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Colin Dodds


(Odds Against Spill-O)

Any man who spends hours of his day
asking himself what he’d most prefer
will go mad, and badly

Coming back is rochambeau
with stumps, claws, cilia, tentacles -
a coin flip with deeply foreign currency

Could be Spill-O will manage
to hydroplane past the bed of nails,
maybe tapdance his waterglass of humanity
through the fire

Despite the optimism of the age,
everything is possible

(Spill-O at the Political Dinner)

Twenty years a professional,
Spill-O’s expertise amounted mostly to ordering dinner
in a manner unbefitting his income,
holding his breath and fitting in small places
Small places are where it all happens


It’s a game where the guests
weigh each other’s plates,
guess who’s paying for what and wait
for their companions on either side to fuck up
A player, Spill-O grows ever-twitchier whiskers
for the off-key, for when he’s forcing it,
which he used to know to ignore, back when
he forced something worthwhile

(Mad Spill-O Disease)

Not one of those things
where if everyone is God,
then no one is.

In fact, it’s exactly
the opposite,
both of them.

Colin Dodds (4)

I wrote two of these poems while on a business trip to film videos at a technology conference in Aspen, Colorado for a large financial institution. The pilot didn't show up at the airport, then the plane overheated, then there were forest fires. The trip from New York to Colorado took 27 hours, including a 4-hour bus trip through the mountains. It was infuriating, but also an occasion for personal interrogation. I had an accordion-fold notebook with me (pictured), which I filled over the course of the trip. (Spill-O at the Political Dinner) was written in that questioning spirit, especially in anticipation of the client dinner that awaited me in Aspen. (Mad Spill-O Disease) happened upon me while I pondered the clouds and landscape on a tiny plane from Salt Lake City to Grand Junction. (Odds Against Spill-O) came together in snippets, over a year or two, and then found each other during the edit process. 

Spill-O has been a staple of my poetic work for about 20 years. He's a cat's paw, a stalking horse, a minesweeper, a proxy, a doppelgänger, a Jungian shadow, a patsy, a Trojan horse, a pseudonym and a figurehead. He gives me distance to talk about things that feel too near. 

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