Eric Elshtain Poems



The Message is the Message



Christ, yes, my voodoo

organism crackles 3 ways fuels

that into formal glories turn.


Sin-dazzled aquamen span

an open ocean range sailors

take for waxworks of land


& gimcrackery cast out by He

who unseats sawdust Caesars.

For who slouches after our


social smoke, knocks up the skylark

but those hosts of lords?

& how safe is it to call sarx


a storm & not fire the closer

Truth gets to Her Mars

& its 8 angstroms of care?


Light will do our eyes

with the sex of Itself—

a half-tone skin-trick


looped into the pyx

fish- and loafless

until Athens fell:  Christ-


fallen, yes; obeah-man’s

Amen!  Seizure’s reason!

5 fates away from a new phylum!




The 8th Intention of St. Bangled-Banner



                                                “That’s the anthem—

                                                get your damn hands up!”





What-not, bee-boned devils

shake more than okay

& no amount’a wow-how’s

gonna get’cha outta this sing.


This here’s West Outer Space, girl,

where we keep liars up-wind

& stay-safe powers sugar-cane

gossips take for revelation


end-spooked & covered in love.

The devils juice this town

into great-scotts & minister

tricks which sermon us up


moons we pray “Live!” to.

It’s never up to you

what we warm into—

break this down:


Gotta low-down blow-smoke

engine 3 clicks from conclusion;

our nation goes when we don’t

keep the right speeches.  Check it.


When you’re outta that evil, It say,

I gotta’nuther evil for ya.



for Matthias and Amy







On Anything of Skin



I soak the twine in squids’ ink to design

a way into the wave the whale’s weave

then tie the flags & coil the line to times

I count from deck, black crest, black break, believe


the beach’s waves have grammar & intent

the way that catscans clarify the mind

& show the places colored with invent

it’s there she thinks of how our skins combine.


I’ve lined the ink-sacs up.  Black bullet flesh

of fish I rub to energize the twine

to conduct down what sinks, but what sinks less

than information, hands, the blue that’s mine:


the minimal amount of my content

that lends her end the sea, a sea, a men.






Choice Shapes Result



By time it takes to coil from bird to bird

mythic rites exile to sleep the spider;

lulled like itself, concealed, the ship returned

with cords of spice & thirteen coral dangers.


“We cannot verify what we believe”

“The Empress of the Splendid Eats Her Hair”

“A hundred lands have harbored theories”

You endows her human.  Lineland is there”


where porcelain is heaven China clutches—

its deepest purpose suddenly becomes—

at such-and-such begetting such a such.

What’s understood as “spider” asks to hum:


magic at one time, & then religions;

monopolize the snake, the worlds begin.








Eric Elshtain is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Chicago’s

Committee on the History of Culture. His poetry and reviews have appeared or

are forthcoming in GutCult, Near South, Ploughshares, Bathhouse, 1913:  A

Journal of Forms, Denver Quarterly, Salt Hill, Skanky Possum, Notre Dame

Review, New American Writing, McSweeney’s, Interim and other journals.  He is

also the poetry editor for the Chicago Review and editor of Beard of Bees Press.




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