Gregory Lawless is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the author of
I Thought I Was New Here (2009). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming
in Pleiades, The Journal, The National Poetry Review, Third Coast, Sonora Review,
The Cincinnati Review, Zoland Poetry, Sixth Finch, Transom, and others. He was a
recent finalist for the National Poetry Series Open Competition.

Meditation on Outsourcing

I was out of ideas, so I hired a detective.
Call me Gumshoe, he said, but
I wouldn't. Pal, I called him. Alright,
Pal, I said, go see what you can find. A year later
he walked into my office &
slapped me in the face. Nothing,
he said. Then he slapped me
again. Then I paid him.

Statement of Purpose

You've seen me
before, pushing my face
into the future, plastic bag
full of poems slung
over a stick slung over
my shoulder, shuffling
after my insomniac
feet, going
wherever. I'm just passing
through, says the last gurgle
of star to the black hole
chewing its way
through galactic murk. I'm mad
about that: that nothing
wins and lasts
forever. And I'm mad
that someone built me
to fall apart
one thing at a time, knees
like rotting melons,
teeth shouting
themselves to bits, then my heart
like a thug
who drops out of school
and drives his Trans Am
into a tree because that's
what he's designed to do.
You can hear him revving
himself to death
from outer space. But down
here I'm just looking for one place
in the known universe
that won't get sucked away.
I'm angry about
nothing: how it lasts forever
and won't stop
getting bigger. Sorry I can't stop
talking. You can't trust
a guy who says
he's got nothing
to say.


The Romans used it to fill the cracks
of empire, arches in Germania, sagging
aqueducts in southern Gaul. Slaves
mixed ash, lime and crumbled rock
together in wooden boxes. They probably died
in droves. My cousin rode
a concrete truck with a drunk
from Depot Street, who found a robin
once with a broken wing. He threw it
in the back, for fun, he said, and watched it
churn away. My cousin hit him
with a wrench. The bones flew
across his face, crushed
like the empty beer can
in his hand. Every time
I smell it, he said, pouring,
drying, I think of him. Strange
what holds a man's life
together. The guy's name
was Jake, he thinks, or Jerry,
or maybe Sam.

Why I Don�t Write about Nebraska
After James Wright

Seahorses fall asleep in the blond fields of what
dreaming of silver

while someone says something
lonely about tractors. And the boy spitting

his gum into the well
makes the sound of a maid

finding a dollar
bill in the underwear drawer.

Will she keep it?
Must she always be sad?

That's why the farmers
are out building fences
between their good dreams

and bad.

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