Ryan Collins, Part 2

by: Ryan Collins

The complex, polyrhythmic music of Ryan Collins’ poetry hits the reader with a rush of images and bleak reflections. In these poems straightforward confession becomes straightforward confrontation and reversals are par for the course.

We don’t need another hero

until we do, until we need more than we want to be
in one place & astral projecting into another,

or trying to imagine ourselves into the place we want
to be from the place we are, for us the only place

in the world that’s not a coordinate, not a blurry
drive-by photo pixilated & streaming live in real time.

Talking real talk, kick-starting & peer pressuring
the muse until it says something beyond the thunder,

beyond the global positioning where want surrenders
to hunger & exhaustion after another failed hunt.

Blood in the streets does not equal meat on the table,
is greater than a song in an elevator or any waste

of attention—the empty calories clogging the signal
paths of our neurotransmitters, slowing reaction

time to a halt. These are how accidents happen,
how we get conditions like explosive rage disorder,

scarlet fever, Lou Gehrig’s disease, schizophrenia,
cancer of the everything & there’s nothing “fair”

about it. We should be demonstrative, should be
the courage of our convictions, should demonstrate

them with our bodies. We should be wired to charge.


I’m a Pretty Pretty Princess

We are all soon-to-be
Masterpieces. I want

you there when
I paint the portrait of

what will become you
in your prime.

We are all in our prime
looking back—

the experiences now
our best stories,

trusty old saws snowing
dust on to every bar

we ever sidle up & hitch
our elbows to.


Polaroid albums
our minds thumb through,

smudged with gold
fingerprints, vanish

just as they appear—
captured, burned out

of time. Times we hold
like giant bouquets

of white roses we give
our former selves—

suspended & saturated,
always the pretty

pretty princesses at the
time we dreamed we were.


Ryan Collins is the author of A New American Field Guide & Song Book (H_NGM_N Books, 2015), and the curator of the SPECTRA Poetry Reading Series in Rock Island, IL, where he lives.

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