Q&A [based on the poems in Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith]
Question: who understands the blessings of the body? The blind, dancing around with a fistful of ocean.
Swaying across the rocks as if they were open minefields? Or gassing about like runaway gods.
So those who are ageless are also honeyed and gnarled? In theory they are everything, the heat of all moments.
Like a conflagration of hours? Yes, marvelous and deathless.
With what fury do their footsteps burn? As if a whole country unfurls into the sea.
What will they find in that molten bedlam? A frenzy of galaxies smiling in the darkness.
Do they dare sink into that weightless universe? There is proof such surprises dwindle day by day.
Q&A [based on the poems in The City, Our City by Wayne Miller]
Question: who exists in the City? The whispered, the buoyant, the painted, the abandoned.
How will we remember such strangers? With gunbarrel superstitions and a tangle of abstractions.
Are they occupiers, like bullets wandering inside our walls? No, artists of a silent language, a dialect of fire.
Where can we find their scrawling words? In the neon of boulevards and the sparks of subways.
Their voices are the music of jittering light? Their voices are the City unraveling in the wind.
How can we preserve something so futureless? By being blessed with the same luminous damage.
What toast should we say to the fervorous newcomers? To art, to revolution, to beautiful alchemy.
Q&A [based on the poems in Fancy Beasts by Alex Lemon]
Question: how does interpreting dreams clean us of cruelty? We become fire, grinning and ready for more.
So we upflame headfirst like a sweet, holy shock? Yes, like brass knuckles punching zigzags through the air.
What stops our chainsawing climb into moonlight? Nothing but the horrible mouth of day.
Is it within us to love the feverish grip of night? The secret is jabbering hearts of tar, honey, and mercury.
And for the heart filled with extraordinary emptiness? Neuroses, or the grace of endless light and wind.
How do we finally welcome the milky-wayed midnight? Gnashing painkillers, drowning in an orchestra of bones.
Are we deserving of such an avalanche unfolding inside our bodies? Believe me, it doesn’t really fucking matter.
-- Dane Hamann works as an editor for a textbook publisher in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Northwestern University, where he currently serves as the poetry editor of TriQuarterly.