“Slow Hand Antigua” by Dennis Mahagin

Illustration by Morgan Maurer, 2011

It was after hearing your solo
in “Strange Brew” when everybody
started calling you God, and who
could argue? Later, the 80s brought
curlicue lines of killer powder
to an already full plate, conjuring
filigrees for a deadly wrought iron gate
like in the movie Omen II
before it impales
the priest… Styptic pencils, prying
open bloodshot eyes, vodka flasks
in toiletry kit, gig bag, soft leather
case, carrying it, carrying it.

After hiring Nathan East to play bass,
you cleaned up, and bought a plantation
in the West Indies for placing addicts
in anesthetic freeze to stem withdrawal
symptoms in lieu of deities and detritus,
until icicles formed at the anus cracks
of these addicts, long-cock stalactites
the color of faded amethyst. I remember
a December dawn, wracked by chills,
cramps and terror (the usual
withdrawal) — writing you a letter,
the gist of it not even much sincere,
asking if I might come to this new
clinic; God, I sent you

that pathetic note via post office
address in Antigua which I copied
from an article on your career appearing
in Creem Magazine. Sometimes I wonder
what became of that letter: Was it stuffed
in some duffel, packed off to a landfill,
or museum specializing in Pathos and
Cultural Oddities? It’s like something
out of Melville; or what Nietzsche
said about “the things that don’t
kill you.” Well, I lived through

the 90s, and into a new
millenium, and yet I’m not stronger…
Mr. Friedrich told a white lie when he laid
that one down, a platitude for deep thinker’s
decorum in a form letter, sent out to assuage
shame, guilt and doubt that might gnaw
through a man’s guts, or even
drive him nuts.

Still, if you could bottle
the kind of luck, that’s been visited
on me? Might call it recovery, or else
one soporific side-stitch analgesic
sponge for Christ’s cross-top
agony, time lapse for when it can’t
get any worse, then it does: Overkill
and Aftermath. Antigua in every city.
E.C., I forgive you the final fifty three
bars of Layla; how indulgent, simply
goes on, and on, and on and on …
reminds me nobody’s God.
Time is all; my letter



Dennis Mahagin is a poet from eastern Washington state. His work has appeared in many literary venues, including Exquisite Corpse, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Absinthe Literary Review, 42opus, 3AM, Slow Trains, Clean Sheets, Juked, PANK, Thieves Jargon, Keyhole, and Night Train. Dennis is also an editor of fiction and poetry at the online zine called FRiGG. A collection of Dennis’ poetry, entitled “Grand Mal,” is forthcoming in ’11 from Rebel Satori Press.Visit DM on the Web: http://fourhourhardon.blogspot.com

Read our interview with Dennis here.