This is a poem about my nipples. I call it "Titillation" because that's a pun and people pretending to be poets use puns as the illiterati use memes: to prove how clever we are. So prepare to be impressed. My nipples are erect all the time. So reliably erect, when nothing else is. In thin silky shirts they are steeples. In thick cotton pullovers they are pimples. Are they impressions that misleadingly point to titillation? Or are they just sad signs for all to see that my world has become cold? I'm pretty sure that's a metaphor, which again showcases my cleverness - something I desperately want to convey. You'll also find I did not rhyme. People pretending to be poets don't do that anymore. It's crass. And, yes, I know. By writing about my nipples I risk being accused of indulgence and narcissism. But that's a risk people pretending to be poets are perfectly happy to take. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
Author Archives: luvgoodcarp
Hey, Dude, That SurrenderWatch Looks Awesome
In celebration of Unity & Justice Month (the only month where we come together and pretend to honor Unity and Justice), Mega has released its SurrenderWatch (patent pending). Sweet!
Does it tell the time? Of course it does, you moron. But it also tracks how much exercise you get. And in this month only, the more you exercise the faster you close the Unity & Justice Ring (trademark pending).
Oh, hey, this is wonderful! By simply wearing a SurrenderWatch, I will get healthier and in return for my patronage Mega will donate money to worthy causes that promote Unity and Justice, which are not vague platitudes at all!
Hold on, my friend. Who said anything about money? Let’s not sully all these puppy-dog feelings by bringing up money. No one has to pay anything (except you to buy a SurrenderWatch) to support Unity and Justice.
All you need to do is complete the exercise ring within the prescribed time every day. So get off the couch, walk to the kitchen, and microwave some pizza bagel bites. Simply by living healthier, you will promote Unity and Justice – and provide Mega with some useful biometrics, which it will sell for a massive profit.
So what are you waiting for? Do you hate Unity and Justice?
Titmouse Beak, CEO of Pungent Sound Technical College of Technology and Owner of Pungent Sound’s Only SurrenderWatch Store
A Warning for Everyone Owned by a Cat
If you live in the vicinity of Smith Mountain Lake, it is the time of year when Smithie ends her hibernation. She will be ravenous, so protect your lords and ladies.
For those of you new to the area, here’s a description. Smithie has a grizzly bear’s head mounted with knife-like antlers. Her body is squid-like but covered in rusty-red fur – the same color as the region’s nutrient-depleted soil, so she blends easily – one reason why she’s such a diabolical hunter. Her tentacles can serve as legs, meaning she can walk and run on land as fast as she can swim in the lake’s murky waters. Her eight arms can serve as . . . arms.
She hibernates near the dam in Smith Mountain’s shadow, but once she awakens she could be anywhere in or near the lake or the Roanoke River. She is between 8 and 25 feet tall – depending on the eyewitness’ sobriety. So most people say 25 feet. In addition to being frightening, she’s frighteningly good at tentacle sex. Some would say it’s her sole redeeming quality (try it before you criticize it).
Smithie loves to dine on cats, catfish, and children. She finds sarcastic children the tastiest. Hey, another redeeming quality.
Tengo Leche, Cat and Tentacle Sex Lover
The Judas Month
If there is a month for each apostle this must be the Judas month and you have now lived long enough to have been betrayed by everything you believed in. Did I just compare myself to Jesus? Things are worse than I thought. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
Fair and Tender Ladies
Lee Smith drops an astute warning at the start of her enthralling Oral History. And though its directed at the ladies, anyone aiming to “court” young men should listen up.
Come all you fair and tender ladies Be careful how you court young men. They're like a star in a summer's morning, First appear and they're gone.
That sets the tone for a story “that’s truer than true, and nothing so true is so pretty. It’s blood on the moon.” Yikes! I’m not sure fair and tender ladies and gentlemen are ready for this.
Jennifer is a college student who was raised by her father. She hardly remembers her mother. She’s working on a project for her Oral History class, and her professor (who clearly has taken some non-academic interest in her) has encouraged her to interview her mother’s family. She may learn something about herself in the process. Cool.
But is it? Jennifer’s mother was a Cantrell, and she grew up in Appalachia. Geez, Gladiola, that’s a huge territory in the eastern United States. Could you be more specific? OK, fine. The Cantrells have lived for generations in the most remote part of southwestern Virginia – the pointy nose part that sticks into Tennessee and Kentucky.
Not everyone is glad Jennifer has shown up. Her grandmother in particular is frosty. Wow. Grandma doesn’t sound like a fair and tender lady. She’s not. Perhaps it’s because she has spent most of her life in the shadows of Hoot Owl Mountain. It might be the “prettiest holler on God’s green earth” but there’s something about it that makes a “body lose heart.” Maybe it’s because that witch cursed it.
And let’s not forget. Jennifer may be family, but she’s also a “foreigner” – a term that “does not necessarily refer to someone from another country or even from another state, but simply to anybody who was not born” in that area of the county.
In Oral History Lee Smith tells a rollicking tale of four generations of Cantrells. It’s full of music, moonshine, laughter, tragedy, desperation, ghosts, and violence. There is poverty, hard times, and true grit. It’s also honest and loving. Appalachia has been stereotyped and ridiculed ever since foreigners have been telling its stories. Smith doesn’t do that. She knows the region well and has affection for it, but she does not gloss over its tortured history. Her characters are flawed and sometimes wicked, but they’re human.
Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor
Death Responds to Donne
I have heard many silly taunts in my extensive time, and they are never more clever just because they rhyme. Ignorance should whisper like a muffled chime. I am not proud though you are too proud to see that when the Grand Bungler created you it also created me. I am not mighty or dreadful. I do not overthrow. Those are your birthmarks. You are your foe. Poison, war are a scaly brood for which I have no need. They hatched in the nest with you, and you are the fodder on which they feed. Chance is a monkey whose mischief ends at the tomb. Fate and sickness are encrypted when you are in the womb. You are the slave of desperate men and kings, who look like lice to me - or other insects without wings. I am a lantern at the end of day. I am not the Magnificent Fumbler, who gave you feeble DNA. I bring peace after you have done your worst, and while I may eventually die, you will die first. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
Like Here But Worse
In 2022 Shehan Karunatilaka won the Booker Prize for The Seven Moons of Maali Ameida. Hi ho. The book is bizarre in all the best ways.
It’s 1990 in Sri Lanka. Maali Almeida is a photographer, gambler, and self-described slut. He’s also a journalist and homosexual, so he has lots of enemies. And because Sri Lanka is in the middle of a civil war, it’s easy for a photo-journalist to die. It’s also easy for a homosexual to die – but not for the same reasons.
And what do you know? It’s page 1 and Maali is already dead. The after-life is a hellscape filled with demons, ghouls, ghosts, and bureaucrats who claim they want to help you. It’s just like the “living” world only worse.
Maali has no idea who killed him, why, or how he died. He has seven days (or seven moons) to figure it all out. Then he needs to decide what he’ll do next. To paraphrase The Clash: should he stay or should he go? Does his decision matter? Does anything matter? Yes, obviously, The Clash matters. Stay focused.
Seven Moons is impossible to categorize. It’s historical fiction in how it describes the Sri Lankan civil war. It’s a love letter to the Sri Lankan people traumatized by that war. It’s a satire on religion. It’s a parody lampooning people who try to change society through violence. It’s a deadly-serious comedy, and it succeeds regardless of the category you put it in.
But mostly, the story is a delight because, as flawed as Maali is, he is honest when it counts. Even though he lies to nearly everyone, he never lies to himself or the reader. He’s also brave, even when it’s not smart to be. When he is told his photos are gruesome, he responds “then maybe people should stop doing gruesome things.”
If Karunatilaka resembles any writer, it’s Kurt Vonnegut. At one time people read him. Maybe, with Seven Moons‘ deserved success, people will start reading Vonnegut again. If so, that would be another great thing about Maali Almeida.
Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor
I’m rich because I don’t like to pay for things – like taxes. And because I’m rich, I don’t have to. Take, for example, vacations. I can afford to pay top dollar and stay at an exclusive resort in a wealthy country. But why would I do that when it is so much cheaper to stay at an exquisite resort in a poor country?
I know what you’re thinking. But, Knowgood, will you be safe? With all the intense pressure you are under everyday as a powerful hotel magnate, how will you relax? We’re worried about you.
Don’t worry. Vacationing in poor countries is remarkably fun and safe. You land at the airport and people are everywhere desperate to help you out for a small fee. It’s as if their lives depend on it. But what’s best is you can haggle. That small fee then becomes paltry.
I hear you. That does sound like fun, Knowgood, but do you ever get a chance to relax?
Sure you do – at the posh resort drinking Planter’s Punch and smoking Cuban cigars while pissing in the colonial blue waters. You can relax because you are perfectly safe. That’s what the men armed with assault weapons make sure of. At least I think they’re men. It’s hard to say because they’re wearing camo with Kevlar vests – and balaclavas, so all you can see is their angry eyes.
It’s impossible not to relax.
Knowgood Carp, Owner of All the Hotels on Block Island (and Some in Connecticut)
Little Boy Blue
Little boy Blue, social media guru, play with your tiny horn until your lips are blistered and your bony fingers are worn. Preening boy Blue, amazed by all you do, is there nothing you won't say in your constant quest for praise? Your dry deeds are only clicks away because posting them's what you do all day. Righteous boy Blue, sitting alone in your pew, you are the sun and air - the gaudiest billboard in Times Square. In a beat-up bathrobe you decide all - a wicked judge with a cellular maul. You render rulings in a few bytes or less. You condemn instantly but you do not bless.
Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
Kinda Like Loam – A Testimonial
When Uncle Wood died, we were bereft. No one knew what to do with his wrinkled corpse. He hadn’t made any plans for his burial. We were stuck.
So we turned to the internet for solutions. Surprisingly, there are lots of laws restricting what people can do with corpses. Fortunately, we found Raven Breathless’ Kind Like Loam (patent pending). It’s the almost natural way to speedily decompose unwanted corpses.
So we shipped Uncle Wood up to Block Island and about six weeks later a bag of Kinda Like Loam arrived at our home – just in time for Christmas. The bag was really heavy, but once we removed Uncle’s titanium knees, iron lung, plastic heart, and the sharp blade he used as a tongue it was much lighter. But where to dump him?
Having ruined so many Thanksgivings, no one wanted to sprinkle him near the house. So we settled on Dr. Pepper Park, where we found a thriving cherry tree and poured out Uncle Wood at its base. We chose a cherry tree because Uncle’s nickname was Soft Wood. It just seemed perfect.
And it was. Within 5 days that tree died, and after a burst of heavy rain some of Uncle Wood ran into the Roanoke River. All the catfish turned belly up. And when you poked them, they exploded. The air smelled like Uncle Wood and rotting fish. It was exactly what he would have wanted.
Thanks so much, Raven Breathless. Now we can’t wait for Auntie Blister to die.
Saffron Crow, Special Correspondent for Corpse Disposal