Carson Pytell

Carson Pytell is a Pushcart nominated writer living outside Albany, NY whose work has appeared widely online and in print, including in Ethel Zine, Perceptions Magazine, Rabid Oak, Backchannels and White Wall Review, among others. He is Assistant Editor of the journal Coastal Shelf and participated in the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project in December 2020. His first two chapbooks, First-Year (Alien Buddha Press, 2020) and Trail (Guerrilla Genesis Press, 2020), are now available and his third, The Gold That Stays (Cyberwit Publishing, 2021) is forthcoming.

Must as Madeleine Cakes

You couldn't imagine the length of you:
millisecond heavier than a marathon,
light year in an insuperable meditation,
snapshots and, luck lucky, a scrapbook too.

In a minute's time is time for a minute
of whatever a universe of measurement
serves, and latitude to make whatever
of it you must or may for life.

Then the days you leave to a time we like
to call the present make, like great-great,
part of a line long as caves to stars' collapse,
gazing old photos: more than to laugh.


They crowded in for the performance.
From miles from manors, mundanity and misery they had trekked
for a mere hour's witness.

The overheads were cut, the stage curtain dropped
and a spotlight from behind it was triggered to cast the
silhouette of a man holding a guitar onto it.

A silence overtook the excited murmur,
as it always does, and there was no introduction given -
that would have been unnecessary.

Soon enough he began playing,
sending his music into the air with a generous

If one were watching him closely,
they would have seen his hands navigating the guitar
innately as one's chest rises and falls as they breathe,
but would be too entranced to say so.

After a while he concluded,
and his notes were left to perform their duty, which they did -

He played many other shows today;
some on grand stages to dignitaries,
some on unadorned platforms to couples lying in the grass,
some on warped floorboards to winos.

Never are two at quite the same setting or to the same crowd.
And on occasion he plays at home,
and his music, apotheosized then,
may only be heard through the walls by mice.


The poetic, lethal leisure,
soft and deadly like rhododendron.
Inhale poison and exhale bliss.
Sacrifice some years for nothing less
than a few minutes’ satisfaction.
Who but us could find solace 
in suicide? We, cognition cursed,
blow smoke in finality's face.

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