Daniel Khalastchi is one of the poets we started THERMOS to publish. His work has meant a lot to me over the past 6 years, as has his enthusiasm for our journal. When he sent these poems, it was the first I’d seen of the work that would make up his first book, Manoleria, which came out with Tupelo Press a couple years later. I was and remain amazed by the poems’s intensity, their strangeness. He insists they’re not nightmares. They populate mine when I read them, just as their stuttering rhythms take hold of my syntax for days. It’s powerful stuff, and we’re pleased to feature Khalastchi’s work throughout this week. — AS
I am in a boat. I am wearing a
red life jacket, goggles, a neck-
lace of worms. Most are dead
but one pulls at my beard line.
As we move out to sea, I am
handed a box of small crack-
ers. My ankles are hooked to
lead weights with sturdy linked
chains, and my feet are piled in
quick drying cement. The air
feels weak on my fresh shaven
back. Handing me a nose-plug,
they tie my wrists to the port
bow with hair. My mouth
is taped over and I make to shut
my eyes. Before I’m thrown
to the water, I’m given two
holes in my windpipe; asked
to stay up as long as I can.
Went We. Inside. My Colon A Tree: (Diagnosis)
Went we. Inside. My colon a tree. Broom heavy with light.
With heavy cut leaves left. Standing the spill of. My le-
vee. My leaving. My find young ulcers. Tall kick-
ing in. Skirts. Legs white. High stockings stored. Up low
were my. Enzymes. And you. Curtained the colon. Red salad your.
Shoulder. So long. So roll. So still we waited I was dis. Eased
clean. Under my sternum. Here was the. Mandarin. Orange
deep water breath here. Was the steady fed. Crate where they saw
through the inside of this. Hot future to get it. Out. Get it out.
Get. It. Out.
Set Rough Your. Hold My. Ribs Stayed Calm: (Surgery)
Set rough your. Hold my. Ribs stayed calm. In. Open cream
the. Bandage ready the. Damp crane. Of your. Neck. watched
me. Wash. Down the water. With rocks my stomach. Treading
my. Stomach walls settled then you were. Here by me we.
Counted to the. Threes of. Our knowledge. One. ce you cracked.
The blood was still. Talking the lines of its. Measure I. Heard you fall
to my. Body was music.
My left wrist is tied to a bumper.
My right, to a horse drinking
water. The car and the animal
face opposite directions. There
are two women with flags raised
high in the night. The engine
revs and the horse is mounted
by a jockey. Counting down
from ten, the girls heavy their
breath. The moon is hidden
by lights from a city. When we
start to pull away, even I am ex-