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.