Here are the results of Week 1 of Poetry is Plagiarism. The author we were emulating was Charles Bukowski. Corey’s poem at the fishhouses took first place in our “Best Emulated” category. The rest of the poems follow in order of their placement in that category. Enjoy!
at the fishhouses by C.W. Bryan
the fishmarket is alive with rivers
of running red guts and entrails
pulled from catfish and stonefish
and whatever fuckin other slimy
little creature gets his stomach
torn out every morning.
it is alive with the scent of death and bowel
movements. the part about fish
markets that is easy to forget
is all the knives. pencil thin,
razor sharp precision cuts
opening up the the fish like a bill come due in the mail.
i say it’s easy to forget because some guy
dressed in a short sleeve button up shirt
and flip-flops stormed in
to the place at 4:30 in the morning. he was waving
a gun all over the place. the paper said he was
an animal rights crackpot. earlier that month
he painted his chest
with pigs blood and stood outside
a hair salon
with a picket sign that said,
‘kill me for healthier hair’
I think he thought he was a pig
anyway, he had this big black gun, the one
you’d shoot terrorists with,
and he waved it around.
he got two shots off, and they were loud
in the 4:30 am market. before he could
do any real damage, all the fish gutters
stuck their little knives into his sides. he was stabbed
37 times, by 8 different people. opened up
like a pig, like a catfish.
if you want to make a mess
at least have a plan
on how to do so.
evening by Sam Kilkenny
it was a wonderful November evening
we opened the windows to let in autumn
we heard the crickets and frogs sing their evening lullabies
then we closed the windows to hear the tv
crematorium by C.W. Bryan
in the summer
of my first year in school
i got a part time gig
at a funeral home
after the viewing
down to the basement
where i tossed him in a
great big toaster oven
called the crematorium.
they paid pretty good
and i didn’t have to talk
people don’t even look
your way with a casket
in your hands.
one day some old
fuck was being
showed and burned.
expression but the man
was a landlord
over on berne st where
the houses go for
3k a month. in the eulogy
his wife had
the audacity to say
that he was beloved
by his tenants. i rolled my
eyes and cracked
the service ended
as they always do. people
slouch their shoulders
and file out
of the lobby one by one
like lemmings. i slipped
the gloves on, and went
to close the casket and bring
the beloved man to
before i could lift the guy
for the last time, i saw
this woman, short skirt,
black veil, crying
over the casket. i backed away
slowly, quietly but
before i could sneak
back out, I saw her slip her
hand in the box. she
grabbed the poor corpses
hand and squeezed any
leftover life out of it.
the corpse made her a gift
of a fat gold watch.
she stuffed it in her
little black purse and
ran crying out of the room.
i don’t think
she ever saw me.
his body burned all
the same, watch or not.
tuesday by Sam Kilkenny
today i am perfect
for i have done nothing but lie in bed
epistemology by C.W. Bryan
we can’t know
we know we can’t know
ask questions & not know
give answers & not know
like the man on Cherokee,
with the birdcage ribs, and smoke-riddled
voice, hollering, hollering with one
his other shoe, somewhere,
this is important by Sam Kilkenny
there is a hole in my pocket
that i lose all my time and money to
it notifies me when it’s time to do this
it convinces me that it
is important, more important
than the birds chirping in Piedmont Park
than the lonely smile of the cash register attendant
than the way your eyes water when you talk about your love for Flannery O’Connor after you’ve had 2 drinks
it tells me
this is important,
this thing that I am showing you
not the trivial life you lead
this hole in my pocket
this is how it goes by Sam Kilkenny
you put your head down
you do right
you have money and friends and girlfriends
a netflix account
your own bathroom
you go to the gym (sometimes)
and you eat healthy (sometimes)
and then one day you look around and think
hey wait a second, this is it?
this is how it goes?
this wasn’t in any of my childhood books
where’s the adventure, the life and death struggle
where’s my arch nemesis
where’s the love of my life
and they say, ‘oh honey, that stuff is for fairy tales.’
and you say ‘you mean the ones used to taught me to keep my head down and do right?’
and they say, ‘yep. exactly.’
man, i feel like i got duped but
this is how it goes
neighborhood by Sam Kilkenny
there is a bar around the corner from my house
you wouldn’t know it was there
there are no signs out front
no icons marking it on maps
and since its tucked away in a neighborhood
and since its really just some guy’s garage.
he opens it in the afternoon
and closes it whenever he gets tired
there is a rope that divides the garage in half
on one end, our end, there are a few tables and chairs that the guy made himself
and on the other end, his end, there are the kegs and brew tanks and tools and bicycle parts
i forgot to mention that – the bike parts
he builds these strange art pieces out of old bikes while we drink and watch him weld.
sparks fly off his torch bounce off the kegs and the walls,
across the rope barrier toward where we sit.
the room gets hot and loud– too loud for us to talk.
we dodge the sparks in silence.
occasionally he stops, lifts his welders mask, and asks if anyone needs a beer
all of our hands go up and he draws the beer from the tap, and the room begins to cool.
he doesn’t have much confidence in his brewing, I think, since he only charges us 2 dollars a beer and sometimes – if he thinks that batch is no good, all the beer is free for a night or two.
we drink his beer and watch him turn bikes into lamps and mirrors and bar stools.
occasionally someone asks him what he’s making and he typically responds
‘I don’t know yet.’
we all nod our heads, raise our hands, and ask for another beer.
anyway, I bring it up because last week some journalist snuck in the place and wrote some article about it that went viral and the city came and shut the place down.
there are still people doing good work in this world but it’s not enough just to find them. You also have to keep your mouth shut and protect them from anyone willing to sell them out for 2 cents a word.
cats by C.W. Bryan
about three blocks north,
maybe one west
there is a yard unpolished,
never pruned, overgrown.
i’ve never seen a car
in the driveway
but i have seen a black and white
in the tall grasses
like his older cousins do.
on lucky days
i’ll see him when i’m walking
home form the corner store
and he’ll flip over
show me his belly
not for attention, of course,
but for the sheer joy
of freedom. most
days i stop and scratch
his white stomach.
as much for him
as for me
but i’ve walked by
on too-hot days
and he just screams
across the concrete, scratching
his own white stomach.
nothing feels better
than his freedom.
not even a scratch
on the chin.
november by C.W. Bryan
the leaves have
is there to do?