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From Marvels

I was a company town,
a modest house of debtors
tucked between the wildflowers

and unmade mountains
the dumb, quiet West surrendered
like a thousand birds
to be named later. 

I rolled up my sleeves
and recruited the forest, 

where natives hid
their spirit technologies 
inside campfires, 

little cloud factories
eroding the feral distances. 

My heart was a dormitory 
of tiny workers
and their gold-plated forks. 

All night, they sang the lullabies
I sold them
like a quiet lottery
and I felt efficient, 

I felt like a man eating a fish
just to teach him something. 


I was a revolutionary artist
after the revolution, 

when workers paraded
under large representations
of themselves

and the years eroded 
into mundane slogans, 
tobacco brands renamed
“State Loan” and “Industrialization.” 

Windows seemed the sole medium
that could transcend the symbolism
of who we’d been
so I painted them, 

my brush a primitive device
all but meaningless in its repetition
of terrible clergymen, 

ravens clawing the stacks 
of broken-down trains. 

The farms needed sympathy. 
The mirrors needed mustaches
to make the workers laugh. 

My technique was similar
to that of a drunk 
who, after drinking, 
proceeds to eat his own glass. 


I was encased in a block of ice
for half-an-hour
and I was thinking about camping
the whole time, 

the world growing slow 
and theoretical
until my blood stopped weaving tinsel 
from the diagonal light. 

The Newspaper Men’s Midnight Frolic
was dense with thrill shows. 
Rodeo stunt hoots 
filled the aisles in peanut shells. 

Portland screamed beside me
and the engineers leapt to safety, 

locomotives crashing 
to grow the promised debris
of spectacle. 

As if quoting the sentiments 
clouded inside a diamond, 
when my assistant broke me free, 
I was speechless 
and intensely calm. 

As I melted, 
the crowd kept cheering. 


I was a Trad. convict, 
my beard old-south gracious
and my hair so repentant
it fell out, 

creating a trail behind me
in case my movements
should ever be questioned. 

The great husky trains
set time tables 
for the superstitious, 

vibrations folding each night
into a smaller origami, 
a popular song. 

With a sledgehammer, 
I spent my days
breaking giant rocks
into travel-sized pieces, 

whatever dice rolled 
quickening to castanets
inside my stomach, 
home of a dozen abandoned tunnels. 


I was an old soldiers’ home 
where aging campaigners
smoked away wounds

and tried to forget Irkutsk
or whatever else had been classified 
by aging. 

The hotels between wars, maybe, 
bedrooms festooned
in ticker-tape. 

Some trees weren’t trees 
so much as telegrams
left by my predecessors, 
the stupid missionaries

as if they were trying to say
always leave plenty of cover
for your enemies, 
for you they would do the same.

An entire platoon 
slow-danced their metal detectors
as if memorized by the rust
that machines a heavy man, 

digging up arrowheads
cannonballs and sabers
like postcards from the front. 

Christopher DeWeese is the author of Fireproof Swan (Factory Hollow Press). His poems have appeared in Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Fence, and Lamination Colony.