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Five Poems
Self-Portrait With Dog                                                                       

The moment the trunk hears its splinters,
            it begins to waste. That’s what
                        I watched––
              dead wood, my dealers
congratulating termites.

            Everything rested in the dining hall.

            what is that
            ripple in the field
                        but dusty holidays inventing
                        their wheat.
                        No––I have been told
                        it is the truncated
            anatomy of a small, snailish boy
            whose boss had glittered
spryly at him,  
                        fracking his way
            to the keen position
                        he has to this day
                                    and yelling, shave the television,
            you leggy idiot, while
                        I eat tofu and pat the dog. I say pat
            as in
I will pat the dog, a real bulldog
            of an evening.
                                    But what would
Keats say—The woof
                              of darkness thick, for hid delight?
             Who is the dog crying
                                                for? one
                                                of you asks.


Rendezvous with Chloe

I spot wind at the Texas inn where 
my brother plays charcuterie, his head glowing with sweat.

As he peers into the cheese, my oblong sister
offers her face to violent vegetarians

and prognosticates the part about the bison;
indeed, this bison will have denied paradise to us

before we have even eaten. At this moment,
I am washing my car with source material

and holding my phone to the squeegee,
which allows the foam franchise to perform at slower speeds.

To come to her aid seems counterproductive.
As I say, when making a picture, one must account for such things,

like light making noise on the tangerine,
or where traffic wreaths the salt zone.

Lead life as a vacuous snowball!!! I tell them at the table.
Their applause is silent. Absorb the impassable!!!


Skeet Shooting

Now that you’ve broken the clay, what’s the point? The clay pigeon thrower spits its disks up into range, and Tiny Gomez stands there, poking them out one by one until they have all exploded. Red dust touches our eyes. Afterwards, his silence is so terrific, it beams itself into me. I say, “When I saw myself completed, there was one cloud over the city like a blimp over the pyramids. I don’t know what violence is, anymore.” His shotgun raises to nothing, then he says, “It’s on the inside of your head, McCandless.” And the bookie shakes his head, chews his cud and sucks his tongue; sun is in his semen. Rolling down his sleeve, the cuff’s button floats above his wrist like a lemon in a surrealist painting. He is looking straight up, up at the trembling saucer that skates across our vision. 


Error Codes 

A local object with this name already exists
The tree deletion is not finished
Required color was not called
This operation is out of scope
Node is managing this resurgence
Specify a different name for property
A superior antecedent was lost
There has been a naming violation
No attribute can be assigned to creator
A derogatory chain has occurred
There is no process to wait for
Inappropriate loop
Cluster base is possibly corrupt
An attempt was made to eliminate  
Schema is not good
Number contains foul material
Constant probing
Cannot relieve tag inspector
Identical language
It is not permitted to call
Insufficient luxury
Parent without assigned child is not permitted
There is a problem with the pipe
Requested operation can only be completed with heavy object
Fatal error while passing the stub
Identity cannot be supplanted
Incompatible spool
Child already exists
Unknown has been exhausted
Cartridge hazing unavailable
Bad load 
There is nothing to trust
Voice infection has stopped
Memory flap is insecure
Inaccessible dish
Alias must be tazed
Replication too short to endure
Illegal surgery
Invalid hook type
Clean child failure
Offering is denied
Breach without flag
Catastrophic leg failure
Recovery police are too complex
Too many joints
Pool is full
Hot key is already listening
Arithmetic is dead
Unable to impersonate pipe
Tree is locked


Past Tense Over Zoom

I’ve taught a man the wrong grammar: I went at the store to buy bread.
He speaks as though he has just seen himself shirtless
for the first time. In fact, he is just like me
when I saw myself in a naked spoon,
so love-faced with language.
I walked through the bridge.
Glancing up, a day has slammed
down a board of sunlight; a narrow spider
calls me intruder up in the corner. Blanks of his face
through the screen take so little to disappear me. I did ate at the table.


Amelia Van Donsel is a poet from Waltham, Massachusetts, and a 2021 graduate of Bard College. Her recent work has been recognized by Danez Smith, awarded by the Academy of American Poets, and published in FENCE.