Poetry: Emily Oliver

Third Day Below Zero

The Christ status of a gym rat
parades along the screen. I allow
my eyes to roll. Past when
my glow box is taken away, I’ll go down
to my bones, & will those cellars be
empty? Have I wasted the stores
scrolling the L2! photo album, a girl
I knew to draw up plans of pipe bombs
in the Monsanto plant outside St. Louis.

I didn’t want her to do it (the night
guard, etc) but look how now I hold her
wine stem in my hand. Eyes nurse the pacifier
and empty of milk. I’ve eat hibiscus
Rulfo said, to forget the flavor. I am
a body giving up the chemical rituals
of the moon to see further out
in my mind’s water. Away from a god I was not
raised to know & don’t believe is

real. Or wedged away from tonight’s low moon,
I’m wedged from my body. If my body is
god, at least I’ve waded in her. Prayers, all
pharmaceutical. For resistant grain. Probiotic sip
restore from the search, the history
of everything I’ve closed out of.

On The Tit Torture of Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom

If she came down to give me the wisdoms of the
universe, all I’d want was a kiss.

Visiting Poet, 2015

Yet the “I” went for more. Hands folded
beside my co-ed, dark haired sister,
I saw her: paper cutout goddess, erect
from your tongue. You fashion hers,
his-es, theys; bodies salivic from where
you spat them out & in this,
we are brothers. Poet, can I be
your brother? Womanly as Sophie—
you were right to say my body is
a window to god, as a persimmon is
& as your similar body, too, is a tunnel in,

a pupil, petal, puncture to the divine. Brother,
you made her a body like somebody’s god
does. Similar to your body, she knows a hand
under her dress. Brother, I’m not bashful
of bruising lust. I’ve let hers, his-es, theys
into my god-body: we’ve held each other
down by the hair, but nobody murmurs
in monotone wisdoms, even
with gags in ours mouths because to batter
joyful the breast is a sharing, brother
& god lives her loudest in that.

Epigraph via Skype

Mar & I born into the hundred years
a voice could go through a wire — true

a hand must assemble the chorus
of coins. I inherit this distanced

history of my voice not knowing
how the circuits work. We pull the bridle of cords

closer & his face appears
bigger than his face; hull-jawed,

eyes, a shout over water. The face we know —
hum of a song always heard sung.

Pixelated reflection as in lake matter.
Into the circuit — good hikes around Cayuga

(lake shaped like a finger, where a glacier melted
before a human word & left

chasms, the falls tumble over so a whisper returns
as a yell.) My sister tries for the caliber of words,

through the submarine cables,
to weave a breastplate, chainlink.

The Lit World

Without courage, I went to stare
at the black vaulted windows.
Your power’s off, too? I’d command a new
attention of the unlit room.

                        What, if I even could, to say
                        distinct about the electricity
                        threading with my brain waves
                        from when I swam in

my mother’s ocean? Once courage
was my servant and light was. Or they,
currents through me, ropes rising
the ghost in the sail; I, the doe eyed

vessel contented by a mortal glide.
Towards your studio, a century-old building –
lighting fixtures, painted copper molds
unclasping on the ceiling above us – my body

was not mine but a bouldering
star grown arms, legs. I didn’t think
to come, but there I was, in the dark,
                        the fist at your door.



Is it more like Route 34 or more like a tree branch?
A tree branch or the bone-white flagpole,

the flagpole or like December, more like the flag or
more like the Housatonic? Moonlight’s second

river, lit. Is it like a heart? Human heart
or is it a screech over intercom? Human

or more like a mechanical arm? Arms
untendoned. In the face of children. The triangle

face of an eagle, face of an ox…
The winged thing that waits

by the river, stands by the gates, who still
imagines dawn. More like my sister or more

the ice in Ram’s Pasture?
My sister or the bone-white traffic

hazard? Is it more
my sister or more a home?

Town or where I say I’m from?
Was it more home, a ball thrown in

glass, a mouth’s open why, a vigil
of stuffed animals in snow?

Photo for OmniVerseEmily Oliver is a poet living in Upstate New York. She is a founder of Knox Writers’ House, a digital audio map of contemporary American writing and works as a lecturer at Cornell University.