NEA Literature Fellowships

Mark Neely

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(2015 - Poetry)

"More and more"

more and more
I fight for sleep

I read Milton
or drop a Valium

in a shot of bourbon
but Lycidas tends

to kill me quicker
then I snap awake at four a.m.

Google my college
girlfriend and find her

on the steps of an expensive
Chicago townhouse

with her blonde husband
who looks like a low-level Nazi

or a Danish prince
I console myself

with this fact
scientists predict

blondes will be extinct
in a hundred years

I hate this Googling
it used to be

you could move away
and make old girlfriends

disappear and why
does Google always win

what about all the other
search engines yearning

to be verbs
I refuse to Google you

my nurse I'd rather Yahoo
like we used to

in your attic apartment
our shadows on the wall

like Kurosawa's samurai
but the sleek

and mathematical
beat out the sensual every time

the present always
drags the past into the future

and here's another thing
the blondes aren't dying out

I Googled blonde extinction
and found out it's a hoax

blondes in fact
will live forever

(First appeared in Willow Springs)

Mark Neely is the author of Beasts of the Hill (winner of the FIELD Poetry Prize) and Dirty Bomb (forthcoming 2015), both from Oberlin College Press. He earned his BA from the University of Illinois and his MFA from the University of Alabama. His chapbook, Four of a Kind, was published by Concrete Wolf Press and his poems have appeared in Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Boulevard, Sonora Review, and Barrow Street. He teaches at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where he lives with his wife—writer Jill Christman—and their two children.

Photo by Timothy Berg

Author's Statement

This grant will allow for many hours to write over the next two years, some extra travel to support my second book, Dirty Bomb (due out in 2015 from Oberlin College Press), and a few breaths between daily activities like teaching, committee meetings, grocery shopping, driving my kids around, and squandering time on the Internet.

But the NEA also means a lot psychologically. Writing poems can be a lonely business. All the time I spend fiddling with words is one of my greatest pleasures, but a bit of despair does creep in on occasion—mostly the thought that those solitary hours might come to nothing. Knowing poems I wrote, rewrote, and fretted over rose from a mountain of worthy work and caught the attention of the panelists (whose poems I have been reading and admiring for years) is incredibly gratifying. I am so grateful to the panelists and the National Endowment for the Arts for their recognition and support.