Illustrating the Illustrators
Plate 123, Fig. 46-47]
we wrote the name that we were told
was ours, the name that contained all
we would be given and all that would be lost,
there was a pleasure in the small, exact
movements of our hands, the pencil a machine,
worshipped, and that
was where it began.
We said Let us be children together,
and we drew our lives before the body.
We drew the coal-quay whores with wooden legs,
the tow-horses asleep against the fog. Even dusk
flooded a whole new darkness, a sympathetic
We said If death is like this then give us more.
the 13 transits of Mercury in the 19th century
Mercury asleep against a blue-ribbon goat
And everyone a witness of the buried years, of
animal’s flesh, all animals the living island,
only ones under the trees. Our ancestor with
crippled wrist gave us light, and our goat ate
softest from the hand.
asleep with the whippoorwill
living darknesses of nests in the garden,
through the straw, I know in myself
call, dense where the landscapes line
up, emerging throughout the weeds.
the ghost lamb stood, night came from
in the retreat of lost armies
The clear water that appeared in craters after the
cannons fell, after the enemy said I’ve never seen
snow before, froze, and we drank nothing.
Through the ice, we could see black fish
at us, so we cut holes for them to visit,
for our wives. This is a new world, we
Farewell to the other.
asleep again on the illustration of the metal tongue
[See Plate 19, Fig. 95]
There are geese in the sky tonight, alone in their
snow. I can hear their metal tongues, calling to
that unknown season, over the houses, the
harvested streets. In the innumerable world, in
the brave ghost kingdom, there are many ways
live, and this is one of them.
-from Illustrating the Machine that Makes the World
Listen to Joshua Poteat read his work here