What the young American writer most often appears to feel is his ‘own’ misfortune. The injustice is done to ‘his’ talent if life is brutish and ignorant, if the world seems overcome by spasm and beer, or covered with detergent lathers and poisonous monoxides. This is apparently the only injustice he feels. Neither for himself nor for his fellows does he attack power and injustice directly and hotly. He simply defends his sensibilities
The American writer in the middle of the 20th century has his hands full in trying to understand, and then describe, and then make credible much of the American reality. It stupefies, it sickens, it infuriates, and finally it is even a kind of embarrassment to one’s own meager imagination. The actuality is continually outdoing our talents, and culture tosses up figures almost daily that are the envy of any novelist.
"Epilogue," by Justin Engles
“We were in the gold room / where everyone finally gets what they want.”
- Richard Siken “Snow and Dirty Rain”
“Maybe this obsession with blue is fucked after all,”
Said while prying a tire loose from the wreckage of the motorcycle.
Cruel in a casual way, his hands looked better with engine grease.
Tendons. Grit. You have always been a tactile person.
Your first love died on a motorcycle. Your mother’s first love
died on a motorcycle. You conclude that first loves are apt to die on motorcycles.
You leave the hot concrete of the junkyard behind and walk to Leon’s
where the sign promises “a real bar for real people,”
(reality is slippery). Dim bars make you think back, back to when every exodus was easy, sure-footed, thrilling. And now you’re here.
In this land prone to heat and likely to flood.
Land of TV pastors promising salvation, hot on the scent of “the All.”
But his hand is shaking bringing the whiskey to his mouth,
“Because it’s the hope that fucks with a person.”
There’s porn playing on the old television set in Leon’s, a sawdust floor,
and a woman picking up a dollar bill with her breasts. Real people.
And you feel close to them, because none of you ever understood
how to pace a love, and because the notches you carve in time are different from
the ones that healthy people use – not days or hours, not cities even,
not the way the man beside you keeps changing, or the liquor he’s drinking.
No, it’s the pleas that are different now, “tell me a story” dwindled down,
grew desperate, “just give me a way out.”
After all, one of life’s greatest pleasures is reading a book of perfect beauty; more pleasurable still is rereading that book; most pleasurable of all is lending it to the person one loves
"Bondage" by Thea Engst
She wore loss like a wristwatch.
They stopped on her. She had to go
digital but never liked the look.
He was the man she wanted
to leave, but the act was harder
than the dream. Thirty years went
before she remembered what
she was supposed to be doing.
By then there was a child and a dog,
at least two cats. She’d certainly lost
track of time. She thought about
getting something to keep tabs
on the passing minutes, something
she could wear like her loss
on her wrist like a handcuff.