Dragontooth Children Blues John Sullivan

“Are you radioactive, pal?
Pal, radioactive.”

John Berryman (51st Dreamsong)

Dragontooth Children
Cold sheet          we all
Rub together
For the heat

(not the ions)

no shoe, new shoe, empty

(not bereft)

prowl the street          mutter back
and growl, again, we do

(not grudge, not taunt)

and we mutter

you do right, my man
you do right
don’t be bitter or you
hurt your own soul bad
don’t be bitter
for your own soul’s sake
just be bluesed

(Good God, my boogie suit

is “just burst into flame”)

and be bluesed

(my shoes, the very same,

catch a fire, just go out

dancin’, self-ways)

be thou bluesed     like old

shoes scuffle up     outside the Zone    (steady keening)
klic-klic echo     pass you by this street
of unstrung soldiers     leaking conjures
tired curses, questions     always
more bloody questions

like why now     why this low-down moon
rubs me so ugly

like why now     why this wind, this hawk
thing calling: Mrs. Bones
cross my face
and twist     like new snow
make a hiss     like a stone up top
a sky down below
calling: Mrs. Bones
Mrs. Bones          calling
off a frozen prairie

and I shiver

(like a reflex     but far away from it)

and I listen

(ear to earth     down eons of isms)

and I shiver

(as all flesh shall, in the end,

crawl down)

and I listen

(for the arco     on the downlow)

and I shiver, listen, shiver:

there’s blood on the wheat chaff
hard moonlight leaves its     own special scar

(like “soul-flight to the sun”)

there’s blood on the wheat chaff
black fallow loam     don’t look
don’t walk out there
’til the moon’s gone down

But hey, grow my own mouth
wide open     like a movie star
Dragontooth Children all hatch
when the weather goes bad
Dragontooth Children all hatch
and march together
all together     tight

(like Busby Berkeley’s

Lush-Cosmopolis, not

so very much)

in a jagged circle     tight

(more and more like Leni

Riefenstahl’s Deco-Thug


in a straight line     locked, all together
tight          all together:
can’t kick that rhythm

’til sun don’t hiss like snow no more
then goodbye, goodbye, Mrs. Bones,

then goodbye rumor, too
taste it in the air
in the moonlight          in the dust
I do
around my skin I draw
an Ellipse of Uncertainty
and squeeze some further ichor
pure blood at the vuln

(or just a flood of

profane lightnin’, maybe)

from Soren K’s retro “Either / Or” tattoo

staying on          right here
I will, between steel
and its own shadow
some say: it’s a good place to visit,
but to hide?

(or just fake a daily


I don’t know?

Dragontooth Children          ain’t no lack
of Dragontooth Children
come a scuffle up     we
search a sky for the good fight
and a glow
and we bring bad weather with us

and our mother is bad weather

and we sing loud to our mother

BEFORE THE RAZOR button ver 2

John Sullivan received the “Jack Kerouac Literary Prize,” “Writers Voice: New Voices of the West” award, AZ Arts fellowships (poetry / playwriting), Artists Studio Center fellowship, WESTAF fellowship, was a featured playwright at Denver’s Changing Scene Summer Play (Changing Scene Theatre), and an Eco-Arts Performance fellow from EMOS / University of Oregon. He was Artistic/Producing Director of Theater Degree Zero, and directed the Augusto Boal / Theatre of the Oppressed focused applied theatre wing at Seattle Public Theater. For the past decade, he has used Theatre of the Oppressed with communities in the Deep South to promote dialogue on cumulative risk / environmental justice issues with NIEHS environmental health scientists. He was selected as a juried poet for the 2016 iteration of the Houston Poetry Festival.