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Dead Skunk Logo: round logo of a white skunk silhouette on a black background with the words “Dead Skunk” in cursive. “Dead” is neon purple and “Skunk” is neon yellow.

WEARY OF MODERNITY, THE GRAD STUDENTS DECIDE TO WRITE A POEM WHILE I GET DRUNK IN THE CORNER BOOTH AT MOLLOY’S

Carl Boon

But it mustn’t allude to modernity, they agreed,

not even obliquely. It must, however, be

subtle and fierce. Like the zoo on a rainy Tuesday.

It must cash in. It must offer terrain

and a sense of bewilderment,

if not abandon. Over multiple lagers,

tiger-gold, I imagined machines and Ezra Pound

clutching a mouse by its tail.

Sally Peterson was beautiful.

Johnny Galga was sitting on her lap.

It was 1951, and no one cared about the world

except them. You must remember,

there was no Derrida and everyone thought

Ike was joking most of the time.

How’s this for an opening line?

said Galga. “The rock rests till it’s enveloped /

by light.” Sally thought it captured something—

some war of the innate, some clash

they were privy to that required

further articulation. The bartender was bored.

It was a Tuesday and nothing hummed,

and I pondered my usual walk home

past the West Street Cemetery

in the snow that had begun to fall.

I didn’t like them, these students

for whom meanness was a given and oddness

its only refuge. I folded my napkin

into an F-51 and dropped imaginary bombs

over Korea. I went to the men’s room

and studied my face in the smeared-up mirror.

I thought grad school would be spectacular

and frantic, full of Hemingway souls

and trout in distant streams. I thought

we’d memorize Proust and pursue the idea

that books give back the world in purple

and gold lamé. That night at home, I ate

tomato soup from a can and watched the snow

fall indistinctly on the parking lot, the porch,

the grass where months before I believed

myself to be, at last, a kind of hero.

Author Bio: Carl Boon is the author of the full-length collection Places & Names: Poems (The Nasiona Press, 2019). His writing has appeared in many journals and magazines, including Prairie Schooner, Posit, and The Maine Review. He received his Ph.D. in Twentieth-Century American Literature from Ohio University in 2007, and currently lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at Dokuz Eylül University.

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Dead Skunk Logo: round logo of a white skunk silhouette on a black background with the words “Dead Skunk” in cursive. “Dead” is neon purple and “Skunk” is neon yellow.

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