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Paula Cisewski

Bound to Being.jpg

PRESERVED & ADORNED WITH FLOWERS

         

                   1.      

 
Bundled our collective fears
                     an afflicted bouquet garnis

 

A common symptom since the last
election: generalized lack of self, that
sense of missing your own twin but
you don’t have a twin. Never did.

 

An old trick: layer extra eyeliner and mascara
                   to dissuade public tears

 

Or are you your own twin? A chimera,
birthing unrelated needs/ideals. It’s possible:
you’ve read about it, and it feels true. You
require no shred of medical evidence.

 

Fear is a human megaphone gone dumb, a structure
                     of huddled limbs, going going gone numb 

   

 
 
 
                  2.      

 

Erect a tower in homage to insides
matching outsides, and then a selfie

 

of that: an electronic reliquary:
a gulping, intestinal noooooooooooooooooooooo.  

 

Is this the tall hole where hope
or shame shall manifest?

 

Both too human.
Both so compostable.

  

Fissures, tunnels, an impulse to binge
while happy children make sandcastles
of the crumbling foundation.

  

                                                                 Whose kids are these??

  

                        Before it toppled we prayed a little, a general
                        summons, were just putting it out there, in case.               

 

                                                   I often
think of motherhood: The baby

 

I held a long tunnel ago.           My message to my child
is what I manage still to care for. I play telephone

 

with a future memory.
              It’s happening

 

              also hurting
              that feeling of being
              almost home.

     

                        

                         3.      

                         Desire: from the Latin “de sedire” or “from the stars”
 
Pink is a furious
color, and muzzle-tongued, because
a sunset people has lost itself
and cindered the moon
by clinging. We, the people,
were bored with the sky but also
demanded it stay and give us everything.
The sky relented and told us one star-clung
parable about a person who refused
to fold in on herself and become a ghost.
Is that even true? we asked before
we heard the exit door click,
then nothing.              Yawn.
We had no room for answers. 

  

 

                 4.      

 

At the bottom dirt floor of the tower,
                                      mostly buried  

 

(Did I climb down? Am I fallen? Was I born here? Am I born?)

 

Here feels underground/feels inside myself.
Too human. So compostable.

 

Already, others must be tired of hearing about the cool things I do
with my computer. Others must be
somewhere believing something.

 

Already, I want everything to be tenable.
The disc of light, for example, resembling the moon
is not the moon.
It’s the next

   

 
                   
                        5.      

 

The day I began this poem, the marker outside the grocery store in Money, Tennessee, where Emmett Till was accused of whistling was defiled. The vandals pulled off panels stating facts.
“Who knows what motivates people to do this?” said a rep from a PR firm.

 

Not fractals exactly, the way one body part resembles another. A lobe
is a lobe is a lobe.

Or the way one birth. Or one murder.

 

This too became the day I learned
the historical marker at the site where
Till’s lynched body was removed
from the Tallahatchie River has for years
been a popular shooting target.                 being shot up with bullet holes
                                                   multiple angles, different guns used. Some fired from road

 

A belief is a thing. A thing cannot be made before it is imagined
deep underground/inside myself and so my body too is stuffed
with the structures that leave holes in us.

 

Says J.W. Milam about a photo he provided: “Juxtaposed…Here is a site marker for the home of…Emmett Till’s murderer. It is preserved and adorned with flowers.”

 

The tower fell once we learned it was the structure we hated.
Toppled, I offered my ugliest self up, and hallelujah, no one tasted.

                           

(much info for this section from Harriet Sinclair’s 6/26/17 newsweek.com article, “Civil Rights Marker for Emmett Till Vandalized Months after his Memorial Sign was Riddled with Bullets.”)

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Paula Cisewski's fourth poetry collection, ​quitter​, won Diode Editions' 2016 Book Prize and her third, The Threatened Everything, was selected for publication in the 2014 Burnside Review Book Contest. Both were released in early 2017. Cisewski is also the author of Ghost Fargo (selected by Franz Wright for the Nightboat Poetry Prize),  Upon Arrival (Black Ocean), and a chapbook of lyric prose, Misplaced Sinister (Red Bird Chapbooks). She lives in Minneapolis.

All Responses:

Respond to a Prompt:

Submit your response to our current prompt(s). See our Submissions Guidelines page for details.


Paula Cisewski's fourth poetry collection, ​quitter​, won Diode Editions' 2016 Book Prize and her third, The Threatened Everything, was selected for publication in the 2014 Burnside Review Book Contest. Both were released in early 2017. Cisewski is also the author of Ghost Fargo (selected by Franz Wright for the Nightboat Poetry Prize),  Upon Arrival (Black Ocean), and a chapbook of lyric prose, Misplaced Sinister (Red Bird Chapbooks). She lives in Minneapolis.