the poetry that matters

Joseph P. Wood

Joseph P. Wood lives in Tuscaloosa, AL and is a lecturer in English and Creative Writing at the University of Alabama. His first full book of poems, I & We, will be published by CustomWords in 2010. He is also the author of two chapbooks: Travel Writing forthcoming from Scantily Clad Press and In What I Have Done & What I Have Failed to Do, which won the 2005 Elixir Press Poetry Chapbook competition and was published in 2006. His poems have appeared in a wide variety of journals which include Indiana Review, Beloit Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, Typo, Drunken Boat, and West Branch, among others.







The waxy leaves in this forest


The waxy leaves are like sheets


Like sheets of plastic encasing a couch


A couch at Grandma Nunziata-tina-nina, aka Nina


Dinners of angel hair, anchovies, bread crumbs, walnuts


A recipe scrawled on an index card yellowed & soup-stained & smearing


A card once her equally neurotic toy-collie, She-She, ingested


& rolled about the shoebox of yard, gut all clogged


Nina said sighing you boy, go help your Nina’s She-She


The last thing she said before her eyes rolled back


And She-She neurotically pranced the browning grass


A grass so brown it looked like dirt


Though trees, miraculously, shot up through the soil…







Start I-10 in that pit of stalled metal—LA—& ride, Mountain Dew chased,


twitchy, New Mexican desert long dull heat waves, car moves through


same for El Paso, Stockton, Kerriville, then someone pours water


in the sky-oven, the trees go canopy, & hundred thunk thunk


miles, overpass above this endless swamp, & wait


for something dark to enter, voodoo & all, no


just flat city, canned jazz, & the Atlantic


drifting somewhere South, now Biloxi,


dizzying sun, Mobile


Bay, a battle-








You say feel something                                 

borderline gross

like bologna in the dark

                                                covering a light


switch. I close my eyes. I tap my feet. My feet are boats


burdened by anchors.

                                                Lean your lips on this lobe

                                                                                                My Love, kiss my


craniotomy. I see sand dunes. I see witchgrass.  Newly minted


motels hurricaned.

                                                Come closer, love. Move on         

                                                                                                upstate, surrender


your lilt. To acres of nowhere. Summer’s fat, mean mouth. Blow


harder, baby

                                                breeze, stir those black

                                                                                                flies. Up I go


down to the swamp. Open your hand, My Love. What squalor.









What is the South

when the snowbirds settle

& Boston-Brahmian-bred lawyers pontificate

& factories pop-open like azaleas of cement

& Quiceanera parades clog the major road’s two arteries

& rib plates are served with kale & corn fused with salmon oil

& the former WalMarts, all Kafka-like, gain homemade Crescents

makeshift mosques, & bi-regional babies, father Good Old Boy, mother

from elsewhere, elsewhere, elsewhere, & will the children say Sir

& will the Ma’am abandon the Sun dress for the leather skirt

with the slit in the back as large as Olympus, why yes

where is the Savior, but on everyone’s tongue

who gnoshes Schnitzel, German bakery,

order, order, order we ascribe to

the Germans, & their trains

run on time, especially

to here, & here.






Behind my rowhome

as a child George Washington

led his army over the biotite outcropping

on that very hill now overrun with raccoons

begging for the kids in rain-soaked alley below

to throw-up their bread scraps, but the kids are kids

playing games like overturn the tricycle, corner weak Jenny

& strip her jeans, Barney shirt, then run away, laughing

the kind of thing, I do believe, Washington fought


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