His is the Encyclopedia Given to You Without a Word

Or for that matter, how the matriarch spoke of dampening her glass ribcage, and of his sleep as a century
Roman with bathhouse steam. In the atrium, you think of lavender the shape of a Coptic cross, as lavender
thinks of the Arctic as a hall of mirrors. Were he a hitchhiker, were his restraints mildewing, and if he were

unconscious in the trunk: would you choke his radiant dead ‘til they rise from in the mangroves? No way,
José. For the time being, peek into the center of a labyrinth to see what remains of his beak, of his peat-soil
chapel, and what is left of the inner ear, spoiling. His telephone is struck by heavy-water. On the opposite

end, she listens for atomic snowfall, for vertigo; you could not move, at all, at all. So take your seat beside
the drowsy crocodile: there will be no throne polished for Caesar, none at all, and there’ll be no coliseum
but  a cake made of smoke, but the petrochemical piano-concert, spoilt. What measure have the hammers

held to his etiquette? The Sleeper would appear, in her hallway mirrors, as a hooded procession that begs
from caesium a light at the middle of a labyrinth, had you spoken of his matriarch, the sapphire revolving
in deep space ⁂ Recover from Earth the truth, imagined: you’ll wake the mute whose lungs are maps to hydrogen.

*

Matthew Reed Corey lives in Chicago, and recently completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he won the AWP Intro Journals Project Prize and the Paul Carroll Award in Creative Writing. His poems have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, Crazyhorse, DIAGRAM, Artifice Magazine, and elsewhere.

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