Three Poems

by Rustin Larson

  • Poetry
decorative header image from Volume IX Issue 1 · Spring 2023


Beethoven dances in my living room and knocks
over towers of cardboard boxes full
of shoes, mixing bowls, and silver-
ware. He pounds on the walls with
fists covered in blood and the
juice of tomatoes and cherries.
He collapses into a heap
of dirty laundry and sobs like a
lonely young woman with blue cumulus hair.
I take to the streets, friendless.
The clerk at the hardware store
says it ain’t gonna happen when
I try to buy a can of white
fence paint. All the cafes are closed.
Where did the world go when I wasn’t
looking? A surrealist ballet called
“Bull on the Roof.” No plot. What
does Charlie Chaplin know, anyway?
Beethoven has recovered and has
made himself a BLT. The wall-
paper still holds his splattered
hand prints, but they, the hand prints,
have transformed into
full-blown peonies complete with
curious black ants wandering in the petals.

Photo taken at the Conard Environmental Research Area in September 2016 by Jun Taek Lee

Photo taken at the Conard Environmental Research Area in September 2016 by Jun Taek Lee


Monarchs and Viceroys
fluttering over
the zinnias
air molecules swimming
gray tuxedo kitten sleeping
on the kitchen floor

the tunnel of the moonlight
only a memory
take this object
and grip it really tightly
with your hand
turn everything upside down
laugh often

I remember Nickerson’s Farms
don’t you
I remember when gas was 25 cents a gallon
Gas War! the signs would say
my bicycle required no gasoline
but I did take advantage
of the free tire pump

white gray pigeons flying overhead
like in a commercial for canned spaghetti
they served in school lunches

could I allow myself this memory
the tomatoes growing in the garden
don’t know about sauce

in this moment are my shoes walking away
the smell of hot tar is everywhere
let’s do this one more time everything is reversed inside my head

the lasagna the chicken the woman who strolled room to room
playing flute when my life opened up
I saw that my thoughts weren’t mine

anyway if everyone sitting at the lunch table
was Edgar Allan Poe
would it make any difference

Finnegan strolled into the next room
if you have in you have out

broadcast this on the crystal radio
a lawnmower or a boat is flying over the house
like a whirling piece of cardboard

we will celebrate tonight
the anniversary of our wedding

did we run away
I was content
I had no clues
water seeks its own level

we have flowed together
down many streams
in the sky blue country

Photo taken at the Conard Environmental Research Area in September 2016 by Jun Taek Lee

Photo taken at the Conard Environmental Research Area in September 2016 by Jun Taek Lee

The Light

through the blinds
slashes across the page
like stripes
of a shadow flag

this is the elfin art camp
with liberty and justice
for owls

meanwhile that ocean
that ocean
how about that ocean

my friends from California
used to stare at me
like amazed gophers
I can’t explain this

I rode home on a Boeing
but that was a billion years ago
when the birds were chirping
so now we have failed to make every place America
although we sure gave it a go

I can barely remember eating pancakes at Sambo’s
before the Michigan-Iowa game
in 1969

landslide people walked to get an armload
of medicine
in the park
it was an animal planet
and I’m not saying I was in favor of any of it
though you can develop a nostalgia
for macaroni and cheese

and that it is just super weird
by the way
none of this is factual okay
stay calm
they are not coming to arrest you

gold roaster and goldfish
and I have bad news
the house didn’t sell
and what do I have to say
that isn’t another windmill to attack
with a jousting lance
on horseback

volunteer mulberries weld their shadows
to the side of the next hovel

we made a Mount Rushmore of mud
complete with our tired faces
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About Author Rustin Larson
Portrait image of author Rustin Larson.
Photo courtesy of Rustin Larson
Rustin Larson’s writing appears in the anthologies Wild Gods (New Rivers Press, 2021) and Wapsipinicon Almanac: Selections from Thirty Years (University of Iowa Press, 2023). Recent poems have appeared in London Grip, Poetry East, The Lake, Poetryspace, Pirene’s Fountain, and Lothlorien Poetry Journal. His chapbook The Cottage on the Hill was published by in April of 2022. He is on faculty in Maharishi International University’s MFA in Creative Writing program.