Two Poems

by Carl Nelson (April 2019)

#140, Lee Kaloidis


Poetry Retreat


There’s a tougher intelligence invested

metrically, is my guess, whenever

I’m drinking and making wild guesses—

than is hatched primarily haphazard,

as with the freely versifying.


Such poetic anarchy spreads

between bedfellows, I’m fairly certain. 

Hence, the pious, secretive glances,

as if they were the special ones enjoying

exclusive sex;


as if only the freely versified could advocate

so loudly;

as if that upstairs Jackson Pollock with bucket

could fling the Sistine Ceiling! 


“Civilization here, basically, is what’s at stake.

Can a barbarous tongue create a civil state?”

                                                    —Burma Shave

Worm Burning Bright in the Forest, Dr. Seuss, 1969




accept a dirty home. Never wash their food. 

Dome shaped with no hair to comb,

taciturn and pale from hiding in the soil,

they remind me of the British poet, Philip Larkin.


Yet worms live at the top of the pyramid.

It’s all food for them, eventually.

They’re going to wait, for years if needed,

then proceed without cooking nor prep work,

to chew right through your faculty and function,

experiencing joy in a different light, sans TV.




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Carl Nelson is relishing a smaller existence in a smaller town along the Ohio River after fifteen years in the theater world. As a playwright in pre-opening rehearsals once said, “I’d like to be a carrot in the ground.” Currently, he moseys about while working on The Poets’ Weight Loss Planan interlarding of plan and poems by which has lost 45 pounds. He also runs The Serenity Poetry Series in Vienna, West Virginia. His work is available at:

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast




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