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Sarah J. Sloat


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My skin is building a village,
a fine-grained, homespun village,
the spitting image of holy ghostly
in tallow-ivory white. In slides
the hillside; houses crowd the hem

of the arcade. I drop in and dust
plummets. Awnings dissolve in robes
and sleeves. Here it hoards with mites
in corners and erects a golden rookery.
Here it trashes its last scaffold.

How unclean I'd be, unkempt. I'd be
pinprick and smoulder if my skin
weren't a stickler for institutions,
if it didn't install this little sill
to collect my ounce of moonlight.

Here's an eave to arrange the mosaic
and genetic messages skin was given
to understand, the reaping, sowing
and dismantling, all getting so
gorgeously out of hand.

Snow Globe Shepherd

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Stopped mid-step, the untrembling
shepherd wants nothing more

than to shed his frowsy cloak,
that, and a change in the weather.

But gravity gets everything.
Nothing is long for the float,

and a yawn is the oldest known
contagion. (Too soon this whirl

leaves children bored.) The shepherd
bends ever into his frozen pose,

half over the hill where the flock
was surprised by storm. (Here

the drowsy eyelids close.) Is there
a hand here can rouse the snow

from its coma? Is there a saint for
those who get halfway home?

Crepe Paper Body

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I hate all of love as if it were a single person.
I've watched so much smoke drifting off
like the thoughts of somebody extremely sick.

I've rented a room to be alone with myself,
not wanting to be glutted
about having been hot, at having felt cold.

What would be the outcome of everything
if I tell you that in the branches of my bed
the smoke of volcanoes clothes me in its vapors?

I dread the ruin which is due to me,
the woman with the crepe paper body:

high, low, all the time,
here and there impetuous fires.


Robert Desnos, "One Day When It Was Night Out" / Tristan Tzara, "Highway Single Sun" / Antonin Artaud, "Moon" / Blaise Cendrars, "In the World's Heart" / Pierre Reverdy, "Waterfall" / Paul Eluard, "Painted Words" / Tristan Tzara, "Song V" / Paul Eluard, "Poetry Ought to Have a Practical Purpose" / Robert Desnos, "The Voice of Robert Desnos" / Jacques Dupin, "Waiting" / André Breton, "A Branch of Nettles Enters Through the Window" / René Daumal, "Sad Little Round of Life" / Paul Eluard, "From the Depth of the Abyss"

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