Two Poems from The Future: Lauren Camp

Into Sleep I Sang the Destruction

Sleep crowned my childhood
with dreams ravenous to show me the magnified
underside of logic. When I changed into bed, the mind
rode on and unfolded. I deranged many actions
from my simple-nickeled life.
Everything I knew swooped
those dark mental corridors. And so I went
along for the tangle, the hinged
commandments and stretching murmur.
I hunted night. Sometimes rippled the silk of it.
Struck, I couldn’t lift dainty.
Barely woke, sheet-creased, and hated
breaking back to white morning hours.
Only when the sun swanned full on,
ate a first meal of my room,
could I prepare to rollerskate
into the world. Downstairs I chomped cereal, yelled
at my sad little sister. Already then I was
boisterous with small versions
of reckoning. The safe day ahead claimed its perfect
and boring compassions, but I was
meant for wrong spaces and whispering
rays. I wanted as much the violent pageant
as the aftereffect of such rash magic: the knockdown
exhaustion, the shadow-sap. I couldn’t wait
to sink back to the midst of that gap
and the distant light of its facts, what would never be
called reason.

Twenty-three Unsolvable Problems

We notice the omnivorous patterns,
the pathways and eddies carved under structures.
His endurance grows more each day.
Corridors cleave places we wanted intact.
We see the dirty motions and traces, the next feast
of our territory. Things keep being taken.
Simple objects at first,
then larger—what we need to function:
boots and tools. Night slides in
with its iron panes. When we wake,
the things we love (flowers, especially) have been
gnawed to small thatches. We rub another
cracker with nut butter and set the mechanism.
What can we do beyond this,
we keep asking, as we move into winter
with its prickly madness. The rodents have multiplied
and continue to stir up collapse.
Our garden depends on us
overlapping our vigil, wresting such power.
Growing a future takes a lot of attention
and this isn’t really a poem
about what the rats are devouring
unless you realize I am searching for angles
for my weary anger at this nation.
In my rural valley, a garden is possible
if I trap the cold hungers and swarthy motions.
When the last rat is done,
the articulated sky can again brighten. 

Lauren Camp is the author of five books, most recently Took House (Tupelo Press), which Publishers Weekly calls a “stirring, original collection.” Her poems have appeared in DIAGRAM, Kenyon Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Boston Review. Honors include the Dorset Prize and finalist citations for the Arab American Book Award, the Housatonic Book Award, and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. Her poems have been translated into Mandarin, Turkish, Spanish, and Arabic. laurencamp.com.

Image: dph.illinois.gov

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