Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Eric Elshtain

“The King Business”

We cleaved the foot
of main street
then wove in wait

goading militia men’s
telepathetic march
of rumdums, like underemployed

paraders stunned
by redwood momentos
our brains be child with.

History’s theater—
it’s curtains, they say
in the cupolas

of buildings in State,
traced faces ushered
across aisles, spelunkers’

lamps shooting beams of newsfeed,
language wasted on grammars
we’ve gotten off of

Selectoral colleges
sloganed in the usual
hunger bank on our belief

in the sweetest trivia
squeezed in their fists.
Oil in result is rigged,

given us as juice:
here are the hypos,
creepy mills filled with grit,

human hearts turned
to hotbox fauna
gotten bent on the Front.

Bees to burn, money-men
raffle flunkies and false cures
while we’re down

on our uppers, double-
jointed, stooping like queens
of nothing at their foots.

Eric Elshtain is a homemaker and also the poet-in-residence at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital and UIC Hospital where he conducts poetry and art workshops with patients through Snow City Arts. He also teaches literature at the Better Boys Foundation in Chicago. Elshtain's poetry, reviews, and interviews can be found in McSweeney's, Skanky Possum, Notre Dame Review, Ploughshares, American Letters & Commentary, Interim, Salt Hill, GutCult, Denver Quarterly, Chicago Review, Fact-Simile, Kennesaw Review, and other print and on-line journals. He has a book forthcoming from Verge Books and has been the editor of Jon Trowbridge's on-line Beard of Bees Press since 2001.


  1. Thanks for this cool poem. For me, it crackles with annoyance at money and the laundering of all that comes with it. It does so with economy, wit, and a textured feel for rhythm and melody. Thanks!

  2. You are most welcome and many thanks for the kudos. I am happy that the poem's own economy is of a more positive sort than the one at which it points its annoyance...

  3. . . .telepathic march of rumdums. . .(!) Magnificent! . . . (and, poet-in-residence at a hospital. Lucky patients!) With much appreciation, Ann Neuser Lederer, R.N.

    1. Thanks a million; I had a lot of fun writing this poem, and other poems in the series.

      As for my work--I am the real lucky one!; I get to witness some amazing feats of art-making by young poets and artists in some of the most trying and difficult circumstances...