about the author

Nicolas Hampton is the twenty-six-year-old Michigan State University dropout who wouldn’t stop showing up to Diane Wakoski’s office hours. Born and raised in Kalamazoo, MI, he currently resides in Chicago, IL. He’s passed out a couple books and helped a zine or two. His poems can be found on the online postings of Haggard & Halloo and the forthcoming 21st issue of Short, Fast & Deadly. Nicolas is currently spending his time doing things his mother should have said would end up this way, but was smart enough to let the boy figure it out.

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Tonight’s The Night

Nicolas Hampton

For the album of the same title by Neil Young

Waterface, I can hear a stage of round black.
The steel pedal is agonizing, stretching
the strings like a man’s pain
across the rack.
I am standing, but not in the back
where all the columns turn to
arches, where the hairs erect
a hallow feline chorus
replaying the past
rising from inland islands
of tweeters, trebles and subs.
I can see The Country’s ready,
bathed in cinnamon
and the shade of Forget Me Nots, slouching
over a red-eyed electric
devil dressed in mourning white.
Can I recognize the sugar cane
of a borrowed tune
as the taste of a neighbor
not my own?
The key of a good swing ain’t the tone,
but the return to a rhythm
just less of perfect, just enough
space to kick the blood, plunge
the foot, bury the ground.
I can feel the ground remembering
who lives within it,
trembling with the length
of a gnat’s fluttering wing,
taking in dull drums to the hilt,
deafening the land. I can’t feel you
Neil, only the grief you return
in nickel strings to a young granite lip.

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