Between mountains and clouds
the sky is an ax, double-edged,
threatening life lines pulled
taut around labyrinths’ high-
buffed corners, shining without light—
a blinding ray of black.
Half-beasts are nothing new, we
contain our own exits, all.
CATHODE RAY BYZANTIUM
Halos are a dime a dozen here,
but the gold-wrought songbird’s
hallowed song distracts a heart
of blind catastrophe in flame.
Not to speak lightly of angels or
devils, or the raging ante-
chamber from which they burst,
but don’t try to sell me
The opal and cyanosis of
quantum intrigue, not now,
while glinting domes heave like
wild seas of mercury,
frothed and frenzied by dolphin-arc
and Gabriel’s agonized horn. No, I’d
rather wake up poor under a quiet sky,
and go on ranting blank as neon shines.
I’m reading poems of people I knew once
from a distance of course I’ll steal
(& rivers wind like darkblue sleep/
under gray and shadowed skies)
I’m trapped in memory, or the reverse,
that thing embedded in the vapor-flesh,
mind scored like timber by the saw,
Something nailed deep
(a whole room, mostly shade,
some light from the window,
his feet up on the sink, anchoring the scene, as
if a con is being hatched, or a butcher
turns his back on his calling
A MERE GLANCE
If the mind is a palm burning down,
and the sea is made by a woman’s
wavering voice, the struggle to say, to sing,
bears repeating. For example, what does the dawn’s
rose awning overhang but a galaxy of floridas?
How does the sky today hover blue as
the idea of blue? Or leaves like facets
of pure space shimmer like abstract flame?
And the gull’s flight, empty as quartz-glint,
paces the dear old thud of my hollow heart.
I found my parents under
the palace floor, looking a bit
worse for the wear
my mother staring longingly at
a terracotta warrior, my father
looking grave, trying, in every
direction, to avert his eyes. Their
thoughts in that moment escaped their
arcane heads like smoke from a house
fire, like incense burning on the graphite
horizon, like trashy, tear-stained mascara
staining the pale cheek of our glamorous god.
EVERY NIGHT THE TREES DISAPPEAR
Gutting the mansions
of perfect prose,
casting the porcelain
back into bone.
Time stops, bright
urge bursts, nerves stitch
fractals on the giant
dark. The curtains on
the breeze are
pretty ponies; watch
them flee. If I were
a betting man,
I’d call that tree a precious
stone, forge for the green
heart of an idiot sun—
a rehearsal of origins,
light. If I am ore,
the mountain is dust,
and value trembles, flawed.
WHAT EVERY FAMILY NEEDS
The game today is to write
without resort to image,
so not to take the rocks
that lift the glassy water clear,
a clear prelude to beckoning
descent, as if water were
itself prelude to glass, and
say that that bright flash alone
obliterates the shadows
in the mind outside; not to be
obsessed with the mad nominalism
of green light from leaf to leaf,
or the breeze caressing Pleisto-
cene grief, carried here
and here and here and here…
So between curling flower spaces I make
due. I rise, I shave, put on my hat,
I take my medicine, and spring the trap.
Jonathan Schmitt is a writer and scholar living in Geneva, Switzerland. His poems have appeared in Caliban and Mudfish. He is a co-owner of The Chorus Films, a film production company in the U.S., with which he has original screenplays and a documentary project in development.
Ben Korta is an interdisciplinary artist, performer, and writer based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He recently completed a yearlong contemporary dance training at Tanzfabrik-Berlin, and is working on an MTS in religion and performance at Harvard Divinity School.