Tim Earley




What’s Happening 

Contemporary life has cars in it.
It has beverages in it. We never
get our cars and beverages confused,
though occasionally we forget
who we are supposed to be sleeping with
because contemporary life
is very busy and confusing. Afterwards
we jump into a car and do more
of the same things we did so we
don’t have to do the new things anymore,
which usually seem too post-contemporary to handle,
though actually all the things
we do are old and/or ancient
and we have just forgotten doing them
in the first place. Contemporary life
has many words in it. You only have to know
about six hundred to get by. Most people say
the same ones over and over, so if you only
know four hundred, you can fake it. If you only know
two hundred, they put you in a zoo
where you can live peacefully with rocks
and other peers, which is something no one
warns you about. It is important to read the papers.
They tell you when the trash gets picked up
and when all the movies are playing, as well
as the malevolencies people commit, to give you
a guideline for activities you should mostly avoid.
Small animals are in contemporary life,
which are annoying, but you can’t just
blow them up. First of all, it would cost
a lot of money. Second of all, they might not all
blow up. Then you’lll feel really bad
for not having done your job properly.
Doing one’s job properly is not important
unless you know less than four hundred words.
But you are still encouraged to feel bad about
any mistakes you make because that’s how
we keep people from becoming too happy
and running around all the time. The people
who are happy and run around all the time
we wrestle to the floor and make still.
It is hard to remember anything.
You can love people. No one can
take your organs unless you say they can.
Religion is more rampant than godlessness
but not as rampant as locusts.
Liquor is still quicker.
Also, there are murders and floods.


Tell Me

The platypus is what people mean, I think,
when they say, “Wild Glory,” and “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah.”
“Morning Glory” is something else entirely. Oh, God, oh platypus—
if each of us could be so motley. Give me a sturdy bill to light the sky
with strange, flinty kisses. Give me the cockroaches’ antennae—
supersensitive divining rods of mysteries they’re built to outlast.
Mountains are the kneecaps of a race of long-dead giants—
this frees me to wish for the thighs of a rhino, the cock of a bull,
the gossamer wing of some bird or other and the soul of a lonely loon.
Give me a giraffe-neck, raccoon-eye. Are you motley? Are you fixed?
Are your God-eyes and God-parts in a trance?
Do you remember the sixth day? That doughy lump of clay?
Why were you holding out? The stars—unraveling spools of light!
Human beings… uh… arms and things. Please.
The platypus, sir, I think your last attempt at greatness.
Not to mention an undeniable breech of the golden rule.
So rule me. Breech me. Great me.


Both of the poems previously published in Earley's collection, Boondoggle, Main Street Rag.


Tim Earley was born and raised in the foothills of Western North Carolina. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama, where he also taught English and poetry workshops for a number of years. He has been the recipient of two Writing Fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Chicago Review, jubilat, Hotel Amerika, La Petite Zine, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Southern Humanities Review, Typo, DIAGRAM, and the Green Mountains Review issue, Comedy in Contemporary American Poetry. He lives and teaches in Hickory, North Carolina with his partner, Sallie Anglin, and their variegated collection of cats.