no threat; riverside park; tryptic
By: Josh Anthony
the moose comes out to get drunk
on fermented apples that a friend
and i have just crunched under
our rubber soles. like the need
to piss, the animal appears from
nothing. and we turn and look
as if for nothing. no
antlers, a calf perhaps.
stranded between a highway
and a bypass. the witness
trees light with their
intoxicant offerings dropped.
we all look around, the calf,
my friend, the trees, the
roads. a car goes by
full of nightmare.
we step back slowly, though
there is no threat—we could
turn around and walk with
hands in our pockets, but
we are praying. i
get on my knees
and feel the cold
blur through my jeans. i
hold these rotten apples
like a monstrance. i am
back in school at the altar.
i am wondering what all
these eyes behind me are
today, the park is full of chicken wings.
fried, grilled, boiled—whatever
you’re thinking is right.
parents bring little knapsacks
full of dips. a toddler
in a yellow dress approaches
one wing like a pigeon.
she holds a plastic cup full
of barbecue sauce.
some kids play dodge the wing,
others are held back by strong
hands that say you’ll ruin
your dinner. one man
is passed out covered in bones.
the sky is clear. i can’t imagine
it would rain on a day like today.
i get a call from my brother.
he says the treatment seems to
be working. we should celebrate.
and sure, it appears that the world
is celebrating. wings now in the hands
of all around me. why not
pick one up, blow the dust off,
and call it a miracle.
we learned today of the
small bit of saint
embedded in each altar
in every church. maybe
a bone or a piece of
i eat a strawberry and
worry with what ease
one of these seeds could
find itself stuck in
my eroded intestines.
at the Russian airport
terminal they ask
how i got there without
a physical ticket.
too busy to care,
they let me go.
Josh Anthony holds (like a cup of coffee) an M.F.A. from Eastern Washington University. Josh has appeared in a fingerful of magazines including Crab Fat Magazine, Gone Lawn, and Anomaly Literary Journal.
Interview with the poet:
Cathexis Northwest Press:
How long have you been writing poetry?
I’ve been writing poems in some fashion since I was in elementary school but writing poetry as a practice for about eight years now.
Can you remember the first poem you read that made you fall in love with poetry?
In high school, I went to a poetry slam for the first time. While I can’t recall specifics from the poems of the night, I remember the energy in the room. It was electric. I was astounded at this vehicle for emotion and fell in love. While my writing and taste has developed outside of slam, I always look fondly back on that introduction.
Who are your favorite poets? Any specific poems?
Recently, a friend suggested Dark Matter by Asse Berg—a grotesque monument to existence, best read after 11pm. Jenny Xi, Jos Charles, Galway Kinnell, Rainer Rilke, and Laura Read are a few that come to mind.
Can you share for us a little bit about your writing process? Any specific rituals that get you in the zone?
Write every day, even if that writing is coming to the table to look out the window. Numerous times I worried that certain life changes would ruin my poetry—quitting drinking or taking ant-depressants—but I’m happy to say that poetry was always there for me when I came back to the table. When I have trouble getting the words out and want to get the words out, I try to, as William Stafford suggested, lower my expectations.
How do you decide the form for your poems? Do you start writing with a form in mind, or do you let the poem tell you what it will look like as you go?
I try to let the poem tell me what it will look like. I’ve been finding that sequencing has been a form that my poems accumulate within.
Any advice for poets who have yet to find their voice?
Memorizing poems is a start. I like to listen to interviews between comedians because I find a lot of crossovers between poetry and comedy. This kind of question often comes up—how did you find your voice? One of the more convincing articulations was that a comedian must copy other comics before finding their own voice.
What is your editing process like?
While I write by hand in a notebook and include line breaks within the notebook, when I go to type the poem, I often transcribe it as a piece of prose… and then break it into lines again. Sometimes the lines are like the ones within the notebook, other times they are quite different. Beyond this, I simply try to spend time with the poem.
When do you know that a poem is finished?
An easy answer might be: never. A more accurate answer might be: always.