“‘Goose Theory’ did a lot in its densely packed self, notably a palpable balance of both joy and dread; a love and a playfulness of language that is all too aware of language’s history of reduction, destruction, and colonial vivisection. It takes the different play dough colors of modern language and squishes them all together in a statement on the nature of communication and I, for one, am here. for. it.”

—2019 Poetry Judge Tommy Pico

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Goose Theory

Kamden Hilliard

2019 Poetry Contest Runner-Up

The nēnē bird, AKA, the Hawaiian goose, AKA, how birds state need
amidst emergency, economic development, pimped rainbows, & pricey
neighbors: moar mayo, more honey, more hoodrich tricks dolloped w
money$; modernization AKA mechanization AKA another system up
-date blinging the bamboo man’s bay AKA Kāne’ohe.

                                                                                           & @10yearsold
                                                                                           & @recentsettler
I didn’t know what to call duck, duck, goose here (Oah’u, Hawai’i) / didn’t
believe cardboard could recycle. The modern condition guest starring as a
tradition of violence. Race / Nation / Island -ism werked tis braintrain’s

                       The thing about progress is a thing; like Matson Shipping
got the only birds on which the settlers agreed AKA bae-g-d AKA teh
best excuse for speed. Neoliberal island living hardened the sea bird’s
need / glorious bellyfulls of toilet paper, peanut butter, tire tubes, & lube.

Dude,! in what Nikki called, the islands of Waikikiiiiiiiiii, it’s not the middle
class that truckstick the day’s increasing bleed. No1 wants that fantasy
novel. No1 plays my game; goes duck duck noose. Caught tryna catch
finishline shine. Cook the gold; grind geese 2 the elbow grease; the thing
of things. How we were taught the word kill in an explainer on     survive.

Kamden prefers Kam. They are child and sibling of the Hilliard family, graduate of Punahou School, wielder of a BA in American Studies from The University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, and recipient of an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where they were a 2018 Teaching-Writing Fellow and a 2019 Pfluflaught Fellow in Poetry. Kam Hilliard has received a Davidson Fellowship in Literature, writing prizes, fellowships, and residencies. They have published three chapbooks of poetry: Distress Tolerance (Magic Helicopter Press, 2016), Perceived Distance from Impact (2017, Black Lawrence Press) and, henceforce: a travel poetic (Omnidawn Books, 2019). While you can find Kam’s writing in lovely places like The Black Warrior Review, West Branch, Bennington Review, Best Experimental American Poetry, and Prairie Schooner, these days they are serving an Americorps VISTA year at Gateway House in Greenville, SC. Find Kam on the internet at kamdenihilliard.com. Bring them to your venue. Say hello.