Hieu Minh Nguyen - “Southbound”
"When the man outside my apartment pinned me to the sidewalk like a moth between the glass, I was impressed that race had nothing to do with it."
Performing at the November 2013 Soap Boxing Poetry Slam.
is where I go when I run out of
Missing You. Because the door
is three feet high, you have to crawl
into the Factory. Let me tell you
about leaving: it’s either the drain
or the window. The carpet
at The Sadness Factory is all shag.
The drapes? Also shag. The walls
are supposed to change color with your mood,
but they have been broken since the 80s,
which I hear were a rough time for empathic
architecture. The Factory is, no joke,
shaped like a heart; sadness is the corniest
of emotions. The most popular time to visit
is at night because, again,
corniness, so they have hired the world’s
most incompetent security guard. He is always
weeping and saying something unintelligible
about my wife, my wife. Sadness
is much easier when you are reminded,
by phone, by accident, of what makes you
happy, so the Factory always smells
like maple syrup and snowmelt. There’s no
golden ticket. Iron, though. Cement. The lines
for samples are prohibitively long: New Apartment
Sadness; Everything Is Great but Something
Feels Strange Sadness; A Midsummer
Night’s Sadness; The Sadness of Wanting
To Break Something but Being Too Weak;
The Sadness that Comes from always Knowing
Exactly where You Are.
My foreshadow stretches
out in front of me.
We stand on the soles
of each other’s feet.
I am a field
and there’s a man
standing in the middle
of me saying,
God is the sky pinning
me to my body.
I am a man
and there is a field
under me saying,
A dead man makes
love to the earth
just by lying there.
to say that I will be posting much more often. Thank you to everyone who followed me today, and I look forward to sharing more work with you in the future.
When you hear the phrase Winter Weather Advisory
you imagine a guidance counselor and snow
that is unsure what it wants to do with its life,
don’t you? Don’t you see skills tests
about its career before it rebecomes water? If snow
can drift, so can leaves and returns. You can
have a light dusting of feathers. Valentine’s
Day, New Year’s Eve, and Saint Patrick’s
Day are also white. In America. In
the North. Snow is a sentient being that hates
when people drive in straight lines. Snow is
migratory. Snow is a dog that wants
all the sidewalks to be rimmed
with salt. Snow is therefore a happy dog.
Imagine if fire extinguishers were full
of snow. Imagine the fun we could have.
Neil Hilborn - “OCD” (Rustbelt 2013)
"She’d lay in bed and watch me turn the lights off and on, off and on… she’s close her eyes and imagine days and nights were passing in front of her."
Finally, finally, a high quality video of this poem.
Alright, so I have been doing this poem for almost three years, and this is the first time anyone has taken a good video of it.
You told me once that you would break my heart.
I asked you not to be such a goddamn
cliche, but then you left me because part
of you was still broken. You say some man
pried open the cracks of you, dug holes where
once there were none, so now you just cannot
love me how I deserve, and darling, therein
lies the problem: you can you can you can
you can you can you can you can you can.
Your reasons why are no good reasons why.
We said we should not fall in love and then
we showed each other our most quiet
scars: my wrists, your upper thighs, and now you say
this too easily: you say you cannot stay.
after Richard Siken and Paul Guest
That the coins become something other than coins
once the meter has eaten. Perhaps hamburger
patties. That we, therefore, are also
feeding the city. That the meters are a people
and that they are so very patient. That the credit
card-operated meters are an invasive species.
That we know not yet what we do. That parallel
parking is like making love, only more difficult
and in public. Perhaps the curb is a shoreline.
Imagine one sidewalk as England
and the other France. Imagine
parking meters with longbows
and trebuchets. Imagine the poet imagining
parking meters in stupid metal hats. This is,
laughably, considered “work.” Making glass
is work. Driving a forklift is work, as is
procrastination, as is collecting coins
or hamburgers, whichever they are.
It is impossible to imagine a color
you have not seen. I can’t call my mother
because she makes me panic. When I
say I am crying what I really mean
is that I want to cry but can’t. Instead
of dying, the jellyfish simply ceases
to move. Glass moves like any other
liquid, but slower. Sex is another way
of communicating with your body
like self-harm or sign language. I complete
five crosswords a day because it stops
the panic. Trucks are downshifting
on Main Street. Most of what I do I do
to stop the panic. I never cry at things
outside of my head because they all
seem so far away. Hair is partially
composed of cyanide. Napalm
is just gasoline and plastic. I am just
carbon and bad timing. If I were someone
else I think I would still be mentally ill.
It is impossible to imagine a color
you have not seen.