Exclusive excerpts: Part three of Nick Courtright's Punchline, "...worry to die"
This month, CultureMap Austin is proud to present an exclusive poetry series from local writer Nick Courtright, featuring excerpts from his forthcoming debut collection, Punchline. The volume will be available next year from Gold Wake Press, and we're excited to give you this special preview of the author's latest work, which was a finalist for The National Poetry Series. For more information on Courtright, see our series kickoff post. Click here to be notified when the book is available for purchase.
“As I have not worried to be born, I do not…
~Federico Garcia Lorca, in an interview, 1936
…worry to die”
* * *
Worry to Die
Eventually progress has to come, lest we be buried
in unmarked graves.
Generations later, they’ll try to exhume us
but all their digging
will turn up nothing—
how many millions of light years must we travel
before we realize
we are all just snakes’ tails
in the mouths of snakes?
* * *
It is like the Dalai Lama
wandering with humility
through the terrible corn of Iowa, intoning
I am so lazy, I am so lazy
and meaning it
despite its obvious untruth in comparison
to the doings of others
for whom even love is a challenge.
They have so much to say
and so few ways to say it.
Like the stars which vanish above tonight’s
big city, become something
invisible to you now, but visible later, much later,
when you have left
this present, when all the differences
between acorn and oak have faded away.
* * *
The city was alive with
the lanterns we all are
when held up to a bright enough light.
If fortune and past lives smile upon us, everyone will rest easy.
And like the body of a small dog
I was a transformation of gravestones
into children. It seemed an inevitability I would be this.
Transformation this, transformation that. This will occur.
Who knows what fallacy
we’ll engrave after we’re saved.
Slippery slope? Straw man? Red herring?
a woven blanket and beads
native children sold on the sides of dirt roads
between one place and another, not like other histories
so many uses had crossed out.
By the time I die I’d like to know if enlightenment is real.
In the city, left and right and up and down are more than ideas,
and the walls,
I would call them paper thin but this was thinner:
the apse of consciousness
like an award
at the depths of the day—
you never know
in the minds of
* * *
It came late to the party like rain
after the drought, that dry year
sealing the deal for this landscape, its flatness
murmuring mothball in a ceaseless susurrus:
we all know what happens,
the progress of evolution, the still hard
dry dust-covered non-progress
of evolution. Like one season into the next
it’s never truly going anywhere.
Like desperate child wishes
said to the stars above the campground,
take your own heart, see
what it’s made of, what it pumps, if it is a sign.
Nick Courtright’s debut full-length collection, Punchline, a finalist for the National Poetry Series, is due out next year from Gold Wake Press. Check back on Tuesday, November 29th for the first in a month-long series of exclusive excerpts from the collection. Click here to be notified when the book is available for purchase.