Thursday May 23

Dillon-Poetry Andrew P. Dillon is a master’s candidate in creative writing at the University of Tennessee. His work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in Beecher’s Magazine, ReFryed Press, and Yes, Poetry. Dillon is a former high school ESL teacher in Seoul, South Korea and an ESL tutor elsewhere. He strongly supports the use of semi-colons, dashes, and the serial comma.



    Vices & Virtues of Isolationism


    Sometimes I worry the sun is baking the glue out of everything.

    That within fifty years our freeways and condos would collapse
    without the constant lubrication of attention. Our hearts, too,

    are being used up, a bit each day, so I can’t be sure

    a little neglect isn’t a relief. We think of love as the panacea,

    but I’ve seen it gut foundries to girders faster than fire.

    New Galactic Model


   Here’s our best guess: Betelgeuse explodes
   in the next million years. Forget the moon.
   It’ll shine like a second sun, and who will know
   the difference? How many can point out the Pole Star?
   Sometimes I forget which way is north. Sometimes I see
   a murmuration of starlings circle a building half a dozen
   times before they choose a direction. Sometimes, I hear,
   the whole planet turns itself upside down. Does that mean
   rivers run backward? Does that mean continents
   migrate to the other side of the equator? I heard a physicist
   say gravity does not pull; that mass distorts space
   and gravity is space pushing back. Does that matter
   at all to how we understand ourselves? Probably
   not to those of us who use our thumbs and index
   fingers to distinguish right from left. Certainly not
   to the man who wants the fastest route home.
   Most of us use a broken understanding of the world
   and get along just fine. So should we ignore the new
   planets discovered every week? Does it matter if
   the birds fly north or south? I’m searching for
   a model that simplifies all human knowledge.
   When Betelgeuse becomes a pulsar, will I pretend
   not to see it spin like the galaxy’s spastic lighthouse?
   It depends on whether or not it illuminates the last
   ten million years, and the next several thousand
   no human would otherwise see.


    Apologia for Never Saying What I Mean


   I am thinking about the difference between what I think and what I say.
   How I take a nebula of emotions and impulses and expect
   words to find stable orbit in that space; and I am sure language
   must be a kind of translation. If I had not failed as a musician I would
   play the piano and ignore words completely. Keith Jarrett moans
   and we understand he means you don’t know what love is.
   So maybe there is something universal about language.
   When I argued with Malia I was always two topics behind
   because I kept going back to revise the point I didn’t mean to make.
   Every expatriate in Korea thinks woegukin means foreigner.
   I didn’t learn until I returned to Nashville and snapped at a Korean
   friend in Starbucks I can’t be a foreigner in my own country
   that the best translation is not Korean. I’m more frightened
   every year at how effectively my mouth misrepresents me.
   What would you think if I told you I wished Malia a broken heart?
   But what if I said this poem was once titled “Duende”? What if
   this were a song called “마음을잃다” but I didn’t tell you how
   to say that or what it means? What if my Korean friend spoke
   no English and didn’t hear my petulance? I don’t know
   if I’m making myself clear. Pretend I elucidated the problem of turning
   ideas into words. Pretend I did it with fewer words. If you asked
   what I’ve learned, I’d say now I embrace my mind’s slow system, send
   thanks to the women who showed me music starts in the soles of the feet,
   then surges to the tongue. I have to thank those women who took what
   I needed to lose to make room for the vowel of recognition I hold in
   my mouth for as long as it takes to reshape the soul into a song.