Up against memoir

What voice has my voice got? Rage
gives flavor. Don’t I got some

rage? The answer is — hells yes but
it’s a long stew, quiet-in-the-crockpot

all-day-long-night-next-day stew, horrors
simmerd so reduction long they want put

back2bed and taste of syrup. You stay
up real late, my voice’ll stare you down

through all those stars we got btween us
now. Ever wonder how you got stuck

while mute-as-fuck I swam naked
as the scent of late-June-suckle out past

Reeser’s Summit trailer park — then past
the moon you bn riddln with gun&needle

like there’s a couple more where that one
was? Admit it. Night’s harder now, im-

perfect + unlit, plus you don’t know
where I’m off 2 ridin’ the dark unspokn

of my thoughts. I don’t know neither.
I may die. Bfore I say real words

about the things I hate and all the other
things I hate how other people hate. Forget

I said. Take this frackwaste voice you wish
I’d use 4 truth instead of dare. You’ll want

to salt&bury it, so it don’t rise, but where’s
your shovel? Where’s the body? You call

me scared when I don’t blare all I want and am
in trumpet porno-blast. I hate that fuckn shit.

When I strip down it’s all science all
fiction all the goddamnd time. World —

please. If you’d lend me your ears
for a spell I cd tell you what &

tell you where the body is — & how to pull
that punkass moon back out your veins.





My brother gave me the heavendress to wear.
So it is a gift.
It isn’t enough to look at it.
Repeat Nothing is wrong. Say it again.

We have been discussing first divisions. Reconsiderations.
Alignment of spine and star. Recurrent dreams
of splintered coffins, moons
below horizons.

We take turns neglecting the light — anti-watchmen we.
Insomnia wants to wear my brother’s heavendress
in organdy. It is wool.
I insist.

Accept her. Insomnia is not wrong. This
is what I am supposed to say.
He says Remember — there is
no supposed to.

My brother is infuriatingly there. I ask him
What if I bleed on the heavendress?
It is red.
And if I rip it?

Already these rags are more beautiful than the skins of angels.

Do you skin angels? I ask. Is that what
you are?     Nothing is wrong.
He will say this as many times
as I have need.

Of course I have always known what nothing is.




“Figure it out, tiny dove.” (Oahu 2014)

we weren’t climbing a volcano            we might 
have been            one in the vicinity            a trail led 
up the coast            but the islands are            all coast 
to a tourist            a small bird half-crossed our path      
reversed itself             &you laughed            at its dithering
your dry note of direction            was the more humorous  
a garden hat            made british             pale eyes centuries older 
than you have rights to            in the course of all these things      
                                                                                                                                            I fell 
a little bit in love             with whales in variegated strips 
of blue water            a-breech in nameless joy            as if 
winter were a species of meander            &not tepid
reticence            days later            zebra doves flocked 
into my hands            to eat bread I held out as 
reason to tremble close            &lightly, go




Negative One

I can write as if I am a wound.

There is another life : the one
beside. We have leaned
through its windows, held
our hands beneath its sinks.

The water is the same water,
our hands — our hands.




Oh My Dears (for and after Hannah)

Halfway into the wood I come across them. Women. A circle of women naked, a circle of women grieving. They are five, and they are six. They circle the sacs they cannot use, placed between them as on coals. They do not decipher. They do not speak of the thing that has closed them in upon themselves. They do not discuss the autopsies they have undergone while living. The women’s feet twist under them, as if the pain were not, not yet, enough. One woman is two women. She is the woman who leaves the circle, she is the woman who circles back. It is a trick of grief: to be so split. The women have come together in the clearing to find comfort and to compare. Each woman has folded into thought a single recipe for sweet milk. Their ducts are streams of rocks. One woman would add simple syrup. Another, simmer a can of what has condensed over open flame with water. The women carry cut straw because that is how they drink. There are stitches, wounds opened and resewn, split and stapled, mouths singed shut. The women in the clearing halfway into the wood, the five and the six — I come across them. The light fragmenting off their bodies stills me, the circuit they have made. I am struck, for a split moment, seven. I am not so struck. I look away. The women. Their eyes, liquid and lash, give haunt. Like eyes of fawns, like eyes of undone does.




Kirsten Kaschock is the author of four poetry books and a chapbook: Unfathoms (Slope Editions 2004), A Beautiful Name for a Girl (Ahsahta Press 2011), WindowBoxing (Bloof Books 2012), The Dottery (University of Pittsburgh Press 2014), and Confessional Science-fiction: A Primer (Subito Press 2017). Coffee House Press published her novel Sleight in 2011. She teaches at Drexel University, and lives just outside Philadelphia with her creatures.