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  • Scott Laudati

The Experiment Failed: Scott Laudati

Scott Laudati lives in NYC with his chiweenie, Drake. He is the author of Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair. His poetry has been featured in the Columbia Journal, The Stockholm Review and many others.

"I write poems to let the future know how terrible our era was."


The Experiment Failed

they want their painters dead

their writers dead

their rock stars dead

their emotions

their politicians

their heroes

their children,

everyone but the police

and their priests,

they want them dead.

and they’ll kill right in the living room

if someone says

it’ll help them

get on with their living.

anything to fix a bad morning

and a sleepless night.

as long as it was the same as yesterday

and the super bowl

doesn’t take too many

commercial breaks

i guess it can be a good life,

always cheering for someone

and never cheered

by anyone.

i was pretty angry yesterday

so i took a train up the hudson

to jim carroll’s grave

and told him about

my friend in texas

who sits by the highway all night

and watches mexicans

fight roosters in a dirt lot

behind the wal-mart.

and the one

always drunk and alone

on a harlem fire escape,

waiting for clear nights

to count the tug boats

breaking the current

on their way north.

the poets no one

threw money at

when the words were good

and their guns were loaded

for a third act

that never came.

the radio said art was dead

and the professors ran to cash their checks

before the students realized

their mics had never been plugged in.

and my friends apologized to trees

whose legacies had been robbed

by so many talkers

with so few words.

because nobody wants the truth -

the babies shivering in cold apartments

the old eating cat food so they

can afford their rent.

no one wants to know life

no one wants to stand in an elevator

alone with themselves.

haven’t we learned they’ll go broke

for a minute of hope?

they’ll pay extra for happiness

they’ll pay extra to smile at a coffee mug.

theres no credit limit on

the happy ending

and all the rich poets

know it.

New Friends

we saw the end of the sun some time ago

and i thought about california

and the palm trees that were still eating

and the girls in the sand

and their hair in the wind

and how it didn’t matter to me anymore

where the lightning bugs went

once the days cooled off,

or why old men never die like outlaws

if it’s what we all want.

born alone.

legacy always in question.

life has a way of herding the useless together,

drafting us into a showdown

that began

long before the dead had to

explain their worth.

bellys up.

no closure

no kind words left behind

for the kids.

we forgot a long time ago

the world is going to roll over

like it always has.

so we laugh at the snoring dogs

shaking their jaws

and running in place

but i wonder now

why are they the only ones

who sleep deep enough

to dream?

i’d been locked up at my

girlfriend’s parents for a week

and all anyone could talk about

was a skunk that lived in the woods.

and every night i’d go outside

and stare into the trees

but i never saw anything.

the sun dropped

the geese flew south

and just as i was about to give up

for the last time

a little skunk crawled out from

under the shed.

i jumped up and waved at him

and he looked back as friendly

as any fat and free thing

and neither of us did much more

than that.

but then my girlfriend came

out and screamed.

the skunk looked back like i’d

betrayed him,

and as i watched his tail go up

i felt like i’d broken our bond too.

i knew my girlfriend would get mad if

i said it was her fault

so i cursed at the skunk

cursed at the trees

cursed my name,

never going for the one who deserves it,

hating everyone and everything

in this whole stupid world.

her mother made lasagna that night.

i left a plate out by the backdoor.

The Throne

i don’t want them to have hope,

i know what they’ll do with it.

it becomes freedom

it becomes equality

it runs away from the founders

and digs deeper trenches.

you’ve had a best friend,

where they there when you needed them?

everyone’s been burned by

the ones they love.

you can hear it in the cop’s voice

as he clears the street.

a man with blood in his eyes

a man who doesn’t care who pays his checks.

where’s the honor in dying for a nation

that forces everyone

to sleep with the lights on?

they know that when the armies retreat

and the dark horse gets the gun

there’s never a sanctuary for the guilty.

the streets run back the other way

and finally the underdog

gets the thing he used to pray for.

but the throne was always a funny thing,

all men want it

and no one ever knows

what to do with it.


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The image of Quasimodo is by French artist Louis Steinheil, which appeared in  the 1844 edition of Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" published by Perrotin of Paris.


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