Twenty-Seven Club, & other poems

Twenty-Seven Club

(erasure poem)


I know you have felt it

the nights       not aromatic
coyotes           getting restless

the frogs       

their choral arrangements 
giving way to spring


years ago when I first 
heard the tone

was but a gentle annoyance

I had just joined
I was learning the songs
I was learning           I honestly

don’t know what       I honestly

don’t remember

I am doing my best not to know that I often
lose my voice        my body wants to sleep

the days enjoy this conflict

I don’t know what you’ll make of this


This great music

In feeble effort to stop
a war had denied myself    and countless others

the revolution
a daydream
all of a sudden 

I started

asking questions      pulled out a video camera
said,                        “For my own protection.”

What a show

I say to an audience


music              turned into Hell

a lot of television         
a large jar of formaldehyde

I have yet to hear
something to lose


we have been released into nothing more
than mere          ritual

shorter days         warmer months

new discoveries      year after year this truth 

starts firing


I might be, within minutes,

the slightest amount of music
considered            a dance      or at least

a laugh

Excerpts from a Storm Unraveling

(cento poem)


i’ve already tasted
the merciless weather
billowing like a dress
if i open my mouth, i might drown


the radiator’s screaming
a hurricane, a disaster –
america, fading out, a flicker at first
i’ve been unrolling to a thin flat line, reaching


for fear of trial, we lose the fight
lord drag us back to the gutter
where all things weak break free—


and the radiator’s sizzling
up through a brooding blue
delirium, in the fetid shadow
of rain, which hung around,
rosary-like, a kind of divine sweat that
enters the maelstrom
against the wind as the wind
sets off the mind’s tripwires


then, the great machinery begins


probably mild, probably a storm, probably

Detroit Beach

(erasure poem)

   Stinging nostrils    the wind
                                                                        A beach with lies and unexpected hours


                The taste of     salt    metal
spitting teeth   and sawdust
                                                                    and always     the lies:
                           Blue exhalations glittering infinitesimally
                          A promise barefoot in the snow

                                                                          The ashcan and the flames
                                                     A red sea in which black coals embed     everything
                                                                  wasteful       wrong

                                      Flakes fall slow     and steady
                                              The waves growl


                 Ashore, your feet       in boots
Naked needles tarnish   the thought
     Pains wind dowel-shaped      eclipsing you

                                         Thunder coats the spoon—
the answer unloved

Not so    likeable


                                  You found you could live     altogether blank





The rest of you is lost 
to blanched reels of recollection, 

missing footage, damaged frames 
that cut in and out.

Similar exploits are draped 
across the centuries—

captive inside the canvas 
Ophelia forever drowns.

By Olivia Pierce Graham