Friday, January 29, 2010

Check the Weather Religiously

Check the Weather Religiously

Prayerfulness, reverence,
and a thrill sprung from minor anticipation.
What will the weather be tomorrow?
Consult the TV, an entire channel devoted
to simplifying what falls from the sky.
Luxuriate in voiceless animation.
The calendar is reduced to playing
cards, numbered squares inscribed with symbols.
Tomorrow, rain: two teardrops
staggered, overlapping. The day after
bears a cloud with petaled edges.
Temperature is shown on a graph, jagged
as a broken zipper. The future
is at stake, but with little risk.
What can I expect of air,
of atmosphere, of sky? The background of blue
on TV is pleasantly vacant,
bare of ambiguity: here
is what you can expect tomorrow
when you stand, face upturned to the heavens.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


A Fable

While the boy slept,
he crawled out of his body.
He stood at the foot of his bed,
watching the blue quilt lift and lower
with his breaths.
The boy stared at his own closed eyelids.
They looked like pale seashells in the dark.

Moonlight made his white curtains glow.
The bedroom was a lightbulb,
and the little boy was inside, at its center.

Before walking downstairs in his nighttime life,
the boy wanted to see his brother asleep.

His brother always slept with a fan.
As the boy nudged the door open,
he heard the fan whispering, Shhhh as it stirred the air.
His brother stayed in his bed, in his body.

By now, the boy was lonely.
He padded down the dark stairs
without turning on the light.

He found his dog's dreambody
waiting at the bottom of the stairs.

The dog had left his body curled up under the piano,
one paw near a pedal, tail twitching around the leg of the bench.

Am I having a dream, Eli?
The boy asked, for that was his dog's name.
Eli told the boy,
Some of us, while we're asleep, can walk outside our bodies. We like the sounds of night, of everyone else asleep. This is one way to dream.
The boy asked Eli,
What's it like, to be a dog?
Eli told the boy,
The world floods over you in smells and sounds. You want to taste it all. And people stand tall above you. You are always looking up at them.
The boy wondered if he could try that dog life out. Maybe he could climb into Eli's body, sleeping under the piano.
Can we trade bodies, Eli? The boy asked.

Because he was a good dog,
Eli herded the boy toward the piano.
Climb in through my mouth,
Eli told the boy.
As the boy stepped into the dog's warm mouth,
he suddenly felt scared. How would he climb back out?
Eli told the boy,
Stay in there as long as you want. No matter how long you stay in my dog body, when you wake up, you will always be back in yours. This is one way to dream.

So the boy climbed past Eli's sharp teeth,
into the tunnel of his throat.
To be a dog feels like being tucked in under warm, heavy covers.
The boy tried to stay awake as long as possible, tried to hold on to this feeling of being a dog, of being outside his body and his quiet, nighttime life, but the more he tried to absorb, to memorize, the more he forgot where he was, and soon sleep overtook him, pulling him back into his body like water being soaked up by a sponge.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Hallway

The Hallway

No one lingers in the hallway.
Each apartment door attracts its owner.

Footsteps, rain rejected from bags
and umbrellas. Even the clanging of keys

as a resident fights to get inside
his home. The hallway's carpet absorbs all sound.

The wallpaper turns the volume down,
an ode to taupe, to timidity.

Despite the decor, the hallway is not
a room. This place is only for passing through,

not for settling or sitting.
Reclining is unwise. In leaving,

all residents decide: stairwell
or elevator. Once in the vivid light

of the outside world, the hallway hardly
seems real, its neutrality fading like fog.

Monday, January 25, 2010

String Game

String Game

In your hands, a maze of white string.
Like leashes lopped from balloons,
the strands loop between digit and palm.

You hold distance between your hands.
And tension. You pull your wrists apart
to keep them netted together.

Here. Let me reach into the outlines
of diamonds spanning your fingers,
and pinch the corners. I will put my hands

into the laced-up space, and rework
it. Let me take it from you so that I
might weave new shapes, new openings.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Knees and Elbows

Knees and Elbows

Knees and elbows, the bony hinges
at the halfway mark of limbs.

These allow the arms and legs to bend,
to extend or contract. Straight lines

into angles thanks to these. These vertices.
Your knees, your elbows, they protrude

when in use, to crouch or kneel or walk,
when you fold your frame to sit in a chair.

Your arms on its arms, your legs on its legs,
a twinned skeleton, a throne to anatomy.

Sit and swing your hands and feet.
The elbows and knees are here, rounded

as the tops of pawns. The skin upon
your joints knows to stretch, to accommodate

the forceful bone beneath. Like fists
punching through drywall, knees and elbows

push and bump and claim some space,
these, your crooks, your corners.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

All the Great Pyramids

All the Great Pyramids

The pyramids spill across the sand like dice.

Their arrowhead shadows point to nothing,

doggedly. This way, they seem to say,

the dusky, flattened shapes leaning out

like grey pennants blown taut by wind.

All the great pyramids, all places constructed

and instilled with majesty and magic,

all command us to build a structure from stone,

to dig at this planet and use its pieces,

renaming them: brick, pillar, temple, tomb.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Exercise in Synthesis

Exercise in Synthesis

Plants open their mouths and gulp light,
allow it to fill their green membranes.
Studies have shown that as they alter
the light, plants experience its taste
as sweet. As they incorporate radiance
into their bodies, yanking at the glow
of fires set in outer space, do plants obtain
any pleasure from their sugared taste buds?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sometimes Things Just Start to Pile Up

Sometimes Things Just Start to Pile Up

A heap, a collection
of what you cannot discard
or shelve. The pile asks only
that you add to it, once
in a while. The layers needn't
be the same size or weight.
An order defiantly approximate,
the pile will grow like a cactus.
It requires a bit of untending,
forgetting. The pile thrives
in low light, raises itself up on
slippery magazine feet, creased
envelope hindquarters. Stalagmites,
stacks of intention and stagnation.
Later these layers will have meaning,
but for now, the piles become part
of your homescape. Your eyes
accept them as furniture, shadow.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Formal Dining Room

Formal Dining Room

To draw attention to the shape of a meal,
to the form of eating, to performance in action,
one needs a formal dining room, a solid table
around which guests must be seated, facing in.

Food must leave the kitchen plated and plattered,
presented on silver or glass or china, and arranged
with care, like flowers. Food as choreography, as
calligraphy. Minimize the sounds of mouths,

of food being chewed, of wine being pulled
deep within the throat of the drinker. Take
eating away from the stomach, stick it in the brain,
in the eye. It is pleasing, there is nothing necessary

about it. There are rules to food, best practices
for consumption. If you drop your napkin, only then
may you look under the table, at the legs and feet
of your guests, straining towards eachother or away.

Friday, January 15, 2010

This Is the Year

This Is the Year

This is the year we will always discuss.
We will stick it into our sentences
like thumbtacks into cork.

We will talk about the year's doubleness
and evenness, about how we filled
its round, moony zeros
with decisions.

Do you remember twenty ten?
We will ask each other
long into the future,
as if time were the name of a town
we still can't believe
we had the fortune of inhabiting.

Thursday, January 14, 2010



Subdivided space: trunk for luggage,
boxed food in cellophane-thin bags.

The hood full of engine and wire
and fluid, chambered, cardiac.

The front seat separated into two
distinct regions, governed by function:

a driver, a turner of wheels and pusher
of pedals; a passenger, co-pilot.

Relative formlessness of the backseat,
practically a pew, marked in thirds

by nylon straps and shiny buckle
to hold shoulder, lap, shoulder.

Here is how to understand all
of creation: compartmentalize.

Take the cosmos, or any massive
land mass and make it into regions.

Analyze anatomy. Study the contents
of every body, each muscle and organ

and cell. With these limits, an entire
civilization can build and be built.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Land Tells You of Its Composition

Land Tells You of Its Composition

Land tells you of its composition
as it touches the bottom of your boot.

Grit of sand and damp soil,
consistency of wet coffee grounds.
Slick mud clutching a handful
of last year's strands of grass.

Ridged squares of pavement, pockets
of decay noted in the sole
by the sharp solidity of pebbles.

This information is collected
without thought,
is integrated in the body's stride.

Moving measures what does not move.
The body answers with pressure, precision.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010



Moisture brought together,
a skin of thickened steam

coating the boxed glass
of the windows. The process

by which a screen of water,
a textured, sheer shade

appears on a surface.
The opposite of evaporation.

An exhalation that sends
liquid into air, and an obstacle

to collect this breath. Thermal
discrepancy that yields fenced fog,

cross-sectioned finely into film.
Condensation is the phase,

the medium with which matter
renders and removes itself.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010



I am growing less and less literal.
Words slide open and stay open,
sturdy as folding chairs.

The hinges have plenty of give.
The metal's groans are musical.
You can sit on them,

lean back into the cool shoulders
of alchemy. Let your feet rest.
Keep them elevated,

levitated. Put this metal in a trance,
quick, before it separates into
quicksilver, rainwater.

Monday, January 4, 2010



The mouth is the entrance
to our hollow bodies, we are born
knowing it.

If hunger runs a long, tapered
finger along the wall of your stomach,
you reach

for food, put it in between
your teeth and chew and swallow.

commands. Here is some sort
of miracle--the body's ability to ask
and obey.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Roller Coaster

Roller Coaster

Roller coasters rise from the earth
like the loops of tied shoelaces.
Spindly pillar and wooden plank--
theirs is an architecture of feigned
instability. We make a game of
climbing and falling, of expectation,
if only to shriek and briefly touch
the coarse edge of terror, and then
to let it withdraw, subsiding with a rattle.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.