Carnal

By Jocelyn Saidenberg Jocelyn Saidenberg
1.
 
without that, the river which was, a substrata is movement now. mermaid left behind flopping in the pipes. her sludge is the sewer where once they fished to watch the night sky blacken. that one, long lingering, now languishes in a cavernous underground source, fountain for none.
 
music of exhaust and darkening horizons, her hair begins to thin, nails soften, while she waits, a siren of light slow to diminish, wasting rescue. dogs at night are frequent. the scales that once cleaved to her flesh, her skin house shelter, now a day-glow phosphorescence, luminous filth, cleavage, radiating and filtered through her. boils begin to grow, round lumps spurting evanescence, a rainbow of industry, inviting those who come to visit to enjoy her paints, corporeal, images of what might be, a river now sewer then tomb, sanctions while poking her eyes out. no sensible heat.
 

 
 



2.
 
images are wanting. she studies them. let them bury themselves in: no comment no comment.
 
a partial shutter moves through the crowd taking us up along its crest. pubises sway. incarnate and incorporated publicly. swaying us. subjects of.
 
the sap in the oak tree the bugs in the bookbinding. for she renders and has left behind the bark. its carnality upon which I turn. hard by and solitary. the other pole. 

 
 
 
 
 
3. 
 
she means to say
or stubbornness as a means of resistance
speaking about us and for us
 
dread and ailments a celebrated day in liberating explosions of losses disparities and distances dispersed in errors mistaken detours mismade calculations faulty respirations. counter to the stream and in plumes. the pressure transgressed in hands. nor was there another road.
 
trying to gather what is gone. first by pacing. then on her hands and knees with the measuring tape. she’s a period piece asking if. seeking the response she is the question.
 
 
 
 

 
 
4.
 
she means to say we live among a crowded scene. overcrowding faces and malice. a crack in time painted on garden paths. inclined to our desire. we ooze we can flourish there.
 
forward an elephant eleven o’clock rook one o’clock apple and three o’clock lightning perpendicular to spoon soiled underneath apple in line with lightning in line with two cent piece face down. all circling hunted and hunting. elephant trying to leave the scene heading out east spoon facing west constellating failure of identity with apple and rook.
 


 
 
 
 
5.
 
meaning to say. given that. the uncertainty. perhaps. surely. perhaps. figures in. the shape. perhaps. calls. subtract. total. a certainty. the space between. shaped by want. by need. fear of threats. the lure of repetition. her feet admired. their figures. the fear of repetition. start at the end. work back to shape. figure that. days wait. the response. slowness as position. a gap to walk into. opposition. given an entrance. she is on your side. whirlpools of repetition. opening traps. a shape appears. groups itself. more figures. a shape in the doorway. time for gets smaller. tilts inwards. the envelope unshared. first. given that. a set of shapes plan to meet. she is faint. clouds to the west.
 

 
 
 
 
 
6.
 
white metal teeth. describe her lips. how they reveal and encircle them. encircling me. place them in some setting. a long walk. the kitchen at night. hounding toward an untimely end.
 
that which spawns life. one foot in front of the next. spawning more. beating out the attachments. strumming along. not refreshing that. productive and not taking advice. recognizable car engine up the road. another can grow again there.
 


 
 
 
 
7.
 
unjoined. supporting that. permeated and touched. moved by injury. joining not singular. this state. that stare. meaning the look alikes and she is eying those that be.

taken to the extreme. accepting even that. orchestrate a sighing. a fourth. audible sounds of presence. calculating the ooze of difference.
 
a quaver in the voice, it’s the ask if.
 



 
 
 
8.
 
I adopt a hostile attitude towards it. towards want.
 
forced into the background. escaped from the cage prowls about in your life. a ghost of dead business unfinished and naked cash payments between afterglow. intolerable shadow invites back into the fracture. watching the tree grow naked. going down to the port start from the shore of calculations and yawning. it is voracious. its wanting to be included wanting to grow fast. is asunder where the first was rooted out. sifting through the outrages of lightning and blood.
 


 
 
 
 
9.
 
refresh against the sightlines. in its sedimentation along the edge of the mountains. planes overhead. the love of trees indigent and muscular. exploratory chance to disappear bone by bone rancid. finally : slowly : she : exuberant and revolting forcing immobility. along the edges of the mountains replenishing asking Agnes asking Edith. grinding into their own emergence. an unlikely anger such unlikeness. sharp calmness shallow dehydration and a decomposition weary and threadbare. admit nothing turn by turn admitting a hand. expresses weariness. its evanescence its asking to be unlikely bone by bone.
 


 
 
 
 
10.
 
she tells more than she knows. a knot of suffocation. strangling itself. gestures your gait and resolutions. a recipe in permanent access in diversions. the flower dies at the end. a short stifled giggle. I had gone ‘too far’ asking toe to toe.
 
adoring and afar we attend. before talking. the horizon folding in on us. to give in advance of conductivity as a dispatch. regardless of protection she means to say. indeed.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
11.
 
indeed. I can’t declare them for what they are. the approach goes like this. the dogs bark across the street. when and how and where. despairing answers. here it is finally. the days passing as an argument indeed indeed terrestrial. carnal excavating relentlessly. inaudible slow. howling recalcitrance behind the music. beneath the ground.
 

Jocelyn Saidenberg, "Carnal" from Negativity, published by Atelos. Copyright © 2006 by Jocelyn Saidenberg.  Reprinted by permission of the author.

Source: Negativity (Atelos, 2006)

Biography

Born and raised in New York City, poet and editor Jocelyn Saidenberg is the author of several poetry collections, including Negativity (2006) and Cusp(2001), which was chosen by poet Barbara Guest for the Frances Jaffer Book Award and received a grant from the Greenwall Fund in conjunction with the Academy of American Poets. Frequently employing syntactical variation and repetition as a mode of inquiry, Saidenberg’s poems are . . .

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