Tag Archives: death

Death Rain Nitro Writing Tips.


When cooking, I grab whatever spices. I like to reach into the back of the cabinet, to see what smidgen I might cling. Last night I found this: Death Rain Nitro.

A friend gave me this years ago. It is a powdered form, like anthrax or cocaine.

HOLY + SHIT. This was easily the hottest thing I have eaten since that lost weekend in Chile. My tongue did the pain Amy scissors dance. It swoll up. It had a supper of gasoline with the poor. He Hate Me.



I sent an editor a writing tips essay. It should be “out there” soon, unless the editor decides to not place it “out there.” I have over 559 writing tips, but only included tips #2, 14, 119, 9, 5, 16, and maybe a few others. Here is an example.

TIP FIVE: Don’t Try.

Charles Bukowski has these words on his tombstone: DON’T TRY. That’s either very sad or very Zen, I’m not sure which. My favorite tombstone engraving can be found in Round Rock, Texas: I TOLD YOU I WAS SICK. But I digress. Was Bukowski’s soul destroyed by all the cheap beer and ugly women? No, those two things restore a soul. What about his years working at the United States Post Office? Now you’re talking sense. Either way, his epitaph seems the best philosophy for a writer. For some ungodly reason, a lot of people want to be writers. They are seeking something, some miasmic state just over the oily horizon. They need to cease. To cease trying. They should instead lock themselves into a deep cave and write. Then write some more. Like a clam. A microwave cloud gathering. A Muzak, or a mural. And so on.



Come down to Memphis and try to drink like that and you’ll get your ass kicked, Papa.

Blake Butler vs Philip Larkin in a Death Match

Well, although a finalist, I did not win the Tarrt Fiction Award for my short story collection. This seems extremely fair. The book needs seagull-swathed-in-oil spill kind of toweling off. I wish a reality show would appear at my door and the thin beautiful hostess with the ironic T shirt and the power saw would grab my manuscript and rip out the wirings and install a handicap ramp and match the drapes to the toilet and then give me $3000 to spend on heroin a MAN ROOM.

Here is my Man Room. You can’t see the hunting and disc golf gear because they live on the other side, with the camera. Kind of like Buzz Aldrin who was the official photographer for the Appolo Program so all the moon photos are of Armstrong. And then the few of Aldrin are even reflected in Armstrong’s shiny spaceman visor. Talk about a metaphor for being the second (though Aldrin was told he would be first, and then baited and switched while 40,000 km out in space) man on the moon.

The word sonnet means Little Room.

House is a Christian horror novel.

My mom burned our kitchen up (or is it down?) while cooking fried chicken.

I should have sent Joe Taylor, the head of Livingston Press a box of cigars and I might have won. The man knows cigars, and the future. He once introduced me at a reading by saying, “This is Sean Lovelace. He was a nurse. I have no idea why he changed jobs.”


I am often shocked by my own mediocrity. Though not sure why. I mean I have to wake up to this situation every single day. For example, yesterday I sat at my computer and attempted to write. Nothing happened. It was like trying to squeeze Miller Lite from an orange flyswatter. Finally, I wrote:

Wanted to bolt. To heavy soil. To be alone. Sat in my Subaru and drank an oil can of Fosters. The beer tasted metallic. Like as a child with my pellet gun and never any pockets in my 1970s striped shorts for the pellets so I held them in my mouth. My cheek pouches. Basically treating lead like chewing tobacco. Ingesting poison.


Today for lunch I decided to bake tortilla chips. Then melted cheese. And toppings.

Nacho Rating: Made these at home, as is my Glim-Glam way. 6 of 10. The chips were divine. The black beans all Phillip Lopate. I added chipotle sauce and a heavy dose of Grapefruit Pulp Hot Sauce. Overall, a lunch that made me open my lungs and refold them.


1.) Kendra Grant Malone’s FF in 3:AM Magazine. This text is very The Day Lady Died, and I like Frank O’Hara. That dude would have loved blogging.

Also I enjoyed Kendra’s poem TONIGHT PEOPLE SUCK (BUT SOME ARE GREAT) AND THIS IS NOT A POEM BUT AN HONEST RECOLLECTION from her DRUNK blog. Kendra often writes in ALL CAPS. I think she enjoys screaming, or maybe her Caps Lock got stuck then broken off in a scuffle. The poem begins:



2.) Daniel Bailey’s FF in Smokelong Quarterly. Yes, yes, I gave him this writing prompt in my Fiction Workshop class. So slap me louvered window.

3.) Any check you sign.

4.) A self help book on how to change your oil. Followed by one on how to survive matrimony.

5.) Ana Marcela Fuentes’s FF in Vestal Review. Great title. Though Vestal Review makes anger unfurl in my forehead. Because the Byzantine submission requirements make it damn near impossible to send anything in.

6.) There is no number 6.


Frank O’Hara was run over and killed by a dune buggy. Richard Kidd fell into a waterfall and was swept away. Sylvia Plath stuck her curly, curly head into an oven…

A few months ago this Catholic Priest died when he tied 1,000 helium balloons to a lawn chair and then rocketed into the air!

By the way, right now, as you read this, you have a one in 193 chance of dying by a fall. But the important thing is to avoid cars (one in 87) or yourself (odds of committing suicide–one in 121).

What’s my point???

Blake Butler vs Philip Larkin in a Death Match!!!!!!!!!!

The rules are simple: Which author writes better about death in the two texts I have chosen? The categories are:

Best Opening Line

Best Image

Best Thing That Made Think

Best Reference to Nachos

Best Ending Line

The official judge of this and future contests is God me.


“Eternal nothingness is fine if you happen to be dressed for it.”

Woody Allen


Blake Butler stretches shadows with his cross-genre musing from diode, List of 50 (16 of 50): Death Toll

Philip Larkin delivers with his morning song poem, Aubade


Best Opening Line

Larkin: ” I work all day, and get half drunk at night.”

Butler: “1. In 2003, one out of every 113 people died, according to biblehelp.org.”

Butler comes out swinging, as he establishes an intrigant, a term coined by Jerome Stern, from from the best book out there on How-To-Write-Fiction. And he sets up one prong of his argument, the same thematic area hinted at by Larkin (and many others who dare inspect personal extinction): the role of religion in this whole mortality thang.

But Larkin prevails here, as he establishes his narrator as someone we can all get behind: a drunken, angry, selfish bachelor. And it is the half-drunk voice that will lead to his reflections on death. Half drunk is a time when the mind goes off its jangling leash, as opposed to the denial of sobriety and the oblivion of being hammered.

Best Image

Butler just nips Larkin here, with “9. In the mirror finding a small bruise on my forehead that I don’t remember getting.” Being placed on this earth to eventually die is exactly like finding a bruise of unknown origin. A big-ass cosmic joke, but not so funny. This line also reminds me of Norman Mailer’s excellent noir/marijuana/visceral blur novel, where a man wakes from a night of drinking to find a fresh tattoo and copious amounts of blood splashed all over the interior of his Porsche. He has no idea how or why. Begin story.

Best Thing That Made Think

Larkin is strong here, as he writes, ” Most things may never happen: this one will.” A devastating line. Death. It’s waiting on us. Just waiting there, sipping a glass of hemlock. Yawning and smiling. Or as a doctor in the Denver city ER (talk about death, we actually had coffee mugs and T shirts with our slogan on them: THE GUN AND KNIFE CLUB) told me one night over an oily cup of coffee, “Death, it’s going around.”

Honorable Mention: Butler has actual recorded words from pilots as they realize (or do not?) they are about to crash their airplane into EternalVille.

A few years back, Michael Martone did some kind of black box fiction thingy, but I’m too lazy to find it on the Internets.

Also, a friend of mine just learned his uncle died while piloting a plane. He crashed into a field of corn. The odd thing is the accident was video recorded, and then someone sent the video to my friend. Is that a nice thing to do?

Best Reference to Nachos

Neither author made reference to nachos. The bastards.

Best Ending Line

Butler: “50. I don’t want to look at the internet anymore.”

Larkin: “Postmen like doctors go from house to house.”

Both lines have this reflection on death end where we all go: into retreat. Butler’s narrator doesn’t want to even look anymore. Larkin has his characters return to one of our many escapes, work. But Larkin’s ending spirals into a bit more. The postmen might be bringing a personal letter, or a card of condolence, or the tax forms. And what is the doctor doing? And so on. Every job, like every life, is tainted by death. It’s all connected in a giant forever spider web. With no escape.

Conclusion: Well, both works are fascinating. Both made me slightly depressed. Then thoughtful as I sought the catalyst for my depression. What is it exactly I can’t handle about my approaching and certain demise? Folks, I had to do some thinking. Some soul-thrumming. Some closed fist, and moths in my beer bottle. And therefore, after reading both texts, I felt more alive. I thank these fine authors. And, in a smidgen of a Chinese Elm, Larkin takes the title today!

He is the Iron Poet! (lame allusion)

And so, to avoid clinical sadness, and in his honor, we will end with another of Larkin’s uplifting peaches:

Philip Larkin – This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
  They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
  And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
  By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
  And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
  It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
  And don't have any kids yourself.

18 Blog Hits Are Like Onions, Henry Miller, and Flying Cars

Got a new dog, Mia. Named after Mia Farrow. I would include her complete picture but my father says if you take a photo of a dog, it will die. This is a hard fact to prove/disprove or otherwise. I spent years asking people I met at hardwood floor/bookshelves made of 2X4/sweating PBR in giant metal bins/this poet I know makes excellent pizza/house-with-a-cat parties if they owned a dog. If they said yes I followed with, “Have you ever taken a photo of it?” Every single person had. I am still looking for a dog that has never been photographed. A Martian dog maybe. Once that happens, I will monitor the dog for my remaining life, and then pass the project on to my son. Like a Buddhist trying to move a mountain. And so on.

I don’t want my dog to live forever because that would be horrible. So above is a picture of 1/3 of my new dog. This should lead to an annoyingly long life, but not eternal.


I just read a person say that most of Don DeLillo’s novels are about men alone in a room. I am now grinding my spleen into my left foot. As the cool kids mumble, whatever.

In other news:

Whenever want-to-be-writer folks sashay into my office and ask the good ol’ “How do I become a writer?” query, I always answer with, “Why in Lohan’s name are you asking me?” Followed by, “Get a job.”

Here’s one reason:

Matt Bell won the 2008 Million Writer’s Award. No surprise in my country. I read, re-read and passed to others Matt’s chicken-religion-eyeglasses-grief support-touch of Camus story. It’s also a good text for the classroom (at least mine), as it displays one of my “Lovelace Rules” (important rules these–right up there with slime mold) of creative writing. As I blah and re-blah and blah once again to my Intro CW students: write about work. But no. They often want to write diluted versions of the movie they saw that Thursday evening. This can be OK, but I would rather they wrote about the day they felt that throat-heat of arriving at a job, of screwing up the task at hand, of learning the back-side, the Sara, the how-sausages-are-made reality of a job, the crookedness and bolt throwing and making out in the trash compacter of a j j j job. Carl Sandburg to Jim Harrison to Barbara Ehrenreich, etc. To my great fortune, I stumbled through many jobs (poodle groomer to lifeguard to landscaper to Pizza Hut driver to shipping and delivery at an incredibly toxic chemical company owned by Quaker Oats to Mercedes plant robot scrubber to RN to on and on…) and they all taught me: humans, all humans, are weird. (Robots are weird, too.) And mean. And nice. And layered like certain tall people, or rocks, or finger sandwiches. I think this knowledge is critical to writing. Matt Bell’s characters are odd, in a night-swim honesty way readers recognize and then say, “Thank gods. It’s not only me sleeping with a Christian heavy metal band singer.”

THE LOUDEST SOUND I HEARD TODAY: 30,000 cubic meters of water caterwomping out a spillway below Kentucky Dam. Sounded like infatuation on Dexedrine, screaming.

Saw a mink scurry by my feet. I didn’t realize mink ever acclimated to humans. But they do. And this woman in really tight jeans yelled out, “Don’t you touch it! It’ll bite your ass!”

I did not touch the mink.

Saw an incredibly bell-thomp fisherman get his john-boat too near to the intake of the dam, thus pinning himself to the hulking scary rusting intake grate. Suction, you know, sucks. Very dramatic action for those of us on the bouldered shore. Some cheering for him to live, others jeering for him to die. Angler guy finally revved his motor in reverse and throttled up max, with a rooster-tail of exhaust and spray. Sounded like a chainsaw hung up on a cow. Hung, hung, treading water and froth and howl; then popped free from the grate and eddy-spun out of there. He most likely won’t visit that fishing spot again.

I also saw a fisherman GIVE UP while at the spillway. He hooked a whale/NSA submarine/bloated backup singer/minor god (???) and the fish won the battle, clearly, for about half an hour. My uncle James and I settled in to watch the battle. This fisher-guy had braided line and it wasn’t going to snap, no matter how his rod looked like this: C. The line did sing with vibration, a strum, a sweet sound that had my blood coursing. But that fish had him soul deep. Memphis blues deep. At one point, he actually placed the rod over his shoulder in a kind of Iwo Jima holding-a-flag pose, turned his back to the fish, and trudged up the hillside trying to physically tug the fish in. After this, and other attempts, he purposely wedged his gaff into the line, spun and twisted, and snapped the line. Huh? First time I’ve seen a fisherman surrender. The crowded bank of fisher-folk seemed displeased. Grumbles and head shakes. I handed out copies of Moby Dick.

Who writes better about death, Blake Butler or Philip Larkin? This (scroll down) by Butler or that by Larkin? I’ll answer the question later in this blog. Why do I keep writing about death today? Maybe it’s because I am going to die. Relax, relax, we all are…it’s as inevitable as Joyce Carol Oates.

MY BROTHER HAS A NEW CD OUT!! I have many interests, a smidgen of knowledge base, but am lowly deficient in music, so will hardly review here. But I will tell you SIX FACTS ABOUT MY BROTHER’S ALBUM.

1.) Adderall is an orange pill.

2.) There’s either a sitar or a tapir on track 3.

3.) You can write to it. Though I prefer to write to the type of music played in Mexican restaurants in Alabama. I dare you to find a southern town that does not have three Mexican restaurants, one good, one Cracker Barrel bad, one in some woman’s living room.

4.) Does my brother know the band rips off a book By Mark Vonnegut, the mentally ill physician, and son of the author-you-should-read-while-between-ages 17 to 24? If my brother does know, kick ass! If not, still kick ass!

5.) There is no number 5.

6.) To me, the music on this album sounds like going back and forth, back and forth, with your friendly guide, Roop Verma, over thread count while bartering for a rug in India while at the same time thinking, “Shelia pushed past Dalton and hurried out the door.” I liked the feeling.

In other news, the pirates of the world are in deep trouble:


Cella keeps being smart.


Maurice Manning said to me, “Sean, Kentucky is very sweet in the spring.” This was a few months ago in a library. He is an Alabama MFA grad, like me, and I put my shoulder to the wheel for all Alabama MFA folks, except for the very few I can not tolerate.

Also, Manning writes better poetry than we do.


A Psalm To Bring Remembrance
I had a friend when I was little;
he went to a different school because

he was a little slow. He lived
with a giant man and woman who weren’t

his parents, and six or seven more
he called his sisters and brothers. He had

a dog named Sister. We played in the woods
and tinkered on our bicycles.

One day, an older girl took off
her shirt and told us we could touch.

He did. He waved his hands around
as if he were trying to catch a bird.

The older girl was a Catholic,
I believe; her name was Mary; I

was a Presbyterian, and he
was nothing. Another day, we broke

a woman’s window with a rock.
He got the tar whipped out of him.

I mowed the banjo player’s yard
all summer to pay my share. You God

up there who saw it all, I hope
his life got better, but I doubt

it did. If he is dead by now,
I hope he’s resting in your bosom.

Do not be slow. Remember he
was poor and needy, more than me.