THERMOS 4: Daniel Khalastchi, “Send Weight”

When I read “Send Weight” for the first time five years ago, I felt that I had never read anything quite like it. I still feel that way today. I’ll write about why elsewhere, but essentially, it has this effect: it makes me feel quiet. For that reason and others, it’s one of my favorite sequences, one of my favorite poems. When we published it in our fourth issue, we selected 2/3 of the poems, leaving the other 1/3 out for spatial reasons. I’m happy now to finally have the chance to publish “Send Weight” in its entirety. I hope you enjoy it — AS



The Commission:


Standing on the edge
of his neighbor’s cattled yard,
Reza Kholoff
has made the decision
to purchase a jacket. Soon,
when the day breaks
down in beat
high yellow, he will leave his litter,
head into town,
and retrieve the first full cover
the first salesman shows
him, without first looking
at the price. The cloth set
on body must hold
together, but there is little
other mandate.
On the frontage gravel road
pulling long behind his pasture,
the sister of an old school-
mate drives past,
kicking rocks back at the
bovine, tapping her palm
against the door panel
to the beat of left music.
With the windows down,
the cab of the pick-up must
be incredibly dusty. Her
head is sewn against the
seat rest. She is not coughing.



No Pretend: (Walking Suite — Morning)


Stretched long, the cover
up over is tallied with white
ticks of lynched
columns, pushing
against their middle
as spleened banks along
a river, waiting to give back
the bend. Many large
paces ahead of him, Reza’s
Nissan is fallen,
surrounded by a steep
of Dutch rabbits and
Maine Coon that must
belong to one of the
other cats still behind
him in the shade by
the feeders. Closer
to the handle, like lines
hip the rocker panels,
cleeting attention
as he steps nearer
the beast. Able reach
to under-cup,
the door latch plays
against rolled bails off-set
by leveled framing. When he shoots
the gas to draw up the cylinders,
everything stays still
on the dash. The windshield loads
blue tint to heavy
clear the day pulled out. Reza doesn’t
turn his head while reversing
from the drive. He uses his mirrors,
maintains a cushion of safety.



Trouble If: (Clear Out)


Left limp
wrist held over
the steering yoke,
Reza birds his thumb
against the shift
column, allowing
the right lower digits
to kibble for a
station. Between commercials,
there is pitched rent
of female melisma running
into failed signal
as he bows the leg
of a cross bridge. School
buses pass
single file nearer the shoulder,
making way, Reza imagines,
to a toothbrush
factory in the district
so the kids
can watch hot plastic
fastened to cut bristles
before packaging. A boy in
the last bus is making
faces and hand gestures
through the clear out
emergency exit but
his classmates aren’t
watching. The lanes around them
fold 200 yards before a set of train
tracks laying west
and east as an underused
option. When the procession
slows, the doors of the
first bus open
into open growth. Song castles split
latched gates inside the carriage. This will
happen two more times.



It’s Not That: (Power 107.9)


A mamma bird leans in her nest to feed
some all her babies. In chewing first the find
of worms, she makes less work their throats and needs
not keep survival fear for now on mind.
When one or two or three or all her rows
hold back their begging, mamma bird will rent a condo
or chest-take shots from a pellet gun. Below
the gutter of houses around her, baths swallow
cement hands still shown
to be a cleanser. Peanut butter suet
cages press against loose siding blown
down during storms last spring. As she knew it
then, mamma bird knows now provision has limits.
This close, the panic is screaming: the limit the limit the limit.



Ooh-Ooh:


Shocks don’t stop
the rumble of axels
and motor-fill as
Reza crosses the
crossing. Having
allowed more space
between himself
and the busses that
passed him, the sounds
of rubber, of
pulled com-press
lowed above laid asphalt,
teakettle through
the door gaps and gutter-
buck the cabin space to which
the children are no longer
facing. From the air
letting in the vents,
the weather appears
to have stayed considerate.
This has happened
before: warmer days
cut between the snowfall;
screens set back in place
of storm panes, left facing
painted wood for seven
more
weeks. The tricks
small animals do aren’t really
that impressive. Reza is
sitting. Shaking. Playing
with the skin under
his index finger knowing
he needs a coat. There is
a turning lane ahead that has
only recently been painted.
A man in the shoulder.
Chasing.



Ain’t A Crook: (Back Right)


A man in chase of two loose horses is wishing he’d fixed his gate. He is nervous, knees chest-high as he makes through the stalk-crush, holding his dungarees at the thigh, keeping the hemline out from under his work boots. Because the road weeds wide around his land, the passing reflection of Reza’s Nissan sets-flat an allowance of wreck-headed tree fall. Through the back right window, Reza can see the Hackneys eating, shoulders bedded in the sheets of their own skin, knowing they’ve upset their owner. From the withers, the horses are 13, maybe 16 hands against the north. From the car seat, the roads around continue; land spent out in the frame of molded glass and defrost lines; flat trunk, long stage, farmer enters with harness.



Ice Pick Your Neck: (Back Left)


Nearing the fruit
of a bloom-metal city,
a police officer has stopped
to help a small lady
up jack her Taurus. He
is black, laid under, eyes
focused on the lift placement
so as not to loose
the rocker panel, sweating
through his Kevlar
gun belt just
hugging off
the road. To passers by, the woman
is embarrassed
or nervous
or late to a movie
she hadn’t ever cared
to see. Because they are
studied on the right
shoulder, drivers are expected
to show courtesy by drifting
more defiantly
into another lane, no
outs available. The cruiser’s
lights are not rolling but
something kings the back
left window as Reza checks his
spots, well timing the steering
wheel. In the ditches, men
with pokes and trash
bags reflect
the wild, wearing DOT vests
and visors. If he looked
into the right side
mirror, it would seem
the pressed car was changing
the officer. On this side,
however, the cattails look planted,
hailed beige in long
mowed lake. One
hundred yards from now
Reza will decide which lane to
stay in. One hundred yards
after that, he’ll still be
out of luck.



Body Calling:


When there is space and time,
Reza pulls into the break
of a long divided highway
and places his hands on the wheel:
right low, palm up; left high,
not holding; preparing to turn left
over left over leftover animal cover
retained in the asphalt,
bringing himself
into position to see
great strapped metal
pointing loud against
the tree line. This close
to the city, more cars
and more people
have less patience
to swallow movement.
Auxiliary sewer piping
lines the highway be-
coming in two
blocks a boulevard. When the car
crests the road’s rise, signs
will show the traffic
other people are also known
to visit. There is no
reason to feel bad about
shopping: big volume
used car lots, a family D.O.,
frame shops, paper warehouse,
Blain’s Farm and Fleet
feel-patched against
the border of its own letters leaning to
children in the lots nearer
the cemetery. Within the next seven
years, brick walls
six feet in height
will line the beds around him
to keep out the growing noise. Smaller
stones are used for walkways. They are on
sale, the radio says, along with
bug candles and ginger ale, through
the after coming holidays. Reza remembers
from school the feeling of gaps
between the NM
of a typewriter. Maybe
there will be time tomorrow.



Concealed By Weight: (Talk City 98.3)


If you look close into
the mirror behind your
door or above your bathroom


sink, you are likely to see one of four
things: a terrible outline
where your hair cut used to taper; a store-


age of patterned cotton signed
in stitches by a famous designer who
may or may not be anti-Semitic; bird feet by


the eye corners; a length of breadth too
large when compared proportionately
to how small your wallet proves


to be, embezzled between two roughly
stitched leaves of denim
below a slug of branded leather Levi’s


uses for product recognition and size keep. In-
between the lower half of the upper case
E and the middle dent of the lower case X pinned

to the chests of FedEx workers and blazed
against the sides of their trucks around the city,
there is an arrow. At our store, we sell shirts that say


suggestive things so common audience won’t leave
their eyes on body. Farm and Fleet. We have your size and style.
Come get it.



Cook It/Cut It:


Turning low
the volume
of his Radio,
Reza steers down
the knob with
his right thumb,
and moves his hand
back to his thigh.
Focused now on avoiding
congestion, he has held
so long in the left
lane that there is strong possibility
he will not make the change
in time enough to enter
the store’s parking entrance
three blocks away. Between
his current location
and the business he is trying
to do business with,
there is a traffic light
at every intersection. The poor
planning of this design was said
to keep a flow of product,
but over the years the timing
has fallen off. Many people
find themselves every block
moving only small measure
before being signaled to rest
again. Reza is stopped. He needs to
get over
within the next few seconds and he knows
the Explorer on his left
is trying its best
to let that happen. At the cross streets
of King and Addison Avenue,
Reza rolls down his window
and lets the smoke from the Irish
bar on his right slip
into his nostrils.
When the light turns green, the
Explorer puts on its left directional,
stalling progress long enough
for Reza’s Nissan to cut
its losses. After another light,
Reza puts on a directional
of his own. There are no cars in
the Farm and Fleet’s lot; the employees are waiting
outside on smoke breaks and there is no
suggestion of fire sale. Putting the car
in park, the engine ticks low like lost men
looking for their wives. Through the reflection of
show windows, the mannequins seem
dressed in his windshield.



Fuck Your Money:


The agenda for the evening didn’t account for all that
drinking. I had been working. Was tired from the night before
when I had also been working on telling work I didn’t want to
work for them anymore and I needed some kind of
leverage. Elise called. Whined about her mother and how I was
never home to help her explain how into each other we were and
that I wasn’t, get this, a waste of her good years. I mean,
Christ. She works at a frame shop. Selling pre-matted pictures of
landscapes to older men who say my wife would have really
loved this but she’s dead. Can I get your number?
Selling
overalls isn’t much better, but at least I get a lunch break.
Anyways, I was needing. I called John and he was going to this
girl Meghan’s house who liked one of us in high school. Her
sister was having a party. They were young; too young for me
not to want to go; old enough for me not to feel bad about it. We,
John and I, bought four 40oz a piece and I was landed
by the time we go there. I remember the music being terrible.
Kids shouting things, their free hands pushing down the air
above them while they groped whatever belt they could agree to
see in front. Next to the stereo there was a CD wallet. I wanted
to teach all of us a lesson. I took the music. Held it all above my
body and ran through the swell to a roof I remember climbing off
of years earlier which I don’t think I ever told John about.
I stood on the roof threatening to throw out the music, let it
plummet to the under-let, but nobody cared. I ended up keeping
the wallet, leaving the party and the satellite dish I had been
supported by alone. When I woke up, I remembered my cell
phone had fallen by the gutter and my service provider says it
will be 75 dollars to re-set my contract. It was a bad night and
my head hurts. I’m sorry sir, did you need help with something?



Lean With It:


Reza smiles lightly
and pulls out
the two-piece glass
door as instructed
by the three by seven
black and off
black sticker
posted just above the pole-
handle, stepping
into the warehouse show-
room. To his immediate
front, there is one cashier
island padded with bruise
blue carpet so the four
tenders it rests beneath
will have less occasion
to stiff their backs. Reza
was followed into the building
by most of its workers and
he hears them
spread the floor. The garments
around him smell of tone
deaf truckers and time
release air freshener. In the back
left corner of the building
there is a neon sign reading
Boots and Shoes showing
too far under what Reza came
to leave with. A young
boy folding jeans by
the entrance receives a call
on what he makes clear
is not his cell phone. Shooting his sleeves,
Reza asks where he can find
some cover. The boy puts his right hand over
the speaker and up-nods in the direction
of Commercial Services. Moving west
and right, Reza sees the arms
of many jackets layered out
against their neighbors
like duck-denier cotton flags
on the masts of stale rafts. Reza pulls
his wallet to the front watch
pocket of his jeans. A voice from
an office in the back yells
Bernadette while horns fill space
around its harmony. Across his chest
Reza measures 38 inches. From his shoulders
he looks too small for his body.



Eight Words:


Storm cuffs and shot
product information feel out
to wasted aisles like pushed
pavement at strip
malls throwing up to slow
for children. The day
has been found
tired; shadows at
the store entrance
lean longer than expected
while a man in tough
jeans nearing the rested garments
is heard with his supervisor
from an Earth Moving
company telling high
his plans for dinner. Reza’s plan
is dining. He is standing,
watered at the forehead,
thumbing size rings
over pony racks
hoping somehow there’s an
order. From his left,
Reza feels the struggle
not to want to be alone. A woman
with short hair and belly
stuffing steps into his
arena, tapping lookly at
her thigh.
    There are others in the back if you can’t find your want.
    I am too skinny.
    We could always measure.
    It won’t send weight.
    Rest now.
Reza nods, drops
his right foot one step
nearer his attendant and about
faces his back to
the foreground. The drill
is simple: stand cut,
span, cock elbow mid swing
to square your body’s
reading,    wait. Reza feels the tape of numbers
start at the center
of his back, between the shoulder
blades, and follow his arm track
to the wrist. Said lady
pulls three coats to
a clearing, one full away
from hanger.
    Do you like to fit a sweatshirt?
    It’s almost summer.
    This is a good place to start.
    I’ll take it.



Ski Mask: (outsource)


Handling himself
the gather of resource, Reza
shuts his mouth
over the curl of right
index, biting in time
as he sweeps back
his feet. Right foot
one step. Wait: light
drops from above where
new ballast has been
placed. Left foot
one step: slide to-
gether. He holds. Small
turn. Walking. Right
foot one step: Reza bites
harder at his finger. Left foot
one step: Red Wing-
ed Black Bird flies
into store front window.
Right foot
leaves ground, left foot
follows: stockboy watches
bird struggle at neck. Right
foot, left
foot, weight shift, wait,
turn right,
left space, leave space,
step slow, good gait,
leave space,
good gait, right foot,
left foot: cashier moves
to off the radio. Remote
access. Speakers blank
eek. Right foot
worries the base
of the counter. Left
foot. Reza bends wrist.
Hears talk of animal
control. Left
watch pocket. Right
card. Left
arm leaves jacket
for bag.



Call 1:


Stepping back
nearer the car, light
cloud cover moves
low around the setting,
laying wide
the resin of horizon. Diners
alive in the city. Traffic
along the Avenue has
called back to one
lane, and Reza has opened
his options: key,
fire, hummm. …ebanon
again today as Israeli officials
insists she has a right
to defend herself.
Shhhh. Reza
shuffles his wrist against the
tour of the radio,
piles down the voice’s
reach out. He checks
his mirrors. Straights
his hand along the shoulder
curve of the front passenger
chair, and reaches across
his person to down shift
his fevered recession. It is quiet
in the cab and the buildings
stay still. As he rolls away
his sleeve length, Reza huddles
his head on the window. Colors
change in metal boxes
strung the width of lonely
service. Back now
to sitting in wait; birds resting
on the phone lines; phone lines resting
in the bury of bone black birds.



Call 2:


Left limp
wrist held over
the steering yoke,
Reza birds his thumb
against the shift
column and digs
at the plastic cap. Between commercials,
there is music again
on the radio; raised rent;
mamma I’m low; someone’s
coming up the driveway quick
get in the closet.
Running
into failed signal as he lifts
back the leg of a cross
bridge, Reza sees flies
fire light-dark
along his either. The sea
of static swells. Leads eyes
to shelled clusters of
tracheal end cells
pulling through
bean fields while the road
breaks way
from the city. Gray lanes around him
splay 200 yards wide
after a set of train tracks
netted east
and west down plays
his carried cage. Reza eyes again
the longing ahead. Engages
the headlamps. Lets off
the pedal and
    brakes he rolls the basin.



Nose Bone: (Station Identification)


One light waiting
in a room where
someone’s left him
dinner reads hot
the shot night of wide
open. There is nothing else
to do now but guide
the Nissan to bed
pan. To shift the shift
column low, pull back
the long brake
playing straight the straight
console, and ease
the door out/back. Back
on his ground Reza feels
for his buckle, his zipper,
his knees. Pants come on
to the lid of his
engine; shirt it
falls to the brush. Reza reaches
back. It is cold
when he touches again
the handle but his coat
is supposed to be warm. Light
outs the framed shadow
of house on land. Swallows
the body flat. No music. Reza listens
his wheeze in the night. Bowls
arms though new cover. Walks singing
his feet to the earth.


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