THE FEDERALIST PAPERS
While reading Jason’s work what struck me was this revealing quality of the sequence; how things become clear as we take the trip. Then after reading through the work another time, I couldn’t believe how I couldn’t see the who, and the why in the story that was there from the beginning. This revealing is something most enjoyable about story and poetry; reading a poem a few times to get to the heart of it, is there anything more satisfying? It’s the kind of quality that has roots in memory, and perspective. A realm that gives us room to spread ourselves and grow. Which is why I’m so glad that there is work like this out there, it reminds us the opportunity we have when we write.
— Daniel J Flosi
Columbus is for Lovers
We make basements
bivouac churches, blow ears,
all drum and string, words change
every night, sticks, sweat, guitars—
one or two sing along if we’re lucky.
We think we’re some oddball take
on Kerouac, Cassady, & Ginsberg wandering—
in a way we are; they were just
making shit up as they went along too—
forty other basements like this one
ahead; we stroll in and out like a flea circus,
collecting gas money and the odd pat
on the back—
this is how you spread your word,
This is bright futures and bad memories;
these will be ours as we stop waiting for our moments
to come to us; we’re out going to our moments.
Pure Michigan Luxury*
This overnight space could be a yurt burning
sandalwood, plates of rosewater
jellies on side tables, or a dumpster allowing
between the cracks in its lid,
but it’s just a strangers sunroom,
a layer of hardware cloth between us and the world;
lack of trust keeping real respite
from our reach.
We’re outside in
this July Lake Michigan swelter still burning off,
so we sweat awake, listening to
tires’ white noise hiss against the fevered
asphalt. The sky undulates like a falling blanket.
We all watch quietly, wired, wasted.
*an earlier version of this poem appeared at The Metaworker in April 2021
Dance Party Lincoln, Nebraska
shuffle, deal, shuffle, deal
Night Drive to Jackson
80 miles an hour is fast
until it’s not—
van vibrates rattletrap,
bound by momentum
& five boys’ prayers—
Jackson awaits; the seven
people who’ll show up have
no idea what we’ll hit them with:
a spectacle of exhaustion,
a sleep-deprived tension, a 5-lb
bag, 10-lbs of disappointment,
beginning and end
equidistant. All there is to do
is go forward all night, show up,
play our six stupid songs while a couple
hip students wait for an interesting
part to come that—joke’s on them—never will.
In Florence, Alabama
we’re tied up in each other; there is only our
twin-tongue as we play to our witnesses in time:
we meditate, lock in & swing, chant collective,
imagine visual landscapes in these sounds, explore
galaxies in our entwinement, inaudible, thunderous—
for witnesses, this is entertainment product—
for us, this is saying mass with volume alone
a gulf of difference between perspectives,
the same difference exists between receiving the host
and priests speaking transubstantiation’s secret language—
we all of us go home with the same thing:
heavy, flavorless air & a ringing in our ears.
This band is last-legged;
the walls of our van
The old faces of our skyline stand
in the windshield, welcoming
Something like joy
shushes me quiet & clubs
me with fatigue.
I settle & sink
into the headrest—
the drummer coughs.
I think I’m gonna quit, guys.
Jason W. McGlone’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Autofocus, Sledgehammer Lit, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Briefly Zine, and Glint Literary Journal, among others. He makes music under the name Mourning Oars and runs the process-centered poetry journal Zero Readers. Most days you can find him wandering around Cincinnati, where he lives with his family. You can find him on twitter @maoglone.
Interview with Jason W. McGlone
How long do you usually spend writing a single poem?
I’m a very slow worker. I work on dozens of pieces at the same time, so I guess “I don’t know” is the right answer. The process for me is really fragmented and nonlinear.
I know this sequence has been a long journey, what was the hardest part about writing it?
The periods in my life when I wasn’t writing, which sounds like a lazy answer. It is, I guess. I’m just some dipshit trying to get better at it. I went long periods without writing for a number of reasons, though, and I can point to those times as genuinely rough. That probably seems dorky, but it sucked. The narrative arc in this sequence has been banging around in my head and here we are.
Who are some of your favorite poets?
Lucille Clifton. She is note-perfect, always. Donald Justice, too. I like Ron Rash. Jacqueline Allen Trimble is great. Ilya Kaminsky. Lots more. I had a friend named Eric Meyer who was going to be great and died before he could get anything published; that was in 2004.
I don’t know where his poetry went or
where it is. I originally came to poetry and literature by way of punk rock and indie rock and he was part of that group of people. We were both into the idea of building our own little scenes, stuff like that. We both liked the idea that subcultures exist at all. He got me into writing.
How long have you been writing poetry, and what has changed most from your first to your most recent poem?
My interests pretty exclusively sat with writing prose, specifically fiction, for most of my life. I picked up writing poetry in particular about a year and a half ago, following a couple long breaks in writing anything at all. One of those layovers involved a head injury, which changed how my memory works and shortened my attention span. Coming to poetry became about fulfilling my own need to write in a way that worked for me and kind of re-learning how to do writing.