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poemoftheweek poem of the week


Aaron Anstett

Atoms in Their Orbits

The particulars of remembering, spray
of water beyond the singularity of its gravity-
defying thrust, color of carpet hairs

under fingernails, or screech of laughter
one hotel hallway at an ice machine's 
languid rumbling, or the house of my childhood

haunted by what menace, mysterious
injuries. Gingerly, the wind, with hints
of vanilla, tobacco, wet stone, continues

over whatever Texas road down which a thin 
dog falters, brothel, your skin,
public wall on which hand-scrawled messages appear,

grass seldom slept on well or long, skeleton
in the mountains after the thaw, glass
shattered on asphalt, many glittering windows.


All at Once

In the beginning was the whir. The whir made flecks.
Impossible now a snow across the roads like smoke, animated lace, supple, 
      hovering tracery. Impossible such tall flames.
Somewhere mutter every word we must not blurt in airports.
Somewhere hum to thrum of wind over bottle's lip.
Somewhere maneuver shopping cart, mouthing brand names.
Somewhere lurch and curse in barroom murk, clutching torn felt.
Somewhere say "Maple, loblolly," watching light dwindle through windows.
Somewhere tiptoe on stairs pressing bald spot to ceiling, making of it sombrero's 
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
The world is all that just decays.


Care and Feeding

Some number what-10,000 scintilla?-swing
like saloon doors, invisibly hinged, upon

and in this heat-blurred landscape and who-poured ocean:
underwater flower corral, nosed about by monsters.

On land, many piñatas my brain-shaped
sway, one for each cell left.

As blindfolded batters gather, I forget
which firework my soul most longs for, hearing

disembodied conversation through wallboards,
but, good start, air condensed to water sweating down milk 

as elsewhere cows' stomachs translate grasses,
and I greet the day as so often it is: as-is,

each wee hour dream my new career: obit punch-up,
collective noun creation: squalor of Anstetts,

bickering of in-laws, or assign myself such perilous missions
as searching glove boxes, trunks in impound lots for the 

whereabouts and attendant engineering specs
to nth-level granularity and zoom-in view

and the vanishing point toward which, on what
so-and-so's say-so, the 10,000 things drift.


                         -from Insofar as Heretofore


BIO: Aaron Anstett's collection Sustenance was the finalist for the 1998 Colorado Book Award in Poetry. His second collection, No Accident, was selected by Philip Levine for the 2004 Backwaters Press Prize and won the 2006 Nebraska Book Award and the Balcones Poetry Prize. His newest collections are, Each Place the Body's (2007, Ghost Road Press), and Insofar as Heretofore (2014, The Backwaters Press). His poems have appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Black Warrior Review, Indiana Review, The Ohio Review, Poetry Daily, River City, and Shenandoah among many other journals, and he has been featured on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac. Anstett has run an open-mike series for a number of years and often organizes readings. Recently he has taught Creative Writing at the University of Colorado-Pueblo. He lives in southern Colorado with his children.

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