Keegan Lester

The Abridged Version of the Newscast for Breece d’j Pancake

Jupiter is aligned with Mars in France right now, 
& there are way too many secrets out there  
to know how this will all end or if it will end  
in this particular thirty minute news segment,  
but blessed are those: they not afraid to die; blessed 
are those who kill & they not criminal, & this  
not criminal, but terror, this that they want  
to die as martyrs, they as those with faces & those  
faceless that want to die as a nightmare, who really want  
what we all want: to wake the next morning 
back to our mother who is still alive & our father who  
is still alive, back to the time when our father still loved us  
& calling us to the kitchen table, back to it’s time  
for school again & the yellow bus making its turn,  
our precious street corner & this world the only world  
existing, a snow globe or fish bowl or vase, & 
mornings where I think about America, the pinks & rains & 
nothing yet formed in the black paint of it, 
I’m really thinking about me & isn’t it obvious  
or the American thing to do. I’m thinking about the one 
I let go & if I’d only known better. I’m thinking  
it’s time to apologize, to turn in the uniform, to make my way  
south for winter because whatever the animals know  
they know better than us, & I’m thinking football 
is not a real solution to combat poverty, that I once loved it, 
what does that make me now? Everything  
I once loved, what does that make me now? & I’m thinking  
how each action is a tin whistle, & each note 
from that whistle an epiphany, when looking back 
& each epiphany a spiraling universe of thought 
someone else has lithographed, 
a world of thought that one has not even considered  
thinking yet, & this is what gardens grow from, 
the juxtaposition of two unlike atoms. I quit televised news  
the other day, because they were trying too hard 
to entertain me, & when Eva said If I knew how to stop writing 
I would, I realized our younger selves strived to die for something  
irrelevant & this is all we know to be fact,  
except for the stars above us & permafrost  
& lichens below us & the echoes between mountain passes 
carrying thoughts we never allow ourselves the strength to think. 
Remember when Pluto was a planet & mountains  
unmovable except by the devices we could only imagine,  
from the books we plagiarized the Egyptians  
& now mountains have been moved by people & what is left  
is the pus of people foaming—our disdain for each other  
chuting into our water table tops—where do retired metaphors 
go at night? I was thinking about coming home.  
I’m not exactly sure if I’d be welcomed back with lantern 
or torch. The thing about depression is: It’s not that I want to
bury you here with me, but that I never thought I would see 
myself becoming this old. The soldiers look like children now,  
because they’re children. So many of our hopes 
rest on the shoulders of children & upon the gardens 
of unlike things & I am neither child nor gardener now.  
All the faces & maps I once knew have sharpened,  
the luminous haunting the oppression of want.  
Want distorting the vision of present, because once one lives  
this long, this way, there’s no explaining the dogwoods away.  
There is no explanation for choice. I thought 
I could hang my ghost up when I was ready. I thought I counted  
the last time between follies of thunder, calculating  
how many miles between fingers of lightning 
tearing sky back from sky, & thought I could,  
& this practice both science & faith & I thought  
my only want is to become feral & the opposite of feral, to leave  
my ghost up there for someone else  
who needs it more than me


keegan lester underblong.jpg

Keegan Lester is the author of this shouldn’t be beautiful but it was and it was all i had so i drew it, which was selected by Mary Ruefle for the 2016 Slope Editions Book Prize. His writing has appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day Series, The Boston ReviewThe JournalCutBank and The Adroit Journal among others.