The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2017

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APR 2017 Issue

Winter Writing


“I Have Forgotten What Others See”

A Villenelle


My scar has a face that others see
A face that walks ahead of me
A rupture in the bark of a tree

To a future I cannot foresee
I own my wounds to a degree,
My scar has a face that others see

Although invisible to me
The rough badges I decree
A rupture in the bark of a tree

Each scar sings a Blakean song
Splinters of summer wrongs
My scar has a face that others see

Of sweet babes and losses,
Deceit and double crosses
A rupture in the bark of a tree

Beneath the frost,
These wounds exact a cost
My scar has a face that others see
A rupture in the bark of a tree











“We are held here momentarily”
said the conductor,
on an island off the coast of Manhattan
by the silhouette of an asylum, where they make skeleton keys
out of rainbows, and out of actual skeletons
from the catacombs of the Marble cemetery
where people turn into greek marbles
like a game of statues
industrial green
umbrellas are made here
rib by rib
and shoes, this an island of cobblers of roman sandals.
and we are held here monetarily,











“Night Terrors”

My luggage is stuffed with fear, it’s heavy, this fear; there are
people, friends even, who have that thing, that indescribable
thing, sometimes I, too, see it in them, and know it’s not me, for
my language is describable, probable, likely, pedestrian, com-
mon, and my night terrors are made of black ice.









“The Writing of an Hour”

Hour I

This is my hour of writing, an hour of writing that I give to myself
and to the world, this is the hour to write, to fill the endless page, the
void, the maw, and to write through this gap, to get to where I must
go.  Like a beloved visitor who cannot stay, this hour of writing is
pulled from the daily tasks of putting dishes in order, gathering dust
motes into balls, gathering the balls onto the scoop to the bin; the
dust is older than the hour, and was made before and after I was born
and as I sleep I breathe in the microbes, the dust of the hour, the sig-
nificant and the inconsequential, and I consider the hours that lay
ahead like bullets, waiting to be fired or to be consumed by fire.

Low radio bleed-through, partner walking and scrapping something
like dried egg off a plate, an hour after breakfast, and the hour before
in the bath, the laptop by the tub but out of reach of the splatter, or is
it better to say, the displacement of water, the waves a body makes
as it enters another body, laps over the edge? I should learn some-
thing during bath time, so I listen to a talk on Peruvian ruins and
their effects on local economies, the speaker says, “… Like village
women selling while preserving traditional crafts.”  TED talks on
autoplay, learning as I soak and after drying off, I could pass an exit

Shutting the lid to be with my own thoughts about how to reducing
cleverness in writing, to consider an assignment of describing lost
sounds, like all the sounds of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, but mostly
how to overcome writer’s block, and how to do two things at once
exceptionally well, and think I’d like to drop acid.









Heating soup in the kitchen, even though this is the hour of writing,
glance at three french baguettes that need to be tossed into the woods
for animals to eat: back on the bed, propped up and keyboarding,
sniffles, and looking at blue socks on my feet, and this view of green
grass despite the season, leaves of curled brown, like brown
butcher’s paper and the summer lawn chairs. Seed heads of over-
grown border weeds, and what about that humpback whale videoed
in Hudson River, a singular traveler, through heavy boat traffic and
if the whale is lost or sick, how lonely or maybe not, is this mammal,
who surfaces to breathe.









Hour II

This is the hour of writing, rain and dark days of winter. Colds and
crap, of umbrellas and hate when the wind blows them ribs out.  My
husband follows me from room to room.

Is my domestic dust more like “The Story of an Hour” or “The Yellow Wallpaper?”









Hour III

New one tonight
small anvil on a metal grate
I have never heard a gas lamp hiss
despite the works
protruding from the wall

I cannot distinguish fact from fiction
houses from accessories
bowls from pitchers
armoires from wardrobes
carriages from shopping carts









Blue is the eye of the sea and red is stationary of desire

I knew a woman who lived in a loft that once was a sewing factory
and  she thought of her tin ceiling pattern that looked like this ( ) as

Later on,  she blew hot glass into a replica of her own anatomy and
became transparent for the glass version of herself was more appro-
priate for fitting the wand into the body’s cavities. For example, her
uterus plays film noir and talking to her is analogous to eating a jar
of fire.

Like Goldilocks sampling from every bowl, I steal into the ceramic
shop to eat from white plates as thin as saltines, some cabbage-
shaped dishes that the British are so proud of, and lobsters-handle
platters. I carve houses carved out of a roadside bank of clay, ga-
rages and arches court the danger of collapse and they do collapse on
the best matchbox cars, even those with suicide doors, and when I
am the little match girl, I obsess over haunted houses as much as
Shirley Jackson as I draw you into a warren of rooms.








Brenda Coultas

Brenda Coultas is most recently the author of A Journal of Places, published online by Metambesen Press, and in print a meditation on the end of print culture in The Tatters, from Wesleyan University Press in 2014.


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2017

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