Monday, August 30, 2010



Summer sleep demands a fan.
We purchase them collectively.
Within a week of the heat,
the fans in the town have all
been sold, lugged home.

The heat is a disease to fight.
We are subject to it. Evenings,
fans get dragged into bedrooms.
We tilt their faces toward us,
push a button, and savor

their cool breath easily washing
over us, each of us alone
behind our eyes. Months go by.
The fan still stands at our bedside,
shushing the scuttle of night noises.

Friday, August 27, 2010



A truck is loaded with grain,
filled with this dust that will
build the foods our nation’s meals
are structured around. Like many
crops that we hack from boundless
grasses into specks, it is uncountable.
One crumb, a big rig’s freight,
both grain. The market responds
when we call it whole, slice less
of it away from itself. I can’t fault
us our hunger for what is whole,
what is wholesome. We grow grain,
tear it, grind it up, and feed our bodies
with it. We construct our food pyramid
on top of it, are told to eat six to eleven
servings of it. Ancient civilizations
would rightly call this worship.
And why shouldn’t we identify this
practice as sacred: fill a big rig
with cut grain, and send it shuttling
down black roads that cut through
fields of tall, nodding stalks.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010



Some bodies never get opened,
require no surgery.

Nonetheless, we trust that humans
are equipped with matching

machinery. In every attic,
a brain, and downstairs,

two lungs, a liver, a stomach,
intestines spooled up

like a garden hose. Same make,
slightly varying models.

This collective trust pumps through
cities and villages, governs

survival. When the traffic stops
because the stoplight

burns red, and the glowing white
man blinks above

the street, we walk without fear.
The driver puts a foot

onto the brake, agreeing to not
run any pedestrian over.

Because we were made according to
rules, we continue to

make them so that we might feel at home,
these old family recipes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010



Most of what enters us is not visible.
What if there were a tracking device for it,

a dye, a dust. Like the powder that clings
to surfaces that fingers have pressed against.

That is some detective’s job: to manufacture
the moment of contact, to prove who has

touched what. If you could toss this visibility
powder onto me, what impressions and streaks

would materialize. An infection snaking up
to my ear, or a sooty veil of doubt shrouding

my face. An exit wound in my back, just
below the heart. An iridescent film along

my whole body, indicative of experience
nestling into memory. What would we be

tracking. Would shapes and shadows pulled
from the air show what looms above.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Stones and then Breadcrumbs

Stones and then Breadcrumbs

Because you mean to return,
you mark your movements by dropping stones.
Pebbles tumble from your twisted grip
like baby teeth from gums.

Someone creeps along behind you,
pocketing the rocks.
The way you came has been erased.

You try it again,
shredding bread as if to denature it into grain,
scattering that.

Later, you search the leaves
for any message, how did you come here?
Did you flatten any foliage
by stepping on it,
or does the world simply fill back in
any dents, any record of your displacement?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Good Grief

Good Grief

Obsolescence is the leading product of our national infatuation with technology, and I now believe that obsolescence is not a darkness but a beauty.
-Jonathan Franzen, “Scavenging”

Scientists flip up a fern deep in the forest. Beneath
it is a yellow frog, the likes of which we have never seen.

Over the next month, thousands of dead yellow frogs
stiffen on the ground, dead just as we learn of them.

Species disappear every day. The same velocity
is invoked in the illustration of crashing anvils.

Whoosh, thud. The departures hang around
above us like smog. Grief is thick and sticky.

The jungle of loss is not all translucent blowfish
and tree frogs. People fall. We’re hoarse from

calling out Timber! to warn one another.
With every individual, an ability is extinguished.

One day, the last woman to never have a cell phone
will die. The final speaker of an exquisite dialect.

Information dies this way. No more phonograph needle
replacement experts or cassette thread weavers.

Recipes for cold soups will go, and some large truth
will be revealed as pseudoscience. The nature

of all interplanetary substance: things go away.
We wave, and soon forget what our hand is doing.

Monday, August 16, 2010



Fires singe your lashes and arm hair.
The pigment beneath your scalp flees.
Names bubble from you, unsummoned.

Your spine buckles, a tendon snaps.
Seismic disturbances lurk in this mud,
in our anatomy. Sure, we own the land

we live on, the body that we pilot out
into the potholed terrain of time.
Cells halve and double. Blades slice skin,

blood surging out like a choir, like oil.
Almost none of experience needs
your consent. Wrestle that to the floor

and clutch it against your chest, and
remember our planet, how no one asked
it if the moon could latch on.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One Dress

One Dress
A Myth

When a girl is born,
layers of her soul are stripped off
and sent into the atmosphere.

The lady-shaped shadows
flutter out into tailors’ workshops
and textile factories, into

closets and shops
where garments dangle, bodiless
skins. Like dress patterns,

the cross-sections of soul
crinkle as they meet fabric, pressing
themselves into being.

There comes a time
in a girl’s life when a gown is needed.
She will be married,

or will attend a grand
dance or party. There is only one dress
for her, and it waits

for her to select it, to
occupy its fabric as muscles stretch flesh.
If she chooses the right

dress, that one dress
lined with her soul, she will know it
by her anatomy’s instant

and perfect alignment.
She will know that she has been formed
in order to fill it out.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Better Feed the Ghost

Better Feed the Ghost

We feed the ghosts
as if they were strays, other
people’s pets. Daily
we call them into the yard,

affixing the idea of them
to habits. Better feed the ghost:
we never need the reminder,
so fully are they incorporated

into how we hear thoughts.
We feel responsible
for ghosts; we didn’t make them,
but they were bestowed

upon us. They feel familiar.
Some are made of helium.
Others are made of paper, pine
needles, plywood, iron.

A ghost’s weight fluctuates
based on what you plate for it.
Just keep on feeding it,
and you will never be alone.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Every City

Every City

The top floor
is vacant, has been cleared, lobotomized,
yet windows freckle the brick near the roof.

Most are blank,
have been boarded up from the inside
but are too high to correct through removal.

Squared glass sprawls
across brick, a clothesline constellation,
a kinked garland. This whole building bears

correction from having
twice been toppled, brighter brick slicing into
rustier stone, scythes, shark fins, sails.

Forward flight, resistance,
every city rises of it. Tenants settle around what
exists, barnacular. There have been witnesses.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.