My Favorite Works: Scott Thomas Outlar

Scott Thomas Outlar

Thank you to Sunil Sharma for inviting me to choose five of my favorite previously published poems for this new column. It’s always an honor to collaborate with Setu Mag. While mentally leafing through my work during a visit to the park this summer, I was hoping to weave together a selection that could at least somewhat encapsulate the past nine years of my writing. It was an interesting challenge and proved to be quite fun traveling down memory lane.

“Grace and Beauty” is the most recent composition, inspired by the love of my life, Talia, and her deep adoration for the ocean. “An Ode to Fear” is an homage to the great Hunter S. Thompson. “3,2,1…” originally appeared in my debut chapbook, Songs of a Dissident, back in 2015 – it served at the time as a cathartic release from an earlier age, perception, and chaotic state of consciousness (mine, mostly). “Casting Cards” is a grain-of-salt attempt to answer the question: who are you? Finally, “Slate” flows from the seemingly natural logic behind the maxim: cleanliness is next to Godliness. Thank you for reading.

 

Grace and Beauty

Your adventurous spirit

is a poem in motion

 

like a pelican dancing

with its shadow on the waves

before skipping atop the water

 

proving the truth that Jesus

wasn’t the only

force of nature

to play around

with miracles and magic.

 

Centered, calm, and balanced

in the groundless experience

of “just being,”

your oceanic presence

radiates outward

with peace of mind,

strength of body,

and kindness of heart.

 

Each ripple returning

from shoreline to source

is imbued with the essence

of goodwill you share

and spread across the earth.

***

 

An Ode to Fear

 

I am Ahab,

 

and I will slay you (righteously) in the bathtub

if you try to force me

to fall asleep with acid still stuck in my throat (and draining);

 

it was on my tongue;

now many hues are in my head, humming.

 

I am the orange juice in your blood

when we sing these hymns to the sun

and trip on solar rays (mourning the morning rise);

 

you are liquid light;

you are a trite cliché salvation quantum leap (of loathing).

 

I am Nixon,

 

and I will smear fresh ketchup and chemicals

on this wall(ed off pit of chaos[& despair]);

 

I am your vomit erupting from the sea;

you are the knifing zigzag

forehead kiss of death.

 

I am

 

what I am

that I am:

 

a patch of spinach green with envy;

a doomed prophecy that’s probably wrong;

a final signal sent across the crashing waves;

a flag on the shoreline, dusted off, risen high.

***

 

3, 2, 1…

  

Let it burn

until all that is left

is a black crisp

of dehydrated exoskeleton jerky.

 

What do I care?

 

I did not create this place.

I did not ask to play this game.

I did not stuff the coal shafts.

I did not dig the oil wells.

I did not clamor for the goldmines.

 

I did not manifest destiny

across the desert

with a mind obsessed

on material diversions of the flesh.

 

Let it burn

until the stars in the sky

have nothing left

to shine down upon.

 

Let it burn

until the sun extinguishes

from its own

existential exhaustion.

 

What do I care?

 

I didn’t build the Model-T.

I didn’t pave the asphalt road.

I didn’t plan the concrete jungle.

 

I didn’t send the ships

across the sea

with hopes of New Atlantis

in the distance.

 

Let it burn

until Sherman’s fire

pales like a glow light in comparison.

 

Let it burn

until the Apocalypse

rises up in molten magma

through volcanic outburst tantrums.

 

What do I care?

 

I didn’t write the Holy Verses.

I wasn’t the one

inspired by God

to lace false prophecies

into the hearts and minds of Man.

I didn’t slaughter the natives.

I didn’t enslave other races.

I didn’t stomp on Pagan grounds.

I didn’t erect churches

atop conquered lands.

I didn’t start the wars.

I don’t need to finish the job

that other animals began.

 

Let it burn

until the flag is stripped

of blue and white stars and stripes

and all that remains is red.

 

Let it burn

as a beacon

atop the flaming hill

as a lesson about the fall.

 

What do I care?

 

I didn’t taste the forbidden fruit.

I didn’t kiss the serpent.

I didn’t fuck the liar.

I didn’t drink the venom.

I didn’t suck the poison.

I didn’t breed the cancer.

I didn’t dig the shallow grave.

 

Let it burn

until the bones are ash

and the marrow evaporates

into a chemical combustion revelation.

 

Let it burn.

Let it cry.

Let it whine.

Let it bitch.

Let it moan.

 

What do I care?

 

I didn’t promise it

a single damn thing.

I didn’t ask it to love me.

I didn’t need it to want me.

I didn’t beg it to birth me.

I didn’t buy the ticket.

I didn’t sign up for the ride.

 

Let it burn

until the plastic faces

are melted

on the Sunset Strip

and the haughty egos

catch flame on Boardwalk.

 

Let it burn

from the outside in

so the rotten core

is the last space to smolder into oblivion.

 

What do I care?

 

I didn’t come here to save the world.

I didn’t offer a quick fix resolution.

 

Let it burn.

The Phoenix is waiting in the wings.

***

 

Casting Cards

  

I wouldn’t dare

call myself a poet

or an artist/or a warrior

or a fighter/or a servant/or a stoic

or a fool

 

I’m just a hermit and a vagabond

going within so I can wander

 

but these pines work well as bones

sturdy long enough to carry the hour

 

and all this dirt will eventually receive

the same returns of what once was offered

 

profit every whisper of groaning breath

pilfer specks of sand from six scratched eyes

protect the black of my lungs/

                                      tongue with glazed amber

 

Harvest the autumn

red leaves sign caution

blood in the engine

ghosts crawling through dry veins

 

Spells cast the season

cold snap of reason

heavy pulse turn plasma

gears shifting beneath the plates

***


 

Slate

 

Wipe me clean

without Clorox or bleach

 

just simple honesty

 

Sanitation is next to salvation

in some circles

 

Sacred vowels

squeak

ooh and ah

before sighing

 

Little spaces in the corner

dusted off

brought to surface

made to shine

 

Lord, help me find

the right words

to tithe

 

All I have

left to offer

are my dreams

***


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