an electric sheep jumps to greener pasture

by Tyler Atwood

Publication Date: June 2014
Trade Paper; 106 pages; 5-1/4″ x 8″
ISBN 978-1-938753-09-1

Description

“If poetry is dead, we are in the next ward over
wheezing noisily.”

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

the trick

the trick

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

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

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
of tissue.

Captain America

Captain America

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

 

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