the poetry that matters

Alex Batkin

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!
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
in conflagration—

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
desire beating
all of the night’s huge
  dark, all of the
dark’s huge design overhead—
orbital blitz

 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
shut the

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

completely through

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
twisting foregrounds,
   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,

as we—

 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,
a signal
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

to understand

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
gate shuts

onto a gate

swung open 
where stray ends
snag in coming through—

The act of

mapping binds us,
folded in and ravished
in place 
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

Impossible persistence

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

 through though
and that this

And then through a loop of the sleeve just made.

Is empty.


Bookmark and Share                                                                                                                  January 30, 2012