My wife's sister called a few days ago to set up a get-together for this weekend. They only live an hour away, so I don't mind.
In second grade I learned about abuse and the German language.
Somewhere in New Mexico. The bar is almost empty and the sun cuts a pattern like a paw print across what was once a beautiful countertop, giving it length, making a confessional out of the tiny crevices of its beveled edges. The bartender is a man who used to be handsome—now he has to work for his living. He begins with a conversation.
His cubicle wall shuddered for the third time in the last hour, and he automatically began fishing fallen thumbtacks and papers from the crevice where the wall met his desk. He'd tried talking to her. He'd tried making a joke of it. But no matter what he said, Patricia Trumble's enthusiasm, speed, and girth propelled her rolling desk chair into their shared wall space repeatedly each day.
You are minding your own business.
"Do you want to know what I think?" Eddie asks and you think, no dear god—not him again.
It is hard to sum up the career of Fred Chappell. The Los Angeles Times wrote of Fred, "Not since James Agee and Robert Penn Warren has a southern writer displayed such masterful versatility," and I guess that'll have to do.
The outside is the inside in poetry and the poem.
The first time I saw prostitutes walking their track I was in my early twenties.
Can't see the field for the easel. Sometimes the easel
Is a mirror and you're fixing your hair. Sometimes this eddy
Of air carries the canvas into the woods, the tongue of a bear
In your pocket. Chasing it, you stop and think…
A longing lives inside the mind: both to be in the past
Where we weren't, but also to be the person
We are in the present living in that unrealized past. The moon
Is a paint bucket on its side. The moon is…
to these successors'
wisp of dirt, dusk
Not the northern lights or the atom's first splitting.
Not the backyard, the tree, or the fence.
Ladybugs landed all day in everyone's hair,
The moon fades in and out but has no weakness.
For years I watched two free falls of light trickle down the courthouse wall.
There is a quick breath after the accidental cut and before the blood wells up, pain red as a poppy, the body a font unto itself. Thinking too hard on biology, anatomy, the course of history, I am amazed I stand here breathing. Where is the invisible, intricate clasp of my undoing?
We bailed out the rowboat, trapped in the middle of a sinkhole
of longing: ripple of silver, the trout
beneath the water.
We were caught by the teacher…
Acorned & gnomic, trees, too, are mists.
It was the expectant month. The rivers rose as fast as they fell. One morning the cherry trees were freckled with something like green blood. There were the usual hardships and joys, and often they felt quite unusual.
My parents remembered the Cuervo but forgot the condom.
I wasn't flattened by that bus when I was five.
I didn't go with Thom and Mick to the ravine that night.
And why not an equation? The numbers
keep him warm at night, beg him to read stories.
They believe in him when his wife will not,
when the forecast calls for snow, unending snow…
Strong is the horse upon his speed…
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
What is the shape of the artificial
heart? Accordion or tin toy wind-up bird,
artichoke or closed fist.
What I keep of you I keep in my stomach
where it is easiest to feel empty,
easiest to feel full.