by Tyler Atwood
Trade Paper; 106 pages; 5-1/4″ x 8″
“If poetry is dead, we are in the next ward over
Poetry is in grave peril.
The medium, moribund.
The locution, atrophied.
The rhythm, bradycardic.
Enter Tyler Atwood, semantic surgeon.
Tyler Atwood’s electric sheep collection shocks the system and brings words back from the brink. Atwood wields surrealism as a scalpel, dissecting memories, excising internal demons, and flaying rich narrative. He resurrects the art with a transfusion of consciousness.
Atwood exposes the viscera … failure, heartbreak, ennui … family, lovers, friends … and grafts them together in a viable, venerable whole.
an electric sheep jumps to greener pasture gives poetry, and all of us in the next ward, a second chance.
Selections from an electric sheep jumps to greener pasture
I almost thought we’d make it, that night
on a Havana rooftop, your skirt hiked up
to your thighs, panties around one ankle.
But that was mostly vanity. Call it
inexperience, mistaking a good story
for real life. He was sleeping on our couch
when we got back. Gifts of contraband,
Lucky Strike cigarettes purchased
at duty-free airport shops, exchanged
hands that lingered too long. I should
have known better. In the failing light
of the south Atlantic sun, my own quaint
book-learned notions of socialism,
two terms of George W. Bush, Rumsfeld,
& the War on Terror, a mounting fear
of imminent adulthood, I should have
known better. Maybe that was the trick
I had not quite yet learned: to find the lie
grand enough to blanket the everyday
deception. & even that will fail,
against the softness of milky skin.
may happiness be a wheel
woke this afternoon wondering if the pipes running
across the ceiling of the basement room I am
renting but can no longer afford would
sustain the weight of a body too flimsy
besides I don’t know my roommates well
impolite to leave them with a mess didn’t
graduate unfinished thesis no job
maxed out the credit card no sleep
the only light a slate gray trickle from
the window above my bed book-fed
the world is insurmountable nothing
left to lose pull on sneakers that let in the
rain walk outside anyway
the God Machine
Yet another of my pens has disappeared from where
I swear I just left it. Probably already with my smug
doppelgänger in a parallel universe.
Quantum fluctuations explain fundamental particles
as different vibrations of infinitesimal strings
the breadth of a human hair.
Shiva’s dance of creation and destruction is the dance
of subatomic particles. The rhythm manifest in
the turn of the seasons, a ferocious feedback loop.
The birth, the death of living creatures. The very
essence of inorganic matter.
I am a dense, precisely symmetrical cloud of
spider web. I am thousands of threads exploding
out from hubs of concentric spheres—
wisps of cotton wool, a dark matter scaffold
forming loose networks of filaments stretching
through space & time, like ribbons.
Or try this on for size: a copy of you living
on a planet in a solar system like ours is reading
these words, just as you are—
your lives have been carbon copies up to now, but maybe
you keep reading & your doppelgänger doesn’t.
A beachcomber, having spent years collecting driftwood,
realizes that the pieces make a complete ship, a weaving.
Chaotic inflation causes parallel universe expansion
so rapid each remains out of reach even if you could
travel at light speed (& I can’t). I give up hope
of ever getting those pens back.
I am the blood traveling through overlapping layers
Captain America sits face in gloved hands
the color of blood trying to
remember his life before the legend
built from his frailty FDR draped a
flag across his shoulders fifty stars the
color of teeth sent him to war to claim death
in the pursuit of freedom it’s been so long
since killing Nazis Siege of Huế
the streets of Fallujah parachute drops
into the mountains of Pakistan why war
is ever declared over he is either history’s
greatest patriot or a state-sponsored
homicidal maniac probably both he
remembers gore-smeared field of blue
the ocean he wishes had drowned him
he sighs bends a link in his
shackles he’s curious if they finally have the
means to execute him not so hard to kill an idea
to make history again the first
American to be tried at the Hague wonders
who should have died who deserved to live
who will present his body count as evidence