Wednesday, March 31, 2010



To look at yourself as an object.
To measure symmetry. To put light

or darkness back on top of your face.
To look on your familiar angles,

and detach. To see topography
gazing out of the mirror and then choose:

change it, or let it remain. Well, there
will be no changing it, not with paint

or powder. Some weird power
lives in the mirror, and it leaps out

at you, inserts estrangement into
your face. Thus the uptilted cheek,

the intentional shadow. The best way
to use a mirror is not to overthink it.

To see the movement and shapes
flicker across the face, to be comfortable

with the distances living inside of you,
slivers of sunlight or shade caught in water.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Lines of Trees Define a Place

The Lines of Trees Define a Place

Full-skirted stillness of evergreens,
their heaviness draping the dirt.

Lilac and cherry blossom trees,
branches like fingers turned up,
disclosing, asking.

The palm. How it holds on to its
faded fronds if left untended,
how the shining green panels
spring from grey
like flags raised in honor of
precarious arrangements.

Friday, March 26, 2010



Storytelling is never only fact.
Where does a narrative begin? The very act

of starting to tell also forces you
to decide what is part of the story. Select a few

characters, choose when and where and how,
what not to include. From the world to your mind to your mouth,

the narrative spills out in sections, in panels.
Beginning, middle, end, you are the channel

and also the dam. You will be marked as you tell,
borrowing power from how things happened, your spell.

Thursday, March 25, 2010



It almost looks like affection,
arms clasped around shoulders,

barely any space between
the two men, air between them

crackling with the promise of collision,
of impact. They slam fists into one

another's faces, turn skin
mottled and purple. Hollows puff

up, and what sticks out
(noses, cheekbones) soon

gets smashed in. I will tell
you this, my friend: the world

goes away for the men in the ring.
Flesh is pummeled and torn, and

they revel in the sounds of the body
proving how vulnerable it is not.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In the Cold

In the Cold

In the cold, your body clenches, grips itself.
The cold slows every process,
thickens liquid and makes movements heavy.

The cold can clarify, strip the haze
and fuzzy edges from your vision.
Clean, cold lines remain. Regardless,

we move. Our digits stiffen in the cold,
grow pawlike.We go slow and make little
noise, as when trying not to wake a person we love.

Monday, March 22, 2010



A degree of translucence,
so that light can creep into and out of the small breaks
of a mineral or element.

Skin can be, as you already know,
and water.
Gems, the stones that have bloomed
deep inside of mountains.
Sky, of course, with color and without,
and also cloud.
Satin and silk.
Jellyfish that furtively pump
their way through oceans like blown glass come to life,
like hearts draped in sheets.

The sheerness, the fissures, the cracks, the pores;
if you are lit from within, and you are,
how else can your glow be visible.

Friday, March 19, 2010

We Are Needed Here

We Are Needed Here

Here is how it works:
cut the grass in front of your house
every week and a half.

Skim the top layer of grass,
guiding the motorized blades
across the still-growing surface.

As with any ritual performed
to routine, our body starts to beg
for it. Soon enough, we drape

our actions with purpose.
To speak of housework, of chores,
we use the language of necessity.

We must cut the grass, we have to.
We are needed here. The land requires
our touch; our hands ache for the blade.

Thursday, March 18, 2010



Collar upturned hours after the wind.
The smell of coffee grounds clinging to my fingertips
in late afternoon.
An ache in one Achilles tendon, the memory of yesterday's heels,
a whole day spent propped up, pitched forward.
Illusory pressure on the bridge of my nose, on my left wrist
long after the glasses and watch have come off.
Look how the body honors every impact.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cutting Board

Cutting Board

An even plane,
wood grain swirling across
like trails of smoke.

A backdrop
that supports the food
you slice. The cutting board

welcomes the knife
after it passes through tomato
or pepper or apple.

The blade bites into
the fruit and then the wood,
ssssss-clomp, ssssss-clomp

some steam-powered
horse arriving just outside
your door, pawing the ground.

Monday, March 15, 2010



Pigeons in the rafters.

Mice in the walls.

Eight deer strung out across the road,
as if they had been cut from paper.
They have paused while crossing.
Passing cars throw light against their faces,
their brown bodies and treebranch legs.

Water's refusal to remain
stopped up within the pipes.
Beads dripping from the faucet,
wearing a scar in the sink.

You will find it impossible to ignore what troubles you,
even if its movements are gentle,
softened with feathers or fur.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Technical Obsolescence

Technical Obsolescence

The cameras put out to pasture
do not decay, do not collapse
back into earth as might
an apple, leaves unattached to limbs.
Organic matter will
denature itself, left untended
for long enough. But
the cameras persist, bricks of black
plastic. Inside of homes,
these cameras are first forgotten, on shelves,
in drawers and closets. Next,
at the dump, or spoon-fed back into
the land. The lenses are pressed
up against other items rendered
obsolete, fallen
into disuse. Evolution
cannot revive these cameras.
They are our creatures, our creations,
so even now, clutched
within their hearts like old prayers,
memories we won't
remember, and our images
are permanently burnt
onto their film, although this
will fade, will decompose.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mixing Bowl

Mixing Bowl

God, isn't cooking so pure,
and such an unscary mess.
Cutlery was born of function,
the power of intention.

The fork does what? Stabs.
The spoon? Carries or stirs.
And measures.

These five spoons are joined
on a ring, linked like keys.
Each fits inside the next largest,
teaspoon in tablespoon,
minimalist nesting dolls.

They measure, are marked
with what they can hold.

A mixing bowl exists
to hold ingredients that you
push into one another,

You, a deity pushing around clouds
and releasing storms.
Wholly dependent on the limits of the bowl,
your spoon,
your mixture should form stiff peaks,
a contained flinging of atoms.

Monday, March 8, 2010



Land. It's too much to process,
too expansive. Land unrolls
across the globe, a banner,

a scroll opening out in all directions.
Draw a portrait of all the ground,
and within it, scrawl some lines

that connect. Continents are already
sculpted. Land must be further shaped,
landscaped. Provinces, states, city limits,

our maps of them fit together so beautifully
because the framework was provided,
water and then not-water, shores and edges,

rocky, sure. But looking at the land as you
cross it is not like looking at a map,
a network of lines cleanly dividing

territories, cities sprinkled on top
like birdseed, breadcrumbs. When you
move along the ground from one state

into another, yes, there is a welcome-to-
blank sign. But what immediate signal
does the land provide? The air does not shift

in texture; bells don't ring and roads don't
break. The land sends up slow messages:
hazy as smoke, the outline of far-off mountains.

Friday, March 5, 2010


A Fable

Brandishing crowbars, a sledgehammer,
two men and a woman surround the mailbox.

It is Sunday night, three in the morning.
Inky-blue sky, houses motionless as broken toasters.

The mallet pounds the blue metal box,
and it leans its trunk towards the dewy grass on the lawn,

as if straining to hear noise just below
the ground. Then, the sound of a dishwasher being pried

from the wall. Now the crowbars,
the woman hisses. The three jerk the box loose,

extract it like a heavy-rooted weed.
One man nudges the mailbox onto a dolly, wheels

it out to a truck. The men and
the woman sit and drive, not saying a word

during the drive to the site, just breathing
hard, gazing out into the headlight-painted road.

The farther they drive, the higher the buildings
grow around them, tall and slender as sheaves of wheat.

Turn here, the woman again, her voice
softer this time. The truck crunches up to the place:

a four-storeys-deep hole in ground,
the space where a foundation will go, the air humming

in anticipation of the concrete that
will replace it. The woman pushes the mailbox from

the bed of the truck, scoots it through
the dirt, sends it sailing into the mammoth depths.

Fall well, she tells the mail trapped inside.
For a building to gather strength enough to rise,

it needs the voices in envelopes, in the mailbox,
sealed always, out of time and in, both fossil and seed.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Let's Go Back to That Day

Let's Go Back to That Day

Since we have been there
before, the past calls out to us.
There is only so much space

in you allotted for storage,
so what you keep is broken
off from your doings,

in chips, in sheets, in slabs.
We never get there, the actual
past, so it drops in on us

with wide-ranging weight.
Trickling along your scalp,
a cool rivulet of regret

or satisfaction. Memory
can slink and it can drift,
imprecise and without boundary,

and memory can crash
down, thunderous, colossal,
the avalanche behind your eyes.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Lot

The Lot

Nature has been installed in the parking lot.
Behold, botany and light, baby-gated.
When you silence your car in the far corner,
and step out onto the cooled-lava land,
do you see these bounded plots,
the rain finally reaching into a yielding surface.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Shower

The Shower

Showers show our allowances, the firmness
with which we rule our homes. For some, the tiles
and the white grout glow, spotless.
And nudity has purpose. This denial
of anything unclean cannot be healthy.
Sure, there's soap. And three green bottles
half-full of ooze, changing your hair into foamy
ribbons. A plastic razor, blades mottled
with freckles of rust. Look, my shower is not
a hospital, nor is it a temple.
Because of a vine-covered window and instantly hot
water, I tolerated my shower's trickle
for three years. Every house-guest hated
that shower, complained about the weak pressure.
I liked the water's ambling pace, its sedated,
flimsy touch. The throaty, filmy purr.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Uses for Salt

Uses for Salt

To draw moisture from a cell.

To purify a space.

To be dissolved in a bowl of water,
to stand in as tears in ceremony.

To be gathered on the fingertips
and scattered over the left shoulder,
in the event that it is spilled.

To chase off evil.

To kill a slug, or to revive
a near-dead fly with a shock of pain.

To heal a pallor-patched fish.

To treat mania.

To create clouds.

To convince ice to release its firm grip on the street.

To keep food from aging,
and to mask blandness.

To enhance sweetness in fruit,
as when sprinkled on watermelon.

To coax your taste buds open.

To burn in the back of the throat,
and in an attempt to return to itself,
to create the desire to drink.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.