Wasted Afterlives / Larry Narron


Wasted Afterlives

poems by

Larry Narron

ISBN: 978-1-59948-807-3, ~40 pages, $12 (+ shipping)

Release Date: July 7, 2020


LARRY NARRON grew up in San Diego County. His poems have appeared in Bayou, Phoebe, Hobart, Booth, The Brooklyn Review, and elsewhere. They’ve been nominated for the Best of the Net and Best New Poets. Narron holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, an MFA in poetry from Pacific University, and an MSEd in reading, writing, and literacy from the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in northern Michigan, where he teaches literature and writing to high school students.

In these real-life lyrics, Narron depicts ways of living in the U.S. underrepresented in poetry today: getting by, getting sober, getting religion and getting work. My favorites take place outdoors, sought not for recreation but from need, where the poet makes his way among survivalists and habitats – opportunistic crows and an abandoned patchwork nest, “a disposable hairnet … / furnished with secondhand leaves.” Narron’s own finely patchworked poems offer us lively spots to dwell in. ~John Shoptaw


Every poem in Larry Narron’s Wasted Afterlives is a plunge into the tactile. The diction will arrest you, as will the imagery and the tone of voice. Here is a poetry that inextricably blends the senses, the brain and the heart. Authentic and reliable, it is a poetry of extraordinary gravity. It will make its mark inside you. ~Marvin Bell



Across the street lives a man
who’s been building his house for a decade.

A staircase spirals around his chimney
like the model of a DNA strand

that reaches toward the roof
he’s blueprinted onto a crumpled sky.

At night, he burrows a tunnel under the asphalt,
dragging his wires through the dark

to my yard, pulling them up the side
of my trailer to attach to my satellite

dish for a thousand free channels.
Early one morning, after his footsteps

have stomped through my dream
& awakened me, I catch him

on my roof, crouched like a hawk
by the rain gutter, having a cup of coffee,

watching the sunlight bleed
from the dismantled horizon.



Job Hunting in Winter


I walk close to the buildings,
stay under their canopies
to avoid getting drenched by the rain.

I look into the grocery store’s windows
as they’re getting ready to open,
eavesdrop on the cashiers
gossiping as they count in their tills.

I smell the warm plume as it drifts
up from the bakery, through the roof
toward a few faint stars that linger
even as the sky turns slightly blue.

When I walk around back,
the night crew is still
dragging the shrink-wrapped orders
out of the semi’s trailer
with their electric pallet jacks.

On the asphalt below the loading dock
lies a disposable hairnet
a bird stitched into a nest
it furnished with secondhand leaves.



Raskolnikov in Silicon Valley (and the title)


A hunchbacked ambassador sweeps
me up in a dustpan.

Dizzied by a dream
in which I’d courted
tornadoes, I’m reborn shivering
in the doorway of a wig shop
whose mannequins set it ablaze.

I brother a dime
from an otherwise empty-
handed pamphleteer.

I stitch a sleeping
bag out of ludicrous
sentences begged
from the lips of so many
amateur mathematicians.

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