BOOK REVIEW: BLOOD TRIP BY JESSE HILSON

Book review, Scott Cumming

They say never judge a book by its cover, and to them, I say behold the cover of Jesse Hilson’s novel Blood Trip and tell me the cover doesn’t make you want to instantly dive in. Add to that, quotes on the back cover from Punk Noir nobility in Max Thrax and HLR and I was more than DTF with this one. Really feel bad that I read this one on my e-reader and need to pick up the paperback.

Mike is a two-time loser resentful of his ex-wife’s new husband and for reasons that are barely clear to him, let alone us, he decides to hire someone to kill him. The plan is to lure Allen to Atlantic City under the auspices that Mike’s daughter, Julie, has been kidnapped. It’s a quality setup reminiscent of many a noir classic and I love that we’re never really clear on why Mike wants Allen killed other than a fanciful notion that his ex-wife will consider taking him back that I don’t even think Mike is convinced by.

This is a book balanced on the egos of men, but carried by an array of strong female characters as we follow Julie’s Spring Break misadventures in Atlantic City and later the perspective of Mike’s ex-wife, Wendy as well as a Detective and crook who come into play later in the book. That is my one criticism that these strong female characters didn’t get to follow through on their promise and drifted from the story as it went on. Even Mike’s girlfriend, Renee, seems as though she has an exciting backstory somewhere in the background.

Hilson has a skill for keeping you on your toes and throws in the unexpected at turns to keep the narrative fresh. It is sometimes just a small wrinkle, but it helped keep me unbalanced when reading and explored fresh avenues of suspense.

Hilson has created a noir novel that should be able to stand out from the crowd with a stunningly beautiful cover, a classic premise with weird and unexpected twists and turns and strongly envisioned characters who want to know more about even if it doesn’t come to fruition.

BOOK REVIEW BY SCOTT CUMMING @TUMMIDGE


4 poems by Scott Cumming

Poetry, Scott Cumming

No Name #10

The suicide note
flapped in the wind
“no regrets”
all it said, unsigned
Only thing to look at
Fog drowned your descent
No sign of the lap you’ve dived into
Whatever entity waits on death’s doorstep
The car sits open
interior drenched
like your final words
coming apart in my hands
same as my expression
drizzle no competition
against my searching, pleading tears.


The Detective

He screams
for who he thought
he was
Bloodied knuckles
smear across
the scratched out report

Another one
selling a miniscule quantity
of grade F skank dope
Round them up
Give ‘em enough rope
Squeeze
Let them sample the choke

Each night spent
whipping on corner boys
who multiply like roaches
New teams with each sweep
The futility
makes him weep

He scrapes another
Stash house hustler
from the interrogation room floor
The kid dribbles the words
“No more, no more,”
He sighs with understanding
feeling the same
and cocks his fist back once more.


Something Will Go Wrong

The knot in my gut
verging on permanence
Default position
“something will go wrong”
Mass panic when it does
A raised voice, clueless
Stressed out, helpless
fecklessly gesturing for an idea
of what to do
All the hurt
taken out on you
in vast, busy spaces
I try my best
A control freak
stuck in the passenger seat.


Loneliness Dictates Us…

…drives us
to do anything
even scribbling ideas
onto used envelopes in the dark
or
cutting ribbons into your arm
We cry for help
in our own minds
Every act there
to be noticed
acknowledged
Each deed
a screed
against sitting alone
with nowhere else
left to go.


Scott Cumming unsuspectingly went to see Garden State wearing his Shins tee. He has been published at The Daily Drunk, Punk Noir Magazine, Versification, and Shotgun Honey. His poem, “Blood on Snow”, was voted the best of Outcast Press Poetry Things We Carry issue and nominated for a Pushcart. His collection, A Chapbook About Nothing, was released in December as part of Close to the Bone’s First Cut series.Twitter: @tummidge Website: https://scottcummingwriter.wordpress.com/

Man and Monster by J. Travis Grundon and Scott Cumming

J. Travis Grundon, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine, Scott Cumming

The morning illuminates the bleeding
Wringing red out of the night
The mourning ignites the pleading
Pray to the son to make it right.
The monster is still feeding
And there is no end in sight.

The evening blooms like bruises
Beating the daylight black and blue
The evening of the score means nothing to lose
Sacrificing daughters seemed the right thing to do.
The monster will always abuse.
Unless we spill his blood upon the dew.


Happy Days is filmed before a live studio audience by Scott Cumming

Poetry, Scott Cumming

Wednesday

 

Thought I was wanted for a second

Just a notification

from a fast food app

 

Ordered an early lunch

Chewed and chewed

on what they call chicken

Watching hailstones crash

Crunching on the pavement

Smashing into my cranium

Even with the window separating us

 

The loneliness of

11.11 on a Wednesday

Sat with melancholy tunes on

Sisyphus trying to conquer

hump day once again.

 

 

Monday

 

Nothing to say type day

Sat staring

A completely blank page

Early aughts sitcom

Laughing at jokes

Old enough to buy a pint

 

Group chat popping

Can hardly empathise

Feeling nothing

Thinking about wars

and lone soldiers

What they've done to survive

 

Another downpour

on the still healing ground

stood at the school gates

looking how I feel

toe to toe

dressed

like the 

invisible man.

 

Saturday

 

Trip to the seaside

Know how the ripped off

Seagull wing feels

I don't want to

But that's how it is

to be fucked in the head

 

Chemical imbalance

Stops any carefree moments

Seaweed washed ashore

Piled up like my crumpled bits of paper

North sea breeze

Knocking knees

 

Teeth chatter

with a fake smile

That's fooling no-one

When you do make the effort

It's lost

to the crashing of waves

Only thing heard

is the disgruntled groan

of enthusiasm missed.

 

 

Tuesday

 

Difficult

trying to do everything

when you feel like nothing

staring at the screen too long

listen to another sad song

until it becomes you

and the tears well in your eyes

 

Not really agony

when you scrutinise other's pain

Little girls lost in the rain

Men protecting unrealised ideals

gunned down, blown up

Those searching for hope

at the end of their nose

 

Another chimney spewing

White noise

Another overgrown boy

toying with suburban ennui.

 

Scott Cumming never considered himself to be a writer until recently, but turns out he has some stuff to say. He has been published at The Daily Drunk, Punk Noir Magazine, Versification, and Shotgun Honey. His debut poetry chapbook is due for release in December. Host of the Modus Operandi: Flash Fiction podcast and runs Waxing Poetic, a YouTube channel devoted the best recent poetry from around the net. Twitter: @tummidge Website: scottcummingwriter.wordpress.com

4 poems by Scott Cumming

Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine, Scott Cumming

Rebel Without a Clue

Box office weekend

Stock exchange closing

Star player’s new contract

Just so many more ones and zeroes

Down on the street

There’s place’s

Where the weight of currency

is still very real

scrabbling for the pennies

to get your next meal

Ignored by the banker

scurrying along with

an oversized broadsheet

Private jets soaring

past a billion private hells

Daily ringing of the bells

but seldom are they heard

on the cancer wards

Dying in debt

no loss of sleep

for profiteers of death

Pats on the back

for the patriots

Generations of risked necks

psyches wrecked

Purple hearts turned dark

The brave, the few

who aren’t left for dead

discarded

I’m no class warrior

Just one more

Rebel without a clue

admin middle manager

working

between the white and the blue

streaming tunes

at 0.00003p per play

doom scrolling through

the working day

Like

Like

Retweet

Quote Retweet in dismay

No Name #7

I think about pain

the most brutal

that comes to mind

is the old mobile chip shop

car careening

missing the corner

owner cooked in fat

battered and fried

as the unit hurtled

to the bottom

of the incline

he lived

but at what cost

empty corner

a reminder

until it was paved over

a passage to a new bridge

a passage of the time passed

Siren Song

The city’s siren song

plays on a loop

all night long

Always a beat behind

the poundings

the thefts

the addict OD’ed

out on the bench.

He lies awake

ruminates

on the sickness

eating away

killing

The song reminds him

of the tunes he once played

Another scared rookie

shooting an unarmed man

tale as old as time

Wisened partner

carrying

concealed, unmarked

to place

muddy the case

History’s cycle

sees him do the same

A shot to the thigh

left as a reminder

to never fuck up again

The cruel coldness

comes quicker

with the seasons

Each night

the same

pushers, prostitutes and problems

The peaceful scattering

gaining only minutes

before they return

as you rush

to the abused child

the battered wife

the drunk asshole

held up by a knife

The disillusionment

to discover

you weren’t a deterrent

The delusion

you could save

when you were

most easily blamed

Life now

just nurse visits

twice a day

you wonder hard

if you should have

gone the other way.

Desert Double Cross

Everything melts in the heat of the day

Nothing moves

Nothing sways

The desert shimmer

cut apart

The speeding getaway car

Feels like a mirage

Until the sound of bullets

Pinging from the body follow

Not the guns of cops

The clear and obvious

Double cross.

3 poems by Scott Cumming

Poetry, Scott Cumming

Snowy Supernova

The cold hard shoulder
enshrouded her in snow
fighting to find the fault
that brought the journey
to a slipping, sliding
treacherous halt

The sleet blinding
no start, no end
the blustering blizzard
masking his approach
until too late

You can still see the face
you chased
the dreams of being his queen
pushed too far
the reality being caught
on the other side of his door

You worshipped
as if to an Incan God
your romantic ideal
the emperor you wished
to unclothe

No flair in his heart
cast out
rejected, stung
undeterred, you violently yearned
a free world for the spurned

Criminal charges avoided
attached yourself to the lecturer instead
until tenure revoked
family torn, reputation tattered
jumping before pushed

Stomach pumping
long recovery bumping
along your rocky path
excavating for reasons
a bright future
supernova-ed

All led to tonight
a double shock of fright
an unexpected sight
a dredging of things thought
left behind
the realisation the tyre iron
is a multi purpose tool.

Smarter people than me have articulated the same ideas better, but they’ll never be as good at LMA Manager 2002.

the human brain typing faster
than it could hope to evolve
The human mind left in the dust
the screen resolutions getting clearer
as our ethics grow murkier

an age of extremes
where corruption roams freely
the deeds more obtuse
minutes shredded and burned
across a thousand boardrooms

the meek have inherited
forgetting power strangles
bloats and fosters

extreme hunger
extreme poverty
extreme inequality
extreme racism
extreme prejudice
extreme force

all bought and sold
no bad press
the same cash pays the cartels
that goes under the desk
no dignity
no shred of sense
in the right tax code
you can live beyond lawlessness

blood, death and fears
lining the pockets
spit, sniff and sneer
refresh once more.

In the car park at the end of it all

The chill in the air
rubbing against the sun’s
harsh glare

Sharp cut of suits and ties
undercut by all the
bloodshot eyes

The war dead
who’ll go on
living in your head

Another mother’s grief
blown and wiped
across a borrowed handkerchief

A godfather vows vengeance
in soft spoken, violent
credenzas

The surveillance team zooms
hoping for the intel
to consign the animals
to locked rooms.

Teen Turf War by Scott Cumming

Brit Grit, Poetry, Scott Cumming

Teen Turf War

The school playing fields

An artillery barrage on traffic

During snowy weather

Getting chased, caught and

Fake names of accomplices a must

“Dare ye to get this car!”

In my ignorance I do

Sparking a near teen turf war

I’m tripped, kicked, drifted

For not giving a shit

Flashing blue lights signal

A mammoth rapid retreat

To gullies and meadows

Frozen boggy trenches and

High slippery branches

Fuck knows who the cop is chasing

This was the night I learned

You never return to the scene of the crime.

Middle Class Tough by Scott Cumming

Poetry, Scott Cumming

We were middle class tough

My friends and I

Wielding our penknives and scars

Attempting to perfect the

Knife trick from Aliens

The less adept

Practicing with sticks

In the dirt

Never quite gutsy enough

To do it properly

I didn’t get in trouble

That time I stole out of date

Beer from our shed

Probably did my Dad a favour

Flatter than the tyres of the abandoned car

We drank it on

Flatter than the national team performance

That saw us humped and pumped

To an inevitable first round exit

Skyline by Scott Cumming

Poetry, Scott Cumming

Skyline

The skyline shows us what we want to see.

A destination.

An aspiration.

Our expiration.

City lights blot out our nightly wonders.

The roosting scatters the morning dim.

The skyline shows what we want to see.

Forced isolation.

Growing alienation.

Damned desperation.

Sunset blinding us through the trees.

A squash of blue pushing against the gloom.

The skyline shows us what we want to see.

My resignation.

Loss of sensation. Prescribed medication.

Scott Cumming enjoys reading too much to consider himself a proper writer. He resides in Aberdeen with his partner and two sons. Catch up with all his misdemeanours on Twitter @tummidge