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3 poems

by Molly Brodak

Molly Brodak is the author of A Little Middle of the Night (U of Iowa Press, 2010), Bandit (Grove Atlantic, 2016) and The Cipher (Pleiades Press, 2020), along with three chapbooks of poetry.



knock around

the lobby



the film.


Everything is mostly


they say.


The rest is battles.

Time moved


away from “me,”


I sensed it. To admit

you have a soul


is to test it.

Jail cell. Some sun.


A note on the wall from before:

we will be killed in one hour.


Saws and brooms in the corner.


We carry on,

dots of thought,


one warm

form of nothingness.


Also someone’s pine grove in late sun,

someone’s horse fence.


The moon scoots.

A reminder that wealth means

“nothing left elsewhere.”


Standing on a box for several years—

moving my hands just so—

outside, then inside, then sitting down—

trout in newspaper. Trout to take apart and heat just so—

then just the newspaper, the symbols—

symbols to order just so, a substitute—

and my hands like plain, steady gears—

symbols substitute for them—

and years happen brainlessly—

and an entire person is wasted on introspection—

in the background of insignificant action—

wrapping a fish in a newspaper—

memorizing birthdays of Roman Emperors—

touching the girl’s shoulder. Involuntary smiling—

and she recoils.

A manmade day inside, work—

You are made of the ground, you are ground up—

I don’t turn away from it.

Miracle of the Profaned Host, 1468

Before instance,

utterly even light anguishes

the empirical out of the world:

insane. Then any room

will convince, where

a mind recognizes itself,



it thinks. How the outside

is no wonder, then, an interiority

complex. According to theorem 60

of book VIII: reflection in the air

from mirrors which are not visible.



Despite the door and the window open

to nothing, like a shout.

Blood made ordinary,

creeping from under a door,

attracting soldiers.

In this version the children are also burned.



Viewer, hold it like a coat:

useless violence

over a coat.

A flag or a fifth

of an angel, pointlessly red,

her enormous hands an obvious

reconstruction, here to solve the world

behind our backs. Dragging twilight,

elaborate devils, black boughs and niches,

a weak moon, behind our backs. Fake.

I count the tiles instead, the plain fields,

godlessly square, afraid of people

because I am a person.



The facts need gathering.

Despite vision, synthetic

as it is. Even without us, like a ladder

forgotten against a tree. Like a painting

used for years as a mason’s scaffold,

saying what I have been saying over and over.

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