Two Poems by M.P. Armstrong
love letter to kenneth patchen
your generation is dead. now mine is reading the newspaper
and fading scans of your poetry. jstor delivers you to us in
droves. ink drips down the laptop and into our drain-pores.
wikipedia leads the lecture on your life. wikipedia is an
unreliable source. we do not think that you are dead.
we think we could find you somewhere, maybe in
greenwich village or san francisco. can you even
afford the rent there now? we can’t. we can’t buy
anything, least of all the revolution breathing
down our necks. i swear to you, we tried it
once and called out “be a beginning, a
revolution, dormitory neighbor!” but
we cannot get the middle class off
so i will come here to you, instead,
to home, to look for you in the
trees as slender as life, and
as tall, and hope that you
are breathing there,
if i was a woman of your generation, he tells me,
i would be afraid. i would be--he says something
hopelessly poetic, because we are former english
majors who wrap the world in metaphors so it’s a
softer place to land when we fall off the trojan horse.
from the saddle, we could see across the atlantic,
the red flags bobbing across the sea. we thought
we just might be invincible despite all the evidence
to the contrary. we are not evidence people. we are
frozen poets who haven’t been able to write in weeks.
we are scared misanthropes who haven’t been out
of the house since summer started, except for this.
lunch with the apocalypse hidden in the chicken, the
end of the world in the waitress’s apron pocket. i tell
him that there’s a killers song about this situation.
he doesn’t know who the killers are. i knew that but
felt like telling him anyway, like how we put music on
the voyager just in case aliens would be kinder to us
once they heard chuck berry. if the greeks overheard,
would their soldiers draw swords or pity at our table?
if anyone overheard, would anything change? it does
not matter. we are so small and shivering that we
lower our voices and are suspicious of everyone: the
waitress, the people seated behind us, the chicken,
chuck berry and the killers humming in the air.
M.P. Armstrong is a poet and constantly-stressed student at Kent State University in Ohio. Their poetry can be found or is forthcoming in Honey & Lime, Mad Swirl, Riggwelter, and more. They are also a writer and editor at Curtain Call Magazine (@curtaincallbway). In their spare time, they enjoy Netflix documentaries, colorful blazers, and travel. Find them online @mpawrites.