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Luke Armstrong

Featured Author Issue 3.3 Summer 2011

Luke Maguire Armstrong was a baby, who became a boy, who became a man. Once he fought a bear and almost died. Haters later claimed it was "only a raccoon" and he was acting like "a little girl." But everyone knows it was clearly a miniature bear.

After finishing degrees in philosophy and English abroad in Chile, Luke Maguire Armstrong did what any financially oblivious recent grad would do: took out a large student loan and planned to backpack from Chile to Alaska. He ended settling in Guatemala Guatemala where he spent four years as Director of the Social Services for the development organization Nuestros Ahijados. These efforts were featured on the 2010 ABC News Global Health Special: Be The Change, Save a Life. His award winning writing has been featured in over 25 publications. He is the author of How We Are Human (2012) and iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home About (2010) and editor of The Expeditioner's Guide To the World. He continues to brush off allegations that he's a Rabble Rouser. Follow @LukeSpartacus.

When asked “Why poetry?” in an interview with The High Planes Reader he responded by saying that despite widespread misconceptions about poetry he believes that, “Poetry can be clear, and concise and beautiful—and it should be relatable and understandable. You can learn a lot from traveling. But poetry has a lot to teach as well. I've discovered a beauty in verse that rivals the wonders of the world…poetry is a journey, it is an adventure where you can discover people, situations and places inside a poem. Better yet, you can do all this while sitting naked on the toilet.” 

Armstrong believes that despite its mainstream decline over the last fifty years, poetry is due for resurgence. “Frankly,” he says, “poetry is the perfect medium for our modern age. People today have short attention spans and poetry is just that—it’s short. But within its brevity it can contain humor, depth, beauty, joy, despair, bliss…everything lived for, longed for and loved.” 

His dedication to poetry and led him in 2008 to smuggle into Cuba copies of poetry books published by his recently deceased grandmother. His grandmother, who was also a poet, had always wanted to travel to Cuba and as a tribute to her after her death Armstrong stealthy slipped copies of her books onto bookstore shelves on the island. “The most palpable part of her, her poetry, made the journey to Cuba,” he said in an article he wrote about the adventure.

Luke Maguire Armstrong is the author of iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home, contributing editor to the online travel magazine TheExpeditioner.com and co-editor of the offbeat travel book The Expeditioner’s Guide to the World. His un-published novel How One Guitar Will Save the World is looking for an agent and will soon be unleashed upon the world.

Appeared in Issue 3.3 Summer 2011

Second Degree Luke Ashes

The Guatemala of

Colors swinging in the breeze

Of this land where clothes still hang

On a line to dry

In this third world paradise

Where children starve

Amid joyful festivals that

March on into the holidayed nights

Here is where I would want them to bury me

If I wanted them to bury me.

They better not bury me.

You better not bury me, Mom.

I will tattoo instructions on my ass:

“Don’t ever put this body into a casket!”

If your god

Cannot figure out how to make my ashes

Remember what it is to be a body,

Then your god

Is probably just some guy.

Like contemporary artists and agnostics

I feel that I should be cremated and

Have my ashes cast into the sea.

I doesn’t matter that I grew

Up in North Dakota; I do not want my ashes

Dispersed in a wheat field or the Missouri River.

I do not want my ashes thrown into a boring barn.

My ashes must be dispersed into some sea, some epic

And seemingly eternal body of immenseness.

And make sure the right person disperses my ashes.

It can’t just be some guy who tosses them into the ocean.

There must be great feeling—great panache.
Whoever does it should take deep breaths and feel

A very real bittersweet nostalgia at my passing.

Actually not a bitter sweet nostalgia, but

A plain bitter nostalgia. They should be very sad.

This makes me realize that I don’t want just one person to disperse my ashes.

A great many people should sigh at the sea and disperse my ashes into it.

To fill this demand, a tiny plastic baggy of ashes will be given

To everyone who attends my massive memorial service.

If there are so many people at my massive memorial service that there are not enough

Baggies of Luke Ashes to go around, then everyone who was not a close friend or family member will receive a bag of ashes That are not my ashes, but are regular ashes that have touched my ashes. These will be considered Second Degree Luke Ashes.

In case there are doubts in the minds of my post death planners,

There should also be a repository of Third Degree Luke Ashes available to the public

From a website that will be made by my mourning offspring after my demise. The website will be perpetual and use Google Adsense. It will be very profitable.

Finally, all of my poetry books will be available at discounted prices on Amazon.com.

Wholesale prices. Profit will not matter to me.

Nothing will.

I’ll be dead.