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Poetry Corner

AE-4PoetEditor’s note: In this week’s Poetry Corner, we feature the work of D. A. Powell, the author of “Tea,” “Lunch,” and “Cocktails,” which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. His most recent collection, “Chronic,” was also a finalist for the NBCC Award, and was named a best book of 2009 by Publishers Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and other publications, and won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. He teaches at the University of San Francisco and lives in the Bay Area. The following selected poems, written by D. A. Powell are: “confessions of a teenage drama queen,” “early havoc,” and “he’s a maniac, maniac” from “Chronic,” © 2009. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minn., graywolfpress.org.

Early Havoc
didn’t buy me no taps for no shoes, didn’t dance
ballroom or otherwise, got no piano lessons
nor elocution (as probably you can guess) nor voice

in the methodist pageant there was one line I spoke:
“lo, I bring you tidings of great joy, for unto you this day
and I forget the rest – uneasy relationship with Christ:

as if he were a mutt and I was a boy – which I was –
and more than a few times the boy had been bit
the dog had been pelted with driveway gravel, and so
AE-4Poet_book
we regarded each other with…that was the zoo story
I caught myself just on the verge of stealing a line from –
later, during what I should call the showbiz period:

“I am the ghost of Christmas past,” I say. long past?
your past. [something] scrooge: “I am much obliged
for rousing me in the dead of night to discuss my welfare

then the burning of atlanta, followed quickly by
the burning of hollywood: that’s the day of the locust
everybody on fire, karen black, like me, & desperate to be

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
I was a male war bride. I was a spy
so I married an axe murderer. I married joan
I married a monster from outer space

I am guilty, I am the cheese, I am a fugitive from a chain gang
maybe I’ll come home in the spring. I’ll cry tomorrow
whose life is it anyway? it’s a wonderful life

I want to live. I want someone to eat cheese with
who am I this time? I am cuba. I am a sex addict
why was I born? why must I die? I could go on singing

I’ll sleep when I’m dead. I know who killed me
I was nineteen, I was a teenage werewolf, just kill me
kiss me, kill me. kill me later. kill me again

give me a sailor, if I had my way, I’d rather be rich
I wouldn’t be in your shoes. I wish I had wings
I wish I were in dixie (I passed for white) I was framed

I was a burlesque queen, I was a teenage zombie
I was an adventuress, I was a convict, I was a criminal
I did it, I killed that man, murder is my beat, I confess

-for David Trinidad

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