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.
“Before you attain it, it is something wonderful, but after you obtain it, it is…
~Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki, about enlightenment
* * *
Blood vessels are the same as sand by the tracks.
Also palms. All God did
was make a leaf.
The tip-toeing child
reaching for the treat
he’s not to have or quietly padding down the hall
late—if I have to say something
I’ll say tree, I’ll try out the myriad manifestations
of the one, like a hat in a hat
I’ll try on a bunch
but in the end they’re all just hats.
* * *
And when they wake, and drag their hands across every unlit surface
And when they dream they will
It is a question, but by considering it we can whisper amongst ourselves
what it is like to live forever.
There is evidence of monks
who meditate on the fieriness of breath
to warm their bodies even in freezing temperatures.
Then perhaps it is so
we can separate the body into parts and say
I am not this, I am not this.
All because of concentration and what we could call consciousness
grappling in the halfway land or is it
all the way?
Things would be different
if the end hadn’t come, when there was too much choice and not
Being: of all the poems in the world please let just one figure it out.
* * *
The room is full of flowers,
the flowers are on the wallpaper,
they subsume the walls into flowerness,
there is a person watching the flowers,
I watch the flowers.
Tomorrow, thank you for existing.
So many people are waiting in line, so many people
for all eternity are waiting,
so many waiting people.
* * *
The seawater sloshes relentlessly
against the green pier, calling God under its breath, God,
and nothing changes.
I have a feeling
if I moved
even a bit of it—
if I could move—
it would be like the loose thread on an old argyle sweater
which, pulled, sends
spiraling into non-existence.
Nick Courtright’s debut full-length collection, Punchline, a finalist for the National Poetry Series, is due out next year from Gold Wake Press. Click here to be notified when the book is available for purchase.