Poetry Centered

Randall Horton: Instruments for Change

November 04, 2020 University of Arizona Poetry Center Season 2 Episode 1
Poetry Centered
Randall Horton: Instruments for Change
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Randall Horton introduces poems that ask us to consider intensely difficult situations, seeing anew their complexity and the humanity of the people involved. He discusses Reginald Dwayne Betts’ exploration of the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic and mass incarceration (“The Invention of Crack”), Brian Turner’s masterful use of point of view (“2000 lbs.”), and Patricia Smith as an example of the way that poets can be instruments for change (“Sitting in my dimly lit cell…”). Horton closes by sharing his poem “Dear Aesthetic Beauty,” paired with music in a collaboration with guitarist Brendan Regan.

Listen to the full recordings of Betts, Turner, and Smith reading for the Poetry Center on Voca:
Reginald Dwayne Betts (2017)
Brian Turner (2006)
Patricia Smith (2019)

You can also find a reading by Randall Horton on Voca, which was given as part of our Art for Justice series in 2018.


Julie Swarstad Johnson:     0:03
Thank you so much for joining us for the second season of Poetry Centered, the podcast that brings you outstanding poetry readings from Voca, the University of Arizona Poetry Center's online archive of recorded poetry. In each episode, a guest host introduces three recordings from the archives and closes with a poem of their own.

Our first host for this new season is Randall Horton-- a poet, memoirist, professor of English at the University of New Haven, and a member of the experimental performance group Heroes Are Gang Leaders. His most recent book of poetry, titled #289-128, published in September. In this episode, Randall shares poems by Reginald Dwayne Betts, Brian Turner, and Patricia Smith, that each ask us to sit with intensely difficult situations-- illustrating the ways that, as you'll hear Randall say, the poet is or can be an instrument of change.

Randall Horton:      1:05
My name is Randall Horton, and I'm recording from Bloomfield, New Jersey. The title of this poem is "The Invention of Crack" by Reginald Dwayne Betts-- with a reading date of Thursday, August 31, 2017. One of the reasons I chose this poem is because I'm very interested in the subject matter in which this poem tackles, and that is the sort of drug explosion that happened in the '80s in terms of crack cocaine and the sort of residual effects that that had and implications-- especially in urban and rural areas that were heavily populated by people of color-- i.e. African-Americans-- especially the Black male.

Though no one was subject to the scourge of what this era contained in terms of the crack epidemic and people going to prison and the criminal justice system and the sort of outcry from community to address this situation. And it became real complicated-- but also the idea of the CIA involvement with some of the-- allowing some of the cocaine to sort of come into the United States. And what did that mean to the narrative that was given-- portrayed to us-- in the public?

And so I think Dwayne best tries to tackle a lot of these things, which is very complicated in a very long poem-- but I think the listener will hopefully come away with a better understanding and a grounding of why people sort of fell prey to this drug and became addicted-- but also became sucked into the system. It is so complicated in terms of economics-- in terms of public outcry and opinion and treatment may rehabilitation versus incarceration. So there's a whole lot of things going on here. I think it is definitely a contribution to our discussion that we have on a daily about the criminal justice system.

For me, I also have a personal connection with the poet in that I've known Reginald Dwayne Betts-- probably a year or two after he got out of state prison. Because I just come from state prison myself in Maryland. And so I understand the passion and the energy in which he brings into this conversation. Because he's very committed.

And I think what he tried to do in Bastards of the Reagan Era-- which is his book which his poem comes from-- is tried to educate the public in that it is not always so simple in terms of, how do we view something, right? And I think, for me-- there's a moment in the poem-- and it probably comes toward the end-- but he says-- to understand what this whole thing was about-- I think he sums it up beautifully when he says, "It feels like God has dropped a piece of heaven behind your eyelids."

And I think that is loaded in terms of commodity for me. Well, not necessarily commodity-- but the idea of a capitalistic society and being able to achieve that sort of elusive dream through a white pebble. And so these are some of the things I think you really should look out for and listen to and think about. So once again, this is Reginald Dwayne Betts reading "The Invention of Crack."


Reginald Dwayne Betts:     4:43
So I'm going to read this poem that I never read. You know, I like this book, but I think I'm biased.


But I'm frequently now confronted with the reality that a lot of people actually haven't read this book. Because there's a few poems that I think challenge the dominant perception of what people think about the War on Drugs. And either they've read the book and haven't read this poem or they haven't read the book at all. But it's always interesting to be in a situation where you feel like the only way you can make sure somebody hears a specific poem in your book is if you read it.

And so this one's a challenge, because it's a bit long. But I'm going to see what happens. "The Invention of Crack." One.

Dark alliance. Crack smoked over this backdrop-- CIA seal, Contras. So much heavy weight. How birds fly? How millions turn into guerrilla props-- AK-47's, & everything else. White smoke. Rocks. The dead & dying. Gary Webb's tale of two horrors-- Contra and crack.

Mr. Speaker, what is most frightening about crack is that it has made cocaine widely available. Mr. Speaker, I am afraid that the crack epidemic will only get worse. Parenthetical-- the speaker is Black-- close parenthetical.

I wish to bring to the attention of our colleagues an article, "Extra potent cocaine-- use rising sharply among teenagers." Parenthetical-- this is the motherfucker predicting DiIulio-- close parenthetical. Confirms what many of us in the Congress who have the responsibility of reviewing federal drug abuse policy have known for some time; parenthetical-- niggas will pay-- close parenthetical; the availability of "crack"-- cocaine in his purest state-- at low street prices will only expand abuse of cocaine nationwide.

This Black man says crack will ruin. Senator Black Elect says scourge & scourges & look behind the words & you know he knew "there is a prison for them" This post Rockefeller, after Carmona got laced with a life sentence for a hundred dollars worth of heroin. Ain't many Black folks in Congress. Keep saying Reagan did it. Black man say Reagan did it. Reagan say look at the paper, the bodies in the street. Rangel say scourge & you vote for him again & again & again & the pen is still filled with the bodies. Ain't no conspiracy here. Hand to hands scared him.

Black man watching the projects turn into a war zone. Probably thought if no one notices the carnage he should. Probably thought if no one notices the zombies in the street he should. Don't tell me he trafficked in the New Jim Crow too. Rangel says scourge. All these years, all these years & the bodies in & and we done stop counting but I know what he told the papers-- we'd stopped counting.

Stopped counting how many babies lost their mothers to the pool of smoke running from aluminum. We had. Stopped. Counting. Mr. Senator was out to duck ruin. Ours. It seems except he called it about. You think we counted our loss? Lost pounds, lost brothers? All the women who bartered? All the men who bartered? All the things they lost?

The newest scourge on the streets is a frightening low-cost substance called crack. This form of cocaine which uses freebase, has been proved lethal time and again, and is responsible for an alarming number of episodes of death and injury in recent weeks. Parenthetical-- when it's heroin and it's in a rural town, we won't say this-- close parenthetical.


Nickel bag, Dime bag, Eight Ball--

We invented a way for brothers to be good at math. Call me crackhead, call me fiend, but I know my Daddy's name is what I tell them young boys, even as they wave me on to the spot where a kid my son's age passes out the rocks that will make me see God one more time.

Jesus, some of us still be praying with aluminum between our lips. All our music reduced to something clever to say about dope. Call it white lady. Call me snowman. Say I move avalanches. I drought the city. From the first to the fifth I got it all back. Crown me rap star. If I ain't a hustler what you call that. I was just trying to feed my babies. These motherfuckers call this shit these fools saying classic. Move weight. Fly birds. Call me Ricky Ross. Call me Dopeman. Pusherman.

He who move bricks. Move that dope. This, all of this, the abyss where men go to die. & the rest of America goes to watch. Where Rangel at? Yeah, I know you laughing. & they still saying whitey did it. I've been had my money on the man that stays in office, that gets in office, that suits up to go prosecute, that suits up to go defend. I say they did it. What?

Watch when the city went to ruins. Inheritance ain't nothing but memory. When the mayor & the reporters smoke too, why we the only ones in jail? Where all those men who dreamed? They keep saying in the 80s a Smokey, Teddy, Luther, would have crooned to a crack pipe. We pray that Thou wilt grant, O Lord, whatever will that will bury what brought smoke, crystalline white rocks to our streets.

"Rayful. Freeway Ricky. Supreme. Everyone wanting to be Escobar. A proliferation of bodies enlarged by cameras. Philargyist-- lover of money, antecedent to Andre 3 stacks, to all those pockets full of stones. They say with the Earth has no water there is a man craving the shiny glimmer of a nickel, or the ragged end of a pipe in their mouths. 1980 something. Corposant & corpse. Or fuck your hearse.


It takes a nation of millions to hold us back? Well they got dead. We got that too. Hands around our throats. Before you suffocate your own self. Father forgive.

& so the penitentiaries it centuries of barrels full of children running away from Jake, Bodine, 5-0, all these names for the same dance. On the Run. & watch when the researchers come, notebooks in hands writing about the dispossessed. About the clean & dirty. Their idioms of death & whatnot. King me motherfucka, they say when the research drops. Expert on the Negro Problem.

They become oracle & insight. & we got all the dead bodies around us. Say so many people dead one year the District was worse than Vietnam. Per capita they say. Per capital. Meaning all the capitals in the world was better to be in than here where Sam did go to college no matter what the news say. & he came back & pay rent like all these good folks with their dogs & shit do now. Talk about the victor writes history.

The Reagan Era, the cocaine era, them boys from Dunbar could hoop is what I mean to say. All the dope gets in the way though. Me remembering their story a bag at a time & ain't none of them kids get high. My uncle caught touchdown for Bladensburg High School, where his story.

My aunts ain't get high, my mom, where their story? All their history buried in a narrative of the shooter, of the one pitching them kilos. We buried a nation inside the lungs that fill with smoke, & the smoke smothers the nation, & the nation is the small child crying in the corner, & the barrels are filled with crabs.

Joseph E. Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, urges blacks to turn in drug pushers regardless of race. Parenthetical-- he knows Blacks only know Black drug pushers and drug dealers, but so what? Close parenthetical. "We are devastated spiritually and emotionally by why crack and other drugs are doing to our people." Parenthetical-- not as much as we are devastated by racism-- close parenthetical. He says, "Drugs represent the new lynch mob that is more effectively killing our people than the old lynch mob." Parenthetical-- [LAUGHS] close parenthetical.


Always that same hurt, you think a man don't know what a high can do? Flattened an entire city block a few guns did-- I tell my shadow we made it all possible. You know getting high ain't the move, but ask someone who's been there, shit feels like coming for days, that's what they said about heroin-- crack, it feels like God has dropped a piece of heaven behind your eyelids. After that, all you want is to be that close to an angel again.


Randall Horton:     14:00
Brian Turner-- reading date Thursday, October 26, 2006. The reason that the chose the poem "2000 lbs." by Brian Turner is the way that it operates in terms of point of view while grounding the reader in historical context-- but also understanding different cultures and what that means in terms of war. And so I think this poem resonates on all those levels, and it gives you sort of different sides and different points of view in terms of the conflict that's going on. And for those of you who are not aware of Brian Turner, he is an Army veteran and served in the Gulf.

And so for me, it really sort of gets that-- what a poet should do when sort of articulating a particular event-- one that also is tragic and has heavy consequences. Because what's happening is there is a suicide bomb, and it goes into a square. And then he detonates it. And of course, he kills himself.

But also, there are other people that are affected in the detonation of that bomb. And what becomes magical in terms of the poem, in my opinion, is the way that Turner is able to capture the moment before the detonation and the backstories and the narratives to each of the participants in this poem. And I think this is something that Brian Turner has sort of taught me when I think about the craft of poetry-- is point of view and how to articulate difficult situations through the magic that is language.

For me, also, this poem has been meaningful in that I take this sort of concept when I'm working out prose and creative nonfiction in terms of point of view. I'm always interested not so much in the self or the I but everything that happens all around the self and the I. And I think this is what listeners can expect when they hear Turner read this poem. But also when you go back in and you look this poem up and you read it, I think you will really get a sense of what the poet is trying to do in terms of inviting you into a conversation. And so here is Brian Turner reading "2000 lbs."


Brian Turner:     16:46
I'll read that longer poem that Taylor had mentioned, "2000 lbs." And there were some students in a class-- a really wonderful class that we got to meet the students and stuff in-- it's a longer poem, but "2000 lbs." is really inaccurate. After an investigation, they found it was 800 pounds. But it had been published as 2,000. And I didn't know what to do. You know what I mean? But 800's a lot, you know? Still a pretty big bomb.

This poem-- I tried to use the traffic circle, which is a predominant feature in Iraq. Because it seemed inclusive. It seemed like a good place to go about this. Because there are roadside bombs all over the place-- usually under overpasses. Because you get secondary ricochet shots and concussion injuries and stuff. It's a better place to place a bomb. But oftentimes, they're in traffic circles as well.

And this poem tries to go sort of using a cinematic technique-- kind of, verse stanza by verse stanza, panning around the circle. I hope you see what I mean. So.

It begins simply with a fist, white-knuckled and tight, glossy with sweat. With two eyes and a rearview mirror watching for a convoy. The radio a soundtrack that adrenaline has pushed into silence, replacing it with a heartbeat, his thumb trembling over the button.

A flight of gold, that's what Sefwan thinks as he lights of Miami, draws in the smoke and waits in his taxi at the traffic circle. He thinks of summer 1974, lifting pitchforks of grain high in the air, the slow drift of it like the fall of Shatha's hair, and although it was decades ago, he still loves her, remembers her standing at the canebrake where the buffalo cooled shoulder-deep in the water, pleased with the orange cups of flowers he brought her, and he regrets how so much can go wrong in a life, how easily the years slip by, light as grain bright as the street's concussion of metal, shrapnel traveling at the speed of sound to open him up in blood and shock, a man whose last thoughts are of love and wreckage, with no one there to whisper him gone.

Sgt. Ledouix of the National Guard speaks but cannot hear the words coming out and it's just as well his eardrums have ruptured because it lends the world a certain calm, though the traffic circle is filled with people running in panic, their legs a blur like horses in a carousel, turning and turning the way the tires spin on the Humvee flipped to its side, the gunners hatch he was thrown from a mystery to him now, a dark hole in metal the color of sand, and if he could, he would crawl back inside of it, and though his fingertips scratch at the asphalt, he hasn't the strength to move-- shrapnel has torn into his ribcage and he will bleed to death in minutes, but he finds himself surrounded by a strange beauty, the shine of light on the broken, a woman's hand touching his face, tenderly the way his wife might, amazed to find a wedding ring on his crushed hand, the bright gold sinking in flesh going to bone.

Rasheed passes the bridal shop on a bicycle with Sefa beside him, and just before the air ruckles and breaks he glimpses the sidewalk reflections in the storefront glass, men and women walking and talking, or not, an instant of clarity, just before each of them shatters under the detonation's wave, as if even the idea of them being completely destroyed, stripped of form, the blast tearing into the manikins who stood as though husband and wife a moment before, who cannot touch one another, who cannot kiss, who now lie together in glass and debris, holding one another in their half-armed embrace, and calling this love, if this is all there will ever be.

The civil affairs officer, Lt. Jackson, stares at his missing hands, which make no sense to him, no sense at all, to wave these absurd stumps held in the air where just a moment before he'd blown bubbles out the Humvee window, his left hand holding the bottle, his right hand dipping the plastic ring in soap, filling the air behind him with floating spheres like the oxygen trails of deep ocean divers, something for the children, something beautiful, translucent globes with their iridescent skins drifting on vehicle exhaust and the breeze that might lift one day over the Zagros mountains, that kind of hope, small globes which may have astonished someone on the sidewalk seven minutes before Lt. Jackson blacks out from blood loss and shock, with no one there to bandage the wounds that would carry him home.

Nearby, an old woman cradles her grandson, whispering, rocking him on her knees as though singing him to sleep, her hands wet with their blood, her black dress soaked in it as her legs give out and she buckles with him to the ground. If you'd asked her forty years earlier if she could see herself an old woman begging by the roadside, here, with a bomb exploding at the market among all these people, she'd have said to have your heart broken one last time before dying, to kiss a child given sight of a life he could never live? It's impossible, this isn't the way we die.

And the man who triggered the button, who may have invoked the Prophet's name, or not-- he is obliterated at the epicenter, he is everywhere, he is of all things, his touch is the air taken in, the blast and the wave, the electricity of shock, his is a sound the heart makes quick in the panic's rush, the surge of blood searching for light and color, that sound the martyr cries filled with the word his soul is made up, Inshallah.

Still hanging in the air over Ashur Square, telephone lines snapped in two, crackling a strange incantation the dead here as they wonder confused amongst one another, learning each other's name, trying to comfort the living in their grief, to console those who cannot accept such random pain, speaking habib softly, one to another there in the rubble and debris, habib over and over, that it might not be forgotten.


Randall Horton:     23:14
And so here is "Sitting in my dimly lit cell" by Patricia Smith, with a reading date of Thursday, September 26, 2019. Now, one of the main reasons that I chose this poem is not only because of its conversational critique of the criminal justice system through a poem-- which for me triggers memories of sitting in cell 23 in Roxbury. But it also-- it is the nature in which I came to even discover Patricia Smith as a poet.

I was actually in Hagerstown, Maryland, coming back, trying to get my sentence commuted. And I was sitting in a unit in the county jail called jail addiction services, which had counselors and social workers come in and-- coming out of the unit. And they would bring in a tape sometimes on the weekend for us to look at-- videotapes.

And this one weekend our counsel brought in a tape of Def Poetry Jam. And I remember sitting in the day room looking at the poems. And I was like, wow! This is interesting. Because I had never really seen anything like that before.

And then Patricia comes up and does her poem "Skinhead." And you know how she begins the poem, "They call me skinhead, and I got my own beauty." And for me that was the moment that sparked the idea of poetry inciting and being creative-- and how does this woman-- you know, this little woman in statue-- take on the embodiment of a skinhead and bring that home in a way that you can just feel it, man.

That began my whole journey with poetry, and then years later, I was able to sit in on a workshop with Patricia and share that story. We've been cool ever since. But more so, she was able to blurb my first book. And that connection meant a lot to me.

And to see her working in this poem and working inside in terms of incarceration was inspiring. And so all of that comes into why I chose the poem and what it does to me in general. And I appreciate that Patricia brings in a letter written from a person on the inside. And so the response becomes epistolary in nature, thereby creating a personal moment between two people that would never meet.

And I think, for me, the poem teaches-- or should I say, reinforces-- my own aesthetic belief in that the poet is or can be an instrument of change. And I also think, for me, the poem is a constant and stark reminder of the noise within the silence and that is present.

And if you've never heard Patricia Smith read, then be prepared to be blown away as only Patricia Smith can do at a poetry reading, I mean, let's be honest-- no one ever wants to really read after Patricia Smith. That should tell you everything you need to know. So pay careful attention to the letter that she reads, which provides context for the poem and provides an experience that can only be captured live. So again, here's Patricia Smith reading "Sitting in my dimly lit cell."


Patricia Smith:     26:29
So this is a letter that I got. Yeah, this is a letter I got from Walpole Prison in Massachusetts. And I think I'll read the letter, and then I'll turn around and do the poem. Because it's broken up.

Sitting in my dimly lit cell after having my possessions confiscated from me, my loneliness demanded that I disrupt my neighbor, requesting something to read-- which in itself is a task in my repressive housing condition. To receive anything from your neighbor, one must attach a solid object to a line-- torn sheet-- and take direct aim at the cell behind him-- and hope the line is close enough to the 2-inch opening at the bottom of your door to retract his line and whatever else that might be attached to it. Which, in this instance, happens to have been a poem by you.

I was real impressed with your writing-- how you was able to relate misfortunate and articulate it on paper. I also enjoy writing-- not particularly poetry, but at times I find myself needing to express what I am feeling. And having no other outlet other than my pen, I create stories that have a favorable scenario-- which most of the time helps ease my pain. At this time, I am indigent and have no one that would purchase poetry for me. If possible, please send me poetry.

Sitting in my dimly lit cell after having all of my possessions confiscated from me. In some places, a man owns only what he can see. He can own a pummeled wall, a sheet laundered until it is laid-- a letter groaning at its folds and folds. He can possess a hoard slab of bread and hoarded slab of bread-- neon wads of chewed gum-- one curling cornered Polaroid of a small brown boy-- pages from an old magazine scarred with semen, water, and soup. If he's lucky, he also owns a squat jar of oil he uses to grease his scalp and shine his dusty knees.

Even these are too many things. What is owned by some men is owned by other men. Some men are owned.

My loneliness demanded that I disrupt my neighbor. How to tell if a Black man is lonely-- he stumbles into a lyric and never comes out. Requesting something to read-- the words he didn't know came back to him in dreams-- letters tumbled and coaxed. If he remembered the sounds, he clicked and hissed them in his sleep-- desperate to cram the wayward rhythms into place. When he awoke, his mouth was ripe and wounded, and always gaping wide-- wrestling with another song he could not sing.

Which in itself is a task in my repressive housing condition. Sometimes he forgets where he is. He opens his eyes and thinks, I'll have my coffee first. But then the smell of other men rides in on a rancid wave and dizzies him-- all those caged bodies rising at once-- the terrible lies they slept inside, escaping their bodies like smoke.

To receive anything from your neighbor, one must attach a solid object to a line-- torn sheet-- and take direct aim at the cell behind and hope and hope the line is close enough to the 2-inch opening at the bottom of your door to retract his line and whatever else that might be attached to it-- which in this instance happens to have been a poem by you.

He used to think that poetry was all about the longing for a woman, trying to put into pretty words the good wrongs her body could do-- or maybe about purple fields of flowers in places he would never find himself. No one had told him that a line could actually speak his name out loud-- that his sins had shape and heft and get lined up nice on paper just like that woman.

I was real impressed with your writing-- how you was able to relate misfortunate and articulate it on paper. It took him hours sometimes to scrawl that list of all the ways he didn't fit-- turns he took that led him into alleys-- the woman he regretted leaving, loving-- that thing his mama said he didn't listen to. Sometimes it took him hours, but then he had a list of what he'd done. And when he looked at where he was, it all made sense. He always heard men asking, why? Why? And now he knew.

I also enjoy writing-- not particularly poetry, but at times I find myself needing to express what I am feeling. What he is feeling-- a cracked aura, deep blue, at 3 PM on Tuesdays. Like drinking a really bitter beer. Mad at that roach on his wall-- lonely as a motherfucker. Like writing the word headstrong-- like any damn day in Brooklyn-- like killing someone-- like killing someone else-- like walking out-- like looking straight on at somebody-- like saying, damn you to hell! Like crying into the cap of his hands. In other words, like a poem.

And having no other outlet other than my pen, I create stories that have a favorable scenario-- which most of the time helps ease my pain. He thinks he'd be good in the movies, because he writes himself into a laughter he can't stop. He rides a horse but doesn't shoot a gun. He dances with a satin-wrapped woman in a pouring rain and doesn't get wet.

He writes himself a home where he goes from room to room and screeches just to hear nobody answer. He thinks he'd be that good at life, so he writes himself one. He always looks so sharp when he steps inside it. And if it's bathed in blue, he steps outside again-- rewrites the color.

At this time, I am indigent. I am nothing but my swallow and have no one that would purchase poetry for me. If possible, please. He's writing a face that he is conjured-- a Black girl who looks like his sister. And he wishes she could see him. Send me poetry.


Randall Horton:     34:04
And there you have it. We've heard from Reginald Dwayne Betts, Brian Turner, and Patricia Smith. And as I explained, Reginald and Patricia definitely provide insight into the inside-- with that place which we call incarceration. Brian Turner for his exquisite display of point of view and the chilling effect it can have on the reader.

And so in closing, I'd like to end with one of my own poems from my collection #289-128, which came out with the University of Kentucky Press on September the 8. And the title of the poem is called "Dear Aesthetic Beauty."

And I'm working on a project with some of the poems of being set in music. And I'd like to give you a little bit of that. And we have Brandon Regan on strings and sound with the accompaniment.

So thanks again for listening to my picks. Stay safe. And I hope you enjoy the final poem. Thank you.


Was that you we saw in our tainted conscious-- that peripheral place of forgettable moniker at and beyond the edge? To say you were there-- out of reach would well be a slippage. And even though it appears as if one aesthetic borderlines another endangered of being boundaried-- you as in pristinely-- you were stowed away in the place that isn't.

A place more than vision could see-- to touch, to try-- became taboo. Your category ungovernable and radical and illegal like someone said  this load of communication be stringed together. It doesn't equal us.

And you, oh, so crazy, blinded by time-- the same tawny feels-- the flowing man-made streams. We bought into conscripted ideals, we said. And that place whose name is merely a phantom of dead letters-- the landmarks daily changing as if to give loss to find our way back to nowhere.

An understanding of 1,000 standing mirrors. Embodiment memorializes nostalgia. And nothing can erase what we saw the real you-- in one fleeting moment-- as the day before and almost the day after would never construct itself again. Disowned, we had to keep asking ourselves over and over-- the simplicity of the act-- the casual step aside. And the first minute of a new day, there you were-- [INAUDIBLE]. All he had to do was leap.


Julie Swarstad Johnson:     37:24
Thank you so much, Randall, for sharing these insights and your time with us. Special thanks to guitarist Brendan Regan as well for that last piece. And thank you listeners for joining us again. You can look forward to a new episode every two weeks through mid-December, with more to come in January.

Poetry Centered is a project of the University of Arizona Poetry Center-- home to a world class library collection of more than 80,000 items related to contemporary poetry in English and English translation. Located on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson, the Poetry Center library and buildings are housed on the Indigenous homelands of the Tohono O'odham people.

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Reginald Dwayne Betts' "The Invention of Crack"
Brian Turner's "2000 lbs."
Patricia Smith's "Sitting in my dimly lit cell..."
Randall Horton shares "Dear Aesthetic Beauty"