Three Poems

Poetry / W. Todd Kaneko and Amorak Huey

:: Axl Reads Proust on a Transatlantic Flight ::

/ There is no line between sea, sky. / No hori­zon between what we are, what we become; between fin­ger and string, body and song, book and read­er. / On the aisle you sleep, dream­ing prob­a­bly of sun­glass­es or hats or small pills, and though this tour stretch­es ahead as evi­dence that speak­ing the same lan­guage isn’t the only route to under­stand­ing / though we face anoth­er fugi­tive year of try­ing, our last verse has been writ­ten, our mem­o­ries have been mapped. / Out the win­dow, off-white sky blurs against off-white ocean as if some­one has ren­dered the day with a sin­gle col­or of paint. / What appears to be the bot­tom is not the bot­tom. / There is always some­where deep­er, cold­er, salti­er. / Per­haps your name is not the acci­dent you say it is. / Per­haps all bor­ders are fleet­ing, all part­ing inevitable. / The plane angles north toward dis­tant ice, tak­ing advan­tage of a wind we can­not see. /


:: Slash and Mr. Spock Sitting in the Waffle House at the End of the Universe ::

In the dying light of the final star,
there will be breakfast at that last
truck stop between here and oblivion,
a pair of quasars sunny side up,
a bundle of flimsy bacon and a bottle
of Jack Daniels. Spock can’t help
but admire that hue and ooze
of yolk, that way an egg is all
things—an embryo, a planet, a goop
of sunshine with a prehistoric bob
and quiver for the fork. Outside,
the truckers shake their heads
at the loads that won’t ever reach
their destinations: dilithium crystals
burned out for warp drives, wall clocks
with hands stuck forever at ten and two,
cans of chili con carne and cling peaches,
their expiration dates now irrelevant.
The Vulcan takes a slug of whiskey
as he observes Slash preparing to eat
a waffle, pouring syrup into every crevice
without spilling any onto the plate.
Just eat it, Spock says. At any moment
we could tumble ass over ashes, collapse
back into that cosmic dust that spawned
us in the vacuum. Slash takes a first bite
and wipes a dribble of syrup from his chin
on his sleeve. That’s rock and roll, he says
with his mouth full. Spock cannot argue logic
for the supernova, reason for catastrophe,
appetite for the eater of worlds.


:: Axl Paints a Watercolor of Slash ::

The medi­um is the messi­ness hard to tell when one song ends the next begins hard to know whether it mat­ters the blur of maples arranged along dis­tant hori­zon whis­pers grumpi­ly into the pale ear of the sky every­thing reminds me of smeared lip gloss the col­ors nev­er so bright as they are in my head the music nev­er so loud vis­i­ble brush strokes the fin­ger­prints of god gui­tar strings the let­ters of your name spi­der across the world the way they were meant to be writ­ten there are always moun­tains some­times the moun­tains are sil­ver some­times they look like skulls.



From the writer

:: Account ::

The poems in our Slash project were col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly writ­ten. That is, one of us wrote the ini­tial draft and then placed it in a file we both could access, and we each revised and adjust­ed until the ini­tial draft was gone and in its place a new poem that was not mine or yours, not his or the oth­er his, but ours. It required a great deal of let­ting go, of set­ting ego aside and work­ing in ser­vice of the poem.

These poems draw from music, from lone­li­ness, from long­ing, from Guns N’  Ros­es, and from what it was like to be alive in a met­al age.



W. Todd Kaneko is the author of The Dead Wrestler Ele­gies (Curb­side Splen­dor, 2014) and This Is How the Bone Sings (Black Lawrence Press, 2020), and co-author of Poet­ry: A Writer’s Guide and Anthol­o­gy (Blooms­bury Aca­d­e­m­ic, 2018). A Kundi­man fel­low, he is co-edi­tor of the online lit­er­ary jour­nal Waxwing and lives in Grand Rapids, Michi­gan, where he teach­es cre­ative writ­ing at Grand Val­ley State University.

Amorak Huey, a 2017 Nation­al Endow­ment for the Arts Fel­low, is author of the poet­ry col­lec­tions Seduc­ing the Aspara­gus Queen (Cloud­bank Books, 2018), Ha Ha Ha Thump (Sun­dress, 2015), and Boom Box (Sun­dress, 2019), as well as two chap­books. He is co-author of the text­book Poet­ry: A Writer’s Guide and Anthol­o­gy (Blooms­bury, 2018) and teach­es at Grand Val­ley State University.