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  • Poem Written with an Arrowhead in My Mouth, and All Through the War
  • Timothy Donnelly (bio)

Poem Written with an Arrowhead in My Mouth

    Again the sound of quartz pounding quartz  into Neolithic spear pointsto be hafted onto shafts with tree-resin glue    and a twine made of fibers harvested from dead plants  comforts me as it keeps meawake nights, leaving me feeling equally      provided for and covered in blood.

    Again history’s blistery tongue in my ear blurts  the cave of the belly goesdeeper than thought, and is less wholesome:    the vapors of the breath condense there, sour  by the hour on the walls, advancinginto pools whose surfaces strobe in archaic code      and whose depths cradle my kind of salamander.

    At what point in the mud does an act of what  might be called independence becomepossible is the question    on all of our limbs, not minds, not yet, although  we’re getting there bit by bit, and thenwe’ll plateau for a period before gliding back      down into the huddle, dragging everything with us.

    And when the future arrives in its vehicles  to poke through the mineralizedforms we leave behind, will we all be one to its eye,    or will it make a difference who  among us tried to stop ourselves, or tried to stop thosein charge, or whether any of us put their young      to sleep at the end, and if with poison, or with song? [End Page 51]

All Through the War

I couldn’t remember any of it any more than I could feelthe corporate brotherhood at work among my breakfast flakesor in those protein shakes I drank to keep my strength up.

I couldn’t feel the toxicity the way I thought I should:little silver pinpricks in my liver and then all over my bodysteadily proceeding to a brownout in my limbic system,

the not knowing when I was, if or where we were at war withand for what reason now. All the time I stopped eatingmeat again. I stopped eating sugar. I bought four watches,

each watch stopped. I bought a pound of raw rough bulklapis lazuli from Afghanistan and I couldn’t stop my tonguefrom licking a certain piece of it like a dirty blue wedge

of Toblerone to know how it would feel. As for time, I didn’talways feel right with it, especially when alone especiallyby the sea, where time widens to include more of itself,

partly because of the motion and partly because of sound,which is also motion. A decade of drone strikes in the northcouldn’t stop Pakistani street vendors from salt-roasting

sweet corn in pans like steep-sided woks. My eyesight grewworrisome, I felt light tingling in my extremities and left cheekI imagined meant diabetes, but it turned out to be nothing.

I turned out to be fine. Last week an airstrike in Somaliatargeting an insurrectionist youth group killed a dozen or so.Yesterday they seized a village in the center of the country.

After my father’s surgery, I went to Ireland on my own.I told the lighthouse keeper I was worried something waswrong with me because I couldn’t stop looking at the water

with all its changing shapes and color. She said we are allthe same here, love, all the same. Often in quiet I can still feelthe stone’s abrasion on my tongue. I pulled a lichen from [End Page 52]

the bronze age megalith with intent to burn it back home.I made Syrian red pepper and walnut dip flavored with cuminand pomegranate molasses. There is nothing more delicious

when eating this. How many seeds did Persephone take?I thought I could cry for my friend no further until I openedher armoire to lay to rest her scented shirts in an appliance box:

white, off-white, shell pink, true pink, lilac, lavender, blue.As polar seas warm up, the shrinking difference in air pressurebetween the poles and the equator weakens the jet stream

and makes its path wobblier, explaining all this erratic...


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pp. 51-54
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