May 1999

Thomas Swiss

Thomas Swiss Thomas Swiss is a Professor of English and Director of the Web-Assisted Curriculum at Drake University. His latest books include Rough Cut (Illinois) and the co-edited Mapping the Beat: Pop Music and Contemporary Theory (Blackwell).  His work has appeared in Iowa Review, Ploughshares and American Scholar
Mixed Philosophical    Click to hear in real audio

Fabulous to be one of those in black jeans and torn T,
a world-class moodiness
exuding a certain

untouchable vibe: the gaze
that says to anyone
who dares

engage it: stand back, stay clear, fuck off.
Were there other reasons
he chose

to be granite? Look at Sartre and Camus,
for god's sake, Bowie,

your French super-models. The world
isn't all rose petals, lute music,
Walt Disney...

it's — well, that's his point. Hip to be one of them,
the smell of sweat and cigarettes,
trying to be honest —

that counts, doesn't it? — but understanding
the Darkness will soon
swallow every-

thing. You think he only frets and fears?
The TV's clicked on all the time,
but, hell,

he knows what he needs. Knows the song
means what it says. So, too, the eye
at the keyhole,

chalk marks on a sidewalk, the bullet hole —
ain't it cool? — sprouting
from a fevered

head. They all say what he says: Life sucks.

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Thomas Swiss: Poetry
Copyright 1999 The Cortland Review Issue SevenThe Cortland Review