The Last Poem by Me is not even by me. It’s by Garrett Kaufmann. He’s better than me.
Garrett Kaufmann was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1982. He runs his family’s jazz bar, Mark’s Marmoset. His first pamphlet, O Greta, was published by Chickasaw Books and he is currently working on a full collection, Letters to Greta Chapman. For a time he played semi-professional soccer but now he mainly plays not-professional squash. His poems have appeared widely in journals and magazines such as Loose 54, The Brook and the Wood, Tell City Review and A New York Roman.
Michael Egan was born in Liverpool in 1980. He wrote poetry until 2014. He has given up poetry but writes fiction and edits Veild the Pole, a magazine containing both poetry and fiction.
The Poem Itself
Fifth Letter to Greta Chapman by Garrett Kaufmann
just an ear of corn, Greta,
to tell me who my father was, to grow and get farmed.
another song in the snow, Greta.
my garrison tune, my walled-up whistle
and on the Ohio River I saw Louisville shining.
deep now it rolls, Greta, deep like your humming that June.
miserable in the darkness no more,
neat night, quiet lights, all flights.
I’m not eating sugar no more, Greta. I’m not watching
Christian Bale movies no more, not since American Hustle
he was too like my father, Greta, too like my mirror.
I’m not paying any attention to Syria no more, Greta.
I give up. Greta, give up. There are more chairs abandoned
than bodies to fill them, legless barbershop chairs,
rotating, a kid in a mask shaving his face
with a knife isn’t all of existence riding the tail
of a comet to earth, they’re bastards and they breathe
nitrogen. I’m a bastard and I breathe oxygen.
breathless in Austria in the mid-90s I met my father.
he was done with soccer, done with Sturm Graz
and my not-mother.
my not-brothers can’t look me in the eye. I’m a kid
in the snow again, Greta.
hold the corn and peel the corn, tell me all of my layers.
I’m in Evansville, Greta, and you’re showering
so I can see you,
water skin-dancing and all of you steam-touched,
turning to the opened window.
I don’t need to come home to be with you, Greta.