Aaron McCollough’s first book, Welkin, won the 2001 Sawtooth Poetry Prize and is available from Ahsahta Press. A second manuscript, Double Venus, was a finalist in the 2002 National Poetry Series Competition. His poems have recently appeared in journals including The Colorado Review, American Letters & Commentary, Lit and Drunken Boat.







Common Places



As good a place to start

where all where all mornings start

shut in and quiet

the common ground of good

will I share with others

the floor I share with her

(unlock the door my love

our feet on it again

on earth again our earth


Suzanne (as an object)


a lump of comforter


                                    a handsome yawning girl


beautiful society!












                                                                                                Fyrst arise erly

                                                                                                Serve thy God deuly

                                                                                                And the warld besylly












in line of sight    in line

through breaks in the screen

to mean

a thing

to be


in babylon-and-zion-one or the track not

a metaphor for the bear but the bear

a metaphor for the track


you should have seen the host

you had to see the host


but I am walking in

the day    reflected in

the windows    making plans


the snow is waving off

the walk    hard and soot

adrift    the drift)    my plan:

believe what heat I feel

is sent from space to ME












                        The regimen is old – incrusted with the baked

                                    hyacinth sealant – to man the rig of zipline

                        or cover scripture in net to catch loose pieces

                                    the rabble take for magic

                                    I stir a rabid wheezing –

                        drive down the new extension – bask in the valley.


                        Brand believing soaking in the tepid stair-step

                                    enumerating spindles of erasure head

                        I do my work (am drawn away) and do my work

                                    for work to do in view of

                                    passing windows – spreading parks –

                        the garden of heaven at the foot of the hill.


                        That fading shape behind the town behind the hill

                                    I lived in singing for my supper – eating it

                        asking for another helping another ask for

                                    help is all I even hope

                                    to see contain container –

                        on the land                               












                                                          (am drawn away and further drawn away from that)












                                                                                                 an say-us-na sairlie,

                                                                                                 but sauf us frae the ill-ane












worried so much about

the state of in                I’m worrying

the hardwood floor between

my wife and me three feet

the body of our soul

together back to back

at work at worrying


the body of our soul


                        a work of worry











                                                                                                It is better to marry

                                                                                                to marry


                                                                                                to marry is


                                                                                                not to burn


                                                                                                to marry not

                                                                                                to burn

                                                                                                is to burn in


                                                                                                counterfeit gloom












                        every switch being thrown

                        the draft beneath the door

                        the light beneath the floor            (I left on laundering)

                        this cozy little work of persisting


                        are you breathing    enough

                        as good a place

                                                to start













Shipwreck of the Singular





geese, ducks, swans    the tall grass called

maiden hair grass


and    right

against the headline



detroit police sick and tired

of finding dead babies




our “at this point the

discussion becomes academic”

way of rising


in Gallup park    not feeding

the water fowl    who stay here but a term




we go on paving stones





night unseasonably cool for Tennessee

in Michigan and Canada    dry air

across the bed


this is our new home    we are lying down






it was delivered thus


the road that runs in front of home is fast

buses and cool gliding pedestrians

making noise en route to another road


heaven is a beautiful


I once    (once I

            was straight


head    on    shoulders


            had headed


had the ones                


            ballad hunter    balladeer


dear, if you want to get to heaven on time

lord knows you got to [                             ]


I know


I know to feeling until feeling no longer

     need to know


beautiful place -------- there’s hundreds of daylilies


    not just orange but tiger huntress carnelian and crazywork


and the cake-type mountain described is a real

with some of the friends who tried, or a little at last


            not bitching about the work    they reek

            they roll the giant shopping carts through ruts


    deep gravel                not-so-shallow fords


once*                nothing but a thing



*I once had


still quite hot --------- sure, and up hill except for some scenic vistas

            one called needle head


the ground falls away



            the scene: some more of the friends

            building a sandy starter ramp




the way is zooming iodine

                        but slow


            the seeings a jaundicey




                        and virgo’s hands again


“she tried to arrange for a trip

    over to the island, where the people live

    in very primitive style and sing tunes that

    go back to slavery and earlier times.  But

    transportation for our machine-was- and

    the heavy batteries needed for supplying

    the power was a problem that we did not so

    ,as only row-boats were available.  Another snag:”




 I do not know


but one    I one    through the vents in my head

heaven [scratch]


earth = the origin of metaphysical belief

b/c earth is a wilderness of labor


another snag


                        sang the sirens between two roads


and came the furies to shit

upon our solemnity this night


we let it slide


                        so long S’wanee

I learned a lot upon the mountain (beat)


not that


heaven is a beautiful place


            lord knows you got to [                                 ]


I come back to the geography of it

                                    the sandstone bands

                                    Cumberland Plateau


in lieu of that beneath my feet    I don’t know

                                    cushion of conifers like nails in a pail


and their faces






of being numinous, G. Oppen and the addition


my mother and father of birds    I saw an angel @ the CN tower

that is, I looked @ the CN tower in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

            August 23, 2001


Here Magi – Here!  The young woman is


hearing the voices raising receipts and


rubber bands


rejecting one for another for a false compass


            Jeremiah:          This captivity is long


                                    build houses    dwell in them    plant gardens


                                    eat fruit    take wives




                                    seek peace    have peace




                                    I    gather    countries


                                    will    they    be    safely    brought



                                    gate    of    the    self    fall


O my mountain in the field

my pleasant portion   


my mother and father of birds    it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps /

correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to




I would adjust my friend’s terms; say gardener “your handiwork stops and starts”






but we are a government

            me, mine, numerous others’ others


and we are sick    we are all sick


and tired


of death    even as we long for heaven

            “Oh that my head were waters” – Jerim.

            “I have pictured it by a river/Secret to America

            but wholly American” – DR



what about this “spanging” (a student taught me this)

wretched polis    relief for America’s workers printed right

on the check I cashed and spent on making mirth


this was no relief but

“this shall seem, as partly ‘tis, their own” – Sicinius


that partly ‘tis


behind the daydream    the day    that wholly is


“every man that is mad / maketh himself a profit”    we

walk (my mother, my father, my wife)

the perennials @ the Canadian Royal Gardens







            there is the rock


            there is the honey


            in the rock there is honey


even if the honey looks like grains of sand


even then besides the grains 




                        “sung in the dreaming voice of

the sponger”


                        like unto the amber in the second sight


the choirs of angels in the rock in the sea


not the rock made to look like the rose

not the resemblance in the rock


            the rose in the rock


a list of some who’re seeing it: D., B., K., W., W., O., Z., J., R.


honey defined as honey, which is made by bees, in the rock









late summer this


with caterpillars


choked up

            fruit trees

all unpruned


not ruined



I would make a little comedy

even under    in the compass of

            a pale


            dangling apricocks                     bending twigs

            sprays                                      weeds

                           wholesome flowers



by way of just walking

“in the ‘yellow spot’ of clear vision”


we at time of year / do wound the bark, the skin

of our fruit trees, / lest being overproud in sap and

blood / with too much riches it confound itself



I would make a comedy


knowing                        prison    unto

                                    unto world unto


I in one person many people, / and none contented; sometimes


            with nothing shall be pleased,

till he be eased / with being nothing


            FULL OF DAYS, AMEN


comedies          de vegetabilibus

comedies          de animalibus

            of earth, air, and leaf


wherein one’s humble weeds are weeds

            and free

                        but not dead

sick and tired of finding dead

            a pitiless world