Four Poems by Neal Kitterlin


Photo Credit: Laura Knapp

Photo Credit: Laura Grafham Knapp


Last night I dreamt
I was a rabbit, felt
the wheel spin, tape
stop, rewind, the music

playing again and again
then fading to alarm.

On Tuesdays I would go
to the video store, rent
movies for ninety-nine cents,
on Tuesdays even new releases
were ninety-nine cents,
I would hook my bulky
RCA camcorder, the one with
the picture of a dalmation,
to our top-load VCR and dub
all these films for later viewing.

We wouldn’t even watch
the entire movie but instead
scan through it on fast-forward
to find a naked glimpse of nipple —
horror films before the kill,
Apollonia purified in the lake —
would put the “BASS TAPE”
in the boom box and play
something loud so our parents
could not hear the heavy breaths,

and last night in my dream
I hopped through the grass

to VHS moans and the steady
persistence of sound — “PURPLE RAIN,                                                                                                                PURPLE RAIN!”




Like Tupac Shakur
before me I wake up

in the morning and I ask
myself is life worth living                                                                                                                                           should I

blast myself into outer space
become one with the Ark-

estra, set the controls
for bolt action solar flares                                                                                                                                            do I dare

to remember a short drive
in a small town on endless

repeat, a cassette labeled
“BASS TAPE” beasties blasting                                                                                                                                   ears hijacked

my little brother whines “too
loud” we laugh at him, but know

now the tape was terrible as
truth, unspooled to looping                                                                                                                                      beauty

with time – these memories
elude answers and conspiracy

we who have read too many comics
to accept death, why did we believe                                                                                                                      Biggie’s but not

Pac’s?  years and years later we sing
can we get much higher? I don’t know,

I don’t know, the tinny Olds speakers
shake the route swings back, back,                                                                                                                        flips the tape

even Superman died back then, re-
turned as a robot, lame mullet and all

we flew down hills, around curves, velocity
standing in for control, as if speed                                                                                                                            could freeze

moments and allow us to leave them in
the backseat of history, safely bagged

unopened with a black arm band, we
see no changes, but the words just                                                                                                                          hypnotize me



A fragile driveway hoop, shifting
demarcations and hanging rim,
shot developed to swish
the angle of a rusted chain net
because string decays faster in the rain.

A brother, a friend, a winding drive, a pick-up
game that never ends with Sir
Charles, MJ, and Mookie Blaylock,
did you know that’s what they called
themselves before they got big?

No one cares we do not play
grunge here but something more
thuggish ruggish at the crossroads
souls sold for a good jump
shot and a nice slam dunk on an eight

foot rim, something sad in the return,
the dribble picking up, nature drowned
by boombox “BASS TAPE” before the ball slams
into the pavement, the chalk drawn
free throw line, the awkward thump

of leather against plywood, the sense we will float and not come down



Take off your coat
for the bees, bring
meat into the parlor
arrange it gently (a shock                                                                                                                                                               a forehead a skin)

on the white sofa,
any pattern you like,
patter distinct from snow’s
soft betrayal, the subtle
failings of cold (of winter                                                                                                                                                           of ice curls of flake)

cuts to the bone,
runs blue through
market, the clear wrap
torn off and discarded
in array of bone.

Where is the tongue, love, where is the tongue?

It is a question
of tone rather than

words, the kind refuge
of comedy, a filtered (shorn off-                                                                                                                                                          white magisterial)

buzzing, my larval
days are over
cast in dancehall,
apropos apropos
of gorilla rainstorms (sweat sea-                                                                                                                                                         sons spring frantic),

somewhere a beast flits
through time enraged
ends here, a pulp of en-
gorged arrangements



Neal Kitterlin lives and writes in Matteson, Illinois.  He has published poems in PANK, Front Porch, Sundog Lit, HOUSEFIRE, and many other fine places. He has an e-chap of election poems, Decisions, out from Love Symbol Press, and can be found on twitter @NealKitterlin.


1 Comment

  • Reply March 31, 2014


    I. Love. These.

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