Two Poems

by Carl Nelson (June 2019)

Crowded People, Lu Chao, 2015
End Times
“They really make me want to bring back the hanging basket, the gibbet, heads on a pike, the rack . . . you get the idea.”Delmore Franks
Like the Un-Dead, they were much like ourselves
with parents, childhoods, hometowns, chums,
and dreams of one day taking their place in sodality.
When they were bitten to become evolved, 
then ‘woke’, then fanatic with just one desire:
to search out and infect all
squirreled remnants of the fully hinged
on this planetand to munch our brains. 
Though reports were censored, the swath they left
described itself. You could smell it! Step in it. 
And trip over the human distress in cities like
Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco,
where Progressives held sway. 
There was no reasoning with them.
They would come at you with garish smiles and open arms,
convinced that all humans must be perfected,
so you, like them, were all eating brains, too.
That’s all there wasjust this one notion, finally.  

Untitled, Jenny Saville, 1990
Warm Summer, West Virginia
I prefer to say, “It’s warm out there,”
rather than, “It’s hot!” Since the former
has a bearing, which embraces the climate and
the region. And poise carries its own retort.
The people hereabouts have the nature
of a pigeon squatted upon a statue,
or of a fist, not unlike the state
with the northern panhandle extended.
The first time I drove through Parkersburg, West Virginia,
up past the venerable Blennerhassett,
there was this heavy set girl in loose shift and flip flops
smoking a stogy in the early morning,
and regarding me from a side street,
in what would pass here for reflection. 
And this is a bit of what I mean.

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


5 Jun 2019
Send an emailStephen Schecter
I liked the second poem, but not the first, which got me thinking about how the poet could write so totally different poems in both style and sensibility, at least to my ear and eye. And then I thought about how the same thing happens in art in general. For example, one goes to a museum and sees both a Francis Bacon and a Turner, liking the latter but not the former. Which got me thinking about what Luhmann once said about modern art, how it functions to produce a conversation about it. I liked the second poem because of everything it evoked in the brief image, about people and places far from West Virginia I had never visited. And poise carries its own retort - what a great line, though I must admit reading this poem I thought about a sight I glimpsed in Missouri which was far from poise, but nonetheless a summer scene of its own.

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