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Idiot Wisdom by Tyler Gobble


for Diana, now and always

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Table of Contents 5…Idiot Wisdom 7…A Tapeworm Of Sound 8…Gob Life 10…[I am the turnstile. That is different than letting] 11…I Am Writing Letters 13…On Patience 14…Now That Just Tears It! 15…On Transition 17…On Pets 18…Other People’s Peanuts 20…Beef Jerky Energy Drink 22…What Is Wanted 23…In The Crucial Sea With Ultrashiny Animals 24…Hoop Dreams 26…Good Intentioned Hoosiers 28…Colony Collapse Disorder 29…On Flirting 30…Practically Science 32…Spattered Music 33…I Am Not A Potato 35…All Of A Sudden

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“Thought is made in the mouth” - Tristan Tzara

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Idiot Wisdom Yelling, unfortunately, will be required. It is the raising of question That provides us our much needed connection. An afternoon to canoe through a river of alternatives and bass. You are a person, not a tangle of lures. You can explain yourself whenever you’d like. Often, you will put too much stock in the broth. You can dump it out—down the drain, into the ditch. All over that brand new Camry on loan From the universe you never wanted. The Camry or the universe? The photograph of all Your loved ones, and it doesn’t look like you One bit between them. Don’t fret— If you hold someone’s name it means a lot More in the depth. I have been here long enough To know what I’m talking about. Music is what happens When the farmer misplaces his hatchet and calls it A day. A name is what happens When the snowplow worker comes along and is invited inside For warmth and gravy. When a soul gets sucked By the camera, it matches the rising hum I hear When I close my eyes in the sun. I can finally understand the pecking of birds. It takes more energy to conjure empathy Than it does to pick up the kernels with my unshaped mouth. A creek is never far away, even now. A giant heart attack is basically the same as a small one As long as they both kill you. If you think about it, it is true. If it is true, we call that emotion. My cousin tells one story— A man in the city leaps from a building 5!

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And is stuck in the safety net for a very long while. This view is what he unintentionally gave himself. How many times has he hung this shirt out to dry, These underwear now concealed and wilting? Remember the importance of the mesh That holds in, the skin clasping my lungs Against a mysterious gray sack of goop discovered only once I pass out in the grocery store parking lot in April. Despite all this wisdom, I’m still unclear on some versions. Often, you will be disappointed When you flail and the world fails to notice, To bring you a fresh cup of closure. What I am saying is every now and again You will be hijacked by feeling. Every now and again, get stoned and run your body through A tourniquet of mud. Some friends will wear patches Over their kissers, but do not worry. This only concerns you For so long, nearly the time it takes to empty The bath water and start again. You should start again. At least one person will be foolish enough to love you A second time. You will want nothing to come Out of your butt, but it does. Once you locate the source of the dripping You can continue on to your marriage dance and eventually Death. And after all of this, it is still best To follow your gut, that manual left there long ago.

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A Tapeworm of Sound In Alabama I heard an unprescribed hello A trill in the dusk while I waited For my sandwich and onward I’ve trudged tucked into the moments between phantom Hums and today I carry The anger monsoon around curled In the shadow of what I always claim As distraction—the daily fling The back road during the traffic jam A book of poems by Ander Monson The Available World shining on me however It so wishes and all of a sudden I send my cell phone sailing Like the dew baked back into the pavement The frustration rose whoops A rose is another distraction The fresh-swept porch and the cat with her tuna A colony of bats appearing Like every card you’ve ever chosen Untucked from the magician’s sleeve And off to the side a woman breaks up with another They run off in opposite directions Communication is that fishing pier You see in Midwestern ponds One corner collapsed into its own reflection Creaky and sweatered with moss but if You stand just right it is possible To fish from it and maybe oh just maybe You’ll reel in a keeper I think that is what the voice was beginning to say 7!

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Gob Life A Gob is a real person very involuntary. The impossible plural effects of not knowing What you’re cooking. The word “stoked� is a lively adjective Which must imply its flickering. One can include many. It is completely straight-forward. I confess I was happy until I was asked If I was. You fold back the covers and the kitten opens Like a tomb. The frisbee was frantic into the battering wind but once High it floated effortlessly. A single neon moth. There you are and it is infinite And all you do is make it better. Nature is good Mediation, even the family blabber did not spoil The breeze in the backyard. The tank tops hanging from the line Flapped like big-enough birds along the river. Sway is built into bridges since it is natural To apple trees. The random ones the size of fists Soon become inspiration. Poems are gestures. Every four years, I vote never to blink again. Perhaps violence Is more our foe than the whispers. I listen to the ticking of the creek As it turns its little circles. I stand watching stones In awe beside the water While in the last flick of sunlight a mob Of tiny bugs bolt like code sent from the trees. More and more lake is contained by the vehicle thrown Into it. I have transferred my restlessness, The sense of necessity to the frisbee itself. I always end up by the creek. Or it is A figment of the repetitive imagination. When I was a child my father often suggested we go Swimming, but when underwater In our bathing suits, he turned self-conscious. No stalk of corn will ever be capable of this And surely no fog. Have we really come a long way from what 8!

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They actually felt in the days when They made their own soap? Then the lake burps And the tadpoles turn in the nick of time to nothing. The night burned on and I went for a walk alone Lost between the trees. I wanted To see a mountain lion but had to content myself With a version in my kitchen. As for we who “love to be stoked,” each gap is merely A folder for future wider knowledge. My grandfather was forced to recognize his ignorance When another man explained the difference Between white and wheat bread at the fish fry. The pair of black grapevines yielded Oversized cocoons. Each afternoon happens, moving and therefore Endless. It is hard to turn away from smooth water. My tongue cracks in its vibrant calm. Anxiety is the ultimate catalyst, which will later unite Discs with air. My aunt entertained us With her lie—a story about a moment in her girlhood, A catastrophe in a canoe That never occurred. A fragment is Not a lightning bolt but a necessary whole Piece of the sky. As if by scratching at the experience One could dig out the stars. There is no paper on the moon. A poet must try to keep the coolest words. The bank teller does not have to like you Before she gives you your money. Thoughts then. Literacy later. A single chicken among ducks. The visible and realistic detail of an incoherent moment. Every family has its own collection of humans But not every person has someone To tell them certain stories are situations. Just because One cannot see a decision, one should not assume A connection. I am in high spirits, Which makes me say hello. The trees are continually Orchestrating their own shadows.

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[I am the turnstile. That is different than letting] I am the turnstile. That is different than letting The wolf in the house. We have to stop Denying that the dogs are disappearing. Flowers from a silent search after something That has vanished in the dark. You have to Be a good captain if you're going to get your boat. One’s ability to understand love, it's like believing In your own toes. Each is a form of trouble-making. I want to mess up this tiny cabin. Men can absorb a lot Of anger from each other, if it's done in a playful way. Even among more noise like a truck, I am free of panic. I can take handfuls of darkness. Each of us deserves To be forgiven for not wanting to be a farmer, closer To some silent energy in the middle of the universe. I am the turnstile, if only what I said were true.

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I Am Writing Letters To people who don't exist. How is your mother But more specifically How is her cockatoo? This Has been difficult What with the goats getting loose The moment it began to Hail. We talk About bodies often lately. I Child all afternoon covered In paint. It is not Easy finding meaning in The moist gunk a brain vomits. The dog daily digs A hole but does not have A bone—human or factoryMade or femur of A once-pet goat—to nuzzle Into it, to cover up. And I feel the guilt! Did you see the movie I suggested in my last Letter? An hour of It was the dumb commander His thumb hovering above An unlabeled red Button, an entire nation Trembling. I have forgotten Your real name. But what Nationality do you Think the shivers belonged to? Spoiler alert: sure 11!

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Wasn’t us. The last time I Was in Massachusetts I Dropped my cigarettes Off the sixth floor balcony The teal box tumbling onto The third floor balcony below. I have included a mixTape called “Thicket.” It is noise Mostly but I hope You find a song to comfort You in your condition. You Hear about Bill? Good Reminder I suppose. Hope I have the right address here. The chickens whine so Loud these days I can’t think straight.

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On Patience There is a difference between waiting For rain and pushing your car into a lake. The dog sits with the treat on its nose While its owner stuffs himself with Ding-Dongs. My dad said I would have a heart attack Before my 25th birthday. I showed him!

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Now That Just Tears It! My sloppy joe is all sloppy and no joe! I can't eat excuses! A man doesn't have to Wear pants around the house if he doesn't Want to. You knew that when you Married me. Boil up some Mountain Dew. If our marriage was a murderer it would be Out by now. Apparently, this door has some Kind of anti-opening device. Hell, I ain't No quitter. I've been smoking for 30 years. I thank my father every day for all The tricks he played on me. He taught me The most wonderful lesson a child can learn: Never trust nobody. Why would anyone Ever smoke weed when they could Just mow a lawn? Can you mow your lawn In a hurricane? Nobody likes a know-it-all Who sits around talking about their genitalia. I'm not saying you're not good at what you do. I know about possums. There's some milk In the fridge that's about to go bad. A round of golf costs $12,000. You play From rooftop to rooftop and the balls are made Of rice somehow. Then when you're done you go Home and sleep in a tube. Is that what you Want? Is it? Enacted in 1966, the Freedom Of Information Act gives any citizen the right To request access to federal agency records. It's what I used when I took on the IRS For disallowing my status as a tax-exempt church. Look how straight the lines are on the highway.

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On Transition One way to change the self is to disassemble the self. I cut my own Hands off and worry not one bit about god, or as this guy I loved in college once told me in a Barnes & Noble Bookstore bathroom—“Shit, piss, breath are more important than Philosophy. Don’t even bother.” One uncle worked for his lung cancer. One uncle worked for his liver failure. One uncle worked hard for his state Quarter collection, never spent a dime on a doctor, never spent one Nickel on a check-up, yet his spot-less lungs and big-toothed-grin liver Hold hands and gust first into the afterlife despite. It is baffling To consider the number of medieval coins once the smallest denomination Worth millions now if only we can fetch them from the ocean Bottom. One way to disassemble the self is to erase the self completely. Poof. I am haunted by music I can no longer hear, and I jump in front Of a train hauling an entire orchestra to Minnesota. I quit wearing T-shirts with puns on them—Winston Churchill goes to church on a hill And his life, the rest of it, plummets. I no longer walk and read. What, with The Great Head Jarring during the summer of 2014. This guy I loved in college said his notebook made in Japan Changed his life. He writes and no chance immediately of smudge. He scribbles HELLO on a scrap and I carry it until I change My pants, it forgotten and mushed with the other bits—pizza receipts, Newspaper clippings of the dog show—in the lint trap. Sometimes one must Make a silly face to get something beautiful out of the mouth. During the song about her father, the singer was drowned by a siren. While avoiding a hole in the ground, this guy I loved in college stumbles Into a much larger one. One way to erase the self is to crack over time. The slow humpty. The occasional dumpty. Each night I have the same Dream—I have two sons they are sawing a horse in half they are wearing Matching tank tops they are sharing a stick of beef jerky. Hope and terror Simultaneously, it creates a sensation like repairing a helicopter When you don’t even know what a helicopter is. I often forget About the physicality poetry requires. I don’t know how helpful this is. 15!

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Am I being too obvious? The necessity of unfolding—a towel to reveal My body, the tortilla if she snuck in jalapeños again. My true love says shoulders And I shrug. One way to crack is to live so long every gland is reduced to wilting, The drips dotting the day, so one can’t tell which gland gives which glob.

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On Pets We feed these critters But they don’t feed us. What’s up with that? PetSmart is a terrible instrument For not being sad Like how the vacuum fish at the aquarium Make horrible housekeepers Hard as they try. After her leg got lopped off I drew grandmother A picture of our dog Orbiting like a furry moon Around her face to prove She was still a worthy planet. Truth is pets seem destined To either do us in Or make our arms so warm From cuddling we can’t even stand it. As a child I was obsessed with cats How if you squeezed Real tight They hardly existed.

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Other People’s Peanuts The man removed his coat And revealed his torso to be, guess what, a peanut! All day you had watched him sensually chew his lettuce Had developed a crush From the close proximity, like a kitchen drawer That gets a new chevron Liner. When he left for the Chevron You did, too. You threw on your coat Grabbed a pair of socks from the drawer To wear as mittens, afraid to lose your peanut Fingers in this Minneapolis freeze that will crush Your head of lettuce. Your affection blossomed like the lettuce Of old in the field where the Chevron Station now squats, crushing The earth, the fumes of its living rusting through its dirt coat Killing all the peanuts, Trying to stuff our evolved trousers back in the drawer. Like money from a cash drawer You felt worth a lot of lettuce! A million peanuts! All the 40s at all the Chevrons! A rack of coats At a very fancy men’s store! You crush And you crush. Shivering in your drawers You put on another coat. Wilting like lettuce In your mini-van outside the Chevron. You wait for him. You feel united to him, like a peanut To another peanut Seconds before they get crushed And jarred for $4.17 on the shelves of the Chevron. Together you will be dust sent to God’s junk drawer Among the lettuceColored sticky notes and color samples for the next coat

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He spatters on the walls of his peanut drawer Apartment. As you follow, you learn his day finishes—crush lettuce, Eat a salad, shave his jaw, go to the club in his nicest chevron sweater.

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Beef Jerky Energy Drink I can't remember the name of that artist in Brooklyn Who bought me both with her final ten bucks I was hurt I was waiting on someone To turn me into a farmer I squeezed the last drop from a melon with my good hand And then there was no one left To shave my back My eeks and my aches and the trembling With shears in my mitts The artist appeared with a maroon handkerchief And waved it at my face Nothing happened like a bulbous nose I did not become an old plow or worse speller I still had this backside of fur I did barrel into the desert to hunt for arrowheads I did come back with a tentacle belonging to a giant worm Courtesy of Tremors, starring Kevin Bacon I did wake up with bed bugs the size of Hershey Kisses I did begin to blabber and haven't stopped since Hello, my name is Broken Mud Is Trimmed Trees Is UHaul Full of PiĂąatas Is Goliath After He Fell Hard Yet I think of myself as normal I am often tired I eat about a half dozen eggs a week I ask questions only an idiot would answer I ride my bicycle Only when the weather is perfect I once made a potato do a handstand There are potatoes growing out of the ground 20!

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And I take that as a sign Things are gonna be great We come into this life to be productive But end up covered in chicken pox I loathe the beach and I love the cold Which has made me unable to be left alone or green

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What Is Wanted Shoot some hoops with birds In my meager hair, then go home. What truth does this sport help me avoid? By this point, I am my own sun burn. If you cut me open, my early rings would Be chicken nuggets and boat motor exhaust And god bless me if my last lines end Up as bored scribbles cluck-puttering on. I go up for a layup and unfurls one Of L's long ago thick black hairs of nowhere Like an elbow, a tinny tink to collapse My senses, but hey, okay, I still made the shot. Plane behind the clouds, the correctional Facility fellers in their brightest colors Stabbing Styrofoam cups and ghoul-like Wrappers in the shadow of the school. Today the teachers asked the kiddos What is wanted out of their time here. This is what the blank looked like ______________________________ ______________________________.

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In the Crucial Sea With Ultrashiny Animals The manatee is not thinking About the meaning of his blubbering Or the odd shake making the old Man’s pants disconnect in the undertow. What gossip should this kelp allow? The crab goes on whistling as the cloud Transforms into a meat cleaver. A seagull dives on the lever And the pier erupts into confetti. Some things never change, hi. O shy pelican in the breeze! O jellyfish pulsing your own sneeze! O tower of sand that never wanted! I haven’t even mentioned myself yet.

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Hoop Dreams Greg Oden can’t figure out how A balloon works. He keeps blowing into the hole His hand makes when he signals “A-okay” to his onlookers, the limp balloon Dangling like a flesh wound. Like Paul Pierce’s cheek after He gets whooped up on again and again. By a guy outside the nightclub. By the trash man, one-on-one. By my friend Josh’s aunt in 1999. This was after Horace Grant misplaced his goggles And wandered in the desert for forty years. When he returned, everything had changed, except The location of the MJ statue. The fog behind Him reminded me of when Coach K rubbed two erasers together and started a fire, Even though Christian Laettner was right there, Right next to him, and of course, is made Of wood. Many types of wood. Some of it even treated, so he didn’t burn the right color. Or what about that time I found Lebron James at Starbucks. Lebron James tossing coffee beans over his head. Lebron James tossing a mug over his head. Lebron James tossing the barista over his head And she never came down. The opposite of Bill Russell lacing up His sneakers and going back to bed. He dreams about me instead. He wakes up covered in sweat. Or Shaquille O’Neal reaches into a well and pulls Out a rabbit. “Ha, the earth’s magic hat,” he chuckles. Better than when Robert Horry began To confuse himself with a handsaw. Truth is Scottie Pippen wasn’t born. He hatched from an egg that was stuck To another, slightly larger egg. The opposite of Mugsy Bogues On an airplane and the oxygen mask drops down, for his seat only. Mookie Blaylock dresses up as Mookie Blaylock for Halloween. That was before March, the sky full of birds, the ground full of people, All of them, the birds and the people, wearing Dick Vitale masks. The earth suffocating like the loaf of bread Rasheed Wallace Choked out at Harvest Supermarket. The people applauding. As one is wont to do with the discovery 24!

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That Steve Kerr is made out of clouds, very fresh clouds. The night before, someone I thought I loved Forwarded me a Powerpoint presentation titled “Former Portland Trail Blazers and Their Nicknames in High School.” Hmmm, okay. Darius Miles: Free Hat. Zach Randolph: The Second Sense. Clyde Drexler: Clyde The Wyde. It turns out he had a weight issue in high school. It turns out Skip To My Lou was really his porn name. And I saw there everything he’d ever made. And of course, Kobe Bryant hates women. It says so on a billboard in Biloxi as my dad drives me to Texas To live with my new family. You’ve been traded, he says. The world as terrifying as the moment I pulled up Brent Barry’s jersey and yup, partially covered in scales. Which is what we always suspected of Bonzi Wells, Kicked off his Chinese Basketball League team After he failed to return from the Chinese New Year. He had become the dragon, the dream goes. The dream goes Darryl Dawkins shattered my backboard, But cleaned up none of the glass. The opposite of Bobby Knight Playing racquetball alone. Similar to the streets of Minnesota Littered with fallen thunder bolts. Kevin Garnett in the distance, Screaming into a flute. Not as satisfying as a bunch Of Spring Breakers throwing Mike Miller from their balcony. Not as strange as Sheryl Swoopes dribbling a basketball Off her foot and it turns into a duck as it goes across the street. And get this: Dennis Rodman was born in my dreams. And get this: when the doctor walked in, Brandon Roy was juggling rotten Fruit and Kevin Durant was at a Taco Bell Drive-thru window, watching the sunset. The stars scattering Like the errant golf balls Keith Van Horn was so good at finding. And the kid hanging out the window with the beef burrito Is an aspiring preacher who looks exactly like Brian Scalabrine. Wow. And this is what I came to: it’s my first “real” date, And we are at Chick-Fil-A. Gary Payton sits across from me. No lie, like inside every basketball is a miniature Damon Bailey. Seriously, tell John Stockton I’m wrong. He’s sitting in his rocking chair, a double-barrel shotgun across his lap. Every day, he’s waiting for the mailman to return.

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Good Intentioned Hoosiers My father in the yard without a shirt playing horseshoes. My father’s best friend Joe in the yard without a shirt playing cornhole. Once in a tree stand reading Ferlinghetti I didn’t see the 8-point buck Until he stopped at the county road to look Both ways. In one of these houses, someone waits in a diaper For their new love to exit the bathroom, to reveal whether or not He too put one on. In one of these houses, someone cooks Meth, listening to Van Halen, a necklace Of cereal around his tired neck. Around here, I think of meth Though I’ve never done meth, Though I’ve never seen meth in its final form. Only the parts. At the CVS, I buy batteries or cough syrup or rat poison Or all three on particularly unenergized/sickly/infested days And I think of meth. Or I think of Wendell L. Willkie on the caboose Drunk and getting drunker, yelling Into the Indiana night about FDR and Asian cuisine. What would Willkie do about meth? What would he do About the man handcuffed on the hood Of a cop car for possessing a bald eagle In his one-bedroom apartment? A man with a nose Like the Willkie pressed into copper at the park emblazoned With his name came to my moving sale, smoking a cigarette Next to the DVDs in a Yankees’ cap. Neighbor Fred sat In his white plastic chair In his white plastic shed waiting For the sky to snow (it was May) so he could clean Off my front walk with his white plastic shovel. And beyond The disappointment, he came To press his face against my sliding glass door To borrow things he’ll never return. A stick of butter. A ride to get cigars. A box for his dead cat. Regrets and wild flowers. I keep returning To the yard and the meth and the Neighbor Fred. He knows nothing about cold fusion, so rarely If ever, does he talk about cold fusion. But he does tell the story of how his mother hated Spiders and he stepped on one in the kitchen And its belly burst And a hundred babies headed towards his mother. My mother is cooking dinner for however many people show To tell me goodbye. Thursday, I leave for Texas 26!

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And here they come in spurts, A Town & Country at a time, off the highway.

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Colony Collapse Disorder How it is and what I'm wearing. On a clear day you can see forever. Long johns because on this day in history once I was cold. For a poet, they say, you sure are literal. I was not particled to be particular Or even practical, and certainly not paracrine. Literature is ancient and so are my ancestors Especially the ones who preferred to live In Native American society. Which came first— The shunning or the acceptance that these are the stalks I will be eating until my death? Not the call And response into the forest but the call For a response, the phone ringing and the other End singing, Tell me your answer, now please! Will we get married? Vegan cheese or 17-meat pizza? Who really pulled the trigger? What? I was taking a shower but could only think of a year. It was 1968. A birthday cake shaped like a hearse. Uncle called it a light-hearted joke. Sometimes it is Impossible to speaker louder, so it is necessary to bring Your own karaoke machine. The only bird watching I have done is those Sundays after slaughter When the latch wasn't best closed and the chickens They'd flutter about the yard like the last clouds of May. Some we could catch with our sprinting. Others would have To wait, snagged from a branch or the bucket seat of a Ford Rusted northwest corner of this yard. Colony collapse Disorder is when it all starts dying, but no one knows why.

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On Flirting I knew how to juggle once My great uncle was a great wizard But then he died and I forgot I feel like I am chasing a plastic sack through America I want to watch you put your pants on every day Is one way to prove you are serious That is a lot of pants is another way to demonstrate You are paying attention The floor still transfers rug burns The heat from shuffling our feet The picnic in the snow is unpacked From the Volkswagen’s trunk My hands keep knocking to the beat of Emily Dickinson My hands say I want you to take off the top of my head At any given moment I may appear and mow your lawn Do you love my enthusiasm yet Tank tops with sharks on them Sweaters with whooping cranes on them Life is full of mishandled affection Each year thirty-seven celebrities accidentally in passion Kill someone in real life Every day is this thing then that thing Flat tire and new bottle of cologne Christmas bonus even though no one here worships Jesus It is better than the alternative The fish bumping their empty heads against our canoe Teach me death Teach me to fish I hope you have a good coat It is very cold tomorrow

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Practically Science Ebola in London and elsewhere scientists Get a sackful of zebra Finches drunk to see if it is true From high enough every river is a mirror. The fish in their vodka showers Know this. Ohio and North Carolina feud on Where human flight got birthed and no one In the Midwest knows how To properly claim Lincoln. You can see The WRONG WAY sign from either side Of the highway. The good thing about boredom Is that it eventually ends. Your hair In the breeze, the pistons pumping its steam. The trickles we hardly noticed Spurting out the side of the cliff now frozen And noticed like a cougar’s jawline On the edge of the forest. We scurry away listening To a song about tractors. Researchers found 41% of teen boys are texting and don't Realize you’re being chased by police. 76% of adults drive right by the castle. And elsewhere, we’ve learned it’s impossible To fart in a sleep number bed. Scientifically, there’s a difference between seeing Your mother’s hand crocheting The latest doily and holding that hand As she takes her ninety-four years into dreaming. She might not wake. She might dream about your thirty-year dead father. She might see the end of the tunnel. She might go there and find the light but also a plate. Who put nachos at the end of the tunnel? 30!

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Surely it was Karen, her first love, science tells us.

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Spattered Music Spattered music O Lord I hear hark the herald, the hanky, The panky – the time of year it is where from the trees hang A condom used and whistling like reeds, weeds, a pearled ghost. But it is your heart I pulse for pumping, the real, not skull synapse Prone to collapse, the gushing, the flooding, the beauty spackled before Comes the terror. There is a handsome song on the air. Half sung The words, the world breathes in my river-soaked breath, breathes This out and a speck I am it, two warbles waxing together somewhere Between wires, between walking and the thing that hangs there enchanting. My head is crooked, the stare I can’t shake my skull, someone Somewhere is drumming, the person perhaps who whilst enjoying The eve did thus suture this banner, this branch. It is a saw slicing New lattice, the critters and their burrowing to keep from beneath This dwelling, but dwelling I continue, no slats to stop me leaning To this lost latex of love, this snapped syntax of the heat night. I doth dance down towards it, immediately spray this body tune Bound curiosity, chipped bosom of relief, scattered song of this And my own laugh – hahaha through the trees tonight I make.

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I Am Not A Potato America I am not your potato. A potato has 48 chromosomes and I have forgotten How many I have. A potato can be cooked More ways than I have chromosomes probably. My ancestors domesticated the potato And I am mostly not domesticated. I leave my peels everywhere. I am sorry! Sweet potatoes are well loved around the world And most folks in Switzerland don’t know who the fuck I am. I am not a potato. I once heard a shaman say you can put a raw potato on that. Meaning on a broken bone. Meaning to promote healing. The only thing I promote is this book of poems I wrote. My mother told me to rub cool potato juice on my face To cure my acne. It got worse And what’s the deal with potatoes having juice anyway? I am not a potato. I am an American. And Thomas Jefferson introduced the French Fry to the U.S. in 1801 But where I come from we call them by their Christian name— Freedom Fries! Buck fifty a plate at Friendly’s Restaurant. Agriculturalists in Europe found that potatoes were much easier To handle than other crops. Except when they’re hot of course Which is something I guess potatoes and I have in common. Another thing potatoes and I have in common Is that we both are not mentioned in the Bible. And true I always believe my mother Who said “Son! You are what you eat.” The average American eats 137.9 pounds of potatoes each year But gracious I am not convinced. I am not a potato. 33!

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Potatoes first became popular when Marie Antoinette Wore a crown of potato blossoms in a parade. I have been popular since Josh Caldwell’s German shepherd bit a big hunk of my elbow off And I did not even cry one bit. People somewhere else fought a war over potatoes. As far as I know no one has ever fought a war over me. Potatoes are grown in all 50 states And until 2013 I had only lived in Indiana. Also I mostly taste awful! Also potatoes are a powerful aphrodisiac says a physician in Ireland. And that is the last thing I need.

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All of a Sudden My fortune cookie said some things Break and never get fixed. Now don’t have me break this thing Down for nothing! If only part of the cheese has mold On it, then you’ve won, man! Cross the wrong person and you’ll wake Up with a horse head in your bed. Human homes often smell like dogs; It is no fault of the dog. Never be the kind of person that forgets And waters the plants twice. When you yawn, it is possible For the toothpick to fall right out. A live turtle should be more Popular than a picture of that turtle. House-sitting is nice, but home is where You eat cottage cheese in bed. At least one person is getting Come On Over by Shania Twain for Christmas! I honestly do not understand how You can 3-D print a gun or a lung. One cool thing about house-sitting: People buy better toilet paper than me. It is possible to bend “forgotten” To rhyme with the standard “tongue.” An unfinished cross is just a post In the ground, Jesus said. When the neighbor figures out your name Isn’t Todd, be bummed.

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Whose idea was it to make fences From barbed wire? A wise man refuses to ride public transportation Afraid he’ll get pushed in front of the bus. Stressed? Try this: eat French fries And feel happy for weeks. Even John Wayne believed the best Folks formed from the mud. You can’t fart on a turnip And call it a dollar, Tony. Indiana’s most adorable people keep Falling in love and moving to Georgia. Somebody put the wrinkled parachute In the backpack, please! Still can’t figure out what you should Do with your tail end? Sit down. Some people need told not to bathe In the bathroom stalls. You might not be good at being Ridiculous, but keep trying! My friend claims to have started a fire By rubbing two grains of sand together. The toilet bowl is no place to cut A watermelon or house a crawdad. I’ve been waiting this whole time For someone to call me an idiot. Someone somewhere outside The window is shaking a tambourine. It’s hard to tell if a boat is leaking Until you put it in water. You’ll be the first to see your face Tomorrow morning, hallelujah. 36!

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Cross yourself and you’ll wake up And wake up and wake up. Never travel across the country For a single human being. You’re only one small sound, but inside You—a great many smaller noises.

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Acknowledgements

Big continued thanks to the journals and magazines that first said yes to these poems, often in slightly different versions and/or with different titles: Horse Less Review - “Idiot Wisdom” and “What Is Wanted” Great American Lit Mag - “A Tapeworm Of Sound” The Equalizer - “[I am the turnstile. That is different than letting]” similar::peaks - “I Am Writing Letters” and “I Am Not A Potato” Gertrude - “I Am Writing Letters” decomP - “On Patience” The Broken Plate - “Now That Just Tears It!” Smalldoggies - “On Pets” The Bridge - “Other People’s Peanuts” Fields - “Beef Jerky Energy Drink” The Journal - “In The Crucial Sea With Ultrashiny Animals” Hobart (online) - “Hoop Dreams” Third Coast - “Good Intentioned Hoosiers” Powder Keg - “Colony Collapse Disorder” The cover art, “Loose Ends,” is by Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez. More at lessergonzalezalvarez.com. “On Patience” and “On Pets” originally appeared in the limited-edition chapbook Goodness is a Fine Thing to Chase, as part of the Tiny Hardcore Press anthology The Fullness of Everything. “All Of A Sudden” originally appeared in the full-length poetry collection MORE WRECK MORE WRECK from Coconut Books, in a much different form. “Gob Life” is after My Life by Lyn Hejinian. “[I am the turnstile. That is different than letting]” is after an interview with Robert Bly in American Poetry Review. “Now That Just Tears It!” is made up of (mis)remembered lines from King of the Hill. “Other People’s Peanuts” is for Adam Edelman. “Beef Jerky Energy Drink” is for Alexis Pope. “In The Crucial Sea With Ultrashiny Animals” takes its title from a line in Elisabeth Workman’s Ultramegaprairieland. “Hoop Dreams” is for Clark Moser. “Good Intentioned Hoosiers” is for my parents. “On Flirting” is for Diana Lynn Small. “All Of A Sudden” contains an Outkast lyric, a tweet by James Tadd Adcox, and a line by Apollinaire. 38!

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Thank you to the good folks at the Michener Center for Writers for their support during the development of this chapbook, especially Dean Young and Lisa Olstein. The continued life of these poems would not be possible without the nerve and the love of these folks: Jeff & Tamie Gobble, Diana Lynn Small, Todd McKinney, Michael Thistle, Adam Edelman, Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez, Jason Arnold & Stefaney Pape, Callie Collins, Dylan Little, Ashley Farmer & Ryan Ridge, Zach Arnett, Jennifer Whalen, Kevin McCann, Charlie Martin & Johnna Henry, David Schaefer, Ricky Stamton, Bruce Jordan Guard, Jiyoon Lee, Gia Marotta, Lynn Cowles, Sarah Janczak, Liz Klein, Cecily Sailer, Clark Moser, Chrissy Hurst, Josh Denslow, Zoie Hancock, my friends and former faculty at Ball State University, and anyone else who shares their time, conversation, and correspondence with me.

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Idiot Wisdom  

A free chapbook of poems by Tyler Gobble

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