Nick Sturm


“Now then, Pooh,” said Christopher Robin, “where’s your boat?”

“I ought to say,” explained Pooh as they walked down to the shore of the island, “that it isn’t just an ordinary sort of boat. Sometimes it’s a Boat, and sometimes it’s more of an Accident. It all depends.”

“Depends on what?”

“On whether I’m on the top of it or underneath it.”

You should read Harmonium no
let me change your mind I say to the male
wall in the bar Florida body I’ve got
a shrine to crush
library injury I’m not that glowing capable
student with strong words at ends of lines
I’m not
Then who are you? I’m a goth beach ball I’m
nervous prominence red
haired so critical & underneath it I’m
broke you stupid motherfucker it’s spring
in this book


You should read Harmonium no
the states won’t allow it Oh but you should
who is saying
I should? it’s the administration
behind the bougainvilleas that sounds a
blue velvety smear too many colors syllables
to refuse to be beautiful do I refuse that
yeah with a dolphin in my woods
What are you
under? I’m under the states in Florida
with a dolphin in my woods
not reading
with some umber mothish hate
how to begin not to die
under the administration no
let me change your mind


You should read Harmonium no
I dream of homelessness blood closed-
captioning friends I forget
my shoes & walk in a parking lot I’m
Does every line end with a strong word?
No What do you mean, no? I mean
they’re all strong words
sunshine champagne theory
fucking what I don’t know to love
in the dream I put all this in my book
I mean
beautiful is veracious
not conscious written choices but
belligerent confetti to describe debt
I’m in the real parking lot I buy a swiffer duster
a papaya a growling black amulet is my debt
to you my love is
doomed page on page
an unfinished verdant phrase


You should read Harmonium no
I will not rely only on the words but faithful
I will rely on you flawed on the lawn those
little lime tree weather
we love repulsive lyric aberrations
our love in abnormal ranges
I am not capable student necessary angel
Gorgeous Queen Marmot what am I saying
I’m saying I’m
studying you
pain its evocation not ours but sounds true
at the nape of the neck mortal personal
with hair pulled back
that’s the pain
under it being wear cleaving negative rainbows
irreducible shine honey baby need another
cup of coffee
& radiant not brilliant we ride
our sound going on
for thousands of pages
that was an example
of imagination


You should read Harmonium no
I’m listening to Cat Stevens not Wallace I think
I see the light coming through me too
shackled to see those are from different songs
but I heard them together


You read Harmonium no
I’m dead not in harmony with men
which is what they sing to me
only seeming to grieve when they lose everything
when is that
I’m being followed by a moon shadow no
it’s time to be relentless under it near
& against
a mammal comma
in unstated pleasure What are you under?
I’m underneath skinning
his opulent rooms for music
to betray big words clever
noises not reading
against an anecdote of men by the thousand
O, Florida under the states no genius underneath
violent boat violet shade did you hear
about the poetry salary cap increase? yeah
I’m dead Can you explain that?
I live it clearly
as you do inlaid in the book
not me inverted
foaming roses


You should read Harmonium no
my disillusionment comes in broad daylight
dear Wallace dear fuckface
I don’t just want to live & I don’t care
if that sounds ignoble


You should read Harmonium no
“Too many crazy white people nowadays”
Steven says “don’t want to be a part of that”
but “people need people” says a book I rip
apart Who are
the ones under the states the ones
petal pissing gut levels in hard light
ones who bends
my ritual edges who awkward
grace thickens
sound by sound I’m saying
life is the administration’s grave are we
people You’re not people yes we are dolphins
in woods the people of the sexy window night
but who wants to be rightly
not in an old chaos
of the sun no one unless you’re a moaning prickish
piece of life insurance now I’m being bitchy
so let me be a little more
extravagantly uneasy
I’m a mystical whoring fleeting body
up in the air
against all people


You should read Harmonium no
I can’t tell stories I am
identified against a soft blue background
crispy Costco prawns impersonality all those shitty
Mel Gibson movies it’s nice to make a little noise
to spite a few things
so why do I cry watching Braveheart
& do you remember that movie Forever Young
where Mel Gibson is cryogenically frozen like
Walt Whitman Disney who knows the difference
I’m a star member no mere star & buy all the fruit
I bodily can but anyway I cry
watching Braveheart
all the holy tyrannical air pressed in one man’s hair
they paint themselves blue banshees
& show their dicks to kings so I cry
overmatched & betrayed
in the wicked gutted dawn public unmarvelous
with a papaya that’s not freedom
not an accident I’m underneath
ideas feeling it


You should read Harmonium no
my malice speaks in amulets jade mostly
static under the states at the bar Florida body
kings tell me what to read or mostly fuck off
in breezy khakis
I’m under that
the source of gentleness & cruelty & work
rip not rid the town of evil no I think that’s right
I’m dead
in the living boat with a hectic vocabulary
umber mothish hate
symptoms in condos breezy dudes
the allergic buzz of being administered
What are you under?
I’m under the states under
toppled stateless breach I kiss
songs under
you’re still young that’s your fault no
this isn’t a Cat Stevens song it’s three nights work
dreaming of the book
voices cords a grace stretched greenly feeling
Whose voice? You don’t get voice These voices isn’t voice
it’s life erring an accident in a nice hopefully flower
a love or stain reeling
writing where I have read no
let me change your mind


You should read Harmonium no
I trace the music that’s how I live it’s not popular
but is under the states to steal
rosemary from the park lines
from the books composed to be
no strong words at all
profaning the men no
where to live except to be hateful
perverse indignant wicked & because of it
to be actually a harmony
in praise of unremorseful
healers the dead not him the male
wall in the bar Florida body
should I let up should I let up
on Stevens Walt Whitman Disney should I let up
on myself who knows the difference no I should
pay the rent
& get broke fall out
in the worded air
I open the book randomly to the page after page
after Alice & unfix my hair alimentary canal alimony
aliped aliphatic Alison alive alkaline all
choral grit I’m dead
moving care simple can be read
that’s my dream
a secret of red books not secretive but bound
sour fevered clouds
in bar Florida body
the design of this ship
is no distinctions I insist


You should read Harmonium no
I’m desolate & making guacamole
with you under
a black amulet violent boat violet shade
the states the pain of people imagining
what else imagination looks like
out from under
in a dream not reading
an intricate ship
so undisciplined
that we live


NICK STURM is the author of Labor Day with Carrie Lorig and I Was Not Even Born with Wendy Xu. His work has appeared in Black Warrior, Typo, jubilat, PEN, and Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014. A book, How We Light, was published by H_NGM_N in 2013. He is currently a PhD candidate at Florida State University and is working on an extended critical project on the poetry of Ted Berrigan.

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