Late Lights

by Late Lights

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LATE LIGHTS is the “talk rock” duo of Chris Locke and Rick Libby. The guys met 20 years ago at Keene State College when Rick asked Chris where the hell he bought his Minor Threat t-shirt. Rick was a guitarist in such classic hardcore bands as Last Breath and Spoke and eventually went on to become a pharmacist. He lives in Montpelier, Vermont. Chris received his MFA from Goddard College and has taught creative writing at both high schools and colleges for over 16 years. He’s published a bunch of books, many of them poetry—in fact, his most recent collection is ORDINARY GODS (Salmon, Ireland—2017). Chris currently lives in the Adirondacks even though he hates the winter. Go figure. Rick and Chris still share an affinity for the 80’s D.C. music scene and forgive you if you don’t. Mostly…


released July 3, 2018

This album was recorded at The Study in Upper Jay, NY and Skylab Studios in Burlington, VT.

Mixed and mastered by Zach Crawford at Skylab Studios.

Guitar solo on “Rat, Midnight” by Lyn Porter


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burst & bloom records Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Burst & Bloom is a small, independent record label and book publisher based in Portsmouth, NH and Monhegan Island, ME.

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Track Name: How to Burn
How To Burn

I punch the clock and the factory
releases me. Men whistle, swinging
their lunch pails with a starched collar
pride I once knew my grandfather

to have. I turn the corner onto my
street where mailbox shadows grow
like teenage arms. My neighbor
waves from his driveway.

I check the mail for bills, pet
the dog. Soon the woodstove
will bum a light and exhale,
warming my face like embarrassment.

Night pools up around the rafters
and I sit there, poke at the coals,
and make the flames burn
brighter than all my past mistakes.
Track Name: New Weather
New Weather

There is no more horse,
smack, h, tar, heroin,
china. No more oxy, percs,
Percocet, Vicodin, Vikings,
V for Victory. There is
no more coke, blow,
white, cane. There are
no more raves, parties,
throw-downs, shindigs,
soirres, or get-togethers.
There is no bliss, blissed
out, stoned, fucked up,
higher than a motherfucker,
nod, nodding, passed out.

There is no more vomiting,
bile, dry heaves, drool, spit,
cursing, clenching, blood,
crying, weeping, shaking, sweating,
sheets wet as a full bandage.

There are no more highs,
exquisite lows. There are
no more evenings collapsing
into morning, the horizon
rolling up its sleeve
to bleed pink and red
against the kitchen window.

And there is no more
me looking at you
from the doorway, trying
not to sway, defiant,
insisting I’m not gone,
I’m fine, okay, no problem,
got it together, straight, sober,
right as rain.
Track Name: Rat, Midnight
Rat, Midnight

Foiled by sobriety, three young punks
menace the sidewalks and sterile
boxwood homes in flapping trench
coats and a leather jacket murdered
with green skulls. The boys don’t
know they’re searching for life
beyond their maps of loneliness. Up
ahead, the path bristles with a darker
shape. And that’s when it’s upon
them, the rat leaping atop a leg, a boy
now screaming, kicking, the rat’s teeth
caught in the pearl strands of light
weaving down from the streetlamp,
until at last he launches it, ass over
elbow against a cement wall. They stomp
it, kick it, steel toes crunching the bones
to mere liquid, all of their anger
expelled with the creature’s last breath,
fouling the air, their clothes, their streets
devoid of idiot cops until all they’ve left
is a rasp in the throat and a baptism
of sweat rinsing their bodies clean.
Track Name: Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead

I pull my drunk friend out from inside
a bush, and think he must be looking
for the Mexico he’s read about: a story
of The Beats, myth of newsprint photo
with ringleader Ginsberg looking insane,
neck roped in marigolds as he smiles
next to a burro, Kerouac to his
right and already sideways off clay
tumblers of shadow-cool mescal,
the pink bake of sun unseen above
them in San Miguel de Allende.
What else explains my friend’s
impersonation of Neal Cassady,
himself found dead not far from
here after a marathon of cards
and booze, the cold iron of westerly
tracks his final bed, dumb enough
to pass out and freeze to death high
up in the desert night. Dumb. So I
yank him hard and loose-lipped off
the cobblestone, stand him up in
this city echoing with wedding cake
churches and wide, empty plazas,
and slap his face hard. “Wake up,”
I tell him, and hail a green and white
taxi trundling by, throw him in the back
and hand the driver 50 pesos, an address.
“Gracias por todo,” I say, and shut
the door, thinking, one less gringo
to fill a jail cell tonight. I stand next
to a park fountain gurgling blood
red in reverence to Dia de los
Muertos; three tiny skulls made
of sugar sit on the ledge, forgotten,
or left in tribute. Tomorrow, my friend,
shy and hungover, will call with some
version of sorry, and I will say no
problem, though it is, and turn back
to an altar made of dried corn and
flower petals, a small, clear glass
of rum left for a friend recently
dead, another drinker, because
tradition dictates you leave loved
ones something they treasured in this
life, regardless. But I’m no hero. And
now, sitting on the edge of the fountain,
I see the same stars we all see, have always
seen, high and tangled in their indifference,
steely grains fastened to a sky that once held
Dean Moriarty outside Denver; lights Kerouac
believed strong enough to serve as halos.
Track Name: The Eyes
The Eyes

My father brought us into
a closet, tomb-dark. “Feel them,”
he said, so we did, my brother
and I gently touching the two
wet orbs in his hand.

He said they were his eyes.

What he didn’t tell us
was he’d spent all morning
peeling grapes, getting his
prank just right.

I thought of my mother; her constant
refrain “Can’t you see you’re
killing me,” now made perfect
sense: of course he couldn’t.

And all those mornings I crept
into his bedroom, him saying
that he needed to rest
his eyes, made me wonder
where exactly did he rest them.

Sighing, my father ushered us
out of the closet and back into
the kitchen’s Formica gleam.
He popped one of the eyes
into his mouth as horrified,
I watched him feed
the other to my brother.
Track Name: Ordinary Gods
Ordinary Gods

Not ashen with the rage of Popocatepetl
smothering blue nimbus of Mexican
sky, one body after another flung deep
into its untoothed char, Aztec sacrifices
even Cortés couldn’t stomach, his breastplate
mutely glinting to Franciscans everywhere,
which was nowhere. Not the volcano’s
sulfurous hands raising its body of smoke
higher than the wound itself; 17,000 feet
above the nonbelievers who thought steel
and gunpowder could quell superstitions. No,
not them. Or others with names like hornets
nesting between the intake of breaths:

Cihuateteo, Itztli, Tezcatlipoca: Gods of stone,
the nocturnal sky and ancestral memory;
god protecting the spirits of women
who died in childbirth. Not even these.

I’m talking the God of Purified Water:
the man slung miraculously with three
plastic jugs across his shoulders shouting
away the gray sheets of dawn as he climbs
the hills of my neighborhood; or the God
Singing His Ice For Sale, raising heads still
drool-warm from their pillows; the God Running
the Scales of His Pan Flute, music announcing
he is here to sharpen your knives, standing
loose-limbed in the alley, a mere few pesos,
cutlery flashing like the bright destruction
wrought by Cortés those years ago, when gods
were still plural and damnation not yet known.
Track Name: Waiting for Grace
Waiting for Grace

Waiting for my daughter’s school bus, a March
afternoon brushed haunted and grey, I keep
company with the clouds, their gaunt reflections
charcoaled atop our pond, the wind tugging its iron
cloak around trees standing nude along the shore,
as if between acts and someone has stolen their
beautiful gowns. I feel feral and alone, slouching
in my black coat and sipping a Pepsi One, thinking
again I’ll never shake my lust for pills, narcotics
which have unknit my life so completely. I close
my eyes and concentrate on something brighter,
take another swig off my harmless soda. Above
me, a small abacus of birds fills a telephone
wire, and I smile when I think of her, my daughter
Grace: ten-years-old and sunk deep in a harem
of gossip as she navigates fourth grade; deciding
at lunch which queen is ripe for the plucking. And
if it isn’t hysteria wrought by the Jonas Brothers,
then it’s the complaint her arms are too fat, holding
them out, incredulous, for my wife and me to inspect.
But what she doesn’t know is that every day she saves
my life—drilling the science quiz together at night,
or just by asking that I pass the ketchup at dinner
is what keeps me here, awkward yet alive. And
now, the yellow cube of her bus rounding the corner,
stopping in front of the driveway. I see her through
the windows laughing, popping gum at her friends.
It’s only when she steps onto the pavement, crosses
the street toward me that I realize we’re both moving,
both in the process of leaving something behind.

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