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Holes in the Mountain

From: The Missouri Review
Volume 37, Number 1, 2014
p. 88 | 10.1353/mis.2014.0019

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Even the dead rats in the alleys of Oxford,
head-crushed and tossed in a trash bag,
left to fester behind the fence, are waiting
for crows to divide them, to carry their bodies
away. And if not crows, or the street pigeons
picking a leg bone, then the broom
of a street sweeper keeping a rhythm
to one of the tunes in his head. Or the wind
as it funnels the dust in a mini-tornado
above him. Because it isn’t enough
to say god is the speed of the wheel
that turns the sky, or that god is the distance
between two trains, hurtling at the same speed
toward you. It doesn’t matter what stories we use
to explain these impossible themes—
they will always turn fake or explode
in our faces. On Mount St. Helens
the fires went into the roots of the oldest pines,
smoldered and stayed in the coals for a month
before burning the farms on the opposite side
of the mountain. They found this out later,
tracking a mouse through a network
of intricate caves. We used to have ways
of explaining our failures. Now all we do
is erase them by spreading the veils of blame
so thin. The scars on our hands are only around
to remind us: don’t grow old in yourself,
don’t get lost in this scrimmage. Because even
death, in its marble skies and freewheeling borders,
is an art of remembering everything over.
And although the soul is a joke we tell
to the part of ourselves we can touch,
it’s only because the soul is a fire, and laughs
at our sorrow, and has already survived us.

Kai Carlson-Wee  

“My poetry has always been about stories, about characters and voices and the landscapes they exist in. I write about beet fields in Northern Minnesota. I write about family and childhood friends, people I’ve met riding freight trains across the country. I try to create an inhabited world beyond what you find in the words. I like to imagine my poems as excerpts from a journal or travelogue rather than stand-alone pieces of art. In Leaves of Grass, Whitman wrote, ‘Whoever touches this, touches a man,’ and I suppose I am drawn to a similar mode. All my poems are connected. The thoughts bleed forward and backward at once. They are extensions of each other, needled together by places and people and themes. One of those themes, perhaps the most prevalent in these poems, is an elegy to a failed American dream. The speaker is asking himself what remains once the romance has died, the land has been dredged, the myths have already been told.”

Kai Carlson-Wee has rollerbladed professionally, surfed north of the Arctic Circle and traveled across the country by freight train. His work has appeared in Linebreak, Best New Poets, Forklift Ohio and the Missouri Review. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, he lives in San Francisco, California, where he is a Jones Lecturer in poetry at Stanford University.

Copyright © 2014 The Curators of the University of Missouri
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Kai Carlson-Wee. "Holes in the Mountain, and: Sunshine Liquidators, and: Jesse James Days, and: Bolinas, and: The Boy’s Head." The Missouri Review 37.1 (2014): 87-94. Project MUSE. Web. 22 Jul. 2014. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
Carlson-Wee, K.(2014). Holes in the Mountain, and: Sunshine Liquidators, and: Jesse James Days, and: Bolinas, and: The Boy’s Head. The Missouri Review 37(1), 87-94. University of Missouri. Retrieved July 22, 2014, from Project MUSE database.
Kai Carlson-Wee. "Holes in the Mountain, and: Sunshine Liquidators, and: Jesse James Days, and: Bolinas, and: The Boy’s Head." The Missouri Review 37, no. 1 (2014): 87-94. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed July 22, 2014).
TY - JOUR
T1 - Holes in the Mountain, and: Sunshine Liquidators, and: Jesse James Days, and: Bolinas, and: The Boy’s Head
A1 - Carlson-Wee, Kai
JF - The Missouri Review
VL - 37
IS - 1
SP - 87
EP - 94
PY - 2014
PB - University of Missouri
SN - 1548-9930
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/missouri_review/v037...



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