Issue 29: Kimberly Campanello

Past Tense


Another continent is found, which brings us to eight now.


We long for one walkable stretch, to reach one another.


The abandoned yacht has sunk further into the muck


of the once-Viking, once-Roman, once-


Brythonic, once once once once once once once once


once nonriver ghostly forest


once nonhuman nonlanguage ooze


once nonwhole inversion


of anything we might have ever known,


present-day river Ouse.


The abandoned yacht has sunk, or the water


has risen, rolling down from the ‘wild’ moors,


a wholly invented landscape, mind you,


dreamed up in smoke and mud.


Why do our maps mark forests that aren’t there?


The GIF in response depicts a long-haired child,


eating a peeled onion, raw and whole.


It’s understandable, you know, our quickness


to judgement, our minute calibration


of the possible, our settling for, our settling in,


the rack we made to hold our knives, and our resolve


to sweat the onion slowly, to bring its layers together


and let the flavours right down, sinking into sweet alchemy


down, down, down, down into heat


back to when our hands were wholly fused


to each other, ready to spark,


which was not all that long ago


but also unfathomably past


tense so I’m not sure what conditional phrase


to set up and how to get it running


on my tongue and


out from my mouth


and still breathe in

[Kimberly Campanello's most recent projects are MOTHERBABYHOME, a 796-page poetry-object and reader’s edition book (2019), and sorry that you were not moved (2022), an interactive digital poetry publication produced in collaboration with Christodoulos Makris and Fallow Media. She is a Markievicz Award co-recipient and has been awarded residencies at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, The Studios of Key West, and RAMDOM in Italy. She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Leeds.]

Copyright © 2022 by Kimberly Campanello, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.