20 Years Frozen for All Time

by swampmessiah

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A retrospective collection containing over two and a half hours of recordings spanning the last twenty years. A booklet containing the poems, drawings and photos, essays on the creative process and autobiographical material. Explicit content. The digital version of the booklet contains links for navigation and for further reference to online materials (more background on the recordings). The print version of the booklet is set up for six 12-page signatures and requires binding. A stitching guide for the binding is included.


released March 5, 2016

All material by Michael Myshack unless otherwise noted.



all rights reserved


swampmessiah Saint Paul, Minnesota

I was born in Duluth, Minnesota in 1957. I've been drawing all my life and painting since about 1975; I started writing poetry and rants in, maybe, 1976; since 1996 I've been recording those poems and rants, usually with a "musical" backing.
I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota. My partner and I have two children. I have a day job that is in no way artistic.
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Track Name: The Naming
The oily warmth pressed against me, cell for cell, like a fever dream of perfect submersion. It crept along my penis in tortuous slowness, as though my life would pass before it reached the bottom. But then it spread over my scrotum and thighs, filled the hollows along the ilia, and, like a tide, continued up my abdomen, lapping each rib, overrunning pectorals and clavicle. It pooled into a hood of warmth wrapping my head, crowning my senses until it poured into my lungs, suffusing like a balm. Every blood vessel shook with a scream in slow freefall, a plunging through liquid depths, almost weightless yet sinking...deeper...sinking deeper.
It was a lapping and a rocking, the way the smallest waves roll along mid-ocean, minute ripples on the deeper swell barely discernible. It was a rhythm of euphoria closing in, swaying, pulling me in. Drifting and swaying into the depths, pulling me in.
I called it Laughing Water.
Track Name: Evil 2
Evil is a person,
or a people,
reduced to a black hole:
the balance and dynamic
of a star,
the symmetry
of a solar system,
the gift
of its radiance
into an uncontrollable
Evil is a fragment,
one little piece of a person,
or a people,
that grows
beyond recognition of its source,
that grows
to dominate the while,
that grows
until it is the person,
or people.
Evil is self interest,
consuming, conquering,
with no concept of any other self,
no sympathy, no compassion,
no friendship.
Evil is the judgment
in the name of the father,
in the name of the mother,
the children, the ancestors,
in the name of society
and propriety,
in all the names
that mask the inner truth,
in all the names
that hide bigotry,
avarice and voracity,
the rejection or punishment
in honor’s name
that’s really in my name.
Or your name.
Evil consumes.
It does not give
or take
or ask any questions.
It mutters not truth
that can give peace—
only words
that ripen fear,
putrefying doubts,
turning difference
into not wine
but a flavorless poison
masked by a heady aroma.
Evil cannot be entered
the way a mouth is entered,
a stomach is entered,
an intestine is entered.
It began so long ago. Something was planted in you. But not just you. We’ve all been fertile ground. It was such a little thing that it’s forgotten. It no longer seems to exist. Yet it’s there. And very much alive.
Like many living things, it is enigmatic. Alone, it is weak and timid. It will do anything to avoid detection and annihilation. It will shift its position, change its appearance and name, sing another song, turn itself inside out to deceive our senses. Once disguised, it will root out its competitors. It will name them the weakness. It will name them the abomination. It will name them.
I have found an antidote to evil, to one’s own evil: impurity. Acceptance of imperfection. Tolerance. Compassion. Impurity.
If we acknowledge this cure, if we draw together to become The Impurity League, if we swear oaths of imperfection and tolerance will we be any different? Will we be free of righteousness? Will we accept ourselves and each other? Will we be filled with compassion? Or will we have an impurity crusade.
(insidious whispers)
freedom…god…oblivion…fame…censorship…community…reproductive control…spontaneity…rebellion…brotherhood…empire…peace…liberty…the black race…harmony…the children…the homeland…capitalism…equality…hope…human rights…the state…acclaim…the white race…beauty…christ…popularity…mother…time…liberation…family…destiny…truth…allah…memory…science…brilliance…the spirit…supremacy…sisterhood…competition…wealth…expression…jehovah…primacy…the nation…integrity…sobriety…humanity…communism…creation…father…food…buddha…health…happiness…knowledge…the people…the leader…art…submission…the ancestors…humility…posterity…compromise…free will…succession…compassion…heaven…power…life
Track Name: Longing for the Unknown
Fallen. Wasted. Neck and thighs
feel the pulse behind imprisoning bone.
Helpless. Too tired or too lazy to rise.
Then standing, frightened to be alone.
Utter darkness. A night of solid skies
closing all lunar mysteries from this room.
A barrow, unreceptive to unspoken replies.
This cell of paper and dust, my verbal tomb.
A memory. What of her personality?
Only hips. That great pelvis of excitement.
Hips that feed wishes for tranquility.
Hips like a universe. In their movement
my blood climbs with mystic certainty,
believing the alpha and omega of passion
to be the core of their round luminosity,
their sway, their elliptical attraction.
My bulk of self-pity is overweening.
I don’t know her. Not her. Not anyone.
My desire is salted and packed, each keening
of hope hidden from the wind and sun.
Yet it weeps through, a trickle bleeding
and stringing time into a long necklace
of ritual wishes, mantras of wanting and needing
someone’s voice, touch, and embrace.
My thinking, my brooding is a sickness,
a static cycle of fear and hope churning together,
a bland tragic flaw that creates a thickness
of mind: to all longing I hear “never”, forever.
Track Name: Blue Bodies
Sometimes the monitor of our senses, and their logical, mundane meanings, breaks down. Things are felt and seen that shouldn’t be there. The laws of perception are lost or violated or somehow overcome and we see what we call another world, another dimension, heaven or hell, the realm of gods or fairies or ancients, some sacred time or alien world. The vision is real. The name is the lie.
Our bodies disappeared into a cool mist except for the plane of friction made by our bellies. They rubbed ever so softly with a vermilion radiance blazing out where they curved away from each other. Only our genitals, our rhythmic genitals, responded to ordinary light—glowing but absolutely solid flesh. And our hands making strokes of reality along each other’s back.
For an instant, we were neither one nor two, nor any number. Boundaries vanished. The room, the walls, the bed; piles of clothes and heaps of books; windows, doors, furniture; you, me…everything lost its edge and substance, its mass and identity. Just the swirling blue, luminous phthalocyanine, translucent, infinite. Just the featureless blue, opaque.
Yet there was a radiance, crimson and scarlet burning through the azure, a furnace, the sliver of space between our grinding abdomens, a slice of flame blasting out.
And flickers of mundane white light. Our genitals, their ordinary pumping and twisting retaining common illumination. And each hand, brushing the other’s flank, bringing a glimmer in its wake, like a reflection on water, of pale, familiar flesh, quickly fading back into the unbounded blue…the unbounded me, the unbounded you.
Our bodies disappeared into a cool mist except for the plane of friction made by our bellies. They rubbed ever so softly with a vermilion radiance blazing out where they curved away from each other. Only our genitals, our rhythmic genitals, responded to ordinary light—glowing but absolutely solid flesh. And our hands making strokes of reality along each other’s back.
Track Name: Night
The air is thick with aspirations dying,
their corpses piling like the charnel heap
of midges dusting the base of my lamp.
Sullen and molten, metamorphic in decay,
I don’t wish for winter,
the sere chap of snow,
vistas white on white on white
until your eyes turn skullward for the late-night horror show.
Nor do I plead for the sublime soothing coolness
of dry grass, fragrant dry grass and fallen leaves
vaulting and twisting over it, wind
the decisive force of nature moving everything,
thought and fact and vacant desiderata,
to the next resting place.
I only wish for peace.
That long lasting silence—peace.
No more crickets. Not another frog.
An end to foul-mouthed invisible birds.
Never again heat compressing my ears
like the slow burn of a jet.
(Did Vincent die like this, in a swelter?
When he whacked off his ear had the cicadas begun their song?)
Breathing is difficult.
The air is a hot pool from Dante
and the damned scream as they grasp at Charon’s boat…
Mosquitoes swim to me
as if in a viscous matrix of their own design.
They almost float, followed by a wake
that rolls across the room,
breaking against my books,
sending bleak shimmering reflections
of a bare incandescent bulb.
Breathing is difficult.
The air drips down the walls,
pours down my body into a hot pool.
Breathing is difficult.
The voices of night, the desperate multitude,
the shrill stream of every hunger.
That long lasting silence—peace.
Breathing is difficult.
There is no peace.
Track Name: Sex Is Something (You'll Never Forget)
Sex is something you’ll never forget
Sex is the explosion that can kill and maim, the uncontrollable blast slamming us into each other. Broken off from the fullness of human experience, a disgusting little fragment of biological shrapnel invisible until it strikes out in a terrorist assault shredding the social façade.
Sex is little more than animal panting and thumping, a genetic residue grunting toward a tiny moment of release. At its worst, sex is the random destruction of nihilism unredeemed by any form of creation. It’s an act of violence that begins and ends in self desecration.
Sex is an instant of oblivion, a cheap respite from thought and feeling, all considerations of personality and history disposed of, a fleeting reprieve from the inner eye of judgment.
Sex is something you'll never forget
Sex is the embarrassment of science, a titillation misunderstood by researchers and theorists, both stimulant to and distraction from their penetrating work. Human sexuality is not for reproduction. Sex is for communication, a social bridge between contemporaries—only incidentally bridging generations. Perhaps like insects—though I’ve never experienced arthropod coitus, and we can only guess at their motives—an insane few humans copulate for the express purpose of reproduction. Why does this mythological legacy exert such paradigmatic force that even scientists still speak of reproduction and sex in the same breath.
Sexual dimorphism is not sexual dichotomy. Such prejudice restricts our ability to communicate. The insistence on moral and reproductive dichotomy, the eternal truth of male and female, the obsession with polarizing the universe is pervasive censorship internalized and applied to our own behavior. It is mental slavery. It is denial of our complexity. Religion and philosophy are little thoughts compared to the greatness of the real world. We conform to very small thoughts.
Sex is something you’ll never forget
Sex is the gruesome periodical in religious publication, the steamy tabloid slipped into the utilitarian grocery bag. Let’s cheapen it let’s cheapen it let’s cheapen it. Let’s take grandeur and reduce it to sin. Then cheapen the enigmatic powerhouse of sin into a dirty little habit, a source of gossip and moral superiority. Then we can have a trite sermon on Sunday to pretend we’re at peace with God. Let’s deal with it the way we deal with all things, let’s make it seem necessary but insignificant so we’ll cease to see the power to create or destroy.
Sex is the financial bonanza of the century. We’ve had the sexual revolution! Yes, we’ve had a revolution, the sexual revolution in marketing. Sex for sale! Sex for sale! Give us a dollar! Sex for sale! As long as it’s not real, as long as it’s ultimately cerebral—if only we could restrict the masturbation—sex for sale! If it’s indirect, easy to package, electronically feasible, locally zoneable— sell it. Sex for sale!
Sex is something you’ll never forget
Sex is a deep root running up the center of your being. The tendrils spread and twist their way until they reach every cell in symbiotic collusion. Your brain is a sexual organ. Your skin is a sexual organ. Your muscles and bones, your sense of space and place and embrace make a sexual organ. There should be no part of you free of complicity.
Sex is real. Sex is so goddamned real that it has us tearing up the world to get away from that reality. When are we going to stop compartmentalizing our lives? When are we going to follow one of our major social roots, recognize and feel our way through our own bodies, acknowledge that our emotions are imbued with sex, accept that our thoughts are not really on business and never have been? When are we going to love the fact that nothing about ourselves is pure? When are we going to relax enough to touch one another? When are we going to stop believing the lies of every institution ever known? When are we going to break the faith of our ancestors? When are we going to create an new world order, a truly new world order?
Sex without sensuality is violence, pounding, bodies pounding on each other. Sex and sensuality without love is delightful, beautiful, delicious but ungratifying, like a great meal with the wrong ambience. I hope never to condemn casual encounters—the merely pleasant—but I want to say there’s so much more. Love and trust will open your senses beyond anything opened by technique and scenario and accoutrements. The things you really need cannot be sold or packaged—it’s so much more than trivial fantasy. What you open with love and trust is self-acceptance. You become tolerant of human imperfection and you begin to let another person in. You begin to feel you deserve what someone else has to give. What you give is no longer a means of staying in control, it’s no longer about power. This is where the connections begin. This is about losing yourself and gaining yourself. This is about subtlety and intimacy. This is something no one can sell you or teach you. This is something you’ll find with another person. This is something you’ll never forget.
Sex is something you’ll never forget
Track Name: Our Questions
Our questions will never be answered.
We are given statements to end all questions.
We are given statements.
Our questions will never be answered.
Accept the statements.
Comply to the statements.
Profess the statements.
Our questions will never be answered.
We are given statements to end all questions.
Our questions will never be answered.
Our questions will never be answered.
We are given statements to end all questions.
We are given statements.
Compile these statements, write them down.
These statements are prescriptions.
These statements are terms.
These statements must be accepted.
Our questions will never be answered.
We are given statements, write them down.
We do not find peace.
We do not find salvation.
We do not find answers.
We are given statements to end all questions.
We are given statements, write them down.
Make a list, write them down.
This is the list.
This is the wish list of statements.
This is the wish list to end all questions.
We are given statements to end all questions.
Profess the statements.
Comply to the statements.
Accept the statements.
Our questions will never be answered.
We are given statements to end all questions.
Our questions will never be answered.
We are given statements.
Track Name: The Psychedelic Baby of Death
Duluth had a shop, at the bottom of the hill, where you could feel in touch with the rest of the world. They had everything parents disapproved of: seditious rock, psychedelic and political posters, underground magazines and comic books, pornography, science fiction, drug paraphernalia, and employees who rebelled against the establishment. It was our little slice of San Francisco or New York.
The building was old and marked for death. (An ancient wooden walk arched over Michigan Street, leading you away from the storefronts of Superior Street into the mysteries of warehouses and abandoned factories, the scraps of Nineteenth Century prosperity.) It was both the center of town and the end of town. Once you passed the glass threshold there was a large showroom filled with row after row of books. To the back was a loft where the records were, both new and used, and, below, the glass cases filled with jewelry, pipes and bongs.
My business was upstairs. Almost immediately after I began flipping through the LPs my mood shifted. I had to find a certain album by Black Sabbath that very few people knew about. It was there. It had to be there. And I had to find it fast, the anxiety building with every flip of a record.
Why was I no longer in the store? I don’t remember leaving. I don’t remember finding what I wanted. What was going on? My feet and legs were making the slow trudge up Lake Avenue, my heart and lungs already working hard, the sweat flowing. I felt awful, apprehensive, maybe sick.
Then I saw it. The vertebræ had been flexed to tilt my head back, pulling my eyes up from the keen monotony of cement, I looked up the hill and saw it. Grotesque, whirling and glowing, covered with flowing patterns like a remnant of the ’60s. Though I had never seen it before, I knew it was death. A giant, dancing psychedelic baby of death. And it was there for me. Swirling, spinning, bobbing, a flurry of color and motion throbbing down the hill.
My legs gave out. Their shaking dropped me to the pavement. I tried to crawl. With all my strength I tried to crawl back down the hill, to pull and release, to propel my quaking body down so that I could crash through that lovely storefront like a car without breaks, just to return to that haven of junk. My fingers dug in. They found their way through cracks in the concrete, they dug in. Yet, like the cars parked beside me, I went nowhere. Shaking and clawing. That’s the end of me, shaking and clawing, trying to crawl away from that baby.
Track Name: Insects
They heave through the screen,
the largest, while the smallest
fly in like invited guests.
The cat goes wild following them,
jumping and grabbing for them.
Some circle the bare light bulbs.
Some drop in spirals or waves
toward the scent of my blood.
The air is cooler.
I’m silently restless.
I think about bed.
Frogs by the pond singing for love,
the hypnotic rumble of a machine…
Thank god the dog isn’t on guard duty,
He sleeps on hay under the porch
instead of spewing his guard bark.
I hate to lie down
when I can’t sleep—
and if I could sleep
I wouldn’t wake in time
to collect the dreams.
In the screen, the cat has ripped a hole
and the lights must be turned off—
what graceless armored creatures
rule the earth, these insects,
their jittery staccato motions
catching us off guard.
Track Name: To You…
To you I give the power of the naming
and the finality of remorse.
My gratitude is a dead twig,
its bark peeling off in dry husks
to reveal the consumptive action
of the smaller lives that end us all.
You have given me a week of hope,
a day of happiness, a minute of bliss,
and years to curse my ignorance
and my paralyzed, nascent love.
Astrologers lie to collect money
from the satisfied customer—who returns.
They wouldn’t tell you of the evil star in Virgo
that filled you with its radiant libations,
pouring through your arteries the tireless misery
that leads you from birth to death.
It once drenched you in flammable guilt,
then burned your youth to a course ash.
It contorted your beauty to a restrained mask,
showing reticence of each: joy, trust and acceptance.
It filled your womb, then stole your child,
giving him up to the father as your punishment
for the sins of rebellion and self-preservation.
It has always pushed love beyond your reach.
And, now, it fills you with rapacious disease,
not satisfied with the goodness of your soul,
it devours the rudimentary goodness of your flesh.
They lied when they said nothing of this star.
I lied when I said I was your friend,
that I felt no pain or anger for the turbulence
of your life entering and eating into mine.
I lied so you’d hold me a little longer,
and because I could not accept the truth
of my inner wisdom, that recognized your star.
I lied because I didn’t know what else to say.
And because I wanted to look good,
like I could forget who you are,
like I could rise up above personal injury
to be magnanimous, even kind.
But, I’m not, I can’t, and I lied.
Track Name: Like Unicorns
Her legs would come out of darkness,
sinuous limbs spreading wide in welcome
to claim my pelvis in a lust-lock,
her arms wrapping around my head,
body draped over me like a shroud,
like the night itself, engulfing me—
this, for many men, is the end—
cunt gaping to swallow my cock whole,
dripping like some cinematic fiend,
like a mollusk she’d lay a slick trail
ending in the creamy pool of her vagina
where she degrades my pleading flesh—
letting myself slide into her deep well,
euphoric enclosure and origin of life,
to become intangible from pleasure,
heavenly muscles devouring sanity
with each convulsive wring—
for many men, this is the end—
before releasing myself, first in spasms,
then in vapors, to be entwined with earth,
to descend with her as she goes down,
giving myself over to eternity,
to be with her, an element of earth.
Men wait for her in their sleep,
reaching out with empty hands
and erections as dishonest as words,
or lie sleepless hoping she will come,
begging the insensitive walls for her,
praying to plastic idols of death
for her to find them so she can defile
the host of their whimpering souls,
crying for her to squeeze them dry…
great animal of legend and fable,
she-beast of torment and desire,
temptress of fathers and saints,
holy daughter from earth’s beginning,
sacred night light pulling us down
as you tug on our eager cocks,
down to the base of existence,
down to the lowest levels of ourselves—
O divine, mythological slut,
we undress for your arrival.
I have never seen one.
To call out a magical creature
like a unicorn, sphinx or slut,
I think you must sit very still
until covered with moss and lichens,
have worm tunnels grazing your butt
and trees sprouting from your crotch .
And like someone beaten every day,
who has learned to ask for nothing,
you must be totally pure of heart.
They neither come to placid men
nor those expecting miracles.
My hunger for her savage power
is too obvious, she smells me
in the distance and turns away,
herself searching for something we
will never know or even imagine.
I can wait, but not a lifetime.
I grow restless and lose faith.
Instead of some fabulous beast
of sinful anguish and satiation,
I find, at best, a mortal woman
willing to be my friend and lover.
We hold hands and make plans,
we kiss and talk, fuck and eat—
the usual things people do—
and look for ways to make life
something more than a waiting game
between the vacancies of birth and death.
But this is ordinary. We hand off
this and other burdens to our children,
we make them search the night
when we’ve grown too tired to care,
we gift wrap our emptiness
to make it seem like something new.
Some day they’ll learn the trick
and pass it off to their own babies
like a malignant genetic flaw
hidden just out of thought, lingering
like nothing but a vague discomfort.
When I die there will be nothing
fantastic clinging to my waist
or draining me of precious fluids,
limbs implacable and crab-like,
because I have failed to find her.
No mythic beast will have me.
She will not come to defile me,
nor will I have been infected
by her insatiable sensual awareness
so completely of this earth
that in degradation I would dissolve
into the rivers, lakes and oceans
where I would sink to the bottom
while held in her gracious arms,
to finally penetrate the bed rock
where I would stay until earth is gone—
then we would be released, together,
both nothing more than frigid dust
obliterated and frozen in space,
where we would end as a planet ends.
Instead, I’ll leave a vague discomfort
in those I’ve touched, confusing them
before I drift out of the grip of earth,
separating from life before I’ve died.
Track Name: Hungry Eyes
Maybe if I were beautiful
she’d understand.
Instead, she seethes
while I forget everything
and stare…
until I'm empty,
and bereft of love…
this replays itself
Just my stupid hungry eyes
wanting to tear her heart out
in ancient blood ritual,
the union of male and female,
as though this would sate my vision.
Track Name: Shadow
all this light
all this light and cross examination
everything is so plain to see
seen clearly and exactly explained
not a single stain left for the imagination
nothing to do but talk
say what you will
nothing but talk
and more talk
more talk
more talk
just talk
it keeps going around
bright lights
the steady look
then the words
talk talk talk talk talk…
that rapturous rapacious romantic thrill is gone
who do I love
who do I fear
why won’t they touch me anymore
where are my enemies
what happened to suspicion and passion and tall the layers of duplicity
this meeting has turned into an autopsy
everything is so clear
now I’m sane and lifeless
god am I sane
please, turn out the light
Track Name: Pool of Darkness
I find a pool of darkness
a pool of darkness
and I step in
I step in
step in
I step in
There is no bottom
and I step in
though there is no bottom
I step in
step in
I step in
This is my love
surrounding me
this is my love engulfing
and I step in
follow me
step in
Do you fear the darkness
bottomless darkness
surrounding you
do you fear submersion
do you fear my love
step in
follow me
follow me
follow me
and step in
step in
This is my love
engulfing darkness
this is my love
follow me
follow me
follow me
follow me
This is my love
step in
Track Name: Winter Flowers
Leaves in absence and love declined,
moonlight lost in a seraglio of lint.
However these lips parted, invitation
has faded, chilled and deserted
between night and crazy sunlight.
Sex is the clear madness of sunshine
misplaced, misnamed and soon vaporous.
So, what of love on the winter tread?
Lint and lust are collecting moonlight
and snow discloses the latent steps.
Snow falls and fills the wavering biddance.
Track Name: Dream House
My ideal house is a dream house. You know the one…when you walk into the room it’s small and simple, maybe leading into another room, also small and simple, perhaps a few doorways leading off to yet more rooms, but when you turn around to leave there is a hallway you didn’t see as you came in. Just a simple hallway not much wider than the wall that was there as you entered. But the hall has door after door and each door opens to a room perhaps as large as the original room. Possibly each of these rooms leading off the hallway lead to other entrances, other rooms, stairways to attics and basements, another door or window opening onto country or city vistas not surrounding the original room, which might have been in a tenement, skyscraper, or out in the woods. These other rooms also have doorways that could open to other times and places. You never know.
And you never know if any of these other rooms will be safe or comfortable, so you usually hesitate to cross the threshold and turn back to the original room, which was perfect. But can you ever get back? Any hall you enter, any threshold you cross is probably one way. Only by going forward do you have any hope of returning.
Each room has a character of its own but somehow ties in with all the others, designed by a subtle mind. The decor could be sumptuous fabrics or spider webs or a forest or machinery, yet they all belong to the same house. Maybe the room is occupied by a forgotten family member or a prospective lover or a strange animal. You never know.
And each door you open could lead to another story or a continuation of the one you were already living. It could open to sleep, vitality, death, or boredom. You never know.
If you stay long enough you will cross mighty landscapes but also, maybe, you will find a small place that accepts just your body, a crevice or nook that could hold you forever. You never know.
Even when frightening things are chasing you through this house, room after room, and you’re not sure if any of these rooms will be safe, a refuge from anything and everything, you still manage to find comfort in the fact that it’s your house and not someone else’s. In a very desperate way, it will always be home.
Track Name: Sleep Now
Enlightenment threatened us.
We returned to dream.
Spontaneous blur.
Transparent hypothesis.
Sleep now.
Sleep now.