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  • Three Poems
  • Alice Fulton

Southbound in a Northbound Lane Call the Mainland

It might mean immersion, that sign   I’ve used as title, the sign I call a bride after the recessive threads in lace == the stitches forming deferential     space around the firm design.       It’s the unconsidered mortar between the silo’s bricks == never admired       when we admire the holdfast of the tiles (their copper of a robin’s   breast abstracted into flat).

  It’s a seam made to show, the deckle edge == constructivist touch.   The double equal that’s nowhere to be found       in math. The dash   to the second power == dash to the max.

It might make visible the acoustic signals of things about to flame. It might   let thermal expansion be syntactical. Let it add stretch       while staying reticent, unspoken as a comma. Don’t get angry == protest == but a comma seems so natural, you don’t see it when you read: it’s gone to pure transparency. Yes but.

        The natural is what poetry contests. Why else the line == why stanza == why   meter and the rest. Like wheels on snow     that leave a wake == that tread in white       without dilapidating       mystery == hinging     one phrase to the next == the brides. Thus wed == the sentence cannot tell whether it will end or melt or give     way to the fabulous == the snow that is the mortar between winter’s bricks == the wick that is       the white between the ink

Southbound In A Northbound Lane

A fetish is a story masquerading as an object.

—Robert Stoller

Her anatomically-correct smile turned to frown when she turned upside down: the inflatable naked woman the student body tossed, cum laude, through the graduating bleachers. Like gossip, a bubble bred for turbulence,     she tumbled to the Ph.D.’s, who stuffed her under their seats.

  I think the trick to falling is never landing   in the palm of someone’s hand. The lyric, which majored in ascent, is free now to labor and cascade. What goes up must ==         Waterfalling means the story visits tributaries at a distance from itself. Consider what it takes to get us off the ground: what engines laying waste to oil. I’d rather hit the silk from a span and let gravity enhance my flight. Though the aerodynamics of jets are steadystate and can be calibrated, I’d rather trust a parachute,     which exists in flux and can’t be touched by mathematical fixations.

  In what disguise will she arrive —   whose dissent is imminent yet unscripted —   offensive as necessary?   Whose correct context is the sky. Arrive like something spit out of a prism in a primary tiger bodice. Be modern as an electronic vigil light, precisely delicate as nylon, the ripstop kind, that withstands 40 pounds of pull per inch.

  Spectators, if we jump together,   we’ll bring the bleachers down. “I was frightened. My flesh hissed and I thought I’d perished, but the sensation of descent vanishes once the body stops accelerating. It’s astonishing how nothingness firms up. Air takes on mass. The transparent turns substantial. I stretched out on that dense blue bed until the canopy expanded like a lung shoved from my body, plucking me off the nothing matt. What held me up was hard to glimpse but intimate as mind or soul. I sensed it was intensely friendly. I almost thought it cared for me.”

  If you can’t love me, let me down gently.   If you can’t love me, don’t touch me. If we descend together like Olympic skydivers or snowflakes we can form patterns in freefall. Like a beeswarm, we can make a brain outside the body. When falling is a means of flying, the technique is to release.

  How many worlds do you want,   my unpopular bodhisattva?   Let’s sneak one past the culture’s   fearless goalies, be neither one nor the other, but a third being, formerly thought de trop. Before I throw my body off, my enemy of the state, I’m going to kneel and face the harsh music that is space.

Call The Mainland

Nature hates a choir. Have you noticed   the lack of chorus in the country every dawn? The birds...

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