W. Todd Kaneko

We can't hear the radio

Listen to this song on the radio
about a girl who loves a boy

who is not in love with anyone,
both of them full of dirty twang

and cheap wine. A few frequencies
down the dial, there is a news report

about bullets flying at night clubs,
at strip malls, at public schools,

all those people all at once singing
for their lives. Listen to the sirens

wail for the hospital, the funeral
for the names of the newly ruined,

all of them wishing for a return
to silence. Somewhere in the world

there is a bullet careening towards
the chest of a boy who doesn’t know

the difference between moving
his body and falling in love

with a girl because they listen
to bright songs that don’t care

if anyone is listening, but just locate
the quickest way to a person’s heart

when the world is going to shit.
Tonight, we would give anything

to discover a brand new song
dedicated to us on the radio,

anything to lose the bullets
in the static forever, anything at all.


Still of the Night
after Whitesnake

Because the night is brand new,
                                                                                the moon is swollen and
you need someone but the wolves
                                                                                inside you are dead or
are too busy sniffing around
                                                                                fresh meat. There is nothing in
your house to keep you
                                                                                here still alive. Don’t be
afraid of the way I feel,
                                                                                silent while the buzzards eat
my heart beating like the forest
                                                                                for days, because your body is
feeding a fire. Because we are
                                                                                not the carcass of a buck, not
nocturnal creatures, swapping
                                                                                flesh for the appetite. You wear
hairless skins for brand new
                                                                                tattoos, for a pack of ghosts
hides in the dark. Tonight,
                                                                                stripped of ink and marrow,
we will understand our bodies
                                                                                for the things we make—
like one day, I will become
                                                                                not love but silence now
close to you in the cool moonlight,
                                                                                far from the howling. I know
the heat of your pelt between
                                                                                my heartbeats, my ragged breath,
my fingers. I can see the stars
                                                                                with my eyes closed, with you
rising over me. I can see myself
                                                                                abandoned so clearly.


W. Todd Kaneko is the author of The Dead Wrestler Elegies (Curbside Splendor 2014) and co-author with Amorak Huey of Poetry: A Writers' Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury Academic 2018). His poems and prose have appeared in The Normal School, Barrelhouse, Gulf Coast, NANO Fiction, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Rumpus and many other places. A Kundiman fellow, he is co-editor of Waxwing magazine and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he is an Assistant Professor at Grand Valley State University.