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UNDERSTANDING HEAVY METAL by W. Todd Kaneko

Begin with a savage cry,
                                                        a spray of cardinals
            gouting gorgeous
            from gut to tonsil,
                                                        from a boy’s lips,
glossed in crimson & fire—
                                                        teen angst dashed by
            bat wings, mouthfuls
            of graveyard sugar,
                                                        bruise shine & stars—
in leather & choke chain,
                                                        a boy can separate into
            curses a man will one day
            remember spitting—
                                                        seductive viscera
for a song’s high-pitched wail
                                                        because he doesn’t know
            the difference between
            rapture & clumsy sex,
                                                        survival & murder
wavering amidst the tremolo
                                                        in which one dark bird,
            plummeting to earth
            with all that chemistry
                                                        panicking inside him, shrieks
in the Devil’s tongue & wishes
                                                        for colorful plumage
            marking his surrender
            to the cemetery lawn
                                                        or a lovelier darkness
for blood & guitar solo & blood

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About W. Todd Kaneko

W. Todd Kaneko
W. Todd Kaneko is the author of The Dead Wrestler Elegies (Curbside Splendor, 2014). His poems, essays and stories have appeared in Bellingham Review, Los Angeles Review, The Normal School, The Collagist, Third Coast, Bring the Noise: The Best Pop Culture Essays from Barrelhouse Magazine and many other journals and anthologies. A Kundiman fellow, he is co-editor of Waxwing magazine and now lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he is an assistant professor at Grand Valley State University.