Two Crow Carriage Sonnets by Kristin Garth

Amy Suzanne, Art, Kristin Garth, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

Bibliotheque

Illustration by Amy Suzanne

 

Siren of Smoke

 

At library table, button back chair,

scoot close to examine the volumes laid

bare.  One illuminated by her flare

in midair, Siren of Smoke, who glissades

somewhere.  Abandons candlestick.  Forfeits

the flame.  First tome opens wide.  Pictures

explain, specters diagrammed, recorded

peculiarities.  Ghosts have strictures,

a host of species.  Notation by one

with dripping red lips, mother it says,

below lunar eclipse, spells some have done

for selective mortality, for eyes

that water, mouths that feed – at which you choke.

Consequence of enlightenment is smoke.

 

Phantosmia

 

Haunted by mere molecules, stifling air,

smoldering scent, September fare, a pile

of leaves someone made to burn amidst rare

volumes, lessons unlearned.  Candlestick child

once kept upstairs, in bell sleeves, liquefied

pink nightmares, lit by a taper she

one day will be to waft here alongside

a tragedy.  Incandescent only

so very few nights with so many truths

to bring to light.  Bright black beeswax she could

conserve; her flames finite as answers, proof

undeserved.  How could any subject trust

an accomplice to this experiment?

Light for a life, you could choke on its scent.

 

 

Author’s Note:

Siren of Smoke and Phantosmia both introduce a new character in Crow Carriage known as the Siren of Smoke.  The Siren of Smoke is a ghost of a subject who killed herself by drinking a bottle of laudanum left too close at hand in the room of the subjects.  The subjects are adolescent captives of the evil Doctor who is attempting to cure Addison’s Disease by producing and extracting cortisol in young women he keeps in a perpetual nightmare state.

 

The leaving of laudanum close to the young subjects was a mistake not repeated by The Doctor and his staff. After the girl ingests the bottle and dies, though her body escapes Willowbee Manor, her soul does not.  She hides herself in a boiler pot of beeswax for candles.  Her soul is distributed among fifteen tapers.  Each time one burns, she appears in the smoke, dancing as was her great passion.  When the candles are all used, her haunting will also be extinguished.

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of seventeen books of poetry including Pink Plastic House  (Maverick Duck Press), Crow Carriage (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), The Meadow (APEP Publications) and Golden Ticket forthcoming from Roaring Junior Press.  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com

 

Spellbound: The Story of John McGeoch

Art, John McGeoch, Manchester, Music, post punk, punk, Punk Noir Magazine

john mcgeoch

From Wikipedia:

John Alexander McGeoch (25 August 1955 – 4 March 2004) was a Scottish rock music guitarist who played with several bands of the post-punk era, including MagazineSiouxsie and the BansheesVisage, and Public Image Ltd.

He has been described as one of the most influential guitarists of his generation. In 1996 he was listed by Mojo in their “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” for his work on the Siouxsie and the Banshees song “Spellbound“. Signature characteristics of his playing style included an inventive arpeggiosstring harmonics, the uses of flanger and an occasional disregard for conventional scales.

Musician and producer Steve Albini praised McGeoch for his guitar playing with Magazine and Siouxsie and the Banshees, qualifying as “great choral swells, great scratches and buzzes, great dissonant noise and great squealy death noise What a guy” and further commenting: “anybody can make notes. There’s no trick. What is a trick and a good one is to make a guitar do things that don’t sound like a guitar at all. The point here is stretching the boundaries”.

Laughing at the Great God Pan by K. A. Laity

Art, K A Laity, Non-fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, The Fall, Writing

Pan Joy Morton Cover

Laughing at the Great God Pan

K A. Laity

In 2001 Camden Joy and Colin B. Morton wrote Pan, a book purporting to be ‘A work of imagination endeavouring to recount the Extraordinary yet True events occurring within the City of New York upon April the Seventh, Nineteen Hundred and Ninety-Eight when: numerous hearts are engaged; feats of Astonishment and Daring unfold: a man loses his found love: a primitive power draws manifold strangers into a supernatural dragnet: a father’s gift sends a son across the ocean: space-time continuums (QSTs) are repeatedly straddled: tears get shed: after which the assemblage of cross entertainers known as The Fall ceases working together (yet again) and everything threatens to remain exactly as it has been’ which is a nicely balanced evocation of bombast and litotes.

There are lots of books about, by and inspired by The Fall. Ex-band member volumes are a hefty shelf themselves and just about all of cracking quality, too. ‘Inspired by’ is a more tenuous category and by ‘tenuous’ I mean there’s some rubbish out there. I’ve always heard Pan spoken of as one of the better ones, so stuck in lockdown and floundering on any number of overdue projects, of course I decided to pick up a copy to finally read.

It’s not cheap to lay hands on; I reconciled myself to the price because I’ve not had to pay for lots of things since March. As frequently happens with things connected to The Fall, a crazy mix-up ended up giving me half-off on the price, so yay. It’s really more of a novella, so I sped through it in no time, even with stopping to look things up that jogged my memory.

The book itself is lovely, a product of Tom Devlin’s Highwater Books, which I knew mostly from comics by folks like Megan Kelso and Matt Madden. It was designed by Matt Lerner of Rag and Bone Shop with exquisite typeface and a subdued yet unsettling image of Pan on the cover and printed on luxurious paper. The title page with the above précis features calligraphy by Nancy Howell and is just beautiful. There’s a pull quote from Jon Langford of The Mekons to offer street cred to the unwitting innocent (i.e. non-Fall fan) who might pick up the book. My copy is signed twice by Joy.

What about the story itself? Buring the lede again: it’s fun. Do you have to be a Fall fan? Possibly, though I think Ballard and Dick fans may enjoy it for non-Fall related reasons. People who prefer their fiction meta will get a kick out of it. Fans of Pan, you will deffo enjoy. It kicks off right at the epigraph which purports to offer a mini history of Pan in the Western world by ‘Magnus the Good’ (resonant of Olavus Magnus but not quite) and translated by an ‘R. Totale’ in two volumes back in 1923.

The epigram establishes the impetus setting all the action in motion: the god of Panic, having been subdued by fire and death was then bisected, his head buried by the Celts, his body taken to the ends of the earth by ‘the North sea-dwellers’ or as we call them, Vikings. ‘His Head, kept by the Celtae in the ground, occasioned sorcery to render the grave as hot as the fires a warrior finds in beastly dens…’

The book opens in a Manhattan office, overlooking the Seagram’s building with Clarke suddenly meeting two very strange fellows who seem rather…shall we say, alien. Clarke being part of the music biz, that’s not so outlandish as it might seem to others, but he begins to be unsettled, especially once they mention his friend Vaughan (I have to believe that’s a Ballard ref). Are they private eyes? Fortunately his boss crashes in with news:

‘The Fall!’ Brandon shouted at Clarke from a short distance. ‘Clarke, hey! The Fall; tonight at Brownie’s; you remember; punk rockers from England? God, Clarke: fuck I always hated all those guitars; no more; The Fall’s in town!’

If you’re not a Fall fan you won’t know the cataclysm that announcement contains. There are bad gigs – and with the Fall legendarily bad gigs – and then there’s the meltdown at Brownies (if you want to see it for yourself, you can). An apocalypse no one thought the band could survive.

[Spoiler: it did (but that’s another story).]

‘Meanwhile, in a far-off place called Newport, Wales, the bell of a record shop rang and Colin B Morton entered.’ Yes, it’s that kind of book where one of the co-authors is a character in the wildly esoteric adventures. His dad, as it happens, has given him the head of Pan which had been dug up at an archeological dig at Caerleon (notebooks out, medievalists). The head has told him to head to New York and to play the fruit machine at his local to provide cash for the journey.

The scenes in the record shop and the pub are excuses for a lot of Fall fan jokes: ‘This amused Colin, for it was the cry of every Fall fan down the ages. At any given moment, The Fall was not as good as it used to be.’ Pointed mentions of Mark E. Smith’s procog intrigue the girl on the not-so-megastore check-out desk to the point where she ignores Colin and pores over the FallNet.

He leaves for the pub to join his mates for a few pints of Brains Skull Attack and discussions of everything from the occult, the Mekons, Swamp Thing, Pan’s head, the Liverpool Scene, and of course, the finer points of why The Fall was not as good as it used to be.

Colin heads off to NYC and many disparate threads begin to intertwine, strangle one another and fray like the band is about to do onstage. While it is not always about The Fall, it is always about The Fall in the sense that physics exists only to examine the finer point of whether the band 1) exists 2) is better or 3) is worse than it is any other given point in the time-space continuum.

‘Do you remember last year, in Belfast, when all the members dispersed? Snook believes that, in the brief period, The Fall still existed. It’s just that there was nobody in it, you know?…Snook also believes…that, for those few moments when The Fall existed with nobody in it, it went spindizzy about the world. Like some sort of prowling phantom, you know? It traveled around the globe, almost as a virus or something, disrupting various musical personalities in which it did not belong.’

Precog: it’s a drug. Like love, I guess. So if this sounds like something you’d enjoy hunt it down like a lost Fall member and lay your hands on it. Don’t lay your hands on ex-Fall members though. They’re not books.

K A LAITY IS HERE

PhotoFunia-1593254997

Three Poems by Jon Bennett

Andrea Hasko-Marx, Art, Jon Bennett, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

black butterfly

Black Butterfly by  Andrea Hasko-Marx

 

Needle Fight

 

The two men squared off

in the hotel hallway

a bright red hypodermic disposal box

smashed open on the carpet

between them

Ray could see it on the monitor

he dialed the police

On the screen

the two men were trying

to dart each other

with used needles

They dodged, they leapt,

they flung more needles

but these made poor projectiles,

too light, badly balanced

though still a potential

death sentence

if you got someone

just so

It was a duel

fired by fury

or, more likely, thought Ray,

a duel

fueled by love.

 

(thanks to RW for this story)

Black Butterfly

 

The boy murders minnows

with handfuls of wet sand

on the bank

many minnows will die today

so I climb a slope

to get away

I feel like

the king of California

up there

the sea, a kayaker

too far out

and the people on the beach

too close

The cala lilies

are in full flower now

white flesh open

to the black butterflies

which alight

flit off

and land

on the next

and the next.

The Reprieve

 

“It’s like a sobriety

get out of jail free card!”

I told myself, my friends,

everyone but my sponsor

“Waiting my whole life

for this shit to happen,”

in my Plymouth Duster

before a bleak horizon

me and “her”

post-punk, red lipstick

shotgun, flame thrower

whiskey highway

I drank 3 days straight

There was no “her”

I couldn’t drive

The pills made me sick

I woke up

and yes, the shit

had really

hit the fan.

Peace Within by Spaghetti Eastern Music

Art, Music, Punk Noir Magazine, Sal Cataldi, Spaghetti Eastern Music

Peace Sea Bird with dots

With “Peace Within, Spaghetti Eastern ventures to the ambient sphere of his musical lexicon, with an instrumental chapter of chill that may just be the perfect sonic tonic for these troubled times.  The piece unfolds slowly in a series of waves, an aural mediation in chapters. An echoey piano, vibraphone and phased strings, ones that could be a lost track from Eno’s “Another Green World,” provide the soothing musical bedrock.  This is complemented with sustained drones from a duo of Ebow guitars\ drenched in reverb, setting the stage for the lead guitar which propels the searching melody of the piece.  The calming and cavernous ambience created is periodically shocked and heightened with heavily processed, thunderous percussive accents.

Spaghetti Eastern Music is genre-leaping solo project of NYC/Hudson Valley, NY guitarist/keyboardist Sal Cataldi. His cheekily titled debut album, “Sketches of Spam,” and his January 2020 single, “Her Lemon Peel Raincoat (Because It’s Raining),” have drawn notice from critics at a multitude of prestige outlets like The New York Times, Time Out NY, Jazz Times and The Huffington Post and airplay on 125 radio stations and podcasts across the globe.

 

Open Eyes To The Unknown by Kristin Garth

Amy Suzanne, Art, Horror, Kristin Garth, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

A sonnet, illustration and footnote from Crow Carriage:

 

Open Eyes To The Unknown

 

Add the footsteps upon the stairs, eighteen

at least you are aware before the groan

of the unwieldy door, the rattled keys

that underscore your confinement alone.

Open eyes to the unknown.  Only darkness

which amplifies each sound of what

would scurry on this ground. Hirsute harshness

from which you seek to hide.  Feel for blanket

atop this mattress and beside though none

you find within your reach.  Dare not wander,

bare feet, beseeching shelter, aid, someone

two floors above.  Monster you dishonored,

loved has sequestered you with your own kind

inside a mischief35 for mendacious minds.

 

35A mischief is something that a human can commit, much as The Mistress of Malice

did this evening breaking the one cardinal rule of her host:  do not interfere with the experiment.  The experiment, years of his labor, involves young women of her own village the nobleman doctor collects and keeps upstairs.  There are exposed to his protocol of laudanum in pink milk inciting terrible dreams and the consequent cortisol production – essential to the doctor’s lifework of solving Addison’s Disease, which took his own dear brother’s life.

 

None of this a layman could understand.  It’s why any guest to The Doctor’s home, which had not been terribly many since the experiment’s conception had been caution and consigned to the first floor.

 

The adolescent Mistress entered the home of The Doctor, a recipient of much grace after

a life of abuse.  The Doctor’s generosity with the child was manifold – he had taught her the requisite skills to kill her abusive relatives, offered her a beautiful room on the first floor with a lady to wait on her every need.  He had ignored his own needs for yet another young

female subject for his work to aid this girl.  All he had asked of the child, as he would any lay person, was that she not interfere with his work on the second floor.

 

And yet there had been mischief, Mischief of the Mistress.  The child had waited until The Doctor slept soundly, after a day of draining scientific work to better mankind, so that she might take advantage of his fatigue to climb the stairs and break the only rule.

 

Of course, she hadn’t known that the laboratory where his adolescent subjects slept and nightmared for him in perpetuity had a night duty nurse much more formidable than the doctor himself.  His dearly departed mother had offered her services to his experiment long ago as a matron of the laboratory in the nights when The Doctor and his human assistant must attend to their mortal need for sleep.

 

Mother makes quite an impression on the adolescent subjects, her death form quite unlike the beauty The Doctor knew in his youth.  Her bloody, beastly visage a warning that keeps the girl in bed.  The form had obviously scared The Doctor’s young new mischevious houseguest who had wandered to the forbidden floor.  It scared her enough the sound of her head bouncing off his parquet floor when she had fallen in fear had woken the Doctor who lifted the devious child into his arms.

 

But what to do with the girl now?  The first thought was to lock her inside the experiment and forego looking for another always essential subject to nightmare and provide her cortisol infused blood to his lifework.  There was, though, the risk of contamination with one as willful as this.  That could not be allowed.

 

And so to the basement, he had brought her and left her inside its depths, locked.  There was a bit of poetry to this plan and karma that appealed to The Doctor.  He had brought a mischievous girl to the mischief as she had craved – though maybe not in this form.  You see, The Doctor, as a scientist would know that a mischief is also the name for a group of rats.  His basement was teeming with them.  Not a scientist herself, she might not know this, but he would leave her there nevertheless alone in the dark tonight where she might learn.

54531186-b226-44b6-8f26-320f02950585

art by Amy Suzanne

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of sixteen books of poetry including Pink Plastic House  (Maverick Duck Press), Crow Carriage (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), The Meadow (APEP Publications) and Golden Ticket forthcoming from Roaring Junior Press.  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com

Art/Heist by K. A. Laity

Art, Films, International Noir, K A Laity, Noir, Punk Noir Magazine, Writing

kansas city

When I’m not thinking about grifters, I’m probably thinking about heists. There’s a good bit of overlap in the miscreants involved in each, I’m sure. Are we talking fiction or non-fiction? I hesitate to call it reality. Does anything seem real right now? 

With news that there’s was another big art theft this week, we can guess that people are taking advantage of the distracted state of the world under pandemic. Old Masters worth $12 Million looted from Oxford: some fancy paint there. But will the thieves earn that much? Probably not:

While unauthenticated works can easily make their way through the open market, that’s not the case for known pieces of art. As soon as stolen works are listed for sale, authorities will seize them. Thus some art criminals turn to the black market, where stolen works fetch a far lower price than their actual worth. 

Likewise the theft the other day that nabbed a Van Gogh. You can’t help but wonder if a specific collector was making use of the lockdown time to acquire something he’d been wanting for a while. I love how the staff are reported to be “shocked and unbelievably annoyed” as one might expect. Capitalising on the prurient interest, the news site leads to another heist, jewels this time. There have always been those who were not willing to wait for the things they want.

This of course puts me in mind of Jean-Pierre Melville’s influential Le Cercle Rouge (1970) with a mustachioed Alain Delon, a surprisingly seedy Yves Montand as the alcoholic ex-cop with some very unbelievable DTs, and André Bourvil as the dogged Captain Mattei. I like to imagine a string of cosy mysteries with Mattei and his cats. The (alas, out of print) Criterion edition of the film includes interviews and footage of the Stetson-hatted Melville as well as an essay by John Woo talking about his influence. With its Gallic languor and genesis from a Buddhist quote, the film offers a heist that is doomed before it ever starts. 

The American take on the heist is often much more triumphant. This week my students are watching Kansas City Confidential (1952) which offers a more mundane bank heist but with some innovative differences: none of the heisters (is that a word?) know each other and they’ve all worn masks, so they can’t identify each other. They were brought together by a Mister Big, who has set up an elaborate gig, sending them all to Mexico to wait out the heat. 

Hey, Lee Van Cleef and Jack Elam! A gum-chomping Neville Brand. Jack Payne stars as a down-on-his-luck but amply-medalled vet (hey, this is #noir after all) who finds himself the fall guy when his delivery van appears to be the getaway vehicle. If the lazy cops won’t crack the case, he’ll go to Mexico and sort it out. Yes, some unfortunate brown-face: ironically African-American actor Dona Drake had an interesting career passing as Latina (hint, filmmakers: a great story to be done there).

Colleen Gray shows up as the innocent daughter of Mister Big who’s studying for the bar (of course) but takes a liking to Payne’s ex-con (who’s pretending to be Elam’s characters – it’s easier to follow in the film) and has no idea what her father’s been up to. Cue some sneaking around by everyone, some really terribly choreographed fist fights and not enough Van Cleef glowering. It’s entertaining nonetheless. I look forward to my students’ comments on it. 

Are you planning a heist for the lockdown? Watch a few films to see where they always go awry. And wear a mask – it’s a good idea even if you’re not pulling a needlessly complicated heist.

K A LAITY IS ON THE LAM HERE.

Overlooked Noir: Crack-Up (1946) by K. A. Laity

Art, Films, International Noir, K A Laity, Noir, Punk Noir Magazine, Writing

Crack-Up-Poster4

No surprise that this one would appeal to me: Noir ambience? Check. Art and art forgery plot? Check. Mind manipulation? Check! Yeah, art and a sort of Hannibal connection, well – I’m sold. Never mind that Crack-Up stars Pat O’Brien, an unlikely everyman as its hero. It’s got Claire Trevor though, with a wild swathe of outfits, and it has the ever-urbane Herbert Marshall for kicks. And Wallace Ford who adds value to any picture he’s in.

It starts in media res like so many noir films, with a befuddled O’Brien breaking into the Manhattan Museum, punching a cop and breaking a statue. The museum director calms things down because they don’t want bad publicity though art critic George Steele (O’Brien) will lose his job because they think he’s drunk and raving.

Flashback time, of course. We go back to Steele lecturing in the museum. He’s a born feather ruffler, though, poking fun at rich people and at bad art. ‘If knowing what you like is a good enough way to pick out a wife, or a house, or a pair of shoes, what’s wrong with applying the same rule to painting?’ He tells the appreciative audience that the only folks he feels sorry for are the people ‘who know everything about art, but don’t know what they like.’ Cue snappy dressed guy shuffling his feet uncomfortably at the back with Claire Trevor next to him in a hat like a neck pillow.

‘The only way they can tell a good painting from a bad one? The price tag!’ Cue abashed laughter. Steele is reassuring to the audience that mostly seems to be people a little uncertain about art. He uncovers Millais’ The Angelus to general oohs of pleasure and he commends them on being part of a long history of folks who’ve enjoyed the painting. Steele mentions trying to get Dürer’s Adoration of the Magi (or as he calls it ‘Adoration of the King’) back for his next lecture. The museum director frowns at this and then audibly gasps when Steele talks about showing them the painting under x-ray.

Uh oh! We know where this is going.

For Steele, it’s just a chance to show that even masterpieces have false starts and revisions. Though he mentions it’s a way to catch forgeries, too. Camera cuts to Marshall lurking in the back looking mysterious. ‘A good technician with nothing to say is a very dangerous man’ — like say, Van Meegeren? – ‘whether he forges masters or paints nonsense.’ This means it’s time to make fun of ‘modern’ art. Cue audience member asking just how far away from modern art you’re supposed to stand. Quite closely, Steele jokes, then start backing up until you run into someone interesting and go for a walk with them.

Obviously this section is my favourite.

Then of course a fellow with an accent – clearly some kind of dangerous foreigner! we’re meant to think – cries that, ‘Pioneers have always been ridiculed!’ An affable Steele tells him that he’s not condemning modernism, he just doesn’t happen to like the painting and it’s fine if others do. The foreign art lover accuses him of lacking perception and sensitivity. As he goes on, passionately derisive of Steele’s failings, the crowd turns against him, hissing and booing. He’s dragged out by security to applause. All-American war veteran Steele makes a joke of it, saying he’ll go into modernism more deeply next week, but ‘Surrealists will be checked for weapons at the door.’ It’s a have-it-both-ways Americanism: look how tolerant I am of the foreign guy who was dragged out of the room but not by me! And my gentle genial jokes at his expense. No big deal! 

Not the point of the film, but I love this scene: it’s so off-handedly rich.

Of course there’s a forgery business to be uncovered having to do with the Dürer, fugitive fleeing, a fire on a ship, and more. But the powers that be decide to head off nosy, x-ray wielding, controversy-building Steele with a clever ruse:

[SPOILERS]

 

making him thing he’s been in a train accident. Ray Collins plays the doctor working for the museum to hide its shady dealings. He almost chuckles revealing the very useful trick he learned during the war as he explains it the captive Trevor. ‘It’s called narco-synthesis, Miss Cordell.’ I assume that’s why Bryan Fuller called Mason Verger’s gruesome major domo Cordell. And the plan is surprisingly similar to techniques in Hannibal, though they’re of course even more sophisticated. The mind is a fungible thing. 

‘All inhibitions go; the subconscious mind takes over.’ And the subconscious is easy to manipulate with the right stimuli. Like a train that passes really close to the doctor’s house. Is there no one who can stop this nefarious plan? In between some chit chat with the decidedly upwardly mobile Cordell, who wants to ditch ol’ Steele for someone swankier but clearly is happiest with him. There’s a great scene in an arcade when they’re trying to hide in the crowd. It’s a worthwhile film.  

It’s available as a Warner Archive disk, though you can find an online version that’s pretty murky. Jacqueline T. Lynch’s blog does a good job of breaking down the narrative points and providing some great screen caps.