Poem of the Week | August 05, 2019

Eric Tran is the winner of the 2019 Autumn House Press Rising Writer Contest and his debut, the Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer, is forthcoming 2020. He is the author of the chapbook Revisions and his work appears in Prairie Schooner, RHINO, the Indiana Review, and elsewhere. He is a resident physician in Asheville, NC.


Angier, NC

I read about the winner
of the Harris Teeter gift card
and saw Angrier, North Carolina.
A mistake small enough
to slip in your pocket
in the checkout line.
              But I admit I’m angry.
Four of my friends died this year.
I would have more save-
the-dates for wakes than weddings
on my fridge if 30-year-olds did that.
You maybe see now
why I am angry
              my friend said he was scared
to die alone and I said he was silly
instead of let’s get married!
I admit my fist has tightened
around my steering wheel
as if to say I’m ok if I’m not
screaming, as if to say look
at all the control I have.
              I admit I’m so angry that I cry
at surprise proposals now.
I’m so angry I write down
everyone’s birthday.
So angry I demand unending hugs.
I’m lousy and bloated
with love. In anger I apologize

for not congratulating you soon,
Lisa M. of Angier, North Carolina.
I’m angry and I wish you the bounty
of double coupon day, of dented cans
sold for cheap. A slab of bloody roast
with the most perfect marble.
A flat of strawberries near spoil,
right when they’re sweetest.


Author’s Note

One of my favorite parts of Western NC is all the fantastic names of places: Graveyard Falls, Bearwallow, Pumpkintown. When I hastily read Angier, NC as Angrier, NC, it fit in my literal and emotional topography at the time. I had to work on the poem very piecemeal for several weeks as anger is not a feeling I can sustain for long.