July 29, 2016
One in a series republishing 10 poems — about everyday objects and pop culture avatars — by HiLobrow friend and contributor Steph Burt.
I have no say
over who or what turns me on,
only the power to make things clear as day,
or, at least, as a truculent dawn.
Once a girl brought me to a rave;
I was dizzy, then giddy, then woke up near
dead on a lawn.
When I look back to my origins, I crave
that chastity, that darkness, but not yet.
I also scare skunks off and represent ways
to look brave.
I can render the same silhouette
gargantuan or gaunt,
or shake and make it dance a minuet;
it’s you who choose what I appear to flaunt.
When all the people around me are fully
of whatever’s in front
of their faces, where all their
and how to find loose change they think
I sleep in my drawer;
I prove I am worth the $1.50 I cost
when the power goes out, and at parties
with nothing else
that can distract a preschool guest
or coax shy grownups from their shells.
I might be the first thing a kid ever put
I do just what my battery compels.
Unlike my big brother
the limelight and my cousin the campfire,
I prefer inconsequence:
though famous in culverts and attics,
I would rather
play no role in public events.
I have never — can never — run wild.
Obtuse, hollow-bodied, confined to the
I’ll be your lightsaber if you are a child,
though first and last I do no harm.
In bad dreams I see miles
of lignite on fire; in my best I keep
Sunlight to me is just something I get shut
Having resigned myself to my fixed form,
I was surprised to escape the cardboard
of the charity shop that sold me.
Though none of my parts can soften,
the humid summer air can still corrode me.
Pick me up; test me every so often.
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: NEVER BEGIN TO SING by Damon Krukowski | WTC WTF by Douglas Wolk | COOLING OFF THE COMMOTION by Chenjerai Kumanyika | THAT’S GREAT MARVEL by Douglas Wolk | LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE by Chris Spurgeon | IMAGINARY FRIENDS by Alexandra Molotkow | 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 | UNBORED MANIFESTO by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen | H IS FOR HOBO by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FRIDAY by guest curators