The Weight of It
The winter is not somewhat.
Somewhat I feel
the sea banging in my throat,
Sexton’s resurrected vomit of words
itching at my thorax.
Poetry kills the poetry in things.
Shit-bird, my husband would say—
sparrow dying for April.
April dying for April, death of death
or winter, the final flight of the soul
out of season into season. Dog,
unchained, murder of more light,
thaw of bed-bones and rage of sleep.
I feel the perpetual and quiet bang of things.
No lake. No insouciant canopy of trees,
my adolescence fighting to reemerge
in the fandango of my gait
and sick love of my falling into you
like heavy cargo, thin wisp of summer wind.
No, but winter like a dead man,
the heft of it junked in front of the mailbox.
Bang of gun or sea, word uprising,
my daughter desiring nothing but the world,
laboring through the desert.
World, though of habit. And habit and drudge.
Drudge of daylight, the dusk
that sweeps you in like a flail of things
in a swarm of ash-light.
Mozart in the Kitchen
Should not be visceral.
Like a scar, numbed at its surface.
Not quite the viscera.
Instead, the brain, busy
generating all sorts
of compensatory thoughts.
Eventually, I swallow good wine
at the cocktail hour.
The wine is generous, the words I read
are hypotheses or orgasms, holes
that want to expel a lot of residue,
little gnats that circle the residue
on the dishes in the sink,
their brief and frantic lives
filling the summer air
with some elapsed significance.
The noise of you is the impact
of an axe, the soft tenors
of Mozart in the kitchen.
The man is certain that the words are some substance,
unbreakable, irreversible—the words
which made the bed, which made the nexus,
the origin of creation, or brain, eye, mouth—
the orifice which eats, sphere of all pleasure
and affirmation of sheer existence. You look up
at the sky, and you want to scream for your life.
Since you’ve gone mean as a wall, I look into your eye
and imagine the exact moment of your birth,
all from some colossal orifice, MOTHER
sad and studious for her claim of womanhood,
the dishes in the sink
comparable to something unfailingly Greek
and mythological: I did not witness
the sky she stood beneath and perhaps wept
or rejoiced, both possibilities being
inextricably the same thing.
A tree-lined street. You are whistling, and listening
to yourself whistling, and it reminds you
of something ineffably ancient. The sidewalk
endows something eternal, beyond
the mind’s capacities. You look up at the sky,
terrified for its indefinite height.
This evening I hear the click of the stove,
breath expelled in various rooms. There is
a particular stench of flowers. I think
I hear the word “bitch” again and again.
I cannot see the sky from here. I cannot fathom it,
but it feels as a concept would if it was
too large for theoretical exploits.
A bird is acceptable as a creature. Some other creatures
are frightening, repulsive, monstrous.
Take the average squirrel, for instance, scampering
up and down and up some tree. I see things
such as this daily and often, and they slip
in and out of and into my brain like intervals of time.
I don’t consider the squirrel, aside from
in retrospect. You are passing like a shape
in and out of and into rooms. The word is food,
the possibility for intimacy—or some
You look up at the sky and become
something blank. Your mind is nothing:
a memory that has not occurred.
Something will be born, rise like some
great fish in and out of and in the sea.
It will guide you. Something will die
and will not die.
The sky is somehow a great and undying orifice.
It gathers souls. It gathers inventions
and collects their junk. If God dwells in the sky,
he is evanescent and stretches beyond all peripheries,
branches like the roots of trees. You look up at God
and scream for your life.
The world houses humans that march and march,
death like possibility of a dream
that is not a dream and never could be, the television
rooted in all dwelling rooms, bolted
to the furniture, a sort of indemnity
against all trespass and invasion. Man enters
with conceptual guns and tries to enact
some unrelenting scenario. It obviously makes him feel
meaningful, in search of some purpose
teetering on some nearby horizon. The word
is irrelevant. The body performs its dramatic entrance.
The body exits and sinks like airplane cargo
into the soft earth. The soul rises into the sky
or does not. The sky has no substance, its air
like some depository for junk and souls.
Babies are old prior to their inevitable aging.
In a room, a baby screams for her life
into the mouth of a drinking glass.
On the television, glass is breaking.
Windows are opportunities, or weapons.
There is no exchange of words.
Substantive things disintegrate, the sky grows dark
and dense, blind as the night. We are blind.
Obviously, dinner is prepared and ready.
I see these poems as having arisen perhaps out of Gluck’s “great fountain”—(The Wild Iris)—in the sense that that there is often a dark hovering which allows the writing to happen—an exasperated seeking for light out of that darkness. From that exasperation comes language, and through the darkness, a brief elucidation—or, “from the center of my life came/a great fountain” (Gluck)—a prolificacy that speaks for the desperate insistence of the consciousness to be heard—as in, the distant cry from the woods.
Emily Vogel’s poetry has been published in numerous journals, most recently in Tiferet, Lyrelyre, Maggy, Lips, Luna Luna, Omniverse, The San Pedro River Review, The Paterson Literary Review, The Comstock Review, [Spaces}, City Lit Rag, and 2 Bridges Review, among others. She has published five chapbooks: most recently Digressions on God (Main Street Rag, author’s choice series, 2012). The Philosopher’s Wife, a full-length collection, was published in 2011 (Chester River Press); her latest collection, First Words, is just out from New York Quarterly Books. She has work forthcoming in New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, and Omniverse. Recently, she collaborated with her husband Joe Weil on a book of poetry, West of Home, which has been published by Blast Press. She is the poetry editor of the online journal Ragazine, and teaches writing at SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College. She lives with her husband Joe, and their two children, Clare and Gabriel in Binghamton, NY.