Friday, December 31, 2010

Flooding In

Flooding In

From the chasms of outer space
that are unreachable.
Down through the atmosphere,
and the balled-up air underpinning it.
Through the clouds and smog,
through the upturned arms of branches
and into the scalps of evergreens.
Down through roofs,
wooden beams and brick chimneys.
Through pale and bowed ceilings,
and down through our skulls
while we sleep,
and also flooding in from within,
a tide, higher, higher.

Thursday, December 30, 2010



What is standing across from me
on the other end of my seesaw

to prevent me from catapulting
into the sky. Or smashing down

through the floorboards, splinters
floating up like volcanic ash.

What is my counterweight, and
what body does it borrow when

it manifests itself to me. Does it
jump on and off, rattle my stance

by jiggling a foot. How steady is
the ground, right now. On a scale

of Richter-registered tremors to
Mount Sinai composure, where

is this patch of planet. Dear deity
of gravity, I feel there is something

between us. Thank you for sharing
this fulcrum so very graciously.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010



One night, when your body is readying
itself for sleep, you resist. Instead,
you go to the living room, twist the little
knob at the base of the lamp that calls light
back into the bulb, the shade. You sit
near the lamp and make plans. Tomorrow,
what friend you will call or visit,
how she takes her coffee. What errands
you will complete, a new umbrella
or bar of soap to purchase, the shops
you mean to explore but never do,
their windows full of glittering cookware
or single shoes turned out toward
the street, as if the wearer had stepped out
of them, through the glass and into
the world, vulnerable. Which restaurant
you will select, and why. The Japanese
place for its emptiness. Or that healthy cafe,
for who you once ate there with. You plan
not to cancel your year by eliminating
all space from it, shipping away your time
box by box. You will plan leisurely,
at the same pace by which you recall
dreams in the morning, kneading together
the pieces that surface by returning.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Forgot About the Car

I Forgot About the Car

I forgot about the car.
I parked the car, and left it in the lot.
The lot was empty,
except for me and my car. I forgot
it as soon as the door
recoiled from my hand, a wing,
retracting. One moment,
I was in the car, braking, parking.
Days were fed in. Snow
fell like pollen and coated the floor
where civilized people
walked, shivering. The more
it snowed, the less I knew
about how I had gotten where I had.
Why had I come to the city.
Could I track my own prints, add
them and yield an origin.

Friday, December 24, 2010



Someone held this apple,
turned it beneath the light
to judge the grain of its skin, the color,
its resistance to being gripped.

To spare us this phenomenology,
apples get labeled.

Granny Smith, a sticker reads, and we ready
our tongues for tartness.
We know that our teeth easily dig into Gala,
and that the deep red skin of the McIntosh
is tough, slightly bitter.

So few experiences announce themselves to us
in this way.
At very least we can agree on
what happens in the unnameable darkness of the mouth.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Have You Been Living With

What Have You Been Living With

With moths who have flattened themselves
against the door, and flutter out in front of you,
entering your home before you.

With termites, manufacturers of holes.
Cracked window. Faucet that cannot stop
entirely. Shifty bookshelf.

With hair treated like a calendar, growing
and growing to mark some event or ending.
Minor cavities. Mild vertigo.

With noise inside of you. Or quietness.
Images you can’t wrap your voice around.
Static-edged transmissions.

With untriggered ailments. Your own
digestion of time. The hours you are making
and storing. A silo. A stream.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010



Hang the pots and pans from hooks in the ceiling,
a cluster of low, steel planets.

Insert all knives in the slotted block,
blades safe in the wood.

Slip books beside each other in the shelves.

A thick, white roll of paper towels
should be suspended horizontally.
It offers you its arm.

We make an item, and invent for it a holder
so that we can better reach it,
so that we can put it away,
satisfied with how the things we need are kept
for us, stable, contained.

Monday, December 20, 2010



Thataway. Farther. Further.
Keep walking. Yup, that’s it, keep going.

You know the territory here.
Are you concerned. It concerns you,

this place fits so snug into what
you expected. How to experience this

gridlock of verb tenses, hindsight
yanking on the needle of your compass.

Keep going, pass the post office,
past it. You passed it, actually, about a mile

or twenty back. I didn’t tell you
at the time. Because I didn’t want to hurt

your feelings. You are doing such a fine
job of navigating. I can’t take over for you

now, but I will help. You’re getting
warmer. Warmer. Hot. Hotter, hotter, burning,

excruciating solar heat. Whoops,
there go your wings. Melting. Burning. On fire.

Friday, December 17, 2010



A baby turns six, begins devoting
hours to training. Here is how to assemble
a bow from shoelaces. Because
this world is made of things that break apart
and then pile up, we learn numbers.
We sing the litany of our alphabet as if it
had narrative, and when it ends,
we sing it again. Each day, we leave school
to walk home. We learn to return
to a house. We fight bedtime, an instinctive
stalling before the lapse in action.
As adults, we make agreements about time:
a year working for this company,
another year in which we promise to sleep
and bathe and enter an apartment.
Every twelve months, time topples over
onto its head, struggles to stand.
See how much better we are getting with
endings, we have been rehearsing
from the instant we first lifted our eyelids.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What the Body Is

What the Body Is

Symptom. Effect. The shadow that follows
our decisions.

Pushpin in the world map, clinging as it goes
from cape to sphere.

Calendar. Collection of dates, appointments,
behavior. Daybook.

Thin duplicate of every check written. Footprint.
Tracks. A trace.

The block of marble that we break. Sculpture of ice,
butter. Sandcastle.

Bullet. Bee. Chasing a trajectory. Satellite, asteroid.
Chewed tennis ball.

Bandage, carrying injuries. Plaster cast, its messages:
Get well. Feel better.

Not the car, or the road, or the house. The doorbell.
The knob. The lock.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010



The year is nearly gone.
It pulls away from us,
a bus attending to schedule.

To honor any leaving,
talk to where you are by looking,
purposefully. I tell this building
I will miss its windows,
small and square as stamps.
Goodbye, petaled cactus
called sempervivum.
Farewell, layered California Avenue graffiti,
a pink, dripping heart,
recently emblazoned with heavy.

At sunset, the sky is full.
Be well, I say while memorizing its pieces:
planes, the moon, orange clouds, smog,
plenty of light but no sun.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum

To see design more clearly, sprinkle tormented
gibberish across the page, flouring a countertop

so dough can be flattened without sticking.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur,

adipisci velit. The letters are a page. To a reader,
they signify Your name here, a story about the work

you do, about all you have accomplished.
In these pretty words, breath and boundary.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet. Blah blah
blah reverberating. It is sweet and becoming

to erect paragraphs, cardboard cut-outs standing
in for architecture. Don’t lean on that column,

or look too closely at this text. It is only here
to protect us from silence, to invoke the pretense

of grace, greeked. What can fill this lonely room?
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit,

nonsense, scissored Cicero loosely translated as
There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks

after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain.
A most versatile text. Embroider it on dust ruffles,

print it on potpourri. Spell it out in refrigerator magnets
and on exposed beams. Use its invocation to decorate.

Design something for your reader, and in the meantime,
let them see the exquisite potential of your project.

Murmur it into their cheek, the spine of a book,
a page: lorem ipsum, this is what we build with.

Note: this poem owes much to this article from The Straight Dope.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

To Get to the Other Side

To Get to the Other Side

The pigeon scurries on matchstick legs,
head pushed forward to help it to run faster,
to get out of the street and away from the car.
It has forgotten about the wings on its shoulders.

Six deer lined up on the riverbank,
a garland, a paper chain, headed up the grass
for the road under the snow sifting down.

The spider showers with me.
She has learned that the steam makes the ceiling,
her floor, slick. She lowers herself a millimeter,
her body the harness.

The parking lot is full of evergreens.
A seagull guards the entrance.
What a weird forest
we are inspired to throw together.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What We Know Too Well

What We Know Too Well

It falls from us,
a towel heavy from having
taken the water from our skin.

The familiar melody
that wormed its way through
the brain, to wedge itself

in a slim crevasse--
we sing it without knowing
we are singing, our voice slides

so easily around
its grooved and bony frame.
What we do most often exists

only in average,
its commonest take. The black
grounds flecking my index finger

after pouring
the coffee into the filter, the button’s
give and green glow, the scream

of the hot water
through the pipes, the showerhead:
None of this is happening now.

Today’s shower
is yesterday’s, the car is planted in
every parking space you have ever

chosen before
at the grocery store. Even with
your new winter jacket, in every

memory you have
in which you are cold, you are
wrapped in the same blue wool coat.

We need the
protection that this offers us,
the soothing possibility that

all things can
stay as they are when we last
encountered them. The towel

will be there
when we reach, the man’s face
and throat will still be smudged

with stubble,
the woman will answer when we
dial the number no longer hers,

not for years.
We bury our face in what we know
too well, it is so soft and dark.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dance Stupider

Dance Stupider

Dance stupider. Make less sense.
Order a dish that you hate,
just to confirm that the bitterness
of radishes is still unpleasant.

Be late, but do not rush, do not
look at any announcement of time,
do not will anyone to be impressed
by your goodness or responsibility.

Forget the stamp on a birthday card,
and open it, weeks later, when it returns.
No one expects a four-tiered cake from you.
Stop furtively scouring the grout.

Let an unthinking part of you
steer for a stretch. When you recover,
nobody loathes you. Gloriously small
are our grievances against the self.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Bulls

The Bulls

He’s got this life that’s real exciting,
always on a bike outside. Mountain biking,
dirt biking, two wheels and he’s on it.
Four wheels, even, over the dirt,
dogs all running around his feet,
going in the woods.

One time he calls me, asks what I’m doing.
Watching the Bulls, the Bulls verse somebody, I say.
He says Come over tomorrow.
Next day I go over to his place and we go in the living room.
There’s six little dogs all crawling on each other,
falling on their faces which are beautiful,
eyes pushed wide apart.
Pit bulls’ eyes look like humans, you ever seen them.
Living alone, him and these pit bulls,
pit bulls are what he raises.
He goes, Which one do you want?

Not often you meet someone like that, knowing the land
is large enough and large enough,
giving you your own dog to take home.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In Deep Thought

In Deep Thought

Down, we are pulled down into it,
our toes reaching for the bottom
of the swimming pool which has dropped away
beneath us.

Every present person dims.
Deep thought shoots out of us, ink veiling
all that is around.

Down into its cavern, where big, monosyllabic words
drip down like stalactites.

We are alone, down there,
lolling in a tarry pit.

Returning from deep thought takes work.
And when we emerge, we are startled
at how intensely bright it is up there, up here.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.