This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features two poems by Billy Cancel. Visit PEN America’s Soundcloud page to listen to audio recordings of “from paint hungry dogleg to day of judgment” and “from in the weeds my buzzer shot.”


      from paint hungry dogleg to day of judgment    
you’ll be in the midst     of your predecessor’s
debris    have to take your cue from     Beast
Master    happy as a high tide clam &    
can still go sewer mouth    when required 
to talk up the Big Gate        we debuted the apple
     blossom 2-step around bug house square     didn’t
know if it was brazil or christmas       spoke a language of
deconstruction    went bass awkward 1
minute tranquillo next       reverse lunch     tried to
sweeten the pot with      some total blow choice    
all fruits ripe & t’other sider raising hob       then   
the main stem broke that was    the thing right &
as i say it happened         would rather be a
     sharply rendered figure     technicolor
skeleton     yellow green nerve
strands     bright flashing
limb     active available upon
various platforms     than some blow
through dumb fragment


     from in the weeds my buzzer shot
is a fragment not        the full twisted scene
     which threatened to    befuddle & elicit
a state of unmanageable chaos     some
days      burrowing through
underbrush other     days shark
repellent     much time spent waving
a dead chicken at     nerd gate     it was the
big push the      big show     for albionised
public space     grey contours     flurries of
abstraction     were offered as payment         in sucker
      garden there’s no     days like those
am totally off the       hors d’oeuvre circuit     aided
by a daring girl reporter ‘til       we find
our special place on the east coast where
the ugly looks good no falling         stars to be
seen on a bright sunny eve     fine
by me as long as you can     drop us at 
rabbit dream pipe hole        where i intend to crank
       up     the phase in cockatrice     phase out pacman defense  



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).