Michael Theune & Chip Corwin

Collaborating on these poems was a lot of fun, and collaboration continues to be a great experience as we work on new projects.

Our approach to collaboration is more like brainstorming. We get together with an idea of a poem in mind, and then we spitball lines back and forth, keeping the ones we both like the most (i.e., the ones that make us laugh the hardest). Our process encourages our respective minds to work together and riff off one another. “666” and “A Few Donuts” are both a result of this process.






    —for Tony Robbins, and Michael

Waylon, spoon me up some distillate!
What vocations play out for us:
A low-bid forcefield, or corporation’s diplomacy?
Particulates, signs of vacancy, repercussions, windtunnels,
The sell-outs fingering some last dials.
A Disengaged Placenta—good blog title.

Forms of language move obscure histories,
Hedge-funders cutting their teeth on plastic,
Breaking wind in the in-laws’ bombshelter.
In one fell swoop, Neverland crumbled.
Oh, lassitude!—the ring’s dead stare.
Two bodies arched, one body watching.

Quality time: suckling the extraterrestrial fleshbot.
Slather me in productivity and proverbs:
Free the prisoners!  Eat the dead!
Envious of such heartless clarity, etcetera.
Unutterly stoned on fields of wildflowers—
Wedgies, not self-help!  Swirlies, not guillotines!

—ancient gurus sipped their Xanex-flavored tea.
You’re supposed to pet bad cancer.
Her fingers sticky around the taxidermy.
Turku, Lapland, earmuffs, monk in monkey…
This will be on the quiz, slumdog!
Here we go, up scansion’s skilift,

Reading the entrails of that accident,
Mozart gingerly dismantling a cherry bomb:
Badminton, bad Amish, trouser pocket, longship,
The clues still moist and impressionable…
Lyric poetry’s empty thermos of dew…
The pleasures and pressures of withholding…

Don’t fuck with the Masons, Bernadette!
Beyond mountains: mountains.  And beyond those
The Beast, grasping, releasing his stressball,
Sniffing the skidmarks of late capitalism,
Liverspotted, bestride his mattress of solitude.
Rub my bald head—no; yes.


A Few Donuts (Or, You Must Try the Honeybun)

    ...even if it is someone else’s contemplation, [it] may be worth consideration.
        —Ezra Pound, from A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste

Always steer clear of a disjunctive field,
But do not succumb to the dark ballade.

You must always be hypnotized by the funk,
But never lick the ornaments at daybreak.

Feel free to frolic in a nineteenth-century dreamscape,
But hold archaic terrors tightly in your scrotum.

Pile on your web presence, certainly,
But admit your transfixiation by Jack Van Impe.

Strive to keep your body toned with quivering,
But never fail to admire the perfect circle of the pulley of intention.

Do not be corrupted,
But be corrupt.

It’s fine to think the “peculiar image of man” is a pleasant figuration,
But do not ignore the body inside you.

Remember: information is more conspicuous when left in the copier.
Conspicuously leave information in the copier.

If the condemned are not yet burned,
Be inspired by Goya: let silence about the promise of stones count as a poem.


Granted most poems are non-consensual,
But remember: you can touch your moistened finger to the page.

Indifference is fine,
But what is needed?

Letters to the editor will not help.
We repeat: letters to the editor will not help.

As foresight to anticipation,
The calendar whistles as it passes by all its expiration dates.

The resurrection of form
Sucks on the tit of travesty.

“The cemetery is full of indispensible people.”
But what of the recycling center?

Excel in the grunt
For viability is fleeting.

The funny ways our ultimate metaphysics don’t matter to us,
Like a public pseudonym.

Do not become thin wedges of craft,
But feast on the euphoria of your own salacious delight.


Always interpolate the data faithfully,
According to your lover’s whims.

Always illuminate the world with a film of Vaseline,
But don’t rub too hard.

Do not fear the underworld and its smiling hunger:
Your sympathy, too, is a kind of evasion.

Certainly, read the oracle in your guts,
But remember: you’ll never know what goes on in the houses of doglovers.


Chip Corwin’s poetry and reviews have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Pure Francis, Sedge, Seven Corners, Pleiades, and Whistling Shade. He teaches at Heartland Community College in Normal, Illinois.

Michael Theune has published poems, essays, and reviews in journals such as The Iowa Review, The New Republic, Pleiades, and Verse. He is the editor of Structure & Surprise: Engaging Poetic Turns (Teachers & Writers, 2007). Mike is an associate professor at Illinois Wesleyan University.