The other night I stood in the cold and shared a few cigarettes with local musician and poet Ryan Kent. Best known as the singer for local metal band Gritter, Ryan has gained a small bit of notoriety with his recent series, Poems For Dead People.
The other night I stood in the cold and shared a few cigarettes with local musician and poet Ryan Kent. Best known as the singer for local metal band Gritter, Ryan has gained a small bit of notoriety with his recent series, Poems For Dead People. These darkly honest poems are a dry yet often brutal retelling of deaths that have had an impact on his life. Some deal with celebrities whose work he knew even though they’d never met, while others relate to those in his personal circles who have passed on.
Ryan began writing these brief pieces last year after a few of his hard-living friends died within a short period of time. At first, he only intended to write a few, but the project took on a life of its own. He has been through a lot in his life, but he is far from the only one, and the fact that people have appreciated his poetry and related to its darkness helps to give him a bit of peace. It serves as a sort of group therapy. This city can be a hard place for people, and turning the pain of loss into artistic expression is one way to create a positive result from the most difficult experiences.
POEMS FOR DEAD PEOPLE #5: LESTER
Granny was in the living room
when you put the gun to your temple
and blew out the side of your head.
She dialed your nephew, my grandfather,
to come over, to tell her what happened
behind the guest room door.
She still hadn’t gone into the room
when my grandfather got there.
But she knew.
In the kitchen, he filled a mop bucket
with warm water and Murphy’s oil soap,
took a sponge to the wall and tried
to clean his uncle off the white paint.
Then he swept the floor.
Granny sat in the small living room,
watching the street from the front window.
The gurney peeled paint from the handrail
as it grinded down the cement stairs
of 216 S. Edgewood St.
The ambulance pulled away
and she went to the kitchen
to put the coffee on.
Several years after burying you,
your only son came to her funeral
in arm and leg shackles to pay
respects to the woman
who had raised him.
Someone found him
stabbed to death
in an alley
POEMS FOR DEAD PEOPLE #79: DRAWING STRAWS
A guy I know picked me up on a snow day to
drive me to work and we were smoking pot
on the way there and he tells me that a buddy
of his was an EMT and they found you in
the bathroom three days after a heart attack
got the upper hand and snuffed you out.
You’d been on the can when you died and fell
into the space between the tub and the commode
and all the gases in your body expanded so
your body got lodged into that position.
They couldn’t get you out of there and
there is nothing comparable to tugging on a
bloated body, well into becoming a soup.
Red faced, sweaty, the sweet musk of death
in their nose and clothes and hair, clothes
they probably had to burn, the greatest
effort not to acknowledge the inevitable.
I’d imagine they drew straws, or a best out
of three coin toss to determine who was
given the task of cutting your body in half.
And that’s what they had to do, using a
chainsaw somewhere in rural Virginia.
This guy I know, his buddy was the one who
got stuck with making you into two.
But you were stubborn lying there and his
buddy had to take off more parts and if I’m not
mistaken, you were in pieces by the end of it.
No one could ever forget an ordeal like that.
Funny how the things we want to remember
we forget, and the things we want to forget
we never ever will.