Dennis Etzel Jr.
We can reach out to the light
over the tops, yes, that is the moon
without light pollution, and reach
the sea of tall grass, where our feet
live the rest of their days
rioting against electric walkways
the Patriarchy use to travel
on their way to the cattle slaughter.
I am ready to carry you
away from the execution line, yes,
this is real, no joke. Take hold of
my dark sleeve, my felt memory,
as we hope the dogs aren’t let go.
You want to stop being a man, stop
those gym days and gladiator nights.
I am ready, too, for that bridge
I didn’t construct well, but it’s the only
way outta here. I didn’t expect
to have lion muscles or the fatherhood
I learned from two women.
These lines are cast out wobbly
because they are ropes or words, you
pick. This is death’s work and folly,
why we need that mythology.
How many times have I told my students
myth represents reality? Now we rely
on their belief, their faith, to hold up
our feet. Yes, I am just talking
to myself, as a woman with another woman
measures the patterns, holds up
yarn to the bulb, figuring
how the stitches will work
in this city.
This desire to speculate for and on the future and how it might be shaped we can read as a feminist eros, speaking the language of female desires. This is an historic moment, says George Bush. This is beyond even shield capacity. This is my home. This is the people’s agenda. This may lead to a Klingon Civil War.
Sentence 1: From Frances Bartkowski's Feminist Utopias (U of Nebraska Press 1991). Used with permission by author.
Sentence 2: From President George Bush's Desert storm speech, January 16, 1991.
Sentence 5: From Governor Joan Finney's (D) first State of the State Address, January 22, 1991.
This past weekend, in a last-ditch effort, the Secretary-General of the United Nations went to the Middle East with peace in his heart – his second such mission, says George Bush. This place is coming apart faster than our battle plan. This public skepticism represents the final isolation of verse as an art form in contemporary society. Through remodeling that which is not, we watch the "not-yet" taking shape, what could be, might be, even what some say ought to be. Time for light. Times of trouble.
Sentence 1: From President George Bush's Desert storm speech, January 16, 1991.
Sentence 3: From Dana Gioia's 1991 "Can Poetry Matter?" Used with permission by author.
Sentence 4: From Frances Bartkowski's Feminist Utopias (U of Nebraska Press 1991). Used with permission by author.
Sentence 5: Song title from Screaming Trees’ Uncle Anesthesia released on January 29, 1991.
Sentence 6: Song title from Temple of the Dog’s self-titled album released on April 16, 1991.
About Dennis Etzel Jr.
Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016). His work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, BlazeVOX, Fact-Simile, 1913: a journal of poetic forms, 3:AM, Tarpaulin Sky, DIAGRAM, and others. Please feel free to connect with him at dennisetzeljr.com.