Remembering Peter Culley, 1958-2015

We're shattered by the news of Peter's death. A superb writer, wonderful person, and a solid supporter of TCR. The magazine first published him in 2.1 (Fall 1989) with "Contradiction & Doubt: Some Notes on Tom Burrows," and again very regularly until his most recent "Three Poems" with Elisa Ferrari in the Languages issue 3.23 (Spring 2014).

How we'll miss his company and the quiet intelligence of his work.


Punishment Parkway

I suppose the scenic route
is out of the question–
too much time

by lay-bys earlier
running our elbows
along the bunched steel

of braille mountains
worn through at the ocean
& where the /2/ passed through

amenable space you stand
at the edge of
the whole thing a ribbon

of iron control extending
even to the lichen's fluffy edge
so that to stray

is to fall into
the literal orchestra pit
after a Big Drop–

the vast
arbutus forest preserved
on either side of it

certainly terra incognita
before they put the highway through–
but Northfield was a labyrinth

out of Floyd Crosby's Poe
anyway so excuse me
if I never found it but

the immaculate moss meadows
argue that no one much
else did either–

there's a lot
of places dirt bikers
it turns out won't go–

but this civil terrarium though tidy
was roamed by giant tapirs once,
by badgers big as bears,

undisturbed by pneumatics
or the shrieking steam of the factory whistle–
must now endure

the lapidary condescension
of highway patronage, the cement lobby's
largesse, the planner's passion,

the grim and anxious trucks
from which the tongues of mammals
taste the pre-Cambrian air.

from The Age of Briggs & Stratton and first published in TCR 3.3.

Peter's books of poetry include The Climax Forest (Leech 1995), Hammertown (New Star 2003), To The Dogs (Arsenal Pulp 2008), The Age of Briggs & Stratton (New Star 2008) and Parkway (New Star, 2013). His blog "mosses from an old manse" was last updated on April 6, 2015 with images from his recent visit to San Francisco to read at the Poetry Centre.

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