Photography © Glenn Bowie


This American Thing

So, just what do we make of this whole
peculiar and particular thing of ours
that so many have tried to identify,
dissect and analyze over the years,

this nebulous and amorphous thing we’ve
only ever managed to assign a slippery,
side-stepping, deflective designation to,
instead of its own proper name (as the
Chinese say, to each and everything…*)

this not wholly abstract thing that otherwise
remains at-large out there in a most likely
unstable state wherein it may, at any given
moment, degenerate further into little more
than a cheap substitute for Harvey the rabbit
or stunt double for Schrodinger’s neon elephant
(always stinking up our national living room
with its noxious trumpeting),

neither of which has anybody here-to-fore
been able to consistently confirm or deny
whether they are, indeed, despite the obvious
destruction left in their wake, even a thing at all


*Ancient Confucian Maxim: The beginning of wisdom
is first to give each and everything its proper name.


Jason Ryberg is the author of fourteen books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be(loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection of poems is Are You Sure Kerouac Done It This Way!? (co-authored with John Dorsey, and Victor Clevenger, OAC Books, 2021). He lives part-time in Kansas City, MO with a rooster named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters.

Glenn Bowie is a published poet, lyricist and photographer from the Boston area. He also owns and operates an elevator company that supplies custom-built elevators for clients from New England to Hollywood. Author of two poetry and photograph collections (Under the Weight of Whispers and Into the Thorns and Honey) on Big Table Publishing, he donates all profits from his books to various charities for the homeless and local animal shelters.