Literature 4-2-2007

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Darren Angle

"What Light: This Week's Poem," sponsored by Magers and Quinn, brings you a poem every week by a Minnesota poet, selected by a panel of writers and publishers. Our new book of the first years' What Light poets is now out; get it at Magers and Quinn.

Darren Angle

The Good Advice

I really hope and pray that you have not reached the addiction stage.
     Let me reiterate the fact that due to your family history, you are at a higher risk of becoming addicted to whatever quicker.
     Son, I love you very much and it breaks my heart…

        -Mother, by letter

Four dollars in florida

to swallow a pack of magic wands
my father said – and it was the first step

he opens his shirt once a year
says they’re looking for holes

that aren’t there
’cause he plugs them with rabbits
or some other dispensable wonder

the hinged space
between my shoulders

I knew it
at uncle’s funeral

when I was the tallest
’cause there weren’t any men left

my only urge was suck down, breathe huge,

what makes you small enough
to crawl under closed doors.

the wake was the hole
that I missed, flying home early
remembering the first words

uncle taught me in french
ooh la la to the new mother

outside of his apartment.
I was three.

when my son is three
I will tell him to love everything
as hard as he can

and not to put anything
to his lips

that vaguely reminds him
of a nipple.


I wrote my first poems in 9th grade instead of paying attention in Algebra 2. Since then they have appeared in notebooks, back pockets, and emails all over the country. Currently, I’m a sophomore at Macalester College where I’ve been lucky enough to study with Wang Ping, Steve Burt, and Alex Lemon. I help edit Chanter,the campus literary magazine.


One of the best things I’ve gleaned over my poetic lifespan was from an interview with Matthea Harvey. She talked about using the poem as an opportunity to share your “eyes” (literal & figurative) with the reader. When I write, I like to toy with different methods of relaying experience. I’m always worried about the vantage point of the reader– whether or not I’ll give them surface-level vision or make them a temporary inhabitant of my mind. I like to think that there is a sort of volume knob attached to how directly a reader experiences the contents of a poem. I’m trying to find ways to push it to 11.