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Two Poems
Black Paintings

To collapse means to crumble but also to compress
remnants into the remembrance of a whole
body, this person was. Now it is broken
into its swinging and what it swings. A cudgel
that continues the arc of another
across the face to the opposite side of coin.
Can it be this gets us closer to the coming of stunted legs
that began pieced together to prop us up?
Even living in the east wing I have a feeling of the west
that was severed by the assemblage of a dam
in Williams’s body that portioned out the flow
of the forearm and the upper arm. The cudgel. And the hand
is swinging severed because it is loosed by what it does.
The sentence describing violence has no words.

The corroded old doorknob comes off in my hand
like the sentence comes off in my eyes. As I read
I am removing the head from the page,
my sight trailing off in dull sudden.
The dark has a tendency to do what light does,
to offset its subject, give it a voice
to emerge from as if that voice were landscape.
We live in this landscape because we live out
our days as the body that Saturn lifts up
to his mouth not moving, but moving unmoved
by our plea to remit, repay what we lost
of our limbs that were loaned to us at birth,
we determine the value of a thing
by how much we owe to those who remove it.

Order is to progression as order is to rest
in our reliance in things as they are, as you arrange us
and so we must act out our placement accordingly,
we breathe what we are: this pilgrimage curling like a wisp
of pipe-smoke creating demand
for a nose to inhale it, a crowd to inhabit the individual
person, what are you but your ration for today
of things happening without your knowledge, in your name?
You lead me not out of myself, but further in
to the where I brought myself with
these arms if you would return them. This mouth
could yawn open, could be a cave for the song
that travels by wind to hollow out the face.
But let it, Chris. You have to let it.


Peace Epic

I had to pick up arms in order to put them down. Had to know
their weight, their cold or heat or mixture. Left by other hands,
which held them last, which were mine. Had I made these arms.
Divined them out of metal. From the fire, which is accomplice
to the vulnerable part of space. Even sheathed it comes in contact
with. The inner circle has to touch the outer to widen stone.
To form the edges of the lake. Where it begins and dirt begins,
crossing border with every lap. There has to be in the air a path
an arm has made. And a wake in preparation. Waiting to show
the past. A point we can depart from, sharpens. Its roundness
falls away. And what we grasp is after come before. To guide
our arms into the furnace. To stay there long enough to count.
How many are or will be object. Hanging over us we can lessen,
but not silence object’s voice. In our mouth. The coat closes
around our neck. Below the ceiling where we surface to gather
breath. Not from. There is no from. Not to. The part of
between we do not understand. Understands us. And
follows us. Has its hand on the direction of our back.
We go to where no longer is. Not wreckage, which signals
still present in the mind. Nor the figments of wreckage
called trace. We can trace our arms back to intention, our
armature magnet-to-magnet being pulled. By being. Arms
make our hands legible. Read them. Tell me what they have
done. To make us hold them. First, material. Fabric woven
from plural. Then the strands that cross over, cross over.
Into another category. Into object. We thought passed by
our old stomping ground. Those east and west sides of us,
outposts of the middle. Down the part in object’s hair.
Parted by our body left to move. To be parted with.

Christopher Kondrich is the author of Contrapuntal (Parlor Press, 2013). He is the winner of The Iowa Review Award for Poetry (selected by Srikanth Reddy), and The Paris-American Reading Series Prize. His poetry appears or is forthcoming in Boston Review, Colorado Review, Gulf Coast, The Iowa Review, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. He edits Tupelo Quarterly, and lives and teaches in Providence, RI.