Episode 5

Prince Bush

Prince Bush is an MFA student at Western Kentucky University. His poems have appeared in many literary magazines, including The Cincinnati Review, Cream City Review, Poet Lore, Pleiades, Puerto del Sol, and others. He was a 2019 Fellow at Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets and an Erastus Milo Cravath Presidential Scholar at Fisk University. 

"Lithium" first appeared in Pleiades; "On Truth" first appeared in Sporklet. Both poems are used with permission by the author.

Links:

Read "Lithium" and "On Truth" by Prince Bush

Prince Bush’s Website

“Middle of Protesting” at Rattle

Poems at Softblow

Poems at Counterclock

Music:

"Just A Memory Now (Instrumental)" by Chad Crouch is licensed under CC

BY NC 4.0 with modifications

Transcript
Alan May:

Welcome to The Beat, a poetry podcast produced by Knox County Public Library. Today, you’ll hear two poems read by the poet Prince Bush. I love Prince Bush’s extraordinary use of metaphor in these devastating poems. It’s not every day that we hear a father/son relationship being compared to a cell phone battery or that we see the truth compared to something that, to quote the poet, “might stink scooting down the road of my tongue.” Here are the poems “Lithium” and “On Truth.”

Prince Bush:

"LITHIUM"

My father calls me, conjuring

Some sort of feeling, from cognac,

Bad-conscience, and a fully-charged

Lithium-ion battery. I hear

The voicemail, may call back,

Blaming an old battery—lithium

Ages poorly, like us both—it's only

Been one year since he's learned

My leaning, not handling

This life from hazard well.

And I die quickly—I should, but won't

Replace the cell phone, enjoy justifying lone

Socialness, low binding vigor,

Bring up gaps I share and shift with lithium.

He will comprehend, as a mechanic,

Churning alternators, fixing power units,

Charging he'd punch a homosexual—

Anger higher than the boiling

Point, potential traction lower

Than the melting—

"ON TRUTH"

Though it’s usually odorless, it is so 

Concentrated, it might stink scooting 

Down the road of my tongue; 

Produce more methane than cows, 

Which are more like trumpets with thinking 

The climate is changing 

Because of the air that comes out 

Their pipe and got wrong which 

Key; be fatter than breathing nitro- 

And oxygen, prescribed for my fire- 

Place chest, getting me hyper- 

Oxia, Planum, sick with martian craters 

An ExoMars rover discovers, 

My irritated trachea, my hopes up 

Weighing a third less, higher but still 

Falling; fall out of my mouth into tears 

And turn into acid, last a thousand years 

In Earth, memory; cause frostbite, burn, 

Flush my skin, or leave me alone—

Alan May:

That was “Lithium” and “On Truth” by Prince Bush. He was kind enough to record these poems for us at his home in Bowling Green, KY. Prince Bush is an MFA student at Western Kentucky University. His poems have appeared in many literary magazines, including The Cincinnati Review, Cream City Review, Poet Lore, Pleiades, Puerto del Sol, and others. He was a 2019 Fellow at Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets and an Erastus Milo Cravath Presidential Scholar at Fisk University.  You can find many of Bush’s poems online in various literary magazines on the web. Also look for links in the show notes. Please join us next time for The Beat.

03:59 Various voices

Thank you for listening to and sharing this podcast from Knox County Public Library in Knoxville, Tennessee. Music for this podcast is by Chad Crouch. Find all our podcasts at pods.knoxlib.org, and explore life-changing resources at www.knoxlib.org. That's "knox l-i-b." Go to our "keep in touch" page to sign up for newsletters. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Make us your essential connection for life-long learning and information.

About the Podcast

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The Beat
A poetry podcast

About your host

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Alan May

Alan May works as a reference librarian at Lawson McGhee Library. In his spare time, he reads and writes poetry. May's most recent books are Dead Letters (2008) and More Unknowns (2014). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The New York Quarterly, The Hollins Critic, New Orleans Review, Plume, and others.