WHAT DO WE DO WHEN WE WANT TO ELECT A FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT
First, build a terrace that is built from the other terraces in your neighborhood,
because you should start out looking very high.
Like you were looking for the beginnings of the Midwest or Baltimore.
Or the beginnings of multiplication or discipline.
What do you begin with at a beginning?
Probably not questions.
The men I hired are making fun of me because they are much higher than I am right
And I’m leading by example.
Frank Lloyd Wright built Fallingwater so that there was as much square footage of
terrace as there was indoor space.
And he didn’t even care about Presidents.
Not like I do. I’m a ewe in sheep’s clothing. I’m a persuasive argument.
I’m a parachute that’s been packed away for portability.
Which is to say I’m the most sinewy mother fucker you’re going to meet who’s
building a terrace
that piles on top of other terraces so that there’s no question where the top of the
whole United States is.
And it takes a steady eye to see high enough where it’s all supposed to come
I could put the Midwest in Baltimore.
Though I’d leave my hometown in the middle of this country.
And I’d leave Atlanta in Georgia. Because Atlanta doesn’t like to be messed with.
But in the end I’m only building a terrace. It will look like a bridge.
But more like bridges crossing over other bridges.
I see it like a treehouse that keeps getting multiplied by the sky.
That doesn’t allow children to live inside, though, because of the shoddy
That looks like raised highways piled one on top of the other so that whatever
decorative elements had been molded in the concrete probably got pushed down
by the weight.
And everything could collapse at any moment.
AN ELLIPSIS COULD BE WHAT LANGUAGE IS LIKE WHEN IT’S STYROFOAM
A leg made of styrofoam is barely a leg.
Which is what it feels like when you have your knee taken away from you.
Your leg is only kind of attached.
And your stomach starts to fill with styrofoam.
And your breath actually gets populated by styrofoams.
Fortunately, they gave me another leg. But it was still only styrofoam.
Fortunately, because up to this point my leg had required so much scaffolding that I
was unable to speak clearly.
The scaffolding was an elaborate operation.
Like Berlin in the 1990s, when it was being rebuilt.
And all of the streets were scaffolding.
Along with the fastest automobiles.
Along with the news stations, and all the news crews.
Scaffolded together so that you could understand how complicated the full story was
even after just 30 minutes of air time.
How do you remind yourself that life is constructing without any thought about the
materials you’re being given?
I live in mountains, among mountains, between mountains. And my only relationship
is to a tree.
I don’t care that there are many trees here.
I need help. I need help walking. Before my hands are styrofoam. Or my arms. And
I’m falling down. With the tree that I know laughing. Because a tree doesn’t fall.
At least that’s what the tree thinks.
Kent Shaw’s first book, Calenture, was published in 2008. He has published poems in Boston Review, Ploughshares, Handsome Magazine and elsewhere. He is an Assistant Professor at West Virginia State University and poetry editor at Better Magazine.