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The most unifying and for many men at least surprising aspect about the MeToo movement was just how precisely the narratives mirrored one another. Because the very bodies which make us vulnerable also bring us great strength. It exists at once in the surreal and the banal, a space we all seem to be occupying as of late. A crimson field of woodcut flowers is marked out, negated, and the junction poses a visual contradiction that stops the read before it even starts.

The collaboration shapes a response to contemporary America—and the result is as much beautiful as it is melancholic, if not maddening. A bicycle is chained to a rack for bikes. He thinks he knows me. In dense, circuitous, always heartfelt, and often humorous poems that celebrate a wide-ranging poetic heritage, Gerard undertakes an unrelenting interrogation of self.

In doing so, he creates both an experience of, and a defense of, making. It can not shield us from the world, and the world is mostly difficult. The newer and selected poems are divided into subsections arranged according to earlier publication. The scope of work on offer is impressive and a celebration of a complex and beautiful oeuvre.

The poems explore illness, death, sex, love, religion, loneliness, and loss, and he has a particular fascination for terrain in its broadest sense: the topography of landscape, of cityscape, of skin, and of consciousness. By adopting and pushing against poetic form, Johnson sustains a tension that expresses a wide emotional range, including joy, rage, desire, love and need for acceptance. The poems throughout this book explore how we think of the body, gender identity and the relationship between nature and love.

Additionally, Johnson adopts a poetic form attributed to Hopkins. This modified sonnet form is used by both poets to celebrate the unconventional. The best collaborations are seamless, done in tandem so that the work we experience is a genuine union, a synthesis of two aesthetic sensibilities. They also offer a space for dialogue, where the work of each artist enters into a conversation with the other, producing something that is wholly of the moment, yet lasting. In their partnered book, Alchemy for Cells and Other Beasts , the poetry of Maya Jewell Zeller blends with the watercolors of Carrie DeBacker in such a way as to sit snuggly on high quality end of the spectrum of collaboration.

I find the most challenging book reviews to write are the ones on books that are complex and ambitious. So much is happening on so many levels in these poems that one could write about anything really. It is simultaneously encompassing and fluctuation, pronounced by me with the intake of breath when a body is unlimited in its possibilities. The bilingual edition provides each poem twice, first in English and then in the native Spanish, as two separate versions within the same volume. Rather than decry what Wellman necessarily loses, this is worthy of celebration, the ability to find new forms through the play of language and its rules.

Released in by Black Lawrence Press , Wasp Queen gives readers a portrait of youth, pain, and strength all while presenting surreal and beautiful imagery. We see Lucy in every aspect of her childhood, and we are reminded of the pain so many face from parental abuse to childhood bullying.

The patriarchy is unrelenting in its bombardment against Lucy, and with all of the pressures society forces onto her from weight to beauty to Polly Pocket to sexuality, Lucy shows the reader that this poetic universe stings without remorse. Several years ago an year-old pot was found on a Native American reservation in Wisconsin. Inside the pot were seeds from a now-extinct squash plant. However, when the seeds were planted they yielded a large and vibrant squash. Plenty of poems have arguments, but few claim to present any sort of conclusion. The tension here drives readers onward as we trail Gibson in his attempts to make sense out of memories, emotions, happenings.

During his travels from South America to Australia, Tahiti, New Zealand, and, of course, the Galapagos Islands, he meticulously recorded in his journal microscopic shifts in species, his eye looking beneath the surface for clues to the intricate connections between species and their habitat. Seated next to me on a plane once, I met a man from New Zealand. Living in our Northern Hemisphere-centric world where so many of the centers of cultural, economic, and political power reside, we can tend to overlook the sense of isolation that our more geographically far-flung and isolated brothers and sisters might feel.

The poet Christian Formoso, whose epic poem, The Most Beautiful Cemetery in Chile, has now been translated into English by Terry Hermsen and Sydney Tammarine in a lovely bilingual edition from Green Fish Press, has grown up in one of those far-flung places, Punta Arenas, Chile, located near the tip of South America, on the Straits of Magellan, a city in distance that is much closer to Antarctica than it is to Santiago, the Chilean capital. However, the formal ingenuity with which DeWitt describes the moral, intellectual and psychological formation of its young protagonist is such that the work defies any reductive or generic classification.

In fact, The Last Samurai is perhaps best described as nonconformist: DeWitt embraces intertextuality and non-standard formatting to an awesome degree, and the result is both singular and singularly articulate. The poems comprise an intergenerational compilation of voices speaking to a multitude of experiences, thoughts, curses and blessings handed down over years and through bloodlines.

This multiplicity of voices urges the speakers of the book toward an understanding of self, of history, though try as they may, full assimilation never quite arrives. In its place, by the final pages, looms an inevitable acceptance of discomfort and perhaps even a reluctant appreciation for the gifts the past bestows.

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The story is told from the point of view of an adolescent girl who is kidnapped, along with her brother, for her resistance to the Pinochet government and spends several days in a political prison. The two are subsequently beaten and tortured by the National Intelligence Center, a gestapo-like political police force responsible for an estimated 40, abductions, thousands of which resulted in torture, murder, and permanent disappearances. Growing up, my favorite part of going to the doctor was the Animalia panels circling each room.

Those panels, thresholds between belief and imagination, tickled my sense of self. Bestiary will transport you—and return you to your world made quite new—making you question categories you give to language, creatures, even yourself. A busy antique store is nestled less than two blocks from my house, attracting dozens of elderly visitors every day, especially on Sundays. People seeking antique tools, silver, teapots, remembered artifacts. But I walk over for the postcards. In front of the cash register, four boxes of densely packed postcards, arranged alphabetically, leave traces of memory and stories.

Postcards are a nineteenth-century invention. The first known cards, designed specifically as objects to be mailed, came from Europe, via England, Austria, and Hungary. Their popularity as souvenir items skyrocketed after the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in In June of , three white supremacists attacked year-old James Byrd, Jr. Her poems are as real as they are magical, as grounded as they are inventive. In Landscape , Givhan portrays motherhood as a surreal journey where definitions of life and body are subverted.

The mama, the main mother figure in the poems, serves as both model and affirmer, passing down the inheritance of motherhood to the daughter. A stunning book tormented by fear and bodily discomfort, yet one also celebrating stalwart perseverance. Instead, Alfier takes his reader to the darker places, ones that likely never appeared in an Ansel Adams photograph.

As it does so, Martens establishes herself not only as a serious prose poet, but as a prose poet with something new to offer the genre. From a lemon. From some mud I found in the living room. Our daughter thinks you are a giant. She asks you to lift the house, so she can put her dolls in timeout. Platypus Press is a U. At one end of the length spectrum, they publish a select catalog of full-size books; at the other end, they publish individual poems and prose works in their online literary magazine Wildness.

Platypus makes its digital mini-chapbooks available for free download from their website, in two forms: a standard. But, bodies also exist separate from the landscape—forces at work upon each other, for better or worse. The stories gathered here reflect the other side of something, or an alternate lens through which to view the world—something both of and other. Infused with dreamscapes, myth, and fairy tales, Tender is fabulous in all meanings of the word.

The stories resound off one another—a dream here, a longing there—and all the while, a steady creep of pain snakes between the lines. Matthews employs a council of writers, philosophers, musicians, and mathematicians — along with a pantheon of deities spanning multiple cultures — to pull back the veil of the mundane and reveal personal truths. She dons a series of masks through which we can view this story, and ultimately takes them all off.

Matthews uses a changeable character to personify her simulacra. Nothing to see. Not much to your kind. Fascinated with his own reflection in both the literal and figurative senses, Narcissus frequently appears in a water motif. These are poems of witness and survival, as the daily and mundane continue asking of the speaker, even when she has been stripped of those who sustained her most.

Times are certainly different. Nair is popular, all the cool kids walk around with Discmans, and email is just becoming a thing. America feels less cynical and self-obsessed. I know, I know. So, she chooses Harvard. When registering for her classes, she, unsurprisingly, finds herself interested in many of the options.

She even auditions for the college orchestra. Before I open a book of poems, I always feel a sense of hope. Oftentimes that hope quickly deflates in the first few lines. Sometimes that hope comes in and out like a breeze. Very rarely, that hope turns to something akin to joy. But how originally and deftly Chen writes from these experiences is what ultimately makes his book so powerful. At once oblique and aphoristic, it nonetheless addresses on some level our current and contemporary moment with serious insight. The poems have the function of all elegies: to lament, to praise, to console.

Take, for example, the curious title Post—. It does a lot of work in placing the poems, especially in their domestic and even political contexts: to square, to attach or affix, to make known or announce, to station or place, and maybe most accurately, to come after or succeed. Memorializing, yet somehow prescient, the poems are for specific people and moments, yet will likely ring true for many sensitive readers.

About four years ago, a spate of reviews and articles began to come out focused on the work of one Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky. Since then, at odd and sometimes aha! Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky — , a Russian author of Polish descent lived and wrote in the s in Moscow. Almost none of his work was published nor did he approach a publisher in his lifetime. In fact, it is a wonder that he has been discovered at all.

It lasted two years and was then disbanded, having drafted a publishing plan that was never implemented. We glean a story through a rapid succession of cinematic scenes, but also, in the spaces from which each scene ends and the next begins. Whether we read this book for its storyline, or for its poetry, the book is, most pointedly, a study of human nature. On the surface, in this pleasant setting, the couple appears full of promise and hope.

However, this poem also introduces a number of ominous images, which foreshadow obstacles that occur later in the book. These poems borrow from a selection of archetypes and characters, both literary and historical, to examine the female experience, and they dismiss the upbeat societal narrative. The skeletal seed heads are a Greek chorus, singing of the subterranean river that weaves its way through the book.

The photo also hints at a deeper, more subversive message: knowledge is power, and it may be too dangerous for some readers. Papaver somnifeum is the infamous opium poppy. Hybridity done in a certain fashion—immersed in telling while methodically subverting format, structure, intention—is a careful job. It is a one-person string quartet playing parts that must carry a different resonance, and yet harmonize. This has often felt exciting, rich, and appropriate: orientation and honesty, analysis and personal reflection married well. How does Blanchfield, or any hybrid memoirist, pull out the quick and subtle threads that are most taut and most tender?

It is no easy feat, but this author makes it look easy. With two books of poetry under his belt, Blanchfield crafts sentences significantly elevated by their narrative musicality and gymnastic precision. Though Angel of Oblivion is her first work to be translated into English, Haderlap has published several volumes of poetry in both German and Slovenian.

She often emphasizes that she does not feel located in either of these two worlds due to her bilingualism. Instead, she points out, she lives in one world made up of two languages. In Angel of Oblivion , Haderlap describes the childhood of a girl born to a poor Slovene family in the countryside of Carinthia, the Southernmost province of Austria. Little by little, she reveals conflicts within the family, which oftentimes result from the trauma of ethnic persecution by the National Socialist party.

In regards to the latter, it is intriguing to discover how much more avant-garde, or experimental, international literature is, to dive into prose that disregards standard American-English rules about plot, character development, linearity, and storytelling. As Americans, it can be easy to take for granted our own ways of being, assuming everyone lives like us—reading translated fiction from any nation proves this is definitely not the case.

I spent a lot of time ruminating on my American shortcomings as I read The Return of Munchausen, a Russian novel penned in the s by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, recently published in a beautifully translated edition by New York Review of Books Classics. One may argue against this view, but how many have provided a Blakean-style vision in counterpoint? Coming from outside of the usual academic milieu, R.

Visionary poetry must have both far-reaching scope and a touch of the cosmic; newness or originality alone is insufficient. Hill takes us there by revealing connections under the radar and marrying opposites: the mundane becomes sublime, the inaudible becomes transformative music, the lowliest act, such as sweeping, takes on cosmic significance. Poetic and religious impulses have been sibling undertakings since prehistory, and most of the major religious texts are either partially or completely composed in verse. House of Water , the debut collection by poet Matthew Nienow, is an important and moving accomplishment, a song of praise to familial love and a fervent, nearly religious tribute to the transformative power of work.

Pantone is a New Jersey-based design company responsible for standardizing color reproduction. Tellingly, Pantone picked two colors for Poet and artist Shayla Lawson explores the significance of color in Pantone , a chapbook consisting of 20 poems printed on unbound cards slipped into a colorful envelope. Each poem is titled with Pantone color code. Pantone colors are labeled with a descriptive name and an alphanumeric code. Shorter poems are printed on white cards with the color chip on the back and poems that need both sides of the card are framed by their color.

Because the poems are printed on cards longer than they are wide, readers can spread the poems out like the iconic Pantone fan guide, a book of color strips pinned together at one corner. As a collaborative project by a husband and wife team, poet Steven Schneider and artist Reefka Schneider have created a vital and timely book that celebrates the romance of Mariachi music while exploring the history and socio-political significance of this form of expression.

The book consists of twenty-four portraits of Mariachi musicians and accompanying poems, both in English and their Spanish translation by Edna Ochoa, in forms ranging from sestina to villanelle. Each page is filled with the magic and the allure of this musical form that originated in Mexico and today has become internationally beloved, particularly in the United States.

In her stellar debut collection, Prayer Book of the Anxious , Josephine Yu includes poems that illustrate faith in human empathy and community. They derive rhythms, syntax, and language from the Roman Catholic missal, the incantations of Sunday mass. In a sense, they remain Catholic in their generous universality and attention to ritual. Yet the poems resist traditional religious readings. It weaves new and reimagined facts with poetry, prose, and biographies of first-generation freed slaves who performed in minstrel shows.

Like Elizabeth Bishop, whose legacy he takes up, Joshua Edwards is a poet of travel; I am not the first to make the comparison nor, I imagine, will I be the last. Though he departs from Bishop in significant ways, as I will show, Edwards continues her effort to move outward from individual experience to rigorous intellectual inquiry, muscular thinking that a younger generation of American poets seems largely to have abandoned. For Colonel Allen Forrester, the frontier he wishes to tackle is tangible.

We see that Colonel Forrester is, indeed, a forger—someone determined to set out and to conquer. West , a poetic chronicle of her researching the life of Kanye West. This year has ruptured our culture, leaving societal gaps between various groups so large that many wonder if they can ever be bridged. His poems are events: beautifully sad, violently sexy, and politically poignant. He passed away at the age of twenty-five in August of this year; he had lived with cancer since age sixteen.

Ritvo made his illness the subject of his work, but managed to explore life and the lives around him, rather than death. Narnia author C. That Studdard was able to merge myth and ecstatic language with contemporary poetics in her first full poetry collection, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast , is evidence of her ability to birth universes at will. Greek myth offers a direct connection to the female concept of creationism. Eurynome was the Goddess of All Things, and desired to make order out of Chaos.

The characters in the book that Drager designates with proper names are a group of female librarians working toward their obsolescence as the library shifts away from carrying books. This group of women regularly meets for drinks after work, sessions that are an incomplete salve for the impending loss of the institution their lives revolve around.

At one such session the women talk about what they have lost, and a terrible accident they were witness to comes-up. Grief without an axis, Harriet says. Avis is recollecting about an accident that had little to do with her directly, but somehow created loss for her. She tries to ascertain what she lost but cannot figure it out beyond knowing that something is fully gone. In this new collection, she poses a pair of questions that animate her poetic inquiry about death. That is, before finally coming to rest in the comfort of the aesthetic creation which itself becomes a substitution for the lost.

To fill that role in this case, the poems must be funny, observant, and kind—and Ossip delivers. It is a book that does not develop in any traditional sense but estranges. Sometimes revision is an act of cutting and compression; sometimes it is an act of expansion or rearranging, but then there are those works of art that grow only as you become increasingly estranged from them.

The more Blackwell doubles and trebles his themes, his narratives, his allusions, the farther he gets from the narrative voice s , the more we enjoy the experience. A tolling.

Poetry and Happiness

A belated begging for prayerful help. Slow, thick, and overwhelming. Instead, she uses gesture and imagery to do the work. But such understanding of nature does nothing to relieve pain. Within this collision of desire for life and necessity for death , there is desperate hunger for a body because it is leaving. Any statement about beauty is a willfully made thing, a gathering of the images, memories, and texts that circulate within a shared cultural imagination.

Throughout her magnificent body of work, Donna Stonecipher invokes a familiar literary landscape littered with the darkened ruins of romanticism. Each poem appears as a luminous assemblage of received tropes, which have been made to reflect on the ethical problems inherent in their own making. One witnesses the transcendent moment made commodity. It feels raw, unedited, and more like a draft than most contemporary poetry — which is exactly why it is important.

There is little argument that over the past two decades, the writing, reading, and study of poetry has been systemized due to the increase in MFA programs and the academic reliance on the workshop model. Goodbye Mexico: Poems of Remembrance is, at its heart, a series of poems of love for the nation and lament for the loss of fluidity of the U. S-Mexican border. This border, once porous and easy to cross both ways, is now a site of political turmoil, violence, and danger.

Goodbye, Mexico: Poems of Remembrance is an expertly curated anthology that both celebrates and mourns this rapidly changing, vibrant nation. These poems are reminiscent of a first love. The tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis, fulcrum, or pivot. Just as a force is a push or a pull, a torque can be thought of as a twist to an object. Oh, she torques everything, this poet. The new. Moscow hotel. The dream. I began reading for answers; by the end of the collection, I gained not answers but a deeper appreciation of questions themselves.

Wolf suggests that the lyric voice, long been perceived by readers, theorists, and critics as monologic, is more reflective of dialogue and multiplicity. A native of Aleppo who grew up in Benghazi and relocated to Milan, the Maronite and opera-lover Basili Shafik Khouzam carried a copy of Time Regained everywhere he went and wrote a university thesis on Alberto Moravia the author of The Conformist. The collection bears witness to the topics that have mattered most throughout history—love, sex, and war—with relentless pursuance and razor-sharp intensity.

Yet this fixation on what is majestic fails to acknowledge a rich tradition of Romantic poetry in which beauty and suffering are inextricably linked. Throughout the work of Keats, Shelley, and many of their contemporaries, these rare glimpses of the sublime are frightening, even devastating, in the desire they instill for the ineffable, the unattainable, and the ethereal. We wish for the world to inspire in us a sense of awe, only to cleave straight through with a strange longing, the ice along the trellis already ravaged by light.

Two recent collections of poetry engage the tension, conflict, and ambivalence inherent in our experience of beauty, reminding us that aesthetic appreciation is more complex than simple joy or astonishment. It has moments of beauty, even as it alienates the impatient part of the audience, and it astounds with its rigor and generosity of paying attention. Mullen uses the versatile and liminal form of the block-like collage prose-poem; neither essay nor memoir nor poem, but a bit of each, these non-fiction, non-poems push the fragment to become fully-formed statements.

They also allow disparate voices to interrupt or coalesce and show the motions of the mind. It begins with what is usually last, with what only a specialized few would be interested in. With LABOR, Magi, it seems, is interested in illuminating what only those who flip to the index, who are paying close attention, see—the persistent and unyielding subjugation of the working class women and people of color, in particular not only by wealthy, powerful people, but also by a system that subjugates this working class by proxy. And, as with any index, a specific, predetermined structure presides, a structure of alphabetization and sub-alphabetization according to topics and their associations.

In Incorrect Merciful Impulses, Camille Rankine reaches for her reader with her generous range of poetic forms and her capacity to activate and modulate a series of internal-scapes both varied and honest. I will also confess that I was very much bothered by the fact that The Argonauts bothered me. Miss me.

All my secrets are laid out in front of you, if you simply go looking. You can sleep in my shirt, look through my books, write me a poem, eat all my food. I have waited for you, as hibernal ground longs for spring to coax back all that would grow. Wanted you to reveal yourself slowly—like June mornings creep in at the window, butter-yellow smiles and gentle whispers. Sea-weathered shoulders— a harbor. I could have discovered the coastline of your collarbone— tongue sounding its depths. Worn paths through a tangle of two-day beard, kisses found hidden at the margin.

But, you were a tempest—sudden, candid. And I—willing the gale to stay, to become a riddle sighed on the wind. Train your eagle eye, as a poor teardrop falls on a stained-glass gown.

Poetry in the Life of a Schizophrenic

Click your fingers, while the phonics of the rich sound from their loaded SUVs as they roll by, windows plugged against the soft, ugly flight of the moneyless. Watch as one more fiery red Target bag clings to the freaky specter of St. Augustine, who bangs his fist at the thought of keeping anyone away from adoration, in the vacant time-slice of the present, which is no time at all. Another kind of whiteness, the white-washed news, the white separates of laundry loads, the white elephant everyone sees: the white. The White House has never been whiter, thanks to optical brighteners: vinegar, bleach, borax—The Lorax is probably dead anyway.

Lose one already? Look for the red, follow the Queen. Where is she now? Left, right, or middle? Follow the lady, keep your eyes on the action, Three cards on the move, sleight of hand deals distraction. Sleight of hand deals distraction. Are you ready to fold? Here comes the crimson! Are you watching closely? Three cards on the table, the Jack and two Queens, Two blacks and a red on the con game altar. Place your bets, make our offer! Place your bets, make your offer!

Are you all-in? Take a gamble, make a wager, get in the game, Stakes get no higher, face down cards look the same.

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But study the corner, does it seem a bit bent? Is the game on the level? Will it win you the pot? Go on, take a shot. Find the Queen of Hearts, so winning and winsome. Les Trois Perdants , as the French like to call it Three losers — three cards — dealer takes all of it — Dealer takes all of it. Zip left, spot right. Zoom for horsefly, deerfly, mosquito-lunch- on-wings. They see ums. Just dash. Dodge before a windshield slam. Avoid the dishonorable wiper-death: stuck to the stick. I missed the bus on purpose to feel scale. The best state is small, from such a position you can only be favoured, teased, brought up into this wide life.

From there you are given gestures, a lap, common ground, dress sense, grace. Learn to weave, to revive. Fields are knocked back to make way for the roads. Dawn was a consciousness ribboning westward across the dark. The world, a shadow caught between the infinite and its recollection. Two trees bowing away from the morning, away from the sacred aurora.

Their shade—fingers— reaching across the mirror lake to a knowing I could only grasp at as I stood upright, ignorance my protection as the day doubled itself, and a swimming buoy wavered between—a reverent orange caught up in its own peaceful reverie. When I take for granted this cold ark laden with ham, turkey, cucumber, and jam, sit me down on the kitchen floor, Madonna, and trap me in your veil until I know: This is a temple. This enemy mine thrives on dark doubt, Planting sinister weed seeds to sprout wildly Within the sea bed of my otherwise level, loving head.

Not cannibals I fear, but Friday, more frightening foe! He pretends to ward off hazards like scorpions and falling coconuts. Instead, he creeps crookedly behind me, Invoking primitive prerogative to berate and badger me, Cursing me ever to be. You do have to work all your life, Become a part of this world, Sacrifice all of your moments Of happiness for grief, Joy for pain, Those smiles become pale, Lips drawn up, Nose cringed back In repulsion to the stench Of old smoke, a distant Thing that tries to come Back when it has no Business being there.

Rockets streak blue Skies with flame Brushstrokes like the Artist on PBS brushes His own canvas of life With the same colors, Trying to find that perfect Smoke color so he too Can remember the truth About his own family His own friends His own self Out there in all that blue, Caressing the inner Linings of forestry On fire in California. Bleed on the canvas, Soak up the smoke In your T-shirts and Levi jeans, all that hair On your head filled with Forgotten things and drops Of liquid smoke, ready to Be doused out by another Bottle of water when you Get the chance in the morning.

You say I sleep like a log, sunburnt and outer layers peeling off. Slowly the missed mist and our eventual transformation. Slowly missile. Firing its blank pages. The undone hangs from the ends of my shoelaces, free until it settles in its own discord. This energy is abundant and brilliant but dangerous if it stays raw and unfiltered. Ambitious, direct, and unconventional often equals trouble and controversy. Is this situation impatient and explosive or dynamic and sexy?

It leads to power struggles either way. Teasing and ostracization made me tough. Years of taking things impersonally protected me. So my ego is reasonable and my self-confidence remains. St SpongeBob, I pray to you today to shower this congregation with your compassion and your dedication, which is as your dedication to your pet snail, Gary. Oh, St SpongeBob, I beseech you now to rain down your laughter upon us, to give freely of the krabby patties of love, so that none may be found wanting. St SpongeBob, give us your blessings as we send up our voices to the protection of the krabby patty formula.

Lead us not into Plankton worship, nor to the clever words of computer wife Karen. I pray these things in supplication, that I and those around me, Bob, might be, metaphorically speaking, worthy fry cooks in the kitchen of Holy Father Krabs. After all, zombies have learned to take their timeless time Cultivating post-mortem, post-modern relationships. Dragging their faulty feet toward more or less lively loved ones, Rigid bone cold arms outstretched, hungry for fleshy embrace.

The whole of the morning. No storm. Still you felt it. You did, the moment you dressed and readied to venture outside, to do. But the joy in pretending: o, how unexpected this downpour drench! A delirium. How freeing to step barefoot on sopped sheet moss, to dance as if the day is done. Hand me a saxophone and a cigarette. The blood on my palms will grease those keys real good. Growth hormones push through the ground, give a girl a cuttlefish and see what comes out.

To be permanent you have to move, hips wobble in your time-dependent strength on land. What does? We are repellent to our neighbours. The side mouth, the trying-to-be-neutral eyes. Agents of holiday death, a lighthouse, a light. We float, we know we float, I have dropped goods into the wetness and witnessed. Shallow, we stick to the shallows where the sand in the water sometimes shatters the sky.

And the endeavour of never wrapping around a cell, a planet. The moon is the biggest of all the stars, nearby, unknown, a tyrant. The best offense, she said, is an offensive defense. Or did she say defensive offense? Or did she defensively say to be offensive? The best offense is to defend? To reoffend? To redefend? To derefend? No, she definitely said to fend in some way, to be fensive somehow. You beat its classic rhythm, scoff at the new.

Set snares for women—catch them up in curiosity, then steady arms. The way I was caught in coffee shop rendezvous, kindred trysts—we counted out a tercet of secret years. My heartbeat— you play a devotion tattooed across time, in stars—by virtue of my favor. Our affair an attuned worship. Remember, you are only part of this song— a few measures, little more. You repeat the final cadence before we kiss goodbye. It is now a burnt and smoking trench for my cargo pod. Here, I teach my teenagers to do what I do. They have permits to hurl their very lives into the tiled rubble like bombs packed with nails.


High above, the hungry strobe-lit billboards prepare to jump. Sing this way, the song leaving your voice and leaping out the window to the tops of trees and beyond to that long line of white-grey sky between day and night. Sing it wrong or sing it right, but it will be yours to give to this night. Is this line too long?

That one too short? Are those tulips too red, is that sea turtle fully grown or newly born? These questions become our incantations that tell us we are home. We are a kind of family, one built on poetry. And I am old enough to know this incantation is a newborn child I bring home to myself. Knowing too the responsibility, the weight, of something so small. I can hold in the crook of one arm. It will grow too, this child, this song, this poem.

Grow toward the world the way the Robin throws its own voice in the air, which travels a long distance to reach whatever ears are open to hear it.

TQ Reviews – Tupelo Quarterly

Barefoot bride approaches shaky camera from a short distance. Sheer, ghostly muslin gown fits more like sack than glove. No haunting soundtrack to punctuate the chilling climax, Silent movie couple walk arm-in-arm, along dirt path lined by cypress trees,. The almost-wife in the frame, now the old woman she became, Lip reads with quivering dread,. The coast is closed, the water too high, so we resign our hike on crags to walk through lupine instead. This makes sense:. Inland, humidity holds. Why punctuate this reception with talk? We walk, dusk-rind, to welcome the season, to watch the light.

We wander through lupine, embrace the luck of flowers, feel wolf-like, howl. I still close my closet door, even now at I still have a fear of the things in the dark, the things that used to haunt me will return to haunt me again, their voices and faces all a blur of darkness in the narrow doorway.

I still close my closet door, even at Nowhere I could go that could be more coast than this. And what do you want when you get there? We talk, but I see you see the class in my staccato what-is-left-of finger shells, and I grasp the formless form, that is, the gulf gulp that lies dare I? She who sees birds flying away has eyes for the prize but hands for the light brush of a coat on the back of a chaise longue being not-so-subtly exit-lifted.

I cannot, without nuts, husks, tell you about my day; you cannot, without music, tidbits, tell me about your husbandry. I lie down upon your double resort and wait and wait as the water encrests the bulk of my is there any other word for it? I am hurt broken amplified leave it each time anyone anyone walks wait away.

Leave the house, the people, the whole situation Wrap yourself in blue if it helps Prepare yourself for the inevitable changes. Did you scare your friends? Avoid everyone before they notice? You are extremely shy and retiring Especially in front of the unknown. Sometimes lacking in imagination List everything you want anyway Venture out step-by-step so fears Fall away and look clearly at all. Check on your affairs to reassure Whether there is solid ground or not And laugh at what bedevils you.

Follow your hunches, rely on your intuition Go for it, there are still possibilities Take small risks to build a tolerance For something good to happen. The compromised crime scene known as my life has given away all the clues, smudged all the guilty fingerprints from every surface, washed away all the DNA evidence, and stolen the bullet shells so some child could make necklaces. Chalk outlines have been redrawn, segmented, gerrymandered until no vote is left. The balance has gone out, shifted wonky, tilted. There is no chance of conviction using the evidence remaining.

I remember the Baltic steaming from salty skin, our brackish lips touching. Natural harbor—my head resting in your shoulder, an ocean within me widening to greet the tide. Such a logical God, who knows a law is a law: no married bachelors, no simultaneous x and not-x.

Deadly intentions slice slim alley between my cottage and theirs, Those monsters disguised as neighbors! Their ginger-haired offspring fills the slight void with grating, grinding, murderous fiddling, Propelling me to stifling kitchen to sharpen knives. All of them! That innocent-looking huckleberry teenager reveals his brutish side: tone-deaf thug, Gravely sawing a violin like an atonal lumberjack, cutting imprecisely across catgut,.

Laboring to fell premature Christmas carols Like rotten trees. Who needs yuletide carols in June? As if the bitch hears my thudding dog whistle pulse, Piercing her mite-infested eardrums, along with not-so-Silent Night. As sun sets in the nick of time, I covet cooler dark, Just as the foul patriarch next door settles down to harangue the Golden State Warriors. His booming baritone blows past whirring window fan, A noisy dart that bursts the boiling bullseye: my patience.

I can fade like those pooled mirages on heat-struck highways. Come closer, I recede. This is how we are, fostering both shadows and mirrors in our depths, the great center of us. How different do we want to be?

Creeping Cadence and Cadence Continues: Poetry in the Life of a Schizophrenic

To say you can feel something finally? Unindulge me with a single word, flamboyant dash on my curl-crueled fist shape. Presence remembered through an accidental non cha la nce. Down a certain path you see a certain owl, a certain boy punches a certain woman against the corrugated card of this small business is closing down. You do not intervene properly, but later begin to walk through the built-up park at the switch of night, anonymously exposed, expecting. Hallelujah, says the park gate when another body finds the threshold to another paltry vertical escape.

Flesh is to leaves as a slip hazard is to an open grave. All over it, the park sprouts clappy yellow bivalves of preventative danger: wet floor, wet floor. You build the thing you most need, scrabble it together from scrap and missing assistance. You construct your worldview from the lost and misunderstood.

You reached for the hands that pull away, until you understood better that those hands do not exist for your comfort, that the voices are only there for your chastisement. The hands leave you to fail, and the voices tear you down for failing. You are left, a lifetime later, to build that thing you need, to scramble for meaning in your own way, through your own means, in your own world. Nobody else will do this for you, but the voices will echo in your head, telling you about your shortcomings.

You will construct your own way through. Akin in the hall of mirrors —opposing surfaces. Fire silent rounds—. What is truth to a daughter? Fidelity to a mother? Inheritance is only distortion, seen. Tombstone epithets, rattles in the family closet once believed empty. What if everybody were as muddy and fierce as you are right now, stamping your feet and back-talking on the honeycombed floor mat?

I think I would love it. We are witness to this crisscross section of life so blue with light and life and the dark, too. We are witness to this dance of numbers on a wall with a voice of assistance, not resistance as it should be. I wipe it clean, this slate of white and black—ink stains, scratches scratching nothing, absolutely nothing. Summer sprites surface from winter caves: Cramped offices cluttered with wrinkled raincoats, Rows of grey flannel cubicles littered with empty cans of Diet Coke, Trappings of lackluster after-party to raucous summertime. After months of being cornered in dreary hibernation, Eager sun worshippers head to bright shore, Wearing little more than sunscreen.

They take their places in tipsy summer parade, On the boardwalk along Ocean Avenue. Who can be certain? The light fades and the neck twists and bird becomes instrument becomes bird. This barn houses no fowl, only cars and bikes, pots without plants, webs without spiders, everything retaining its shape but Peter-Panned: without shadows. How can a bird from Australia lose its shadow in Maine? Of course I know this, I do. The light plays tricks on you, and shadows are slippery slips of us. Why not rest on barn sun-soaked at the base of woods and meadow?

I know this, too. Separated tenor from vehicle? Because sure, it works that way. Maybe the emu knows more than we do, or maybe its shadow and all shadows have a grip on this world and how we cast ourselves on it better than we do and all we do. I want to forgive you for unwittingly playing the role you were given, the hand you were dealt in a game you thought you had figured out the rules to.

Forgiveness is all we have when we get older. Forgiveness exorcises the past, at least muzzles its shrieking. Forgiveness is the solvent for the industrial-strength brutality at the center of being human. I wish that you had read Plath and Tolstoy during every minute that you were drinking beer that was cheaper than Coke. I wish you had been asking your mom about therapy during every minute that you were meticulously formatting Blink lyrics for your AOL Instant Messenger away message.

I wish you had yelled at your friends more. You live in a cave on a mound of floppy disks and Nu-metal cds surrounded on all sides by still dark water. I want to dynamite the mountain side and drop it all on you. I want to be the giant subterranean fish with blind, bulbous eyes that drags you down and eats you whole. You have to feed those mouths Around you, their teeth chomping Down at every bite you spoon, Ready for the next, Next, And then nothing will ever satisfy Their terrible, troublesome thirst.

They hunger for their meat, meals Of wickedness ready to be served Up fresh, daily and hot. I was Jesus once, Pluck, And Ms. Do not be prideful, the poet wrote, for pride eats the inner lining of your stomach after each meal. Shouting help across proto-thumbs as we dim the lights.

  1. July 12222?
  2. Werke von Justus von Liebig (German Edition).
  3. Obras reunidas, III. Novelas cortas, II (Spanish Edition);
  4. Exploring Psalms.
  5. Sex In Space: The Aphrodisiac Flower?
  6. Entre mujeres solas. Poesía reunida (Spanish Edition).
  7. After which, we stepped into the funicular, expecting rice fields, steppe, alpine shards, and receiving instead a diminishing dark, an excavation of town. Persist like a fingernail persists, like an ant underfoot persists carrying another ant upon its middling thorax. Love life, take it by the home. I pitched my tent in the estuary to be delivered archetypically into the open mouth. My son, at nine, sings along with SpongeBob, laughs along with the moments he likes best, when he looks up from Minecraft.

    The cats and dog have torn through the house, left deep puddles overnight at the foot of the stairs. My daughter sleeps on, absorbing as much sleep as she can before waking and relaxing her way through her last summer before high school. A handful of miles from here, people attempt to rebuild after having everything taken away by tornadoes. There but for the roll of the die. I still have everyone, everything important to me. Even when they pee on the floor. Out-moded dress, slinky and tight enough to show the residue of years padding her hips, a miracle of spandex squeezing and pushing, revealing its border from beneath her swelling attire.

    Fig and plum-bruised eye lids, waxed lips leaving a kiss on cigarette butts, martini glasses, later dress-shirt collars. Performing at a bar, solicitous laughter, well-practiced but flat. Wild animals smell the fear of their prey. A man can sense the loneliness of a woman.

    A Hawaiian shirt leans in, offers a zippo. The dogwood has not forgotten what we forget on any day we really want that handbag. Peruque Creek has not forgotten what we forget on days we really want a trip to Cancun. The hawks have not forgotten, nor have the ice and the soil forgotten the constant, dripping tailpipe of human craving. You refuse to share it so we order two. First you order wine and miraculously it comes to the table like a loyal prop pulled up from the cellar. In the absence of vernacular, a building has no charm, no ambience, no atmosphere. It is the ordinary geranium, the picture of the grandmother on the wall of the cafe, the dirty ashtrays, the salt and pepper shakers, sticky and ancient beside the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, which turns a house into a home, turns a space into a place.

    I wish we could find a way to be as ordinary as a plastic covered sofa in a house that will always smell of garlic. I wish we could make something that will out-last our own breath, like a garden, or a child. You pour more wine. Her table is covered with paper—bills mostly, but also school pictures, tax records, things waiting to be filed. Old peonies wilt and brown, petals receding back to a small, tight bulb. And what of the bulb of her lamp? Is it like yours?

    Or is the dining room filled with sunlight on this first day of warmth in June? Can she hear dog-barks and neighbors through the open back door? Perhaps these will end up in her poems. Let her have endless supply of material for her poems, and yes, let her loved ones be healthy. Let her have time, and silence, though I can tell you poems can be written without silence, time, or loved ones. Her chair—let us imagine it, though I could tell you it is hard wood, and high- backed.

    She leans forward, furiously typing. On deadline, always on deadline. Carry on, write on anything you can, But if you want to be Emily Dickinson, Refuse yourself, reject the title of poet— She was not famous when she lived, But she was famous when she was alive.

    Enduring averages yield under weight. A life-long abstinence says sorry, says sorry again. I will teach you anything but apologetics, chagrin. And all the crumpled garments lay loose-limbed on the floor. I am just a girl who says what she feels, who picks up indiscriminate after-objects on the beach, who still turns her head a touch too quickly if somebody calls her name. He is a crowdsourced invention, a flesh-and-blood automaton who has all the sinews but lacks the moral ambiguity. He faces east at sinrise, west at sinset, and north at due midlight. His bird feeder rocks regularly in the wind, pushed by the squirrels of doubt and the singing of the silent dragons.

    His isthmus is narrower than yours, and his archipelago wanders tunelessly across the skies at night. If he is cornered, he tends to howl inconsolably and swirl in polyprismatic promises, shifting from dark purple into dark violent. His love for the word is obscene, profane, and wistsomely wholesome.

    He claims the usual number of limbs, extremities, and forethought, though he often has to borrow some or all of them in order to be properly prepared for inspection or introspection or retrofixion or inverse traction or indigestion. He was raised by candyflossed, indigent, streetwise, transit authorities who moved, wiggled, and fled the scene as quickly and as often as they could.

    His intelligence, while never mapped to scale, has been marked as suspicious by the improper authorities. In case of profuse uselessness, return for proper recycling. He is tall. It has been hungry now for ages, but there was a time that men struggled to fill it full of food—shoving heavy spheres— that ignited in its throat. It would vomit them skyward. A mouth to sink ships. A mouth to destroy armies. Mouth now memorialized in a park, dedicated to the triumph of human violence against itself. This day, the meal is lying still on a bed carried by others dressed in pallid colors whose tears are dewdrops glinting in the evening sun.

    A fuse. The mouth launches this body into the air. It is welcomed into the evening. The man hangs in last light, spreads his wings—clothes transformed to pinions—soars out beyond knowledge. Or, the sky became a suit of armor, and he plunged below its empyrean surface, closing over the trace of his passing. Then swimming to a place where bodies are called back into being, where flight carries us beyond the horizon of this world, souls tumble through the tattered curtain to take another shape.

    You know, Madonna, that I have lived in the hammering hum, of asphalt highways, in sleep and waking, since my birth. The roaring dragons of the road intone all my seasons. Tinnitus flows through the atmosphere, into my nerves. But I sit here, still, every day asking you to hear me over the infernal combustion. To know how I got here, to a lonely waste land A desiccated, lowly place, adjoining a dry well, Demands me to connect doing and not-doing dots Now too disparate and damaged to link inside my ancient heart. Beautiful blossoms are not dehydrated, Have not dropped from the ribbon.

    You fail to see the remaining vibrant buds, Like halos, gracefully adorn the hearts of our lovely daughters. These women are living proof that babies, grown or not, Are formidable creations: lustrous, durable, beautiful Peerless pearls who endure, during and after a deluge. Polished, round, smooth, precious formations of love.

    After a night spent dreaming of our daughters, Each morn I arise to survey the dreary landscape. Water trickles like tears from the spout Into the thimble I hold beneath it. Wetting my parched lips on rim of tiny receptacle, I humbly thank the sun for rising again. I thank myself and you for our radiant daughters, Then meekly express gratitude to the well for her gift, Knowing if I faithfully return to the source, Someday, I will need a bowl to catch her blessings.

    Hope is a Mason jar full of heavy cream, Shaking hard, At least 20 minutes, Butter comes at the end of the process.

    Children With Schizophrenia

    Have you ever been so mad that you could melt iron with your mind, A soupy mess of metal on a cool night, Your eyes the color of rage and lightning, Your fears all becoming one with the iron? Hope is a Mason jar full of butter, Ready for the knife, the spoon, To dip down in there and take some out. Saw in the morning with a wet kiss. Slid over sleep like the promise of snow did. Grabbed you lion-shape on the floor and told your body to grow, like a daffodil.

    I do not have a fortune to buy you pretty things. Do not have the stamina to chase your breakneck thrill. You, too, can hate weapons, if you give up the drink. Splat like a storm-leaf, I mean, darken, fill. Never say pregnant with. And the water in your eyes found its way into mine, because a river, casual, will wend a route to its prize. Imagine an obstacle, for example, a comb, a calculator, fear of lightning, three men in the night. And now imagine a leak. Loud as a tooled-up father, toiled-out after Time spent keeping it all in. The starling-bomb cloud, the one that flies over, leaves a nightclub of sky on the blind of your eye.

    You beckon me to come hither, pull me toward you, drive my desire toward you, but you need to understand,. Your body is an abattoir, a collection of bones and meat, with sprays of blood across the walls. Your body is a dressing room, a scarecrow for clothing, a see-through doorway into the way things should be, as seen through your eyes only.

    Your body is a motorway, with roadkill on display to anyone foolish enough to attempt the trip. Your body is a theme park, and I get motion sickness just considering your roller coaster hills and dips. Your body is a wonderland, where I wonder what fiendish ploys you have in mind. Your body is a haunted house, with past and gone ex-lovers strewn about the place, staining the floors with their ex-bodily fluids.

    Your body is a shopping mall, empty except for the cell phone booths and going-out-of-business clothing stores. Your body is a business under siege, with employees hiding under their desks, hoping the gunman hits a different part of the building. Voiceless spirit, unaccountable— spoken for. The living use their dead as weapons against one another. My flower beds get mitered out. I watch the rain cut wanton corners and devastating muddy troughs of troubled worms. I have learned to kill what no angel of the cloud-banked vault would ever kill or compost.

    I hoped I would change my fighting heart, but all the old beatings come down to root. All the registers froze. But this is hardly a horror show. Others have it worse. The last purchase, a whim. This whole stop, a whim, which makes it sound whimsical, dreamy,. Imagine aisles of honeysuckle rows, dragonflies dressed in lavender gowns big dragon flies—.

    Moss everywhere, the air just a kiss damp. Shopping baskets: all seedlips. Let Katy Perry be swans, real ones, so many trumpeting birds with gondola necks. And the cats in shelving trees minding their own business: wild ocelots, watchful but full of mission. In-season strawberries in produce blossoming buds then fruit right there on the vine unfolding, then folding, pulping to stems like stop-motion photography.

    A cacophony of crickets playing. And everything swirling, swirling, a whirlpool-funnel-choreographed tornado to a heightened puce bow. Until the register clicks. You had to stop. This just a quick run in, quick jot out. People do this all the time. A silence invented speech to appeal to the sound of a moth mining for light that stays. How you kept my birth- day wish in limbo. I candle with. To will a feeling into the feather lattice of my soul. Down fountain of rain on the autumn lawn. A face. Work today will be forgetting the weather, what will become of the ground cover.

    Before I leave the house wearing the world as a cloak and reach into my chest to empty the tray,. I want to see both shades as one— a true fall day that can only be seen by eyes with the light leaving them. Plastic-covered piles all over the ground form a base layer, something to build on. Polyamorous as my ten little fingers, the confetti bifurcates and teases its clutch into submarine loads. We say, disorder in the streets , but I, too, am a piece of traffic. Covert little cakes, sugar grains spilling out from your unbought clothes. I see people bend their backs as if a life is worth nothing.

    Let the words come low and boil around our melting toes. The bunyip is part bird, part alligator, with the head of an emu. The hind legs are strong. There are claws. It swims like a frog and walks like a foot-tall man. And calling us imposter devil is really hurtful. Like my unhappy childhood, my problems with addiction, my mysterious yet attractive past lovers. Or our Stan. We just want to set it straight. We tell our own stories, our own emu-headed tales.

    First, think about all the ways it could be better. Try to understand where, how it all went wrong. Rewrite the script; Scream this time and stomp your feet; Throw dishes just to get a response; Fight so that fucking feels good. Rehearse it again and again, until your mind has worn circles in your heart—until answers show themselves, though nothing concrete emerges.

    Do this every day. Every hour. Every minute. Store the past as evidence, projectiles; File away suspicious eye contact, grumpiness, gruffness, add these to the armory. Be certain now that you are alone. You are each alone in this shared misery. Wonder how the mire deepened without your notice, how overnight a chasm could widen its breadth, how anyone could breathe with all this air pressing inward.

    Did you see, Mary? Mothers, as you know Mary, make hard decisions. And sometimes, a mother needs to toss a bag of bears and a pink puppy, to make the point that her daughter should be working on becoming the first woman president or some other icon of second-wave Feminism. Softy chocolate cherry lips. Is my tongue red she asks, sticking it into the dusk. Eyes and ears and mouth and nose. We sing away the dirt.

    Before I lift her up I take one big pruned toe inside my mouth still hungry for more. I imagine God is dirty too, at the end of another day. I lean into the rim of the tub and suck her toes. I get called irrational because he makes plans for multiple fishing outings in one weekend, leaving me home with a sick kid the day after I get home from a funeral. Dear reader: I get one night a month for my poetry group. At least three times a week, plus an upcoming all-weekend, out-of-state excursion next weekend.

    I get called irrational because I say, I need you. His response: Why? Is that my red flag, dear reader? Keep writing? Will I be rational then? Like a squat green beer bottle with bad intentions Hurled furiously across a dimly lit dive bar at unlikely enemies, She stomped through life, an enraged raw emotional brute. After impact with wall or head or heart, hurt found its true target — Her broken spirit, stippled and crippled with jade splinters, Fragments of pain and shame.

    Then, such a miracle! She beat the brutish odds. On the shore of a bright beach, she discovered The beauty of her own brokenness,. Scattered and repurposed like smooth sea glass, Sharp edges rounded, rutted surfaces smoothed By ebb and flow, tidal waves of love. I felt the wave and shrug of the tires but thought it was the wind, maybe me.

    It happened so fast and it happened so slowly, the long trip on highway then interstate then highway. Somehow the two of us were the only drivers on the road. I drove so long like that thinking it was me, I was causing it all to shake. Maybe, in that moment, I should have felt powerful, but that doubt was good doubt. Hardware failure of a kind, this time. When we pulled off on a gravel drive of an exit tavern, the sky was pink with early summer. We were still on central time, a mere hour or two from eastern.

    Just before solstice, that sun stretched out until the tip of 10pm. If we had been more lucid, we might not have laughed when the line at the bar turned toward us all at once as we walked through the door, everyone staring for a full hot second. It was hot; I had forgotten that. And then they turned back, the regulars, again all at once. Maybe this was a sign of acceptance. We ordered some Cokes, found the wrench, and tightened the tire. The parking lot, I swear, was empty: not a vehicle in sight just gravel and patches of grass.

    For a moment, static silence, except that sign that creaked in the wind. But there was no wind. What I remember so clearly was the sound of coyotes howling off beyond the potatoes and ginseng, across the windbreak, at the start of the forests where we were headed, our final destination, at least for a time. Wolf country, or what was left of it. For me, this was a return.

    Summer nights as a kid, a constant sibling argument was whether the yips and croons at the moon were coyotes or wolves. Sometimes we said both. Sometimes we said loons. We wanted them to be wolves—sentinels of true wilderness, what we knew, even then as children, was fading. Said they called the authorities.

    They always give them back, those dogs. Every night they howl until the moon is all the way up. And they drove away in a pickup I swear was never there. We finished our Cokes. Slowly got back into our packed car and truck. I drove with the windows down so I could hear those wolves sing.

    Someone is tuning my heart strings. Is that why they are called strings? My chest acoustics, the redness of my instrument. When I give it away, does its music go with you? A fist coiled around a delicate system of chords pulling the rest of the body together. Could someone play the chambers like flutes? Then the menagerie, along the veins, the exotic animals. Wreathed my endocrine system in flame just to say: jump through me, listen to the cheers.

    This performance is all we have in the hospital waiting room. The chemical orchestra that cues the trained tigers in our bones to leap, the acrobatics of oxygen in the blood stream. The thrill fades as fashions change. The years with you— an ER waiting room TV watching itself perform the same world doing tricks to crowds with varying appetites for tumbling. I made a turkey one time for friends, for you, for us, and I knew what I was doing then as I did now, rubbing my finger around on bare, just the way I put that clarified butter on that turkey skin.

    We were good, in love, people mashed together and worrying about nothing but the time at hand—dark night, date night, we parked somewhere and felt the universe squish through a strainer. There, walking alone, a man on the side of the road, myself in the future, my own body bent downwards and my shirt ripped, a piece of cardboard dangling from bloodied fingers. On the out-of-action travelator I enjoy the hum of suitcase wheels rotating round. In the vibrations of my active life, the smell of failure, what remains of the countryside, your cold light. A long thread of recognisable hair that ties me to a sound.

    And a fantastic range of fragrances swallowed the social animal whole. We prepare to land like boxes of distant grief dropped from altitude: ample, one square metre apart. Squatting in formation on the sand we relieve ourselves, are relieved, dawn dawns on us, sudden and bright as our gashes of open eyes, alerting around. We live in a state of indecision, not yet certain enough to admit that inaction is not the same as deciding not to. Pinning our rained-on bodies to the tongued ground. Caught between doing and undoing, resting between sentences like being too scared to enter a room.

    My chin rests babyshape on our suitcase handle, until it chews on the lever and drop-darts down. The tears drip like an unfamiliar shower in a land you were once accustomed to, as you fly towards the year looking for the point of departure, trawling for asymptote rainbow gold. Until the snapped elastic sends you back through to your opposite bullet hole.

    Sunlight sparks mosquito swarm into trying to grab anything with your razor-blade hands of a person. Observe the wires and contact points and closed-up circuits, cut a line through skin and look about. Telephone boxes have a place in my heart. Sometimes, a start, a control.

    There is an art to death, or so the title of the book on the coffee table seems to say. An art to dying. A more theatrical and dramatic way of shuffling off this mortal coil. A way to expire properly, so that everyone watching will appreciate, perhaps applaud, your successful effort. The art of dying is an esoteric art, one you master by doing, though you can study technique.

    You can practice your heartbeat, make the right moves that will emphasize your potential stroke, your shattered heart giving way, your cancer giving its final blow. With enough practice, you can pass away in front of an audience with no fear of embarrassment, no worry of disappointment for your viewers. Some may think death is cheapened by theatrics, but those are not your people. Prepare, practice, plan, and be fully ready when that dark and shadowy figure appears.

    Firestone, black as coal—obsidian promise, plasticine seed. Falling whole and ready from rock white as the spent ash of a hungry world youthful and burning hot—that disintegrates even as it gives life. There is mercy in its silken surface, a grace to each layer carefully hewn. Worry hands over its sagittal planes, content to feel the soothing presence against clinging fingers. It is fire we conjure, a promise of hearth dancing in its shadowy glass.

    Same as that water-stiffened suede jacket I found at the edge of the path, I am caked stubbornly, right through with something that rose up slowly, and poisoned me without antidote. It was minutes before spring when the memory suckers came to town. At first the gate was squeaky but when it opened cries rained upon the unfortunate land.

    The rooms were quiet. For generations children sung not to know where I come from or where to go. Later, they forgot even this.