The Sky Over Walgreens
By Chris Green
“Perhaps it was Bush I and II and Reagan the Great who turned some writers into zombies (‘I must have brains! despair! solipsism!’). But Chris Green isn’t one of them. He’s smart as anybody, but he also has a heart, and his poems range from comic blockbusters to the most delicate and moving delineations of our ties to and love of others. He’s terrific. For several years I’ve Xeroxed his poems for friends. What a pleasure to have many of them collected now in The Sky Over Walgreens.”
— Ed Ochester
The Sky Over Walgreens is a terrific book that explores being a human animal with just the right admixture of compassion, candor and wonder. Green is a super lucid poet: comic, clear eyed, and smart. He’s not afraid, in these poems, to be seen in the company of every kind of love, and to acknowledge love’s shadows. His poems make me laugh and cry (sorry about the cliché but it’s true!) but never in that manipulative way where one feels ashamed of one’s tears. Green is equally adept at dealing with humor and suffering. His spot on homages to other poets are some of the best I have read. There is nothing predetermined about these poems. They are excellent examples, rather, of “the art where each stroke is a sailor/arriving at port.” Whether he’s writing from the point of view of a dog (“If there is anger in me, it is squirrels. I’d like to take their trees and small funds of nuts and leave them with nothing but their precious acrobatics”) or revealing what Captain Ahab orders at Starbucks (“one last grande white chocolate mocha caffe Americano no foam latte”) or writing about “Fertility Woes” or juxtaposing his grandmother’s death with a shark documentary, Green has given us a fascinating variety of truly affecting, limber poems, all of them inventive and a joy to read.
Fertility Woes, So We Go to Breed in Hawaii’s Shallow Waters
…..A humpback emerges like an island, a husband and wife climb atop; each at the extremes of the backbone stand facing the other, he at tail’s end, she straddles the blow hole and says, I am standing on a beast that contains more seminal fluid than 10,000 men.
…..The husband says, let us go down now into our kayaks back to our room and do what it is that mammals do.
Look, says the wife, I am standing on top of a whale near the head, but it’s all head, and you are at the tip of the tail, but a whale is all tail.
…..The man asks the air, where is my daughter? Her hair must be caught somewhere. Something stops her growing from zero.
…..The whale sings its famous Ave Maria.
…..Ka-ule-u-Nanahoa or Phallic Rock, a six foot tall stone to sit or sleep on.
She sleeps curled up at the top, makes quick smiles as she dreams.
…In Hawaiian, sex is called “the floating world.” Conception is “clouds and rain.” The hammock’s belly suspends between two trees. The warm mango moon and magnetism release wave upon wave. Then her thermometer beeps a temporal change. The moon is gendering.
…..Whales do yoga in the morning to promote fertility; they exhale from their pelvic floor to the roof of their mouths. It’s called a blow. It makes them more open, less judgmental about suffering a sixteen foot two ton newborn.
…..O most fertile day; O Pergonal, Danocrine; grunt, click; O ovulation predictor kit.
The Most Beautiful Pigeon in the World
after Russell Edson
A man falls in love with a pigeon. He thinks it’s dramatically beautiful, even when it poops. He asks his wife if the pigeon can move in.
The pigeon looks at her sideways with its red Cycloptic eye. The wife says, “I will not have that eye in my house!” . . .
He insists the pigeon’s beauty sustains him; he even worries the pigeon’s dead when it’s merely asleep. The pigeon plays coy, leaves a single feather in every room. This affects him. He begins to yearn for a past he never had. He finds himself obsessed with her grey tail feathers, calls her his “little storm cloud.” He and the pigeon start a family: small-headed, short-legged, swift-flying. Things go bad. She becomes dull. He feels manipulated as if his pigeon were consciously trying to become the subject of a tragic poem, always pecking, always suspicious, hhhooo-hoooo-hoo-hoooo. He stops listening, makes pointed comments about her enormous white rump.
Then one day he fancies an ant. He likes the swing of its hips, not mechanical like other ants, but beautiful, like a good memory he never had . . .
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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 (www.litcity312.com), a comprehensive literary site for Chicago. And he teaches in the English Department at DePaul University.