For each day of National Poetry Month one of our fellows will explore the breadth of poetry in three ways: through a question from another fellow, through a poem and through a writing prompt, #writetoday.


Iris Law asks, Your forthcoming book is called The Dead Wrestler Elegies. What drew you to wrestling as a subject of your poetry and the overarching conceit of this project? If you were a pro wrestler, what would your in-ring persona be?

W. Todd Kaneko answers,

1. Because when I was a kid, I watched professional wrestling with my father.

2. Because professional wrestling is a marker of American cultural identity.

3. Because of legendary characters and modern mythologies.

4. Because people are still obsessed with what is real and what is fake.

5. Because of manly eloquence.

6. Because when I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be a professional wrestler.

7. Because I still want to grow up to be a professional wrestler, sometimes.

8. Because professional wrestling is the poetry of violence.

9. Because it’s still real to me.

10. Because.


Luna Vachon is Your Shadow in the Darkness    

   Our history is rich with pain and venom, violence and evil …
   from this day forward, I will hunt your very breath, I will be
   your shadow in the darkness. And then soon, very very soon,
   I will wipe you from this earth.”
       —Luna Vachon, professional wrestler

She is butcher and goddess, a throat
full of grackles, a vampire’s grin.

She is snake tongue, fistmonger and kill
bride—she is hunger. She is the lightning
eye, the rooster’s spurs. Your father
will show you his skeleton one day,
your mother the taint of her blood.

The cemetery is no place for women
slung out in halter tops and bare mid-riffs.
Where there is no such thing as death,
there is only death. She is that ravenous
spirit chewing your name.

She is the lunacy that comes
with grief, lizard tail and owl heart,
a hound driven mad by streetlights
mistaken for the moon. She is the ear
spider, the winter branches.

Her skin is the color of woe. She is
the tombstone, the meantime.
She is a hooked angel excavating
your father with obsidian claws.
She is your mother telling you a story.

First published in Rhino Poetry.


W. Todd Kaneko is the author of The Dead Wrestler Elegies (Curbside Splendor 2014) and teaches at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.