ON WAR, BOTH FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC (OR BRAD CLARK’S BASEMENT, CIRCA 1984)
For a dollar a look Jeff Chase (who recently
died in the desert) would brandish his sister’s panties
for us to fill with abstraction, holding them up
brazenly, in Brad Clark’s basement (because
Brad’s parents were and didn’t give two shits),
this limp, lifeless silk; a deflated, disturbing pelt.
We later mocked Jeff’s sister in the hallway
for having panties, because if something was
stupid and we had the numbers it had to be
done. Even then, as children, feeling the intimation
of the heft of what we couldn’t label or limit.
I wish I had felt like an anachronism without
an antecedent, instead of the ungrammatical glimpses
of myriad, miniature cruelties we would later
personify in larger bodies with greater purpose.
Even then we should have been more afraid
of what people rewarded, of what men were
too eager to gather for. But we weren’t. And
—from Rattle #42, Winter 2013
Erik Campbell: “I read and write poetry to remind myself that I have a soul that needs a periodic tune-up.”