The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Ian Randall Wilson

Alt Everything


Now in the time of the time of the new ignorance,

bodies without vaccine and the pestilence multiplies.

You may call it the little death

though I'm told the council of names

has lost its funding and will disband.

Have you heard this one before?  How we had

the greatest pie and now we don't?

But we hope to make pie great again,

setting all the best bakers to work.

Consider the zealots with their torches

wearing sport shirts in their favorite shade of brown

as the armies shun knowing, shun fact.

The worn-out machines sputter,

mechanics gone, the priests have no way to fix them.

Sending thought and prayer into the valley will not turn on the lights.

A homily for faith does not make heat.

If I snap my fingers

and a million butterflies expire

this does not change the fact

that no one knows anything anymore

and so many seem glad to give up knowing

like snow cones snatched away by bullies

we show our teeth.

Even the hammering of nails is an abomination

for if the lord decreed that man should make buildings

surely he would have made our hands of saws,

our legs the source of all

durable lumber.  Why clouds

are white and the sky blue

need not concern us.  Anymore.

Believe, and the roads will repair themselves.

So will the roofs.  And if not, a leak simply a way

to get closer to god's tears.

This, the world I leave to you.

This, the world I leave you to.

If you are brave,

you will venture, but to where?

The wagons have been circled.

There is no world any longer to explore.



Ian Randall Wilson



No divine eyes see through darkness,

unobstructed.  Ghosts get in the way.

My grandfather waving

for my attention in the style

of his favorite newsreel tyrant, his voice

as raw and full of smoke as it was

in the hours before he died.

Then he told me

I would never amount

to anything in his eyes,

not even a successful clown.

Now he is part

of the tribe of disappearing

persons whose impression

fades with every passing year,

one more layer

of paint buried beneath

a thousand layers of paint:

At least that's how I remember him.

I wanted to dig him up

where he's buried in the old north field,

turn a little bit of earth

in my own image.  Instead I visit

an unknown grave, dance for a half

a minute on its stone.  Anyone

who contemplates

their own death knows

how this story turns out.

The elephant room is empty.

The monkeys do not screech.

I have reached the limits of my height

no taller than the shrubs

screening the old porch.




IAN RANDALL WILSON's fiction and and poetry have appeared in a number of literary journals including the North American Review, The Gettysburg Review and Alaska Quarterly Review. A short story collection, Hunger and Other Stories, was published by Hollyridge Press. His first poetry collection, Ruthless Heaven, was published by Finishing Line Press. He has an MFA in Poetry and in Fiction from Warren Wilson College, and is on the fiction faculty at the UCLA Extension. By day he works at Sony Pictures in Los Angeles.


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