Ante Matter ||| Drunken Boat

Pretty good work if you can get it, making paradises in abandoned banks

stony exterior, marble interior,

the registers like a failed carillon (toneless) striking all hours at all hours.

Every noon the ghost attendants ghost-walk up to the kiosk,

throw down nobody’s money

(The two days you are proud of a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it)

Trading in the heart for the farm, buying the farm,

selling the bucket to kick

the can, selling the farm when you kick the bucket.

It doesn’t make sense to dream of a time after the apocalypse because

that’s a time of permanent wakefulness anyway: high-level emissions,

grainy disturbances. Until then

remember the language of contracts: you can bank on love

and when that bank collapses, your worries are the least of your worries.


Brian Laidlaw is a poet-songwriter based in Boulder, Colorado. He has released the poetry collections Amoratorium (Paper Darts Press) and The Stuntman (Milkweed Editions), each of which includes a companion album of original music; another book called The Mirrormaker is also forthcoming from Milkweed in Fall 2018. Brian is currently working toward a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Denver, and continues to tour nationally and internationally with his band The Family Trade.

Ante Matter” first appeared on Drunken Boat.

Look for new work from Brian Laidlaw in TLR: Chemistry, the all-poetry issue, available now.