Alex Batkin lives and writes in New York. He is a graduate of Bard College where he was awarded the Wilton Moore Lockwood Prize for distinguished creative writing, and now works as a tutor and volunteer teacher in the Bard Prison Initiative.
from Lariat Chain
Look! There! Imperfect
heights sluiced down from peaks
where they flaunt their volume in the humble
embrace of the adjacent valley.
Then the river begins to melt
which it then does completely
not to stand for itself,
insouciant still hopelessly conformist—
Against the peaks, certain clouds are firstly
receding and grow
clear against the light, then
occluded by incongruities, begin deepening
The contrast between shadows of crowds of
clouds of dark below
against stray flares at the upper rim
gathering with such a difference—as values clash,
white hot against the darks—
the speed at which the antitheses
intensify would seem also to increase, so
the whole plane of the images
on the visual field begins
to gape aflame to engulf itself
Someone threw a vista across this tree.
The long humped mountains cross
dissapearing sheen to eke
out through branches behind the river—
And air across water licks it into ripples to break
the landscape into waves that tongue
around, in spectral fury through stasis—
As if words were actually
seen to rise to the expected level
of fidelity with the circumstances
to which they refer
We should never have been home by now.
Surrogate connection spans the lacuna.
In the argument of blacknesses indicating
dark, then, the moon
and stars are contagious faults,
as flaws of the trace of
light by which we see them
The moon’s blast zone
all of the night’s huge
dark, all of the
dark’s huge design overhead—
fleet in charting, in trajectory
Of too many stars in patterns or of few
too disparate to cohere, some
huge distance apart
against blackness, then,
the sky is departing generously
shut, it trangresses
the frame outside the frame it is
The sky into the space
the sky in the space left
Sky in the space provided
The window blows open the afternoon.
The window blows open, a body
were a body across a window blown open
it would tend
To look completely
To the world that stays
To fall all the way out of
proximity with the window
With proximity, the window
opens the afternoon it is blown
It is blown upon.
The sky is our only one against
which a body is tossed
from the window
The body falls opened
Transparent can be impenetrable
Impenetrable can mean dense
Objects are not solid
Objects are much too solid
In the sum of the parts is the body
Where is the body—
Is the sum of the body in parts.
Where you are is all the places the
animal reconstitutes itself in front of you,
blurs across the plane of the landscape.
Space moves when you move through it
and your location inside,
although a blur can oppose the surface
of actions of
the inner undulations of the animal as
the horizon line is refracted, so
the plane tips on end.
The plane in skewed perspective
the foreground sags
in plastic, particles in glass
ground, in partial obliteration
as things have been flying apart—
To let myself know
I had not been moving, I had to move
precluding other motion or staying still,
as an image blown down to a dot.
With a loupe, one may look
closely to see
the pattern of the image in dots
where communion breaks
the point of encounter
the leakage through the image’s scrim—
glimpse of mathematical grounds for suspicion,
that you are somewhere you with me with it,
this is your conscience speaking.
The speed of teeth’s sound through clothes.
A finger is proof that a thing exists
if you point at it. There—
As a finger craves by pointing
something insisted, pointing
A hand on an arm cast out from the body,
to look in the direction, to give sign to have,
as for a place to go, there,
toward a certain point in a field,
or with a fist.
We cannot stay or leave from
this spot exactly if you’re not
putting your finger here.
The way a map folds in on us,
not a story but a circle
the way a face
is perpetually returning to find itself
where you are now, staring at it.
A circle is redundant.
Permanent in the sense of imprisonment
by perseverance, and onus. Our onus
is the work we have today
our own gross arrangement of
Our matter is only prepared for
what blights and such
fissures as we have already imagined
will affect us
As if we can outbludgeon gravity with speed,
the field not clogging our feet
The point is to keep
moving fast now.
Or a hand extends to point
a hand insisted, pointing
for a way to go, now, a gate
to open, agape,
and is crushed. Hand crushed
to hold in place where the
onto a gate
where stray ends
snag in coming through—
The act of
mapping binds us,
folded in and ravished
where we find ourselves
As any beginning relies on the later
I too was once as before
when to be was as is
As one thing leading to another is,
as it must, and should it,
bleeding to its next—
Forward is the only direction
And if we travel, then,
the past also traveling forward
when we think of it, is impossible
Unmapped; cut from occurring.
The pristine blue shirt
of the suit is pressed
hung and ready for
what is going to happen,
which is going to happen
now it has ended.
And then. And then though
and that this
And then through a loop of the sleeve just made.