Aaron Crippen is a poet and translator whose awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Fellowship
and the PEN Texas Literary Award for Poetry. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in A Public Space, Beloit Poetry Journal, Mid-American Review, [PANK], and other journals.
He doesn’t sculpt heads, he sculpts skulls with faces attached, taut, wizened,
eyes hard with the ice of years.
A man whose life has been a series of cuts, of amputations.
A man drenched by the downpouring years, whose anesthetic drips down his
skull leaving seams but he does not pain because he is tired and knows it
is time and is somewhat sweet that his skull will open as a flower.
A man who has known the sun and its shrinking, which has turned him to a
raisin; he grudgingly holds to his juice, which is sweet but does not flow.
A man whose head is bare of hair, a globe to a globe, from man to sky
unmitigated, unmediated, there is nothing but air, no protection, and no
wanting of; he is as the sky but a man; he does not even feel that he is
A youngish monk large but thin of arm, strength inward, not of body, which
is cracked full through, seems shot at the base of the throat but wears the
rusting wound as an amulet, and his head is whole, intent. He is seeking
An older monk beyond concentration; he has got to just sitting; his arm is
broken, not right, but no matter; he has become an institution.
A man who has peeled away too much skin, seen too many muscles tendons
cold hacked through bones, not to himself become flesh and bone
through his face.
An animal who knows it.