A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

gregory lawless 

It’s Okay

I go to the farmer’s market 
to buy a thirteen-dollar pie. I hate the president
for different reasons than you
hate the president. There’s a tiny unmanned plane 
that’s in charge of all our nightmares 
now. It used to be the nukes
and getting old. I’m not afraid of being afraid
of something. The only thing to fear 
is tripping quietly on a big stick. In the medieval 
marketplace, there was raven shit 
on everything. You had to wash your cheese 
wheel in the moat where everyone
took a piss. It’s okay to hate me
for buying a seven-dollar loaf of bread
and throwing away the ends. I have a car 
from medieval times that’s good 
on gas because it’s pulled by goats. 
They say the tiny plane sounds kind
of like a lawnmower falling 
through the sky. What is it about the past 
that we’ll never learn? If they didn’t die 
of farming, my ancestors, they probably died
while being born.



Final Essay for Introduction to Literature, Chapter 3: Poetry

The poet brings up many emotions
Throughout the poem.  The emotions
That the poet brings up are sadness
And death. The emotions are also
Themes, which the reader
Can relate to.  Without
Relatability there wouldn’t be
Any poems.  The poem has a father
Just like I have a father.  I enjoyed
Relating to the father, who is sad
And dead. The last line of the poem
Is very confusing.  It just ends
And doesn’t explain anything
At all.  I think it’s so confusing
Because the poet wants you to think
About it, and because poetry can mean
Absolutely anything
To anybody. This theme of fathers
Is important to people
Who have them and those
Who don’t.  I can’t even imagine
What it would be like losing a father
So I know what the poet must be
Going through.  This is the most important thing 
That’s ever happened
To the poet.  Poets, in general, write poems
About the most important thing
That’s ever happened. The theme 
Of fathers is very important
Throughout the poem.  So is death 
And being sad. I don’t know 
What the poet is trying to say
Exactly, but I think what he’s saying
Is that everything happens
For a reason.  And if death happens
For a reason, then it can’t be
That bad.



What Passes for Art in Suburban Homes 


There’s an ache in my thigh the size of a hamster grave.

I must have been kicking fictitious and game-losing field goals over and over in 
my sleep.

I am not middle-aged so much as the average of birth and death.

I look out the window because I can’t afford great art.

Sidewalks clogged with dogwood slobber. A mash of hot leaves in the grate. 
Three robins drinking worms in the street.

My bird book says they’re thrushes, but we never call them that.


Gregory Lawless is the winner of the 2013 Orphic Prize for Poetry and the 2014 Red Mountain Press Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Third Coast, The Journal, Pleiades, The National Poetry Review, Cincinnati Review, Salamander, Thrush, Verse Daily, and many others. He is the author of I Thought I Was New Here (BlazeVOX, 2009), Dreamburgh, Pennsylvania (Dream Horse Press, forthcoming), Far Away (Red Mountain Press, forthcoming), and the chapbook Foreclosure (Back Pages Publishers, 2013).