Seriously Trifling Ethan Palmer Poetry

local_library Seriously Trifling

by Ethan Palmer

Published in Issue No. 254 ~ July, 2018

I was a teenager, wandering around the Appalachian spring woods behind my parent’s house,

when I came upon a baby deer beside the trail, so close and sudden I could have reached out

and picked its nose.

Our well-polished eyes shot fear, reloaded.

Awe. Confusion. Understanding. Inspiration. Transcendence.

I was a robot analyzing a newly born covenant with a newly born god.

The layers of gray on all things lifted up into the sky,

and every atom gave a wink as if to say, “I know,”

then my family’s beefy blonde lab rushed,

barking madness from the house,

and the baby deer vanished into brambles,

its tiny hooves letting out the faintest micro-thunders, and I’m uncertain to this day

as to whether or not this moment happened at all,

but if it did,

I’m certain it must have been the most beautiful moment of my life,

not seeing the deer, but losing it.

I think about it all the time.


A few years later on a spring night in the same woods,

I watched a meteor shower with my closest friends,

and we discussed whether or not a woman in a chicken suit from an AOL chatroom

was the second coming of Christ, and whether or not we should kill our friend,

who was obviously a Judas in this scenario,

steal a hearse from his uncle’s funeral home,

and run away to Philadelphia to live with her.

There was nothing beautiful about it.


Today the blistered earth’s trenches fill with pink slime, and warfare

cascades in the back of the mind.

Gruff voices on the irremovable headset chanting,

“take the shot”

over and over.

Broken fingers tap a broken link on a broken screen.

Trees grow tired of waiting to become popsicle sticks,

and light themselves on fire,

only to be reborn as future

miniature baseball bats.


Elements old and new turn against us.

Natural disaster, unnatural disaster, hand in hand again.


This city: desperation, destruction, depletion, deprivation, demoralization, demonization.

every heart stuck by the same shrike to the same roll of barbed wire

that stretches out across the stars.




Starving in the wilderness of what can’t be again.

Academia and outsider art thrown over the electric fence.

The desire to sell out eating at itself.

The need to accomplish so much more than that, blocked by

the sick platitudinous like chairs pulled up to an already crowded table.

octaves slapped onto the same dissonant chord,

Nothing checked off the to do list. Add to it. Everything’s fine.

Younger people doing what I want to do, better than I could ever do it.

Fear of failure.

Failure of fear.

(Holy Trinity)

Nothing unique here.

Nothing marketable here.

Nothing meaningful here.


I take it all back.

Plague thinking.

Prison being.

Septic dream.


Yet memory’s imperfection patches the lost and the bad with saccharine goo,

An amusement park under construction for the mind looking behind.

I could throw a javelin around the world.

I could jump and slap the moon.

I could break out of any snare.

I could go anywhere.

And there I am stuck beneath a windshield wiper blade. Religious leaflet, lost wallet, flier for a poetry reading, parking ticket, death threat.


Now take everything said thus far and try to ignore it. Let anxiety influence itself.

I’m freezing under spotlights on the side stage, the current star

of a quiz show called “Name That Time Things Weren’t So Shitty,”


and an audience is no help.


The wise man on top of the mountain points to a slot machine,

You have 8 credits:

1. Let the thrill of not having to set an alarm tingle your brain.

2. Let the Atlantic ocean be replaced with rose water.

3. The Pacific with coffee porter.

4. Let it rain vegan chitlins.

5. Let a firetruck blast four-loko through your bedroom window.

6. Let Slavic hardbass bump throughout outer space.

7. Let each conceivable curated desire be reasonably priced.

8. And let the books–ordered and shipped and delivered–finally open.


When I was 20 my girlfriend died and it really fucked me up.

I don’t like thinking about it, but I can’t help it, and I don’t like talking about it,

so here I am changing the subject.

With so much love in my heart, like an explosion that started and never stopped,

I have since been cheated on, gaslighted, ghosted and stolen from,

and I was no less horrible, made way too many people cry in the pursuit of that grandiose

sweet dream that won’t ease up, even for a holy moment.

And even right now I am so in love that nothing else seems real,

that there can be no substitute.

This is the way it is, the way it’s always been.


Last year on the first day of Ramadan I sat in an arena at a professional wrestling event, watching two women pretend to kick each other in the face, when a friend of a friend vomited on an entire family two rows down. In this moment I was certain earth’s machinery has been malfunctioning for a very long time. I somehow didn’t mind.

The next Eden,

and thus the next Babylon,

have yet to be programmed.

The magnum opus of all memes has yet to be shared,

thus spelling the end,

so I think it’s OK to be stupid and excessive and in love like this.


After all, a baby deer can’t possibly understand what it will mean

to a gawking pimply boy dressed in all black,

but even a baby deer can gawk back and know

this has to mean something.


Exoneration is coming soon.

In the meantime thank you.

account_box More About

While I was obtaining my diploma from East Tennessee State University, my poetry was published in the college's Mockingbird Literary Magazine. I have since self-published a variety of works online in a plethora of global collectives that cater to poetry's involvement in digital art, macro image poetry, alt-lit, absurdist and science fiction literature. For the last 2 years I have been hosting the Electric Pheasant Dreamland Open Mic Poetry Jam: Knoxville, Tennessee's own unique congregation of slams, sonnets, performance art, and everything in between. This event has become a staple in what makes Knoxville's Historic Market Square a sanctuary for any and all forms of poetic expression. Right now I am wasting away in a service industry nightmare, but I am planning on becoming a high school teacher within the next year. I am currently obsessed with contemporary science fiction from China, and I live with two cats, a dog, and three talented artists.