Dan Campion


Elm on Nightmare Street

It’s obvious when seedling elm goes in
the roots are going to push up sidewalk, trip
the postman, punch through water pipe’s thick skin.
But props department never gains a grip
on what they’re doing, so the hole is dug,
the little elm root ball is placed inside,
loose dirt gets shoveled in, and weevils hug
themselves in ecstasy to see applied
their principle that anything that can
contribute to a nightmare should do so.
What’s more, elm, once mature, as if by plan,
gets sick and dies. Why let it start to grow?
Such questions don’t unsettle Nightmare Street,
not even when the elm and chainsaw meet.

Dan Campion has contributed verse to Light since its founding. He is author of Peter De Vries and Surrealism, coeditor of Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song, and contributor of poetry to many magazines, including Able Muse, After Hours, Measure, The Midwest Quarterly, The North American ReviewParody, Rolling Stone, and Shenandoah. He works as a writer and editor in Iowa City, Iowa.