Issue 21: Theodore Worozbyt


A pot of potatoes for pirogis now bubbles a cauldron of chicken feet with no alpha in between. Chopped liver should be chopped, in the manner of the country. Everything possible to be annihilated is an imago of mimesis, my mouth, too little bone where there once was bone, and then there’s nothing left to eat with but a shadow, a hinge beneath one’s eyes, and the cabbages all lie buried in the cellar. Drag or draw out your sword of clouds, I said, and as if we could with words, I insisted we should have more: more vinegar, when quiet like gauze would have been better than the blank white tape that wound around the feet to scalded music. The Bechsteins for the double concerto both of whom were placed softly at an oblique agon of pauses might have been a souvenirization of the agon, but it, the baby turtle shell, melted in your hand, took figuring wing in a slow of inky fingers. The rufous towhee flicked and stabbed at death’s glitter and grubs; along the maple’s thin-slid trapezial shades a cardinal twitched a sole incarnadine flame for an hour: failed pyre of firsts among the tree roaches and rainy grass. Pailed fire in our emperor-couched Esmeralda house, hearth spread with green paint and the window muttons too. Boiled eggs, never boil them! It’s the same, ask any hunter, sliced paper-thin, with the heart.

Dear So and So

Dear So and So,

I was not late. I was merely a minute late. And I stayed behind after the unwanted lesson and ate behind my cardboard menu some rice and peas in that empty seaside country, wishing it, that country, were mine forever and how then I could become the salt that dissolves repeatedly, and leaves glittering eyes on the sugar sand scouring my feet. I watched my feet for any memory, I compared hers to that Thai restaurant’s, and they were smaller and more fine than shrimp crisps. I did it for a long time and still didn’t remember anymore what it felt like when a black dog swam in the sea and the salt water sucked the sun-dark pus from his cheek where grass found him. I laid my head down on an oyster and dreamed some kind of a father’s dreams. Dr. Stokes, when I was four years old, slit my eyes open and cut some muscles. I believed him as he touched my skull in his dimmed, red-lit, leather-booked office. Do you want to see behind your eyes? Yes, please. There screened a red web. Aunt Geri asked me what I wanted most to do. In the wash in Orange County I pulled up through the sand in my spread fingers something the color of sand but it too had legs! and many more than me. I was allowed to carry it back in the car, in a bucket of sand and water. That scent stays. I wish I were in any sort of position to answer. As for myself, noises list behind me, like sheets being dragged around the room for no good reason. You set the clocks forward, but time moves itself away, like the neighbors and their chained dogs. It does, but it's terribly flawed. This microphone isn't good with subtleties. I can say "time" and it's likely to type out "town" with the comma outside, no matter how clearly I try to speak.


Remember when you lifted weights? How heavy were they now? Softness is natural, or so my pillow whispered, blood on the sheets, nearly anonymous from a dog’s mouth. I am thinking in my way of Thanksgiving, when the plastic bullet popped out of the brown bird and my mother told you I told you so, by way of congratulation. How impressed was the madman by the guitar, and the extra boat of gravy! It’s hard to imagine him locking you in the attic all Christmas Day, ignoring your uncle’s grin, or what those lights looked like that you couldn’t see. The long long table was covered with lace. You, I see it now, hovered in the corner like a shy spider. Still I hunt for old photographs, older than you. You wanted me to push my sleeves up, it made my veins show. I feel cold when I often don’t eat my dinner, and dream of whipped things with butter in a pool, my yellow reflection, only my eye really, and only the white, going red. The whale shark was always my friend, said Jacques du Monde, Wavemaster, when he tossed you among the feathers and the swells. How he glides along, scooping the microscopic green. How well he wears his watches, and how fit he looks. And we are saddened to leave dis place, for we no deez creatures with dare burdens are lack we are, not ever to be here against time again.


Where the knife ends and the wood begins, I can’t say. Someone keeps trying to call. I am missing the tang of cooking. I never used to carry money in my wallet, only folded in my watch pocket, like butter lettuce. The woman was suspicious when I brought the braided loaf to thank her for her finding and returning it. I came from a bus, maybe that was why, or I smelled like the café. I go outside, my dog pisses on bricks, I discover someone military has cut my lanky grass and buried the can of dried maggoty jays for Monday’s collection. How nice people can be, when you slip and go away. The phone keeps burping or trilling a note. Reports indicate help is the way that’s on its way. I myself was potty trained at nine months, my dog at three, but not by me. There are photographs of this. My ingredients aren’t fresh, is the reason I quit. I mentioned a hospital, a massive faux-pas. I am watching Ike Behar point shirts to treat myself to whiteness and onyx links. How challenging and dense, these letters of transit and refusal. They could lie anywhere. In the cores of Anjou pears I didn’t buy, the scarlet head of a Spanish shrimp wrapped in special ice. There is no “in the first place” now. The dog leaps off the bed as lightly as love. He knows I’m ready to go into the other room, though I’m sitting still.

Theodore Worozbyt's books are The Dauber Wings (Dream Horse Press, 2006), winner of the American Poetry Journal Book Prize; Letters of Transit, winner of the 2007 Juniper Prize and published by UMass Press; and Smaller Than Death, winner of the 2015 Knut House Press Award. His chapbooks include Scar Letters, online at Beard of Bees Press, Objectless Fragments, published in The Chapbook, and The City of Leaving and Forgetting, in Country Music. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Po&sie and The Southern Review.

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