Poetry: Rebecca Stoddard

from Spectator

but also, these malicious dogs I’ve been
hiding/fire is an element
that breeds/ or to process in
an emotional way/I keep straining
over beds/ the sun
fermented secretly in a
shady thicket/caught off
guard or cornered, but really
/I warned you/
this drought/the veins are
a microcosm of
animalized blood—
what is feral is life freed
from method/ or even,
creation, as it were/the sea bottom
rears up to meet the
mountain/if it rises at all/a circle is
drawn using salt/wet sounds are
impossible to bear/the
crust is a response I perfected
rubbing into it much harder/this
time, so dry/to spread it with both hands/a
hand full of fur is
one thing/the other how
thick the sun in my
mouth, or take this wooded plot, for
instance, circumstance and dirt
are everything last
year turned out to be
the interior of
so many mottled eggs/so many
births that tunnel is both
procedure & sympathy
but then loss is an imaginative field/
the leaner economy of night or even a pink
moon only symbolically hurts/because
memory is a collection of
visitations/because, time-marked
fields of phlox/a
path/thick with swollen windows as if
the meadow or even, some
song/floats on/ white
leaves/ open space/crystals
or passerines, wedded to grasses before
the rain again/this apparition, gropes too
hard/tugging the fabric/yard long/luminous/I was a pioneer
body farming a living                both process&circumstance
not timing is everything but
rather, the potential to
pressure a
life outside of
rituals, every ceremony
has its own imprint, so
to speak/eclipse the event or
has no ability to grasp
air between/lines of
enormous reversal so
take for instance, in cellular life
breath can be restricted by
tidal pressure/this stability is
carefully constructed/I situated/
shifts and with it, our home
because comfort can
strangle/light is as it
falls on the wall, every
ounce of being/even the sockets
are humming, dull &/ the reason I
concedes is alchemical/could
figure but/listen/the watershed
has simple logic/clouds are
a thinking way/partly
demanding we
commun*/I or my, “our”
life needs/ something to
affirm it/ listen, could/ after/I
come/day/it all /& any quickens/listen,
something bottomless/stuck in the
gut/the limbs/the will/its only spatial the
body with abbreviated joints/resolved to
activity/ but nothing firm is
extended loci/hands to
labor gives/the
hips abstract an/way, always listen
to begin with, those
an inch from skin/
lines along, seizes/the
uterus, anteverted, contracts/ the
mind lately
a hairline /d(r)own-ing
/and so
wants & yes, I held
it down
incubating a quality called
condition/ I
am not the new colony/a
shortage of water/a
story/the apposite/furrows, that is,
the new state does not
equally occupy
influence and work but, still, my labor is sort of
caloric/how little I guides/how
I could have rubbed my eyes out/slow-
ness is natural/speed
disperses/I/ could have
burned every body
behind me/in theory a
strategem to cleanse
between terms/the smell was reference-
less my guilt
is hierarchical/that is, the
body in relation to
sleep; the spectator feels like
a version of both
hands reaching upward/strains
of practice/fulfillment is praxis/very
few forms remain stable/”heaven”
is a culture/itself turning, the
possibility occluded/because shame is a terrain
that bears no resemblance to
passage/I have not emerged from
something tunnel-like but rather
a body held together by
seizures/ a series of
explosions one can make
room for/ attempting to
control the inward gaze
the practitioner breeds/monster
after monster the faces are
barely recognizable but
fit perfectly/in other
words, remorse or, the body in exile is a
self-imposed witch hunt
when I thought the thing
lost was going to be
a trophy I could hold/we all do/mourning with
effort/to reduce something to a single point is to
violate the law of an inherited
economy/to deny language
is to consign
oneself to the fire/there are
so many ways
to approach self annihilation
the voice box, for instance, can catch—silence
like some
looming vortex that dissuades us
life is capable/ but
the future does not come from
separating voice from the body
invisibility lurks in privacy/ the danger
of being drowned by a
perpetual ego/identity has
obstructed the subject &
violence/or, objects
are circumstances, death is just
evidence of the incarnated persona/the audience
may distort this
chaos but to grapple with
intention by misappropriating one’s
own words/a constant loop of
reformation & inevitable mirrors of
temporal transformation/is free fall an
apparatus of control or exhaustion
that’s reached its quota?                 I have my
own placeless version of intimacy/it starts
when the subject has been obliterated, dissolves
itself in a physical environment then
projects outward as a visual field/that is to say
I have repeatedly fallen for color
as if the self effacing process
of grief is nothing
to write home about/as of hives or
circuits/the river is always a
little barren in winter/a palette sedated
this is parallax:
a landscape structurally capable of
tactile pleasure/ of glass or
filth/what is simultaneously
intrusion and heat/as
for fire, the craft is all
plot /its easy to
want / everybody
already has/desire/wrenches the
wave/faster/a wall of
petals as though
social variants/are
exceptional hands, as in, some
are more obviously filled
in with bones/wing or
rectum, the glossa, a pharynx or
thorax/each claim ownership/particular to
a preference/but the face is
a corpse/we wear daily/ states of
action & work/these dreams are
like a lack of intuition—
as in, even the sun
seems slower now that
it’s been raining

This excerpt is taken from a book length poem called Spectator and is the second installment in (what I think might be) a trilogy. The first ms (Accommodation) is very much grounded in Vallejo, CA and was written over several years that span the real estate collapse and Occupy Movement, my early years of motherhood and increasing physical and emotional distance from my writing community/practice so is somewhat obsessed with habitations, failures and ghosts. The second book, from which this excerpt is taken, has moved north to Sonoma County and is one long poem that “takes place” over 29 and a half days (a lunar cycle) during a time when the California drought had hit its peak and my nuclear family had splintered. The project began as a Jungian based dream exercise in ritualism and takes Simone Weil’s idea of decreation as impetus. As such, the poem is essentially a dream diary written every morning (mostly) for about 30 days, in a free write beginning with dream matter from the night before. I have no idea yet what the third installment in the triptych will be doing as that work is just beginning to come up.

UntitledRebecca’s work has appeared in journals such as New American Writing, Denver Quarterly, Modern Review, WebConjunctions, et al. and her chapbook, home? was published by Noemi Press. She currently lives, studies, works and writes in Sonoma County. Oh, and, she was Omnidawn’s first ever employee.