Episode 51: Hello Neighbor
Present at the Editorial Table:
Kathleen Volk Miller
On this week’s episode of the Slush Pile, we review two poems by author Daniel Biegelson labeled “Neighbors II” and “Neighbors III”. Kathleen and the gang welcome Pulitzer Prize winner Gregory Pardlo to the editorial table for this very exciting iteration of the podcast, an episode we might call “Battle of the Brains” or “The Pajama Game.” Everyone was excited to delve into the works Daniel Biegelson provided for us and were quite delighted to find that they offered intriguing conversation. The group couldn’t help but find themselves discussing the ultimate neighbor, Mr. Rogers himself.
Daniel Biegelson is the author of the chapbook Only the Borrowed Light (VERSE) and Director of the Visiting Writers Series at Northwest Missouri State University. An Associate Editor for The Laurel Review, his poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Cream City Review, Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, FIELD, Meridian, Salt Hill Journal, & Third Coast, among other places. He hails from New Jersey—a fact that means more to him than it probably should.
Have patience as Kathleen has to read the first poem twice (guess what, she really didn’t mind and we don’t think you will either!). Jason gets all muscly about associative sense, Greg learns about discretion and teaches us about social commentary, and Tim couldn’t help but bring up dog waste.
Replace Glass Heart with Scalpel. Call for rain. Glisten. Close up. Magnify a leaf until the drop brims with color. Replace leaf with wind. Every June we lose limbs to straight line winds—elm, maple, oak, ash, etc., etc. They come knocking at night. Redact redundancy. Extinguish the list. Insert space. Remove the catalog. Remove, stack, and mulch the dead wood. Map my internal geography. I am a bowl of cold plums. I am a body of words in uproar and otherwise. Replace words with birds. Fill a tree. Take your pick. Redact free will. Replace map with mine. Relieve the workers. Every day we leave labor(s) behind. Exchange labor(s) with neighbor(s).The dark soil laced with slim roots swells and subsides beneath us. As the tide. Breathing. Who are you. Extinguish the implicit. We are the answer. Some of us are no longer breathing. I am used to defending the singularity of our experiences, but grow concerned about reducing the dead to their individuality. Redact redeem. We linger longer in blue light. We are not what we say or do.
Replace dog with brother. Take walks on burnt grass and return under treeless sky. Exchange directives for best practices. Practice your run along the fence line. Monarchs carry on along the highways lined with causal wildflowers. Extinguish your sense of silence. You let your dog shit in my yard. The ocean levels rise. Mortgage rates rise. Don’t pretend to love one another. Turn your predatory beak. Redact the brackish ocean. Turn it black and red. Exchange ocean for consumption. Predatory lending of labor. Be still. We are the colony of bees in collapse and also the tractor trailer stocked with hives and the long driver on the CB radio and the farmers waiting for pollinators. See the red dust clouds rolling. See the black clouds closing. A tongue over a top lip. Bite hard and rain. Extinguish the dog barking. Redact the self. Exchange dog for children. Barking for howling. There is a wall beyond which our labor persists without us and we don’t dare to look. Replace words with words. Yours or mine. We don’t act upon what we see. Redact the sea. We are the murmurations leafing out over the highway. Pouring over the sky. We suffer decentered as we imagine stone. Human again. We don’t know each other at all.