Category Archives: Uncategorized

pop culture seance

i have 2 poems here that are calling upon the ghosts of two major pop culture figures: james dean and bob dylan. i kind of think they represented a certain archetype of their time and age with which i am infatuated, so the tone and content of these 2 pieces is very similar.

For James

You glower ghostly from the projector shroud.
My planchette hands backlit black reach to you
in a cinema divination drawing me down Grapevine Road
at 70 mph, hurtling towards the specter spot at Cholame—
to hell with tickets and portends, angels and charms,
to hell with the red warnings blazing on that fateful day:
the sheen of the Porsche’s engine-hot hood, the collar
of your rebel coat, the label of your last Coke—you
ripped across that ribbon of concrete as the bloody
sunset stabbed your eyelids at skull-crushing speeds
and the Ford Sedan glared through the windshield—
better give me something, give me something fast—
I see you swiveling the steering wheel as you flick
the last cherry spark of your cigarette and battle
the demons twisted into the transmission, your eyes
fixed on the rangeline of dusk and day—a softness
like the final fade-out on the milk-wash screen.

Leaving Hibbing

You found the guitar arthritic in the attic, by
the mahogany Detrolla with an upside-down atlas
glowing on the face as Hank Williams quavered
airwaves and Odetta howled on the up-down strums:
50,000 watts voodooing through the atmosphere.

A country record in the cradle made you different,
deviated topography snagged on the compass rose.

There’s no room to rebel in this weather: a pastoral
purgatory of milk and lilies, snow-stiff flags
on the white-wash porches—what happens to these
nine square blocks when the iron mines shut down,
the fields dessicate and the red canvas awnings clap down
slow in the final autumn? Change your name
to anything, walk anyplace—Supertramp Napoleon,

get in our heads, pin us down. Seek the crossroads to séance
the folkster canon. With a dirt-thumbed copy of Bound for Glory,
you called upon the gospel according to Guthrie before
he boarded the crazy train. Stolen vinyl, shorn hair and hunger
as hard and hollow as your instrument—will you fill us,
make notes tone holy and speak something slanted radical?

Cinderella or Romeo, you can go everywhere
when you’re someone else, and you’re always
bygone and becoming, halloping to the horizon bevel
on the throstle and rise of rock-n-roll, the poetry
of the lemon crate in the gutter, the hum of a green
grain shoot stirred by Minnesota dew.


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Filed under New Writing, Summer work, Uncategorized, Unedited, Unpublished

the last one for today.

no prompt, just me on a lonely winter walk.
i have a lot of poems like that.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I crunch the wind-shocked snowpack, cast out
into Saturn, the last eponym of the season’s storming.
This is me cooling off in the rip of a come-back winter
jet stream, furious with the battle I make against this
relentless and offensive weather—boots angry
on the stairwell at spring so far away, so unhappy,
unwilling to work against unhappiness anymore.
I am no one’s favorite tonight, even my blood seethes
against me, withdrawing from fingers seeking stumbling
words. It’s just me and this Marlboro—God damn,
there aren’t enough poems about girls
with cigarettes in the snow, breath and smoke
indistinct below the wind-hull, hands cold. I want
to go home and lay low—maybe I’ll dig
into this drift here—emerge on the other side
to a parking lot apocalypse, sparrows falling
like ice-heavy limbs to the street, chased down
by a prowling hawk. Then wanders a misplaced
carol: Do you hear what I hear? No, if only
the scrape of shovels against cement echoing
in the reverb of a blizzard-tide. If snow falls
silent against the steel and glass, persistent,
then the trunk coming down in forgotten woods
must make the most desperate and lonesome sound.

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here’s an ars poetica poem. i think.

I feel like I always do really badly at these, but this is the first assignment of the semester for my poetry workshop. So, here we are. It’s probably not that good because it’s a cop-out frankenstein poem as it stands, where I mash a bunch of line-snippets into one thing and hope they hold together. Eh?

Poetry battles the futility of existential loneliness.

I’ve given up on learning the lessons of roses and stars,
of newscasts on snow whipped streets and gunshot beats
and parents’ nightly stewing in some vague anxious ache.
Those wounds linger, red shards of a stained-glass
solar system swirling behind my lids. Maybe I expect
philosophy from the blues of a baby Beethoven
and an ink-dry pen, from a still life of crosses and ginger root—
what you’re doing is that something bad happened
and you’re going back, thinking you can make it right again.
I’ve been writing about the same empty body beside me
for too long, repeating the wrong mantra to alchemize
leaden lines, moving through my days like a raindrop
on a telephone wire. The sighs of my mother
skirting sleep keep me awake, thoughts dig cold
hollows into the sheets. In dreams I can see the lines
bulleted onto the page like footsteps on the driftsides.
Only so much poetry can come from the weather,
from the black-violet chasm of love—Alone, I can
feel the strophic thrash of my lungs, hear
the answer of my blood to a question I never asked.

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this poem is kindof about amsterdam.

Meditating on the Banks of de Herengracht

I wonder what could lie in all that mud.
A graveyard of machines—abandoned, stolen
illegally parked. Bring me the dumped and rusting,
the buckled wheels and lost saddles. I want
the broken chains and twisted spokes, I want
the warped forks and fenders. I want
someone to help me get this out, write this down.
I can’t trap the labyrinth on the page:
stucco, stock brick and gothic finials,
viridian water choked with grimy swans,
torrential crowds, the smoke on my tongue
stinging like diesel and overripe fruit.
I am endless desire and desperate need. I am lost.
Someday I’ll backpedal into this moment
and skim off the desperation. The reverberating sky
and ruby moons will beckon me back down
tulip-strewn streets, into dark shops and secret
boutiques. I’ll remember the solidity of earth
beneath my body in motion. I’ll remember
the sweat, the joyful loss of breath and the promise
of every cyclist manically buzzing by.

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Filed under New Writing, Summer work, Uncategorized, Unedited, Unpublished

ancient ekphrasis

So, I’m in London right now (and you can follow all that rubbish here), and I visited the British Museum. Mummies usually freak me out after a bad experience at this one museum in Chicago where they had unwrapped a mummified child and put it in a case (EURGH. I ALMOST FAINTED).
Buuut I was moved by this piece in the Ancient Egypt exhibit. So, after a long hiatus, here’s a little poetry for y’all. History will never not be fascinating.

Love from London!

Fowling the Marshes
Inspired byNebamum in the Marshes, fragment of a scene from the tomb-chapel of Nebamum, Thebes, 1350 BC

I see you, Nebamum, striding into your eternity
of papyrus stalks and fertile golden mud.
With daughter and wife at your side, you reach out
into a rainbow of life: tilapia and puffer fish, red geese,
tiger butterflies, wagtails both black and white.
Reach, Nebamum. Take the iridescence of scales and stripes
as your own in this endless afterlife. I am your spirit guide,
a tawny hunting cat gilded and dappled
with dots and whiskers, pulling your spoils down
with lazy claws. The Nile moves with you, washing
in and out on these vibrant shores, moving with the moon
that rises and falls in the sky—moving with you, as your body
rises then falls into linen wrappings, into soft, quiet earth.
Possess and be possessed in these layers of plaster and paint
so full of the effects of your living days:
black soot from cooking pots, ground glass of blue and green,
and stone upon stone of the desert for yellow, red and white.
Friends and family will come here soon, fingers following
these brushstrokes, running with you in your ghostly romp.
When the night comes and the moon cycles bury the rest
of your kin, we will all fall, forgotten, into the dark. But
if you wait long enough, if you let me lead you on this hunt,
the amber sun will pour over you in thick, straight shafts
once more, resurrecting you into a different light.

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I gave it a try.

I said earlier that I was afraid of pantoums due to my dislike of repetition. But I had to give it a try. The cold autumn nights driving through rural northern Indiana kind of inspired this piece, but I definitely felt very fenced in by the constraints of the form. There’s so much more I wanted to do! But, eh. The result is alright. Probably won’t turn it in to class, though.

Pastoral Pantoum

The railyard murks up the corner of the small town,
where the umber smog of commuters rumble
in amber underworlds of midnight passage
beneath the copper eye of the moon.

Where the umber smog of commuters rumble
rabbit-shapes of bums and beatniks flit
beneath the copper eye of the moon,
fleeing the silent stare of the shadow-chapel.

Rabbit-shapes of bums and beatniks flit
through the parchment-palms of cold cornstalks,
fleeing the silent stare of the shadow-chapel,
its dusty breath rising in icy whorls to the cobalt ether.

through the parchment-palms of cold cornstalks,
roadways rip up the running rows of broken stems,
their dusty breath rising in icy whorls to the cobalt ether,
passing looms of telephone wire into constellation nights.

Roadways rip up the running rows of broken stalks,
and blackbirds wheel black on lung-searing skies
passing looms of telephone wire into constellation nights,
the glittering organs of farmsteads nestled below.

And blackbirds wheel black on lung-searing skies,
following the knotted arteries of overpasses and off-ramps,
the glittering organs of farmsteads nestled below, by
the railyard murking up the corner of the small town.

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