Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Friction Lesson

Friction Lesson

Tell me what happened,
the way you, a boy,
convinced another boy to kiss you
on his sofa after school.

Tell me how you persuaded him
wordlessly, one hand in the crease
of the sofa’s yielding cushions,
the other just above his knee,
your fingers brushing corduroy the wrong way.

Friday, June 25, 2010


A Disambiguation

A joint share, split fairly.
Equally balanced, equal.

Level. Without disturbance.

Continuance, the seesaw
of time stretched horizontally, reaching.

Leaving no debt, nothing
owed from either sides.

Numbers divisible by two,
neatly paired,

pared. Perfectly expressible,
able to be captured exactly, without fragments

or remainders. Free from
fluctuation; consistent.

Fully, wholly, overflowing,
stressing the truth

of a thing. Emphasizing
how all events in the present are synchronized.

Thursday, June 24, 2010



Dogs dead for nineteen
years guard our email; wrought

iron gates of husbands
and wives and children swing

open to reveal the balance
in the checking account to you only,

once you’ve spoken of them.
Numbers figure in, too. Birthdays

climb onto mothers’
maiden names, signifiers for athletes

follow types of instruments
we adore but have never mastered.

Our passwords mine
the memory, scanning for entities

that affect us so intensely
we wish to write their names again

and again. We call on them
for protection and write them back

into the terrestrial script
of currency and correspondence.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010



This piece is old,
from olden times old.
The King of Japan,
Emperor, we’ll call him,
used it to wash his lover’s
hair. This stamp on the base,
this gold character shaped
like a broken doorway,
tells us it was manufactured
in colonial times. It was
carried by horse-drawn
carriage at some point,
can’t you see the crack.
Only a fall from a horse
would create such a crack.
Or extreme thermal variance,
not the heat so much as
the humidity. The other clue
is the blue of the glaze,
quite sheer at the rim
and richer in the hollows.
Only seven factories in
this galaxy can produce
this hue, all of them near
a volcano. Most of them.
But the crack,
the glaze has pooled
in it here, indicating
it broke during the firing
process, you know,
in the kiln, silent-n,
the kill, if you will.
I am suspicious of
this faint fingerprint
here, quite suspicious
actually. This print
belongs to a lady,
you can tell by how
graceful and vulnerable
the arch is. I can tell
you this: you must insure
this piece for seven
times what it would fetch
at auction, and I would bid
should I see it, and would you
consider selling it to me now
or photographing it
from several angles?

Monday, June 21, 2010

What Is Is All We Got

What Is Is All We Got

What is is all we got,
would you agree?
What we call beautiful

isn’t beautiful at all.
We are prevented
from watching it

by a layer, we are
snagged by its looks.
The only way

to accept this ordinary
horror is to see
how effervescent it is,

all of experience
bubbling forth.
Eliminate the observer,

dump the eye. Why?
Let’s not argue,
this is true, it is good.

If something appears,
don’t think, don’t even
watch, don’t act.

Witness this: you are
not the observer,
you’re the observed, ok?

Friday, June 18, 2010

What Did I Buy

What Did I Buy

Because a rock got bored, dislodged itself from a planet
and landed here.
Which made a molecule launch into flight like a bee, frantic,
slamming into another molecule.
This puddle, this hive rippled with energy and doubled,
tripled, kept replicating.
Flagella and gills. Tails. Water, heat, ice.
Thumbs. The collapse underpinning everything,
the tendency of stuff to break off and shed,
go dropped-marionette,
leave pieces and imprints.
Because every lull is interrupted with dust,
this is why I have bought a broom.
Every purchase is a solution, a small one.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010



These boys are playing at making trouble.
They board the bus from the back doors,
clamber up the step clutching skateboards.
Shoulders, feet, knees: all of these parts
test solidity. Jam a piece of the body into
stuff, a cushioned seat, the plexiglass back
door, and watch how it is disrupted. The boys
want us to watch them assess the bus, the rules
as flimsy. They ride to the beach, unsupervised
by adults, toss curse words over the heads
of passengers, rocks thrown low over water.
Shit, you see that girl, she was so damn hot,
the smaller one says. I don’t give a shit, dude,
the other, bangs flung out of his eyes, jerking
his head up, leading with the jaw. KIDS.
The driver glares in the rear view mirror
barks, Don’t you be doing that on my bus.
The boys pout, chests puffed out. The smaller one
scratches at the plastic seat beneath him
with a key, scribbling as if it were a crayon.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010



Two swapped letters, and a new creature
tumbles into this realm. Most often, it is a child
gifted in deletion, in destruction. For example,
exmaple. Former tree, no longer sugary or bearing
pointed leaves. When we want unite, the fingers
can slip, stumble over sounds that untie. Language
wobbles from us, unstable. It can conjure, can build,
and destroy. Destory the sounds in your mouth,
unclasp letters. Take it in, hear the uncomfortable
inversion. Like thunder that unclaps, there is space
filled by reassigned sound. Do you know what I mean,
how the surety of bolt wants to leap up into blot,
metal traded for tissue, locked down into soak up.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Note on the Type

A Note on the Type

This page has been set in the typeface
Bodoni, named after the noted printer
Giambattista Bodoni of Parma (1740-1813).

Do something with this information,
with these dates (larger minus smaller).

Imagine a man in an apron with stained hands.
The Bodoni types of today are not faithful,
not true Bodoni, but composites capturing

the manner of the type style. He was known
for accentuating contrast in letter elements,

skinny hairlines ballooning into thick stems.
Seventy-three years he lived, inflating and
deflating letters, playing baker, glassblower.

What shavings are left after playing with type,
whittling, carving serifs like balustrades.

Grandeur for Giambattista, accentuator of
variance, sleeves rolled to the elbow.
And here he is, on the last page of a book,

cramming power into the outlines of letters
as lifetimes are shoved into parentheses.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Everything is Ready

Everything is Ready

Come, everything is ready.
Strangers smile as if they know you today.
Plants pour out their fragrance
as you pass.

Come quickly, everything is ready.
The street is cleared that you might park
parallel to your door.
Graffiti has sprung up on each dull sign,
flowering vines drawn in shades of your choosing.

Envelopes have been licked and pressed down
so you can pry the fibers apart with your finger.
The traffic lights have new bulbs,
greenest, yellowest, reddest.

Everything is ready, come now,
have a look at the asphalt that has been unrolled
to carpet the raw dirt.
Look how the buildings don’t collapse,
how well-behaved they are in your presence.

This is it, electricity exists,
and molecules harden and get cold when they slow down.
Everything is ready, your feet work
and there are beds, there are people who know your name
and will be repeating it when you are not here.
We are ready when you are.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why They Climbed

Why They Climbed

To inhale the fragile atmosphere into their systems,
to feel it slithering, coiling

To force an ache into muscles accustomed to sitting

To cling to an unbreathing enormity

To savor the loneliness in touching
rock no hand has yet touched

To love so staggeringly a tower of indifference

To look out at the smallness of a great city
and think that you have found it, founded it

To face your own resistance to descending

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

An Idea Takes Up Residence

An Idea Takes Up Residence

An idea takes up residence
slowly, is moved in in pieces,
gradually, a candy dish,
a brandy snifter, a decanter.

Inside, it grows. You use it
to hold things, so it stretches.
Now it is an ottoman,
a rocking chair, a chaise.

It will hold you. You discover
this one day when you give
your weight to it. Have you,
in the seconds before sleep,

sunken into dream furnishings,
and jerked awake when your
body did not find the resistance
it expected? Here you are

testing the invented furnishings.
You will need the space
eventually, so the heaviest thing
goes. It is an effort to move

it out, a dresser with innumerable
drawers. When it goes, there
is an outline embedded in its place,
some nicks, some scratches.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

More Sticks

More Sticks

It seems reassuring
that those of us in certain industries
will always have work.

Hair will continue
to seep from the scalp, will need
to be scissored, to be taken.

In fact, after death
if our bodies remain whole then
the strands keep seeping,

growing in the ground
like the skinny roots of a plant.
Landscapists, too, have

an enviable occupation.
They ease the weed from the choke hold
it has on soil, pull away

dry or decaying leaves,
clear the sticks that have collected.
The landscapist’s lack

of sadness in bundling
debris at the close of the work day
soothes, On land,

there is no shortage
of things needing to be looked after,
requiring careful paring.

There are bulbs to be
planted. There are always more sticks
to round up and carry away.

Monday, June 7, 2010



Like resurrected pterodactyls rising from tar,
the birds emerge, dragging sludge-sodden wings.

Behind them, a new set of tracks: triangular valleys
flanked by grooves, like the marks left by skis.

Too heavy to be raised, these wingtips rake across
sand. The birds stumble under the mass placed

onto them, a brown-black cloak, a leaden veil.
It was not our intention to suffocate these birds

with their own bodies. We are so very sorry.
We offer what we can, money, soap emblazoned

with the image of a dove, a steady, gloved palm.
Explosion, detonation, flame, death--we understand

these things. Finite. Spill, too, implies a completed
action, finished, accidental. Infuriated, aching

we watch what we made and keep making,
an unnatural disaster in progress. It is undoable,

it is still happening. What trawls the soul about
this spill, that horrible monster down there:

it is an alien we trapped, a dinosaur that we awoke,
a dark beast we tried to harness. We called out to it.

***Click here to visit the National Wildlife Federation's site. If you haven't already, please consider making a donation.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Timing is Everything, Nearly

Timing is Everything, Nearly

When to
make a thing
of an idea,
to manifest
what your
mind has
until now
only murmured.

When to

When to
trust the
of ice
to hold
you, when
to give your
and when to

When to
the four
of diamonds,
the duplicate
of the card
the girl
had chosen.

When to
in order
to notice.

When to
sew your life
to another

When to
for effect.

When to
go to
the doctor,
a cough
in your

to rush.

When to
drive home,
and when
to wait
for the sky
to empty itself.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Willing

The Willing

The willing are more easily hypnotized, minds sunken and lifted
as an orchestra obeys the conductor.

More easily they move. Come over there? Yes we will, the willing
agree, we are halfway there already.

Healing is swifter, wounds closing, zipped up. More information
is absorbed by the willing as they listen,

more awareness of silence. The willing have inertia stored inside
of them, have more flexible bodies,

more elastic thought processes. Fluidly go the willing, their inner
compasses wired to accelerators,

consciousnesses agreeing with experience in real time. The willing
will be there, waiting for you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

To Trains

To Trains

To trains, there is no time, only stops and people.
All trains know is what happens aboard them,
around them. Instead of weather, passengers,
how many, what type. The first dark suits
that will return later, quieter. The uniformed children
pushing, laughing, hunched under bags strapped
to their backs. The old women, folded scarves
and bags of bread. The next stop, and the next,
fifty-five on, twenty off. No anticipation of the end
of the line, and still it arrives. Deep patience,
no fatigue. To trains, passengers communicate
by not speaking, except in spurts. Passengers
let their eyes crawl up and around the insides
of the trains. Or they hold books and sheets
of grey newspaper beneath their faces, close
to their bodies. The next stop, seventeen off and
one hundred and four on, compressed within
the car. Observing the behavior of humans
is a hobby, to trains. The way they try to get small
in themselves, breathing lightly to preserve
their tightly-packaged forms. The tension
in their jaws and shoulders, and then the way
their faces open at reaching their stop. Thirty on,
none off. The words mothers murmur to
crying babies, shh, almost there, almost there.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010



Which way to begin a day,
the order of operations. Whether
you are hungry. The temperature
of the water you cause to course
over you, the level of gentleness with yourself
as you step from the shower and bring the towel
to your skin.

Whether you will leave the house
or stay in. Whether you think of all
you will accomplish in this day,
or spend the day released from any obligation.

Which people to speak with, whether
to phone them or find them
so that you might look into their faces
as you speak. Which words to use
as you compose an email,
how to end it, with Yours or Best or Cheers.
With what punctuation.

Whether you will be cognizant of time,
touching your phone to revive its black screen
into bright mindfulness, or if you will let
the hours flow uncounted.

Which bread to eat, and how much of it.
Which ingredients you require more of,
and how you will obtain them.

Whether you will walk down the busy block
or the quiet one. Which person walking their dog
will you smile at, which person will you avoid.

Which answer you select when asked what you do
for a living, which crosswalks you will run across
and which you will plod into.

Whether you look at your reflection as you pass it
in the store windows, whether you look at the people
inside of the stores. Whether you open yourself
to the evening or choose a task to busy yourself with.

Which level of fatigue or routine prompts you to bed,
and which pictures and sounds you draw, like transparent
curtains, over the light of your mind as it dims.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.