We Never Did Anything
Previously Published by Copper Nickel
We never did anything bad to him.
He never did anything bad to us, he said, he cried, he lied.
He hit the reset button.
We hit the wall with him.
We taught him to shout shit at the neighbors across the street.
He learned his words with fucking Cocoa Puffs.
He squeaked when squeezed.
We named that disease for him.
We slingshotted golf balls and ball bearings.
He bundled up in blankets and blundered through the dark.
We were a bear hungry under the stairs.
He hid the hummingbird feeder syrup.
He pounced from the ceiling fan as it spun.
We grabbed the scruff of his rubber chicken neck and shook.
He stuffed himself with fluff and hot lightbulbs.
We wrapped him in subliminal tape while he slept.
We unzipped his chest.
He was completely hole.
He never did anything bad.
We never did anything worse.
1. Not only are you a contributor to 32 Poems, but you also have a new book, Torched Verse Ends, coming out soon. Please share a bit about your experience writing the book and about how many poems you previously published that are included in the book. (And anything else you would like to share.)
Torched Verse Ends, now out from BlazeVOX, is my first book. It contains poems written from 2003 through 2008, though far from all the poems I wrote or published in that time. It’s evolved a lot since I started sending it out in 2006, when it was not yet remotely ready to be a book. The experience of writing the overall book boils down to “Whoa, I might be able to organize these poems I’ve been writing into a book,” then “God, why did I ever think this was a good way to organize a book?”
2. Do you see spoken word, performance, or written poetry as more powerful or powerful in different ways and why? Also, do you believe that writing can be an equalizer to help humanity become more tolerant or collaborative? Why or why not?
For me, the sonic and textual aspects of the best poems are inextricable, but reading a poem on the page and hearing the same poem can be vastly different experiences depending on the speaker. If you’re not a particularly good reader, do something besides reading straight into the page in a monotone, even if it’s setting off firecrackers mid-poem.
If writing improves humanity in any way, it’s going to be incidental at best and most likely completely accidental. Sure, occasionally a didactic piece like The Jungle or Uncle Tom’s Cabin achieves its goal, but mostly it’s just bad literature. That’s not to say you can’t address political or social issues, but good writing has to be paramount over trying to change the world.
3. Do you have any obsessions that you would like to share?
Almost anything I do, I do obsessively: Reading and trying to write speculative fiction and Watching and quoting The Simpsons. Fire’s another obsession, to judge by the first book. Poker, Scrabble, basketball, Competition. Publishing poetry happens to be a fun competitive game I’m pretty good at.