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1 poem

by Maggie Hart

Maggie Hart is a community organizer, writer, and researcher interested in digital media, affect, and public space. She lives in West Philadelphia with her dog and has recently rediscovered her love for team sports.

Notes from the Marcellus Shale Formation


Stove on Germantown Avenue

heated by highways of gas

traveling unwritten catacombs.

Calling card is urgency

be there in no time.

Rustling through black passageways,

name of this place

something like depth.

Sound growing quieter upon descent

sending raw vibrations up and up.

Follows the Schuylkill only sometimes,

pushing through faster

more inertia yet.



obscured by gold graffiti,

SUBJECT TO A $5000 FINE, partially legible.

Near the bottom: MIDLAND, TEXAS.

Barbed wire affixed with rust to this side

and that, but not that one.

Trash and age obscure business,

Connecting of building to pipe,

fusing of switch to finger to screen.

Then, a planned breaking and

back to inner-Earth.

Flow says OK to go and go.


Further still, descending instruments.

Air gags then fills you up.

Swallowed by circuits, suddenly black.

The tunnel’s dark of nothing running

parallel to the sloping plate.

Oblong planetary shapes and endless sediment.

Reaching toward a tighter air,

a firmer chalk,

wet and also not wet.

Clay beside the skeletal root

Glass all the way down here?

Worlds have a way of settling,

one after the other reaching toward the center.

An inverse of the cosmos.

Hot grill for a 50th birthday party

culled through sheaths of sandstone

composed of feldspar and quartz.

The alphabet of minerals

goes as long as you let it.

A promise not to break, and yet.

Drills no vacuum could swallow,

pressure pierces the light’s center and whoosh.

Inaudible now, then murmurs of ache.

Memory of a sky swollen with seagulls.

Lost texture of oil, film on the water’s lip.

Echoes far beneath the muskrat dwelling,

bits of plastic that encircle it

something like a halo.


Warm shower on 32nd Street,

24 spinning dryers at the laundromat by the highway.

Gas a mirror image of the past,

measure of years in its creaking.

Buried weather vanes collapse the shudder,

a blast in recovery.

Earth not a concept but a physical thing,

layers of substance sometimes crumble.

Tubes extend like cephalopod limbs

blurring boundary between above and below.

Pumps in and out, forcibly ejects.

Fluids that fracture and send.

In a closed system,

transporting matter is reason enough.

Lukewarm jacuzzi at the Russian Baths,

second-hand air conditioner where the children sleep.

Earth rumbles with an urgency

transcending hunger.

Daily call for a faster passageway.

Networks of power feed consumption,

then get struck from the public record.

Traces of industry hide the big thing,

pieces threaten change.

Enough to record with decimals,

Enough to organize and selectively report.

Blank miles traveling

the chambers of history,

making their way to different places of want.

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