The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2018

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FEB 2018 Issue




Fame is not to be yours

I suddenly thought like a street tarot reader

pronouncing a destiny to a crowd.

The card is blackened a flattened

leaf on the sidewalk in the shape of a bat. And

a wet Jack of Spades with extravagant blue handwriting.

Just to break it down to you, says a man behind me.

800 letters he says and just as many stars

flicker invisibly in three inches of the sky

which this late afternoon is thin as skin.

I hover over my own fate

and for two seconds, not more,

am indifferent

though not empty of will.

A flash of the sun.

across one’s eye, a golden dust

on a note book page. A swimming

nothing where there is no one.




No one could make a sentence

from a swarm

of glittering buttons in glass.

You see buttons and think bones.

I found a dollar in the grass.

It’s presidential head

afloat in rain.

In the space of rhetoric

color is artifice

repellant as Astroturf.

I hear orange chatter.

A head in a room

like a monstrous abalone

with tiny teeth

that clasp their meat.



Blue Wire

Stare at a room filled with things.

Each object blurs in the blue blanket of air.

Go to the bathroom and adjust


Wash wool socks in a sink.

Pause at

drips, footsteps and squeaks.

Think: lingonberries, gravitas, meld,

butter knife, echolalia.

Fence, persimmon, caulk

shadow, relent, relay.

And perforate.

Notice a vibration.

A sensation that is named ringing

but is more of a whine. Less a calling to.

A spilling.

The tension of a blue wire.




For Toni Simon                                                                                                            

Every day is like a puzzle.

A jumble of microdots

that coalesce

into a multidirectional stairway.

The palm is crossed with an x.

An island they call that. Inside a chain across skin.

A drawbridge reality

is enfolded in a structure that is read

as knotted owl pellets on the road.

Bones and wool, hair and rocks.

The future in a wave.

A folded sea that surfaces inside

squares of fire.

Now I see curtains of contoured plasma

in a shadow’s dissembled books

that wait for the hand to write.



Blue Window

A small square blue book

reduces thought to a palm size

and enlarges a speck of it

so that it becomes a window.

A blue window in a wall

as if the eye were a giant

machine and a globular insect

dragging its spiky wings

to any opening

it may surmise.



Mariage Frères

Crumbled colored smoke with a violet tint

dead flowers mixed with ash and earth

that you might find if you look under a rock

in the woods in Connecticut, for example.

An initiatory action analogous to

writing a poem with debris and lint.

It forms a darkened cloud

lifts to a surface

and swirls among elements.

You take a sip of the brew

and look everywhere so as to replicate the experience

and to have it contained

in a black book labeled in French.

I know its effects cannot really be configured that way

or any “way”

but it takes so many years to find that out

and then is realized instantaneously.

First made by two incestuous

brothers from across the sea

baptized Marco Polo

poetry is finite.

I’m sorry.

I meant the exact opposite.



In the Underpass

Today in the underpass

two women asked for a little change

and I said no.

Not today, tightening my jacket

as though to announce: I have my precincts.

Well, God Bless you they said in unison.

And I went on to buy baby kale

and eco toilet paper

and to drink some hot chocolate with cayenne

from Jacques Torres.

Later, I read about the two women grinding at the mill

and better not to return to the fields to get your clothes

that you left there when running away.




Somewhere down there

On Street number Two or Four or Three

Within its anarchy of stairs and ailanthus leaves

And a folded Persian rug and a wooden book on teas

Popes line up in a path of dusty sheaves

Leading into what or where I cannot quite see

Through the arc of tangled debris.

I remember there was a heretic doyenne among her soliloquies

That shimmered under the antique eaves.

Marcella and Brenda, do you recall we started to freeze

In January’s sparkle of East Village air. Where are my keys

I said, like usual something was hidden

In the flux of ambiguity.

Things telescope so that they or it or us or just me

Are distanced at an obtuse angle to the critical view,

Absolutely gone we feel but oh wait not necessarily

I realize much later at different point from the sun diurnally

See the forgotten returned although this

A slight swift Halloween epiphany

Brought evening’s autumn star back around fleetingly.




I know these white gray columns.

Dirty and scarred.

A city of mute bishops.

Columnar ghosts.

The dirt along the train tracks

are where fairies are

that keep company with twittering sparrows

glister beads and cellophane.

A sequence of arches.

An inversion of utterances

so that the word is farther back

instead of a banner on the teeth.

When the train ricochets by

everything divides.

I brought an empty tin of rose

gloss to the mound as requested.

Through the pillars see a maze of tangled red letters.

A black ladder at the back of the echo.




Kimberly Lyons

Kimberly Lyons new book of poetry, Capella,  is due from Oread Press in spring of 2018. An essay on Basil King's works on paper comes out in Talisman later this year. She lives in Chicago from where she publishes Lunar Chandelier Press.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2018

All Issues