them in radiators on Highway 1. I am used to all this There is nothing you can do to surprise me I was born this way, with Morrison and Grandma Jane Out on the highway, the suspense is killing me But I’ll wait awhile longer, just until I die To see once again your outlaw smile Who cares, I’m just a lonely flame in the fire Looking for an ash in a funeral pyre It’s been a day for licking trash cans And finding what’s true It’s a bloodborne disease, and I’m feeling blue. Its Eyes Its eyes are extraterrestrial But its mouth is from this pissing planet Its nose has no consequence And its hair is perfect It is a werewolf Ready to bite Cracking lines with cheeks The color of pie. Love is a phantom dancer An illusion with a voice It spins you around It’s a cruise, a fantasy Just close your eyes It’s a window that is viewless. Just stay inside Don’t blow its bubble Or it’s up in smoke Don’t kill it Before it kills you Just take a pill And have another drink. Bio: Elizabeth Cusack is a recovering actress. Ever since playing Rhoda Penmark in “The Bad Seed” as a child, deservedly, she has endeavoured to keep up her end of the bargain. Elizabeth has been blessed with the best of teachers over the years, mostly from the school of hard knocks. She has championed and performed in fringe theatre in America. Elizabeth edits her favourite poet while not otherwise inspired by her muse to write.
Poetry: Gilded Peacocks in Coffins (Ant Farm Empath) collaborative poem from Elizabeth Cusack and David L O’Nan
from the series “The Empath Dies in the End”
Gilded Peacocks in Coffins (Ant Farm Empath)
1 (from Elizabeth Cusack) I am on safari today Leading around an empath He is high on feeding ants Then watching them brawl We are surrounded now by fire ants But he is not bothered at all He loves his ants as much as he loves me And I’m not bothered at all. 2 (from David L O'Nan) 300 miles away on a crowded boulevard They are watching peacocks fight in the street The winner gets the moneybag, the loser gets the feathers and the coffin. Feathered fans are to be beautiful, Where is the beauty in brutality? 3. Let’s walk down skid row, and crawl around some suspicious bones. To get to that half-eaten waffle that looks like it isn’t too disgusting just yet. They have August prancing in the streets, aids in her blood and – No blankets on her cold feet. Still, Mr. Jack Daniels wants to throw her – On the back of a Harley and treat her to his idea of Neverland. 4. We can’t always believe empathy will lead us to sincerity, it often leads us to depravity. We wish upon crooked beaten stairs with loos nails, falling from the brittle sky. Continuously and see if we can wake up from a nightmare or just sweat through another dream. A murder was caught on videotape and they showed the world in blue lights. I believed Gandhi was there paralyzed and crawling through the deserts of scorned corn. 5. They began to walk the peacocks in coffins to bury them in the desert, and all I’m thinking about- Is you, a love that honesty died in. I never fully met the woman you became after your many scared ideas. Confusion was a common feeling and was the constant weakness. And in your strong heart you felt you could change them. Maybe they were never your appetite and my taste a little too Avant Garde to explore. A little clumsy, a little wanderer that wouldn’t stray too far from your pains that I’ve always felt in my fingers. 6. We found the man with the ants, fire ants… burning through dirt. Scarring our asses and chewing at our fruits. Maybe we shouldn’t all be soldiers after all, Monarchies, hierarchies, control us to our last debts. Does the last of humanity have a voice, or does the cannonball Singe louder than the guitar strings while my pain sings louder than imploding bombs. + July 2022 Poetry Showcase by Elizabeth Cusack + Current bio for Fevers of the Mind’s David L O’Nan editor/writing contributor to blog.