Monday, May 31, 2010



What clue does the body’s symmetry provide,
a seam up the middle, from which each side

reaches.We pull away from our centers, hands
out like wingtips. Evolution’s alluvial fan

has made of us this shape: bivalves pried
open, along nose, chin, navel, groin, thighs,

knees, ankles. On top of our skulls, strands
of hair pull away from a part, light bands

of scalp shining like scars. This split implies
hinges in the core. Buried somewhere inside

the butterfly of your anatomy, a spring expands
and contracts, vibrating like a struck grand

piano’s strings. This weird resonance resides
in you. You have tapped into it, sometime,

felt a tethered energy you didn’t understand.
As thick stems anchor the vascular span

in leaves, or the whisker-thin, firm spine
of a feather branches into a network of lines,

so do our cores hold a force that demands
flight, while we (two-legged, seamed) stand.

Friday, May 28, 2010



Butterfly that has been erased,
its very name a blown-out flame.

Tiny ashen planets inhabiting porches,
doorways, halls, the grounds where

we embark and return. While
other beings sleep, the moths fly.

Pale thing that floats and clings
to lamps, flight shortened, tethered.

To the moth, a light bulb is a moon,
undiminishingly luminous.

When you next reenter your home
in the evening, moths clustered round

the light bulb like a living chandelier,
tell me that the glow rushing over

your porch isn’t lunar. That the white
bulb affixed above your door is not

a personal moon, this version bright,
just smaller, smoother than the other.

Thursday, May 27, 2010



Fish spread on ice like an arc of dealt cards,
the seafood cases at the grocery store
make nightmarish aquariums. Stopped bodies
on frozen water. The silvery skin bounces back
all kinds of light. Fish is what they are called
when swimming, and when scooped from rivers.
Their own name, fish, is also the action by which
they are undone. To fish, to bring what cuts
through the water out into the hot noisy air.
It must feel interplanetary, getting fished out,
yanked from your world into another one.
They are born for this, someone once told me,
in a voice warmed through with reassurance.
It is easier to think of this way, death. As less
of an interruption, a yanking. Put purpose
into their fate, unavoidable verblessness.
Every moment has brought them here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010



We were built with eyes and brains, given
senses to filter the glut of experience
pouring into us, its bright bulk.

Filters and funnels. Methods to block or channel
what’s thrown our way. Give me land, houses
say, and up come walls, fences, gates.

It’s not enough. We need the air, the light
so holes are chopped into homes. The air, yes,
but not what lives in air, no birds or bugs,

so here is glass. A screen to strain the wind
reaching in. The light, we like it, it’s warm
but in mornings, too much. We sew shields to the eyes

of a house, internal lids to disperse the sun.
We are present in doses: toe testing the bath,
panes lifted a crack. Even so, we flinch.

Friday, May 21, 2010



Under our gaze, signs flip, Japanese to English.
Billboards break and turn, vertical blinds spun
by some inner motor.

The pockmarked sidewalk goes tear-stained,
snail-streaked in the evening, gummed paths
holding the streetlight.

Don’t think your observations go unnoticed.
See how you are marking up the room
around you, stretching

the white wall, placing the spider in the corner,
an inky thumbprint. Eyes can’t help but smudge
what is looked at long.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It is in the Knife

It is in the Knife

It is in the knife to split substance.
It is in the knife to seize the magnet.

The paradox: saw the bread in half,
now there are two pieces. Division

and multiplication make similar
products. More stuff. Look at your

impulse to cut, look out for it.
Hack at the thing and you have

copied it. Recall your last haircut,
how as you left you stepped over

piles of strands, strewn thick as hay.
All that hair was reaped from your head,

from what still hangs thick from
your scalp. As disintegrating of a force

as it may be, the blade replicates.
The knife was born to cleave

and cling. From its teeth, edges
emerge, freshly-forged perimeters.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ceyx to Halycon

Ceyx to Halycon

A bright pitchfork of lightning
plunged into the deck.

I was not prepared for the impact,
the violence of the storm

clawing up our ship.
The boat let the ocean in, air sinking

beneath the water.
In all the commotion, I needed

something stationary
to hang onto, so I thought

of you, the bone
in your shoulder that my fingers

find, the birdlike
energy of your hands. When I wash

up onshore, my body
curled in the wet sand, waves reaching

over me like bedsheets,
I hope it will be you that finds me

so you can also know
every act of nature brings us together.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Under the Weather

Under the Weather

Rained on or snowed in,
the self backed into a corner
by illness, fatigue.

Unbidden, dominant,
sickness does creep in
like the weather.

Weight and wetness
perch on the shoulder,
drag soggy fingers

over your temples
and throat. We recede,
retreat. The body is full

of rooms, pockets
you can collapse into
to convalesce like country

homes or sea air.
See how easily our
constitutions swoon.

Monday, May 17, 2010



In this corner, seated family eating cereal.
In the other, a woman holding the phone to her ear with
her left shoulder.

No voodoo doll causality. No telemetry by which to distinguish
ripple from thrown rock.

In April, a volcano bellows smoke.
In New Mexico, also in April, it snows.

Take up any two thoughts,
and hold them both in frame.
Splitscreen. Meanwhile.

She falls down. He opens the saxophone case,
fingers grey with fifteen-year-old dust.

An elevator dings but stays shut.
Someone buys an umbrella.

Call it synchronized if you wish,
that any happening has a million unidentical siblings.
Just this and also this.

Friday, May 14, 2010

You Are Here

You Are Here

You are here, here you are
on the map before you,
represented by the red triangle.

The map talks right to you,
the city’s noise flattened
into placid shapes. The directive

is implied, you are here,
but want to go elsewhere,
so go on, turn left or right, scram.

Here you are, the map
and you, searching one
another equally. You lean toward

the map, it enters you,
fluttering behind your face.
This recognition will never leave,

best to accept this,
to hold the map close,
pat its flatness, saying, you are here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Altar-Calming Objects

Altar-Calming Objects

What objects would you have me bury,
that the ground accept the stone sunken into it
and the building we place there not collapse.

You can have these colored glass marbles,
white and blue and rust. And this thread.
Here are spoons, and plates. Bowls.

Coins and gold leaf, so that you have
something shiny to hold in your soily
fist. What else would you like, because

you have it. House keys, for instance.
They are yours. Shoes and socks, matched
pairs, an aquarium with the fish still in it,

my blue winter coat and vertical blinds.
A lamp, a bicycle. I will not question your
needs, take these things. A refrigerator,

certainly, have it. Stainless steel, of course.
An armoire, here it is. The dresser, its drawers
full of my clothing, your clothing, yours to

do whatever you wish with. What will you do
with the things I give you, do they eliminate
that black-hole hunger rumbling in your gut.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Enshrined Deities

Enshrined Deities

People rinse their hands and mouths before speaking
to you. They write notes that are passed on to you,

and you nod as you listen, drinking in requests.
If the shrine is the body, the deity is breath, moving

freely from the camphor trees to the hall’s high beams
to the shoulder of the man on one knee is the dirt.

You might mistake his concentration for prayer,
his steadiness and silence, the sincerity with which

he touches the camera. Deities accept photography
if words don’t come. You can have any piece of their visit

that pleases you: the orange of the school children’s shirts
as they flock through the gate, perhaps. Enshrined deities

have one foot at their grounds, one foot in a garden,
one foot in the sea; you have countless feet when

you are a deity, you are an infinipede, you have no feet
or legs or form, just visitors and reverence.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Hand is the Puppet

The Hand is the Puppet

The hand is the puppet,
palm gone mouthy,
wrist made throat.

The small body growing,
it would appear,
from your arm

talks with your voice.
No shame here,
everyone contorts

their face to summon
unpracticed accents:
scratchy twang,

drawl swooping out,
a lasso. Like putting
on a sleeve,

our limbs inhabit
miniature bodies
with little resistance,

voices we did not know
we were built with
doing the talking.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Strange to See Where

Strange to See Where

Strange to see where things land
once loosed, unhanded.

Leaves can plummet or travel,
carried by their own lack of mass.

A swath of purple flowers
along one side of the highway,

thick and bright as a stripe
of paint. Paint, for that matter,

one whole wall wet, and
drops of white freckling a cheek,

pulled up by the underside
of a shoe and tracked out the door.

Sand in the car’s upholstery
a year after the beach. A wobbly

pine seedling planted decades ago
solidly unfolding, growing, and

from its wingspan needles falling
to form a decomposing alphabet.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

An Expedition

An Expedition

Let’s fill the field with gear we do not own:
a tent here, where the earth is flat and dry,
and on this side, the trunk full of paper
and microscope slides ready to clasp
glass palms around life forms, samples.
We are here to find examples, to collect
a piece that represents the whole, one moment
standing in for elephantine millenniums.
Without telescope or sextant. No tool is sensitive
enough for what we need: a way to record
how the sky above us will look in ten years,
in twenty, and where we will be watching
from then. And the charts to help us wander
back here. Sign post into night sky, that pulse
ricocheting inside of you the aftershock
of my hammer beating a hole in the heavens.

Monday, May 3, 2010



I want to reach into you
and pluck the string hiding there.
From this vibration,
energy is dislodged, traveling
like the sizzling end
of a burning fuse. Every sound
put out into creation
is a question, a request. Stars
expel light by burning,
with no consciousness to aim
for witnesses fathoms
underneath. But I send these out,
waves, and receive
tremors, echoed frequencies.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.