Literary Arts | READ LOCAL First

READ LOCAL First: Lance Larsen


READ LOCAL First is your glimpse into the working minds and hearts of Utah’s literary writers.

Today, 15 Bytes features Utah Poet Laureate Lance Larsen who provides three poems below.

Sunday Blog Read continues to collect a distinguished group of established and emerging Utah writers for your review and enjoyment. Past writers have included former Utah Poet Laureate Kate Coles, poet Michael McLane, short story writer Darrell Spencer, fiction writer Larry Menlove, memoirist Christopher Bigelow, poet Shanan Ballam, speculative fiction writer Steve Proskauer, fiction writer April Wilder and short fiction writer Calvin Haul.

So curl up with your favorite cup of joe and…enjoy!



Late Measures in Blood


“I want to touch Macbeth,” my daughter said.  I shushed her, but the bloody king of Scotland

glanced down with guillotine eyes.  We were groundlings at the Globe—worth five pounds each,

worth wind and cold and three hours of sore feet.  Macbeth strode off to keep tragedy brisk,

entertainment cathartic.  An afternoon worth one Weird Sister scratching her thigh and London

darkening into sackcloth.  Macbeth returned, growled out a few lines, then edged his shoe

towards my daughter.  Edged it closer.  Worth a pair of pigeons settling on the thatched roof and

unfurling a tapestry of ragged coos.   As if on cue, my daughter touched Macbeth’s ankle, and

Macbeth lifted his head to the watchful heavens.  The world slowed.  Time, and again time.

Time for the sky to open up and fall all over us, time to be both wet and chosen, time for my

daughter to rub her palms together—till fame coated both hands.  And Macbeth, that kind bloody

tyrant, born of no woman, dashed off to slaughter Macduff.

(Originally appeared in Connotation Press)




Pantoum for Trevin, Who Loves to Vacuum


Nineteen going on six, cocooned without words, he points to machines.  Who can save us from

dust?  A static of birds, the sky chirring yes.  He points to machines and waits till you name each

noise—a static of birds, the sky chirring yes.  He kisses the vacuum and waits till you name each

noise, hello bright world, a ritual he craves.  He kisses the vacuum, and the thrumming mouth

begins to graze.  Hello bright world. A ritual he craves: leaving swoopy trails in shag.  Call this a

test. And the thrumming mouth begins to graze, leaving swoopy trails in shag, the dirt we take

up, the clean left behind.  Call this a test: what stations we create, the dirt we take up, the clean

left behind. Another day, another vacuum.  What stations we create, fermatas of longing,

particles of God.  Another day, another vacuum: dark matter we pass through, fermatas of

longing, particles of God.  Just another boy gurgling like a storm—dark matter we pass through.

Who can save us from dust?  Just another boy gurgling like a storm, nineteen going on six,

cocooned without words.

(Originally appeared in Pool: A Journal of Poetry )




Aphorisms for a Lonely Planet



Gezzundheit!—as close as I’ve come to Nietzsche and Heidegger in months.



All ants on earth outweigh all humans—some truths climb your leg for weeks.



Why do I assume star gazer lilies are happier than dandelions?



Doves—mourning or morning?  Both names sound wrongly right.



During delivery, we re-name the vagina birth canal: to help the men of this world think exit rather than entrance. 



Dirt doesn’t mind that we step on it, just as stars do not pine for our promises.



In every dialect of bee, drone is a compliment.



Historians: failed philosophers.  Philosophers: failed poets.  Poets: failed historians.  Etc.



What holds the kite up, the wind or a ball of twine?



Foolish reader, still trying to use this poem as a mirror?



Fifteen-year-old son to his father: “Aren’t we all heroine addicts to some degree?”



Often we fill the teapot not to slake our thirst but to be summoned by singing.

(Originally appeared in Southern Review)



Lance Larsen, poet laureate of Utah, has published four poetry collections, most recently Genius Loci (Tampa 2013).  His poetry and essays have appeared in Southern Review, Poetry, Brevity, Orion, Black Warrior Review, New York Review of Books, TLS, Poetry Daily, Best American Poetry 2009, and elsewhere.  He has received a number of awards, including a Pushcart Prize and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.  He is currently at work on a prose memoir about growing up in Idaho.  A professor of English at BYU, he recently directed a study abroad program in Madrid.

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