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Three Poems

tiny bell rant coincident near curve 

wet sunlight negotiating sill and 

chipped-paint ceiling a lesson by hint 

and degree I’ll tell you why and there 

was also winter
 how you articulated 

joint and turn voice like a memento 

like a relic you whispered you supposed 

and my discerning my resolute spine 

understood I sat up to listen to longing 

streaming in wire-seamed glass and then 

and no not again the same sky-hollow 

afternoon the single forgettable hour how 

threadless and clean how I lost you finally 

into the pocked mouthpiece of the phone 

and now and nevertheless the receiver still 

off the hook like our imagined old days 

pushy signal droning like a true and 

ancient word unfastened and yes I am 

lucky in slanting shadow rigidly un-

voiced I am fixed and irrevocable I am 

barely visible in this long-windowed room 


Mercury Retrograde 

trick of light a ghostly planet’s 

failure to turn its reversal 

like your ring slipping 

to knuckle like that specific 

absence your voice resolved 

recorded replayed addressing 

no one exactly still catching 

slowly this press and shade and 

shade the way we speak to one 

another our remote and decisive 

machine rapport not wide-eyed 

or singular or slight and I 

am of two minds I hesitate I

ask and find without warning the

midnight open window dreaming 

this ordinary radiance spilling brilliant

losses and returns your answer 

unswerving from the urgent first 

it locates me nameless in the bright 

planet’s forgetful gaze now 

unguarded and unmistakable under 

Mercury’s perpetual spinning 

its distant and indelible habit


Network, Constellation

screenlit and glowing word 

by slippery word the toothy 

demands tiresome flicker and all 

this simulation this lexicon falling 

flat pleading won’t you without 

a trace of cheekbone or ribcage 

please and please and please and no 

memory of a body’s creased heat 

metallic shiver marching the spine 

every consequence rendered blank 

and blinking or bound and

scripted almost routine steady 

to the end out of sight saying 

I want and I want more of everything

illuminated page tedious marks 

the sender is echo echo and

our distant secrets constellate 

radiant like cold-night far-flung 

stars white and always heatless

Nancy Kuhl’s recent publications include Granite (A Published Event, 2021), The Birds of the Year (Grenfell Press 2017), and Pine to Sound (Shearsman 2015).  She is Curator of Poetry for the Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.