Two poems from The Low Passions: Poems by Anders Carlson-Wee

Great Plains Food Bank and The Low Passions

The Low Passions - Poems book cover
  • The Low Passions - Poems book cover
  • Great Plains Food Bank

  • The wind is in the trees again, and I’m thinking it’s a wonder
  • the body can move. The way the mother at the Fargo food bank
  • fingers a can of concentrated juice. The way the line keeps
  • heaving forward. The way the child tugs the heavy skirt.
  • My job is to look for the elderly, help them load. Like the guy
  • who grew up in Oslo and is still trying to make it to Bergen.
  • It’s a straight shot on the train, he says, but you have to be
  • in Norway to catch it. I lift his meat and yogurt onto a cart.
  • I wait as he chooses nine of the least bruised carrots.
  • The trunk of his car has the smell of dried flowers, and his
  • baguettes fit lengthwise easily. But before I help him lower
  • himself into the driver’s seat, and before his hands pass over
  • one another, turning into the northbound traffic, he tells me
  • I’m young. Tells me it’s spring. Says I should be out of here,
  • heading for Bergen. I know he’s right. I know he’s
  • so goddamn right. I stand as still as I can as he leaves.
  • The Low Passions

  • The Lord came down because God wasn’t enough.
  • He lies on sodden cardboard behind bushes
  • in the churchyard. Wrapped in faded red. A sleeping bag
  • he found or traded for. Dark stains like clouds
  • before a downpour. The stone wall beside him rising,
  • always rising, the edges of stone going blunt
  • where the choirboy climbs. He opens his mouth,
  • but nothing goes in and nothing comes out.
  • Like the sideshow man who long ago lost
  • his right testicle to the crossbar of a Huffy.
  • He peddles the leftover pain. The stitches clipped
  • a week later by his father, the fiberglass bathtub
  • running with color, the puffy new scar,
  • the crooked look of the pitted half-sack.
  • He tells me you only need one nut, and I want
  • to believe him. I want to believe he can still
  • get it up. I want to believe he has daughters, sons,
  • a grandchild on the way, a wife at home
  • in a blue apron baking. But why this day-old bread
  • from the dumpster, this stash of hollow bottles
  • in the buckthorn, this wrinkled can of Pabst?
  • The Lord came down because God wasn’t enough.
  • Because the childless man draws the bathwater
  • and cries. Because the choirboy never sings
  • as he climbs. Because the bread has all molded
  • and the mouths are all open. Open to the clotting air.
  • Homeless, anything helps. Anything. Anything you can
  • spare. God bless you, God bless you, God bless. God,
  • Lord God, God God, good God, good Lord very good God

Anders Carlson-Wee

Anders Carlson-Wee

Reprinted from The Low Passions: Poems by Anders Carlson-Wee. Copyright (c) 2019 by Anders Carlson-Wee. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 

Anders Carlson-Wee is the author of the recently published The Low Passions (W.W. Norton, 2019). You can order his book and explore more of his work online at: www.anderscarlsonwee.com

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