Where Not to Read Red Dragon by Matt Mason

“Oh, Harris is amazing, you need to read
this,” a friend will tell you. And you will pick it up
in a used book store before finally going abroad.
You will think: “I’ll be on trains a lot.
I should bring things to read.”
Bring biographies. Bring Keats, bring Chekov,
bring philosophy. Instead,
you will read a man holding his insanity
off with both hands so that he can save someone
from the man not working so hard at holding
it off, bloody horror with sounds scripted melodic,
more “abattoir” than “slaughterhouse,”
and you can’t
put it
as trains skate you over green countries:
farms, cottages, pastoral poems
just outside your padded train seat;
castles and statues, rocks stacked in this
and that century, History books unfolding
into treasure maps. And you
locked in the dark
of your skull,
eyes startled
at any splatter of light
off stained glass,
iron gate,
blue lake.


Matt Mason is the Nebraska State Poet and Executive Director of the Nebraska Writers Collective. He runs poetry programming for the State Department, working in Nepal, Romania, Botswana and Belarus. Mason is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize for his poem “Notes For My Daughter Against Chasing Storms” and his work can be found in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. The author of Things We Don’t Know We Don’t Know (The Backwaters Press, 2006) and The Baby That Ate Cincinnati (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2013), Matt is based out of Omaha with his wife, the poet Sarah McKinstry-Brown, and daughters Sophia and Lucia.


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