the poetry that matters

Connor Stratman

Connor Stratman is a writer currently living in Chicago. His fiction, poetry, essays, and book reviews have appeared in The Toronto Quarterly, The Journal of Experimental Fiction, Tusitala, College, and The Midwest Book Review. Some of his poetry will be published in the forthcoming issue of Bird’s Eye reView.

The Argument Argues with Itself

A series of statements will now be read. If either

of you protest to the question, question the nature

of the question, or the intent of the question, you

will be asked to leave.


The argument will drizzle like molasses forgotten

in the freezer, and it will be your duty to thaw it

with your tongue, because the tongue can speak

and the tongue can help to push breath.


But the tongue also licks. It licks syrup, fur,

come, it makes the brain shiver. And when

the brain shivers, it doesn’t care to argue,

but wants to shiver.


Don’t interrupt a brain, screaming with feeling.

The feeling brain doesn’t want to be disrupted

by thought.


A plank of wood kills the thinker when

you drive it through him,

and a dead person can’t argue, either.


So let the arguers be living, thinking people

who know how to thaw syrup.




Shine, Rising Dictatorship


It starts in a wealthy neighborhood

and tears through to the bottom,

for all men have livers,

and each, somewhere, wants to



They want to leak green into

a red plastic cup and call it Easter.


In a Chicago taxi, let an angry

song knife the passenger,

or let the driver rip himself.


If livers are nets, can they capture

and purify vomit?


Because even doctors wear beanies in winter.


Those vomiting men want stale


our feeble, stuttering king

wants it too.


How is a world to function

when everyone wants

olive oil?




A Solitary Vine


I regard one singular woman as gallant,

keys glisten verse, come nose, the blank rain,

key the loon, undulant envoy trembles,

and hell and void, bag and beauty nonchalant.


The darned bag decorated, dance the dots of joy;

one base libertine of the may, Adeline;

the sons of one music unnerved at clanging,

semblance of the cry of a dour man’s loins.


Toot! say “la,” no void pass, O beauty profound,

the bombs penetrate the fecund pants.

Guard the coy, alter the pious poet.


Two low verses pour, the juice and the V,

and organ, the treasure of toting gags,

keys make us triumphant and a semblance of God!






A form is appearing as THE spirit wanes. Spindling waves rocking in quiet patterns at my feet, I’m a poor writer of letters, drunk and sifting through an air-conditioned storage container nightmare. The chickenscratch on the sheets is useless spasm, exhaustive. Lowered door, kept a couple of inches from the floor, so a little gleam bleeds through.


You sit on the other side,

lighting small candles

in the panopticon window


you can’t see the shine

from my flashlight

with dying batteries


Fever dream, the southern sun on an unbearable hot afternoon, with warm beer and groggy thoughts sitting idle in a shallow well. Replacement brain, still learning movements, moving the limbs carefully, caressing air.



facing away,

singing hard rains

and a cigarette sitting

beside you

my mind

burning slower.


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