The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2022

All Issues
OCT 2022 Issue


Achievement-dizzy ISO contemplative era
since everything must be shared
frame “wants” with chemical stopgaps
one bad day, ten winters of solitude
acronym salad makes words steaks
Millie Pinky Polly Peggy
druggy train rebukes dreamy screen
just cuz you don’t live astride
a few seconds into the one hour stolen from me
“a lifetime is not enough”
emerges a refrain which can only gain strength
“a lifetime is not enough”
since each repetition occurs closer to death
so sufficiency is not a compromise, it’s impossible

this is why we’ve moved into various forms
of non-doing, probing the negative depths
because invisibility matches infinity
despite the promise of rockets
what’s flexed below expert purview
bespeaks a potential we can imagine
to be indefinite, though to appear as seed
requires a tendency to blossom
predictable and petty
but isn’t that how we love?

Re-entering doubt with a less plastic brain,
no car, new dreams mid-fade, but all
subject to change, I am seeking hours.
They are not stored in a jar. Essentially,
our idiomatic equations are correct but
offer us nothing. A bushel for your bucket.
In fact my uptake is increasing.
So why don’t I believe my meals?
The critics don’t help, they are the birds,
no glory leads me into the sun. Whether
what thrives despite can thrive because
amounts to an investigation into reversibility,
sameness, those signs of an indifference best kept
general or to oneself. This is not the one time
the lie is true. I won’t implore you.
Yellow bands on our wrists bring the knobs
we turn into a song, there is a hat on the floor, and
love travels. Don’t make these fluids compete
like electrons at the flea circus. Quiet now.
The hours come to open zones.

One jerk doesn’t want to work,
and the other jerk works.
The indifference of a minor carcinogen
between them, wind blowing plastic between them.
Those who don’t want to do anything
should start early. You say a triangle is round.
So I cross my eyes to blur forms.
Set to rights by simple rhythms—caveat:
not impressed, though I should be.
A brush of ghost hair, lost friends best lost
yet still here. Who will I tell?
A parasite spreads happy purpose.
Did you read your mind?
And the butcher looked nowhere else.
Living involves convincing others to live.
This is how favors are intrinsically repaid.
One or two people seem responsible for one’s birth,
yet no individual answers for one’s death.
(Assuming one is not murdered.)
A million tiny anti-mothers along the way.
One made of fear, one of sleeplessness,
one of joy beyond limits.
Because I always ended up in rooms
I thought they had no end.
I distrusted opinions, preferring fidelity
to an attitude which adapted to situations.
Knowing how to talk is knowing how to deploy one’s mood.
It’s only when the dance is kept up, sitting still,
that guests do not grow disconsolate.
Going home is sleeping in public.

Things left out have a tendency to get bumpy
Like the eggy chunks that became me

Flat at extremities
The parking lot of childhood

Loudly patterned techwear on corporate island
Truck loud as the distant earth

Panging past boom town echo
Train scholar squeezing charts for dear data

Later and sooner true commitments evade stages
Now is when we wait just a minute

Easy beds filched by good offers
Exemptions for work, chores, love

I would rather be an extrapolation of a principle than
Conclusions drawn against whoever has to share air

Abundance dwarfs containment, we know this
But learning to confuse cyclical boons with exponential cancers is Rule 1

I’m speaking to our numbness, not our sensation
A milieu a tight pair of socks you never take off

Fetishes, like humans, are very adaptable
Pleasure is generous, indulgent with poison

Bloodflow’s regularity smoothes what enters me

(Diarrhea is the price of poetry)

spent the morning looking for my likeliness
so that proof wouldn’t enter the picture
simulating cryptic puzzle combat
the bed is so close to the dogma

I wondered which words could have prompted
this primordial orgiastic cluster of kinaesthesia
but it turned out I didn’t want to know
the words were kinda fucked up
I reassured my world: “there’s more to it than this”
or “it’s so incredibly unlikely”

but even in probability’s misty heights or murky depths
I expect my expectation to know its target
even if you never come, surely it is you
who I know I want to come
not so surely in our bed, looking like
you’re riding the line of best fit

I think it’s time to take responsibility
by which I mean: use punctuation
and tomorrow is always the time
to talk to your kids about snacks
where they come from

I’ll be giggling in the distance
I’ll be a fucked duck
farming out my thinking
giving away the proceeds

this fence is here because I willed it
this world is like a favor I called in

art is the lifelong game
but don’t tell the 14 year olds
who ought to take advantage of prime hand-eye coordination
back then I made my ears my eyes and my mouth my hands
ended up discovering body proper
a sexy decade later
gave me a leg up in future tripping

funny how prediction breaks down more quickly
at the individual level, both in the nonsense
“I predict I will now walk to the door” and in the very real
inscrutability of our own intentions, yet
global approximation is child’s play
because it’s a rumor you can’t stop hearing
lowest common denominator’s latest iteration

lots of talk about nothing because the garden’s so lush
and how long have you had those lettuces?
I close my eyes to bring the stinging inside me
I feel attraction to all but I only flirt with a few kinds of women
effort window eclipsed by genius accusation

I had a plan, it had a hole
my optimism aimed at its provenance like a prop gun
it’s hard to tell the world about love
since it holds more love than language can
so let the world do the work

writing is a practice of shaving hate
here’s how to take what the bigot said
with the mellowness of an aspirin
watch for effects as your body carries
words through time to the end of intention


Violet Spurlock

Poet Violet Spurlock is the author of Alloyed Bliss (Eyelet, 2021) and VS VS VS (GaussPDF, 2021). Her first full-length book, In Lieu of Solutions, won the Other Futures Award and is forthcoming from Futurepoem. In addition to writing poetry, she also facilitates a writing group for trans authors and is currently at work on a novel.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2022

All Issues