Unlikely Stories Presents

PHIL ROCKSTROH fears not the dark old gods

"Beneath those stars is a universe of gliding monsters"
--Herman Melville

To the Unlikely Stories home pageHilarious in their original symbolism, but not in the least bit lighthearted, the prose poems of Phil Rockstroh speak freely on the menace of ancient gods and giant peanuts, warning us of our trivial place in an universe that is by turns apathetic and hostile. He writes of inspiration and desperation, showing us pictures of the anarchy that rules over the minds and hearts of men.

Phil says, "Why I came to despise bio-info (Hence, I came to create this anti-bio):

"For many years, too numerous and depressing to mention, I wrote the act of an endlessly touring, perpetually self-promoting, performance "poet"/ musician, . Somehow, in one those perpetual and perplexing ironies of a writer's existence, it came to be that I wrote ninety-five percent of the a book, the majority of his touring material and the content of his CD's-- in short the head, neck, shoulders, chest, abdomen, and the extremities (if not the hair, nails, and corns, callous, and blusters) of "his" body of work-- and somehow my alleged "co-writer" made off with most the royalties. But this fellow is and always has been a far more proficient opportunist and prolific plagiarist than he ever was a writer. But his and press packages were always flawless. He has made constant use of "collaborators" over the years-- but-- if one knows the man to the degree I do-- this may be read this activity as an absolute dependence on the need for de facto ghost writers. But though his specious bios he has always been able to promote himself as an original presence and creative force. This is one of the many reasons I regard bio-information with cold skepticism and scalding contempt. I know the information contained therein is about as true and accurate as are those inanities concocted by the black magicians of political public relations who conjured up lies such as George W. Bush's "Compassionate Conservatism." And this variety of phony is as ruthless as he is shameless: The fraudulence in this flam-flam poet's press packages causes his facsimile of a conscience about as much distress-- as the nonexistent pangs of regret Ken Lay experiences about the act of topping-off the tank of his corporate jet with fuel purchased with money plundered from the retirement accounts of his former employees at Enron.

"Further reflections regarding this age of proliferate phonies:

"Please forgive me if my tone on the subject has grown a little "negative." But discordant notes need to be struck for this song to feel authentic to me. Beware: We live in an age dominated by salesmen-- and the salesman's creed is... positivity above truth (anything else might cause the buyer to grow wary of the giddy lie of the pitch) and the only truth is the narrative of the cash register. Positivity is what the bosses demand-- and goon squads of cognitive therapist enforce his dictums. And they are backed up by the high-priests of the Church of Pharmacology who have dispensed altogether with the liturgy and cut straight to the SSRI Eucharist.

"Our culture is so permeated with the salesman's mantra that even those who do not consider themselves corporate devotees take up the chant.

"So I say: Fuck dignity, decorum, and consideration for the brittle sensitivities of prigs, phonies, soulless prevaricators and feckless ass-kissers. The vast cosmos of the heart and the landscapes of the soul have more in mind for us than that. If you pray to the God of Everyday Insanity for the ability to act appropriately, and appropriately only: Your wish may be granted and you might have to live in a world winnowed down only to what is seemingly manageable, a polite existence where you cannot move nor breath.... It would seem the corporate culture's pandemic of depression is the "appropriate" response to this.

"So rage on, my friends: You will only blow away those who are themselves stuck and are fearful that the shoddy dwellings of their false personas will not stand up to the wind and rain of antagonist truth. In the general sense, I have grim feelings for the future: Because human beings have always had an immense capacity for self-deception-- but now we no longer can afford stupid, naked monkey-business as usual-- the stakes are too damn high.... How else to explain that people cannot connect a reality like international terrorism and global warming with the SUV in their driveway? And if you bring the subject up-- what do they tell you-- you are being negative, depressing, inappropriate, and unpatriotic.

"Beware of Ophra-palaver such as "attitude of gratitude"-- these platitudes connote nothing. Rilke taught us: The language of soul is a terrifying angel: it does not comfort-- it decimates our daily concerns because its vocabulary consists of the eternal; it's grammar and syntax connects the narrative of all things. It speaks: Star, Ocean, Storm. It does not say: "Good Boy: You've been so well behaved, so filled with dignity and decorum, so utterly appropriate for your age and era. Good boy. Now: Here's your reward: A life free of doubt and uncertainty. Are you feeling better now? Good-- Now back to work!"

"You know I have some "friends"-- who when I see them when I am depressed, hence, I am subject to pander to them with all the fraudulent niceties and the lies of compliance that a mind riddled with morbid self-doubt can be prone to... in order to garner approval-- they never fail to compliment me on how much I've changed for the better. Certain types of personalities feel much safer when their fellows are incarcerated in gulags of depressive mind control. Life, for them, cannot have the disorder of creative discontentment: That is too dangerous: This may led to many nettling and unsettling questions: "Am I fully alive? What did I give up for my delusion of security? What happens if the anti-depressants and cognitive homilies quit working? What is that you have in your hand there?-- Why are you showing me fear in a handful of dust?"

"Do not forsake the heart's relentless rage for beauty and the concomitant awe and terror that such seeking engenders. It is late spring, 12.00 a.m. and I can hear the rose brushes beside my studio weeping, their buds opening like a wound, crying out into to endless midnight. The merciless beauty of summer is nearly upon us: such a lurid bounty, such abundance of self-serving bloom and its inevitable surrender to decay.... If one listens to the manic music of summer, one discerns the symphony of excess, the eternal mingling of Eros and Thanos, of love and pain, of attraction and mortification. Don't go numb with despair: Open to it: cry out like a rose... wounded by beauty. The crickets have gone mad with grief: It is all sex and dying, this they proffer to the cool night air. Call out into the night; it answers, you know: It says: Yours is the fate of all things.... Live out your purpose, don't delay, the summer night insists on this: There is no counterfeit midnight; fake roses may fake contentment-- they never weep because they cannot be wounded; the moon doesn't chant positive affirmation to the prey who are hunted by the merciless beauty of her light; Prosac will not cause the ocean to open its tomb. If life is a horror to you, my friend-- you are close to the beating heart of the monster of the world. Don't let the bloodless ones deceive you with their pale delusions of contentment." You can write to him at philangie@mindspring.com.

Phil's works here at Unlikely Stories are:

Disconsolate bargaining under the mercilessly sober sky
BEATIFIC BAIT: Or since I lost (like an old set of keys that belong to an apartment that I no longing live in) my faith in God-- I have decided to choose a new one at random: A short play of insectual prosody
The Legacy of Mr. P
The Old Gods Visit Brooklyn
A Gift During Wartime