Tuesday Poem: ‘Lines Written Under the Influence’ by Sam Rasnake

Lines Written Under the Influence

The beginning middle and end don’t fit
our lives anymore. The shadows are real.
Too much road, I think. Everywhere,
too much away from and nothing toward.
Signs and buildings and plate glass neon.
You don’t act the words. Just say them –
The rhythm of bone and soup and wind,
a hawk landing on rocks, newspaper
along asphalt, the whistle of fence line
and railroad tracks to divide the waking
from the dream and a seamless blue
over desert high country. This is
the solitude of happy. The right car
and music, the highway. No borders.


CV  FrontThis poem opens Sam Rasnake’s new poetry collection — available TODAY — that I’ve been looking forward to for months.  You can also hear Rasnake read this poem here — it’s in this podcast at about the 15 min mark, with a marvellous and perfect Ry Cooder segment beforehand. It was also first published at mipoesiasThis poem is the perfect way to open this collection of 46 ekphrastic poems, all dealing with films both great and small. There are so many reasons I love those opening lines; the notion of beginning, middle and end is something Rasnake plays with repeatedly in his poetry, and in this collection in particular. And the ending — No borders — what a perfect way to introduce a collection that breaks down walls and expectations and takes us to places we didn’t think of going. For the wanderer in me, both literal and metaphorical, this collection sings. I really love it. And I’m not the only one. Here’s what award-winning poet Kelly Cherry as to say:
“I fell in love with this book on the first page. Sam Rasnake’s poems – often metrical, or visually arrayed like a piece of art – are beautifully crafted. In them, we relive great films we have seen, learn how to pitch to a producer, encounter a script in development, and are shown close-up portraits of the directors. Delightful, fresh, full of superbly smart, insightful observations about film’s ability to model the twinned Janus-faces of comedy and tragedy. Roger Ebert would give Cinéma Vérité four stars. So do I.” 
– Kelly Cherry, winner of the Hanes Poetry Prize, a Pushcart, and three PEN/Syndicated Fiction awards, and author of The Life and Death of Poetry: Poems

“This is the solitude of happy.”


Find more poems this week from the energetic mix of Tuesday Poets below. Just click on over to the main hub and see what’s happening. This week you’ll read Geoffrey Philp’s A Poem for the Innocentspresented by this week’s Tuesday Poem hub editor this week, Rethabile Masilo. You can also find poems by the various TP collective members — look down the left-hand sidebar and click on each one to see their weekly contributions.

Tuesday Poem For more Tuesday Poems, go here.

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2 Responses to Tuesday Poem: ‘Lines Written Under the Influence’ by Sam Rasnake

  1. Rethabile says:

    Thank you. I liked the way the poem packs a lot into a small space… gave me the feeling of a big, crowded, dirty city. Then it freed me at the end, and that I enjoyed even more. Alone [with Motown and Stax] and happy, the solitude of happy. Nice.

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