Two Poems by Randall Horton

From {#289-128}

September 15, 2020  By Randall Gavin Horton

“: sorry this not that poem”

raised block flower & plant bed.
peonies, gardenias, poinsettias
plus a yellow orb slow rising
over an endless golden scape—

darting through uncluttered space
cardinals, thrashes, sparrows
blue air fragrant with lavender
washing brain matter into virtue.

if only i could pastel alphabets
onto a canvas of thistledown
yes, deceit comes to mind—
.a lie. traitor. turncoat. recreant

backstabber here i would be
gut shanked a million times.
this is not that poem nor am i
that poet to hold your hand

.or. erase knothole screams
blood on a cement floor .or.
suicide is another form of escape
no-no-no—yes-i-do promise

the evil-ugly humans inflict
on each other to their [selves]
how time is malice is death
inflaming pupils with spite

inextinguishable if set free—
forgive state poet #289-128
for not scribbling illusions
of trickery as if timeless hell

could be captured by stanzas
alliteration or slant rhyme—


“: .or. this malus thing never to be confused with justice”

nothing symbolic. okay. dark is dark—
cage is cage. hunted & hunter are both

in the literal. make believe & what ifs
do not exist: a lie. nothing cryptic here.

okay. rape is rape. prey must pray. no
minute in the future safe from quiet

insertions of a shank in masking tape.
okay. nothing here infinite: only time

is constant to the merciful & merciless—
there are no allegories to hide behind.

he slit his wrists means he slit his fuckin wrists

okay? there is a cell with one window
just before day. dawn’s early demise

magnifies a dull metal toilet. the cool
water cooling two can sodas. each

wall a slab of soft gray cinderblock, no
posters featuring eroticized women

with an exclusive in black tail. okay.
the wall that slits the light does not

reveal nothing new, ever. the exposé
the changing same: always a holding.

one window offers a gateway. my face
pressed against the window & time

rules this empire. okay. the mind held
hostage by time. mind & body

conjoined twins. the other wall holds
a frame. the frame holds a metal door

to contain utter disbelief. of the visible:
walls are gray not like summer

but darker—yes. there is darkness. okay—


poems, randall gavin horton

Excerpted from {#289-128}: Poems by Randall Gavin Horton. Copyright © 2020. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, University of Kentucky Press. 

Randall Gavin Horton
Randall Horton's past honors include the Bea Gonzalez Poetry Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature, and most recently a GLCA New Writers Award for Creative Nonfiction for Hook: A Memoir. The author of numerous books, he is a member of the experimental performance group Heroes Are Gang Leaders, which received the 2018 American Book Award in Oral Literature. He is associate professor of English at the University of New Haven.

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