Issue 20: Laynie Browne

Painting is a Name for Moving Surfaces

When I cannot find lavender-dusk emptiness—of libraries

faces and names, subtle organs, that which you make

invisible painting is the unseen—becoming sight

Images are triggers— realms we dare not name—theory baffles thorns

claws hair, wakes along wandering books—sleb, slepaz, sepal-sleep

Window-gold mistaking water for folded notes—to invisible plum trees

Some artists write the illegible to make misunderstanding

real— to name the places we lack.  I don’t

believe in lanced color, separate from ether, spindrift

She read to waters, nightly

They lay together speaking in lines from books

as if darkness were those spines opening, turning, closing

Take a picture of the middle of the page

begin with fortunetelling, fold

slips, shapes, bokiz, beech—that books were once trees

birch and ash, librum, inner bark of grove

We—as ruined garments (wrote from painting)

(look-look into rivers, garments, eyes, and sew)

We’d drunk only air


To paint in collage, kaleidoscopic gear, in foaming fonts

I only know how to spell sounds, not words
to converse with spun air

Painting is a mane for moving surfaces
Painting is a name for unlaced water
Lit beneathe
Painting is a name

Spell yourself of scents

letters, dirt memorabilia

crushed over the body

bath of irregular speech

Painting is anointing inner 

lids— eyes-blink and close

Seeing is memory we ignore

when sung, when drowned, upended

bridges water names

Painting is color petting a body

mornings never unclasp

Diligent tongue arched

spider, gossamer

lilac hand-frond

Laynie Browne is author of thirteen collections of poems and three novels. Recent books include You Envelop Me (Omnidawn 2017), Periodic Companions (Tinderbox 2018) and The Book of Moments (Presses universitaires de Rouen et du Havre, 2018). Her honors include a 2014 Pew Fellowship, the National Poetry Series Award (2007) for her collection The Scented Fox, and the Contemporary Poetry Series Award (2005) for her collection Drawing of a Swan Before Memory.  Her poetry has been translated into French, Spanish, Chinese and Catalan. She teaches at University of Pennsylvania and at Swarthmore College.