This week, we are proud to present a new poem by Reese Conner. Conner received his MFA from Arizona State University, where he has continued to teach composition and poetry workshops. He is an Assistant Poetry Editor at Fifth Wednesday Journal. His work appears or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Moon City Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Spillway, and elsewhere. He received the Turner Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the Mabelle A. Lyon Poetry Award, and a Chili Pepper from Rate My Professor.
The intention of my work is to capture certain abstractions—grief, love, betrayal, expectation, wonder, relativity—in approachable anecdotes. I often rely on an animal, particularly the cat, as a vehicle to these abstractions. I tend towards animals because they elicit a certain innocence that is, of course, present in humans, but tougher to find. This thought spawned “The Rapture.”
In the poem, I imagine a worldwide event that privileges the hierarchy I have internalized in my work—namely, that nature is more worthy than humans. And so, as the people in the poem witness everything else receiving the affirmation they thought reserved for themselves, they process the subversion in varying degrees of confusion, self-pity, violence, and, for that old couple, grace.
I felt the poem would be disingenuous to humanity’s potential without the old couple as a through-line. In some ways, I think misanthropy is in vogue, particularly among certain idealists, because for them, the world is a broken promise. I confess I am one of those idealists. And so, that gesture of optimism at the end of the poem is, I think, pretty radical. It’s my way of admitting that, yeah, people can be pretty awful, but maybe, just maybe…
after Robert Dash’s “Into the Mystic”