Aaron Anstett's most recent collection, This Way to the Grand As-Is:
New and Selected Poems, was published in 2020. A new collection,
Late-Stage Everything, is out in 2022.
from Quarterly Report
Should you prefer language with texture
and crackle, ample examples
exist extant elsewhere. A random
assemblage like soup or universe, soil
supports many organisms. To all
the animals I ate I apologize.
You were delicious
on sandwiches, covered in sauces
both mustard- and tomato-based.
To the humans who did
the dirty, dangerous work, thank you,
and I'm sorry. I didn't know.
I thought the moon made it dark
and people sang in the radio.
A skillet swiftly
to the back of the skull solves
many epistemological issues.
While the circulation of commodities
maps needs and wants, clouds
of colorful smoke imprint
themselves on digital film.
At red lights in rain I stop
the wipers and watch drops
smear and abstract my environs.
Sound decays as it travels
in measurable increments
through ambient air. Events
in this novel occur in an eyeblink
"Oof" I wish more songs began
or "Wow," both exactly right
responses to so much. Take
this iconic image known
as "Earthrise" for example
or any morning's news. "Och"
is Scots for "oy," expressing
regret or surprise, I recalled
reading an unbearably sad novel
I greatly enjoyed, like life,
like life, like life, like life.
Oof. Wow. Och. Oy.
I thought athwart the throat
a thought got thwarted.
I thought the unsaid stuck in craws.
I thought the caws of crows
across the air were weather's cause.
Of course a curse occurs, plural.
Blessings, too, case by case.
On these bases arise cross-purposes.
I thought I felt a tremble from unseen forces.
When a punch connects
the head and hand a thought
occurs what happens
if we subtract intent
from action subject
the object of attention
to clinical standards
but ouch it hurts
the facts of the matter
reiterate my feelings
will not be factored
with the final tally
Time-lapse the continent's palimpsest
of glaciers and invaders.
Lovely and strange, the wobble
and tilt of Brendan Behan singing
"Home, home on the range."
When Johnny Cash sings about Jesus, he means it.
One day soon I'll sway before the Lord,
cowardly-hearted, looking dumb
as hell in some T-shirt that says "I'm
with stupid →" or asks "Who farted?"
Back to Front.