stdClass Object
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    [ID] => 16772
    [post_author] => 18
    [post_date] => 2016-03-31 19:22:50
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-03-31 19:22:50
    [post_content] => O, Great Northern Mall, you dwindling oracle
of upstate New York, your colossal lot

of frost-heaved spaces so vacant I could cut
straight through while blinking and keep my eyes

shut, I’ve come like the flies that give up the ghost
at the papered fronts of your defunct stores,

through the food court where napkins, unused
to touch, are packed too tight to be dispensed,

past the pimpled kid manning the register
who stares at the buttons and wipes his palms.

If I press my eyes until checkers rise
from the dark – that’s how the overheads glower

in home essentials as I roam through Sears,
seeking assistance. I know you’re here.

For this window crank I brought, you show me
a muted wall of TVs where Jeff Goldblum

picks his way through the splintered remains
of a dinosaur crate. There must be fifty

of him, hunching over mud to inspect
the three-toed prints. I almost didn’t

come in here at all, driving the opposite
of victory laps, and waiting as I hoped

for the red to leave my eyes, but my urgency
smacked of your nothingness. I did it again –

I screamed at the woman I love, and in front
of our one-year-old, who covered his ears.
    [post_title] => Night Errand
    [post_excerpt] => 
    [post_status] => publish
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    [post_name] => night-errand
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    [post_modified] => 2018-10-10 10:28:11
    [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-10-10 10:28:11
    [post_content_filtered] => 
    [post_parent] => 0
    [guid] => http://poems.poetrysociety.org.uk/?post_type=poems&p=16772
    [menu_order] => 0
    [post_type] => poems
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        (
            [wpcf-published-in] => 
            [wpcf-date-published] => 2015
            [wpcf-summary-description] => 'Night Errand' was the winner of the 2015 National Poetry Competition. 

“I was barely brave enough to write it. And then to have it the focus of so much attention I think requires more bravery than I have. So I’m just following it through the spotlight that’s been created. I feel very grateful for that.” Eric Berlin, on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, 1 April 2016.

From the judges: "When it first turned up in the pile, ‘Night Errand’ was one of those poems that wouldn’t let you move on, but demanded a pause to dwell and recoup, followed by the compulsion to read it again. Its initial grip gave way to a sort of haunting. This is poetry that can somehow, magically, fill a cafeteria napkin dispenser with emotion, while subtly evoking the psychological need behind that displacement. Its syntax pays out like a wire, building to the final sting-in-the-tail: a realisation that deepens rather than diminishes what’s gone before. In that complex moment, the poem refuses to let itself off the hook. Through its artful control of sound and line, its powers of image and perception, ‘Night Errand’ dramatises a cry of pain at the damage we’re capable of doing to others." - Sarah Howe [wpcf-rights-information] => [wpcf-poem-award] => 1st Prize, National Poetry Competition 2015 [wpcf_pr_belongs] => ) [poet_data] => stdClass Object ( [ID] => 16762 [forename] => [surname] => [title] => Eric Berlin [slug] => eric-berlin [content] => Eric Berlin is a freelance editor living near Syracuse, New York, where he teaches "Ear Training for Poets" and "The Poetics of Prayer" at the Downtown Writers' Center. He received an MFA in Poetry from Syracuse University, an MFA in Sculpture from NY Academy of Art, and a BA in English from Harvard University. After a solo show at Spark Contemporary Art Space, he returned to poetry, winning The Ledge 2014 Poetry Prize and receiving a fellowship from Vermont Studio Center, where he began a book on the rhythm of language in stand-up. His poems can be found in Hunger Mountain, Tupelo Quarterly, and North American Review as well as Milkweed Editions' Outsiders. ) )
stdClass Object
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    [ID] => 16762
    [forename] => 
    [surname] => 
    [title] => Eric Berlin
    [slug] => eric-berlin
    [content] => Eric Berlin is a freelance editor living near Syracuse, New York, where he teaches "Ear Training for Poets" and "The Poetics of Prayer" at the Downtown Writers' Center. He received an MFA in Poetry from Syracuse University, an MFA in Sculpture from NY Academy of Art, and a BA in English from Harvard University. After a solo show at Spark Contemporary Art Space, he returned to poetry, winning The Ledge 2014 Poetry Prize and receiving a fellowship from Vermont Studio Center, where he began a book on the rhythm of language in stand-up. His poems can be found in Hunger Mountain, Tupelo Quarterly, and North American Review as well as Milkweed Editions' Outsiders.
)

Night Errand

Eric Berlin

O, Great Northern Mall, you dwindling oracle
of upstate New York, your colossal lot

of frost-heaved spaces so vacant I could cut
straight through while blinking and keep my eyes

shut, I’ve come like the flies that give up the ghost
at the papered fronts of your defunct stores,

through the food court where napkins, unused
to touch, are packed too tight to be dispensed,

past the pimpled kid manning the register
who stares at the buttons and wipes his palms.

If I press my eyes until checkers rise
from the dark – that’s how the overheads glower

in home essentials as I roam through Sears,
seeking assistance. I know you’re here.

For this window crank I brought, you show me
a muted wall of TVs where Jeff Goldblum

picks his way through the splintered remains
of a dinosaur crate. There must be fifty

of him, hunching over mud to inspect
the three-toed prints. I almost didn’t

come in here at all, driving the opposite
of victory laps, and waiting as I hoped

for the red to leave my eyes, but my urgency
smacked of your nothingness. I did it again –

I screamed at the woman I love, and in front
of our one-year-old, who covered his ears.