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Authors: Heather Christle


BOOK: Heliopause
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Wesleyan Poetry



Wesleyan University Press

Middletown, Connecticut

Wesleyan University Press

Middletown CT 06459
© 2015 Heather Christle
All rights reserved
Manufactured in the United States of America
Designed and typeset in Whitman
by Eric M. Brooks

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts

Wesleyan University Press is a member of the Green Press Initiative. The paper used in this book meets their minimum requirement for recycled paper.

Library of Congress

Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Christle, Heather, 1980–
[Poems. Selections]
Heliopause / Heather Christle.

    pages; cm. — (Wesleyan poetry series)
978-0-8195-7529-6 (hardcover) —
978-0-8195-7530-2 (ebook)

I. Title.
6      2015
811'.6 — dc23      2014044266

5 4 3 2 1

Cover illustration: Aerolith by Andy Gilmore.

for Harriet

What is the language using us for?

It uses us all and in its dark

Of dark actions selections differ.

I am not making a fool of myself

For you. What I am making is

A place for language in my life

Which I want to be a real place

Seeing I have to put up with it


W. S. Graham


A Perfect Catastrophe 1


Disintegration Loop 1.1 5


Vernon Street 21

Summer 23

Realistic Flowers 25

I Am Glad of Your Arrival 26

It's an Empire Out There 27


Elegy for Neil Armstrong 29


And This Too Comes Apart 39

Hatch 41

Such and Such a Time at Such and Such a Palace 42

Me and My Head as Pieces of Wood 43

Flowers Are Also Letters 44

Nature Poem 45

They Are Leaving You a Message 47

Drapes 48

Uncloudy 49

Not Much More Room in the Cemetery 50

As If No Light Could Warm You 51


How Long Is the Heliopause 53


Some Glamorous Country 61

In the Dumps 62

Pursuits 63

Aesthetics of Crying 64

Keep in Shape 65

Optioned 66

Annual 67

Ecumene 68


Dear Seth 69


Poem for Bill Cassidy 87


Notes and Acknowledgments 93


A Perfect Catastrophe

To have stood midfield among the vast and livid green

and never heard the grasses take their vow of silence

is experience, not evidence, and meanwhile clouds descend

and buffer light. When did I arrive? I recall it came on

slowly as a fever as a poem is a communicable

What's in charge here is the scattered light all over

and how it pulls my very blood into my hands

until they graph a fat
the sun likes holding

and some dumb mutter good and nails me to the bone.

Disintegration Loop 1.1

for William Basinski


In seeking to resolve a conflict

between two parties

            one can assume

each believes it is acting

in good faith

  just as the hopeful

gravel waits for your rough step


The only way to be truly alone

is for there to be nothing

not even myself


In looping you rephrase after listening

to what the person has to say

what the person had to say

and having the new words affirmed

you wait and listen again


Myself the eager magnet

for another to address


Maybe I should think this a spiral

a loop that gets closer

a loop that will not close


To make nothing

draw a circle

around what isn't there


I found a note I left in the corner

of a part of the poem we rarely used

If you ever feel trapped

                it said

this is where to escape


But legally I owe you nothing

I owe you at least that much


Like being haunted by the spirit of the letter


I remember my teacher's story

of two teenagers who died in a blizzard

trying to stay warm

           and the tailpipe

blocked with snow

so I always check

but it still happens

          just yesterday

a man's young son in what the paper

one awful story


The light switch has a beautiful feeling

when a person reaches out to make it change

and the warm quadrangles of sun

on the carpet are beautiful too

and red berries on the gray bush

and the mail as long as it lasts

and beauty is what beauty does to you


Like trying to say a seagull

inscribing a circle

over what land

the day has thought

to provide


to enter into agreement with yourself

to lie but only out of love

for the verblessness of buildings

They do not rise except once

and then nothing

       how being is nothing

and if there were a word after

it would be a slow decay


I will love across any distance

you think this has made to occur


Nothing so ruthless as a life


The day hangs low overhead

and soon enough the new grass will emerge

through the gravel

They have big plans to meet

in the middle

  and in so doing

to phase all this out


I go on

    say enough and it will blur

off into sound

   look up and see that night

has nearly settled in and darkness

and hope that if I look into it

long enough and keep my mouth


 when I look down again I'll find

a settled word

   to which nothing

is attached


Re: the day

           someone said

what doesn't kill you makes it longer


It's like footsteps toward you

that sound for all the world like

they forever move away


I keep forgetting I'm the smoke

not the camera

    Then I see my dark

joining sky to what's below


Like watching someone

from across a river

          on such a clear day

that you can see her teeth

                      and at such

a distance

         that you can't hear the sound

so while you know

it must be screaming

            it is possible

to imagine her faraway mouth

which you can see but not save

has opened—is open—to sing


After the collapse and before

the dust settles

                 the darkness billows

and grows

         like it's describing

itself to the sky

it says

this and much bigger

            but the sky

in its sorrow

             has had to turn away


to expect praise for the beautiful apology


to imagine something other than again


Whether it is falling

from a ship

           or plane or a building

the human body starts its drop

at roughly one rate


The book said legally

             thought the captain

of the slave ship

              to throw the people overboard

instead of letting them starve

would ensure compensation

                       for his loss


And another has made

the words to decay

until what remains


loss   loss


When I go to the video

it is paused close to darkness

the place

       where I had last stopped

and as I drag the cursor backward

so it can start again

          I'm reversing

into morning what was night


The three buildings in the corner

begin a hypotenuse

          the dark clouds



The subsection of sympathy cards

words fail me

            on which we pen

sorry for your loss


The lights that come on last—

what were they resisting?

Or do they not notice

as sometimes can happen

while the hours carry in

the new-fallen dark


They say we have

a long way

           to the

and planetary light


They say
the bomb is a flower


A body falls much faster

than the night


You will forgive me won't you

for the lines

            I'm copying in

I do not want to be alone here

despite what I have said


And I have forgotten

to mention the music

though it has this whole time

been mentioning me

I will say it is the sound of a clock

which has had all of its hours removed


The screen is dark enough now

that it can perfectly reflect

the facing window

        a corner of morning


And some of the lights

               they tremble

trying to decide

    whether they can go on


Lights like pronouns for the buildings


to remove to go through to withdraw

to slowly walk into another room


What is legally an hour?

The time it takes the king

to fall asleep

the melting

of a candle in the snow


Hour like
a jar in Tennessee

BOOK: Heliopause
9.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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