Brian Laidlaw

Ante Matter

Pretty good work if you can get it, making paradises in abandoned banks

Stony exterior, marble interior,

The registers like a failed carillon (toneless) striking all hours at all hours.

Every noon the ghost attendants ghost-walk up to the kiosk,

Throw down nobody’s money

(The two days you are proud of a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it)

Trading in the heart for the farm, buying the farm,

Selling the bucket to kick

The can, selling the farm when you kick the bucket.

It doesn’t make sense to dream of a time after the apocalypse because

That’s a time of permanent wakefulness anyway: high-level emissions,

Grainy disturbances. Until then

Remember the language of contracts: you can bank on love

& When that bank collapses, your worries are the least of your worries.


Brian Laidlaw

Brian Laidlaw is a poet and songwriter from Northern California, and a graduate of the University of Minnesota MFA program in poetry. His work has appeared widely in journals including New American Writing, Volt, The Iowa Review, and American Songwriter Magazine, and his first full-length collection of poems is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions. After several years as a touring folksinger, he currently teaches songwriting at McNally Smith College of Music in Saint Paul, Minnesota. News, tour dates, and more information are available at