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The Boy’s Head

From: The Missouri Review
Volume 37, Number 1, 2014
p. 94 | 10.1353/mis.2014.0014

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

after Roberto Bolaño

There was a year or two when none of it mattered. I woke up late, sat on the balcony porch with a cigarette, turned on the gaslight to scramble some eggs. Days seemed to flash and fold away like pages in a magazine. No one knew my name, and if they did, they didn’t bring me up in conversation. I was living off the grid, you might say, in the gaudy retirement halls of the Mount Helix Apartments. My hair fell down in complete abandon, swinging from eye to eye. Usually tied in the back with rubber bands, or with shoelaces somebody left on the curb. Nobody cared about my style. On weekends I went to the skate park in El Cajon and attempted to flirt with the girls. People came through, disappeared, made claims. The sun never altered its place in the sky. The floodlights came on and the Mexicans listened to boom-boxes perched on the stairs. I was down there one day in September, a day like any other day, when a boy’s head was found in the playing field, cut with a hacksaw, circled in little white stones. Local authorities said it was a “gang thing” or a “satanic ritual kind of thing.” They said it was a product of organized crime, an “underground collective,” although no one really knew. The troubling part, to me at least, was that the boy wasn’t even from town—he was on vacation with his parents from North Dakota, traveling by motor home, headed for Zion and Flagstaff, Mount St. Helens, Vancouver, Rainier. For the first few days there was vague speculation, but no one came forward and no one was blamed. Weeks later, it seemed as though nothing had happened. The park flags waved in the same lacking breezes, the tennis balls hung in the chain-link fence, the skaters continued to circle the bowl, and the killer was soon forgotten.

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).
T1 - Holes in the Mountain, and: Sunshine Liquidators...

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