CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive
The Bodies That Speak at the Helm
Stay inside the one enduring thing
cathartic in currency
Every phrase is a chapel
a frayed tanglement
unsealed into its belonging
I could offer a topology of inscriptions
that pierce a habitat
a thrum of small collisions
The fingertips welcome, graze, trespass
the abdomen’s grammar
besiege a written complex
we speak as one body at the helm
A smokestack is the value
precisely where you are mapped
but this rent heart
is tuned to capsize
in sudden decipherment
The grass is swaying toward
ticking toward a body bruised
unloaded into a system
The chronometer is right
Against an abridgement of light
you dispatch an outline.
This is a reading room
lettered and jeweled with happiness.
Only a complete silhouette
troubled by the tone of wanting
more than an aisle,
more than a coordinate of survival.
Among the winter scarves
no frozen constitution
keeps time along the metronome,
how we glide
transposing the torque of your ark,
undoing the simple quake
of inhibit, inhabit, burnishment.
This is a reading room
I’ve chiseled back
from an uncertain luminescence
scathed with revival.
The faint purpose of a torso
wire’s relief, charcoals
my graph of sky to a nocturne.
With mouth agape over a leaden field
you listen for a name, a sun, a moon overhead.
If fire, if breath burns a language without continuum
something illegible drifts into a cry.
A fire briefly blooms. Unspools.
In this roiling dust, breath is sucked
into a throat’s tap until it scars.
Dry leafage. Tinder. Wind thrown.
The near begins as a line of sight
Here is nearness in the migratory pitch and whine
the warble and strain in the throat.
Under a sun-shot shroud, you blur into
a blazing, protein sky.
Set the land straight and good.
Set the millstone down.
Something comes forth
Hymned into being
this flesh is not your permanent
held like a brittle stick
held to you distantly
I become that taut figure
warming to take good care
to be hymned and quartered
on the threshing floor
If leaf, if green
was the air
Everything’s reared to dissuade rain.
Thus water tracks into a house,
such ligatures of pathologic query
burns in a beautiful machine’s refuge,
a scrawling in the human fat,
sheathed in an extremity of ground.
What we want to pronounce
but cannot say: figment, remnant, remember.
Palms are laid down in dim corridors.
At dusk the lights are heavy in their blinding.
Flesh emerges in liquid,
lurks into the rivets holding down
a charter of salt clinched to any asset.
We’ve been accompanied
by an atrium of dust, we’ve lifted
the hammer to strike the letters left on an anvil.
An implacable alphabet now granulated
covers a network of nerves.
It swells to a hive without
withholding our light.
A warm provision of letters
splices your infrastructure.
The Spell (I)
It is the spells they make
an eye gathers
its threaded knowing
torn from a warm
This is a perimeter, an echo flowering.
This is a day’s undoing
its speed and slack
as a body falls entire
The Spell (II)
it is given and pledged.
If the body lacks
any economy of giving
if the body’s fibers unravel.
In a field of witness
does it ripen back to a distillate?
A body is scrolled in laurel
scrolled with forgetting
The Spell (III)
Is it the spells they make?
This is a sector
where several bodies meet
at the omission of a margin.
This is a habitat of briar
a flexuous source
in a refuge of inquiry and withdrawal.
A lexicon wavers.
panic is a form of intimacy.
They stroke and polish
near gone, nearly given.
The Spell (IV)
If a spell is unspoken
this will be a body, my body
moved and startled with clarifyings.
These surfaces distort a field, don’t they?
Now that they open
No eve of abandon
or horizon of wavelengths
but the individuated pulse.
A bouquet of mouths
in pledge and giving.
Matthew Gagnon currently lives and works in western Massachusetts. His reviews and essays can be found in Jacket, The Literary Review, and The Poker, among others. Some of his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Letters & Commentary, Boston Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Hambone, and The Nation.