Friday Apr 19

gcwaldrep-hatG.C. Waldrep's fourth collection, Your Father on the Train of Ghosts—in collaboration with John Gallaher—was released in April 2011 by BOA Editions. He has work in recent or forthcoming issues of New American Writing, Colorado Review, Threepenny Review, and Conjunctions, among other journals. He lives in Lewisburg, Pa., where he teaches at Bucknell University, edits the journal West Branch, and serves as Editor-at-Large for The Kenyon Review.

The Haunted Fire Escape, or What Poems Are

What are poems?
They are the ghosts of stillborn grandmothers.
They are eggs turned inside-out, and yet perfectly preserved.
They are the smallest reproducible units of waiting in some other language.
They are political parties created by and for the natural numbers.
They are charming anecdotes that sacrificed their lives for chemistry’s sake.
They are the dead.  Only they don’t know that yet.
They are feral news photographers circling the soul’s celebrity.
They are scars on the body of art.
They are the additional, myriad, long-missing laws of thermodynamics.
They are the results of a secret poll.


Here is the hand that feeds you.
Time pushes it around, as if mistaking it
for a pencil.  It smells of resin, or polish,
something artificial.  You try to touch it.
You cannot touch it.  The hand that feeds you
is frictionless, that is, all surface.
You speak to it, but it remains silent.
You spend a long time in the same room
with it, the hand that feeds you:  just the two
of you.  There is, apparently, nothing
else in the room.  Everything is perfect,
like teeth in a skull.  The elegant curve
of its fingers.  Its twin ministries of blame.