Alan Gilbert Poetry
HELLO, MY NAME IS:
A conference attendee’s stick-on name tag
keeps falling to the floor,
collecting more lint and dirt each time.
We’d be better off sending a canary
down the mineshaft first.
Uh, and then we, like, uh, we went to,
like, a place, uh, it was over, I mean,
like, uh, a couple blocks away.
Moving from mono to stereo to analog to digital.
Constantly mixing it up.
slurrrrp slurrrrrrrrp slurp
sucks the straw in the bottom of the glass.
This one’s finished. It was terrific.
Not so fast. A hitter on deck, one in the hole,
and everyone else looked bored on the bench.
Or a shelf full of action figures
and an aisle crowded with shopping carts.
Is that unheroic enough?
It’s not comedy, either; as even the leftovers
became leftovers. So go ahead and call me
late for dinner—
blinking LAUGHTER sign
blinking APPLAUSE sign
blinking EXPLOITATION sign
—because that money’s bloody on both sides.
The revolution would not be televised means
fire precedes smoke. Round thumb impressions
get baked into the warm bread dough,
even if the timer on the stove is broken.
A hand-sewn quilt hangs low on the clothesline,
SYSTEM FAILURE (I COULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER MIX)
How big is too big to get pushed around the store
in a shopping cart? In any case, it means less space
for other items. Pausing before a shelf full of badass.
That freeze-dried krill sandwich looks appetizing.
Does the Home Depot® fit for peg legs? Ask the Santa Claus
Smeared in ketchup and chocolate. He’s not phoning it in.
[cue sound of dial tone]
Hobbling in single file along a narrow beach, as cars fall
through giant potholes on the bridge, later to be rescued
Alan Gilbert is a poet and critic whose work has appeared in a variety of publica-
tions, including Afterimage, The Baffler, and Boston Review. He lives in
Greenpoint, Brooklyn.nely barge workers slowly traversing oceans.
Confusing longitude and latitude, while satellites track
a large German shepherd fed small balloons filled with heroin,
to be followed—once the plane lands at JFK—by a bowl
of sticky Sun-Maid® prunes mashed up in moist Friskies® Alpo® dog food.
[cue sound of plane landing]
Yet, I’m not pining for your convenience,
and, quite frankly, would rather listen to Burl Ives sing
the entirety of The Ring of the Nibelung a cappella,
while eagerly awaiting a rural route mail carrier,
or sipping cold mimosas at the local Ponderosa®.
Told ya. But stronger than alcohol are you.
Not a hunger briefly satisfied, and then quietly turn the page.
[cue sound of crickets chirp-
Alan Gilbert is a poet and writer whose most recent book of poems is The Everyday Life of Design.
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The book uses unstapled pages from Time magazine as the bases of its collages. It shows what it feels like to live in a crumbling empire, in an era widely regarded as the end of history.