Monday, July 23, 2018

Ken Meisel


From nauseous storm clouds and ill hallucination,
from crass matter-of-fact violence and perversity,

and from whatever psychic piece of the world
we can never quite repudiate, nor ever finally choose

the exact right photograph to best construe it,
come Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate

in a stolen 1956 Packard – too large for them
to drive: its black-crow color and hooded headlamps

recessive, and suspiciously gazing out from the front
fenders, and its blood red taillights, set deep inside

those conservative fins. It was too difficult to drive –
with the police in pursuit – a rich man’s car. They stabbed

the owner to death, and twisted the dog’s neck and filled
the Black Packard with stolen jewelry, like it was some

flagship of the wrongly-made. Now, in the dust
of the highway where beauty and regret take shape

in a restless sunflower, the crickets chirrup, and a lonesome
heathen of a bird starts singing in a dried-up cottonwood.

The sun escapes the highway and hides itself behind
a ridge of trees. Buildings become frightful, cold-hearted.

He slips the radio dial, twists it past a bible station
and a car commercial, lands on Bruce Springsteen,

Nebraska: From the town of Lincoln Nebraska,
a sawed-off .410 on my lap, through the badlands

of Wyoming, I killed everything in my path.

Ken Meisel reads "1956 Packard (Nebraska)":

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Ken confesses: "This poem directs its attention to the odd inclusionary interface of crime, automobile, and song. The aesthetic is Noir American Gothic. The car, amidst the horror of the crime, is weaponized. The Springsteen song, of course, memorializes the horrific perversity of the killing urge. The poem elicits the crime's lonely, desolate aftermath."

KEN MEISEL is a poet and psychotherapist from the Detroit area. He is a 2012 Kresge Arts Literary Fellow, Pushcart Prize nominee, and winner of the Liakoura Prize. Recent books include Mortal Lullabies (FutureCycle Press: 2018) and The Drunken Sweetheart at My Door (FutureCycle Press: 2015). He has work in Midwestern Gothic and Rattle.

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