Rustin Larson







Rustin Larson’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, North American Review, Poetry East, Saranac Review, Poets & Artists  and other magazines.   He is the author of The Wine-Dark House (Blue Light Press, 2009) and Crazy Star (selected for the Loess Hills Book’s Poetry Series in 2005). Larson won 1st Editor’s Prize from Rhino magazine in 2000 and has won prizes for his poetry from The National Poet Hunt and The Chester H. Jones Foundation among others. A seven-time Pushcart nominee, and graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing, Larson was an Iowa Poet at The Des Moines National Poetry Festival in 2002 & 2004, a featured writer in the DMACC Celebration of the Literary Arts in 2007 & 2008, and he was a featured poet at the Poetry at Round Top [Texas] Festival in May 2012.  His latest collection, Bum Cantos, Winter Jazz, & The Collected Discography of Morning, won the 2013 Blue Light Book Award (Blue Light Press, San Francisco).






The two-toned Buick parked in the sycamore shade,

The drive made of powdery dust, the weeds feathery

Beneath your feet; let the trees sigh where they are,

And the shadows mark the beginning of our lives.

Let the grown-ups smoke their disappointments

To the filters and throw them glowing

Into the grasses; Let the godmother speak nothing

But French; let the uncles gorge themselves

On cold cuts and beer snapped open by the angry beak

Of the what’sittooya bird.  There are no other farms

Like this one.  The country rushes out to devour

Every faint whisper.






Should we have gone back to the poisons flowering in the hedges?

Should we have grounded in an embankment and listened to the cardinals

of our accident embroider the gangrened earth, our tooth

scattered engagement, of our sexless death? Should we have gone

back?  She stood there waving from the kitchen screen, our lullaby in faded

Gingham, eyes like cherries the robins had pecked.  Oh, what did she see

about our skeletons she couldn’t tell earlier, seanced around her table

with stupefying tumblers of Southern Comfort and gelatin eyes of ice.

Should we have gone back to the birds burning the world?  To the birds

burning the world with their advice.






Because I Had a Passion pours a glass of orange juice, sits

with a stack of smudged newspapers. Because

I’m afraid of ridicule is here with me in the shadows of my ink. If I only

had loved a square of me is still riding

the bus to high school, hands quivering, knowing

the day of death has come for the sparrows.

Can I have a dollar is at a different subway station in time. She is young

and I have doubts she will live beyond seven-

teen, begging for pocket change on 11th

in Washington. I turn to her, ghost that she is, daughter I never had.

Thistle in abandoned lots, Medicine of a change that didn’t happen,

nothing I could have done short tossing my soul

into a plate of kerosene, chased by the tracer of a cigarette,

would have been adequate. Invisible crowds

rushing to Federal City, I too was young, please remember, 23, holding

a fresh leather briefcase the lies of time

wash over eternally; I left you, not even a wish to light your way out.













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