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Ioanna Carlsen

Infanta

For a moment it flashed
through me, I thought I
remembered being someone before now,
the her who was me
hurt, felt,
embedded like a whorl in wood.
The photograph is black and white,
but I know the dress was amber--
she bells out toward me,
her fingers resting against
a cage of satin,
she stands the way I do
already--is that it--
or have I never forgotten how
to stand like her?

If I could just take the fire with me
into the next room I might sleep
and stumble into the black hole
of that photographer's studio,

[...] Read more

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Breather

Back in the time when you breathed
I would say breath to you and you
would answer back,
I would say breathe to you and you would do it:
I could have filled a community of breathers
with what you had,
it was free, a birthright,
day and night, black and white,
it was yours, given,
the acceptable inevitable companionship of opposites,
in and out, breath or death, breathe or die,
the human situation.

Birds talk about it
from one tree to another,
conversing across a small valley,
they know what they talk about,
they know something is wrong —
your breathing, or dying,
they know and talk about it,

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Forgiveness

I.

I can only imagine it.

You ask me for it —
I deny you three times.

The cock crows.
We marry.

I forget
what there is to forgive,

and you forgive, like always, yourself.


II.

I'm there —

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Over And Over Tune

You could grow into it,
that sense of living like a dog,
loyal to being on your own in the fur of your skin,
able to exist only for the sake of existing.

Nothing inside your head lasting long enough for you to hold onto,
you watch your own thoughts leap across your own synapses and disappear --
small boats in a wind,
fliers in all that blue,
the swish of an arm backed with feathers,
a dress talking in a corner,
and then poof,
your mind clean as a dog's,
your body big as the world,
important with accident --
blood or a limp, fur and paws.

You swell into survival,
you take up the whole day,
you're all there is,

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Insomnia:A Sextet

On Reading Cioran

Leaf caught in a branch of ice,
I am unsleeping,
heroic,
neither dead, nor dreaming,
awake.

I exist when I
don't sleep,
it makes me feel
you there,
me watched.

You think because you
are not God,
I don't know you.

But I've been here as long as you,
I know the territory:

[...] Read more

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Doll's House

The music comes on with the lights,
the little opera of emptiness begins, the little
dance of no one there —
just the rooms exhibited,
furniture in them like ideas,
a stage set waiting for action out of the blue.

But no,
even the fire in the hearth is neon, warms no one,
the drawers in the painted chests,
are filled with nothing,
the tables loaded with miniature, fake, repasts.

It’s night outside, about to snow, the dollhouse lights are on:
you’re in the dark,
watching the dollhouse like a thief,
pilfering its pockets for a clue to your own life,
wafted over by smells of cooking, and silence.

Inside the dark

[...] Read more

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