C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

In Nineteen Whatever

By: Greg Sendi


They are not lunatics, hypochondriacs, or frenetics; but they have a mixture of all these kinds of diseases, which, injuring their minds, cause them to become more ravenous than starving dogs, and make them so hungry for human flesh, that they fall on women and children, even on men, like actual werewolves, and devour them rapaciously.

Relations des Jésuites de la Nouvelle-France (1661)



In nineteen whatever my brothers and I

bought a derelict place built from PVC, pine logs,


some sheetrock and hollow core doors in a recluse

scrub maple stand deep in the Kingdom of Dum.


Look, don’t tell me it’s just how things roll in that part

of the mitten. I don’t mean homespun local color,


okay? I mean Odic rune dirtbags and methmouthed

faux-butternut shitjacks at every gas pump, and


degenerate bumblecunts armed like they work

for El Chapo streaming RPG vids from the woods,


and the warped and malignant ex-mayor of Fuckville

who wants (not to over-finesse the point)


camps.


Whenever it was, say the baby was one

so call it ninety-eight or I think, working back


from the November bonechill the first visit up

on that soupyellow night—there were turkeys out front,


plump with beechnuts and bugs, a whole rafter, so-called

for the roof timbers they would hang from as feast meat—


but now, listen, the point is not wildfowl or which

goddamned year, though, for probity’s sake, let’s just say,


ninety-nine?—since as fathomed the watchful Odawa,

who knew years are inconsequential except

to mark famine, and who bequeathed us who came after,

the cannibal Wendigo, bringer of civil

collapse—

and the end of the ways we could hold like to like,

before particleboard and shit plywood and all

the miasmic offgasing formaldehyde resins that

pickled what’s left of the upright bluewater

republic, whole hamlets and townships now loopy

and fuddled with kuru in humanflesh frenzies

to signal starvations their broke-brained, dysphasic,

fat famisher-god says they suffer with him

for eternity. Listen, I’m not here to fuss

like some wobbly collegetown sniffy—forearms


are breaching the surface at Antrim and Skegmog.

The Rubicon loamsands aren’t holding the

corpse.





Greg Sendi is a Michigan native who lives in and writes from Chicago. His career has included broadcast and trade journalism as well as poetry, fiction and a tour as fiction editor at Chicago Review. In the past year, his work has appeared or been accepted for publication in a number of literary magazines, including Apricity, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, The Briar Cliff Review, Burningword Literary Journal, Clarion, CONSEQUENCE, Flashes of Brilliance, Great Lakes Review, The Headlight Review, The Masters Review, New American Legends, Plume, Pulp Literature, San Antonio Review, Sparks of Calliope, and upstreet.


"'In Nineteen Whatever' is a reflection on the extremism that has become common among some of the people and communities in northern lower Michigan, a part of the country I’m familiar with. It’s an angry piece, obviously and, maybe, in that way, unusual for a contemporary poem with “literary” ambitions. Civil anger used to be comfortably on the poetry leitmotif shortlist, right up there with sex, death, nature, fame and sadness but, at the moment, seems to be kind of off the radar. I settled on the four-footed anapestic/dactylic lines (like you’ll find in Dr. Seuss or “A Visit from St. Nicholas/’Twas the Night Before Christmas”) to move the piece forward at a kind of grisly whimsical gallop toward each section end—and hard into those abrupt un-whimsical thuds at “camps,” “collapse” and “corpse.” The poem is also about the fascinating and complex Wendigo legend shared by the original Odawa, Ojibwe and Potawatomi peoples of northern Michigan. In the legends, the Wendigo is a cannibal being, spirit or monster capable of possessing individuals during times of famine driving whole groups of people to a insatiable cannibalistic madness and hunger. The poem wonders about the connection between the ancient Wendigo madness described by the legends and the current transformations among the people who now live on those lands."