Friday, February 26, 2010

The Ski Hill

The Ski Hill

The ski hill is a constellation embedded in the mountains.
The city looks up at it, considers its glow.

Different rules govern the mountain. Another weather grips
the land there. Snowfall registers

as a fog, off-white. People heading for the mountain hope
for cold fervently, as farmers pray

for rain. Skiers swath themselves in nylon and in wool,
strap long sticks to each of their feet,

and ascend a mountain so that they can fling their bodies down
into air, immersed in the privacy of physics.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Six Ways Not to Die

Six Ways Not to Die

Daylight snaking into your bedroom,
pouring into your corneas like lemonade into a glass.

Leaving the muted, loose universe of pool or pond,
the air resists your reentrance.
The first few breaths feel mechanical,
but how easy it is to slide back into thoughtlessness, oxygen.

You aren't tempted to taste the bleach.
If you did, it would be bitter, citrusy,
soft and smooth on your teeth.

The jumpy smoke alarm. Overly sensitive.
Empty book of matches.
Lighter biting into your thumb,
and no flame.

Your method of dressing.
A streamlined uniform of warmth.
Wool, cotton, cotton, skin.

Succession of awakenings,
the ability to recognize the new in what is happening,
what keeps happening.
You expect that the world will still be there for you.

Friday, February 19, 2010



Not moving, remaining in place.
Free of sound or agitation, tranquil.

Without perceptible waves, as water
not flowing. Not effervescent,

flat, as wine. A photograph,
one frame or print, life stilled,

distilled. An image lured, remaining,
lingering. Persistence, this is also

stillness. Dogged inertia, at this
time as in the past, moments blurred,

heavy and paused in their being.
Even, in addition, an implying

of growth or increase, to a greater
distance or degree or depth. The place

where spirits are rendered purer,
any apparatus that clarifies.

Thursday, February 18, 2010



The cats yowl, wait for me to sit up.
They nudge my heels as I plod to the kitchen,
scoop forkfuls of their canned food into dishes.
Their eating is not leisurely. It is frantic, high-speed,

food into mouth, into throat, into stomach.
The toaster and the coffee maker crowd round
the outlet, black plugs reaching out like tails.
If it cannot feed itself, it waits to be fed,

whines or beeps or glows plaintively. Without gas,
a car locks up, tires planted into asphalt.
Without power, the cell phone is just a plastic box.
It is harder to recognize hunger, in others.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010



Pieces of the unseen slip into visibility,
dip limb or profile in and out this world

languidly, with the ease of foot into
swimming pool. The forms of these ghosts

taunt us: borrow voices, yell out our names,
and vanish. Drop characters and props

into our brains while we sleep. Fill their mouths
with our memories, and blow this breath

into into our faces while we flounder to place
the familiar fragrance. Cedar, sawdust,

pancakes, magnolia. Aromas crawl toward us,
yanking nostalgia from us like crochet hooks

looping through yarn. These hauntings are not
prolonged. Ghosts are with us, and are gone.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Why We Swim

Why We Swim

Because there are pockets of the planet
that are undiscovered,
or have not been changed in our looking at them

Because we can bring oxygen with us,
and trust our bodies to carry it

Because hands can approximate fins

Because the water's surface seen from underneath
becomes a new sky

Because we are grateful for permeability
and submergence

Because this place has shown to us
time, how we belong within its lungs like breath

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Bridge-Builder

The Bridge-Builder

I need to get from shore to shore,
to cross the water as a biped,
the bridge-builder says.

The bridge-builder sees water
as a source of dissatisfaction,
wishy-washy terrain.

The bridge-builder assembles a crew:
men unafraid of moving in air,
the water's canopy

too far to protect them from a fall;
engineers who know the limits
of concrete and of steel.

The bridge-builder convinces the world
that they need a road by pointing across
at the opposite shore. Over

there, life is waiting for you.
If that doesn't work, the line becomes
They need us, over there.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Jump In

Jump In

I am about to jump into the lake,
trees and heat stockstill all around me
while I draw air into myself
in response to a hunger for abandon,

You are about to jump into the lake,
a study in anticipation.
You shut your eyes
as you had been taught--
lakewater will make a mess of your vision.

He is about to jump into the lake,
heart leaned out over the edge
of what he has not yet
identified as joy, a
wetness in the chest.

Friday, February 5, 2010


A Responsive Reading

Within this basket there are numbers corresponding to nothing.
A hand chooses the number, a voice affixes
the digit to a sound. Even within this linguistic nonsense there is order.

Hear my voice, the way each phrase dips in intonation as it ends.
The paired sounds are not questions, nor are they commands.
I listen, and consult the boxes on the page.

Hear each letter and number that I have called out. Draw your
eyes down within each column, and seek the digits that have been announced.
Were these columns buildings, they would be five stories
high, each with transparent windows.

Do not speak, nor ask questions. Your task is to listen, to observe
your card watchfully.
All language is a code. There is a pattern waiting to be uncovered.
The numbers want to be played with, to dance.

Transcribe what you hear. Let your card bloom, piece by piece.
Colored circles appear on my card, like bubbles summoned
in boiling water by the heat from beneath.

Trust that your lines will become complete, one line, at least.
Strong is the voice that will ring out amongst us,
strong in the mouth, strong in the throat.

Thursday, February 4, 2010



As in, material.

Enigmatic content
of brains,

unlit outer space.
As in,

this is significant,

Sudden certainty,

placed, pointed to.
As in,

to be taken into one's
own hands,

owned, held within
my grasp,

a cupped moth still
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.