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.
by: Ryan Collins
What time equals when it’s removed from a box
or a chain or your wrist, which breaks as easy
as any balsawood airplane boy scouts learn how
to assemble between the 3rd & 4th grades.
Sometimes boy scouts talk big & call down
the curtain, call shots in whiffle ball games &
take more than their time rounding the bases
of a vacant lot diamond. What time equals is
more than the runs you’ll ever bat in during
your vacant lot career. What time equals is more
copy than you will ever move, more hustle
than your heart will ever be able to muster.
You’re too much mustard & not enough meat,
too much leer & not enough launch. Snicker all
you want to the thumbtacks in your soft cubical
walls. Stick your dreams to a refrigerator door.
You wouldn’t know the difference between tack
& tact if someone told you, wrote you a post-it
note & slapped it on your chest. The guts & grace
required to be the courage of your convictions
summons not to your beck & call. Better to beckon
the devil than to curse an angel when it appears.
Right or left behind, make birdcages or clocks,
use pliers to hold your tongue, or even better—
remove it completely. You talk more than tick,
more pink & tickled than taxed brass. What X marks,
what time equals passing you by, waving at tourists
as they pass through your patch of dirt. Parades
& unnecessary repetitive driving both are against
local ordinances, which is good when anyone wants
to drive farther than you. You try & try to calculate
what time equals & every result that returns is off.
Far too often, it’s the mustard that’s cutting you—
it’s either knives out or lights out. You are either
the one counting time or the one being counted,
being tallied, being the troubled waters the bridges
over & only the bridges know exactly what time equals.
Faster Food Chain Faster
The velocity so great that to become aware
of its greatness is to be obliterated by it.
The weave of the code of the fabric of thought
plumes out tentacles of crystal green
persuasion. Nothings shapes the tempo
of the ticking of the bombs stuffed between
sparrow’s teeth. The toxic calcification into
neon moss on every once-wet surface
watered by your misspent tortures,
petty & otherwise. What you eat is how you
consistently shit, solid & otherwise.
You haven’t felt well in longer than it’s been
since the second hand on your watch quit
after a microsecond of awareness of the speed
at which the earth rotates, unbearable
to both the untrained object & the inanimate eye.
All Hallows Honor Flight
Biker gangs flying the stars & bars welcome
the boys back home, welcome the honor
flight. The band tunes up as you roll in VIP
style. You are alive, full metal jacket & on
wing. You return to the old furniture, make
jokes about jelly dongs & goiters. Not all
the way, but back, on two feet & talking
shit & gut-laughing on video conference to
scare your baby nephew—giant teeth & a
glitch-y connection. When the heat kicks
on, when the floor joints stretch & yawn,
you thank the unlucky stars you are still
a young supernova, heat-broken & lashed,
skull-struck & breathing, still carrying a tune.
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.