Pick-a-Poem: Camille Rankine


Welcome, blog readers, to the first Pick-a-Poem post of 2016! Perhaps you have a new year’s resolution to read more poetry. If so, you’ll love our weekly feature that showcases a new poem by someone you may not have heard of before. This can be a great way to discover new poetry, and all of our featured works come from Poetry Daily, which is an even better way to discover new poetry. This site features a new poem every day. This week, we’re featuring Instructions for Modern Graffiti by Camille Rankine.

According to her bio page, Camille Rankine has written a poetry collection entitled Slow Dance with Trip Wire. This collection was selected for the Poetry Society of America’s Chapbook Fellowship. Her work has appeared in Boston ReviewDenver Quarterly, and Tin House, among others. She has received a “Discovery” / Boston Review Poetry Prize as well as a MacDowell fellowship. She currently serves as the Assistant Director of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Manhattanville College.

Instructions for Modern Graffiti by Camille Rankine

Dropping bombs has lost
its thrill. The city’s cleaned up and
carried you out, wiped down

its blemished memory. Done
climbing walls, you’ll travel
underground. Wear an orange vest

so you don’t get caught.
You won’t be spared
these visions. Rats scatter. Trash fire.

Heartspray, stain the halls.
In the morning, your life
skips by, too fast

to know. You will be erased
before long: fresh paint,
an empty plate. Your eyes stung

by the natural light.
Whether or not
you exist, you did

exist. When questioned, you’ll stick
to the story: alive without permission,
rusting away in the sun.

I hope you enjoyed this first featured poem of 2016! To see posts like this from last year, click here.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan


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