On Richard Garcia:
Richard Garcia won the 2016 Press 53 award for his book, Porridge, which was published in March of 2016. His book, The Other Odyssey, from Dream Horse Press, won the American Poetry Journal Book Award for 2014, and The Chair, from BOA, published in 2015, was chosen as the best poetry book of 2015 by the editor of Poetry Magazine in an article that appeared in Lit Hub. His poems have been in many journals, including The Georgia Review and Poetry, and in anthologies such as The Pushcart Prize and Best American Poetry. He lives in Charleston, S.C. He is on the staff of the Antioch Low Residency MFA in Los Angeles. Garcia is also our poetry judge for this year’s Arts & Letters Prizes.
Capriccio of the Imaginary Prison
The faded remains of ancient advertising —
captives on parade in native costume.
Now the whangam, that imaginary animal
led by Wharfinger, keeper of the wharf.
And you, my puce, sitting between the paws
of the mechanical lion, his brittle heart of glass.
The regiments of holiday shoppers,
in formations two-by-two, are borne
along the sliding pavements between displays
into the Pavilion of the Encrusted Compass.
O hub of panopticon, each moment on display,
from the central monitor there is no escape.
This is all accomplished, even the symphonic
wrecking of the antique locomotive, in silence.
I have misplaced my whipcat and whinstone.
I try to recall something that I know.
A westing is a space of distance westward.
Wheep: the sound of steel drawn from a sheath.
What was the name of the Babylonian sidekick
of Sir Thomas More’s lead warren?
Time for the steam-driven, slow reckoning,
for the chains and block and tackle dangling
from the eternally unfinished dome, the chrome-
plated waterfall and the ascension
into the arcades, the arcades and their broken promises.
Source: Poetry (March 2017)
Now, when they remember it, they think that perhaps they had heard the approach of the sublime—like a distant hum of huge machinery, long before it arrived. As it drew closer there was no mistaking it as hundreds of swaths of trees in the forest across the valley lay down in supplication. Some of the survivors describe it as an approaching shadow. Some say it became midnight in the afternoon, and they saw constellations they had never seen before or since. Others say it was a conflagration, the air was on fire, houses and trees exploding before the flames even touched them. Some say the sublime was ice, or even just a deep silence. They only thing survivors agree on is that they could not take their eyes off of it. If there had been music, and some say there was, it would have been The Ride of the Valkyries. And they stood there, their weapons like toys dangling from their hands, staring up at the advancing sublime. Shit, they said, and fuck, and God, they said, my God.