24 | “I’d like to write a poem with a cleft where you have to put your ear to the page to receive it.”

[the title of this poem comes from (Mayra A. Rodríguez Castro’s interview of) Carolina Ebeid: https://www.poetryproject.org/publications/newsletter/260-feb-march-april-2020/whispering-poetics]

While I was sleeping, a new mole appeared within my eyebrow. I am fairly certain it was not there when I got into bed—at night, I often look into our bedroom mirror before reading a few pages of my bedside book. But it was definitely there when, after our daughter woke me, I went to the bathroom to pee and looked in the mirror so as to adjust my hair into a morning-bun. I look like my mother in the morning in the mirror, especially before I adjust my hair.


I’d like to write in such a way that you’d have to put your cheek up against my bathroom mirror and call forth my mother: 

        Call the froth of mother a new mole in your eyebrow hairs.


Just to get
into a little grey boat,
let’s talk about the room you are in right now.

It is so exaggeratedly itself.
Everywhere I move my eyes, I see a flash of someone I know. Always a new someone.

My ankles have weird, dirty, yellow bandages.
As we walk through other rooms         &         As they trail behind me.
There are small rugs, a lit-up clock tower out the front window.
A smoldering view of trees.
There is a necktie hanging loosely enough to show its label: Imported from Italy.
You and I are now imagining this all so hard that it just kind of appears.


*          *          *


We go into a room with all time slowed down.

A bodybuilder spins around and around in slow motion.
She holds out a jade-edged-drip of a sword, both hands gripping it, wears hiking boots and white athletic socks, a tee shirt tucked in to jean shorts, a ponytail that looks like a muscle. She spins around and around.
But so so slow.
It’s like a flashlight.
It’s like terror.
But nice.




As we leave: a scent of hallway: on a sideboard: dozens of tiny, blue metallic picture frames, each with a photo of a different eye. And I think of a picture of a necktie:
Imported from Italy.


        Call the froth of mother a new mole. If you wish.


*          *          *


the even flow of eyebrow—light—white       blouse—water movement 


a séance as a rock in the middle of the flow: 

re-directing the information, scattering the vectors, producing a new kind of architecture, 

the odd sit
in a gush of water a séance as a rock as a cleft in the water-wall:

        one lady in a turquoise gingham bathing suit holds her hand up to another’s eyes



        do you want me to starve
        the vision enjoys the vision
        it sees its own slugs it sees
        a circle of birds in mold


        the other one comes awake in gore




a skeleton mouth moving, chattering the light into water


*          *          *


I have to get from the vision
to web
How to make the 1940s-ish wrist corsage flow off of her arm and into my blue jar.
The even in a middle
of you and me drying our peach-paint nails under a portable dryer, trying to be in
the holy gown
of it: sound sound stop
sound sound stop
sound sound stop.

How can light send its book
through this web
and not come out all

stopped up:
                                 oval pale turquoise velvet oval chair back chair leg sound of fallen chair
                                 on thick carpet oval pale turquoise oval pale turquoise fallen chair back
                                 velvet oval touch the velvet oval and feel it feel it oval stop feel it oval



*          *          *



My rage is too fragile. It is way
too fragile.
A mother is a receptacle.

I want to vomit so hard and long that my barf devours the world.



swarm the underworld swarm
the husband swarm
the daughter the Reaper don’t fear it come on lady



A small animal turns my head
as I fall.


So hard and long that my barf devours the world.


*          *          *


to the root’s slaughter the leap inhabits
chant to the root’s slaughter
the chilling eye-ham of: to the root’s slaughter the leap inhabits to the root’s slaughter


catch a wet skin, emerge in work clothes-dangly earrings-eyeliner:

oh hell

        Since I saw you last month I’ve had time
        to grow into my bad habits



How to make the corsage flow off of her arm and into my blue jar?
Eat slugs, go to work, wash arms in the antlered corridor, and emerge.




Olivia Cronk is the author of WOMONSTER (Tarpaulin Sky, 2020), Louise and Louise and Louise (The Lettered Streets Press, 2016), and Skin Horse (Action Books, 2012). With Philip Sorenson, she edits The Journal Petra (currently on hiatus: thejournalpetra.com).