the poetry that matters

Amanda Silbernagel

Amanda Silbernagel is currently studying philosophy in Lubbock, Texas. Amanda's work has been published in journals such as Ouroboros, PANK, Kill Author, Radioactive Moat, Arsenic Lobster, 13 Myna Birds, Breadcrumb Scabs, and Paper Nautilus. More of Amanda's works can be found on her website, http://www.amandasilbernagel.com/

Fallacies in the Philosophy of Survival

In a pur­ple field (which only occurs with the exact ratio of dusk.
And Spring. And our city dis­solv­ing into flame behind us) we walked
toward the west; stum­bling over rocks and down the sides of small
moun­tains. Direc­tion and pro­por­tion are sly like that, like a loosely
imag­ined Mecca—like firearms strapped to your back can resem­ble
a shin­ing set of wings. The beholder must decide what it is she sees.
There were warn­ings to not look back, rumor of failed attempts

to escape— the immi­grants imme­di­ately trans­formed into pil­lars;
oth­ers suf­fered slowly, unable to return to the lethal vil­lage—
unwill­ing to let the sight out­side their vision. When the bod­ies
were dis­cov­ered, the archae­ol­o­gists found zero signs of wounds
that would infer a grue­some battle—only: “hand after pet­ri­fied hand
…posi­tioned as a shield over their skele­tal brows as if entranced—

as if immo­bi­lized by some far­away image…” (the loca­tion of the dig
was one mile from the ruins.) A woman becomes bit­ter, stares out
to the bit­ter cold. I can­not stay / I have nowhere to go. We took
to the field. Beneath us: a breed­ing ground for torn beholders

buried deep in the pur­ple earth. We were armed and ready to open
fire—to ascend beneath our ter­ror mech­a­nisms or a super­nat­ural
trans­porta­tion sys­tem—depend­ing on the beholder’s will­ing­ness
to sur­vive. From behind: a sun unleashed assur­ances of Spring. Ici­cles
dis­as­sem­bled from barbed wire trees, as the fence sur­round­ing our home–
land thawed: by nature? By fire? From fric­tion cre­ated by a storm of feet

decid­ing. West, you said. I’ll carry you, you said. (It was no longer
win­ter when a woman would not leave her cathe­dral.) Dusk,
I said. Dark­ness, you said—walking in the direc­tion of a set­ting sun
is like walk­ing through the set­ting of a fic­ti­tious story; how will we end?
Where is this going? “…and here, it appears, is where the evi­dence ceased
to mat­ter…” Pil­lars of salt, a cathe­dral shat­tered. Home, I wept. Fairy­tale,
you told me. When you lifted your weapon: I saw a wing, unfolding—




flotsam (ˈflɒtsəm)


In the begin­ning, from the very begin­ning: I scare
quoted all I can’t know—what I only ever mean.

To act / as if I let you go unwarned / is unwar­ranted.
Through the wind, the sec­ond wind, a cen­trifu­gal kiss—

“If you fol­low the coast down to where it cor­rodes some­one
named X will meet you there, half way.”

Between the soul and the part of you that thinks
“I am dying—” comes the body.

Rea­sons, like…the blue hue to an aura,
a name, a date, your finding

My book on the other side
of town, and recit­ing it to me

Through a feather-thin wall—
the lit­tle things.

These could make sense.
Where Man could make only theories.

As for the Good Lord will wipe away
the tears from our eyes…

As if man can ensure there will be eyes after life—
which impen­e­tra­ble win­dows alone

Express the ocean’s weight in echoes:
“The trea­sure chest, at best, you’ll find empty.”


You tore me apart
a fad­ing bible then waited
for the flour­ish
of onion paper wings

To bleed crim­son ink
and demon­strate
how voices give and even
Jesus wept. A watershed

Moment expires
into scurvy and salt
ignites an awe
too raw to savor. As in.

All for fif­teen min­utes
out from under the lime­light:
the storm-chaser wore on
her sleeve the beat­ing thing.

And the word was with—
And the mouth was with­out child—
Who descended to the hull.
Who ascended in two.

Between the phys­i­cal act
of mak­ing, and the quote;
where the breath gets caught
between “are you”

And “can you be”—leap
naked rower for your life
rests described
in this riverbed. Why the script

You deflower and the You
I defib­ril­late
go blind at the very thought
of God, is all shock

And though your left
lip quiv­ers like a cliff
against a wave
of vir­gin fingers—

I’m tempted to quar­an­tine
the tem­pest in me
before we fall
into pat­terns, asleep,

If you will, and lose
in those incre­ments the impact
we might have made
at death. All the world’s

A plank. My mind,
the ship­wreck
in which you are drown­ing
has gone

Against the grain of your rain
–slicked body—to speak
of how, god­damn, hard I am
to love, in splin­tered tongues.




Color Theory of Relativity

Sig­na­ture lumi­nous suicide-bridge. Airplane-apology nectarine

Paint-job: peel­ing— (blade slid swift enough to make that rib­bon coil)

There had been some ambi­gu­ity in the grotto regard­ing where the artist stood

In rela­tion to the graffiti-authorities. You must back into tomorrow

Lest tomor­row you for­get just what red war is (pro­peller torn off the wing­less Red)

Show-off / kiss-ass / environment-product / Ma, walked will­ingly hun­grily literally

For days through the waste­land of for­tune cook­ies, all hum­ble & how do you do

That when not codified—not like the film you only like because you know

What comes after it / cool cement can­vas / calm before the— / Storm Chaser

Stam­mers the still-wet olive branch, Chi­na­town all awash in wavelengths

Heroes falling / Cura­tor looks over his shoul­der / pro­cures a pot of gold

Teenage tag-teams make a scream­ing ouroboros of white

Noise-odes to ver­tigo / deranged rain­bow / Cop’s voice giving

Like the knees of non-believers when the world turns in

To an invis­i­ble dove: why Con­vict, why not Safety Orange

Why all the large print, why sur­face if it kills you why camouflage




 Necessity / Tranquility


To those whom the gods would undo: they told the truth

Was “gnarled but glow­ing like embers embed­ded in the ground”

How unseen, the old view, how crude and indescribable

The vast bay win­dow cost­ing NASA an arm and a leg

To see what they could see. Up north there are more dark days


Than ways through them, a thick skull buck­ling in the cold

Blooded riverbed, a winded depres­sive who’d kill

To pay rent, the indis­crim­i­nate expan­sion of everything

Under the Sun: all become one / who could’ve been

An astro­naut. The unearned won­der, the suc­cor, the loss


I’m con­vinced that we were—all of us—fireflies

In pre­vi­ous lives, and while the blue faded the filament

Hung on. But not ‘til we are buried are we bulbs

Redun­dant: don’t think of wings as obso­lete, but nov­elty

Whose roots bloom black and bot­tled messages


Read: Save me from myself… To all those the gods

Would burn out: they lent flame, and watched

Panoramic cliques cor­rupt the wicks of trou­bled teens

Da Vinci’s first angel, Descartes’ wax-and-wasp-infested gown

To these del­i­cates, we ded­i­cate: thread­waste, threshold


And who do you pro­pose may have pres­sured the free

Object’s fall? Thus mocked the anchor tied tightly

To the anchoress—tossing and turn­ing down the path

To enlight­en­ment: dream your way back through the val­ley

Of the shadow, mind the weather, remem­ber who you are


A mytho­log­i­cal fig­ure: come hell or high water, full cir­cle or color,

The hook that would catch your atten­tion, reader—the link

Appear­ing bro­ken” in a chain of events, viz. an out­stretched hand

On the sui­cide bridge—the moral man would serve, he put to words—

A kid again, bear­ing an eraser at the point of no return.



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                                                                                                                          June 16, 2012