Phrygian Fire, by Jonathan Duckworth

(another ode to Heavy Metal)

Death growl.
Death grunt.

Vocalization signaling trepidation.
You can call it singing, or crepitation.

Angsty noise, but less the 90s teenage kind;
more the vintage of Kierkegaard.
If you pay attention, you can make out,
or at least feel what he’s saying—
it isn’t that hard.

What you call a ‘fail,’
I call a stygian resurrection
of the Phrygian dominant scale.

Foul-mouthed howling
against a soundscape of alternating
5/4 and 6/4 timing,
‘human feces’
with ‘doomed species.’

How about a band named
in honor of the power
of one of Tolkien’s tall
and dour iron towers?

When the man at the mic points to the ceiling
the roof, the roof,
the roof is not on fire,
but our fortress is most definitely burning.

Pyre, pyre burning bright,
consecrate this Viking rite—
send our ships to faraway shores, ablaze
with all the potassium perchlorate
we can mine from Surtur’s ribcage.

Now let’s set this universe alight.


Jonathan Louis Duckworth is an MFA student at Florida International University, where he serves as a reader and copy-editor for the Gulf Stream Magazine. His fiction and poetry appears in or is forthcoming in Literary Orphans, Blinders, Hermeneutic Chaos, BOAAT, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, The Penny Dreadful, Synaesthesia, and Gravel among others.


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