4 new poems in Arc, Vallum, The Puritan, and the Word Hoard

This month’s a tiny little mense mirabilis:

  • “The Critique of a Handsome Vacuum,” a double-headed sonnet in the tradition of double-headed sonnets that I’m hoping to make a thing, appears in Arc‘s Art in the End Times issue;
  • “The Megafaun: Fact or Fiction?,” an hilarious commentary on airplane elks, appears in Vallum‘s The Wild issue;
  • “Jesus H. Christ Does Private Dancing,” which is what it sounds like, appears in The Puritan‘s 35th issue;
  • and “There Emigrate Bullets,” a full mondegreen of David Huebert’s poem “The Renegade Poets,” appears in the Word Hoard‘s Scum & Villainy issue, where, in a crazy coincide, David’s poem also appears.

A few thoughts on “Hop, Skip, Jump”

The Town Crier (the blog for The Puritan) has posted a few thoughts on “Hop, Skip, Jump.” What I failed to mention to them is my devastating inability to perform the triple jump, known in the seedy track-and-field world as the hop, skip, jump.

(Edit: after the migration of The Town Crier to its new website, I thought I’d fight the chaos of the internet by also posting those thoughts below.)

“Hop, Skip, Jump” neither attempts formal experimentation nor chances on it. The two of us are less interested in language than in image and story. More exceptional poetry, that written as a grammatically disrupted visual field, for instance, actively disinterests me. The words scattered across the page are at once too inert and too grandiose—stripped of syntactic musculature, tossed down like bones, begging for interpolation, as if a reader’s pleasure were in deciphering some internal divinity. There’s an encounter with the self that confirms the self. It’s not even mad libs.

But if imagistic or narrative densities are achieved, if they are set into collusion and conflict across the page, that page becomes more of a spatial field. The reader, secondary, encounters an independent organism or enters a system already in motion. “Hop, Skip, Jump” is foremost a set of synchronic stories. Its quadrants can be read as integrally or permeably as you like—as split-screens, counter-testimonies, seasons of insufficiency, you name it—but their friction aims to unsettle, to dissatisfy, to leave a bad taste, to leave you out.

Only on rare occasions do I not eat food that I’ve dropped on the floor. I once dropped a piece of peppercorn steak, picked a hair off it, ate it, then picked up a peppercorn and popped that into my mouth. When I start to bite down, it doesn’t feel quite firm enough, so I spit it into my hand and watch with growing disgust and abjection as the peppercorn starts shivering, wobbling, splitting open, waving a dozen little hairs from inside it. I never forget the feeling of that pill bug unrolling like a sleeping bag in my hand. This stamping of the reader is exactly what a poem should do.


Or the form of “Hop, Skip, Jump” is mainly a result of its mode of production: I type on A4 paper, and I like my poems to fit on one page.

Two Poems in The Puritan: “Flyting the Honeybee” and “Hop, Skip, Jump”

The Puritan recently published the winning entries (one prose, one poetry) of the magnificently monikered Inaugural Thomas Morton Memorial Prize in Literary Excellence. Congratulations to Nathan L. Pillman and Mark Sampson, respectively. The issue, number xix, contains some big old quivering slabs of quite interesting work.

So if you figure out how two of my poems got into the same issue, you let me know. Maybe they’re the hole that makes the doughnut.