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Skandalon

Poems

T. R. Hummer

Publication Year: 2014

In Christian theology, a skandalon is a distraction from grace, a maze of error where we wander pointlessly, wasting our lives. To the ancient Greeks, a skandalon was the trigger of a trap. T. R. Hummer's labyrinthine new collection encompasses these meanings and more, as its poems take various paths-some beguiling, some grotesque, some instructive, some opaque-to unexpected destinations. Undergirding the collection is a series of progressive vignettes entitled "Victims of the Wedding," which follows the quarrels and couplings of a human man and woman as well as the angel and demon who observe them. Skandalon presents poems that consider the subtle, tragic, and ridiculous responses of creatures who lose themselves in a world they had wrongly imagined to be their own.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication, Quotes

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Contents

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pp. ix-xiv

The Lovers’ Book of the Dead

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pp. 1-

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Victims of the Wedding 1: Prenuptial

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pp. 2-

He wakes with his face pressed against the window of an airliner. Outside he can see nothing but clouds, and in his memory the dream he had been dreaming also contained nothing but clouds. There was, he thinks, a rightness in that marriage of world and dream, of mind and sky: Adam’s dream of Eve...

Thrombosis

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pp. 3-

Hund’s Rule

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pp. 4-

Victims of the Wedding 2: The Doorjamb of the Labyrinth

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pp. 6-

Post-American

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pp. 8-

The Decline Effect

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pp. 9-

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Victims of the Wedding 3: A Confusion of Choices among the Forking Ways

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pp. 10-

She went down to the shore of her lake, and there she found him, naked and unconscious, washed up among the remnants of his craft that had foundered. She lifted him easily—she was powerful—and took him back to her home. She laid him still unconscious on her bed, and washed him all over, cleansing...

The Lover

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pp. 11-

Another Horizontal Lyric

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pp. 12-

Ooo Baby Baby

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pp. 13-

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Victims of the Wedding 4: An Uncertain Path through Branching Tunnels

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pp. 14-

In the middle of the night he finally wakes up. He is lying next to a woman, who is sleeping; it is winter, and there is a deep fresh snowfall outside; though there are no lights on, the window is illuminated by moonlight reflected from the snow. The man and woman are both naked, but covered in a thick...

Whitman’s Pantry

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pp. 15-

Certain Slant

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pp. 16-

Poisonous Persona

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pp. 17-

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Victims of the Wedding 5: Dead End

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pp. 18-

A spring night next. He is standing at the top of the garden’s highest hill just as the sun is setting: a very slender crescent moon, no more than a curved incision of light, presides over the sun’s departure. The air is heavy with smells: cut grass, fresh herbs, the provocation of mock orange. The man feels himself...

Sappho

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pp. 19-

Agnosticism

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pp. 20-

Transcendental

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pp. 21-

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Victims of the Wedding 6: Backtrack/Recursion I

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pp. 22-

In the back of the house there is a secret room. No one knows about it, not the man, not even the woman whose house it is; likely not even the previous owner had known of its existence, or the owner before that one. The history of the room goes back to the builder of the house, and even...

The Nietzsche Horse

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pp. 23-

Gall Themselves, and Gash

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pp. 24-

The Death of Neruda

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pp. 25-

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Victims of the Wedding 7: Recursion II

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pp. 26-

She wanted to be naked in starlight on the jetty that went out over the small lake; she left her clothes in a neat pile at the very end, where the weathered wood overhung the water, and stood feeling the warm air against her body. She wanted to be naked in starlight there, and she was, and it was...

Poe on Broadway

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pp. 27-28

Paul Celan in Paris

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pp. 29-

Corrosive Lyric

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pp. 30-

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Victims of the Wedding 8: Sense of Direction

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pp. 31-32

The angel and the daemon sat beside the bed where the man and woman were making love. They were interested in human lovemaking, always— connoisseurs, one might say, though they had no direct experience of it—...

Tool & Die

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pp. 33-

Westbound: Little Cat Feet

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pp. 34-

Eastbound: The Book of Enoch

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pp. 35-

Victims of the Wedding 9: Recursion III

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pp. 36-

Terrorism

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pp. 37-

Trappist

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pp. 38-

Second Nature

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pp. 39-

Victims of the Wedding 10: The Minotaur’s Tracks

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pp. 40-

Adornment on an Ancient Tomb in Tibet

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pp. 41-

Shackelton’s Biscuit

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pp. 42-

The Last Meal of the Iceman

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pp. 43-

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Victims of the Wedding 11: A Hallway That Narrows to a Point

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pp. 44-

He was lost in a blizzard that went on for decades. He was immune, it seemed, to the cold of which it was an expression, but he could not see through it and he could not find his way out of it. After a while he stopped trying. It became his climate. He went about his life in spite of it, even forgetting, finally...

The Art of Allegory

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pp. 45-

Christening Song

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pp. 46-

Fragment of a Perpetually Unfinished Field Guide

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pp. 47-

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Victims of the Wedding 12: Window in a Cul-de-Sac

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pp. 48-

That landscape had been damaged; there were scars. The man and the woman walked out in the early morning and went to work with spading forks and hoes. By midmorning all evidence of the war had been smoothed over; by lunchtime, there were new gardens everywhere: herbs grew on the sites...

Bloodflower Sermon

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pp. 49-

Serotonin

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pp. 50-

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Victims of the Wedding 13: In a Corner, the Spoor of a Large Animal

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pp. 52-

The woman waited. The man slept. Outside the big wind detonated across the ocean, and the small broken ship was scattered even farther up and down the shore, its masts shattering to kindling. The woman walked by the water, gathering the bits of boat, carrying them up to her...

You Had Studied English as a Child in Another Country

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pp. 53-

But a Morning Star

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pp. 54-

War in the Age of Pastoral

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pp. 55-

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Victims of the Wedding 14: Chamber with Music and the Stink of the Bull

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pp. 56-

There were many children in the meadow on the hill. The man and woman had been fertile, and the children took the meadow like an invading army, in rags if they were wearing clothes at all, feral, lean, their eyes bright with hunger, their play, such as it was, like the play of young jackals, but each...

Pandrol Jackson

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pp. 57-

Unmanned

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pp. 58-

The Inquisition

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pp. 59-

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Victims of the Wedding 15: Glimpse of an Unattainable Exit

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pp. 60-

When he woke up, the man thought he was reborn, and then he thought he had dreamed the great storm. What would he have been doing on a ship at all, much less being the captain of one? And the room he woke in was both strange to him and familiar. He seemed to remember being carried. Who...

The Great Water

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pp. 61-

Vanishing Point

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pp. 62-

Push

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pp. 63-

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Victims of the Wedding 16: Hallway with Collapsing Roof

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pp. 64-

Having made his choice, the man turned and saw a landscape transformed. Gouts of bloody cloud rose into the sky, pillars of smoke and flame; bombs fell from unseen incunabula in the vortex of the firmament. He looked again and saw the body of the woman, pierced by a splintered two-by-four from...

Imperial

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pp. 65-

When Faulkner Killed Rilke

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pp. 66-

The End of Religion

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pp. 67-

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Victims of the Wedding 17: Icarus Falls through the Roof of the Penultimate Chamber

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pp. 68-

If there is no earth, can the airliner be descending? Is the wedding party waiting? Will there be champagne in the void? Will there be a wedding band? In his spiral-bound notebook, the man is writing everything...

Dissipation Lyric

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pp. 69-

Urn Burial

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pp. 70-

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Skandalon

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pp. 71-

Plumed gods have their own agendas, and fly where they will at whatever speed they choose, being gods, being plumed, and strike the earthly air as they choose, being choosers and not the chosen; but choosing can be their weakness, the chink in the godly adamantine, not quite so open...

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Victims of the Wedding 18: The Work of the Maker

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pp. 72-73

Before time began, but after the last war, all the spirits were gathered in a great echoing vacuous space. They arranged themselves in a hierarchal circle, understanding without being told by anyone that they were about to be offered an opportunity, one which must be faced decisively and accomplished precisely, otherwise something as yet nameless and unknown would overtake...

A Reconciliation

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pp. 74-


E-ISBN-13: 9780807157428
E-ISBN-10: 0807157422

Page Count: 90
Publication Year: 2014