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Cortney Lamar Charleston

Website
Years: 2015, 2016

Biography

Cortney Lamar Charleston is originally from South Holland, IL, a suburb of Chicago, and currently resides in Jersey City, NJ. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a BS in Economics from The Wharton School and a BA in Urban Studies from the College of Arts & Sciences. While at Penn, he served as president of its performance poetry collective, The Excelano ProjectHis poems have appeared in many publications, including Beloit Poetry Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Eleven Eleven, Fugue, Hayden's Ferry Review, The Iowa Review, The Journal, Pleiades, Rattle and Southern Humanities Review.

Poem

A BRIEF HISTORY OF POETRY

after Dan Albergotti

All day the boy sits behind the house with his dog; all day the dog sits with him. Well before then, the boy is dog himself: obedient, sharp-toothed thing. Sun-kissed boy. Too much kissed by sun, too much kissed early on. Forgets his sharp teeth. Forgets his animal, his beast, his chain of events that keeps him in the yard. Swoons to the song of chain in swish. Fetches after the orange ball like a good dog. Dog of sun. Dog of Jesus. Dog that kneels when told, genuflects on cue, that loves the sound of tambourines, of metals fracturing silence. He gets fed good meats. Plays with bones, or studies archaeology, as some may call it. Unearths. Devolves as he evolves. Hypothesizes he is mutt on his father’s side, probably of mixing by force. He is boy now, the smallness of men. Wants his own dog, no longer to be dog, wants to be man. Finally gets dog that he sits with behind the house, the house he gets moved from, made to mix by force of proximity. Finds himself having to kiss up because he is too sun-kissed to be down with the other boys. Doesn’t use the same words, or uses the same words differently. Can’t figure out if he is still barking or they are. All his old friends were his dogs, but he is boy now, so he thinks, not completely hip to his mouth re-learning the shape of certain words, why suddenly they interest him like the hind- quarters of a bitch, an instinct he should be beyond, may have accidentally taught himself, become dog again when his first dog died: when it had a stroke behind the house and he sat there with it until his father could cart it off to sleep. Published in Rattle, #46