the poetry that matters

Allen Edwin Butt

Allen Edwin Butt is from South Carolina. Work has appeared in Otoliths, Poetry and Meridian, and is forthcoming in Peaches & Bats.



Aristotle drew a lovely

arc—but we don’t die

like that.  Spurts, explosive,

rather.  A few words, death,


some other words.  My body of

image the goes there.

Meanwhile, Howard’s body was


exhumed & brought to England—

Byron stuck that in the notes.

More fun to eulogize, I guess,


an empty grave.  The main thing,

he was dead—& famous.

But I am wasting time with these

reflections, it would be less lazy


(though but slightly) to be working

on my novel or my dissertation

on emerging trends in cowboy poetry.

Hands idle, devil’s workshop.


Lemme tell you, no one

gets this shit here,

but the protestants laid down

our path toward race suicide


with all their contraceptives.  If

the Good Lord wanted that,

you think that anyone’d have


latex allergies?  Anyway, that’s

why I left Southern

California: too many damn


Mexicans.  They won’t get

their budget balanced till

they close the border


or let fuckin patriots

start shooting.  Then he stormed out

of the grocery store.  Most

items here are packaged multilingually.


Frozen dinners Spanish, fruit

in French.  Are these messages—

Well, who dies more dramatically?


What kind of game is this.

Meanwhile Byron trudges through Ardenne

where the moss spreads


over trees like secondary lit.

Howard’s dead.  Napoleon is dead.

The plough has been

upon it, & the grain is.



The fire is.  Hot.  They come

at once—but one?  Hand

warms     goes red & there is


pink about the borders: pink

is there?  You say withdraw it

seeing change     as though

the hand were stable even in


its accidents, like fire,

which is hot.  “Essential”

accidents seem precious or


enough so that you shouldn’t

speak of them above a whisper.

Is—implies identity?—




So the evidence can be arranged

as follows:

                   1) As in I is

a window to the soul half-


                   2) Within which

lurks the spotted leopard


                   3) Like window

is, or soul

                   4) Distorting is

into appearance which is

something else is isn’t.  Now!—


the seen (I mean, not means,

the form of it) grows talkative

says fold me creases perfect


as they get them in the

laundromats     —but who can really

do that?  Better, we think

sometimes, to watch the heat adjust


one’s hand / the heat, which

isn’t fire but

joined mercifully to it.



Lying still in sand: soft

bed.  However,


rest is not one’s form

but its privation.  So move,

which makes the sand


not substance but a low-

grade suffering

skin undergoes.  Like some


unruly tulip

creeping wide with its

empirical abrasion, latent

in the comfort when


it was.  Oh it, you do not

satisfy.  One has

to wrestle pronouns


like the sun,

here at the southernmost

coasts of Carolina,


where it claws through

air weighed down

with water

to reflect off water


wading through the mud.

I can almost sense

the way an action fits


the matter that

enacts it.  It has something

to do with a good friend


who, at seventeen, got

drunk past reason

in a public park


only to learn

that he spoke nearly

perfect French, then


vomited in his sleep.

That French

should lurk inside a not-yet-

addled mind, or that


the action of the coast

remains identical

in some sense through


the light air water water

mud relates to structure

as the part unto the whole.

So you see, we must


know something of

the global economy,

or at least its

implications, which are


words.  Simple

as sand, but like sand it resists

all motion: you can’t

get a good look.  Then


a songbird standing

on the lawn goes silent, hops

around & digs for worms.


When she catches one

she does not eat it

quite yet, but circles the lawn


with it still living in her mouth

until it gets what’s going on.

                                                                                                                                                        Jan 10, 2011 Bookmark and Share