I don’t remember where it was that I first read Evan Nagle’s At a Train Junction Near Foss Lake, Utah. I do remember that the words hit me like a slap. I was momentarily stunned. I love when a poem burrows beneath my skin and pricks at my muscles, leaves little nips along my tendons. A good poem should hurt a little. It should force you awake, open your eyes, make you see and feel things you might not necessarily want to see or feel.
Nagle’s use of language is so extreme yet so ordinary. I feel, and almost taste, the familiarity of each phrase, how each sequence of words shadows the next, such as: “Nouns and noons and speeches unbound.”
I’ve been carrying Nagle’s words for years and years, carried them to four different houses, three different jobs, two different towns and three different men. Carried them through difficult times and beautiful times, carried them through countless runs (I often recite poetry as I run) and races and mountain climbs.
I tracked down Nagle a few weeks ago. He’s living in Hawaii and working for Mentalpez, which has one of the most creative and best Web pages I’ve ever seen. Check it out when you have a moment.
Nagle’s work is featured in the anthology, Jack London Is Dead: Contemporary Euro-American Poetry of Hawai`i, published by Tinfish. More can also be found in Fence, Seneca Review, Seattle Review, Mary, Cranky, and elsewhere.
At a Train Junction Near Foss Lake, Utah
To Yietsa who brims with madness, To old Adam who fuckheaded his ribs into the bowels of his very wife
In the beginning, when the bedroom began, I took to you. I stumbled in: Your hair of wildish pores, your hands and everything crooked teeth. What a moan you moaned, like nouns and noons and speeches unbound, all precious to the whipping heart of mankind. And what a mouth arose, soft and suckling stiff, extracted from a thousand oils, from a multitude of rots, and awake, and up.
Tonight, I lug these feet of two, to the train, to eastward, to leave you. From Barstow to Midwest like the drop of a blouse. I bear the butcherings of our every lovely word, like love, like hope. And this trains scrams swift and swiftly and drifts inside its dull and mostly dark. And black daughters kiss the blackberry cheeks of their babies. And a heavy Ohio somewhere awaits, unfolds its moon for me, lends its many midmorn patrons to sleep. And my palms hold nothing held. My palms sit so, so lonely in the nakeds of themselves.