Inhuman Swill : Poems
            

Nail salon workers
Lined up in a row of five
Taking a selfie

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Uh-oh! Oreo!

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Oreo mayhem
Oreo packet,
rip'd open and crush'd on the
subway floor. Tragic.

—for the kid in all of us

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William Shunn at HiFi Bar, October 11, 2015
You probably missed my spoken-word performance this past Sunday night at HiFi Bar, the first of a handful of events celebrating the forthcoming release of my memoir, The Accidental Terrorist: Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary. The set combined excerpts from the book with original poetry, and featured musical backing by the very capable Daniel Geoghegan on drums and Jon Pope on bass.

We had a terrific time doing it. Happily, my friend Jeff Lang shot video, so you can hear what we sounded like. Here, for example, is our rendition of an old poem of mine called "Coney Island Lifeguard Blues":

And if you want to hear more, Jeff has also posted video of the full 42-minute set. Check it out.

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Springtime in Manhattan

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Tourists in Times Square
Blocking the sidewalk to gape
At an ambulance

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Lament

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And I remember
standing on the wall.

As they kissed,
we shot over their heads.

Just for one day,
can't we be heroes?

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Taxonomy

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Little neighbor girl
Waving to a cardinal:
"Parrot! Hi, parrot!"

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This poem debuted live at Tuesday Funk #48 in Chicago on September 4, 2012, the same day it was written. I've submitted it to a few editors since then, but since they (probably sensibly) turned it down, my birthday present to myself is to publish it here.

It was the early 23rd and I was just the latest turd
Of a miner to get dumped on Harkin's Moon.
I had finished my first shift and took the slow repulsor lift
Up to a weightless bar called Betsy's Grand Saloon.

We were sipping bulbs of beer in artificial atmosphere
And watching servers flit around that hollow space.
My hair still caked with sand, I said the place it sure was grand,
And my new buddies smirked and pointed 'cross the place.

"You see that mope sitting alone like some sad king up on his throne?"
They said. "That bastard is the grandest of the grand.
And if you go and ask him why and make it back, why, then we'll buy
Your drinks all night, and we'll know you're a real man."

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Share the wealth

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Homeless man feeding
his McDonald's French fries to
pigeons. Share the wealth.

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The last time

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I wrote this poem to read at last night's Tuesday Funk—the 64th episode in the series, and my final night as host.

Bless the English language
for its charming, maddening
ambiguity.

Will I look back on this night
as the last time I was here
or the last time I was here?

It matters to me.
Does it matter to you?

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Fiction wants to be free

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What is the sound of one hand clapping?
What is the sound of a tree falling in a forest?
What is the sound of a story without a reader?
What is the sound of tears on my typewriter keys?

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
missionary
could afford.

Order yours now!

William Shunn

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