Issue 22 – Spring 2012 – Peter Campion

Peter Campion


Chicago: The Congress Plaza

Under crackling paint where the ballroom
opens to alcoves
he loosens his tie and winces.

“So Larissa threw my suitcase
down the stairs and our kids were watching.”

Shimmer of ormolu from ceiling coffers.
Someone shouts
“God o God” to blues in the bar.

The whole hotel could be some
resonant chambered
temple of supplicants:

all the cellphone signals 
spidering air with bargains and blandishments
complaints and cries

becoming what. . . one primal invocation?


“Mother of memories
                                   love that burns in love
who grants me pleasure and
makes me work 

remind me of your touch: 

first coolness of the coming dark.

Mother of memories 
                                 love that burns in love.”


Sloshed babble.
But inside the din 
his moan of bare appeal.
“I did addiction therapy 
there in Mississippi
same as Tiger Woods.
But here I am and man I have this
lioness waiting in my room.”

As if whatever shameful
god of our bloodstream
reared up among the Robber Baron rococo

all cover of desire peels away.

Like greed revealing some original
        some urge that sends the Doppler slur of semis
hurtling west on 94

and the voices spidering.

“I’ve seen the past. 

My mouth against your thighs
since only on your body
on your neck and clavicles
breasts and heartbeat 
could I see my past.

These words
faint scents
                   time out of time.

These will return 
as we have known them as the sun
returns as sacrament from ocean.

These words
faint scents 
                   time out of time.”


“Someone should strap a muzzle on me
                                                                 tie me down.
I don’t know how to bear myself.

Don’t know what medicine . . .”


At dawn a bluish wash
                                      sporadic car horns and
everything is

till daulied up the lobby by invisible feet
and dribbling white
                                 light on the marble

comes the enormous cube

of crates of milk.



Peter Campion is the author of two books of poems, Other People (2005) and The Lions (2009.) He is the recipient of the Larry Levis Reading Prize, the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Guggenheim Fellowship. He teaches in the M.F.A. program at the University of Minnesota.