Poetry: Amish Trivedi

Your Relationship to Motion Has Changed

Having nowhere to go
is the best place to be: I

don’t care if crosswalk signals
never let me pass or if rivers

continue to flood. After all terrors,
settled moments have left to

head towards nothing. Welcome to
mediocrity: we’ve had a table

with a broken leg for you
all along. As another immolation

passes, we see renewed faith in
saints who died normal deaths, poets

who had heart attacks
in their 80s

surrounded by their families. Ev-
entually you have to accept

that things you knew
about motion are long since

debunked and re-mystified
in new ways. All anger begins new life

as damage, resting on benches and
in middles of streets. Days of

wishing we hadn’t woken up
have returned to us, having let us go

long enough to know
we would come back. What we knew

about friction has
dragged us quietly back. You can

tell me but I feel nothing changes
by will: only trauma

brings crisis to boil. What we can do
is reach back away from the abyss

and pretend it can’t grab us
by our ankles and

pull. Peel skin back
and expose cells

for what they are: atoms
spinning and twisting

to cover void-made
static. What has never been

is an idea that fire
can tie people to land. Say

you’ll become refreshed and
air has never felt so light,

but don’t tell me surroundings
will remain unblemished: as we breathe

on them, their cells will over grow
and consume all atomic

variables. Bring your knees
up to my chest

and press monoxide
into the room: we can see

it escape and be trapped
by walls that hold us

here too. When we pass through,
we’ll be able to see how suns

arced behind us
and brought vision

into this space. I need
another reason

to keep my

from ceasing and becoming
diluted or there is no impetus

to expect neurons
will receive desires

of a body for motion. What
you knew of matter

has dissolved and a new reaction
is to be conjured. I brought

a divining rod from my bed
so I could find a window

to flood the room. Nothing
we can see exists

when we close our eyes,
only freedom to imagine

an empty chair or a
strand of hair

choking all intakes. I thought I
knew everything

about fear, but it seems there is
more to be mastered if silence

can be buried up to its neck. Physics
is the study of time

being replaced
with nothingness and

encrypted. We cannot gather
all coefficients, but we can

divide series into light
and metaphor. All words

needing to be spoken
are spoken today. Our fingers

split and grow
exponentially, covering

our hands and mouths
until every gesture

becomes an act, every utterance
an off-stage cue. Whatever

hard route we come up with,
it’s because we imagine

being jostled to be worse
than time wasted. I don’t

understand how you
justify your movements,

but I know your
relationship to light

has been redefined
to meet expectations

you’ve created: it must
always be present

in order to be used; it must
always be hot enough

to burn any fingerprints
away. We cannot

remove ourselves
from distance, but provide

a new version of force: we must
begin from a state of rest. Deforming

at higher altitudes is not
uncommon, barely visible

if glass is curved
to a certain angle, but a desire which

can become overwhelming
if not observed correctly. What

moving forward is
can be defined in equations,

but we cannot express
locationality in numbers,

just skin temperatures. As hues
of a cheek change, so does

will and freedom
from shattered cells: we become

spacial reference
when our bodies

finally go. On my mind
is a quiet afternoon

spent seeing designs
of an ideal life, a second

made of debris left
from other moments. I can

hear wind in the trees
turning, my arms falling slack

and cold. When all other
failed gasps appear, we can

take momentum along
to carry our burdens. What I

cannot see is how
tiny fragments of bone

can become cancer or how,
as division takes place, skin cracks

and falls. It won’t be said
by the end, but we were

never as happy
as we were on

night one. As reaction times
change, so too does

delivery of endorphins
across my hands,

which are chopped
and frayed. If love is a

bitch, then being
forever alone is a

dry heat. No matter paths
set, we’re always finding

ways around to keep it
interesting and so we’re

not reliving tremors over
again. Again, to be consistent

with emotion is to say variation
is inhuman. I can put my

head back when I want and
pretend I never knew

language could play this way,
but no one ever believes me. We

cannot ask to be brought
anywhere, but we can hope

to be somewhere. Nothing builds
to any resolution: it is just a desire

to complete words or ideas,
but ultimately, we go

nowhere all the time.


My former classmate, Darren Angle, after presenting our theses to a gathered crowd, said “Why did you do that to me? That last poem…man.” He was referring to “Your Relationship to Motion Has Changed,” which was not only the last poem I read that night, but also the poem Darren followed with his own reading.

What had I done to Darren? I’m not entirely sure, though my immediate idea is that there’s an aura about the poem that lends itself towards an emotional thrust, which is to say, I didn’t try to make it an emotional work, but it may evoke some emotions. Obviously, your mileage may vary and I cannot say that there is any specific feeling I feel I’ve put in the poem.

One of the epigraphs at the start of the manuscript is a quote from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Madeleine Elster, (played by Kim Novak) after Jimmy Stewart ‘s Scottie Ferguson suggests they wander around together, responds “Ah, but only one is a wanderer. Two, together, are always going somewhere.” Scottie thinks for a second and says “No…no, I don’t think that’s necessarily true.” This is to say that two people can be utterly lost together, or better yet, maybe they don’t attempt to define whether they are anywhere at all. This is the central thesis of Your Relationship to Motion Has Changed the manuscript and the poem.

The sensation of losing something is powerful. People lose other people, either through death or distance, among other things, of course. Distance is the force behind loss in Motion, but it’s not an “us/we” physical distance. Actually, it might not even be an “us.” Sometimes distance is internal, the sense of losing ones self-hood is overwhelming. The narrator of Motion is a victim of this distance: it’s a disease that has no cure and there seems to be no end result, only suffering.

Process: the title of the poem had been sitting around in my mind for a while. It was an off hand comment to my wife, and I thought it was cool. I initially thought I would keep “Relationship to Motion” as the title, but my friend Kate Schapira suggested I keep the whole thing. I had been thinking about the concept of ones relationship to motion changing for some time when I wrote the poem and the manuscript that shares its name. Immediately, the idea of an overwhelming sense of fear and the physical sensation of nausea were the things that came to mind. The impotence that comes from being unable to do something that others might do naturally also bubbles up. I knew I was working towards it when I sat down with my advisor at Brown, Forrest Gander, to begin discussing my thesis. At the end of this manuscript comes the poem you are reading. I thought it should come at the end, like Darkness on the Edge of Town’s title track.

I worked mostly weekends on the thesis as Saturdays were quiet at the office. While writing, I blared Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, and Nebraska, Basia Bulat’s Heart of My Own, Tom Waits’ Mule Variations, and Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone. Sometimes lines slipped in, like “it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive,” from “Badlands” into “Ann Rutledge After Dark.” Sometimes I misheard things and went with what I heard. Most often, I closed my eyes or played around on Reddit until a line struck me and I recorded it down. Sundays I edited.

When I met Rusty Morrison, we discussed the nature of publishing longer poems. They are a bit hard to publish, which is natural if space is an issue. Also, the audience should be willing to engage for a longer stretch of time which is certainly more difficult at this moment. I generally write short poems, but for this manuscript, I wanted long, maybe even rambling, poems. Short poems have to feel quick– they cannot settle anywhere and they must still manage an assault on the reader. The long poem is like a boxing match: it’s about breaking down the reader until they fall down, but so rarely does that happen in the first round.

“Your Relationship to Motion,” is the ultimate poem of the manuscript, and as a result, has to serve as the final barrage– the reader is tired and the narrator is ready to deliver a blow which wins the match.


Amish Trivedi is a poet living in Providence, RI and often can be found at Loui’s on Brook Street. He recently finished an M.F.A. in Literary Arts at Brown University. His chapbooks include Museum of Vandals, The Ink Sessions, and The Breakers. His poems are in Mandorla, Cross-Cultural Poetics, La Petite Zine, among others. His critical work is in Octopus #8 and Jacket2. He should update www.amishtrivedi.com more often.