you are in the diode archives winter 2010



Bum Canto 6.

Lassos of paint. Lipped cigarette.
Autumn Rhythm. Lavender Mist. The season’s
At our own end of reality; we take some tequila, lemon salted,
Monday in Brooklyn, conversation lolling

self-destructive, semi-gloss; synapse patterns,
indescribable, the body and soul’s conversation
like clouds over the river, stainless steel light.
Pizza arrives with sausages that look like mitochondria.

Only he penetrated the emotional cordon sanitaire
he had thrown around his work in progress.
Centuries splash in wavelets. A shoe
falls like a dove from the bridge. Joanie shares a pint of milk.

Oedipus was a wreck. He needed three drinks
to nerve up to conversation, then the words drifted
with a cat she didn’t know. Conversation takes
on a kind of ceramic quality. Almost bell-like.

Few, far between, mumbled phrases. It calmed him
to think, iron and brick and unsanitary
life staggers from a cab
with a letter from Karl we all just have to read.


Bum Canto 21.

I estimate by rule of thumb
celebration of the opened heart.
Woman clutching her throat,
the buzzard circling comfortably
with her hands. Charismatic, I’m here. And I’m there.
Paradiso. Just another thing
a quarter mile off has what
it needs now. I won’t go to work with it. I was quite sure
once. Now I’ve lost the point,
roaming out into alleyways;
there is only and this where she should walk
in the room and say,
but she doesn’t and I don’t.
I think, perhaps, this began
as indictment; the bear-
claws are suspect; the most
penetrating question comes
from an ATM machine; you
can’t imagine thirty years ago as I sat in my
parents’ house with my copy
of “The Portable Faulkner”
why anyone
lives here. Meanwhile,
at the tire store, the gumballs
harden in their machine;
the fan turning my lamp lights my book.
The crickets had built a huge
song toward the sky. I realize
on the ceiling down to the fools on TV
playing ball. Words in a notebook
become more fascinating,
and, at last, how I got here. I think I’m
snapping out of it, and I’m
grateful for all those things.
Who cares?
That small rodent
of a heart leaps out of your left
breast pocket and makes
a break for it, right into
the lunch-hour traffic outside
Hy-Vee. Little feller never
had a chance. You could go
to the hospital; more on that later. Faulkner’s
voice. My dad making a summer
sausage sandwich and settling,
but they wouldn’t
know what’s wrong with you.
You might. They got me here. Here is OK.
Fantastically, it is the same sun
that saw me into this world—
weird, unhinged—
as well take that
vague sense of confusion.
Wash it on delicate and
dry it the same and wear it
because it’s the only thing
that matches.  


Rustin Larson’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, North American Review, Poetry East, The Atlanta Review, and other magazines. The Wine-Dark House (Blue Light Press, 2009) is his latest collection.  Crazy Star, his previous, was selected for the Loess Hills Book’s Poetry Series in 2005. Larson won 1st Editor’s Prize from Rhino magazine in 2000 and has won prizes for his poetry from The National Poet Hunt and The Chester H. Jones Foundation, among others. A five-time Pushcart nominee, and graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing, Larson was an Iowa Poet at The Des Moines National Poetry Festival in 2002 and 2004, a featured writer in the DMACC Celebration of the Literary Arts in 2007, 2008, and has been highlighted on the public radio programs Live from Prairie Lights and Voices from the Prairie. He is the host of the radio talk show Irving Toast, Poetry Ghost and lives in Fairfield, Iowa.