Categories Poet

Epiphany School

By Chris Green

” Green’s language is unhurried, epistolary, his impulse the guy’s next to us at the Cubs’ game who snaps our picture when a foul ball lands in our lap or knocks us unconscious. Either way, he’s got our back. ”
— Maureen Seaton

“Chris Green’s Epiphany School is a joy to read. His clear-cut honesty embraces his subject matter with reckless abandon. The poems range from gut-wrenching to heart-breaking, but, throughout the book, a sense of humor prevails. Each turn of thought and phrase arrives unexpectedly with a poignancy that touches on the revelatory.”

— Elise Paschen

Selected Poems

In the Locker Room, I Introduce Myself to a Naked Mickey Rourke

To meet him is
to imagine huge
pleasuring mixed

with rockbottomness.
The doomed tough—but
with nose and eye job,

new cheek bones &
teeth. Only his penis looked real.
A penis never lies,

his looked tired
& mean, like a dog’s face,
my dog, Otis.

Earlier in the gym, I’d
met his girlfriend, a super-
model. She said, Hi

My name is Carrie Otis
I said, Otis,

that’s my dog’s name!
Then our conversation was over.
I’ve since read that

Mickey often beat her,
bad. If you were to ask him
why, his teeth

would begin to shine.
He’d say something sinuous
and whispery

that slips
into the ear.
He wears

worries thick, a hand
his hair.

And a crooked look
(like his penis),
a sweet snarl.
He has a star-ness.

Bachelorhood Ideogram

(Utah, 1989)

Eleven Special Olympians, all grown men,
spending the night in my cramped apartment.
(I’d told the organizer I could take a few kids,
but this was who was left.)
Silence, until someone says,
“You will never get this away from me.” He’s clutching
a photograph of my mother on her wedding day.
Then a man as old as my father announces the meanings
of our names: Harvey, burning for battle;
Hector, holds fast; Kurt, courageous advice; Lyle, the island;
Ralph, wolf-counsel. My name, he says—
Carrier of Christ.

Ralph announces he is dying.
Kurt kisses the palm of my hand. Lyle begins slapping
his head as if quarreling with the inside of his mind.
Harvey is drinking my wine and grinning.

I call my ex-girlfriend.
When she arrives, they hug her and stroke her hair
as if she were the mother-wife-sister
we’d been waiting for. Her visitation makes everyone’s
afflictions less alarming, there is a warming,
and as if through the same innate knowing
that helps birds flock to feel safe,
all of the men at the same time remove their shoes.

We watch Cinderella, twice. Everyone eats Wheaties.
We help them unroll their sleeping bags. Then,
eleven naked men-children cue up for the shower.
Locked in my bedroom, lying awake, we can hear
someone put on Sinatra,
his voice the sound of moon over sea.
Unexpectedly, we make love,
and the way she looks at me
with her nakedness, as if her body were a shore
and my guilt a clouding over.
Soon, Simon becomes confused, sleep-walks to the stereo,
lifts the lid and pees on Sinatra’s moonlit ocean.

At breakfast, since it’s the Olympics, my ex asks me
to say something for inspiration. As the men crowd in,
looking at me, I kiss her.
It was pointless, a reason to run with no purpose.
“Kiss her more,” someone says.
I do, and they chant “More! More!” I half-expect
them to rush us. “Christ!” they start to chant, “Christ! Christ! Christ!”
We’re kissing, and Hector is holding
the photo of my mother. Now everyone is singing,
“You Are My Sunshine,” and I don’t know what to do.  

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About the Author

Chris Green is the author of three books of poetry: The Sky Over Walgreens, Epiphany School, and the forthcoming Résumé. His poetry has appeared in such publications as Poetry, New York Times, New Letters, Verse, Nimrod, and Black Clock.He’s edited four anthologies, including Brute Neighbors: Urban Nature Poetry, Prose & Photography, the forthcoming I Remember: A Poem by Chicago Veterans of War and the forthcoming Independent Voices: A Small Press Sampler. He co-founded LitCity (, a comprehensive literary site for Chicago. And he teaches in the English Department at DePaul University.

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