July 23rd, 2013 / 11:13 am
I Like __ A Lot

STARK WEEK GOODBYE: A Partial Index of First Lines


brain eatersAs you can see from the painstaking Filter > Stylize > Wind applied above to our beautiful Stark Week banner, it is time to bid goodbye to the surfer Zen North Carolina clay tennis court poetics of The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather. Thank you all for reading. Stark Week has been good to me because of all the wonderful people who have written such smart things about these poems of Sam’s, and all the right-brainy artists who have waxed/flowcharted stirringly about trying to contain these poems between arty art. Thank you all for writing. Also during Stark Week was the first time I ever watched Point Break.

I hope you enjoyed this in-depth look at a very large and very spiffy book of poems. You can go back any time, but you can never get the sand to smell the same way in your hair twice. As a final adieu, below the jump is a partial index of all the first lines from the poems in the book. If you want to take one of these lines and make your own four line poem out of it and post it in the comments, you might just find yourself with a free book in the mail, or a margarita in your lap, or a late night phone call from a dude in a cheap, Target-purchased condor suit explaining that he has a great idea for a snack track in your hometown and he won’t stop over-enunciating the word “shank.” It’s love is what it is.

Finally, don’t forget about the tell-us-about-a-crazy-place-you-lived contest, which is running until the end of the night on Wednesday. Now go out and put your first five books in a book. Grow your hair past your hightops. Dunk the sadness.

Partial Index of First Lines from The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather



999 calories

A good memory is hard to find

A Rubik’s cube with the stickers peeled off—

After the aria,

All nightmares are a matter of proportion

Another obscene gesture (!@#%$&*) has triumphed

As for suffering, didn’t the old masters realize how boring it is?

Ask the photograph. It says science. It says spoon…

At a coffee shop in Peekskill I met a Russian novelist…

At the end of the poem where you die in the backseat…

At the end, even the SARS Czar was looking

Bang, bang, you’re all alive

“Be an uncarved block of wood” my fans would shout

Before we leave, there’s one more thing I need to know

By law, I bequeath the oxygen in your lungs

caucasian magic

Certain haircuts can bring back the dead

Chances are you haven’t been born yet,

Chased by a guy nicknamed The Moose from my high school gym class,



Dear ocean, what do you want from me, with your saline

Death playing opossum

Did I ever tell you about the time I walked into my bosses’office?

did you say river

Drowning, it turns out, is not difficult

Each time you bleed, you come back to me

email me an animal

every poem should begin

Every sentence is a certain surrender

Everyone applauds at the nonchalance with which I sink

For a long time now we have been at war with the sea

Forget futurism and its various films, I want to talk to you

fuck god

Fuck the flood, this wake

Grass is merely an idea here

Hail, Hail, the kid can swim!

Have you noticed all the commercials these days…

have you noticed pussyfoot

He knew the sea was not the sea

Here, take this handgun, cradle it, be confident but don’t think…

here’s the deal

His mother was blind and his father’s right leg did not fit his left leg

Hope cries uncle, kung fu gripped

How can a “last breath” be a cliché?

how do mountains happen

Human beings are weird

I am not a good person

I am sitting in a white wicker chair in the middle of a long field

I am small

I am writing to you from the end of the world

I believe in scarecrows

I desire, against my will, despite these 33 stitches in my wrist,

I dug your horror-movie intro

I escape a tsunami in the soul, the kind

I met a ninja

I saw Mickey Rourke on Charlie Rose last night

I was serious about that shit

I’ve always said Mike Tyson is my favorite poet

I’ve been thinking about that painter who cut his hand off…

If a man falls in a forest and no one is around, does he still make a sound?

imagine this as music

In seventh grade, I couldn’t find the heart

In the racquetball court we made love, God watched

Invisibility is easy; if I could have 1 super power

It hails so much, as if to make me surrender

It is July 44th, according to the microwave

It occurs to me that I need to scream,

It wasn’t exactly prison sex, but

It’s true, I live in the woods alone

“Jesus! We need more balloons”

Let me explain. My dog is dead, no home

let the fish go

light is awesome!

lop off your obligatory birds

love is so competitive

More than ever we are surround by moths

My friend thinks that poetry has nothing to do with words

mystery is predictable

need a cheat code for Mondays

New York is a vast experiment in loneliness

Nintendo always felt more real than life

Once and for all I’d like to explain my name—

“People die at 7-Eleven’s too,”

Perhaps it moves toward you

please accept my eggs

Poetry is exactly like sexual harassment

Reagan supplied the Contras condoms:

“Realism has no place in publishing”

Remember when we met in Philadelphia so I could save your life

responsibility & disappointment

Season without warning,

shape up clouds

similes suck

skin is the shit

Sometimes, like right now, when snow has muted the world,

that Microsoft course

The alarm clock is confused,

the army should do something

The boy, mostly seaweed, was born in the forest

The computer travels inward,

The education of trembling is not handled well in this city

The entire office is crammed in the conference room…

the first step

The hammer, the afterbirth, the anvil, the ink,

The IRS is after me again

the key to anger

The more I become a block of wood, the more you grow into a mountain

The perfect drug is one you only experience once,

The photograph is proof of time

The problem with fiction is that it pretends to be real,

The sky is way too blue like a TV set after kids have fucked with the remote,

the trick is to transcend

There are constantly packs of wolves in the city,

There is an anchor, rising

This banana clip was emptied on a single cloud

this is not magic

This is the story of dark matter

This is what will happen. We will write a book

Tonight I get down from my lawnmower

Torpedo Torpedo

war would be cooler

We remain, your absence and I

Weight. And begin again. This time I will tell you

What good is a wooden horse without an army

When I was little everything hurt

When Randy Macho Man Savage died,

yay vaca

You can have your fucking city back

Zoomania, mineral, animal,

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  1. Nathan Jackson

      I escape a tsunami in the soul, the kind
      only recorded by doodles fingered in the condensation.
      Recovery feels like selling out
      or combing through ashes for telltale traces of bone.

  2. Nathan Jackson

      The alarm clock is confused,
      I spit seeds at the calendar to decide what to wear.
      Blind pigeons are tuning the church bells.
      “Will this meeting never end?”

  3. Nathan Jackson

      The alarm clock is confused,
      I spit seeds at the calendar to decide what to wear.
      Blind pigeons are tuning the church bells.
      “Will this handshake never end?”

  4. Nathan Jackson

      Oh jeez, I guess comments can’t be deleted then.