Kyle McCord







Couplets for What No One Cleans Up


In 2001,  I had cleaning moves you couldn’t imagine: the Gretzky, the Grizzly,

the Three-Dog-Night Meets Wallace Stevens.  We were spearheading


a new liberation that spring.  One night my manager forgot, like nearly everyone forgot,

I was there, shut off the lights, locked the door.  From the road, you could have seen me


crashing carts into troughs of grapes.  Tossing bags of flour into the fans.

The whole store looked like some arctic wasteland.


I settled into the break room, cooked stolen food,

turned on the news where we were bombing Fallujah.


Like a pistol the night had six chambers.  These streets completely shrouded

then as if from a strobe light, a car would ignite or a building tip in and implode.


Out in the aisle, drifts of rapidly graying silt swept through the store.

I looked around at my chaos and imagined how Loki must have felt.


I envisioned the nameless boy who would replace me.  He hung in the expanse

pushing grit across a Labrador skyscape.  I charted each of his servile movements.


He was the first human lurching onto that overgrown shore.
Then the next day the manager came back, unlocked the door, and led me out.




Sonnet Where I Detail the Scene of the Crime


I tried to describe the monster truck riot as realistically

as possible to the officer in charge.  I said, “That’s him, lieutenant,


the one with the backwards strait jacket.  The one with the frilly undergarments

that’s the one who punched out the nacho vendor.  And big teeth over there,


he bludgeoned the ring master.” Only later was I informed that this was

a mirror, not two-way glass.  The arresting officer was a palate of potato bread,


and I was not welcome to return to this particular Cost-Co.  As I walked home,

an overweight beagle trailed from behind.  I felt betrayed by all this


the throbbing streetlights, the paddock.  This is a book about the fate of every person

who has ever lived, and chapter one starts: “You have done all you can


and that’s brave, Douglas.”  Tonight your faux rouge braids are all I have.

Somewhere a McDonald’s speaker whispers to dead air, “Love me.”


I am like this, a distress call to no one in particular.  Asking for

fries, cheeseburger, and Sprite.  I want everything the world can’t give.




How My Existentially Problematic Novel Unfolds


It isn’t hard to walk in a prairie

loaded with self-pity,

and it isn’t hard to talk

into a phone.

But to say you are sorry

when the only remorse you feel

is for the animals who have

been in cages for an extended period,

that is the true test.

I woke to the startled noises

which the animals needed to make,

to be let out into the world.

I mean, that’s a material thing.

One day I’m in love,

and the next I’m

leaving on a bus

for the ruined cities of the north.

What is the world if not a deck,

and a road, and another road

which leads to your love

if you follow it long enough?

What is self-pity, but an urge

to describe the sheen loneliness takes?

It isn’t hard to release an animal,

but to put it back…











Kyle McCord – BIO


Kyle McCord is the author of four books of poetry including You Are Indeed an Elk, But This is Not the Forest You Were Born to Graze (forthcoming Gold Wake, 2015).  He has work featured in Boston ReviewDenver QuarterlyGulf Coast, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly and elsewhere.  He’s received grants from the Academy of American Poets, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Baltic Writing Residency.  He edits iO: A Journal of New American Poetry.  He teaches at the University of North Texas in Denton where he runs the Kraken Reading Series.


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