Poetry of Chase Gagnon

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Through the Fire

In the suburban ghetto, I wait for starlight to pierce the tattooed dermis of black smog above us, injecting a crystal glow into the streets that vein up through the shaking arm of Nine Mile, scarred from cutting.

 

midnight coffee . . .

whole galaxies

between the bars on my window

 

I spend my nights alone, counting stars and writing shitty poems. I feel so insignificant. I feel like no one gives a fuck what I do and there's no one to tell me I'm a no-one. I'm nonexistent. I was never born, in the all-seeing eyes of the galaxy. It’s like committing suicide, erasing myself from existence, until dawn comes and drags my soul back to the real world, like a doctor beating on my chest until my heart pumps again.

 

crumpling up

another suicide note . . .

morning birdsong

 

I’m just a lonely stoner, wandering through the back-alleys of a buzzed daydream, searching for something of value inside myself. I find only an old homeless man with an unkempt beard, who claims to be me. He sits on the steps of an old crack house with tears in his hazel eyes as I walk

away, back toward life.

 

cradled in the darkness

of my waning mind

all the answers

 

I return to find the apocalypse of myself, where a new species spawns from the toxic mutation of unrecognized emotions. Others worship the monuments of twisted steel that once upheld the towers of my sanity, in a skyline that brims with glowing smoke. My fingers are possessed by their

fabricated idols, remnants of sensual art that hang in the endless galleries of my own perversion. They fly across the keyboard like the fast rhythmic pulse of a starving pianist, contemplating the madness of his inner Beethoven.

 

starry horizon

I jump from the edge of earth

to fly

 

My breath will finally cease when the dome of darkness above us breaks its rhythm, scattering starlight across the dirty floor of Detroit, like a string of pearls yanked from the neck of lady midnight.

 

empty street —

followed by the footsteps

of my shadow


Prune Juice, May 2014

Longest Night

In a tattered shanty on Superior’s frozen crust I toss my line into a dark hole, baited with moonlight on a worm’s back . . . and nothing more. As sleep lulls me to its warm cottage, this strange darkness pulls the fetus of a dream from my fingertips, then subsides, as if the sole purpose of its nibbling was to abort a vision that might have changed my life. I pull up the line to find only a chunk of the worm remains. But it’s still enough to send back down.


winter solstice
I suck a pearl of blood
from my thumb


Contemporary Haibun Online, July 2014

4 AM

I stare into the coffee mug, into the blackness that's no longer bitter and think of life. I haven't been asleep yet. It's amazing how fast time can pass when you're gazing at the stars; a lifetime is nothing to them. I feel immortal with their light in my eyes that have seen so much death — but what is the death I’ve seen to the supernova that will kill them? Their perishing song will shine for millions of years. I'll be gone and forgotten in just a few, and my skeleton will have gnawed out of my wrinkled skin by then. But this morning, I watch them disappear into the lightening sky, while I sip coffee so black that my younger self would've cringed. I think it's just right.       

my tiring life
caught between dreams...
the fan hums

Cattails, September 2014

Harvest Night

The cemetery gate holds the moon between its rusty bars like a soul trapped in the cage limbo, exposing the graves that pull satin shadows over themselves to keep warm in a dreamless sleep. The path that leads through these hollows is paved with pebbles, millions of years old that sit on just the other side of this pad-locked gate. I don't think it's been opened in years.

last birdsong of dusk
...this pulse
shaking my skeleton

Cattails, September 2014

Freak Show

My mind is a circus train, that runs on a rusted track over gorges where dragons swim. The colorful carriages are filled with thoughts dressed as clowns whose makeup is streaked by sweat, after all having a turn with the bearded lady. They’re not sure what town they’ll stop in next, but it’s been a while since the last show. My hand is on the throttle, but the rails decide where I’ll end up.

driving to therapy
for the first time in years…
I take the long way


A Hundred Gourds, September 2014

Alaska

In the fall we slept in old boxcars to keep warm and shelter ourselves from the snow, as we were pulled far out into the tundra by dreams that whistled at caribou in the distant reach of their warm light. The lumber mill was about an hour north of Anchorage. It was so dark out there you could see the glow from the city in the southern sky like a faint and motionless aurora, with unseen life dancing through the night below. But once the boxcar door closed, it was just darkness. No stars, no moon, no Anchorage in the distance. Just the thought of another man in our bed and the somewhat warm floorboards beneath my sleeping bag.


marijuana smoke

wafting through the darkness —

I warm my hands

with a friend's lighter

and think of you


Prune Juice, July 2014

Mental Supernova

She kept their bones in a glass jar, propped up against her books. These books were filled with spells of resurrection, written in Old English. She quit school when she was ten to take care of my grandmother so she couldn't read most of the words. I guess she hoped that the bones would absorb the residual energy of the voice from whoever owned the books before her. When she got sick she told me to place her urn on the other end of the mantel against those books. This went completely against her wish of being scattered over the valley, a request she made when she was sane some several months prior. Her house was in foreclosure, though. I would've left her on the mantle if I could have, but I buried her urn in the backyard, in a shallow unmarked grave with the jar of cats she loved more than her children. When the house was resold I donated the books to a used bookstore, owned by a woman just starting to wrinkle — fascinated by the books I brought in. I should've buried them with mom.


stars pulse

on the first night

without crickets . . .

my daughter asks

if grandma's a ghost


Prune juice, July 2014

Only Witness

Wind wrinkles the new snow like time, as a weathervane shifts slowly east towards dawn. This farm has been empty for generations, but icicles have hung from the barn all winter. Soon they’ll start to drip.

last star
the weight of snowflakes
on my lashes

YARN

Harvest Night

The cemetery gate holds the moon between its rusty bars like a soul trapped in the cage limbo, exposing the graves that pull satin shadows over themselves to keep warm in a dreamless sleep. The path that leads through these hollows is paved with pebbles, millions of years old that sit on just the other side of this pad-locked gate. I don't think it's been opened in years.

last birdsong of dusk
...this pulse
shaking my skeleton

Cattails September 2014

4 AM

I stare into the coffee mug, into the blackness that's no longer bitter and think of life. I haven't been asleep yet. It's amazing how fast time can pass when you're gazing at the stars; a lifetime is nothing to them. I feel immortal with their light in my eyes that have seen so much death — but what is the death I’ve seen to the supernova that will kill them? Their perishing song will shine for millions of years. I'll be gone and forgotten in just a few, and my skeleton will have gnawed out of my wrinkled skin by then. But this morning, I watch them disappear into the lightening sky, while I sip coffee so black that my younger self would've cringed. I think it's just right.       

my tiring life
caught between dreams...
the fan hums

Cattails September 2014