Derick Varn, Summer 2017

Georgia Landscape from Highway 75


Kudzu cover overcame the grotto

pissquick, choking out the mosaic

pines and oaks like they were bathed

into lye and red clay. For nature,

witless nature, dumb to its own

screaming, eats itself to seek freedom

to gorge even more. The marsh would

muck-up the ground like a limping

bondsman, falling into itself over

and over again as the catch got away.

Who needs brush fire when one

has a Japanese beetle to eat

away the Spring with all the

attendant dirty work.


Beyond the switchgrass,

there are bill boards: “Live Nude

Girls”—as opposed to dead

ones, one thinks—and the sky

unfolds like a taffy wrapper,

hoisted up on the lightning scarred

pines, the shadows disappear

into a day dreams erratically,

air like a lover’s breathe after

a five mile jog, humid, exhaust,

any lust lingering the sweet notes

behind the sweat beading on brows.









I sit on the balcony

Of my Cairo apartment,

White tile covered in black

And brown dirt, looking

Down I notice blood in

My sweating glass of whisky:


Gums bleeding this time

From age and not a fist,

And I can’t shake the student

Who stared at me dead eyed

As she was caught for copying


Her essay on literature of

The Irish Troubles from

Internet notes. She blanks,

Hollows out, like watching

Someone being beat, and

As I spit more blood down


Into the street mumbling

To myself about a dentist

I feel like I recognize that

Whiteness. In Georgia, an

Adopted brother recently

Home from the Iraqi desert


Talked to me about Kurdistan:

He won’t turn his back to a window

And can’t drive during fireworks:

He hand always steady but

For a moment it trembles as if

A silent gun un-muffles. The


Next day, a teacher tells me

My student was in Nablus

Two years before visiting

Her Palestinian cousin, then

Watches an IMI Gabil spread

Her aunt and uncle unto concrete.


No context beyond that. I want

Tell her that I don’t know that hate,

Although it is similar the hate

Spit into every suburb after any

War. I have never been a soldier


But I have washed blood off a road

And not the particular rot of burning

Hair and gun powder. I want to whisper

To her the only sweetness I know in

Arabic: habibi. I won’t touch you

To comfort you. Habibi, turn

Frustrated emptiness into sadness.


Habibi, when we have trouble

Telling bottle rockets from guns,

We can still spit at the life we

Didn’t will ourselves. We can

Count our scars as much as

We do our sins. Habibi,

there is a fat pigeon on

The window. It will fly

Away as like my hair

This will pass. The

Sand dunes are mistaken:

We can be blown


In ways beyond passivity,

We can answer this spectre

We like to pretend is justice

Without being abraded away.




Invasion of the Garbage Snatchers


The incinerator fueled by the heat

of our rage, on the grim peripheral

of our raving, the stranger eyes


of skunks and raccoons gather

at the fray to sup at the remains

of the gathered debris of days.


The grocery waste dumbed

in the fire’s haul: the skittering

of teeth drag each morsel


away. The fevered parataxis:

the giving of what we waste

away, the waste of what we


can’t give. Our minds aren’t

right: creating eyesores on

the forest edge, Mount Meru


of trash. I watch the raccoons

scope away of what remains

to burn, the Spring yet to set


the sky on fire with reflected

blooms, and winter’s fading,

so the heat isn’t necessary.





C Derick Varn is a poet, teacher, and theorist. He
currently edits for Former People and is a reviewer for the Hong Kong
Review of Books. Originally from Georgia, he currently abides in Utah,
but his nomadic tendencies have found him living in Cairo, Egypt,
various places in South Korea and Northern Mexico. He lives with his
wife, and a bunch of books, and writes at night. He has published in
Danse Macabre, Writing Disorder, JMWW, Clutching at Straws, Xenith,
Piriene’s Fountain, Nebo, Yes, Poetry!, and many other venues.

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