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Poems of the Week

AN AGREEMENT REQUIRES
AN OFFER AND ACCEPTANCE

I came here to get you excited.
We have an accidental stare-down.
No bees, no money. No one says this.
I am so frightening. No one is impressed.
It’s all, a duck’s quack doesn’t echo
and no one knows why. You think
you are whispering when you are not.
We are experts at distributing distorted
information. This is how it might feel,
take hold of something between
your finger and your thumb and twist it
sharply. Make a slight adjustment.
A logical consequence appears
to arrive, a bar, a partition, a stick.
I am hitting rocks with a stick.
What do you believe to be important
points of convergence? Vegetables.
Electricity. The extremely challenging
sky. To show adoration with the eyes.
To say something necessary. I avoid
my eyes. I think I mean it.

_____________________________________

Emily Pettit is the author of two chapbooks HOW (Octopus Books) and WHAT HAPPENED TO LIMBO (Pilot Books). She is an editor for notnostrums (notnostrums.com) and Factory Hollow Press, as well as assistant editor at jubilat. Her first full-length book, GOAT IN THE SNOW is forthcoming from Birds LLC.

Today we’re featuring two poets who I have an incredible amount of admiration and who I am very excited to share with you today.

I did want to write a brief observation about what I believe both these poems–different as they are–share in common: both are built around a relational core of emotions; both poems climax with the impossibility of speech. Both poems, however, do it in very different ways: Colie through image, Maya through syntax. My observations follow the poems (and below that are author bios).

The Paper One
By Colie Hoffman

It helps to understand there were two realities
and words were in the paper one.
The other was made of clouds
and sometimes whatever animals
or feelings clouds made with their shapes.

The cloud world had giant one-way windows.
You couldn’t see inside and it was very, very dark out.
Your own face sent
out a search party for you.
The limitations of our brains and other body parts
kept rapping on the glass as we danced.
I could never tell which was you
and which was me
and if that simple touch
was some girl’s thighs
or the wings of a moth.

The paper world had words available
but none were the right ones. Later at the bonfire
people threw all the words in
and soon the entire world burned down.

Afterward we kept
talking but one of us kept glancing
at something over
the other person’s head.
You said it was to watch
for predators. I said what’s “predators.”
You made a cloud with your index finger
in the shape of a person whose language had words
for every complicated feeling.
I made the shape of that person’s insides
and internal organs
and started an electrical storm
that would never stop.

Lament
By Maya Funaro

-for EY

Now I’ve heard for the last time.
It doesn’t snow today but October has laid its hands upon my shoulders.
We’re swaying now side to side as if we’re waiting something out.

But I have heard and we are no longer waiting.
It is October and you are gone.
In the air there is a long slow sigh.

In the air a surety dances like smoke.
I can be certain you are gone.
Still my knowing you pulls at me and turns a corner.

In October a life tries to fill itself out,
Searching pigment for even the loneliest spaces.
And death seeps in, a persistent stain,

Overflow of time outside of time.
An aberration, death speaks of saturation.
For this reason there is never enough.

For this reason you come to be all light and all shadow.
I’ve caught your laughter like a headcold.
All day and into the next

Grace tracks me down, looks me in the eye
While awkwardness takes my hand like an old friend and looks away.
What I’m trying to name here I can’t say plainly enough or with enough severity.

Colie’s poem enters into emotion through the backdoor. It’s a bit like wandering into an enormous and sparkling ballroom during an elegant affair, but only after having woven through a maze of underground hallways, each stretch full of doors opening to various rooms containing strange sights. Amazingly, Colie never loses control of the poetic “camera.” Somehow, almost suddenly, what has seemed to be a continual shell game of emotional deferral takes us straight to the heart of the matter, and we are amazed at the path we’ve taken (at least I always am), surprised to find that this whole time she’s actually been preparing us (in the strangest way possible) for a moment of open emotion. Colie’s poems are worth going through again and again, not because they “yield something new” every time (though that’s probably true), but because the poem works every time, the way a great guitar solo never gets old.

There are two things about Maya’s poem that I find worth noting. The first is that Maya’s poem, unlike Colie’s, does not defer any emotion. Beginning writers are told, “show, don’t tell.” And this is true to some extent with Maya: she knows how to imply emotion via objects and such. But Maya also tells a lot. Even the lines that “show” seem to tell (the emotion awkwardness, for example, is cleverly personified–it both shows and tells). The very climax of the poem is a direct statement of the theme of the poem: “What I’m trying to name here I can’t say plainly enough or with enough severity.” It takes a certain craft to openly discuss emotion without being labeled maudlin, especially in an age such as ours that has replaced vigilance of mawkishness with a cynicism of emotion in general.

The second thing to notice about Maya is her lines. Many poets “do” long lines, but I often find myself feeling that such lines wear out their welcome. As a poet, I’m inherently lazy and easily frustrated when I am forced to read across a whole page! Not so with Maya’s poem. There’s some metrical dark matter that sustains it far beyond where my poetic instinct tells me lines should go. It’s magic. I find myself continually amazed that Maya’s lines don’t run out of gas before turning the corner. Indeed, I think there’s a relationship between these two things I’ve noted. You may see that there is an almost direct relationship between the length of the line and the “telling” of emotional content. The longest lines are the ones that seem to carry the most emotional weight (some might disagree with me about that, but I think I’m right anyway!). I can’t imagine Maya cutting the last line of the poem up into 3 lines. Somehow, that would be mawkish. Instead it comes out in a great rush, like an arrow that has been shot into us. I do not know if Maya’s long lines work because of the content, or if the content works because of the long lines. The ghosts of form and content haunt each other mutually, I suspect.

Both Colie and Maya have found a way to enter into emotion that are worth learning from. This, among many other reasons, is why I share them with you.

___________________________

Colie Hoffman is a copyeditor by day and poet by night living in New York’s Hudson Valley. Her poems have appeared in Blood Orange Review, Obsidian: Literature in the African Diaspora,and elsewhere. Thanks to a grant from the M Literary Residency, she is currently working on her first book at Sangam House in Bangalore, India.

Maya Funaro was born and raised in South Jersey, and currently makes her home in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Her chapbook Setting in Motion was released in 2009 by Fox Point Press. Her poems have appeared in Ekleksographia and Ology.

Listen to Joe Weil’s album of original poetry and music, recorded with the help of Vic Ruggiero.

I’m happy to announce that we are rebooting our Poem of the Week feature here at THEthe. Every Thursday, THEthe will post a poem by an author that an editor has solicited. Every month, one of our contributors takes a turn at being the editor. Hopefully this will guarantee a nice diversity of tastes and styles. We hope that you enjoy this feature in the future as much as we think we’ll enjoy posting it.

I (Micah) will take the reins for the remaining Thursdays of November. The inaugural poem of our relaunch is by Rosanne Wasserman. Enjoy!

Limits

Ow, why are walls so hard?
Somebody’s mom could walk through them:
Not every dream sequence needs dwarves,
Though I get giants, like that Trevor Winkfieldian
Unfolding himself from a pillow in Louisville,
Half of a scissors-pair, wearing a boot,
Human face inside handle-loop.

We questioned him like an oracle:
“What’s going to happen next?”
But he just stared and said, “There is no future.”

Later I figured, “After all,
He’d just pulled himself out of a pillow,”
Rationalizing, and wondered
If his wings were wet, in folds—
But he was pretty much nothing but
Cold gray steel. What else could
Happen to something like him, anyway?

But the busted hardware drawer
Won’t do for an oracle.
He had a point.

Just one point, yes, but sharp enough,
Even in that Doc Marten’s.
He was right, for the half he spoke for.
He was a knife now, but Atropos used
Whole scissors: past and future
Meet, then there is no present. His other
Half’s no dream. Wake carefully.

_____________

Rosanne Wasserman’s poems have appeared widely in print and on the Web; both John Ashbery and A. R. Ammons chose her work for the Best American Poetry series. Her books include The Lacemakers, No Archive on Earth, and Other Selves, as well as Place du Carousel and Psyche and Amor, collaborations with Eugene Richie.


Limits

Ow, why are walls so hard?

Somebody’s mom could walk through them:

Not every dream sequence needs dwarves,

Though I get giants, like that Trevor Winkfieldian

Unfolding himself from a pillow in Louisville,

Half of a scissors-pair, wearing a boot,

Human face inside handle-loop.

We questioned him like an oracle:

“What’s going to happen next?”

But he just stared and said, “There is no future.”

Later I figured, “After all,

He’d just pulled himself out of a pillow,”

Rationalizing, and wond

Limits

Ow, why are walls so hard?

Somebody’s mom could walk through them:

Not every dream sequence needs dwarves,

Though I get giants, like that Trevor Winkfieldian

Unfolding himself from a pillow in Louisville,

Half of a scissors-pair, wearing a boot,

Human face inside handle-loop.

We questioned him like an oracle:

“What’s going to happen next?”

But he just stared and said, “There is no future.”

Later I figured, “After all,

He’d just pulled himself out of a pillow,”

Rationalizing, and wondered

If his wings were wet, in folds—

But he was pretty much nothing but

Cold gray steel. What else could

Happen to something like him, anyway?

But the busted hardware drawer

Won’t do for an oracle.

He had a point.

Just one point, yes, but sharp enough,

Even in that Doc Marten’s.

He was right, for the half he spoke for.

He was a knife now, but Atropos used

Whole scissors: past and future

Meet, then there is no present. His other

Half’s no dream. Wake carefully.

ered

If his wings were wet, in folds—

But he was pretty much nothing but

Cold gray steel.  What else could

Happen to something like him, anyway?

But the busted hardware drawer

Won’t do for an oracle.

He had a point.

Just one point, yes, but sharp enough,

Even in that Doc Marten’s.

He was right, for the half he spoke for.

He was a knife now, but Atropos used

Whole scissors: past and future

Meet, then there is no present.   His other

Half’s no dream. Wake carefully.

To celebrate the forthcoming ¿What Where? Chapbook Series from The Corresponding Society, there will be a reading at Unnameable Books featuring Anselm Berrigan, Ryan Doyle May, Christie Ann Reynolds, Ben Fama, and Robert Fitterman. The event will be hosted by Lonely Christopher.

Details: Wednesday, November 17th, 8pm.
600 Vanderbilt Ave (at St. Marks), Brooklyn, NY.

More details/Facebook event.

This month Metro Rhythm is proud to present five outstanding poets: Meghan O’Rourke, Eleanor Lerman, Sarah V. Schweig, Zachary Pace and Jay Deshpande.  The reading will be held at Blue Angel Wines in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Details.

for David Shapiro

I

PARITY

Underneath the garden,
loose stars stapled to ribbed snail shells
in octaves of sky,
the revised mistranslation
of a black pool
expects
what an inveterate tuba suggests:
a broken interflow
inhabiting the honeysuckle–
but diction is unlivable,
a plastic replica
stuck in low tides,
the snow’s psyche nearby,
and the pool, its live-in help,
third-persons the loud night,
its open mouth
an analogy of vowels…

Such fierce quantums
ingest roman à clefs, gondolas
drifting on changed names
below rows of dead windows. Oh,
the globe’s pallor
is so themelessly narrow,
its doors glamorous and blind.
Messy cement, set by geometrics,
cannot fix it,
though music’s lost paragraph
can.

II

EVERYBODY HATES LOVE…

its pale-colored loops. mental and spiritual,
its woeful exaggerations
primitive as tequila
resonated through salt in vacuums
invented by thieves–
lorry lingo, islets, milkweed–
and, yet, its purple-and-silver drivers
get a groom’s reprieve,
obvious boundaries, and a private life
in the engaged comedies of cutlery and confidence,
so unoccupied
are the avalanches.

It is best to place pillows beside this tear,
politely veined as the sun
lazily screaming
the anti-grammar of happiness,
then accelerate, burstingly,
through space,
for the sun is multiple
and unhumiliated,
like the green certitude of a blank page,
and love, its blue beetle,
engraves the edges.

III

CAREENED

The kneeling roadside,
its film of oil callowly cooled
by “timbrel dissonance,”
subsists below an imperfect hardhat,
its unanswerable flashlight noli me tangere;
and where the beam’s wandering error
stares seems dark as a motive
that permits no friend
beneath the grillework of an eyelid,
that mournful interior that slides
like a bed across a sun spot
into cross-sections of fate,
wheels rolling as buttons from a mannequin,
unconsciously–
elocutions on too many colors.

Oh brother, those throttles of weather,
unsmiling, cloudless,
technically precise, creamed innocence
until rats themselves lay comatose
in the cemetery,
its futuring approach keeling
below hardhats of memory.

IV

ANGER, SEX AND HISTORY

Suburbia’s psychological chrysalis
is truthless and whirls
like the shadow of an ancestor
awake in the West,
an effaced death partly singing
across the aluminum horse show’s loutish goodbyes,
late copy
in the contaminated dust
with its Brechtian vacation spots
moteled by Duchamp
under margins of clouds,
their simulations left by deleted sculptors
who once galloped
across these fragrant walls.

You see, Russianly,
all– the other mind’s Alexandrian
prayer, stranded
like a disarrayed laurel
from that frightening tree,
its manifold precedents
trapped in the bric-a-brac of coherence’s
confusing clichés. Born to combat,
driven and infantile,
the chrysalis’s governance wavers
under this jagged emitting,
tainted and fragmentary,
restless, while you
argue through the fragile kitsch of the spatial
nothing but hope.

V

TRACES

These half-seeded gardens,
unconcealed,
feel suspect–
time-lapse ruptures
blurring the poplars’ plaintive mustards.
A softening
is thrust across connoisseurs,
a smeared hurrah in “the spray of time,”
something doubtful
like the explication of “z”
with red octagons aswirl in the rigmarole
that punctuates the pleasantries,

but I ramble
from a chair at the bottom of an swimming pool
without a scatterbrained portal
to frame uncloistered predictions,
while the crickets’
rainy gravity
adjusts pencil-dots made by Rouault,
and your violin swims
in waters brimming with black lamps,
half-tuned in the vigil
where osmosis is improvised,
like soft petals
brushed against the cymbal’s inner sides.

VI

ALMOST A PARK

The skidding fountains,
their compassionate kilometers
slowed by toy boats,
interrupt “the tiny dead day,”
its lodestone splash
confused by hundreds of muffs
surrounding the word “uh.”

Winter, flightlessly noticeable
like butterflies on a cello,
magnifies
the cascade’s twists,
dilatory as pity,
but the seasonal paysage
is like Niobe’s entourage: in trouble–
a beagle without eyes.
You said so,
in your spraycan diary
which is why fountains,
their pistol-silver laxity, are still-lifes,
even five dreams away,
and so pretty.

VII

EVIDENT

God– a red stain on cardboard,
a recognizable accent, morning embedded–
loosen me among layers of street
in raw materials made white by Utah’s inland sea,
saline-green and collaborative.
Secrets nod to nomads
and the psychotic connection’s pastels
break the glass.
Lend me limits, optics tilted,
and lame ledges, love’s
terrible mania colloquial yet tamed,
tea-time amazed
by your architectural downtowns,
by the sound of mud,
its ministering sensuality.
Exemptions race by me in ultra-red fog–
traced traumerei
taking a ferry across a painting.
Enter my wary brain,
its splitting sunlight,
Jonah’s complex unsharable night.

Genevieve Burger-Weiser’s poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Boston Review, Western Humanities Review, Washington Square Review and Juked. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Dear an hour north the trees
are already shuttered leaves

whip my face and the lake
is lashed to whitewash while

back home our initials grow
dim erosion smoothes cement

and names and your lover writes me
letters detailing your predilections

in colored pencils asking for friendship
I suppose she does you well out here

in the forest the season is brewing
and no one minds the strange

accent the new girl wears around
her neck with a cross our senses shatter

on punctuation and dropped Roman
vowels streetlights and shadows

follow sirens deep into the maze
of named streets while here a fox

has been eating chickens one by one
in the skeleton night where once

a shiv of moon grew flat on our lake
while snow fell and held the light

It’s been a year since that goddamned horse died
and I have yet to pick up the pieces.
It brought me water on down that road.
It took the tarp with buck’d teeth and made a tent

by lifting it over the low branches of a nearby tree.
It’s been a year since that goddamned horse died
and I’ve used all the lessons he taught me
during our time together braving the elements.

My right arm has burned off from the sun’s radiation
and I can no longer call out at night in pain like I used to.
It’s been a year since that goddamned horse died
from swallowing the last of the Brita filters.

And even if having clean water did nothing
it made me feel safe, like we were able to improve our
own condition. It’s been a year since that goddamned
horse died. Triple crown I lost my body, mind, and soul.

Amy Lawless’s first book of poems, Noctis Licentia, was published by Black Maze Books in 2008. Her poems have recently appeared in Sub-Lit, Scapegoat Review, The Paramanu Pentaquark,Forklift, Ohio, Portable Boog Reader 3, Agriculture Reader, Radioactive Moat, Pax Americana, Sink Review, and Barrow Street. Lawless holds a degree in journalism from Boston University and an MFA in poetry from The New School. She  teaches at John Jay College, and lives in Brooklyn. For more about Amy, check out her blog, (F)LAWLESS.

Stomach

Teeth remain but lips do not.
A flattened pouch filled
With a jackal-headed god’s
Crumbs, a steady and tasteless
Nourishing, until again the
Lips burn, hungry for fowl
In the infinite field of reeds.

Lungs

Tree dismantled. One half
On top the other, losing pink
Quickly. A baboon’s snout
Blows the new air of a god
Inside and during the rise
Twin sponge-roots relearn
To expand, contract, expand.

Intestines

The longest road of the body
Is watched by a hawk-faced god
Who flies the Nile’s length
In two wing-beats, collects
Water in his beak and returns
The river’s still blue coolness
To the driest coil of flesh.

Liver

The usefulness of what’s left
Behind—blessed by the hands of
A god with a human face, wide-eyed
And mindful. Four parts, four winds
Stilled, the kind of silence needed
To end and begin. To make venom
Essential, to warm again the blood.

In a photograph of my father’s Rhode Island,
His home describes itself in tactile, sculptural terms.

A well looms. Once, I stared the photo down
Till I could picture it—till the clapboard

And shingles lay like any focused thought
Against a pure white backdrop. Now

It was an idealized beauty treated as a vision,
But an abstraction unquiet in its given body—

Insistant, puritanical & aware of its materials
And heft—stolid and wooden. The roof joists

Turn up, but return earthward decisively
Like a check-mark upside-down.

We staked it out when I first saw New England.
My father pointed, Look at the well, it’s gone.


Alexander Landfair lives on Manhattan, where he is the associate poetry editor of Narrative Magazine. He was recently a Finalist for Poetry’s Ruth Lilly Fellowship.

I sit with my head in the meadow and compare it to the stones
In my biography I own a home
I associate my home with pleasant feelings
In my biography I am very sleepy
I go sit on a stump and a log
Sometimes for days I am moving
I weep all night for my child
In my biography epaulets grow in sorrow
I braided them myself the golden worms
And I am a horse owner I own a horse
In my biography we are an island
Food arrives and news and ammunition
Very slowly I move to the cellar
What I have buried there I still adore

Heather Christle is the author of The Difficult Farm (Octopus Books).  She grew up in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, and now lives in Atlanta.  More information is at heatherchristle.blogspot.com.

Scott Cairns has a featured podcast on the Eastern Orthodox web-station Ancient Faith Radio. Check it out. Similar to the popularity of “the body” in poetry today, the idea of “incarnational ______” (fill in the blank) is quite hot in Christian theology as well.

I.

I assemble flapping into a mechanical bird.

I replace the breathing ones with stuffed ones and suffer an applause of wings. Reach between the roost to feel compressed as they look. And O hovering ellipses: our hands cannot suppress the unbelievable synchronization of bee wing and lawn mower. We enter a playing field: molecules of water vs. molecules of water. We construct viable diagrams of living: a reversible motor heart. We test drive baby palates and consider them unsuitable for the farm. Inside each of us, three small red cells break in half until we cocoon in jars and wait to be watched. We prepare for peoplery: fall into pitch with darkness. Photograph after photograph we freeze images of a bullion cube dissolving. Skip death by lining the trees with ornaments of plastic bags. I assemble the deli counter into a whelping box and we all breed unanimously in a convenience store.

II.

There was a diary I used to tell bad things to but one day it blew
Off half of my face and I had to tell everyone how I was feeling
So as not to risk writing anything down that could become explosive
And take my hand or an eye. I kept this diary for proof. Its skeleton
Sits in a glass vase tinted red for the effort of my face. I kept this diary
So generations upon generations of Clara’s will know how to let their
Emotions out like the pale laundry flapping erratically on the line.
I want a souvenir for all the bitches I’ve been.
I want everyone to imagine each sliver of sound coming from my mouth
To be an ancient iron ball tousled with daggers.

VIII.

I flushed the necklace down the toilet Andres.
I was not sorry. A bent silver heart zirconia
And I wore it on the inside of my shirt so it hung out when bent
Over you & so to pull it before you came.
A field glazes orange.
Everglades recede to prairie.
Hung like a bell clapper on my clavicle I screamed
Ring me, me. Horses don’t stop running
Even when foam flowers on their hides.
We were making tea and people.
Told you Andres, I’d crossed you to observe the shape
Of eyebrows when angry.
In the snow, it was the snow
That kept me driving for hours to your body.
Out of you Andres,
I built the dry and crackling Andes.

XI.

Dear Jack, your heart will break—

They’ve injected the cows again.
They’re growing up so beautiful & spotless
Sickless, fat. We could float one all the way to Florida.
A van on a cow’s back or a mother on a van
On a cow’s back. I’m sure you’d approve
Of my hair, the style I’m wearing & wish I could hold
Your hand to my forehead. Why?
I am your child. Your elegant disciple of crickets
That storm when flushed from their lairs.
Jack I match the hissing & black snake you pulled from your mouth.
I’ve been coiled like a tiny fetus & inside of my fetus
Is a long vowel and a pine tree.
I have one corpse to show you Jack.
It is yours.
When you said dear Lorca, I knew
You were addressing the father you never had.
The father you never had.
Jack your name is spelled with four letters.
Two of them make the same sound.
Two of them make the same sound.

XII.

Only a tarantula knows for sure.
That kind of fear.
I wanted to be a woman but ended up a woman. That kind of fear
Was circumstantial. With certainty I pulled rabbits
From my throat like a magic trick.
I pulled and pulled until the lowest pit
Put forth a diamond and was dirty
From waiting. That kind of fear,
Of glowing. The man that grabbed me
On the subway. For days shame I carried like a lung.
For days and shame.
He did not breathe.

XIII.

Inside of herself Clara built this gorgeous time bomb.
Each one had a father and a father’s father. It was the most popular
Time bomb in its high school. All the other time bombs
Were jealous and parked their bombs outside of her house
And scared away her friends. They blew up her family.
Their fires melted the car. They killed the family dog. All of the time bombs in the world
Soon made pilgrimages and blew up on their great great great great great
Grandfather’s blow up spot. They returned each year to their family X
And more and more blew away or imploded. Every time a bomb came
It was louder and bigger than the last. The smaller ones combined with smaller ones
To become medium sized or large. They too blew themselves up.
No one could keep it together. No one knew what would happen if they didn’t blow up,
They had been doing it so long—
It was so simple one of them said one day. Don’t blow up. Cold turkey don’t blow up.
And thus a small fire of doubt was built but the time bombs found they could
Remain in one place longer and longer without losing
Any part of themselves.

XIIII.

I was in that well too. We didn’t want the light to show our skin
What wasn’t human. And we wanted velvet, more velvet
Which could be darkness disguised as velvet. I wanted a way
To show you I could build a globe of spit and sticks
And it would sustain life, a life like ours if we had been born
So many years before. Enter, the chickens disguised
As men and the men disguised as dugongs and the dugongs
Disguised as dead dugongs to throw the hunters from their trail.
The well would open from time to time and someone threw particles
Of dust into the light and we would grab at them like they were crumbs
Of food and we would push them to our lips.


Christie Ann’s chapbook, idiot heart, was selected by Brenda Shaughnessy for The New School Chapbook Competition in 2008. She is the coauthor of a chapbook that is forthcoming with The Corresponding Society Press and her work can be found or is forthcoming in Sink Review, La Petite Zine, Blaze Vox, Pax Americana and others. Christie Ann has an MFA from The New School and teaches at Hofstra University.

Allezallez, I leave a radio like a light on for my return from campus the way Mrs. Snediker left Katie Couric velveteening for the golden retrievers who might well prefer less Katie more quiet, all the more so as hours melt the morning, Katie becoming more nasal, less paid television friend versions of herself. I like returning to my radio friends. In lieu of dogs I dote on this ghoulish sadness that cares beyond itself, punctiliously, about Katie Couric’s heels; it astounds me upon my  return that the ghoulish sadness can be so dire when it comes to the world’s hostile, dubious relation to my buoyance, but out of nowhere is oh wow, those shoes. The things on which it has opinions. Gay sadness, the leashes I give. That’s the sadness, the radio in part being on for it,  to keep it occupied in my absence; ditto my returns from campus, suggesting without much strain that I am the ghoulish sadness, lonely and the occasion of loneliness all at once; I can’t bear the quiet, antsiness moving quickly to the narcissism of really liking the sadness in its reflection without realizing it in fact is reflection, bracketing whatever psychoanalysis says about the jubilance of this specular moment, and when I return from  teaching, the radio is playing one of my favorites, a Mendellsohn concerto, the one where Felix is throwing plates at Cécile Jeanrenaud, and then at the surprising tail end of aTempo semplice, he accuses her in English of never truly having communicated the extent of her loyalty. She insists in broken German she thought her loyalty a given. At which point all of her languages break, she riffles through them for one that seems fluent,  but duress has made fluency itself the thing that is missing. If only I were articulate slipping (fluently) into if only I were fluentif only I were graceful,  or does this mean if only he a bit more were grateful. The radio, she can’t stand, she doesn’t even understand radios, their being beyond her time, even as her predicament requires technologies she can barely conjure. Sometimes I leave the radio on as a nostalgic technology, the sort of thing that might have assuaged someone many decades previous, to the extent that this could trick the ghoulish sadness into believing if not its own anti-macassar quaintness than its kitsch factor which would be the first step in my learning to take it less seriously. And so the radio. And of course as I teach I’m distracted, Poor Cécile, the world being unkind, what can she say to assuage her husband’s sense that things get more brittle as each attempt at lubrication or leavening ends up freaking things out. We needed out-moded technologies to convince us that the things they solved weren’t  beyond our ken, or what several decades ago we nonironically called cutting edge. Solitude, like music, arrived as movement and directive. This loneliness was allegro, this one subito. And as I turn the key with real and dirty fantasies of contact, of ceramic projectile, another plate remembers crashes.

Michael Snediker’s poems have appeared and/or forthcoming in Cream City, Court Green, Jubilat, Paris Review, Black Warrior Review & Margie. His latest chapbook BOURDON will be published by White Rabbit Press.