Laura Solomon


If you want to become a genius first you must be born. Then you must sojourn in Paris. Perhaps that sounds easy, and you are thinking that you too might become a genius but that’s just sound. The truth is many papers must be filled out. All geniuses have a gift for paperwork. This is well documented. The paperwork, completed by the genius in a neat hand, arrives gracefully upon the grumpy desks of the right official people. These official people are then free to reject your papers but do not because you use the word arrive. If you are a genius your papers will not be lost or thrown away but will continue to circulate indefinitely as they should. Neat handwriting is highly prized in France. In France school children with bad handwriting are consistently failed because their minds are clearly disorganized. You should make handwriting a daily practice. Then you should go directly to the Louvre. Fortunately the Louvre is located conveniently close to the Prefecture de Police. To become a genius you must go to the Louvre once a month and visit the same rooms. You are free to choose which rooms but those rooms should include several from the Italian Renaissance. French is a nice language to speak when you’re not learning Italian. In fact many Italian geniuses speak it at parties in Paris. To become a genius in Paris you must attend many parties at which no fewer than four languages are spoken. When asked d’où venez- vous? you must not admit to being American even if this is true. Otherwise you could be placed as a curiosity item in the Louvre. When leaving the Louvre, party or metro, make certain no creepy men follow you. Creepy men are not geniuses despite appearances and the long and sad history of genius. If on the metro a creepy man sits too close to you do not be afraid. Simply say est-ce qu’on peut avoir un peu de place? and look offended. Everyone in France watches football and so should you. When France plays do not say allez les bleus! That’s going too far. It’s true you may need some money to become a genius. It’s true that if you are not wealthy then you will have to work won’t you. Perhaps you can develop a thrifty lifestyle. Baguettes cost one euro each. If you make 740 euros a month that’s 740 baguettes. Do not be afraid to take hundreds of pictures of La Tour Eiffel. All geniuses understand why every day hundreds of pictures are taken of La Tour Eiffel. La Tour Eiffel resembles both a pretty penis and a fancy lady with four legs and frilly underpants. Once I read a book about the gender of genius. It was interesting but unimportant. All geniuses know the difference between interesting and important. As in, that sentence may not be interesting but it’s important. Or, this poem is not important but interesting. Or, becoming a genius is neither interesting nor important. You get the idea. Many geniuses however do not or at least not right away so write until they do.



through the window of your room I can see
a tree there growing
the leaves wink
the branches sing
of arms that are opening
a secret door inside the wall
come says the tree
and you belong with me
and would you like tonight to climb my boughs

behind the door inside the wall
through the window of your room I can see
the tree’s heart collapsing
like a bad lung
its good lung
keeps on breathing
come says the tree
and points at the good lung
its boughs are eyebrows raised in anticipation

and there are blankets on the bed
the tree is so cold it says
it might die if it doesn’t grow
if I don’t climb
through the window of your room

and gather its roots
and water its heart
and become its blood
and make its bad lung balloon again
with hot helium breath

and rise rise rise
high into the brainlike branches
to the top of the canopy where one can see forever
past the hairs on god’s head
toward the split-ends
of the universe—everything
I can see everything Tree

Tree are you there

are you there?

Laura Solomon lives in Athens, Georgia. These poems are from The Hermit (Ugly Duckling Press, 2011).


Julie Carr




The war machine resembles an animal yet also a supernatural being…it understands atmosphere: how to suspend reality, how to create the black hole. (Taussig)

And one hopes that by taking notes one can replace “real” experience with “real” text.

I saw a woman smack her child on a Metro platform in Paris,
so hard he fell over.
                                           There grew
a quietness //

The kid, sitting there on the floor, both slack and plump, reminded me of a leather purse in the hand of the 3rd a foolish son who has given all his riches to a hungry hag.

That night I dreamed I had sex with a cat. In the morning as I was buying my coffee, a real cat ran by my ankles; I almost fainted with desire and fear.


Heat sways the hanging lamp
overhead.                                            Pages ascend toward

daylight—the blue, unpublished, hand of God (Vallejo)—

                                         Nearby: another child-voice, cleansed: oh—


In my twenties I imagined I might reverse my body
get the organs out—I know you don’t believe me, but I
wasn’t very kind to—


He’s got a knife in the pocket and a phone in the neck, some cash, some wool,
                 something wet in the head.

He “let fire” in a Wendy’s, and a medic and his family (Jane’s Addiction in his pod)—

they “went down.”

                                       Bullet: bowl: blister: to
                                       lambaste: to thrash: to strike: to

                                       endure or lift up: or harden, the

hand, broken like gravel, like a riverbank, eroded, and so



There’s the useful mother and the useless one
Useless is dead in its radiant face,
endlessly dead, eating and hot

Useful in motion, most lively in its own


                 Annie was a Buddhist and wouldn’t kill a bug
                 so the bugs killed all the plants when my mother went away

Brenda in the red house
got cancer in her breast

                              Her little boy rode a pony


                            Never been to Texas, never been to Spain, never been to
                            Holland, never been to Maine

All you babies with your orbs
like planets hung in space

         with your mouths around your feet
         you crawl into my face


                                                            Dear child,

“Maybe now we're beginning to see the long-term consequences of a young life hooked up to a black rainbow of behavior altering drugs.”

                          Dear child,

                                                 A quarry in the woods

Dear child,

                                                 simple, simple, easy, easy, quiet, quiet, still

Julie Carr is a professor at The University of Colorado at Boulder. These poems are from 100 Notes on Violence (Ahsahta Press, 2010)


Harmony Holiday


He said some thing about Philadelphia clay
Bafflement and its quotient climate, apathy and its quotient climate
I asked how could you make this city stepping out into a globe of itself imploding, tell me in your own words how to be more like you, love in a space of acute attention to limits: marionette streetlamp, sculpture of a landmark murmuring about art in the age of mechanical          hush
Wear house shoes to the market and grab your daughter’s hand in traffic and catch her stacking rivers in yard dirt merrily, my father, a front a sea a flood, a Marxist, I love you.

And so I knew to check for rebirth, knew to stop between pursuers, to be nervous at glory To show people as they see themselves is still another thing like         other thing


Death by Then

Charred septic except I'm thinking the color green, a thawing of it, warmth like I'm thinking three shades yawning to clear the silence in my ears have never appreciated… but you-Sound-Kin. A wizening, a new shrewd issuing sing, for him. I'm listening green, not like splendor, like latitude, for you a cleft gruesomeness treading itself scentless poppies seeping us noxious, my favorite hue and the context you care in, the color you carry the color, cousin the color, cousin and color, for lust towards husk sounds, carboned around the paranoia of ignoring a lover and a mother and a sister as inert glimmers of family grow vulgar or oliver, vinegar green, I'm thinking of two passings growing back, growing one verde arrogate, thinking it irritates me to pursue a canyoned longing to rural green renewal, drawl green, Iowa wasn't green, shag carpet green, still thinking the grass which grows out of tar shoulder, the carved shrug toward our such slick road. I'm last green of an August funeral, struggling to depict what's kept thinking.
Then, the tempo you move me to, an indignant softness, an agnostic softness, not sure I aperture the way I want it, gaunt island to peninsula neck green, soma muscle buking. I'm mummied map of the family album where your gauze is August sun vapor on sparrow wing pavement, mother blooming through cracked pattern, all greens burn. Then, a cistern of earned desire, a missing, a choir of chapped feet to dry earth rejoicing by then.


Letter to By and By

Chances you are my Chances


Ever Since

They make it about how ever since the sweepstakes the yard is empty. Also, Maynard Ferguson versus his own accretion of inverse and how come ever since chances you've become my chances and they have, ever since the day out loud been steady called hologram expansive contest love made about an interim between carpent and hunter.

Also my sister's early Jezebel version of come home, gets mentioned on some slogan and anywhere, an anywhere you play,

you play the record ever since territory, shall have meant the universe, made about yard and dowry readymade and south lipped. I pick the kind of power sullen never nullified by how-come-it's -yours, by and by.

Harmony Holiday lives in New York City. These poems are from Negro League Baseball (Fence Books, 2011).


Maureen Owen

. . . certainty of being is concentrated, and we have the impression that . . .

deep deeper deep
the flagstone marsh
the flagstone marshes these
the deep
the do you
the do you want it to be true
do you want it to be true
do you want it to be true
do you do you want it to
be true you do
you do something to me
you do something
to me do you want it to be true
do you want it to be true
what do you want it to be
do you want is it want
do you want
does want want you to want what is want any way
Anyway what is want anyway
want means you have to have it or
you die
too painful to live and not get
get what you want too
painful to live you die
and not get what you want
this is painful to want
I want you to want me
I want you to want me this
is what I want
and if I got what I wanted you would want me
you would want me to want you
Then we could progress
we could
progress by wants’ wants
small curved flagstones set in a
rural environment
smooth rounded wants that we can step
on as we walk up from the boathouse
having just climbed
slightly damp and springy
out of the rowing boat
the lovely wooden skiff
now moored on the marsh


Now This Vague Melancholy

Now this vague melancholy adores      me
of hours spent in your facade
it’s best described as she can
if she could      likewise bitterly
since the forecast dented
with our diner window cut in two
     , as if her life

her life dissolving
in what had been agreed
not to tell to one another
what was is the danger
the story of the stories
And      this melancholy.

if then we couldn’t stretch the seams
of our need while being chatty
we could discuss
                           long into noted
all else
sweet melancholy dished
each by itself into a darker ness
where the hangover begins before midnight
& I could talk to you forever
for no good reasons science could explain
for we are two of repelling cogs
set in their motion fast by some diligent
terrain rising flat as the prairie
as a word I fell in love with you then
with a word can such a thing be done
because of a word you said Nebraska
& all the chairs drew back their doors
& all the floors burst into flame
& in the night a single fire swept
swept through it all      & I woke kneeling on
charred ground      & it was as the saint



out of the little curtain of disenchantment the wandering bagel rolled
and over the toes of the establishment it rolled and across the boulevard
of despair and into the city of water where fountains lashed into the sky
and turned wildly their great liquid eyes so that the fair dreams shimmering in the afternoon heat rose slowly to their feet and took a determined stroll about the plaza past the expatriate intently reading the newspapers from home with gripping fingers and thoughts of what it was to be a citizen — a citizen! — responsible and debonair to whom the men came     for advice     and to whom the women came     for advice   

Maureen Owen teaches at Naropa University. These poems are from Erosion’s Pull (Coffee House Press, 2006).


Robert Fernandez

The Pines

I am unable to see. The attendant stretches
in his chair. The chair feels thirst below its feet
in strips of oak. The oak tears away to reveal
rows of red reef. We climb “out on a limb,”
wave a small flag at cars passing by.
An emergency in the woods—
pull over. Woman with a rag for a heart,
child with rags for hands. We have no money
to give you, we’re betting you’ll be kind enough
to pull off alongside the road. We pray our need
won’t turn against us—that in seeing us you
won’t shift the balance, start to hunt us down.
We make it to a delicatessen in the nearby
town that splits and bleeds in its hide
of brick and awning. We pass
red brick crawling with threads;
the tailors and seamstresses of metonymy
are out on break, huddled under
awnings. A group of teenagers plays
basketball down the street. Metonymy
cuts off their arms. The hoop closes into itself.
Lush the teenagers all over the bloody street.
Mercy that such strange luck could have
come their way. Mercy that the margins
were too narrow, we had nothing to gain.
We scoured the road for clues to the event
glimpsed behind the trees. The event
was stripped in our listening. The eyes
refurbished it—cell-like, a red chair.
Love, dry mattress with seed packed in it,
began to grow—sent out boughs, leaves.
Love releasing briskly white leaves, lustrous
hysterical white. Love hauled from a motel room,
thrown into ocean water. Love’s laughter
and dispersion of evidence. We did not
take our time. We filled our stomachs with souls
and forgot to speak. We were overwhelmed
by the thrust and intensity of action. Waves
hit us in the chest the blood fanned out
from the sternum. Softly spoke then
of a violence farther off—go find help.
Of a heel caught in the mouth of a snake
pressing up from the sand. Above windshields,
billboards, mouths closing around the light
driving above the road in crystalline packets.

There is a heavy wind and I cannot eat.
There is no end to the meal. The charge
leveled against us is that we are bodiless.
I was stuck in the sedan’s snow-like leather.
I was stuck with Kai and Dana on the roof
of the Savoy; the red and black bungalows
nearly swallowed us. I was stuck in a tank
feeding packets of diamond dust to thirsty
soldiers. Uncrossing our bones, subject to debt
and loose laws, if we’re not realized then at best
rehearsed, skillfully tuned, fanning. If a body,
then fan out the bills. It is impossible that we
should reach the roadside. It is impossible
the levels of virulent water shuttled into us.
We are not rough units of sense we are sand-
blasted. I meet fathers, meet daughters, sons
and mothers in lidless durations on the road.
We imitate the overpasses stretching above
the roads at night. A fan of eyes. Loss of
hope. Bounty. Unable to see. Thus poised,
we evacuate—roughly glitter. Everything

addresses you. The clouds ball up behind
your sternum. You are listening. You see.
A challenge is on its way. It wets its beak.
Because we are flesh, we glide then think.
A mountain of eyes, of rubber bullets,
pours through us, washes clean across
the pines. A wall of seeing passes through
with its shuffling laughter. There are pale-
red pills with pentacles stamped on them,
there are bruises on the road. We are open
to suggestions. The beaches are soft black.
We stall. We unfold soft economies, soft
residences. I am waiting for the answer
to the request the disclosure the spell
that could not listen long enough
to float up its beams of presence and say
this is reality. Laughter. How arcane and
does it not now seem you had a hand in it,
the rose-and-amber carp, a Venus or Adonis?
They restored us; they did us good. Suddenly
the bonds are broken, suddenly the arms don’t
work so well. Faint and rapidly drawing closer
to the disease—flag us down. Flay, remove
the roe, lay out the spine. The spine, scales, the
earth are fallow. Platitudes and folly. The earth
is impossibly young. I like to drink black beer,
get fucked up on boardwalks on black sand.
I would sell my name back to myself in
exchange for a ride, in exchange for cords
of order, for a face, clouds—nothing. Who
compels us with their restless batons? Where
is the motive? Where is the mandate? Outlaws
rule these hills. Angels rule these mountains.
We recall, looking up at the violence of spinning sky—
recall a violence that took place in sound alone.
Skilled, we see our arms unlock, souls trained
on fresh estates. We flee from mountains,
from pavilions building across the eyes
in thirst and scarcity.

This poem is from We Are Pharaoh (Canarium Books, 2011). Robert Fernandez lives in Iowa City.


Fred Moten

b jenkins

Her territory sunflower, insurgent floor time in real time in the field museum — bertha lee and her lyric ways and her urban plan. up and down the regular highway and every two-tone station, passing through to cure, for preservation to unfold it all away, she put the new thing in the open cell, one more time about the theory of who we are.

                                                             In the names away in blocks with double
                                                             names to interrupt and gather, kept dancing
                                                             in tight circles between break and secret,
                                                             vaulted with records in our basement, where
                                                             the long-haired hippies and afro-blacks all
                                                             get together across the tracks and they part                                                               everybody sown like grain and touched in

          Now the cold new reckoning is tired and you’ve been waiting for a
          preferential song. the multiplex should be in the frame like bodies in a
          house way back in the woods, fled in suspended projects like the real
          thing, posed for the midnight trill. essential shtetl of the world stage, born
          way before you was born, move the administered word by breathing, to
          hand beautiful edge around.


eric dolphy

the ironworks on alameda. thala me

diron iron urn broke down. ironman

burned the factory, alamede brurned

like powder, like brush, what chord?

brokedown dalamede aburned hard

chunks of iron ash for pavement. alama
dea twirl cold down to la steel. two screams
announced the fire on the other side
of downtown this long-ass road. I know
one time I made a dancer’s hand fly off,
foundry like powder, alamaquilladora orange
oran nogales. alamedid breakdown

is a fable, hard transfer, aleave in

nether, hard angle, low land, again,

said booker little, what corridor?


birdia mott

dairy lingers through information

then panther creek. from pine

tree to round green. the green is

round ‘causa work and wish then

slope down to that trinkle tinkle
accidental bridge. at the end of a
chute of softwood round green

curve down to the edge of some

soft, hidden water. the patches indicate
savor, the cows stay put, their backs
are the bottom of a curved frame. st. james

flattens out to miss b.c.’s little

rise and on to rison and pine bluff.
this is the beginning and end of my
trumpeter’s round trip, blue
butterfly, green round as her
smile and sound. hey mama,

check out this new


b jenkins

just so you know, no one could have told me you didn’t want to go outside. this exercises phonograph to take the receiver and call you for something we hear together, some of the same stories, some of the same things. to stretch repeat so thin it fades to various is the aim of the phone call. the phonograph is also a photograph of movement and what it bears. you found dances waiting for dancers. your silhouette is patient form. I know you can cant. I know you can make it if you try.

I’m getting along alright. I say a little prayer. mama’s baby sadie mae ms. davis’ blue and red. at the duck inn mighty lions roar. you and bobby bradford run away together. his earth tone air is b.c. marks’s pine bluff arkansas. asleep in new pajamas at the desert inn, walkin’ joe williams pieceway home to waycross, you and me against the world, every time we say goodbye, I’ll be seeing you in all the unfamiliar places where they till our long advance. this is the cluster song of our romance.

Fred Moten teaches at Duke University. These poems are from B Jenkins (Duke University Press, 2010).


Michael Rerick

from Preservation/Excavations


Rain in the morning, they say, always
before more rain. Before cereal,
they remember it’s all been eaten:
to say the kitchen door of kitchen
and imply cooking, or the storage
of storage. It is the young wonder
they want back, the dizzy white sparklers
at night, the blue hot fizz of writing
their names in the fog: impractical.
Because old rides in old herds. So they
sing the song of time passing its way
through the hot of hot days, through all the
sentimental doors knobs and door bells:
the usual twists, unusual screws.


We hurricane and landslide, feel the wave
cheer our feet as we check-point across lines
from continent to continent, your arm
slipping from mine, the question of surprise
too quick to sign or signify the gaps,

nothing present of us left but notes:



He says, I built this whale from drowned whale bone,
put stained glass windows where the eyes should be,
made the brain from a telescope mirror,
and it sails and sings daily, he says, name
hovering against relief of pages
in darker parts of the dictionary,
he says, the world has grown slick with its oil,
mouths and mouths stuffed with blubber factories
of evolved mentionables evolving
into ears, he says, this quiet kowtow
with the icon, with the light easier
and easier to touch: this is the whale I built
for you, he says, ready-made and intoned
before we ourselves could intone, he says.

Michael Rerick is a poet living in Tucson. These poems are from In Ways Impossible to Fold (March Hawk Press, 2009).


Mahendra Singh

(Click image for larger view.)

Mahendra Singh is an illustrator living in Montreal. The first two images come from Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (Melville House, 2010). The second two images come from Poets Ranked byBeard Weight (Skyhorse Publishing, 2011).


Farid Matuk

Tallying Song
“…the ideally infinite arena of ideally infinite exchange…”
—Lindon W. Barrett

Tallying Song: Huck or Tom

Feb. 4, 2008, like summer for a day. We made love too fast, out of practice but we get up from it like it’s all the time. My feet hit the wood floor, the one window that opens and the fan work a breeze around, 80 degrees. 5:35 p.m. light persisting, our bathroom in cream tiles and the long green vines of the Pothos more beautiful when they think I’m not looking. When Katrina happened, when the levees broke, when Katrina happened, when the levees broke the voice I could make said, Look at you, you’re not even tryin’ to get a Camry, you never even tried to get a Camry, so now you can’t get out. Of course I’m angry I don’t have a Camry either.

Let’s be plain about it. It’s a filthy winter here. We’re one day back in Dallas from Manhattan where I got sick, a snot that hugs the germs of my brothers and sisters tight in my head. I take all of us, the entire possibility of a democratic republic, together in my sinuses to the Blockbuster to get a movie. Inside, a little girl corrals her baby sister away from the jawbreaker machine, pulls her by the hand to a framed poster of a white infant wearing headphones and looking surprised, jig-a-boo. A fancied object of terror. She
points at the poster and forces a Ha ha, loud, didactic. The little one mimics. My friend said, Don’t say the year. I want to know if there’s a documentary on Nina Simone. In the information age do such easily answered questions stand only or, principally, as a sign of the interrogator’s buffoonery?

I had summer with my baby today. Cornel West talks about the niggerfication of Jim (Youtube it). He says there is a moment when Huck tears up the letter, when Tom tears up the letter, when Huck tears up the letter, and refuses to believe or be party to the niggerfication of Jim. “It’s a moral moment.” I remember a white man on the tv, when Katrina happened, he said, A lot of people got out, the roads were full with early evacuees. So when I translate this into the language of Camrys, should I tell you about it? I said my indecorous line at the tv most times it showed people standing on their roofs. Ha, ha. We got summer today. I don’t know anything, my black friend has an Irish name. So what, sometimes the signs don’t work? To find the Loa, to pass through the earth, I can only tell you about sympathies. I wouldn’t let you at the jawbreaker either. It was sweet to make love, affirm life. There is dignity in hard work, there is dignity in a Camry.

Windows smeared in our own dust

if you want to come in here


you’ll have to get through us

Tallying Song: 2.10.2008

You’ve gone again, this time to Mexico. Come back love so we’ll have us a day, drink a fountain Coke, go driving. Our apartment has oranges. The day was warm, the paper came, somebody left a Bud Light bottle on the grass, Sunday drivers with good tires passed over the patch of new asphalt on our street – loud, quiet, loud.

I woke from a dream of old men sharing a kitchen table. Their beards were long and clean. The light from the dream now takes on this light; the table from the dream now takes on this paint.

A friend sends me a link to the Los Angeles Times homicide blog. He calls it his paralysis. Everyone killed is a black man or a Latino. Everyone doesn’t mean anything. I send him a link to a tally of people lynched between 1900 and 1939. Can you help me tell, maybe from the names, if the list is as inclusive of difference as was the pastime?

Scared about the economy so I go to a training day at the university. When I walked the dog in the early morning the air was dry, I could have been walking us into El Paso. At a seminar on teaching African American history, the professor makes a distinction between his field and that of race relations. Lynching is about race relations, he says, while history is the story of agency. He says, Adjust for inflation, multiply the value of just one slave ($500 on the low end) in the antebellum American South by 100 and you arrive at a mid-level bmw sport sedan. This season it’s the 535xi, stock. Or you arrive at two years of private school tuition or one year for two kids. Or a good down on a good house.

Tallying Song: 2.11.2008

I can imagine becoming familiar with the sedan’s cabin. We could go for a drive. The days are getting longer, which you like.

Twice while I lived in Austin:

I park on a residential street facing my office building,
once a home for Confederate widows. Complete
devastation. I step out of my car and a white guy is there,
asks for money. I like I can afford it. I like my country.
He snatches the bill from my hand with precision. His
flourish is to look into my eyes. He bores a space there, I
suppose, where I can go fuck myself.

A man and a white woman come up to my car asking
for money as I pull away from the video store. I bark
them back.

the ungrammatical people

Stay with me love, no more vacations; we’ll make what’s ours.

Tallying Song: 2.13.2008

You come home soon. I’m sorry you have to leave Mexico, that’s how much I love you. This is American History: the ladies of The View are not The Golden Girls. Your alarm sounded the theme music of some NPR morning show. Yahoo refused Microsoft; the new Defense Secretary said something to everyone.

Iron Cactus
Legal Aide Northwest Texas
Dallas Fish Market
Chase, Gulf States Building
Pegasus Credit Union shade
the plaza, leave it cold, protect
winter. New lofts above
an old parking lot
pigeons walk their own lines.

I came to Main and Akard
downtown Dallas
like an idiot looking for Allen Brooks
and the people who lynched him
March 3, 1910.

A parade on the next street, Scouts
of Islam:

sons in front
fathers in back, slogan banners
as sails, fake blood.

Three carts wrapped in sheets
are topped by tin replicas of mosques
(finely tooled) and
one crib. Men and boys
touch them
then rub their faces.

I am handed a flyer: Let us tell our fellow Americans the heartrending story of terrorism in Karbala in a manner they can
relate to.

On this day of Ashura
cell phones coordinate attendance, everyone’s
digital cameras (slice sound) and chests sing
an old man keeps time
softly on his thigh
and a boy of some retardation
about three years old, approaches
lays a hand on my knee.
I give him my mother’s smile.

The New York Times Magazine reports on themes in cross-cultural morality: an aversion to harm, a desire for fairness, loyalty to the group, deference to authority, a preference for purity against defilement, and just look at the
allowing its leaves.

Back home Tyra Banks is doing a show on counterfeit purses to help us tell the difference, she cuts open a real Chanel

– please don’t
do that again.

David Dorado Romo writes some 300
Mexicans lynched in El Paso between 1910 and 1920
5000 if you count the skulls with execution-
      style holes.

Tallying Song: By 1900 1/6 of the Cotton Market Grew Within 150 Miles of Dallas

Allen Brooks, dead at 68
Main and Akard, still here. Well
John this is a token of a great day
March 3 – a negro was hung
for an assault on a three year old girl.
I saw this on my noon hour.
I was very much in the bunch. You
can see the negro hanging on a telephone pole.

You step from the white light of the terminal wearing your winter coat in a shape suggesting summer, announcing some step you must have taken, now at your new age, toward becoming the child who rests her head against the glass of a car to see the world in a passing lull that makes of it a pure screen for her mind. I bend down to kiss you.

My mother is a few months dead.
People step into the frame
what it means goes away, then comes back a little.

Loud, quiet, loud. Form is the lair of the hare, to go inside, pass
the earth by the shape of its

skull, find the Loa.
Everyone wants to own their own suffering.

Any of the ways
a word may be inflected


Old Saxon: giskapu (pl.), creatures.
Old Norse: skap, condition:

I am 34
my bank account
keeps growing slow
the dog is safe, healthy
we have jobs
nothing to stop us
children on the street think things of us
in the shape of my feet I see the stamp of my family
no afternoon storm we can’t make about fun

in study of each other five years
we step into
the frame
mild cool

a soft sun
the trees and shrubs of our neighborhood
are dusted by
What do you want to do now?

Mockingbird takes power line
It’s a Saturday
the sun looks warmer than it is
I’ve rolled down my pinstripe oxford
to full sleeves
slipped into my cardigan
a macaroon in
my mouth
flowers in our neighbors’ yard
about their plaster fountain
I dress in the styles
of the rich
feel safe
but the slowness
is every body’s –
dye the earth,
plant it.

I remember once, further west than here
what a great, big, purple mountain!

The stone of it screaming out
to the desert cracking ahead:                         “Generations forget each other!”

Tallying Song: As Far

New York City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-Queens) wants to ban the N-word.

“W e still have people who participated in the Civil Rights Movement. We still have people who are descendants of people who were hanged. I personally know people who sat at lunch counters, who walked on the Edmund Pettus Bridge... There’s been a major disconnect between young people and the struggle and pain of the Civil Rights Movement.”

Things that will be forgotten: the hairstyles we attempted, the right kind of paper to print our photos, the cars we rode in. Let’s go get a Coke. Look at Gettysburg, surely the time will come for 9/11 reenactors. Our son will be the fire, his best friend will be sirens, that one lady will be the dry air, another guy will be the Atlantic.

By what means and bodies do we make extensions, change ourselves, I mean in the real world, which is the one we make? The hare pushes the earth with its skull, which, some say, gives a little to accommodate the earth.

“ how can I write/” Jorie Graham asks, “in a lyric poem that the world we live in/ has already been destroyed? It is true. But/ it cannot be said/ into the eyes of an other,/ as that other will have nowhere/ to turn.”

Either it has all been destroyed or it is all present. The empty trees, the clean and healthy pigeons. Any of the familiar variations on my mother’s name.

I was given things, materials. At thirteen I found myself in a house on the rich side of town with older kids listening to N.W.A. ask us: “Makin’ more in a week than a doctor makes in a year/ So, why not call myself a nigger?” I was given some images and recordings of Dr. King. I was given an E.T. doll and made sure it was in the frame of my 4th grade portrait. I was given the chance to make some money; I was given people who ask for it.

Now that you’re home we wonder about the type of cedar out the window. Japanese maybe. Ugly thing with temporary wings flies in and is caught between the window and the screen. Write something about spring coming through.

The tree is no type other than the singular one that grows through this patch of soil beside this pier-and-beam foundation and responds to this air: Dallas sprung from the minds of men, drivers and their playlists down Ross Avenue each at the freedom of their weekend, it’s the type of tree that answers the things that reach as far as here.

Later we find a book about trees.

Farid Matuk lives in Dallas. This selection, from This Isa Nice Neighborhood (Letter Machine Editions, 2010), has also appeared in 6 x 6.


Chris Martin

A Short History of Order

First there was no first, but only a middle.  The first act against the body was to fashion a first.  First there were animals and man among them.  Then there was man and animals among him.  He walked upright and discovered the number one.  He walked upright and counted his possessions.  The body was no longer long, but vertical—a point interrogating the landscape.  Then tools to extend the body, to give it prosthesis, to kill and defend from a distance.  But the world remained too near.  So it was that we doubled the world and then chose its double.  So it was that the shadow became the thing and the body a shadow cast by the mind.  And the body became its double.  And the body found itself in a mirror.  And the body became a page, and the page became a pixel, and the pixel became a volumeless potential.  And the body disappeared because it was always moving.  Ambiguous bodies obliterated, indeterminate matter destroyed.  And the we we were not became the we we were.  It was the projection, the screen, the surface uncoupled from its mass.  Just as gold became paper and paper became plastic and plastic became nothing.  The body unhinged itself from itself, leaving its mass behind like a snake-spirit.  In order to slough the body, we gave it to the animals.  And it only returned to us in animal moments.  In bloodshed and birth.  The body only returned when it broke.  And even then we did not recognize it. The body was flayed and became words.  The body was weighed and became money.  And money, like words, is for burning, so it was no wonder when the body became smoke.

from Disequilibrium


If I possess only distances
this is only true in that

it is accurate—if poetry is nothing
more than arithmetic

and proof—there remains
no way of separating me

from an economy
of me—blue
jeans, sweat beads
a knuckle airily

popping, record
player broken, the flitting
exigencies of song

arbitrarily carried by the street below

The mugs in the cupboard
shudder as a train
passes, the shifting limit

of equilibrium ceaselessly
lurching askew

I ask you to devise a monstrance
in order to bear
necessary questions

I ask you to think of the soldier
as a prosthesis

I ask you to remember the ending
of Cobra Verde, how Kinski finally collapsed
and the deformed man quit

his pursuit to gaze upon it

These surprises return us
to the galaxy named Fangs

A scorpion
A panopticon

I ask you to prepare an aperture
I ask you to take my hand

I ask you (whispering)
which is the way

that leads
me to you?

Toward Corporeal Order

Until one day the question was asked: how can we speak in the common language that binds us of the things that that bond obliterates?  And we began to look for answers.  And we realized looking was part of the difficulty.  So we began saying yes less to our eyes and began instead with the laying on of hands.  But that wasn’t enough.  What we needed was born in coincidence, where the muddle of the middle becomes thick with information.  So we learned to heap and leap in the plenum, learned to return synesthetic, all sense grown immense in its overlap. And the answers began amid the movement of these moments.  The body, in moving, removed so much unnecessary thought.  The straight lines fell away, the geometry and frames.  Curves surged into place, the vacuity of space flooded and fled.  In this abundance, this dance of answers, one answer was the form from which the others emerged.  This answer, of course, was the body.  And the body, of course, is full of answers.  We called it corporeal order: that which speaks volume in overspill, excess, slip, and surprise; that which will not be still.  We learned perpetual rearrangement, learned to stray from the dictates of convenience.  We looked without carving, saw without severing.  And it was difficult.  And it required both colossal and minute attention.  And it involved loving no while nurturing a deep and protracted yes.  And it has been years since we first heard ourselves speak it and it will be years yet before the intolerable secret it has become our duty to reveal is fully disclosed.

Chris Martin lives in Iowa City. These poems come from his book Becoming Weather (Coffee House Press, 2011).


Andrea Rexilius

from Sister Sutures

I wore my white dress into tattering. Quality thus expressed as expressionless.
Indent hit margin, margin. Release. I let my
hem down I let her touch my white space.

She held my scaffolding in her hand she held my broader border. Her ship
makes passage between continent and continent.

I love where she is Australia and wince
in the margin where we index how freckle on her neck meant place to take port
and for me bridge between the eyes is an ocean / area.

What shall we name her

No name her Atlas no name her

History of Sewing

The needle was modeled on the shape of the bird's beak and the sewing-machine, its hesitations. Diagrams of bird migration reveal flight as a form of stitching. Path an attempt at binding oneself to specific location. Flight a bird makes across the sky. The bird has a magnet huddled in its blood to give thread direction. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^. Gathering fabric, elements, into circumference is a motion of gravity, then of ascension. This movement resembles the hem, to drag a line above ground, then back below ground.

The body has been said to mimic the act of sewing. In The Symposium Aristophanes defines love as an impulse that has its impetus in our constant search for a second half. This half was once sewn to the back of us.


Surface and dive down

what rising up erasing

relation no relation

I am the deer small noun

in the forest

finite and of the waves

crowd me in my face

and the leaves, leave

me to fashion myself


Envelope / Hem


In the distance some small figure is wielding us self. Who we are will be met with light.
The woman removes an egg.        .from her it is made.      .enamel and motion.        .this is true.     .have faith.

Faith. My fate speaks of. In the dark my name fades. Remains.

where seams surface in me.     .describing what is inside.     .what is white.
the self is surface lined.      a broad seam stitch.      .carrying over to place.      .what surface gathered at said edges gathered a name, a named place.


Earth strikes the roof of my mouth; letters it certain part.
A stray scripture spoken. Faith does not act upon the body, as pulpit. 
Is what gravity is; the voice in the vowel.

Certain parts of the body inhabit the world.
Teeth bite and bare the tongue, hemming the tongue to its home.


To be, to be made and structured. To be hollowed out and felled in. And ever on the brink of furthering, on the brink of rapture. To rupture. To toil and burn in the echo. To envelop. To breathe in and hold as landscape. To lunge. To lean against the edge becoming. To pin a map and all its edgeless swarming body. To swarm again and whole.


Here will I spell me out
the world
shucked from my own skin

the whorled
fields a corresponding

portion of bone, exegesis

I am framed.

My life in this band of hemisphere

the edge an endless dwelling
exhales and moves back into my temple

Andrea Rexilius lives in Denver. This selection comes from her book To Be Human Is To Be A Conversation (Rescue Press, 2011).