22 March 2006

Featured Poet: Garin Cycholl

Garin Cycholl teaches writing and literature at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he also works as co-editor of Near South, a journal of experimental poetry, fiction, and drama. His recent work will appear this spring with Admit2 and Keep Going. He is author of Nightbirds (moria books 2006), and Blue Mound to 161, a book-length poem on geological and historical displacements in Southern Illinois (Pavement Saw Press 2005).


nostalgia is his-
t’ry eating itself—
contortions for
the camera’s ear,
the boys down
the hall singing,

America’s a
dead horse an
abandoned drive-
in an auto parts
store with dusty
inventory a hot
dog stand with
a silent partner

he worries—
he thinks, I’m
a fat man in a
tight suit he
says into his
lapel, “another
five years of
fucking plan”

a direct line, but
one that winds
through place

they said that series was fixed

“and if they hadn’t
known his head be-
fore, they certainly
did when it rolled
out of the piƱata”

Three poems for Rita Figueroa

“two by knockout”

your hands are two bags
of Quikrete, loose
money and clenched
rags sing
it! we
live in a
slow time, you
said ring the
bell and

toe to toes curled
and cinched against
knuckle negative
Aphrodite three
steps down a
rope “oh, to
be with my baby
down in Nelson
Algren’s fuck
shack,” you
sang bones
in the corner

a loose jaw gathers
no what? five
bucks against
that I
would like to
be called Caesar,
get off the bus
at Western light
my pipe with
bills watch
Grant’s head
explode in
blue flame

Song for Meriwether Lewis

dead by his own hand (probably)

Farewell, old knife, now that you’ve come home! I’ve stabbed plenty. Farewell my Boise, my Tennessee. My mashed potatoes. Where’s that old dog? Crime does not simply happen. Like a triangle, crime must have three sides or elements to be complete. Ability, desire, and opportunity. Farewell, my fingers, frozen to my belt and axe. The horses I’ve eaten. Farewell to the samples collected along rivers, in emptied streambeds. Farewell, serious lieutenants, dead in the snow. You can say you found me dead on this picnic table, jaw full of bison. Bulbs plucked and eaten raw. Call security immediately. A man gave me some good advice once. He said, “Take the camera out of your ass, son. We’ve got to snap some pictures of these cliffs.” But now it’s farewell. Farewell, my Mobridge, my Platte. Indian girl pulling her hair loose in rough strands. Where’s that old dog? Ability, desire, opportunity. Remove any one of these elements and the triangle can't be formed and the crime will not occur. The boys already upriver, wondering how many more steps that horse’ll take. Clark and I left to dreams of eating chicken from a cardboard tub by the interstate. Farewell, to you, too, f-stop, silver baths, and things that go “click.” The gray waters of Astoria piled against the sky. Where’s that old dog? Call security immediately. Campfires and whiskey rebellions. Pocket pistols and Improvised Philadelphia. Farewell, opportunity. Farewell, desire. Farewell, ability. Farewell, old knife, stuck firmly in my back!