Our poetry editor, Joe Pan, has selected one poem by Danniel Schoonebeek for his series that brings original poetry to the screens of Hyperallergic readers.
* * *
Waste, do you know the word. Often it comes at night when I’m auditioning for the part of myself. When I’m mouthing the name of a politico, or fucking myself, or wondering why I carry on being American. Waste means whatever waste wants. In the middle of my life I searched for my name in the engine. I’m not dead links and leaks and zero results. Gospel, I told myself. I wrestle the ancients and yell their names when I’m blackout. I unleash myself on myself and I fuck the crow from my songs. But waste means here comes the shepherd’s crook. Ask me anything, I’m the bellwether nobody brands. Waste and my telegrams of the cockscomb and teaspoons and my face in the cities I love they will vanish. I’ve failed to convince myself to subscribe to myself. Or I stand before the wall on which nothing’s written. Waste means I’m following. Or I came here to waste in this box and everyone called it life. Waste finds me new addresses, new names every day. A red name, a green name, turned orange. From these three hooks the world is hung. The world which won’t bend to the wind and waste means traffic, select invitations. Waste means I’ll interview Salt, the town drunk whose father guards waste for a living. “One day two dozen years ago he came home smelling like shit.” Are you like my father, Salt asks, do you oversee the river of waste to make money. Waste this river of carp and scumbags, it’s peasant bread with the crust come alive. When you catch me disabling my family filter. “Shit is definitely one of the top three smells I think of when I think of my father,” Salt tells me. The others? Ask someone else, waste the others. In the middle of your life and we’re sorry nothing matched your search. He says I fired my gun into the river and nobody published it. The birds will sing none of it back. Waste is you stop telling stories. “Gospel,” Salt writes me. I’ve thought of my father below me. Guarding his river of shit when I flush down the hole. Waste and return to the engine. When I fire my weapon I audition for the part of myself. Waste creates my page in the encyclopedia of waste. No one has met my waste yet, not even me, but my waste starts the bidding at zero. “I’ve only seen the place from the road,” Salt writes me. “You’ve seen it too.” My father’s kingdom, and he defends the river of waste until it reaches the sea. Waste it’s none of my business, waste is to hell with the scene. On these two hooks you hear waste chanting encore. Waste wants my chronology spread out like waste on a wipe. My father was born and fired his gun into the river and for two-dozen years now he watches the shit floating past him. Waste of a nut, waste of a rearing. Waste of a man, get rid of yourself. Delete your waste then return to the engine to scour. Audition for the part of your father in the film where he leaves you for waste. Or everyone wastes on my wall on the day I was born now. I’ve failed at waste but I’ve died, is that not also a triumph. I loved a politician, I’ve wasted another. Auditioning for myself, will I waste in the engine and result in myself. Father he curses the waste floating past. Will I mouth the name of a politico, waste of a cheekbone, tonight while she floats down the river. A raft and the suitors of waste on her arm. Foie gras smeared like waste on their teeth. Toy soldiers and dead cats and wedding rings in the river. My father steering the raft with his pole. “John my father,” Salt writes me. On this one hook the world is hung. Waste of a name. Waste of a name I never made for myself. Waste has me flagged for removal, wants my history. “I’ve wondered,” Salt tells me: could I break into the tunnels tonight and waste the toll collector. Bury his name and his pole. Unfollow him. And write my father, the waste king, write his name on the throne instead.
* * *
Danniel Schoonebeek is the author of American Barricade (YesYes Books, 2014) and the forthcoming collection of poems Trébuchet (University of Georgia, 2016), a 2015 National Poetry Series selection. In 2015, he was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, and recent work appears in The New Yorker, Kenyon Review, and The Baffler.
As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.
Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.