This week, as Guest Author, I will be spotlighting innovative work by women poets in the form of new writing and review-essays. Today I'm delighted to share a folio of poems by Virginia Konchan. The author of a poetry collection, The End of Spectacle (Carnegie Mellon, 2018), a collection of short stories, Anatomical Gift (Noctuary Press, 2017), and two chapbooks, including That Tree is Mine (dancing girl press, 2018), Virginia Konchan's poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Boston Review, and elsewhere. Happy summer, and enjoy!
A Folio of Poems by Virginia Konchan
Out of view, more galaxies.
Out of time, more light. A naturalist
or archeologist can decipher symptoms,
messages engraved in the flesh
of ordinary things. When the engine begins
to purr again, the crowd applauds.
Lord of tissue, lord of hieroglyphs
and a puzzle full of theological quibbles,
it’s prettiness that counts in china dolls.
Lord of allegory, of hidden meanings,
of radical fissures in the heart of rain,
I have a skeleton underneath my skin,
I am serious. I careen through the house
like a killer. Lord knows I tried, like a dove,
to mate for life. I failed. It was the trash,
the detritus, I adored. No images but in things.
No things but in images. There could have been
so many versions of us, why this one?
Love will creep where it cannot go,
through the eyes of the dead horse
that burns slower than my hair.
It’s spring—meta chirp, meta chirp,
goes the bird, philosopher’s stone.
It is a conduit between what was,
will be. It is, like everyone, alone.
I wasted my life on language
and other soft constructions,
held the clammy hand of death
as if death was the snot-nosed kid
last to be picked for any team
where skill actually matters.
I could be a bride, and was,
was bridled, harnessed, and
groomed. Now I live in, and by,
a burning timetable, abetting
the landfill crisis by buying
ream after ream of paper.
The bright white paper.
The laser paper.
The paper whose opacity
rivals that of God.
I indicate I would like
the dessert menu by pointing to it
with my bony finger.
When it comes, I order a financier.
As The World Turns, I remain still,
Mona Lisa’s resting bitch face
blunted only by my silky curtain of hair.
Throw it all in the cauldron, I don’t care.
People keep mistaking me for a doll
when in fact I am a cyborg,
surrounded by The Young & Restless
snorting coke and drinking corpse revivers
in the General Hospital—downward,
I mean backward, glance of Orpheus
softening my every blow.
My fantasy for this script is simple:
I just want to edit out the boring parts,
the parts where I forgot to scream.
Guiding Light is my real life:
the world around me is the dream.
I’ve been in this body so long.
My ace in the hole body, my one
bird in two hands body, my rut.
What does it mean to understand?
I count the syllables on my hand. I don
my leisure suit and stroll the boardwalk.
O bituminous coal. O indiscriminate
hulk. My Ikea bookshelf body
is bookended by equine statuettes.
The world is full of tall strangers
and I haven’t seen a face
that loves me for days.
O moon, you are a hangnail.
O moon, your hair’s a fright.
Note bene, this product has been
enlarged to show texture.
The cure’s a subtle realignment
between one’s inner monster
and the line of longitude that scores
the earth. I thought beauty would
save me. No, I really thought
beauty would save me.
I’ve been in this body so long;
I’ve forgotten how to flee.
Objects in the mirror may
be closer than they appear:
they too ache with unknown
want, dumb weight of destiny.
The bleeding title has bled like the idea of triumph,
white flag manifesting on the top of a summit or heap,
and the church bells sounding from the home’s interior
are in fact part of a discontinued sitcom, blaring from the TV.
Doubt takes over. What if there is no outside, no other side?
Dread takes over. How can the subject cross the divide?
Descartes curls up into the safety of his stove, while you
tightrope walk the abyss, or go through contortions
to deny it is there. Any way you twist it, the moon is a cop
and you can’t afford a vowel so as to spell it out, carefully:
with all certainty, nothing. Any purported solution
is smoke and mirrors. I am the planet Pluto in a play.
I mime the grief economy. The death economy.
The libidinal economy. There are so many kinds
of poverty, and the body is a kind of forgetting.
There is no magical leap across the chasm.
There is no way to make it disappear, either,
with a flourish of the metaphysical wand.
The sun, in this equation, is a ticking bomb,
and the lawn is a field where a field once was.
My desire is to be your shape, your data, your
blind spot, your moan. Ashes to ashes, art to art,
object to object. Now let us pray. Now let us
differentiate between the knower and the known.