You Know What People Say

By James Galvin b. 1951 James Galvin
Sulky what-ifs.
Sulky what-ifs.
They bumblefuck the metastuff.
Diffidence their stock in trade.
Cozy hell — cozy, hell.
They make a mockery of irony.
They hold Special Olympics in wit.
What was Shakespeare’s blood pressure?
Vertical river, cloister of thunder,
Bleeds the ship’s fell sail.
God comes in for a landing. He lowers God’s landing gear.
He raises holy spoilers, lowers the sacred ailerons. He imagines
Tried everything in life?
Sulky what-ifs are dumbstruck. Drumsticks.
Their spiritual actuality is empirical.
What if uppity angels?
What if there really were rules?
What if those angels melted in the rain?
If reality is an illusion, wouldn’t it stand to reason
That illusions are real?
A lot of dumb questions.
Impingement of external objects or conditions upon the body
Palpitate apostasy.
The oppressed must free the oppressors to free themselves, see?
The soul is euphemism for the body.
What does willing mean? Do you sense my sense?
Am I fashionable?
Objective as an angel in the rain?
Screaming from a safe place?
Nine smocked doctors, three unmasked.
One has left his face sewn to the pillow.
One holds a lace fan like a hand of cards she studies,
Considering the risks.
She is the loveliest doctor.
Her doctor-father scolds her right there in front of all the other doctors.
They are aghast.
They kneel and don carnival hats with feathers.
I don’t think they are really doctors.
The trees are real. They are green kachinas.
Dark rooms of wind are installed in the house of barbarism.
The norm is always incorrect. If what?

James Galvin, “You Know What People Say” from Resurrection Update: Collected Poems 1975-1997. Copyright © 1997 by James Galvin. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press,

Source: Resurrection Update (Copper Canyon Press, 1997)

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Poet James Galvin b. 1951

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 James  Galvin


James Galvin is the author of several collections of poetry, including Resurrection Update: Collected Poems, 1975–1997 and X (2003); a novel, Fencing the Sky (1999); and The Meadow (1992), a prose meditation on the landscape of the Wyoming-Colorado border and the people who live there.

Galvin’s work is infused with the genuine realities of the western landscape, while at the same time not shirking difficult questions of faith, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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