Anyone

Anyone

by Nate Klug

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Overview

Milton’s God
Where I-95 meets The Pike,
a ponderous thunderhead flowered—
 
stewed a minute, then flipped
like a flash card, tattered
edges crinkling in, linings so dark
with excessive bright
 
that, standing, waiting, at the overpass edge,
the onlooker couldn’t decide
 
until the end, or even then,
what was revealed and what had been hidden.
 
 
Using a variety of forms and achieving a range of musical effects, Nate Klug’s Anyone traces the unraveling of astonishment upon small scenes—natural and domestic, political and religious—across America’s East and Midwest. The book’s title foregrounds the anonymity it seeks through several means: first, through close observation (a concrete saw, a goshawk, a bicyclist); and, second, via translation (satires from Horace and Catullus, and excerpts from Virgil’s Aeneid). Uniquely among contemporary poetry volumes, Anyone demonstrates fluency in the paradoxes of a religious existence: “To stand sometime / outside my faith . . . or keep waiting / to be claimed in it.” Engaged with theology and the classics but never abstruse, all the while the poems remain grounded in the phenomenal, physical world of “what it is to feel: /  moods, half moods, / swarming, then darting loose.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226197005
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 03/26/2015
Series: Phoenix Poets
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 64
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Nate Klug is the author of Rude Woods, a book-length adaptation of Virgil’s Eclogues. A UCC-Congregationalist minister, he has served churches in North Guilford, Connecticut, and Grinnell, Iowa.

Read an Excerpt

Anyone


By Nate Klug

The University of Chicago Press

Copyright © 2015 The University of Chicago
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-226-19700-5



CHAPTER 1

    WORK

    It hides its edges
    in speed, it has
    no edges. Plus every time
    he thinks he knows

    it closely enough—can discriminate
    centripetal force
    from what gets sheared
    straight off—

    direction changes:
    through stunned space the blade
    snaps back,
    turtles into its handle,

    and starts over spinning
    the other way.
    All along the chopped-up sidewalk
    (the need to keep

    breaking what we make
    to keep making)
    the concrete saw
    plunges and resurfaces,

    precise as a skull;
    it glints against
    the small smoke
    of its own work.


    CONJUGATIONS

    This early the garden's bare
    but people pay to walk it,
    at plots of budless brush
    stop, as if remembering,
    and stoop to mouth the names—
    araucaria

    araucana
, monkey
    puzzle tree, something
    Japanese—each particular
    ridiculous to be.


    MILTON'S GOD

    Where I-95 meets The Pike,
    a ponderous thunderhead flowered—

    stewed a minute, then flipped
    like a flash card, tattered
    edges crinkling in, linings so dark
    with excessive bright


    that, standing, waiting, at the overpass edge,
    the onlooker couldn't decide

    until the end, or even then,
    what was revealed and what had been hidden.


    LETTER OF INTRODUCTION, SAMUEL PALMER TO HIS PATRON

    Not a naturalist by profession—
    though one does attend the need, now and then,
    what could be called compulsion, even,
    of first-rate distances; I mean

    I like the look of light
    ruffling mosses and knotgrass, the way
    perception rambles to catch upon
    the particular heat of an oak tree's

    barky furrows: a life,
    in other words, spent far from the globosities
    of Art, and not without its own
    excesses—those shy infrequent glimpses,

    half-returned, of one
    of the Tatham girls in town—which straightaway incite
    the eyes' darting artilleries
    beneath my spoiled spectacles.
    P.S. Am looking for a wife.


    THINKING
    (after Virgil, Aeneid 8)

    News comes from Latium
    and now he has to decide; but thinking,
    too quick for itself, splits as it starts,
    it pours into one plan's form
    then jars and recombines, as if
    to elaborate his fate from every angle
    were to understand it:
    so the light
    held within a copper bowl
    of water, shaking back the sun
    or a moon's glimmering particles,
    will flit and work upon the walls
    and crannies in an empty room,
    rising to strike the ceiling, trembling,

    though both water and bowl are still.


    THE CHOICE

    To stand sometime
    outside my faith

    to steady it
    caught and squirming on a stick
    up to mind's
    inviting light

    and name it!
    for all its faults and facets

    or keep waiting
    to be claimed in it


    DUSK IN JASPER COUNTY

    Silos and the animals slowing
    almost stumbling
    among their shadows

    hills fuzzed with a concentration of mist
    so pale it cannot be darkness, then it is

    as I-80 blinks
    and unfolds
    dumbly as a sea road

    or certain sleeplessness
    blank cracked ceiling staring back

    at your desire
    sick for several lives
    and each at once


    HOME

    Whorl of underpasses, off-ramps,
    freeways that splay
    running sedans and tanker trucks

    to odd-numbered interstates
    with Indian names:
    everything aiming

    at everything
    and just missing
    in eternal roar and return,

    sky fixed with the rickety
    circuitry of an old roller coaster park
    when we break

    out of the airport tunnel—
    ascension, assimilation:
    even the wish

    in the back of a cab not to think
    comes with its own
    moving pictures and music.


    NEIGHBORS

    The sounds dawn slowly
    on the drifting brain,
    steaming up through the flooring and flecked carpet
    like an unidentified, but welcome, scent,
    from their sources below
    gently extending a circumference.
    It might start, prolific mornings, around ten.
    More often, though, I didn't hear them
    until well into the afternoon,
    a muffled two-part counterpoint, indistinct at first
    from passing subwoofed hip-hop
    or the delimber machine, stewing and rattling
    several houses down—
    how helpless,
    how easily betrayed to their true worth
    are the efforts of thought,
    fidgeting among illustrious books
    whenever the strangers' familiar sighs rise up.


    TO EGNATIUS, WHO WON'T STOP SMILING
    (after Catullus)

    Picture him on a defendant's bench in Rome:
    a lawyer clears his throat,
    shuffles folders,
    preparing to rework an old tearjerker

    while the whole crowd leans in, silent, intent
    —except for one Egnatius,
    smiling like an idiot,
    thinking how white his teeth will appear

    to all these people. Or at the funeral home,
    paying our respects
    to the young dead captain,
    a touch on the shoulder and whispered lie

    to his sobbing mother—happen to turn
    and see Egnatius,
    hovering in the corner
    by the cheap cheeses: there's that wandering gaze

    and shit-eating grin again. Anything could be
    going on, anywhere;
    Egnatius will be there,
    clueless as to his illness, smiling. Short Sabines,

    fat Etruscans, Lanuvinians who have black skin,
    and those of us native
    to Verona, we each keep
    our teeth reasonably clean—and hidden.

    We've heard, Egnatius, where you come from.
    And it seems it is the custom
    in your Spain, after one awakes
    and pisses, to wash out the mouth with one's own urine.

    So from now on, whenever you show up at something,
    your bared chompers enviably white,
    we'll all take it as a sign
    you must have drunk an extra cup that morning.


    JON'S JOG

    At Maspeth Creek, he cuts
    his familiar unexpected path
    along the old offal docks, dodging wrack
    and the yawning delivery truck,
    following hunches in a dawn haze

    while the drifting grit and airborne
    oils, the night soil smell
    that never quite left this part of the borough,
    begin to work into his skin
    like strange fuels, driving him

    back up towards the big avenues,
    alleys shrugging off shadow now
    as a bodega owner unlocks, locks, and unlocks
    a stuck grate, until the sallow glare
    of the Boar's Head factory reappears,
    marking the turn onto his street:
    home early, his roommates still asleep,
    skin itching with dust and sweat
    and the first reckless edges of a fire
    which is not change, but may contain it.


    ADVENT

    In the middle of December
    to start over

    to assume again
    an order

    at the end
    of wonder

    to conjure
    and then to keep

    slow dirty sleet
    within its streetlight


    PARADE

    Fourth of July, New Hampshire

    As with this Jet Ski family
    braiding the lake
    with bigger and bigger shocks
    until the one
    car-sized one
    cuts his engine
    and, following him, for an instant
    they all coast
    through silences
    of self-made
    rain—

    how much violence
    is required now
    to carve,
    out of the general
    livable quiet,
    independence?


    A MESSAGE
    (after Kafka)

    So it runs: the Emperor, on his deathbed,
    has a message for you,
    humble subject, insignificant shadow.
    With his left arm, now his right,
    the holy messenger must fight
    his way down the palace staircase,
    past the coiled snake
    of the waiting crowd: soldiers, beggars,
    boys on tiptoes—could he reach the open
    fields how he would fly, how soon you'd hear
    the welcome chatter of fists
    at your door. He's cleared
    the inner chambers, still has the gardens to cross,
    a second outer palace, more stairs,
    new set of gardens, an outer palace.
    It goes on like this for hundreds of years.
    If at last he should limp through
    the ultimate gate—never, it can never happen—
    he'd see outstretched before him
    the imperial capital, center of the world, rustling
    with red wine and shit and music.
    Here, nobody can make it, least of all
    a corpse's courier. But you sit
    at your apartment window, whispering
    such a story into evening.


    LULLABY ON ELECTION EVE

    Let the salt night stir
    among cinder blocks
    and the old Caterpillar plough in the yard,
    realty signs unhinged since Irene;

    let snow, like a sandstorm
    or Operation New Dawn,
    cancel the low motel roofs, then the cars,

    and prepare less predictable shapes.
    No reason for us to have been here,
    no messages but in sleep.


    LOST SEASONS

    1.

    Squared into neat fires
    edging the lawn,
    maple leaves scatter
    at the first swell of storm:

    pile tops, like tile roofs,
    lifted, assumed
    into one brief
    funneling garland of seed

    that lurches above the pavement.
    Tomorrow, a fretwork
    of muddy leaf prints:
    new birds crowding the dark.

    2.

    Streaked red by woodchips
    and stacked contiguous
    either side of the curb
    like model mountain ranges

    or near a drain grate islanded
    in a stubborn, clinging scarp:
    driveway gravel,
    duff, two months of doggy marks

    pressed together
    until the ridges glitter
    with a peeling spray-paint sheen
    dry as Styrofoam—

    too brittle now to melt
    they'll wait, nearer air
    each day, then disappear
    one warm and sudden rain.


    SHIFTS

    Bridgeport Hospital, Connecticut

    Glassed in behind
    the grill station's steam,
    she chops and shovels
    the daily specials,
    calling each woman mami,
    each man baby.

    * * *

    Twenty-year-old
    shot in stomach, arrived
    dead on gurney 1:16 a.m.
    The shrinking immaculate room.
    And one at his chest
    who kept pushing, pushing
    as if knocking,
    awaiting breath
    or the right time to quit.

    * * *

    Irish Blessings!
    on the new balloons
    at Jazzman's Café.
    Cards for every sort
    of accident and holiday.
    43 to 42; 68 degrees.
    "Whaddya, havin' a baby?"

    * * *

    Schine 7 hallway traffic
    eyeless as a city sidewalk:
    nurses wrapped around their charting
    booths, tuxedoed marching
    food service, timid priest.
    Then off the hall, behind a door,
    through dividing curtain and sheets
    her everywhere-audible "fix me
    motherfucker fix me."

    * * *

    Dying shyly,
    a nurses' favorite
    juggled his breath
    mask, shifted
    its pale face
    across his face,
    deliberating
    between competing
    concealments.

    * * *

    Swiping in, a nurse named Dave
    turns his baseball cap around.


    IN CALICO ROCK, ARKANSAS
    Matthew 26:73

    From No Jake Brake
    and No Barn Burn

    on to Peppersauce
    and Greasy Slim

    old East Calico
    now a ghost town

    so anyone's language
    shall reveal him


    decrepit stones
    once City Jail

    tells iron sign
    the words still welded

    kept and lost
    in Calico Rock


    NOVITIATE
    for Matt (Brother Isaac)

    Entire Thursdays in your room.
    Morning's easy, now afternoon
    with its sense of sand leaking
    from your fist: holes in prayer
    everywhere you'd already filled them.
    Breathing out, you think
    not of the Psalms but lazy dogs
    as sunlight forks and darts
    across the floor—ambiguous flashes
    of oak roots under water
    or, lacunae intact,
    a scroll from Qumran,
    swallowed by a bunch of passing clouds.
    A superior knocks at four,
    speaks the sound
    of someone else's name,
    leaves a small meal by the door.


    GIFT

    Not easy ever
    once you have been shocked

    to place your index finger
    on exactly the same spot

    yet you are compelled,
    indulged (by whom?), into

    repeating yourself—you
    who have been called


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Anyone by Nate Klug. Copyright © 2015 The University of Chicago. Excerpted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Work
Conjugations
Milton’s God
Letter of Introduction, Samuel Palmer to His Patron
Thinking
The Choice
Dusk in Jasper County
Home
Neighbors
To Egnatius, Who Won’t Stop Smiling
Jon’s Jog
Advent

Parade
A Message
Lullaby on Election Eve
Lost Seasons
Shifts
In Calico Rock, Arkansas
Novitiate
Gift
Three Days
Octonaire on the World’s Vanity and Inconstancy
Sound from Sound
Sacred Harp Sing, Bethel Primitive Baptist
Anyone

Dare
Errand
Predestination
The Truly Fucked
Petition
The Gladiator
Twenty-Something
Trail
True Love
Squirrels
Mercy
Observer

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