KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 8: August 2017
Prose Poem: 247 words

American Dream R.E.M.

by Doug Anderson

Just outside Eden. Look back at the clutter on the road, the stuff I dropped there because it weighed too much with no answer as to its cause or healing from. Just gave out on its own. Like this body I wear out like an old shoe, hole here, broken lace there, and the young folks dancing on by and laughing. Hope they don’t hit that wall too hard. We make up crap in our heads and carry it until we say why? and drop it no special place. There’s a lightness to be had there. And love maybe comes unbidden just before we run the hose from the tailpipe. Grace and Love on their bar stool at Paul’s Pub of the Divine Elixir: big hair, bright-star toenail polish. Michael, the bouncer with his demon-hacked sword. Let me buy you a drink, I say, and they say, Okay but no funny bidness. Nod at Hope down on the corner with her rhinestone glitter and sidereal tattoos of constellations not yet born. We’re all hip to her. Somewhere in the coming dark we’ve lost our way. You can play in the fields of the lost, I say. No response. But I’d just as soon be lost. Hit my head on too many highway signs. Freeway ain’t free and Billy Goat Gruff in the toll booth. Just you and me, baby, in the lost land looking for a bridge to dream under in the brimstone storm.

Doug Anderson
Issue 8, August 2017

is an American poet, memoirist, and photographer who grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and served as a combat medic in Vietnam. After returning home from the war, he studied acting at the University of Arizona, where he earned an M.A. degree. He later settled in Massachusetts and began writing poems in the Group 18 writing workshop founded in 1986 by Jack Gilbert, Linda Gregg, and James Finnegan. [See also Open Field: Poems from Group 18 (Open Field Press, November 2012).]

Anderson’s work has appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Cimarron Review, Connecticut Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, and The Southern Review, among others, as well as in the anthology The Hundred Years’ War: Modern War Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2014).

He is working on a novel, The Summer of Love, and his most recently published book is a collection of poems, Horse Medicine (Barrow Street Press, 2015). His memoir Keep Your Head Down: Vietnam, the Sixties, and a Journey of Self-Discovery was published in 2009 by W.W. Norton and Company.

He is also the author of two other poetry collections. His war poems have been called “uncompromising” and “wrenching” by fellow poets and rank among the most honest, intimate portraits of war’s complex imagery. The first collection, The Moon Reflected Fire (Alice James Books, 1994), won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and was described by Joyce Peseroff, an Advisory Editor for Ploughshares and author of four poetry books, as “not just about Vietnam but resonant with the history of warriors from the backyard to The Iliad to the Bible.” The second collection, Blues for Unemployed Secret Police (Curbstone Books, 2000), received a grant from the Eric Matthieu King Fund of the Academy of American Poets.

Anderson lives in Palmer, Massachusetts, where he is director of development for Blue Star Equiculture, a horse-rescue facility and organic farm. In addition to the war poems, his work focuses on a range of contemporary issues and concerns, as well as deeply personal material. [See also Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry.] He has written film scripts, fiction, and criticism, and his play, “Short Timers,” was produced at The Theater for the New City in 1981 (New York).

He has taught in the MFA programs at Bennington College and Pacific University of Oregon; Smith and Emerson Colleges; Eastern Connecticut State University; and the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Its Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He earned his Ph.D. in English from the University of Connecticut in 2006 and now teaches in the department of comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Awards include a Pushcart Prize; and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Virginia Quarterly Review, Poets & Writers, The MacDowell Colony, and other funding organizations.

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