Thursday, October 28, 2010

Similar But Different

Similar But Different

Hold up any two items, one in each hand.
Lift them in front of you and stare into them,

one and then the other, reading and reading
them as if they were passages. These objects

are the same, they are light, they are smooth,
they remain inert and allow the pressure

of your eyes. But this one is dull and old,
has rolled in the dirt. And the other gleams,

unaccustomed to being touched. Your grip,
your gaze ties together what you consider.

These two items lean in, want to get closer.
The act of comparing is a magnet. They inch

toward each other, the dark thing brightening
and the shining one dimmer. Select any two

fragments, objects or people, ghostly-gone
or in our dimension, and see how they indeed

are similar but different. Now what. What
do you do with this knowledge. How can

you go back to seeing any thing in isolation,
knowing that all is affixed, like scissors.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hands That Tremble

Hands That Tremble

Holding a dying creature during childhood
will leave you with hands that tremble.

The bird, tattered and bloody in the grass.
Restrain yourself from touching it.

The upturned, twitching moth, considering
its own mistake, bulb for moon.

The amputee cricket. The drowning worm,
stuck in a puddle. The punctured fish.

Your curiosity and compassion weaken you.
Watching a body go blank will tug

the ground up and down, infect you with tremors.
Yes, our footing is that precarious.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Keys

The Keys

Chain the keys together. The look of their teeth
will tell you nothing, but at least they are fluent

in locks. Keys let us talk to our houses, our vehicles,
identify us as their careful owners. Here I am again,

we tell them, or I will come back for you. Tied together,
they are a record of belonging. Some show what

we used to own, or where we used to go: a house,
states away, or an office bulldozed three years ago.

A key can be homeless this way. And we see purpose
in it. One day, we will encounter a locked place

that we need to enter. And the key that fits into nothing
will whisper into this lock’s secret mouth, Let me in.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Sink at Night

The Sink at Night

Confront the sink at night.
The mess will be easier to deconstruct.

While you wet the plates
and pots, you can look out at the dark yard.

Every place outside
the bright box of your kitchen is wilderness.

Connect with it. Task
your hands. The soap knows what to do,

let it. If you press past
the window, the parked cars and garages,

what rises up in you?
You scrub from the dishes what is inside

of your belly. Erasing
consequences is hypnotic. Tomorrow, when

you wake up, your kitchen
will show little evidence of how you have

put it right. You will be
startled by the pallor and emptiness of the sink.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Wait

The Wait

Are you here, or are you waiting. When will it happen,
the next event, a shift. Your mind on your body’s roof,
looking up. The world’s enunciation turns crystalline.

You are concentrating on the future. Readying your eyes
for the bus, once it turns onto your block. Psychically
connecting with the phone to act the instant it is possessed

by the call. Anything not directly in front of you loses shape,
collapses, melts. Signs are everywhere, lightbulbs snap
and die, you run out of postage stamps. You slice a finger

scrubbing a knife. A song begins, slams your inner accelerator.
Now? Tonight? Next year? You’ve been promised magic,
a secret, glimmering door. You wait to be pushed through.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Storm Tracking

Storm Tracking

Thunderstorm warnings for later this evening.
We have just received word that thunder
and lightning are probable tonight. Be ready.
Remember that tires behave more erratically
in the rain. And do not be alarmed by flickering
in the sky; as we have predicted, here is the lightning.
Later, an eyewitness to the storm describes
the scene. Big leaves from palm trees were
blowing all over the road. The lightning
was like a camera flash. All of our machines
are working on tracking the storm. Here it is,
we have located its nucleus. This one dark cloud
is causing the storm. Well, it’s easiest to understand
that way, because the causes are mostly invisible.
Not since Spring of ’03 have we seen a storm
like this one, have we? Up to two inches of rain
is sitting out there on the road, or is soaking
into the earth and making mud. One witness
reports, palm trees were whipping up and down,
uprooting and smashing into cars. This storm
is serious. See how the local residents are
handling the water, the booming, the light.
Clue: they are holding umbrellas. Be prepared
for more rain this week. The thunder might return.
Sources tell us that storms are likely for the rest
of the month. We don’t know when this rain
will let up! Our machines have found the storm,
according to reports, the thunderstorm is now
directly overhead, hold still, it will pass,
just wait. But at least we know where it is.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010



Thank God for the arrows. What would
we do without them. We wouldn’t know

where to turn. Right or left, and how many
times. Who would warn us that the road

sharply veers. Suddenly, all exits within
a building would be uncertain. Restrooms

unlocatable. Parking structures sites of
exile without agents of decision, direction.

And death. Erase the arrows, and disarm
Robin Hood, soften and slow Diana,

her followers. We have this need: to launch
our gaze out in front of us, to follow

its trajectory. Tell us where to go, where
we are meant to go. We chase the arrow

offscreen to find what we have pierced.
We use it to search, to stab into the abyss

of the computer. Our cursor navigates,
a lantern, the tip of a spear, a stemless arrow.

And we unearth arrowheads from the lawn,
place them in a palm like stony goldfish

who have stopped moving. What do you
want of me. What are you pointing me toward.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Make Like a Tree

Make Like a Tree

Make like a tree
and leaf,
leave behind

what will later be called
your estate.
Look how small

your belongings get once
you see they
are a pile of wood,

metal smithereens dusting
the top like snow.
Make like a tree,

stand over roads, arms out,
peering down at
the little beings

accepting your shade.
Make like a tree,
plant yourself

in the park. Sip light, grow
even as they think
you are finished.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Comma Comma And

Comma Comma And

Milk, sugar, and eggs.
Flour, butter, and salt.
To illustrate the comma,

we make a list of three
things, make a story
of the list. Ingredients

for bread, pie crust.
This, this, and also this:
the commas mean

addition, combination.
These things are unified
by our appetite for them.

We ask for what we lack
or want, reaching for it
and pulling it closer

to our bodies. A mixing
bowl is implied. A counter
is implied. In all lists,

an emptiness. Bring these
things to me. They belong
to me, to us, and this home.

Thursday, October 14, 2010



If you can’t see my mirrors,
I can’t see you,
the big truck says to my car,
to me.
The truck has eyes in the back
of its body.

I hide for a few miles. I go
creep close to the shoulder.
This agreement
allows me to disappear, because

depends on letting our eyes
I don’t know if the truck
has seen me.
The sign keeps reminding me
I’m here, barely.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Getting the Darkness Out of Our Systems

Getting the Darkness Out of Our Systems

The world takes its turn away from us at night.
Night is difficult. It hurts. We hide from
its darkness. Drag light toward us, slosh it everywhere.

The window plays mirror, shows us the faces
we make. Beyond our transparent selves,
the yard, the empty street. We send our
vacancy out into the darkened world.
We doubt the things we own. That looks like
our car. Is the gate closed?

Lack of light unites the things swimming in it,
all slumped shapes, all shut doors.
It leaks into closets and under beds,
a bog beneath us, rising.

Children locate creatures here, in the dark,
in the places that promise disappearance.
We knew to fear it even then.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Storage Unit

Storage Unit

You don’t have room for it, or present need.
Twelve place-settings of china, inherited.
A hulking, dusty treadmill, adjustable speed
and incline. A set of golf clubs, their heads

pushing out of the bag like hungry cats.
Your toys. Barbies naked together, piled
on plastic shoes and metallic gowns, flaps
of cardboard folded in on top. Files

crammed in a metal cabinet, not sorted.
Your apartment is small, only one closet,
and no basement. So you pay for public storage,
park the boxed oddities that don’t fit

at home. You visit once or twice a year,
dread the shhhhh of cardboard being slid
on concrete, the horror of spiders nesting here,
the uneasiness rooted in lifting up lids.

Thursday, October 7, 2010



Reaching out over the balcony,
imploringly, a wetsuit.

A discarded shell, doubled over.
Arms unfurled toward street.

Shriveled and flimsy, a flattened
body bent in half, reverent.

A headless silhouette, arms cast
down. Balanced between

the railing and the tugging temptation
of falling, of the ground.

Contracting as it gives up particles
of ocean salt and sand.

The owner will climb inside it
again, and it will stand.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010



The English Department crawls through the grass,
the summer softball game stalled.

A professor has lost his wedding ring. The grad
student (an Americanist, Melville,

Hawthorne) lobbed the pitch toward him.
The professor swung, made

contact, stumbled onto first base. We’ll still win,
the girl on first taunted, a third

year Foucauldian. Gathering her hair in one hand,
she slid the band from her wrist

around the hair, secured it against her neck. The man
waited, bending his knees as if to test

that the ground could hold him. It was then that he saw
his ring finger, empty. By sunset,

the Department is still on its knees, staring into the lawn,
consoling, Don’t worry, we’ll find it.

Monday, October 4, 2010



From outside,
a young voice calls out numbers.

The voice
could belong to girl or boy, it is high,

sweet, sexless.
I part the blinds, as if nudging bangs

from an eye,
a brow. A girl, fingers over her face,

counts. Twelve
Mississippi, thirteen Mississippi, fourteen

She wants the hider to hear her, sends

the vocalized
seconds into the yard, the red bougainvillea,

the parked cars
lining the block. Twenty-one, twenty-two

twenty-four. She switches to only numbers

as she becomes
confident in her pacing. She was right

to put the state
inside the seconds. What a struggle it is

to stand in
the territory hidden between moments.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.