The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Caley O'Dwyer

American Rivers


Deeper into the city’s
berserk promises, rivers
lead away toward you.
The billboard says
Be Who You Want,
It’s All Possible in a Chevy.
Except sometimes it’s not,
like when you are not
in a Chevy or cannot get
a Chevy or you are driving
in a Chevy in the wrong skin.
Where did the dream begin?
In survival or in cruelty?
The distant star asserts
stillness, but is no more still
than the riotous, craven clouds
of Barnard’s Loop. The city
climbs its own arms, speaking
in a shy verse that by time
is ragged with self-deception,
fear mainly, and the will
to outlast it. We have more states
of heart than the skyline’s scheming
sunlight. The slender band of light
you pass through at the end
is ravishing. The flickering image
allures but there is no thing
to pass through. You don’t move
to death, it moves to you.
Till then we are starlings,
exceeding ourselves
in increments, becoming more
valuable, more valid,
daring ourselves to capacity
in the deep, blessed hurt
that flows within us,
in this country that is so
puritan-sexy, so reckless,
so real, and so made up.



Caley O'Dwyer

Domed City


We are living in a domed city.
Small similar clouds
drift across the “sky”.

Although they are on a loop
they are very pretty.
The air is circulating television.

It is that time of day
when what we once despised
is chemically altered to taste nice in Jell-O.

We stiffen in our scarves
riding the track
as it bends and the car leans

around the town. We’re given
a perfect view of what’s on sale:
computers making computers.

Winter gifts predate the snow
painted by Michelangelo.

One moves in fast-forward,
from store to store,
each glass-way opening into a major miracle.



Caley O'Dwyer

Cry Heavily for Camera (American Proverbs)


Blonde is thicker than water.
                                        The best things in life are cheese.
Bad news travels first class.
                                        No means yes, of course, please.
All that glitters is good.
                                        Fear makes the world go round.
Beauty is the watched beholder.
                                        Dumb is the new profound.
A friend in need can be extremely useful.
                                        The soul is an historical meme.
Better rich than savvy.
                                        “When you’re a star…you can do anything.”
Fame is the greatest good.
                                        Sociopathy can be Scot for free.
Buy lots of electronics and shoes.
                                        Life is best watched on TV.
No one better than a constant debtor.
                                        An Oxycodone a day keeps the poor in order.

There is no Profit like the profit from terror.
                                        Be a good person at your convenience, later.
Breaking news is a reliable, nutritious food.
                                        Jesus loved everyone but why should you?
Laughter is a kind of tool.
                                        Free will is lewd.
Never loan to the rich man what you would loan to the fool.
                                        Why have a virtual gunfight when you can have a real one in school?
Kill the elephants, liberals and wandering beluga.
                                        Coca Cola, anxiety, fantasies, and shame:
Welcome to wonderful Chattanooga.




CALEY O'DWYER's poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, and other venues. He is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and has received the Academy of American Poets University Prize, as well as a Helene Wurlitzer grant for poetry. A psychotherapist in private practice, Caley teaches creative writing and clinical psychology at Antioch University Los Angeles. His first book, Full Nova, is available from Orchises Press.


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