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Summer Local Writers Series: Feature 2: Nik De Dominic

The Summer Local Writers Series features works produced by New Orleans poets and prose-writers as part of NolaVie’s ongoing correspondence with the city’s arts and culture.  The writers selected will be drawn from diverse sets of intellects in order to paint a broader picture of the relationship between language and community, art and structure.  The series will focus on writing that speaks to these critical relationships.

Most importantly, the series aims to carry on New Orleans’ legacy as a literary entrepôt.  We will experiment with various forms of supplemental material, but the center of each feature will be the text.  Put simply, the Series seeks to spotlight some of the good writing that’s happening here, and we hope you enjoy it.

 Nik De Dominic is a poet of sounds and speech.  He is an assiduous cataloguer of conversation, high and low.  De Dominic's work has appeared in Guernica, Diagram, Fairy Tale Review, Sonora Review, and elsewhere. He teaches creative writing and literature at Orleans Parish Prison and edits The Offending Adam. He holds an MFA from Alabama and has been a resident of New Orleans since 2009.

The following poems are from his new manuscript, Roadsides.

 

Roadside
We are grounded.

The fuel truck diesels
when I turn off
the ignition it sits

and glugs shutters
and shakes for a couple
minutes once spark turns off

and air is sucked into the engine
ignited by compression inside
the hot combustion chamber as

if to ask why this is over why
have we stopped or is it
its moment of ecstasy after

the motor knocks.

In this compartment
above the ground
we see nothing new.

These knobby tires
don’t really grip
the road any better

than their slick counterparts.

Here the highways
lead to the rural route
back country roads.

There’s got to be a database
somewhere anywhere.
I’ve taken to buying

large fold out maps
of places not recognized
by maps.

***

Roadside
John Snow’s cholera clusters
of London pinpoint on map.
Here the 1854 outbreak:

The Broad Street Pump
disconnected – maps will
only point to the problem.

Blanket sized and impossible
to fold back up and always the wrong way
on this crease or that so the it of it

will never sit flat again. I’m sorry
we rolled the car into a ditch outside
Elmore: the road split but the map did not.

When we hit gravel and slid
all four wheels were knocked off
their rims. Tow guy says

Shit, never seen that before
and then he spit. Thanks,
Alabama, you said. Thanks.

Entering light is reflected
at ninety degrees to passing
motorists. Reflectors mounted

at headlight height face across
the highway from each other
never directly across

from each other but offset.
Additional reflectors are required
where roadsides slope downward.

You mention parallax stars
how we can only see by looking away
how traffic slows when no one does.

***

Roadside
Before it sloped downward
that night at trivia night
there was much talk

about sevens. The whole theme sevens.
Giza, gardens, Artemis, Zeus,
Masoleum, Colossus of Rhodes

and a lighthouse. Its cylinder
carries fuel to top to burn
at night. A mirror there to reflect

the sun. You whisper they used
to be able to burn ships with it
like a child and his magnifying glass

whole topsails bursting into night.

***

Roadside
We must travel in this direction
away to go toward our destination.
&nbsp
You tell me your father believed
air travel was the greatest hoax

he knew man had perfected
teleportation and the tube we enter

the scenery ran by the windows
all keystone and pantomime.

I tell you flight reminds me
our bodies are containers

it is the only time I know there are things
inside the skin and bone contained

their gravity different than our own.