THERMOS 2: Lauren Haldeman

Today we re-print four poems by Iowa City’s Lauren Haldeman. New work from Lauren will appear soon in the forthcoming THERMOS 9. – AS


We Who Were Guides at the Oldest Estate in Virginia

We who were guides at the oldest estate in Virginia
found ourselves parallel
at five o’clock in the evening.
Each tourist left with a path in their bags.

Earlier, your tooth grew a branch. A rainbow avoided me. I was sad.
I could think of nothing better
than your sweet-bread & quicksand. It was enough
to simply picture your jacket.

All the chimes on the porch, one by one,
started swinging. Behind the photograph,
a figure approached. We could see him, still –

still near the treeline. Locusts. Humidness. Humidity. Gross.

No one can say we did not give our best
standing in that giant bag of crisp air.
All ashor…but who was going ashore? We measured ourselves
as the only ones left.


Courage Courage Courage

Black-hole-view from the center-of-the-earth:
The circular grave begins.

I dreamt an orange balloon, exhaled from a well,
Greeted the horses cantoring past our hatchback,

Their eyes, a necklace of marooning fronds,
Flashed like travel pics taped to the valley’s lampshade.

Waking, I concentrated on a single post in the woods:
Counting its wavering perspectives & angles

As an ongoing want rumbled rocks smooth inside me –
Inside this box I made for you.

There is no boon but the world’s colors you told me, how
The waterfall drinks in all four dimensions –

You told me to tell you I loved you enough
To believe my hands were holding a magnet.


Expo of the Ash-People

The ash-people hover
above the tendrilled living tunnels

of our expo. They’re the hollow us,
filling up: our ashes sucked

into their moving bodies; their bodies
hoisting away our fears, turning

a fire-wheel into another fire-wheel
nailed on a dogwood’s mirror.

We don’t go insane. Sometimes we step
so deeply into sanity that the birds

swallow up their singing, backing
into the cat’s bright mouth. These things

that carry us are not scary – just
our days, our hours born

from their own memorials.
Faces still enter the air expanding,

our cheeks grow, full of backwards hellos;
our houses still stall their motors

in the backyard’s almost horror;
the relegated shed and its mechanics

of dream, shoveling steam
into the camera’s one nostril…

Ash people they are, sketching
blueprints of themselves

on the light-shaped lovemaking
that wallpapers our brains, as

they wait for the motorcycle
to compost below us, a glowing box

of endless forgetting – trust me: they
are our friends. Watch as

they bite off their heads, exhibiting
milky underworlds through

the acorn’s pillage.
We’ll never get it – until

worn by them, we pivot and
enter their ultimate ultimate expo, hovering

all pristine & see-through above them,
strung to their shoulders, balloons of

past odors, collecting their dust
as they sift into time –

one passed-citizen
tied to every ash-person.



This is the place we pressed on the porch screen. The tower opened up
its fan-fold of sun. Wrestling, we became both knife
and accordion. Saying your birth date got me there faster. While

you’ve been away, I rub grease-clouds on postcards. Today it is Thursday.
Tomorrow is Thursday. I drop a stone in this rum, call it evening.
A squirrel near the oak-stump digs and forgets. Typically

we’d just hook our pinkies together & our minds would stay unchanged
for one hundred years. But there aren’t enough fires. Just a smudge-flock
of starlings – specks on the x-ray of the one chance we get.


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