Matthew Olzmann selected “Disorder” for the 2021 Yellowwood Poetry Prize. He writes, “With its winged bellhops, Magma Boots, and meteors that strike the Earth like a chocolate orange, “Disorder” lays a keen and whimsical imagination over a steady current of anxiety and despair. This is a poem that’s not interested in merely telling its reader about an experience; instead, it seeks to create an experience. The poem is an event: tonally complicated, figuratively ambitious, equally fueled by both wonder and dread.”
A recent season of dreams has made it clear
that I prefer a hellscape where I understand the rules
to a paradise where I do not.
How can it be a paradise
if even here I cannot make my mother smile? No —
I am forced to ring the winged bellhop and say: sorry
to trouble you but this must be a web of someone else’s
desires. I hold a single hope. It takes very little to see
that this heaven is not for me.
In a better dream, a meteor
whacks the earth like a chocolate orange.
While my eighth grade classmates quake and scramble
I stand at the head of the school bus, shouting
through the bullhorn I seem to carry in dreams:
This is what finally frightens you? No —
chaos and I go way back. I will chart our path, teach you
what I have lived. Now lace up the Magma Boots
I asked you to bring, line up according to height. Follow me
into hostile terrain. If the trauma feels overwhelming,
step one is to give it a name.
ERICA REID (she/her) is a Colorado poet with an Ohio heart. She is an MFA candidate at Western Colorado University.