Poetry: Chas Hoppe & Joshua Young’s “[placeholder]”

Chas Hoppe
& Joshua Young


[1] [2]




he was a film extra for about a month,
driving his Jeep around down by the viaduct
until about six in the morning each day.

you ever tried to freeze-frame a vhs?

she hid his parents in the gift-shop bathroom
and rented a karaoke machine for his birthday.[4]

do the memories expire with the lease,
or can we stack them in boxes in the garage?


how many times
have you been too late to the scene
to capture the moment?


the call for free bird is obligatory now,[5]
a call given more to cliché
than out of an actual need to hear the song,[6]
but there’s something we still like
about going through the motions.


somewhere a kid practiced all day to impress you,[7]
drank red wine because someone told him
it was good for his voice, struggled to keep fresh strings
in tune just to tumble through a couple songs
that he thought somehow approximated the truth.[8]


think about how many times this happens every day,
the lyrics sheets folded in back pockets
and forgotten before the kids even hit the stage.


it’s not that we should be afraid to dream,
just that we should wonder
why all our dreams look the same.


follow the surface of things[9]

it’s easy from editing rooms[10]

it’s easy when they’ve constructed space—

wide, shot-reverse-shot.

sew us into the pov—


what would happen if we plucked the sutures and held

for minutes, letting the silences rupture

the polish added in post[11]? what would happen if the camera

knocked against the table? what would happen if we

became aware of a presence just behind the lens, manipulating?


you, dude, had marquees waiting

for those plastic letters

spelling your name, but years

on the road cut into you good,

kept you homebound.[12]


did someone let the dying in?


we call him a freak,[13] even though we love the way he dresses.[14]


ahead of us, the taillights went out.

only dust and scattering light.

those mother-fucking prizefighters never lost their punch,

like to prove this in bar-light,

when the booze dug in.[15]

galleries won’t hang the hometown heroes or their photos.

in vacants we found each other’s bodies

in vacants we put up with the teeth

it’s the coming-out that tells the tale.[16]


that pale gossip of adolescence scuttles [17]

blacktops and circles the tether,

jigging its way into the mouths of hallways.

Chas Hoppe’s recent and forthcoming publications include Salt Hill, Spork Press, TAB, Oyez Review, and A River & Sound Review. His debut collection, The Diegesis, a collaboration with the crazy-prolific Joshua Young, was released via Gold Wake Press in 2013. He earned his MA in Poetry from Western Washington University, where he served as Managing Editor for the Bellingham Review. He was formerly a poetry editor for Heavy Feather Review.

Joshua Young is the author of four collections, most recently, THE HOLY GHOST PEOPLE (Plays Inverse Press, 2014) and the chapbook Sedro-Woolley Days: A Damien Jurado Mixtape (Midnight City, 2015). He is Editor-in-Chief at The Lettered Streets Press and works at The University of Chicago. He lives in the Albany Park neighborhood with two humans.

Photo credit: Rcastillon, morguefile.com

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[1] the answer lies in this video i found on the internet!

[2] here is the only place where i can be myself. that’s the only reason for the first footnote.

[3] we can’t say anything new about acceptance speeches, so let’s just play them off. the only people offended would be the placeholder’s union, but no one ever pays them any attention.

[4]  i tried singing Man on the Moon, which i didn’t know at all.

[5] fucking Skynyrd. everyone and their fucking Skynyrd stories. supposedly my mother hung out backstage with them in the 70s and didn’t smoke any of their drugs, and i have a friend whose friend lived next to him in Wyoming, and they would jam together. i’m not impressed. and every time i hear the song i think of Tom Hanks.

[6] jukeboxes always go there. can you hear the groans emanating from every table?

[7] the easy ones: Green Day, Everclear, Nirvana, Third Eye Blind, Eagle Eye Cherry.

[8] the good songs, yeah, they mean something, but they no longer tether to your teenage angst, whatever that was supposed to be.

[9] every time she started to cry i just looked at the water gathering around the glass. i had to hide how good i felt about myself.

[10] images usually only last for two-to-four second bursts you know, to keep us from getting bored. lately we’ve done a lot of work with handhelds, though. i’m sick of pretending the world isn’t always in motion.

[11] no, i don’t care how much you spent. how much did you lose?

[12] look, the impulse was unfamiliar. we’re not used to seeing these things subjectively.

[13] i took a multiple choice test yesterday that asked me what a stock character was, but you weren’t an option.

[14] a woman wanted for stealing a Styrofoam banana from a Wisconsin gas station while wearing a gorilla suit will not be charged.

[15] there’s innocence even in this, just let it trigger a memory.

[16] i like the word point because everything leads up to it.

[17] fuck i drank too much coffee at The Shoe again.