Nouns XXXI


I. “The observable
universe hides behind its smooth 

II.  “Peripersonal space, or near space, is the entire volume of space within a person’s reach, or within a single conceivable momentary extension of his person. Think da Vinci, and the geometry of his jumping jack in extremis sketch. All that. It includes then everything at arm’s length. and a bit more, in a pinch: in a car, for the driver, peripersonal space extends perhaps to the push lock on the passenger door, should the next moment at a spotlight present an unwelcome stranger approaching the vehicle. There is something potential, temporal, contingent about it.  It feels insufficient then to call it space, to measure it in cubic feet.”  This is from the essay “On Peripersonal Space” in Brian Blanchfield’s collection Proxies from Nightboat Press.  It is a beautiful, constantly self-editing, self-questioning collection of essays that explore everything within Blanchfield’s peripersonal space, even as he reaches to the book shelves nearby or the folds of his own memory.  It is all related, and moveable, as this collection of essays reckons with itself and its writer.

III. ”                                                                               eventually
even scorched earth goes green       though beneath it

IV. “I have spent so long apprenticed
to the drunk and insane

that I know terror dressing
up in anger’s hat and coat.

Terror wearing anger’s
fake mustache.”

…from the poem “XVIIIe Arrondissement” in Hemming Flames by Patricia Colleen Murphy.  This collection of poems singes the reader on every page; its raw honesty in both story and language are devastating.  The reader searches alongside the speaker for answers, for something to pull from the flames.

V.  The MET Timeline of Art history is incredible.  A timeline build of works of art paired with essays, it’s an endless web of fascination and discovery.  Go explore!

VI.  If you start feeling too big, or the world feels too heavy, put it in perspective: the universe is 10 times more vast than astronomers thought.  The universe is expansive.

VII. “There was a need
to be weak and I met
it. I appeared in the confusion
between strength and
surrender, as if out of nowhere,
that’s the illusion.
I was reared
in a thicket of
sorrow with a beautiful
string of drool
handing out the side of my
mother like a loose

…from “A Doe Does Not Replace Iphigenia on the Sacrificial Altar” in A Woman of Property by Robyn Schiff.  The poems in this collection tumble like a child running in a secret garden where wonder and mystery are around every bush, and discovery is the delight.

VIII. “Solve for X, where prior threats to kill make him 14.9x more likely to become lethal. When he says you’re lucky he doesn’t kill you, his hands full throttle, believe him. Open the dictionary. Write his words in the margins for truth.

Repeat to yourself I am lucky on nights you can’t sleep. Feel the words carve themselves into your larynx.

You are lucky.”

From the current issue of Black Warrior Review, the essay “Motion for Order of Protection: Incident Checklist” by Mandy L. Rose, is gripping and harrowing and just so well-crafted. This issue is packed with incredible writing (and not just because Michael Schmeltzer and I have a collaborative piece in there!)

IX. “You, Enoch; you,
Ephraim — how I long for the cool press of your hang on the back
of my neck, my good brother, my quiet companion of cruel nights.”

…from “My Good Brother” by Young Smith in Issue 20 of New Ohio Review.

X.  I will always have a place in my heart for dog poems.  Especially dogs at the beach poems.  Double especially dogs at the beach and great last lines poems.  I won’t even hold it against the poem for being on The Writer’s Almanac.  By David Salner:

“How I want
for us to repeat ourselves, on and on,
you holding the leash of a silly dog, me
feeling the beat, the blood in your hand.”

XI. “I think, though, that the arts work more subtly; their unknowability—the great mystery of how Cezanne captures a certain slant of light just so, how Faulkner takes us into the tortured psyche of Southerners trying to come to grips with the past (which is never the past), how Claudia Rankine simultaneously asks us to think about what poetry is while also asking us to consider the potential violence that might lurk in our definition. And so on: all of the wonderfully ambiguous and difficult to define gestures that art and, if we’re candid with ourselves, ethics and history and sociology (the humanities) urge us to inhabit.” This essay by Tod Marshall. 

XII.  Need even more books to read?  Maggie Nelson’s 10 favorite books might be a good place to start.

XIII. Time lapse of thousands of books being re-shelved at the Rose Main Reading Room of the NYC Public Library.  Picture above is a screen shot from the video.  It’s mesmerizing! 

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