Walden Raines's poetry alarms and disorients the way poetry should. A shade surreal, there's a gritty, street-feel to his imagery and voice, elegantly colloquial. He pays attention to language, lets it bite and sound off as his humor murmurs just beneath the surface. His lines hold tension and an edge-- beauty and unease, simultaneously-- this being the mark of a poet in-the-making. Dorianne Laux
If We Got Hitched
we'd call it a match made in heaven
and I’d stitch her in as the one
that seemed suited as the best fit.
Like she was a pair of slacks, designed
by some celestial tailor to be worn out
on the town, before everyone, and God.
As if She didn’t provide us with garments.
As if He didn’t adorn our vows
before we clothed them with words. A veil
already conceals my beauty;
my dress does not need to be white.
And why wait for a wedding to strip
a name with the garter and toss
my history to the ring shoppers?
That vogue we are not willing to model.
There will be no alterations, no splitting
at the seams. We are not sewn together
for eternity though our styles overlap—
like jeans and a t-shirt—fading together
until they go out of fashion.
Made in Hong Kong
There is poetry in the concrete
of stained streets in Kowloon.
Beneath the hordes of clamouring feet
that dance to the market’s tune.
The stench from a block of stores
cannot cover the pervading smell
of cooking fat, shit and sweaty whores,
the shoppers sprinting to the sale.
The designer suits and fake Rolexes,
the luggage, jewellery and rice,
the fish, pirated DVDs, and sex;
shoppers pushing for the lowest price.
The crumbling buildings seem to be crying
as clotheslines drip on those who pass near
While amid the traffic and the buying
lurks a well-groomed and Western fear.
Next to golden temples all the deranged
Chinese characters neon the night
as a monk with a cell phone begs for change,
beneath a massage-parlour’s red blinking light.
Have you ever crushed an ant hill
and watched the infertile workers
and sex-crazed drones struggle
to rebuild what little is left?
Now wait just one damned minute.
That cockroach scuttling
across your kitchen tiles
has no idea he’s ugly. So before
killing the light, thank him
for sweeping beneath the oven.
I let a mosquito bite my hand.
I watched her belly grow
pregnant with my blood.
We're piling dirt for our Queen
and dodging muddy soles above
while the Wind calculates
how to blow the Earth
away from us.
The Perfect Drug
I don’t know how many times
I have given up on you;
flicked you half used
into the heaping ashtray,
each time swearing to stop.
The habitual spark of the lighter
burns like my desire, the smoke
billows and dissipates like my will.
After we embrace the stench
lingers. This is the last time.
I have no intention of quitting you.