The Sunday Poem: Gary Jackson... Autumn in Chestnut Falls

Do your neighbors have tentacles for arms? I mean real tentacles? Maybe you should read this. I first heard Gary Jackson at the Michael Datcher event. What a wonderful night that was! And this matter-of-fact treatment of the totally grotesque has all the dark irony of a reporter covering a nightmare.

Gary Jackson was born and raised in Topeka, KS, but received his MFA in Poetry from the University of New Mexico. His poems have appeared in Inscape, Magma, literary bohemian, and local chapbooks. He currently teaches as a part-time instructor in Albuquerque and is a fierce lover of comics.

"I've always been fascinated with juxtaposing the reality we live in with the one we read about in superhero comics and similar escapist settings. The poem "Autumn in Chestnut Falls" is different from most of my other poems that explore this because unlike my poems about popular comic-book characters, the characters in this poem are all of my own creation."

Autumn in Chestnut Falls

Sure, some of us felt sorry
when the Franklins moved.
But once their oldest boy
grew tentacles for arms
we couldn’t help but keep away.
The way they slithered
alongside him, as if they had
a mind of their own, ready
to drain the blood from toddlers
who stumbled too close.
And that was before Lucille
found her Labrador broken in two
in her backyard. But we should have
known that boy was trouble when
he got kicked off varsity for leaving
welts on everyone he tackled,
even though he could hold onto
a ball like nobody’s business.

--Gary Jackson

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Views: 333

Comment by cathyray on May 25, 2009 at 6:52am
how many times have we heard or said "we should have known the boy was trouble"? This poem makes me laugh. Not a knee slappin' laugh but a sort of silent snort & chortle. What we in my family call a "flat tire." Even though I am having a Monday morning poem instead of Sunday, it is still a beaut & reminds me of all the tentacled boys I got too close to in my youth!!
Comment by Richard V on May 26, 2009 at 7:14pm
i like gary's work, because it follows a tradition i was introduced to when i was writing poetry at cal state long beach in the 1970s. while he focuses on the world of comics for metaphor and imagery, we were following the footsteps of ed field, gerald locklin, ron koertge, and others who started doing the same with cinema. some will criticize the use of pop culture, claim it's too easy. but pop culture is common ground in our society, and its use creates an accessibility (oh, i used the dreaded "A" word!) that connects with a large audience. gary's poem works on different levels, as all good poetry does. it's pop, it's thought provoking, it's FUNNY (not a bad thing) and lacks that stuffy hoity toity quality that many people consider vital to what they consider to be meaningful poetry. the poems he read at the Outpost on 5/9 are a perfect example of how this kind of poetry addresses some of our most important social and cultural issues. the important thing is we GET IT. and gary knows how to deliver.
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on May 29, 2009 at 8:49am
This is hillarius! I am so sorry I run behind the eight ball, always been slow, so I missed yr show--only heard about it today as I catch up with Sunday Poems. You're a tribute to UNM's creative writing program. I, too, did their program a dozen years back. I absolutely love the mix of real and fantastic which you give so delightfully here; a little compassion for the "outsiders" AND THE "DIFFERENT." AND, YEAH, I GUESS our fears are delineated here too, but I can laugh at them. Great poem. Bring a few poems our fixed & Free audience in Nob Hill, 4th Monday of each month--yes, a reading in a bike shop. (Lots of older poets who will love you.) 7PM sign-ups open mic only. Poetry & Beer first Weds also at Blackbird Buvette--come on out 7:30 open mic followed by slam--even the ditchrider checks it out


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