The Coil
Published in

The Coil


Poem by Barrett Warner

I cut things down.
When things are down I cut them up.
After I cut them up I consider my options.

You can stack what you cut,
or you can carry it with you. Sometimes
when things are down I don’t cut them up.
I let them return to the forest.

Sometimes I don’t cut things down.
It’s happened three times already —
I drive into the woods and park
and sit and stare and think about Jeopardy.

Once after loading the truck I fainted,
knocked my head on metal parts.
This is hard work, cutting things down.
The man I work for wants to buy me a chipper,
and a machine that grinds stumps and roots.

I’m unsure. More options.
Too many gas lines to choke.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the shape
of televisions and not the actual programs.

The 2017 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry

We are pleased to announce this poem as a finalist for the 2017 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry, honoring the independent press’ best poems and hybrid works of the year. The winners are selected by an external panel that judges all pieces blind and chooses the full list of 12 finalists from hundreds of entries. Alternating Current does not determine the final outcome for the judging; the external judges’ decisions are final.

Barrett Warner is the author of the poetry collections, Why Is It so Hard to Kill You?(Somondoco, 2016) and My Friend Ken Harvey (Publishing Genius, 2014). He recently returned from a 25-year break from fiction, and new stories have appeared in Salamander, Gargoyle, Yemassee, The Adroit, and Quarter after Eight. Other awards include the Cloudbank, Liam Rector, and Princemere Poetry Prizes, the Salamander Fiction Prize, and the Tucson Book Festival Essay Prize for his memoir, My Thousand-Year-Old Disease. Last year, he received an Individual Artist grant from the Maryland Arts Council, which he used to finance his move to South Carolina to get away from everything. In April, he made his stage debut as the burglar Selsdon Mowbray in a revival of Noises Off at the Aiken Community Playhouse. Long on street and country, Warner supplemented skills acquired in the 1980s from off-road journalism, where his beats included NASCAR and horse racing, with an MFA from a small college in North Bennington, Vermont. This poem was previously published in Why Is It so Hard to Kill You?



Literature to change your lightbulb.

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The Coil

The Coil

Managing Editor & Associate Editors for The Coil from @AltCurrent: Fiction, poetry, interviews, reviews, lit commentary, essays.