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Joseph Sulier


In each issue, the editors choose a writer they would like to bring
to the readers' attention.

In this issue, Joseph Sulier is highlighted.

Our noteworthy, Joseph Sulier, makes spare and tender poems that exist somewhere in the economic work of William Carlos Williams and the short pieces of Stephen Crane. Joe has a voice entirely his own, and "gets away" with using supposedly dead or antiquated words like "doth" and "hath." As much punk rock as brilliant poetry, Sulier's vision of life and death is urgent, crying out to be heard, to expand our sympathies, to mesmerize our ears.

A Sequence of Poems

I am the warning winds
which signal you seek shelter
a lesson to your children
learning well
to never speak
before they’re spoken to
and even still
to form the words of someone else

I am the vendor
here to give 
and never wither
from me exact
an endless tab

Come seek from me
on bended knee
the burdens
you hath never sought to bear
I will create for you
your reasons
from the air

I went to see
the man on the mount
he showed me the scar
in the tree
which lightning failed to fell

The man said to me
my survival is key
that the tree
is no different
than me

Love begets the cruelty of hope
it feeds us the futility of will

We are nothing
unto nothing still

My love
as the abrasive unrelenting sun
the softest reflection
of the forgiving moon

A metaphor to make us nauseous
do be kind
I fail at any trial
to describe

Lying on porcelain
with a whiskey and water
watching my floating flaccid phallus
bobbing, bearded in the bubbles
and naked as Marat
hoping you will come to kill me
in the incensed pyre of a Pisces

Our future
is the Dairy Queen
in the desert
the trailer
in purgatory

The alarm is sounding
your shift is up

I am the butt
stamped out in the gutter
longing to be above you
with my love
to fuel the sun
far beyond 
its due destruction
the wind
which animates the trees
instead of just
the scratched up knees

I have desires too
you know
I am more
than just the punchline
of your cruel pathetic show
I will beam bright
below you
I will be more
than nothing more

My love
she leaves me notes
when I’m so low
to let me know
we’ll go 
beyond the scraps
which we’re expected to survive on

Some somber morning
I’ll awake
to see the star again
and I shall join it
in its flame
(it’s just a claim)

All the “bravest”
keep their secrets to themselves
lest they’re compelled
no man among not guilty
so I dare not suffer thee
so lax to suffer me
you are no god to grant one’s mercy
you janglers of keys
who linger ‘round my cell
to see that I am well

If the gallows bear my fate
well, I can wait

I’d much prefer an open casket
with my flaws for all to see
than to waste away interred
in your faux ceremony

I am not dead, the show goes on
of that I’m certain
just being strangled quietly
behind the curtain

You illuminate my door
when no one dares to enter
I am humbled
in your virtues of forgiveness
and am brightest in your shadow

You’ve filled our rooms
with herbs and blooms
and suffered
neath the cruelty of man
the knowing natured scorn
of idle man
you are
your mother’s cherished daughter
I am
no mother’s rightful son

I have known
so many women nurtured well
it was you who led me
errant out of hell

The far away whistle wail
at the window
and the rumbling of the rails
sings you off
into intoxicated slumber
and you wonder
if awaking makes a difference 
if a remainder in dreams
would repel the reality
of another pained morning
wincing at the sun

How quickly every spat
begets a motive for betrayal
nothing sacred between lovers
I ceded all control
to your flesh
in my bed
and never sought
for reclamation
now I do pity thee
who turned a touching treaty
into reckless opportunity
I was never yours to keep
nor is anyone I seek

The atmosphere is unnatural
the smooth
all creased and rigid
the sky is opened up
the inevitable return

I do not know
that I am good
I only know
that I’ve considered

Before I am arrested by sleep
I watch your shoulder glow
in the soft light of the Christmas tree
awakened by your kiss
which curls me up into the covers
like the touched antennae of a slug

Carly said I was a good boy
and I believe her
others said that I was bad
and I believe them too
I need not wrestle
with a tarnished reputation
for I need not deny
the worst of my humanity
it keeps me humble
in my furtive cell

Sometimes when I’m alone
I scream
for lack of other release
and the new year
means nothing new to me
just a dog-eared page of history
I resolve to need no editor
It’s the mistakes which help me see

I meant to burden you
with such a lengthy elocution
a detailed log of life
of all the hours, minutes, days
creating wholeness in a man
but all that I reflect
is yet an errant missive
the man still scattered
seldom hale
a goal we scarcely ever reach

The headlines were good today
a golden harp played softly
over Syria
the dead are rising up
among the graves
the new leaders of men
have given up their warring ways
and halted warming of the world
the guns have given way
to greater things
and plastic washed away
from waterways
it is a new great age
we build
our votes will see
the cabinets filled
with the hippies of yesteryear
do not fear
there is no more black and white
for every man is grey
it is a brilliant hopeful day

Jesus throws hail marys
For the Patriots
on Sundays
did I awake to something new?
hallowed Hillary has won
decreed the laws as fun
rejoices everyone

I dreamt I was a fish
I drowned

Return to list of poems

Joseph Sulier is interested in the pursuit of survival. He is currently practicing it in St.Louis, Missouri.


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