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Four Poems by Neal Kitterlin

  Photo Credit: Laura Knapp


Last night I dreamt I was a rabbit, felt the wheel spin, tape stop, rewind, the music

playing again and again then fading to alarm.

On Tuesdays I would go to the video store, rent movies for ninety-nine cents, on Tuesdays even new releases were ninety-nine cents, I would hook my bulky RCA camcorder, the one with the picture of a dalmation, to our top-load VCR and dub all these films for later viewing.

We wouldn’t even watch the entire movie but instead scan through it on fast-forward to find a naked glimpse of nipple -- horror films before the kill, Apollonia purified in the lake -- would put the “BASS TAPE” in the boom box and play something loud so our parents could not hear the heavy breaths,

and last night in my dream I hopped through the grass

to VHS moans and the steady persistence of sound -- “PURPLE RAIN,                                                                                                                PURPLE RAIN!”




Like Tupac Shakur before me I wake up

in the morning and I ask myself is life worth living                                                                                                                                           should I

blast myself into outer space become one with the Ark-

estra, set the controls for bolt action solar flares                                                                                                                                            do I dare

to remember a short drive in a small town on endless

repeat, a cassette labeled “BASS TAPE” beasties blasting                                                                                                                                   ears hijacked

my little brother whines “too loud” we laugh at him, but know

now the tape was terrible as truth, unspooled to looping                                                                                                                                      beauty

with time - these memories elude answers and conspiracy

we who have read too many comics to accept death, why did we believe                                                                                                                      Biggie’s but not

Pac’s?  years and years later we sing can we get much higher? I don’t know,

I don’t know, the tinny Olds speakers shake the route swings back, back,                                                                                                                        flips the tape

even Superman died back then, re- turned as a robot, lame mullet and all

we flew down hills, around curves, velocity standing in for control, as if speed                                                                                                                            could freeze

moments and allow us to leave them in the backseat of history, safely bagged

unopened with a black arm band, we see no changes, but the words just                                                                                                                          hypnotize me



A fragile driveway hoop, shifting demarcations and hanging rim, shot developed to swish the angle of a rusted chain net because string decays faster in the rain.

A brother, a friend, a winding drive, a pick-up game that never ends with Sir Charles, MJ, and Mookie Blaylock, did you know that’s what they called themselves before they got big?

No one cares we do not play grunge here but something more thuggish ruggish at the crossroads souls sold for a good jump shot and a nice slam dunk on an eight

foot rim, something sad in the return, the dribble picking up, nature drowned by boombox “BASS TAPE” before the ball slams into the pavement, the chalk drawn free throw line, the awkward thump

of leather against plywood, the sense we will float and not come down



Take off your coat for the bees, bring meat into the parlor arrange it gently (a shock                                                                                                                                                               a forehead a skin)

on the white sofa, any pattern you like, patter distinct from snow’s soft betrayal, the subtle failings of cold (of winter                                                                                                                                                           of ice curls of flake)

cuts to the bone, runs blue through market, the clear wrap torn off and discarded in array of bone.

Where is the tongue, love, where is the tongue?

It is a question of tone rather than

words, the kind refuge of comedy, a filtered (shorn off-                                                                                                                                                          white magisterial)

buzzing, my larval days are over cast in dancehall, apropos apropos of gorilla rainstorms (sweat sea-                                                                                                                                                         sons spring frantic),

somewhere a beast flits through time enraged ends here, a pulp of en- gorged arrangements



Neal Kitterlin lives and writes in Matteson, Illinois.  He has published poems in PANK, Front Porch, Sundog Lit, HOUSEFIRE, and many other fine places. He has an e-chap of election poems, Decisions, out from Love Symbol Press, and can be found on twitter @NealKitterlin.


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