Search View Archive

No Man’s Land

I. Assume the Position

A woman claimed her baggage and expected
the portmanteau would provide her quivering mass
with an enforceable shape of fleshliness.

The audience played coy until re-dressed, she stood,
existence in the feat of clothes,
a shoelace this side of untied.

Open or zipped though, no one remains womb-side.

Like a Russian pear, she prepared her hips
and transparent limbs for kinship with
government antennae—the canyon jumping is endless.

There will be voices to pull from
an abscess, codes we’ve stored in each infection
for solitary weekends, nights that go bump
in our name-brand skulls, or against the threads
of a stitched-down heart. The choices are rampant.

Bodies repel moreover but for a flip of tangled ropes
distracted by attraction. Oxygen’s the same,
though a bit indifferent, once we breathe it.

II. Law for the Wounded

Feminine flares signal quieter departures. No one
ever swam the length of Attica’s history. Upstate
New York, 1960s:
Let’s play prisoner
like escapees, though there will be time to eat
a telling peach and sleep eternally.

But both are cast-offs of a population engaged
in fashioning future freedoms. A time-out is less likely
once the subject remarks upon the island
and re-inserts his number as a figment of society.

Do you have an answer ready for your next question?

III. Feeling in the Blanks

How will the host arrange these passing names
at the table? Skin gives in to the blind.
Gives an aside as in, Don’t hold your breath
so long
if you don’t intend to keep it.

These are just ruthless methods for sending
literary bombs as a context for the passing perfect
present. We’ll never occupy such intangible tragedies.

The distractions are aperitifs to atmosphere
as well as an able-bodied parent, until
dismissed behind the smoke of illegal cigars.
I am coddled without a background in diamond digging
or a bolder moon to climb upon.

We walk the rocks, listening out for faraway
or siren-like voices. We are shifting organs
bound for fodder, if the notes haven’t been mistaken.

In the greatest of case studies, Jesus was a god-maker.

After reading and leaving the clinic,
I felt a similar road in my windshield.
Truth exists in increments like
these little cube paintings found their place
among the living and settled for a maker status,
verging on blasphemy in sight-specific regions.

IV. Promise with a Catch

After this pencil gesture or a Maltese disguise,
ribbons, ribbons, ribbons are tied.
Stenciled-on harmonica lips smile at my beck-
oning disgrace, on my one true love,
a once-over you’ll find was never your friend,
if ever an end, an end never gives
up, won’t give in or continue the vein
of corporate occupation. Evasion envisions escape.

Exactly each day is a minifacial. Each one promises
a battle hymn as though patrol control central
could ever deliver the next porous paradise.
This is the last time I’ll nearly be clean.
In turn, I return to you always, dirt on the sole
of a boot, the flush of a worm at your meat.


Amy King

Amy King's latest book, The Missing Museum, is a co-winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. King teaches English & Creative Writing at SUNY Nassau Community College and serves on the Executive Board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. She also joins the ranks of Ann Patchett, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rachel Carson and Pearl Buck as the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the WNBA Award (Women's National Book Association).


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2006

All Issues