Blackbox manifold

Issue 14: Tom Snarsky



A cutting softness in the shrine’s collapse begets a stirring in the harbor. Ornithologists believed it couldn’t be done, a total hemorrhage of gulls like this. There are scholars awakening in the midst of thought, embarrassed by the spots on their beaks and what they mean. Cirrus virtuality as mere backdrop. Months of rehearsals that never took place compress into a whirling present ruined with birds. The alcove is coated, naturally, as the old site of the shrine. Rock and wave together are omniscient, though neither is alone. To dismiss the hazy configuration is to underestimate the ecosystem’s means of mediation, its points of contact. Where free-floating boats bump up against the pier, carefully moored but still wriggling. The intense coherence of this flock of birds, its semiotic character. The day around it thriving in windlessness. Here the truth is a kind of vestibule, at best an anteroom. One gets on a boat to leave the harbor, after all, with gulls nebulous overhead. Making a concerted sound.



A movement of insane doubt, clawing like a rapier. Riposting the twofold error of the incomplete sentence. A maniacal gesture pointing outward from the cliffs, hurtling beyond the observation deck. Who knew the body could have such form, could keep the entire horizon rapt inside of itself? Like a thin film of deicide, slithering its way over everything always, even before the air. Bordering a cruciform of infinite space. An inflected vacuum, ripe with dark, clothed in sound. The sound, almost a bight, declined to separate the fullness of the movement. A torrid opening that cleft the shore asunder. Who walks, who silences choreography? Who has rent the foreground for the sake of the sand? To make of hybridized penitence a set of dreams, a set of futures, a set of ecologies. Snow in the sound like an erroneous politics. An organization of melting bodies, already misremembering.



The “m” affirming the Spanish mundo against the English undo. The “e” keeping the German Mond erotically bound to the French monde. The lockstep “n” preventing the Italian mondo from mutating into the English mood, or even doom. The martial diphthongs of the French poing, and its superposition of table tennis onomatopoeia in English. The fumbling linguisticism of this poem thus far, its avoidance of clearer alphabets. The ineptitude implied by this myopia, and the ensuing self-doubt. The unpoeticness of this whole endeavor now, its dilettantism. The salvageable sequence careening downwards. The salvific hope that even the monoglot might still be undoomed. The Italian mondo returning, glaring, unavoidable, due in this hope. The prodding of authorial catholicism, intentional fallacy notwithstanding. The specter of catholic’s etymology, perhaps a way out. The problem of the One and the Many, dustily medieval but somehow still fresh, salient. That leap into the alien so desperately needed for escape – for negative theology.



No verb a noun can’t fix. No bounds to the horror of that. No sleep for the drifter on the bridge. No gum under the handrail. No light along the sea floor. No wealth for the drowned archon. No envy for the rest. No language in this poem. No real motive for the protagonist. No protection from unironized love. No joy in the fact of suspension. No bridge quite like this one. No faster route to real. No alternative.

Tom Snarsky is a Noyce Teaching Fellow at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, USA. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Shadowtrain, Otoliths, Cricket Online Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Braintree, Massachusetts.