Travis Sharp

From Sing Data, three poems by Travis Sharp

from Sing Data


freedom means putting up
a fence means a man’s hand on
my throat means a form of freedom
means eyes wide open skies
miles of grazing cattle spread over
41% of the contiguous United States
means immense piles of shit sitting
in pink pools dotting means
the landscape after a hurricane
means what a great opportunity
for investment means for years
forced to wait and see
heaping piles of pig
bodies arrayed symmetrically
manure lagoon cum graveyard pink in
pinker a few lucky hogs on barn roofs


adjacent table in the mall food court boy
digs a finger under chicken skin unwraps the body
with unbroken gesture sets aside with such care
wraps skin around itself and begins to eat
the chicken like the land written in
a boustrophedon or how they write the law
writes in a grid city blocks like a battery cage
seen coming in to LA plane nosediving into the squares
one hundred thirty six million nine
hundred eighty six thousand three
hundred and one chickens killed
every day the city its obsessive
form the perfect poem blocks
like line breaks cranes like stanzas
money like apostrophe hey
are you going to finish that


students filing into blocks
of rooms to rehearse their teacher’s
body heaves on the door
everyone counts five
million seven hundred and seven
thousand seven hundred and sixty
two point fifty four chickens
every hour such stunning performance
everybody claps lining up all gesture
rehearsal for those who pined
to stand in rows knew great simplicity
or the active shooter drill industry
America, how safety became a checkbox
low hum of we’re leaking consensus
is that we are not okay

Note: Italicized text in (10) is derived from Stephen Crane’s Black Riders and Other Lines and from anonymous testimony from a K-12 public school teacher reported in the Miami Herald.

TRAVIS SHARP is author of Yes, I Am a Corpse Flower (KFB, 2021) and the chapbooks Sinister Queer Agenda (above/ground, 2018) and One Plus One Is Two Ones (Recreational Resources, 2018), and he’s co-curator of Radio: 11.8.16 with Aimee Harrison and Maria Anderson (Essay Press, 2017). Since 2019, he’s been Executive Editor at Essay Press. He has an MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics from the University of Washington, Bothell and a PhD from the University at Buffalo Poetics Program. With Meagan Wilson, he’s co-editing Plantable Chapbooks, a series of letterpress printed poetry chapbooks on seeded paper, which are designed to be planted after reading, sprouting a variety of wildflowers.