May 4, 2016

Three Poems By David Bankson: "How to Live Off the Land", "Driftwood", "I am a War Criminal"

David is a full-time autodidact with a lifelong passion for poetry, philosophy, and linguistics. His works have been featured online at Thank you for Swallowing, Walking is Still Honest, and I Am Not a Silent Poet. His greatest influences are John Ashbery and William Carlos Williams, though he's secretly quite fond of Shel Silverstein. More of his work can be found at

"How to Live Off the Land"

1. Find a quiet brook in the forest. Rearrange the stones until the water flows reverse. The sustenance is static, but the sound is changed.

2. Find an abandoned church nearby. Place the pews outside and scatter your tithes.  The trees will teach you how to breathe if you stay long enough.

3. Find a songbird amid the offering. Do nothing with it. This is the best way to grow.

4. Find a cemetery. Appreciate the shadows, for they whisper in three dimensions. Write down everything you hear.

5. Find a stray cloud. If it tastes electric, point it toward the backwards brook. It can find its own way from there.

6. Find your reflection. Erase it with your breath before it drags you down. Forget what you saw there.

7. Find an empty garden. Bury yourself in loose soil. If you're patient, the forest will feed you.


I have decided tonight
to carry that poesy cross -
           down the glass-lined streets
           the downed power lines hissing:
          "You've made a wrong choice, TURN BACK!"
           under disrupting banners of street lights
                                                 - just to toss it aside

entering grocery stores, stalking dead poets
as I've been known to do -
           through liquor aisles
           piles of festering fruit
getting wasted on the ancient
stench of their magniloquence
wreathing their raveled beards
where                 words                    stick
as bits of food and old trash

I always chase them down
the stray dog begging the beggar
for a meal of crumbs, not a lover -
                           it's the sick thrill
in knowing where this is going
buying porcelain in earthquake country
while they mutter that wine pairs nicely
with honest art and honest opinion -

                                     but what could be
                                     more honest than
                                     recycled garbage?

"I am a War Criminal"

I guess I lost
my Confessional Poetry card in the wash.
Now I am thrown
poetic form-scraps
from the dogs of avant-garde war,
with memories hanging
like sinew from the bones of words.

The crowds cry "Havoc!" to the war-scarred lands
as I exclaim:
"Mea culpa! Mea culpa!
Accept an unfinished work of anodyne sentiment
as a philter to ease your troubled heart!"

The poesy flies above a narrative
shore, carpet-bombing the act
in an explosion
of impersonal

~David Bankson

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