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spiralism//lashing

 

Some lipsticks are better than others

for  writing yyour name on a mirror.

When i say you, i mean y ou, charlie.

i mean i wasn’t wearing any

thhing after and so i rubbed my finger

tip in the seam of my scalp, in the part

of my hair, the rivulet of oil in between

the living dermis and the dead fil

aments. Sassy theosophy on the line without room

for ghosts. A knife too long for the birthday cake. There has to be sometthing more

than this. i drug

my dirtied thumb across the glass. How i hate

preservation. How i loved

you when you crawled

into space between the clear

coffee table top and the coffee

table to also argue against becoming

a remnant. Immortal. There has to be somethhing more than this and there is. Your

haunch

as available as my cat

who singed

again and again its tail

tip on the end of your cigarette and thought, only,

that it smelled of ash. i don’t fear

anything but being after. As long as i sweat i can write my name

in sweat. Languid annunciation; self-portrait; fake lash.

 

 i’m made of what i’m made of.

 

i can feel my synovial fluid splash

and sp lash agai n as i don’t settle, as

my bones click chord by chord into each joint.

Skeletal glissando.   If i’m dead

i’m going to kiss

anyhow. charlie, i spoke the writing that

broke the glass.




Candice Wuehle

levelheaded: spiralism // lashing

 

Initially, what stands out most in this poem are the momentary glitches where words have an extra letter or space – the early “yyou” or “y ou,” and later “sometthing” and “somethhing.” The words catch on themselves as if there’s something unseen behind them, something that comes through as a stammer. If the language seems sure of intention (“When i say you, I mean y ou, charlie” or “i don’t fear / anything but being after”), the way it’s written exposes an intermittent shudder in the speaker. The irregular line lengths and enjambments (“fil / aments”) work similarly. They fracture a strong, performative voice, making it feel more tenuous than it otherwise might.

 

The visual splintering of the language – the breaking of the poem into shards – carries forward the poem’s preoccupation with glass. The glass of the mirror or the glass of “the clear / coffee table top” become media for her message. In the first case she highlights the temporariness of a message written in lipstick. In the second, she despises “preservation.” She uses the coffee table top to represent “becoming / a remnant. Immortal.” And she builds an interesting dichotomy between transience and permanence only to remind us how easy it is to rupture a memory; how easy it is to get “singed / again and again.”

 

But her attempt to hold something together even as her memories simultaneously bear down and run off makes the poem especially compelling. Instead of becoming abstract and distant, the speaker draws us close. Her direct, almost accusatory address of “charlie” starts us thinking about what kind of transgression “charlie” may have made. For a poem “without room / for ghosts,” something haunts the speaker. But perhaps most evocative are the precise bodily images. “The rivulet of oil in between / the living dermis and the dead fil / aments” reminds us that a part of us is always dead. And the final section – with its “synovial fluid” and “Skeletal glissando” – isolates the mechanics of the speaker’s motion. Even she can be broken down into her components. That final section ties her own corporeality to her incomplete memory and finally to the broken glass. It’s fitting that it’s her writing that breaks the glass – then it’s her writing that also gets broken.

 

 

– The Editors