Jalen Eutsey

I wake with the children

And their oversized dogs.

The landscape is the French braid

And urban sprawl.

Semiotics is the prevailing religion.

You must tip your baker now.

Ennui is a zip code,

But the gardens are spreading.

The dogs overrun the aisles

Taste-testing the tomatoes and bell peppers.

They know something we don’t

About gut health and nuclear waste.

Yes, this is a catalogue

Of dispatches from the deep.

This is a postmodern novel.

I’m a man at sea.

I’m suffering myself to love you,

Isn’t that brave.

What surprised you about the composition of this poem?

I was surprised by the end-stopped couplets. Couplets are a comfortable stanza for me, but the way these operate is atypical. I often prioritize speed and propulsion. The end-stopped couplets seem to work against this instinct. Despite the pauses, I believe the poem accrues momentum as it moves down the page, hopefully running the reader headlong into the final couplet. I was also surprised by the voice of the opening lines. It was different from the voice in anything else I was writing at the time; from the first to the final draft the opening couplet never changed.

Jalen Eutsey is a 2022-2024 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. His poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2022, Nashville Review, Poetry Northwest, Harpur Palate, and The Hopkins Review.
Originally published:
May 22, 2024


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