"I become cold, no longer inhabitable."

More Perihelion:

Bob Sward's Writer's Friendship Series

Book Reviews

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Issue 10: Out on a Limb

Issue 9: The Missing Body

Issue 8: The Lily

Issue 7: Passages

Issue 6: No More Tears

A quick list to poets featured in this issue:

Robin Behn

Richard Garcia

John Hennessy

Adrian Matejka

Ayukawa Nobuo

Eunice Odio

Kathryn Rantala

Anna Ross

Mathias Svalina

Larissa Szporluk

Kevin Tsai

Kevin Tsai

A Narrow Porthole

That morning, when the lie of your look
Held my body pilloried— all my nerves

Clinically unsteadied to scavenge
For you a winter thinned into uneven

Nights, endless without angry words—
Only now lighter than parsley seeds.

Inventive and Sanskritic, you invited me
To your high bed for a viewing

Of Yankee towns and English games
In monochromes. They tell a happy tale

To everyone but me. There, I saw,
Before trailing my hand to arrange

A disheveled vase of daisies:
Without all those blue locks

Of electricity boring into my wrist
To jar a spitful out of me,

I could not visit your imprisoned world
Even for a dawn, or recite for you

Words of fracture.


Upward Mobility, Musically

Like Hadrian I caught myself speaking
In the formula of death, without the Senate

To witness or to forgive. The presence
Of practiced will will be my last audition.

Care for the instrument: quinined hand,
All veneer and use, middle-classed passion—

Took me on a winter trip, always far
North. I still know the shrouded strain

Next to silver-nerved quickness. I am in
Need of measures. Uncharmed by hellebore,

My heart with no unstrung longing knows
The Necessity of this pussy-footed cure.

I will make a conservatory room out
Of a hotel suite. In Chicago

I become cold, no longer inhabitable.
Item. I leave all my debts, the whole

Not five pounds, and my fingers unsinewed.
Item. No red thread will be there.



Upward Mobility, Musically. Compare the title with “young, upwardly mobile.”

L1. Like Hadrian… In Marguerite Yourcenar’s Mémoires d’Hadrien
(“Memoirs of Hadrian”), the Roman emperor, anticipating death, is
imagined to misuse a particular grammatical tense to refer to himself
as if speaking of a deceased person, when addressing the Senate. Hadrianic lore has it that his teenage lover, Antinous, drowned himself in the Nile in October, 132 AD, when he observed the very first sign
of decline in his beauty at the age of eighteen.

L7. winter trip. Cf. Wilhelm Müller’s Die Winterreise (“The Winter Trip”), known mostly via Franz Schubert’s lieder cycle of the same name. The speaker of Müller’s poem, after losing his lover to her mother’s pragmatic sensibility, embarks on a journey that leads further and further into desolation and despair.

L10. hellebore. In antiquity, hellebore, deadly in large quantities, served as medicine for a variety of illnesses. Stoics used this term as a
metaphor for therapy of desire.

L12. Necessity. For the Greeks, the abstract concept of unalterable necessity personified is the goddess Anankê, literally “Necessity,” who holds all mortals and immortals in bonds.

16-17. Item. I leave all my debts, the whole/ Not five pounds.
From Thomas Chatteron’s will written on April 14th, 1770, at the age
of eighteen. He needed to be released from his employment so he could embark on a literary career. His employer reluctantly agreed to his
request, as he threatened suicide— an act he was to commit sometime later when his longed-for literary career failed miserably.

L18. red thread. A Zen koan formulated by a Chinese monk named Songyuan: “Why is it that even the most clear-eyed monk cannot sever the red thread of passion between his legs?”