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Poet's Sampler: Sam Truitt

Sam Truitt's poems have a don't-stop-me-now-I'm-almost-there urgency to them. He has always been disposed to the book-length rather than the page-length poem. He has no patience for the voice's removal from the scene—the language he seems destined to sing holds too much hubris, speed, and childlike wonder to hold back. Instead, cunning formal maneuverings provide the distance and displacement needed to rattle the teeth of syntax and alter the current beat. As a reader, one gets caught up in the frenzy. There is the pleasure of verbal abandon and the reassurance of visual control. There is the perpetually keyed-up anticipation of anything-could-happen-here. Anamorphosis Eisenhower (1998), Truitt's first book, is a "world-horde" of action and speculation. His wall of sound and saturation of detail are made the more brilliant by their pattern. In his new manuscript of extended poems, Truitt proves to be a truly inventive architect of his astonishing utterance. Every movement embraces every moment. Ideas proliferate at the slightest summons. And one form is adroitly acted upon by the next. This is a poetry stash worth raiding.

—C. D. Wright




from The Song of Rasputin, Part 1

On hot days I imposed a fast on myself & worked with laborers.
I thought of our Savior who also liked to walk near streams.
Sure we were attacked by wolves, the chief among these being Philosophizing,
but they did no harm. The cigarettes smoldered in the ashtrays long after the saxophone had been put away
& the wax paper refolded to be inserted into the silence with the closets of the shoes of the princesses

Did you know that soon I will die in terrible pain?
What can I do? There's going to be a revolution & we are all going to hang.
Who cares from which lamp-post?
But what can we do when not even the priests are married
& everyone is indifferent, lonely or confused.
Ergo the intrigues, the reach after honors, the jostling for position, red tape, crosswinds.
All to the detriment of the real work at hand passing out gasmasks to the masses rising to the surface of the oil slick.
Like something that upside down you swallowed but noticed only as you did so
suppressing thought in that elastic space between where your eyes close & you open them again
you are still reading still clinging to the edge of the bar like a raft
and that to slam the book shut will not cut the dream off but
the reading was what you brought to the book, worms the corpses house.
That that entire passage was a belch of nostalgia, a sphere in which you saw yourself
for a moment arc, a stain on the fragile membrane which
to hold intact you must stop clouding the mirror so hard.
Or try to make "no" not sound like a snap judgment.
I, like you, was not always loved. Structural drift.

Less things fall from the sky than you would suspect

Never receive the Mark of the Beast. The Mark will be a bar code & the number will be 666.
The cashless society soon will come into effect!

Within their environment the workers in their worker lives let fly with a grace that is abandon that is
A's bones are lying with those of her grandfather like an idea shaped like a door which
we must unlatch & push to get to the core of.
There are no words in the wall of the children's lettered building blocks.

Where the chest should be there's a bulging mass of roses.

When you lean over to sniff them your face appears in the screen.


from Raton Rex, Part I

An island is an "o" with
a slash across it in Danish
but an island nevertheless
to ride in a cab on a crooked
beam of it with 3 women
in the back seat me with
driver in front watching
out the windshield the rows
of houses & buildings
to Wooster Street in SoHo
you begin to feel life
though still curiously not
alive per se the way you
would if you were a tree
I wish that I could speak
of some agony observing
the decapitation. Fiery streams
batter the fuselage. I watch
ants that have found a way
in through a seam in
the window frame one by
one emerge following the
corner of the wall to climb
on my letters. I don't know how
to say this except to say
there is a cockroach living in
my computer. A woman sat
beside me & I observed
her cleavage. Drops of blood.
Wipe the back of my hand
across my mouth. I taste
leaves. I feel funny. My
back hurts. My head is
still attached to it. I want
air, space, a column
sunshine, laughter & this
is no joke when you see
how much what we do
costs in terms of money
which are calories which are
units of heat first in light
of the sun which is God's
money converted into

potential a candle's glow
which you can't have with-
out the thought of its being
snuffed plunged into
darkness. Darkness
is a privilege which is what
you find at a city's center
or edge if you can find
it like in Connemara
but to speak of the hard
flat-devoured plains is
difficult as it is to find
the heart also in the city
I mean where I mean
where do we place the bomb
if it were one that
when it explodes would
become the shards of
life as we know it here
on this uncharted desert
island in the sense of
which is the epitome
of city life to feel one is
Caruso cruising the canyons
ferreting out from niches
bits of useful fauna
& scaring up ground animals
or snaring birds handing
money your life in
your hands over to
clerks behind glassed-in
partitions who are the
tutelary spirits of this
island, benign kind exacting
intermediaries of our
conditional survival
propitiations to whom
are necessary to get
choice beef slices

Slowly it has come to pass
that the sky is an irregular column
of truth through which
whiz insects, zephyrs
distinct impressions
the Rorschach of which
are seen in the clouds
which curiously I don't
spend much time reading
anymore having come
into closer communion
with antipodes luminous
& vast as are these senses
portals of taste of touch of
lying beside my brown-
skinned woman in the
morning as the day
hard at first & green
ripens into a perfected
sphere on the surface of
which may be discerned
in order the punchlist
timetable the invoice &
ladling order possessed of
which humanity has come
to be inside & out
washed out. Namely
I don't know when life ceased
to touch me & came
instead to cut right through
this chasm that I span
in me this circle
of effects that defines
a center a hole through
which I consume what
defines & holds in place
Sam a state of hands



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