Keepers (3)

By: Steph Burt
July 22, 2016

One in a series republishing 10 poems — about everyday objects and pop culture avatars — by HiLobrow friend and contributor Steph Burt.

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PLAY-DOH

I thought I could be anything.
Like other Americans, I cling
to a sense of myself as always ready
      to learn.

I, too, began as the byproduct and glory
of an industrial process, and can turn,
by hand or through an inventory

of hand tools, into candles that do not
      burn,
big heads or faceless figures that tell
      no story,
propellers that cannot spin,

a sewing machine that will never make a
      bedsheet or a skirt,
a tank, a blobby armored personnel carrier,
      or a cannonball machine
from an undeclared war where nobody got
      hurt.

I also come in fertilizer green
and emergency-services orange. You can
      pull me apart
or slice me into discs like nothing in nature,

dead ringers for a miniature gong
inaudible even to my invisible maker.
I can do nothing by myself, and therefore
      nothing wrong.

Only half of me is play.
When I stay in one shape for too long
my friends say I’m done, and then
      grownups can throw me away.

***

ALL POSTS IN THIS SERIES

STEPH BURT at HILOBROW: KEEPERS (10 poems) | GENO (EPIC WINS series) | NO KILL I (KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM series) | ENTANGLEMENT (HERMENAUTIC TAROT series) | HAPPY BIRTHDAY (QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM series).

CURATED SERIES at HILOBROW: UNFLOWN by Jacob Covey | ADEQUATED by Franklin Bruno | QUALITY JOE by Joe Alterio | CHICKEN LIT by Lisa Jane Persky | PINAKOTHEK by Luc Sante | ALL MY STARS by Joanne McNeil | BIGFOOT ISLAND by Michael Lewy | NOT OF THIS EARTH by Michael Lewy | ANIMAL MAGNETISM by Colin Dickey | KEEPERS by Steph Burt | AMERICA OBSCURA by Andrew Hultkrans | HEATHCLIFF, FOR WHY? by Brandi Brown | DAILY DRUMPF by Rick Pinchera | BEDROOM AIRPORT by “Parson Edwards” | INTO THE VOID by Charlie Jane Anders | WE REABSORB & ENLIVEN by Matthew Battles | BRAINIAC by Joshua Glenn | COMICALLY VINTAGE by Comically Vintage | BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh | WINDS OF MAGIC by James Parker | MUSEUM OF FEMORIBILIA by Lynn Peril | ROBOTS + MONSTERS by Joe Alterio | MONSTOBER by Rick Pinchera | POP WITH A SHOTGUN by Devin McKinney | FEEDBACK by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FTW by John Hilgart | ANNOTATED GIF by Kerry Callen | FANCHILD by Adam McGovern | BOOKFUTURISM by James Bridle | NOMADBROW by Erik Davis | SCREEN TIME by Jacob Mikanowski | FALSE MACHINE by Patrick Stuart | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE by Significant Objects | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE by Significant Objects | H IS FOR HOBO by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FRIDAY by guest curators

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