Kyle Constalie

“Into Collision,” by Kyle Constalie, is a poem that relates to one of La Crosse’s favorite pastimes. A celebration, a night out with friends. A story told with the typography of La Crosse.


Location: 107 3rd St. South

Hello, this is Kyle Constalie reading “Into Collision,” the second-prize winner of the 2017 Hear, Here Poetry Contest. I wanted this poem to be character-driven. It’s about young people sorting through their fanaticism in solidarity with each other and how the unique geography of La Crosse, as calm as it is mighty, both challenges and reflects that energy.

Into Collision

Actually, the barges are polite in their passing.
Roads ran and still run parallel to the river
but they can’t hold ships, so we put on old clothes and remember
our training. One night on low-numbered streets we pub-crawled
for a friend joining the peace corps. To birds we might have appeared
swimmers. In two weeks he dropped out and came home.
From a barrel of peanuts in one bar my sister loaded handfuls
into the hood of a friend’s jacket
and as hours happened we made her lighter
by lifting the shells from behind her head.
Was someone’s foot sprained?
The night seemed to have
contained a limp. Since stars don’t walk
it had to be one of us. Then and now, the city
brewery buildings look like sky-scraping silos
of beer you’d be arrested but heroic for trying to recycle.
These value systems collect in us
the way height collects in bluffs
to make them honestly tall.