• Three Poems by Dan Poppick

    From his Collection Fear of Description

    “Red Sea”

    I’m terrified of a number of fates,
    Poisoned water under a tyrant’s wage,
    Being fired for doing nothing, my parents dying,
    Committing a thought like this to the page,
    The splash of acid to the face
    A Queens non-profit boss received
    Leaving work one blue August evening. Hell’s
    So eloquent and poetry’s no fate at all
    Unless you count the story of the divided sea
    Waiting to wash its assassins away.
    Says the Pharaoh, “That’s so sad.”
    But that story is less fate than news, whereas
    That Queens boss? Permanently burned. The Times
    Says one eye won’t stop weeping.



    In the new music
    I’ve discovered nudity.
    You don’t have to sing
    Or spell it out
    So much as see
    The difference between
    The air and the air,
    Money, chlorophyll and fear,
    A phrase cut with
    The nakedness that waking is.
    No longer invested
    In a poetry of what waking is
    I lace my sentences with sleep.
    No poem sings beneath
    This sly beat.
    The bomb detonates
    On a Chelsea street
    And your bed is animated
    By its laughter
    As Saturday enters
    A pre-midnight stage.
    I can’t commit
    This sound to the page.


    “Fear of Description”

    Fluid curse
    Cut loose from the face
    Aeolian window
    Singing my costume
    The rain too wrongly falling to run in
    When asked in an interview
    Do I want the position
    By night I do
    No by day
    And mute life plays, rising to the skin
    To dream this concrete
    Shape we’re in


    Fear of Description

    Excerpted from Dan Poppick’s poetry collection Fear of Description. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher, Penguin Books, a division of Penguin Random House. Copyright © 2019 by Dan Poppick.


    Red Sea” appeared first on the PoetryNow podcast/at the Poetry Foundation; “Dumpster” appeared first in Kenyon Review online; “Fear of Description” first appeared in BOMB Magazine, and subsequently at poets.org.

    Dan Poppick
    Dan Poppick
    Daniel Poppick is the author of Fear of Description (Penguin, 2019), a winner of the National Poetry Series, and The Police (Omnidawn, 2017). He lives in Brooklyn, where he works as a copywriter and co-edits the Catenary Press with Rob Schlegel and Rawaan Alkhatib.

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