THERMOS 1: Daniel Khalastchi

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




Manoleria:


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.



Manoleria:


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-
cited.


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