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.
Everything is mostly
The rest is battles.
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,
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
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,
In this version the children are also burned.
Viewer, hold it like a coat:
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.