Underanimal: an excerpt from Anemal, Uter Meck
A typo? The pressure of vertebrae marks thought, breathing a baby from the
before and the after exhausts.
a. The architecture doesn’t matter
My head is too small you say, I ask you to measure my vagina instead. I’ve given
birth to three children and aborted just as many if not more. To reperform time,
breathe through fused concepts of childhood etched in the activity of belonging to
peruse at a later date: human, chimpanzee, bonobo, mouse. Here sign and object
separate, how to differentiate between color, hue, proportion and the coveting of
color, hue, proportion in a succession of human forms?
b. Am I like you?
Red blood cells distend and burst. Bones press against adjectival arrangement. I
want to birth into your status update and take your pulse. Are you more human,
multi sensory— soft, pink, & fleshy? Am I offensive? I run my fingers inward,
across scalp, toward base of skull:
c. The real life wants to answer.
How will we say it?
A crown of honeysuckle is all thorn & saccharine & Lacan you wrote in a letter.
Emails retract from the virtual when printed. Talk of pigeons, symmetry, dimensions of
body, protective layers of fat, glacial melt, and sunsets— orange hues discerned only by
eccentricities of shape.
with those toes you could climb a tall
tree how the self imagines itself
Sentences are like teeth you write, all teeth and hoof. Shall we say it with a comma, a limb, toe
arrangements & webbings, through the curve of your round face? In reverse all things seem
everything is straw/ is
The way objects arrange into plural: each “s” another and another. Then, no other. Ill-fitting
wings move in and out of continents as if undecided—searching for ways to mark—a question,
seven question marks: a fist.
mark into a life
standard flight pattern
Everything is gravity or the hallucination of presence
Build me a sex so I can remember how. We’ll talk about shedding skin and scales later. Let’s
sing to one another or better yet howl. You are driving me to the crazy. Tell me when to
exhale, send me a picture of your_______________. Tell me more about myself:
____________________ = s
The signified inevitably slips beneath the signifier, resisting our attempts to delimit it.
Are we but stout, short-necked birds with soft swellings at the base of our nostrils? Or the
inherent flexibility of composed dots? Pixels of atomized light bending and folding create
mirrored affect—the thru and blue of an iceberg—reconfiguring our selves into watermelt or
to itself and anyone
who looks like you or
maybe too often we mistake our self
You can dance now or just look. How distance observes like something caged, a bonobo or the
earth in affliction. Open your lungs to all these stars, what light allows for being seen or not,
passes for reflection?
SOMEDAY, WE MAY come to regret this
where is the space of page of ocean?
crack spine of book until epigraph
opens, remembers or
splits figs into mouth
the heaviness of living signals
like stagnant water, the song of a kestrel, a choked throat
filmy plastic enters in edges to be itself
a grid of language, slats between
names a different geology
what’s happening to winter?
its bare branches used to
pretend to reveal
they say it is the ocean
this is where earthly thoughts never vanish
lucent plastic enter breasts
interrogate bones, question flag
it’s all exactly like this
The first two poems “Underanimal” and “Homing” are excerpted from my forthcoming manuscript from Black Radish Books entitled Anemal, Uter Meck. The book begins as an exercise in translation and misinterpretation, how the misplacement or ordering of things occur as affect—a typo, a misreading retracts from the scan, what is the source of trouble? A syllable? A consonant? My failing eyesight? It’s all very simple really how an “n” can insert itself or disappear from sight. Everything blurrs over time or becomes a smudge, a series of letters lining page or an overpass is no accident. Perception is an eye-roll where I mistake myself all the time: a good mother, a good wife? I’m not any of these things and more but yet perception is so painfully objective forcing thoughts of categorization, avatars–masks. Where is the space, instead of what space is? Define a thing. How poor my German becomes, a framework of missing leaves:
Mg Roberts is revising her second poetry collection Anemal, Uter Meck and co-editing an anthology on the urgency of avant-garde writing written for and by writers of color both to be published in 2017. She lives in Oakland with her three daughters, two hens, Golden-doodle, and geologist husband.