Poems

Lisa Olstein Bremen

A certain man, corn-sacks, indefatigably, but—
Bremen. Daily weaker, no longer can, but now
how—Bremen. Gone askew, worn to stumps,
three days rain, where—Bremen. Soup tomorrow—
Bremen. A little spark—Bremen—burning,
a light. You can find something better than death
everywhere, every mother never said but instructed
with the night-music of her heart. Animal tales:
wild and domestic. Magic tales: supernatural
adversaries, supernatural tasks. Religious tales:
God rewards or punishes, the truth comes
to light. Realistic tales: robbers and murderers,
chains involving survival, chains involving death.
Tales of the stupid ogre, jokes about old maids,
stories about a fool. There are many other features
of ideas than truth. Bandwagon fallacy, fallacy
of composition, fallacy of division, genetic fallacy,
gambler’s fallacy, fallacist’s fallacy, slippery slope—
each bad argument has a conclusion. Monster of this,
monster if that. A ghost, a witch, a judge, a man
with a knife. Appeal to poverty, appeal to wealth,
affirm the consequent, argue from ignorance,
beg the question. Bremen. The lie is the truest part.

Lisa Olstein is the author of four poetry collections: Radio Crackling, Radio Gone (Copper Canyon Press 2006), winner of the Hayden Carruth Award; Lost Alphabet (Copper Canyon Press 2009), a Library Journal best book of the year; Little Stranger (Copper Canyon Press 2013), a Lannan Literary Selection; and Late Empire, forthcoming from Copper Canyon in fall 2017. Her chapbook, The Resemblance of the Enzymes of Grasses to Those of Whales Is a Family Resemblance, won an Essay Press prize and was released in 2016. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Nation, American Letters & Commentary, and Boston Review. Her honors include a Pushcart Prize, a Lannan Writing Residency, and fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Centrum. A member of the poetry faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, Olstein currently teaches in the New Writers Project and Michener Center for Writers MFA programs. She is also the lyricist for the rock band Cold Satellite, fronted by acclaimed songwriter Jeffrey Foucault. Previously, she co-founded and for ten years directed the Juniper Summer Writing Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she also served as associate director of the MFA program. She serves as an associate editor for Tupelo Quarterly, a contributing editor for jubilat, and advisor for Bat City Review.