WORD CHOICE : Word Choice

Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Read two poems by Jared Stanley with art by Simon Nunn, selected by Daniel Moysaenko.


Simon Nunn. Flatbed #3. Photography, 210 × 297 mm, 2012. Courtesy of the artist.

*October*


When I prop the left

side of my head on my

left hand, my heart starts

beating in my right ear;

the hairs on that ear catch

the last of this year's sun

heat, which is making spectral

filigrees in the hairs which

cover that lobe in

tiny prisms (these days

of emphatic color)

prismatic like the leg

hairs of pre-pubescent

boys and girls—I

was one of those

once, staring at

my shins; the hairs

exactly the same as

the hairs on Katrina's,

who was on the floor

with her legs straight out

her back propped up

on a plush mauve ottoman

at the after school bible study

group somebody or other

convinced me to go to.

Katrina was Christian.

Staring at her legs

and at mine was

how I endured it

an embedded-

in-my-person person

an animist even, and

interested in whether

she was embedded in hers

and whether hairs in general

were, as Danny in

??Withnail & I?? said,

your aerials.

The children of

the family who

hosted the bible

study were spoiled.

Animism explains

why I stole action

figures from the back

of their untidy closet,

an act of malice,

of ensoulment

against the chintzy

iconoclasm in

the living room

a presentation or

warning to my

forebears' prohibitions

against dancing, their

love of yelling —

anyway what

is more animist

than a Transformer?

October is

a turn in the poem

neither the end

of a romance

nor the start

of a tragedy

one more golden

age out in the

future beyond the

thin-skinned touch

of public discourse

upon my soft tissue

which needs a whole

tube of ointment

squirted upon it.

No.

October is full

of Libras, born under

the gentlest sign

time of harvest

of steadily cooling

abundance, in which

we say goodbye

to the absurd

threats that wizards

of finance make:

they think they

extinguish us

with surveys

we who, in the guise

of the teacher and the

saunterer, predate

them, and prey

upon their fear

which spreads

like a cliché

for we are

in point of fact

their elders

in our avocation

or enthusiasm

and we drink their

spitting ignorance

for sustenance

or aver or talk over

or mock them in

our native tongue,

wherever in

the amnesia that

came from

to live in and on,

like worms or the

hairs of Katrina,

or a boat,

or a lake,

itself anew

as Art, my friend,

my friend—

in the golden age

my heart it beats

with both my ears

it’s nothing

to remember

there's nothing

so forget it’s

combed finely along

these comely ears, such

a pause in them, such

a pink, lop-eared

yeti or chimera

in the golden age

or its purple years

or its white fur

and my heart

skips to beat

it out in all

such ears

Slept On It Wrong,


so I can't keep my mind cold

enough to hover from mountain

to mountain to mountain

on a lightness of color,

in my empyrean

hair glitter - I wanted to

mean anything,


anything frail, even—

I could be

could not be without my body

in that pain, its

dimensions numerous as muscles:

a thought. And, if

I had a thought

there'd be stars (under my eyelids)

if I tried to move my arm

for consolation

in motion

I could think it,

and still only see stars

when I moved my arm

there was a pop, up in my sleep

at the top

of my spine, center

of my mind: I mean, I was screaming!

I have loved this body too much

in its humorous juxtapositions, to be

screaming at it,

like a thing

I was born to be all up in.


So, the world's in

the way it makes you squint.

Wince rhymes with quince.


I saw one once, in Oxfordshire...

brought to mind in

the richness which returns to life


after bodily pain has stopped.

If poetry were the way to do it,

I'd wish such abundance on our


friends whose pains do not subside.

I marvel, how they still hover in their bodies

from mountain to mountain to mountain


can still consider the fundament,

how one takes the air, how one

enjoys the chicken and waffles,


can still take such delicate care

with their heads inclining flowerward

in the forthrightness of bodily pain,


typing and shaping and figuring out problems.

Seamless in touch, in conversation

rarely crying out. They are strong people.


—For MH, SC, FP

Jared Stanley is the author of The Weeds, Book Made of Forest, and four chapbooks, including How the Desert Did Me In. He is a 2012-2014 Research Fellow at the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art.

"(external)Simon Nunn":http://www.simonnunn.co.uk (born 1991) lives and works from Bury St. Edmunds, UK.

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