from The Harmony and the Irony

by Colin Dodds



The world is overfull of every single thing,

but even the ghosts go hungry


An alien said a bigger mystery does involve us

But it only came to earth because we had the best drugs,

because our food dissolves us


The couch digested what it swallowed

The astronaut jumped the ledge, and a car alarm followed

We skinned the alien, and it was hollow


The sleepwalker and the streetwalker met that night

He was an iron joke

And she was a baby made of cigarette smoke


Money and semen sliding down her face

was the new broadcast for the tears of the race

The satellites winced, the stars shrank from us

as if they witnessed incest and little else


The alien’s ragged corpse chortled at our ideas

of murder, of crime and told us

The crime wasn’t the crime

Sentience was the crime

And sentience is the sentence


It was back to the almighty gimmick for us

Even repentance would be a gimmick from then on




Sincerity helps.

Sometimes it’s easier to say what you really mean

if you really mean it.


Everyone could use another friend.

Even the ocean has a floor.





What reality is,

when it really is something,

is a knife in my back.


There’s this special moment

between when you discover

there’s a knife stuck in your back

and when you discover

you can’t remove it.


I miss that moment






It begins in disappointment and uneasiness,

because the Kingdom of God

is very unlike what you expected.


Richard Nixon said to me

“I was king of the earth and more.”

A map of America including the moon

covered the linoleum floor.


A Parthenon peeked through the vents

in the soundproof tiles.


The armies of heaven are never ready.

The armies of hell

always fall to cannibalism.


There was never

any such thing

as a noble race.





In winter, I heard music

coming from every building,

muffled by the red bricks.


Nirvana’s a cruel pricktease like that.


The town fathers gutted the temple,

the one that worked too well.

Their children restored it,

polished the adamantine pews and ceiling joists.


But all they could make of it

was a too-pious tourist trap.


In the half-refurbished Temple of the Great Revealer,

you can see the kids of the rich kids meditating.


I say they should watch

their fucking step.


Reality may feel

very far away.


But madness always starts

with a shortcut.





They call it freedom,

but look at what they do with it.


The housing developments and advertisements,

the pills and the pornography

all add up to a half-sprung ambush.


All the creations of man

from the crassest to most subtle

form a nested doll of traps.


Each promises freedom

and delivers another disingenuous promise.


“You think you’re doing what you want to do,

that you’re happy with your wine bottles,

guitars and purported genius. But you’re not.

It’s a lot of bullshit,” a co-worker told me

before getting on the commuter train.


The baroqueness of city life

wears me down so I can’t say why.


In the concert hall, I strain,

struggle and bullshit,

just to get at my own experience.

But I only get in my own way.


If you want to find heaven,

find the actions and the words

for which no man has made a receptacle.


Assume that what you desire most

may not have been considered yet.




Colin Dodds grew up in Massachusetts and completed his education at The New School in New York City. Norman Mailer wrote that Dodds’ novel The Last Bad Job showed “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” Dodds’ novels What Smiled at Him and Another Broken Wizard have been widely acclaimed by critics and readers alike. His screenplay, Refreshment – A Tragedy, was named a semi-finalist in 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. Two books of Dodds’ poetry—The Last Man on the Moon and The Blue Blueprint—are available from Medium Rare Publishing. Dodds’ writing has also appeared in a number of periodicals, including The Wall Street Journal OnlineFolioExplosion-ProofBlock MagazineThe Architect’s NewspaperThe Main Street RagThe Reno News & Review and Lungfull! Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha.


photo by Kristi Harms


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