ditch,

the poetry that matters

Matthias Regan

Matthias Regan is the author of numerous poetry chapbooks, including The Most of It, CodebookCode, Oil Slick Rainbows, and CHVMS. A full-length collection, Gapers' Delay: Harmolodic Essays, is forthcoming from Virtual Artist's Collective. Another chapbook, Death Blossoms, was recently a runner-up for Omnidawn's annual chapbook prize. He is the editor of The Philosophy Workers: Carl Sandburg's Writings in the International Socialist Review, published by Charles H. Kerr press, and his essays on poetry and culture have appeared in The Journal of Aesthetics and Politics and Deep Routes: The Midwest in All Directions.His poems have appeared in a wide range of journals, including Verdure, Fence and The Partisan Review. He holds an M.A. in poetry from Boston University and a Ph.D. in literature from the University of Chicago, and currently teaches at North Central College. He lives in Chicago, where he runs the Next Objectivists Poetry Workshop.

 

They were a woolen family of rollicking accusers

whose uptight stance as regards the law

was confused by constantly desiring amusement.

Each day after dinner they would take a walk

through the neighborhood, wearing tweed suits

&crossing at the cross-walks, adults first

with the children close behind. We received

their complaints politely, & when we received

a summons for making too much noise

we deceived ourselves into believing we were

in the wrong. In court, we pleaded guilty

&ever after tried to be more law-abiding.

 

 

They were a fast-paced family of wry expressions

that crossed my face each time I tried to laugh—

byzantine rainbows formed by toxic emissions.

My third eye was like a Foucault pendulum

from which depended lips & a chin that swung

their own way according to the gravity

of the situation. I wanted to know whose wishfulness

this was playing across my face. The wishfulness

that comes with guilt? Or lowered expectations?

Was it a clan of dour, repressed judgments?

Or a rapid-fire effort at complex agreements

that might be interpreted to engild or enhalo?

 

They were a tinkering family of noble Irishmen

whose present-day poverty was mostly ignored

by remembering an estate near Enniskillen.

A summer evening found them on tuffets

of trash they erected in empty parking lots

between the gas rings & the canal, smoking

pipes& opining with what they took to be noblesse

oblige on the day's news. But whatever noblesse

they possessed was lost on neighboring tinkers

who laughed at their highfalutin mannerisms

&flashed their daughters, dropping trow

to belittle an imagined inheritance.

 

 

They were a long-lived family of deep-sea octopi

who lingered in trenches, feasting on sea-mice

limp eels & coral that would never ossify.

Among the lower denizens they were Little League

but among top-feeders that drifted down

they were Terrifying Creatures of the Deep.

One day, a Frightful Creature (a diving suit

that had fallen off a ship) fell like a divine suite

among the cards they were prepared to play.

Our knowledge of these creatures might have been

enhanced by photographs the suit's camera

flashed, but alas: the octopi were orthochromatic.

 

 

They were an impish family of lonely undergraduates

who rented a house on the edge of campus

where decisions were consensual & unanimous.

Such accord was seldom instantaneous.

They discussed minor issues at length.

They made charts & graphs to alleviate

their stress. To others, they were lonely hearts—

not worth the time. But lonely hearts

are often open, & the multiple pleasures

of their communal experiments were adequate

for a time. Eventually boredom set in

&they disbanded, debt-free & unbranded.

 

 

They were a dwindling family of long-haired yetis

whose clan had been cast out long before man

on account of being a version of our Yippies.

They lived on grubs & pulled pranks

on the Dems, throwing snowballs at conventions

&shitting in their stews. High in the mountains

they delighted in feeling free & light-headed

but as yetis know, its hard to be light-headed

in the mountains, especially when you're high.

One by one, they fell to their deaths. Each time

the family mourned. But they were free

enough to consign themselves to yesterdays.

 

A note on the text:

The untitled poems below are from an unpublished chapbook, "Family Poems," which has one poem for each letter of the alphabet. The poems are composed according to a complex set of Oulipian techniques, which basically mean the the capitalized word in the first line, taken randomly from the dictionary, determines a number of subsequent words.

 

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                                                                                                          October 13, 2013