Poem of the Week: “Ein Künstlerroman,” by Alan Michael Parker

City Apartments

With an eye toward summer break, we leave you with our final poem of the week selection for 2015-16.


Ein Künstlerroman


When I was young, I lived for a summer


in an apartment with five other graduate students in a city called Here

We Go,


and we had no shower, no dishwasher, no modesty, no will power, no

iron, no mop, no broom, no elevator, no view, no rigorous thinking, poor

sense, hot water at 2 p.m. for half an hour, certitude, and a cat named

Joseph Cornell,


and bad booze, and some sex, but not as much as everyone else seemed

to be having.


and we had a dryer and a refrigerator standing next to one another in a

room that our landlord called a kitchen.


We got high on myth: we were the myth.


We put the milk in the dryer and made a carton of cartoon clouds.


We put Rebecca’s wet green sweater in the freezer, and the next day the

sweater looked like a land mass, a vast tundra with two peninsulas upon

which caribou might gather. Or reindeer—who could guess what snorted

and munched in that frozen room all night, so dreamed.


And I read Kant, and I was tumbled.


That was the summer that hell was as hot as a dryer in hell.


What could we know? Our exuberance compensated for our panic; and

our fussiness was prophetic; we were acolytes, apprenticed to indifference

and appearance; and our lives were designed for use, for cold storage, for

the new machines that made music of memories; and we only vaguely

noted the associative properties of capital; and we lived with books as

icons, with services and without goods; and our doubt resounded in the

hollows of our style; and we believed in ideas as currency.


That was the summer I met me.


I put my soul in the dryer, and out came a poem.


I put my poem in the refrigerator, and out came a life.


~ Alan Michael Parker


Published by cpoetrymsu

The Center for Poetry opened in the fall of 2007 to encourage the reading, writing, and discussion of poetry and to create an awareness of the place and power of poetry in our everyday lives. We think about this in a number of ways, including through readings, shows, community outreach, and workshops. We are at work building a poetry community at MSU and in the greater Lansing area. Contact: cpoetry@msu.edu (517) 884-1932 http://www.poetry.rcah.msu.edu

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