Night keeps falling in the epic. Rushes clutter a cutting room floor. Alone and lost on
terra pharma, under the hex of a murder ballad deep within the trees: a sexy black
car from the interwar years, polished and slightly skew-whiff in a ditch. What is it
doing there. What am I.
A saw blade off in the distance keens the circular, kerf cut anthem of our time. Groin,
gluteal, hamstring pull, a headache behind the eyes. Police in flatlock seam
formation, the future encoded as debt (read: doubt). Mostly I can’t see the fir trees
for the forest. Which is on fire.
Infomercial weather all day: rattletrap rain through the downspouts, magnolias
thrawn by a hurricane-warning wind. My daughter’s eyes are ivory black, a dataflow
of nacreous clouds that sklent the ultra-sky. I switch on a light at the back of my
mind. The light is darkroom red.
Dusksmoke along the electrified field: a scalable landscape, in the wuxia ruins, Laffy
Taffy daffodils like a triggered Claymore mine. Sun-kissed and sin-cussed, I walk
around the neighborhood, in the game-theory atmosphere, a six-pack left on
someone’s off-world porch.
Flash grenades and facial rec tech, eerie aftermaths, eldritch hymn of sirens on the
heavens, razor-burned. Ilium: a fleet of morgue trucks parked out back. The descent
of carmine darkness brings a sorrow from far away, and absences that will not show
themselves. Or go, or stay.
À LA ANTANANARIVO
The snow drapes a swath of organza over the glade. Trapped emissions, the
gelignite sun—a Mandelbrot set in the beast coast sky—a crow on the deck with a
teleprompter look. I’m a taxi that cuts its lights and motor, when rush hour stalls
uphill, or hurries down. To save on petrol.
Given that the horizon has been removed, I’m no longer bodied here, nor now, in
proximities of wherev, whenev, of glassine frost on the sill. Halfway down the
hallway wall, diaphanous plants are dancing within a fidgety, trapezoidal frontier: a
silent film screened by the sun.
I picture the low-flying choppers as Ares, who crashes to earth in book XXI. Struck
with a rock by Athena, his body spans seven acres, to give you a sense of scale. In
the post-solar, metallic wald, where the era is now, but not, the air above the hospital
glows like a toxic chemical spill.
Andrew Zawacki is the author of five poetry books: Unsun : f/11 (Coach House,
2019), Videotape (Counterpath, 2013), Petals of Zero Petals of One (Talisman
House, 2009), Anabranch (Wesleyan, 2004), and By Reason of Breakings
(Georgia, 2002). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New
Republic, The Nation, and other international journals, as well as the anthologies
The Eloquent Poem, Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century,
Walt Whitman hom(m)age, The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries, and
Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present. In addition, he has
published four books in France. His translation of Sébastien Smirou, My Lorenzo,
received a French Voices Grant, and his translation of Smirou’s See About
earned an NEA Translation Fellowship and a fellowship from the Centre National
du Livre. A former fellow of the Slovenian Writers’ Association, he edited
Afterwards: Slovenian Writing 1945-1995 and edited and co-translated Aleš
Debeljak’s Without Anesthesia: New & Selected Poems. Coeditor of the
international journal Verse from 1995 through 2019, he coedited The Verse Book
of Interviews as well as Gustaf Sobin’s collected poems. A 2016 Howard
Foundation Fellow in Poetry, he is Distinguished Research Professor of English
at the University of Georgia.