This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features a poem by Eric Amling.


Cruise Control

There are epiphanies. Posts of stern nonfictions. There arise in us strong love affairs with feedback. The id a remarkable botulism. And what about shuttered domestic spirits. A proclivity for baskets of stone-colored kittens. Rooms ticking with taxidermy. That kinetic afterglow of firebombed galleries. Of demolition derbies. Acne-colored smoke from the manifolds. Drivers asked to remain engulfed until it’s safe to exit.

It was all crash and burn. Very gestapo. Very doomsday guru. It was more a moving than a shaking. Life a wispy thing at times amplified by good hair days. Encoded in us an aesthetic mostly fueled by serotonin stabilizers that wax and wane. A cold call euphoria. A twisted ladder of DNA. Inherited genetic makeups. Our midriffs like westerlies-torn awning.

To live along the LaGuardia flight path. To enjoy eating gorditas while driving through Punxsutawney. In a murdery city on a sabbatical from bullshit. A weary keychain. Between chin and nose a tombstone of tongue.

Here is satellite view of countries that look like prize fighter ears. The showy plaza of a blood cell. Guano on historic rubble. The buttery palate of the salt flats. Here is war footage of lime green blood splatter through night vision goggles. Black silhouette black silhouette black silhouette. Viral loopholes.

As if you can take a sadness and moisturize it. Unveil a permanent replacement. Feel an estrangement like a ventriloquist’s hand in the dressing room after an intense set. Heartless. All that negative space between our lips and nipples. These are the weapons we use. We are shown certain grips and signs. Hands on hard bodies. Flashes of cold chrome. Checkered flags. A world in cruise control. Peaks and valleys. Puddles of Freon. Fuzzy dice.



Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the PEN Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they are published (no spam, no news, just poems).