Reading Comics by Art Stringer

My host at Marshall University, where I gave a lecture in the visiting writers’ series, was Art Stringer, faculty in the liberal arts department, and a poet. After I returned home, this poem unexpectedly showed up in my email. It’s really lovely, and I asked Art for permission to post it here.


Reading comics

after Jessica Abel’s La Perdida

in the airport, catching sidelong glances

from my fellow tarriers, I imagine grown guy

all that ink in a book they would laugh if

they knew how to spell their hmphs if their

voices weren’t muted in fear of flight.  I say

to myself (thought bubble) what’s comical about

a girl so lost in Mexico City and just found out

she’s been staying in the flat where Burroughs

lived with the love of his life and killed her

with a pistol playing William Tell too fucking

drunk.  Fifty years and one night later lost

girl knifing wallpaper to brighten up the place

pops a steel plate and under it a shot pattern

about six feet off the floor and uh-oh’s

here exactly was the awful scene.  Next page,

I stare at what lost girl’s mind sees—original

ink we will ever wear—which is a hole

in Joan Vollmer’s forehead falling

following her own blood onto the floor

and in the next panel the apple rolls away

barely bruised.  And lost girl will never take a bite,

thus saving all of us from Eden.  Instead she

runs from the room, and I read how to spell

the sound of retching which is no words,

wondering what Burroughs gasped,

and what it looked like—the cloud

roiling over his head some runic angel.

Hey that’s my boarding call what’re you

lookin at I thought-bubble toward the suit

beside me you think this is just a comic book?


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