The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2020

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FEB 2020 Issue

from Story

The distraction of the frame placates the mind of the writer that writes

Where are you dear story.
Make your entrance known.
Coquettishly refraining from confessing
all parts, the climactic shock.
The cards sprawl and appear
near for telling. When a story
writes itself as one is living it
how complicit are you in its fiction?

A cathartic tug to say what’s real
and yet dissolving. Was the sea

And like clock hands they moved.

   "Crowds foaming."

Their memory-dreams advanced at least ten pages.

   "Sound of flip."

He had a barren body that wind-swept the land.

   "Slashing hips, wish."

He held his camera in his own heart.

   "Blackens, clicks."

He would have waved a cape of something but there was nothing.

   "Sand and sand."

   Their voices were but an ocean drone.

      "Like a siren singing.”

   The white vehicle entering the conversation more than the seizure.


   She had the sense she played the part.

      "Rewind. Feet hitting."

What is selected, what is rejected, the remains would like to know.


That there were sugar packets ripped and piled.

   "Flies and birds, sweetly."

That he spoke to a stranger inside the mirror.

   "What, what do you want?"

That there was a doctor in the city who bled his handsomeness.

   "Did you ever think it might be post-marital nerves?"

That she detected this doctor felt guilt when he knew she was right.

   "He drove around for an hour and couldn't find the place."

That the phone conversation between her and the doctor could have been filmed.

   "Bring him in right this minute."

What is the truth but what we say.

   "Squeeze, droplets bleed."

The story likes to angle itself as fantasy to tragedy.

   "Her hair wet, whirls."

The story is dominating with its ferocious scope.

   "His body pulses, clicks."

What she does remember as truth was the feel of an impenetrable screen.

   "Run to the bar, a voice thrown."

How could she convey that a newly loved one might be leaving.

   "The glance was wild, sea to sea."

She saw a version of herself crouching in the back of the ambulance.

   "The scent was faint, like a word."

When you're at the beach you're watching a beautiful film.

   "Can you hear the voices, dear."

When you're at the beach you fall in, collapse.

   "Dark, except for a square.”

When you're at the beach your body burrows and flattens.

   "Over there, dear, near the foam."

The beach becomes a painting or postcard, turquoise shifting to aquamarine.

   "Zoom to white, blue."

Fragments shift into one placid palate.

   "Squares of blue cohere."

He wiped the sand from the camera and aimed.

   " Gold, glinting."

The story chuckles as the beach was only the beginning.

   "Behind his gold lens, shade."

The story questions was his head cocked to the side as stated.

   "Body flips, flipped."

Who were the other couple in the beach ambulance?

   "The script, has someone lost the script."

She would not have this. She wanted to get away from the beach.

   "Wedges of sand, thick."

She had them leave the beach shifting to the next part.

   "Arms reaching sky, clasping."

The beach stole the story or the story stole the beach.

   "Words marched a trail."

   In front of the screen looming shadow

   In front of the ocean salt sprays

   In front of blue words fall as they may


Jennifer Firestone

Jennifer Firestone is the author of five books of poetry and four chapbooks including Story (UDP), Ten, (BlazeVOX [books]), Gates & Fields (Belladonna* Collaborative), Swimming Pool (DoubleCross Press), Flashes (Shearsman Books), and Holiday (Shearsman Books). She co-edited (with Dana Teen Lomax) Letters To Poets: Conversations about Poetics, Politics and Community (Saturnalia Books) and is collaborating with Marcella Durand on a book about Feminist Avant-garde Poetics. She won the 2014 Marsh Hawk Press’ Robert Creeley Memorial Prize. Firestone is an Associate Professor of Literary Studies at the New School’s Eugene Lang College and is also the Director of their Academic Fellows pedagogy program.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2020

All Issues