Five Poems by Kirsten Kaschock

BOMB 118 Winter 2012
Cover 118


I want a new wife but with all of my old things. 
I am tired of the domestic packaging of woman, the imprisoned-cellophane versions.  Meatdress.
I will fail to say this correctly.
In some ways, I have already failed; in some ways, I am failing continually.
And this suits me, buttonhole.  Pivot and clasp.
The elaboration of woman makes windows grow in enormity, if by enormity what I mean is importance.
The adverb, said to be weak, is viewed as an addendum to, or a subtraction from, thought.
Slyly.  Widow-like. 
Bereft but not, emboldened by loss.  Wise.  Liberated from life.  Sprung.
Most windows are right-angled, like their houses.
Modeled on the premise that a box is the best shape with which to contort the soul, i.e. book.
Some mini-dresses from the ’60s achieved the same lines, and the Volvo.
The illusion of transparency is a problem, as it is with women, vellum.
I like to think of make-up.  Adjustment to mood.
The window is thought of as immaterial—certain things permitted fluidity—the gaze and light, but not the head or hand.
Windows are what make domesticity seem picturesque, in that windows make sculpture into painting.  Like said Hegel. 
History flattens.  She can see out. 
She could move through doors and into a car, but then store, catastrophe, park, gym, restaurant-with-bar, waiting room, hotel lobby, book, brick, suffocate, 12-step, home.
Windows can be effectively cleaned with vinegar and newsprint.  You want to remember newsprint.
The hand smelling of a kind of vain poverty, of human interest.
Window—deathtrap for a next bird or birdhead.
Thinking open.



You would have my explosions be localized and armed against themselves.
You would prefer I not discuss “men” or “women.”  The genres.
It would be better to prevent the spread of the insurgency.
I should not place a woman in a house, done to death—a veranda?  Deck.
The way my bombs work is that I set them beside my heart, and although I fly apart and out, flesh of me meeting flesh of the other dead I’ve made, still I am whole and focused.
My heart, once muscle, now a rapture, now remains.
To contain me, you must rewrite the previous century and go forward in horror from there. As if it were not horror to begin with.  You must Whitman.
If I named her field, instead of she, I might have a philosophy, or a beard.
I might be, say, a nurse in the war.  More acceptable.
Less shrapnel.



I can’t do my heart today, fuss till it’s lacy, coral, a century or more of microscopic animals.
The men I am are plural and all thumbnails, larger and quicker than that, but clumsy.
Overlaid, they palimpsest into substance.
The men I am are wilders—btw, wrong prosecution, a satisfying lying. 
In the pack, they slap the bitch down.  It is like a whisper.
She stays down.
I shrivel when they touch the border of me—when I touch the border of me, I get unvivid and a harder called brittle, intelligent, not-young.  The ocean fails.  Wombs fail.
The men I am are violent or they are not.
Illicitly got confession.  Et tu? 
I have never bothered to go fathom-by-fathom underneath.  I am more afraid of what I might one day do.  Fail to do or say accurately.  A bad renovation, the bones unhidden, reef a graveyard, the body drunk up, loved at arms’ length (fathom of rope, leash, a good stretch to hang by).
The car, assassination, dishwasher, low-cut: all my fault.  Ahem.



This one has trees outside it.
To be accurate, they all have trees outside them somewhere.
I can see these: a white mulberry, a maple.
In mid-June the postage-stamp yard is a swamp of alcohol, the fruit shedding or shat by birds beneath the lush cover. 
A dark and small yard, where nature is still about its own decay, happily.
Satyrically.  Big deck.
The windows on the other side of the house look at other windows, but this is not a conversation—this is a subway.
The street rivers between, floating cars carrying other windows.
The city is also about its own decay, and the poorer kids at the neighborhood pool are turned away for not having legitimate bathing suits. 
Nothing private is natural.
She has had her shirt blown up by the wind.
She has held her shirt up, exposing her nipples, covering her brown, her summer face.
Mistakenly supposing this will make her nakedness private, but her face is not really on the table.
She is six.



I never used to be able to keep things alive, cacti.  Jade.  I can keep them going now, but at what expense? 
I can take a hormone so my unborn daughter will one day push strollers without rancor.  There is a hormone for that.
A hormone I take opens my bronchi despite badly-planned landscaping: all flowers, no fruit.
Corticosteroids turn me unhappy.  But a breathing unhappy.
All the breathing unhappies, forgetting that austerity is a sort of pleasure, except those who have embraced austerity because superiority is an even clearer, cleaner sort of pleasure.  Vinegar.
Comfort is overrated.  Bliss, a sister’s word for drug use.
A nun’s.
The pachysandra in the yard was a gift from a dead woman.  It is supposed to make me happy but I am only more afraid it will die.  The older I get.
I want to own this living stuff, this desire to wrench shit out of the earth.
The truth is something more like fear than it is like April.

Kirsten Kaschock is the author of two books of poetry: A Beautiful Name for a Girl and Unfathoms.  Her first novel, Sleight, is available from Coffee House Press.  She has earned a PhD in English from the University of Georgia and is currently a doctoral fellow in dance at Temple University.  Kirsten lives with her three sons and their father in Philadelphia, where she makes things, sometimes people.

Harriet Hosmer: Lost and Found by Patricia Cronin

Who gets written into history? Who is forgotten? What are the conditions under which eradication can occur?

The Darkness and the Beauty: Lisa Taddeo Interviewed by Rachel Schwartzmann

A novel about female rage and the power to strike back.

After the Father by Wendy S. Walters
Pages from the print version of Wendy S. Walters's essay "After the Father" as it appears in BOMB Magazine's spring 2021 issue.

“Each time they told me to smile I felt at risk for oblivion, as if it wasn’t me that they were looking at but, rather, some bright reflection of themselves, some aspiration gnarled against their own self-perception.”

Originally published in

BOMB 118, Winter 2012

Featuring interviews with Jimmie Durham, John Miller, Suzanne McClelland and Barry Schwabsky, Paul La Farge and Peter Orner, Yang Fudong, and Radiohole.

Read the issue
Cover 118