November seventy 2120. day:
you learn that
there are at least fourteen ways of saying the same thing
seen beyond bricks and banks
what kind of bird will shut a mouth
through time and space if shoved far enough
what kind of body shall i wear
find it and i will fix my light to it
thousand and fourteen
dwelling under peat
but perception is a funny carri
-er and some explanations
may never find footing
that invisible host will hold me accountable
even after they find the boulder in my stomach
below the ligaments and tear
for this blurred recollection of how
, and the ways,,,
i have tried to tell what has happened
more boulders in this temple at the base
of my neck
i have become more rock than woman
when i was alive
but that was a long time ago now
November seventy2120 night:
spent a few days
climbing into obsession
the nerdy kind of focused obsess
of people for their work
passion someone once called it more than one
has that word drifting through their lexicon
i find it overwhelm
when people get serious. (never mention polite here)
taken to task
for not taking things seriously
enough i think
all of these implements that fill me
and after seeing the same
type of serious
energy go in
to such unimportant things, like rocks
and microwaves and not-quite
-lovers it is hard to take
anything seriously anyway
anything like everything, is useless
My brain has become a time-bomb. Some days I see cracks
forming, the viscera collects along the edges. I see too many
pictures of a bird and I remember there is a book
I bought about fancy pigeons somewhere
in my house. Somewhere, I begin
cooing. Begin to excavate the stacks and swirl. The books
land around my thighs. I can feel
the sharpest one pressing, but I
only pile more books on it. I turn on the tv.
A woman with a tight blonde bob unravels over
the club music streaming in her car
as her grown son drives her away
from a psychiatric facility. I can feel the neighbors
above jump. Someone is vacuuming. Making tea.
Running the disposal. I imagine the pipes will
soon back up. We share sound and clogs.
Crashing or leaf-blowing presses me like books. Every
constructive image turns my head in a new direction.
Plumage color has meaning. Down. Source. Media
is social whether in a hallway or on a screen.
I recognize the language but feel irrelevant.
The overload is not anything I can express
to the people left in my life. A friend
tells me about a podcast where a man and a woman
discuss a horrible murder, and I
because my brain has become a narcissism device and I start to
a scene around the murder. I tell myself stories
about the characters I place in the
lack of context. I can imagine the knife
my knee, my wild elbow jagging across my left breast. Now I
the house for quiet, but I am afraid to leave the house for
the curtain, sure that
is watching me from the outside. But I cannot
My family members call and find themselves confused
when I overwhelm. They do not expect me to become
I have never been a fragile creature. They try to weigh
how much heft I have held with no help before, and think
fakecloneplant from an alien government.
I count my tentacles from my hiding place and wonder
how many holes have developed inside my brain.
Not self. And maybe
there is some truth. I am not myself. I am
broken vase iteration of me. With blemish
and break. Strands grey. Hands tire. My brain says
She tells me to sleep.
to get out of bed. She places me
on the couch. I place a blanket over my head
so, the person watching me from outside will not know I am
I want to staple the curtains shut. I wonder a hole in
is really a camera. I think about bowties. Not pasta
A man who is trying too hard at a fancy dinner-party. I fight
with the document about the structure of that last
sentence, of course, that is after
I emerge. I dream I fix a gin. Add lemons
to my ongoing grocery list. Garlic-salt. Ketchup.
The cheapest yellow mustard in the store. Can of tuna.
I think it is weird that I specify the can. Why not pouch?
Why is the can important? It is as if I am trying to
convince the list I am not as fancy as the bowtie.
Jar of Arrabiata sauce. But it is safe
under the blanket
if I cover the phone camera with tape.
I watch these actors kiss in a rainstorm through the weave.
and wonder how my life would change if
I could kiss in a rainstorm. I look
down at the rolls and creases in my body. I pretend
myself a mountain. Though I am more
a sun-bleached hill. I try to extract tears as
if they were solid implements.
I was standing in a mall parking lot looking up at the sky
at just the right moment to glimpse orange through clouds.
onions / peppers / ckn /
off / pull husk / slice down
to the bottom—almost
on side & cut down—watch
all the layers fall into tiny separations
afraid to go to the store for yogurt
cat wakes me up after four hours of sleep
like some zombie wave of coughdeath
afraid I am being watched
all the time then my sinus sets off and
I Sudafed to sleep
something unbalances deep in the gut.
balancing / diving
I have frozen at the diving board since
I was a kid, there are so many possibilities
in that deep water and I have always frighted
connection really, more
than love, it is people. calmed
myself w/ slow rocking. I think
people do not know what it is like for mass like mine to hit water
from any height and forget frozen water how
did anyone ever traverse frozen water? who was the first
person to try to dip their toe in the freeze and say
hey guys the water is fine!
come on in?
much less have the mettle to dance and swirl the surface
that might not hold?
what trust / shadow lives in that kind of blind belief?
I do not trust my body to move me
in regular ground. if I cannot trust open
water / closed
water / regulated
water—how should I be
expected to trust frozen water?
how does water freeze? how do I?
have I frozen water?
people I love keep saying goodbye to me
in ways too subtle to keep me around
past creatures divine a future where there is no them
before I can know they are absent
there is something
miraculous about catching a neighbor’s light
as it flicks off in the dead of night
in an apartment complex
other people’s lives swirl around
in a pandemic any one of the people we see
collecting their mail every day
could wind up dead
some ghosts do not understand
death means forever
And 2 poems from Avalanches in Poetry Writings & Art Inspired by Leonard Cohen
His Woman is Free My enemy is blue building books from deep shaded nests - from the silence of a rising falling chest - curling hollows of breath holler from the grasping future. My enemy sends winged winded messages as sound funnels into my eclectic sphere. The atmosphere of curbed longing is affecting. I hollow out for him Bees perch piston-petal covered legs through my ribcage. My own legs lack hair for the first time in a year. I feel too young as they build comb. Honeycomb me of all honey-leave this stinging slow hum down the pane of the hairless leg. How quick the cold loss of love comes. My enemy is no good. He shows how I am no good too. I Have Tried in My Way This corvid keeps plunging her lungs to the break - to the tongue she alarms her songbird friends. Invasive sound warns in ever-expanding circle-chirps: darling, that chill on the cusp of morning is brimful sickly love. But song bird falls into Autumn the way most do in spring. Spring is cotton-sweet on the sticks of old birds. Blue gum. Kernels clasped in her claw. Change twirls around the edges of September. Feasible feast. Insurmountable mountain. Thick leaves. Swell. Breathe. Feathers flicker. Sun-winds battered Arctic thrust. Is it this shape of Fall that twists her? Bio: Kari Flickinger is the author of The Gull and the Bell Tower (Femme Salvé Books, December 2020). Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and the SFPA Rhysling Award. She is an alumna of UC Berkeley and the Community of Writers. Interview with Kari Flickinger from the Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020 Anthology