The Watcher

There was a twitching in the rocks that nabbed the edge of Frank’s eye. He pulled his attention away, almost instinctively, from the horizon, which had held him for a while, and turned his head towards the left. Bending down he saw the shape of a lizard. Like its surroundings, it was almost entirely grey and its head twitched as Frank’s face drew closer. Its eyes were just two dark specks amidst millions of stones, but they contained not just the stones, but myself as well, Frank thought. Or, they held nothing. Perhaps, Frank mused, that, for a lizard, the eye was just an organ that, like its tail, was merely a thing that sensed the protrusions of the universe, protrusions that were quickly erased from the lizard’s mind once it decided to either scatter or draw forth—if he stepped closer the lizard would flee and, as a result, Frank would disappear from its world. But surprisingly, the lizard moved closer to him, as close as it could get without abandoning its rock. Frank felt silly, but now he wondered if standing there a moment longer would create an impression on the creature, an impression potent enough that even after he had disappeared the lizard would still carry him within its small, black eyes. He stepped away from the lizard and turned back to the horizon. It was a beautiful thing to Frank, especially at this time when the sun started to bury itself into the ocean, summoning an orange hue that echoed against the clouds. But somehow it had lessened. He had stopped to watch all this, the sun and how its descent altered the sky. And now, it didn’t seem like anything, as if the brief moment he had with the lizard had somehow stolen something from the sky. He looked over—the eyes were still watching him. He suddenly knew: those eyes had been there forever, observing larger things as they came and went, as they prowled across the lands they’ve conquered until finally dying within a patch of shade. The night soon covered both Frank and the lizard. Frank, at this point, couldn’t really see the lizard that well and he wasn’t so sure whether it could still see him or not. He glanced once more at the horizon before walking back to his car.

After the Old Man’s Song

Every midnight, the droning
of the old man’s tone,
the piano’s moan as fingers pile
upon each key the construction
of soul. His song invades the air,
creaks along the earth, suffering
sounds upon the skin of stars.

Now, the strings sleep,
no longer haunted by what lives
in the press of fading hands,
and night is only itself,
no longer the throat
for a foolish voice.
We can finally find sleep.

The Self Expands by What the Field Deepens

*after Andrew Wyeth

The world doesn’t bloom
from the eye; rather, it is the world
that makes sight, layering vision
upon vision. There is no self
without the Other: the grass
and the distance of darker things.

We are moved, continuously,
by how the land moves.
Even the smallest flower
drying below the arm of the sun
drives the self to the self.
We are bent toward becoming.

Witness: she lies on the grass,
and the field sinks into her.
She sees the thing, and it sees her.
It moves into her blood,
creating the shift. She becomes
what is seen. And I see her.

The New World

The door opens
and falls from its hinges:

A small branch rubs
against the window’s skin, howls break
from the storm’s throat—
a woman was here. Air twisted around her
face. She touched the walls.

Light swells from the hole
in the ceiling. A face forms
underneath its moon, speeds from vision.

Turning, the hallway moves
without you, pins you to its own
path. As you float, the yellow air clouds
into being. Its hand slides below
the eyes, shuttles below skin,
gas thickens upon the crest
of the tongue. Something resists
resistance, washing you
out from your bones,
making its plow into living.

Windows lifted,
curtains shape and fill
with a yellowed glow.
Your family is here, TV on.
A laughter is played,
and as you finally seek your chair,
the door is heard.

Shane Koyczan, The Disappearing Poet

Shane Koyczan is the bane of my existence. He’s a poet with no talent who gets paid to write garbage and no one seems to bat an eye. Here’s one of his “poems”:

6:59 AM

I’ve been told
that people in the army
do more by 7:00 am
than I do
in an entire day

but if I wake
at 6:59 am
and turn to you
to trace the outline of your lips
with mine
I will have done enough
and killed no one
in the process.

This poem is shit. For one thing, it’s awfully prosaic. Second, it’s manipulative: someone might (mistakenly) call this atrocity a good poem because of the anti-war sentiment, uttered tritely, at the poem’s end. Koyczan could have actually improved the poem had he just snipped the last two lines (though it would have been more beneficial had he scrapped the whole thing.) But the obvious is often lost on terrible writers. Here, have another:

Sketch

If I knew what I know now then
way back when we first met
I’d point to the sunset and say

I drew that for you

see

it’s wrinkling in the rain.

In the words of Mr. Plinkett: “It’s good to show contempt for your audience.” Virtually every line is a cliche, an achievement in of itself. Also impressive is the fact that people gave this guy ninety-thousand dollars to publish his book of poetry, A Bruise on Light (even his titles suck!)

As a bonus, here’s an awful video he released a few months back for his poem, “Troll” which is about cyberbullying. I have to admit, I’ve never been able to sit through the entire video; I challenge you to make it past the forty second mark.

However, it’s not so much the fact that Koyczan is terrible that is bothersome (for there are countless poets like him), but the fact that he is quite successful while other, much better poets, dwell and die in obscurity. There are several reasons for his being successful: 1.) his poetry is “inspiring” because it deals with issues like bullying in a “positive” (read: obvious) way 2.) his poetry is relatable and easily understood 3.) his poetry is also easy to replicate; literally anyone can write like Koyczan; this fact makes the reader feel better about being mediocre himself (this also explains the success of poets like Bukowski) 4.) Koyczan has a decent voice and stage presence 5.) he has a pretty intense neckbeard.

Despite all this, I’m an optimist. Poets like Koyczan come and go while truly great poets, even if they aren’t appreciated in their time, always remain for they are not easily replaced. The only reason people still know of terrible poets like Bukowski is because of the images that surround them and what those images represent. But celebrity fades and Koyczan’s certainly will; other Koyczans will come and fill his gap and do so well enough to satisfy the public.

White on White, Defined

A nothingness wrapped
in mediocrity owns this
wall, owns your gaze.
Mere sheets and hints
of printed words pinned
to immensity, slathered
in greater glumps of white,
but the description makes it
less as you learn the painting
somehow represents
the communities fractured
by Eisenhower’s highways.
You look at it, then back
at the description. You step
away and travel to the video-
foot exhibit—a boot decimates
pumpkin pie on a screen,
and all you can do is thank God
that there isn’t a description
for this as well.