Fresh Featured December Poet: Nick Romeo

Nick Romeo submitted his work to Fresh about six months ago. When I asked if he would mind being our December Fresh Featured poet, even though it was a long wait, he said yes, and that it would be here before we know it. Well it certainly has rolled around quickly, so for our last Fresh Feature (and Fresh post generally) of 2015, we have three poems from Nick, and he also talks lyrics and prose, disgust and delight, and resolutions and reunions.

nick5KG: Hello, Nick. Thanks for doing Fresh Featured this month. So – how long have you been writing?

NR: In October of 1987 (I was around 10 years old), I wrote my own joke magazine named “Nut” and various super hero comics based on characters I dreamt up. And I sold copies at my school. Since then I have been writing in one form or another.

KG: Do you ever write anything other than poetry?

NR: I recently started writing prose – flash fiction / micro fiction. I took the suggestion of David who attends the same workshops as I do. He told me that some of my poems are very narrative based, and weird (exact word) – I should convert them into prose. I really appreciate his direction, and I am having too much fun in the process. Now I have more than a few in the works, and ready to be considered for publication. I also write lyrics for my bands Surviving the Odyssey, and The Odd Endeavor. Tommy T of the band Diverje used my lyrics “American Candidate” for their new CD The Grand Betrayal. I’m so honored. Check it out, when you get a chance.

Totality Drone

I float past the termination shock
further, faster into absence

my body folds into itself
paper thin layers of skin burn off

each fragment is etched with code
algorithms embroidered with DNA strands

messages to advanced civilizations
instructions on how to fabricate, duplicate

a self aware, self replicating psyche
imbued with the elemental material

of the micro and macroscopic
dancing within the universe

stitched together by subatomic filaments
of energy: ignites life, sustains life

pulsating like tiny hearts, with enthusiasm
along a revolving cosmic chorus echoing

from the instruments of creation
to the empyrean drums of finality

KG: Do you have any favourite poets, or other wordsmiths (songwriters, novelists, spoken word artists – anyone who works with words) of any kind, who have influenced your life as a writer?

NR: Cliché answer: Too many to list!

But seriously, I used to listen to hip-hop when growing up. EPMD, Ice Cube, Boogie Down Productions, Eric B & Rakim, Nas. I enjoyed the clever word play, and underground subversive elements. But now I listen to hard core, female fronted metal, and electronic music – pretty much all the sub genres from lounge/idm to harsh aggrotech/industrial. I grew up on comic books and Looney Tunes. The good Looney Tunes, where they used to stick dynamite down each other’s throats, or blast their face with a shotgun at point blank range – that was funny. I did read tons of Edgar Allan Poe and Michael Crichton in my teen years, which might explain my sci-fi and medical horror overtones. Now I enjoy Alice Notley, Kim Addonizio, Arlene Weiner, Judith R. Robinson, Michael Albright, Thao Nguyen, Michael Wurster, David Villaverde, Karla Lamb, Jessica Simms, George Ellis, Jason Peck, Martin Van Velsen, Stuart Sheppard, Stephen Pusateri, Tristan Reid, Erin Taylor, Ziggy Edwards – all the awesome people at the writing workshops, Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange and The Hour After Happy Hour.

KG: What is your favourite word? And do you have a least favourite word?

NR: Most: Rage Quit. This is an expression instead of a word. We use this phrase in the video game world. When we are having a bad game, and are completely angered because of it, we quit, while the match is still in progress – without regard to our teammates. I have used this in a sentence during a discussion with my boss. “Sorry I didn’t get the drawing done, I ‘Raged Quit’ out of the software. Yes, this conversation did happen, and my boss DID laugh. At least, that’s my favorite (word) this week. And I still have my job, as of now.

Least: Discabooberated. Or is it spelled Discabuberated? Msword is giving me red squiggly lines under both, without a “spelling suggestion.” And google pulls up various forum entries with each spelling. Trying to look this word up has made me realize that this isn’t a word. Anyway my mom uses that word often, and I just cringe. Please don’t get me wrong, I love my mom and thank her for everything, but I may sit her down one day and politely request a new word to be used. Perhaps, Rage Quit – or maybe not.

Prom Date

Percy walks into the prom,
with his date, Medusa on his arm.
They impede on a sea
of lip-locking,
spastic gyrations,
random snap flashes,
and flask passing.
One by one his classmates;
stop, point, stare,
then turn to stone.

He no longer has to hear,
“How many fingers am I holding up?”
No more games of “guess who,”
or classmates tripping him in the hall.

The couple meander
across the dance floor
through the frozen figures.
The DJ, who can still move,
because he’s wearing sunglasses,
spins “No Angel” by Dido.
Medusa’s snakes hiss and snap
to the beat of the song
She mentions fond memories
of Carthage burning.
Percy replies, “It’s all Greek to me.”

They slow dance for hours embracing,
while the disco ball reflects
multicolored lights onto their faces.
Medusa is delighted
to gaze upon a boyfriend
without killing him.
Percy is happy
to meet a woman
who doesn’t find fault.

Both walk outside for fresh air.
Percy talks about his goal
to be the CEO of a corporation.
Medusa speaks of conquering
Earth, and enslaving humanity.
They are delighted to have so much in common.
After some more small talk
about their Spartan football team,
how well Medusa’s nail-polish
matches her eyes, and apologies
over her bad hair day – blaming the humidity,
Percy calls his mom to pick him up.
Medusa returns to her secret lair,
and calls Stheno to tell her how she’s
head-over-heels in love with Percy.

KG: What tends to inspire your writing the most?

NR: So much is inspired by my disgust of people, their ruination of the planet, and complete disrespect and disregard they have of each other. Other inspiration is derived from my personal experiences… i.e. refer to previous sentence. This is why I will often preface my writing, when reading publicly, “Based on True Events.” Every activity or amusement we pursue, just winds up being a popularity contest, and it’s very frustrating – for me.

Star Struck

everyone is sick
everything is ugly, vulgar
I sold my mirrors

KG: And since you’re our final Fresh Featured poet for 2015 – do you have any writing goals or resolutions for 2016?

NR: I have the same goal as any artist, become: bigger, better, bolder. I do want to get my chapbook published. I have a great title, and really interesting writing inside. I also look forward to visiting my home planet, Gliese 581-d, for the summer. I miss everyone there, and I look forward to our reunion party.

I do hope Nick’s Gliese 581-d reunion is a splendid one, and to the rest of you – have a brilliant, creative, productive 2016.

If you would like to submit work for a weekly Fresh spot (every Thursday), or put yourself forward for our monthly poetry profile Fresh: Featured, you can find out how right here.


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