THERMOS 6: Nik De Dominic

Nik De Dominic teaches in Orleans Parish Prison and in the Bard Early College New Orleans program. He’s an editor at The Offending Adam and New Orleans Review, and my favorite poet living and publishing in New Orleans today. — AS



Ataxia


We wait at the toll behind a train
of cars along the side of the highway


a work truck pulled over a man
stands in an empty field high


grass to his knees he stares
up at a billboard its planks


of plywood weathered curl
base and top to center


here we they meet



from here
I can only see the river how we cross


how it snakes through the city
an empty field:



*



here is the line the beauty
in its crossing


sound across the bay         holy roses
wrapped up in burlap bed sheets


the image an icon
your name on it don’t leave


California license plate key chain
bleeding


in the bed
an empty glass
rolling in the linens


let’s build a church here
the bottom



*



from place from place
from roadside fires and Waffle Houses
from the man-sized pines that litter


the highways of the southeast
places I’d never been I’d been before
fantastic things happened the night before:


You set fire to the cattle last night.
The whole field orange in the dark
the headlights of a passing truck.



*



Behind the school a small alleyway
fenced off from the sidewalk
sits a magician’s trunk


here is the line
to divide to limit space:
nine men wrestle


a round a foul
trains of birds
in molt in mid


dle in heat in
deed only action
in tents and in purses


each holds
ache holds
the other


sectioned
in threes by
brass hardware:



*



locks and hinges—draped
in a child’s purple sweater


dusted wood shavings
collapse chain-link
separate myself from you


separated in three by the woven steel
when I remove my hands already
I know what they’ll look like



I keep asking if we have gone.



*



Here is the line


to delineate symbol & thought:



red hat


spent book


matches


jar


content spill


the asphalt:


countless rubber bands


rubbers the bands


child’s skull


metal electroplating


metal salad bowl


cupric cupid


water-insoluble


rust



*



A church


sides the roadside


tinny bodies


all ten ears


grounded await


charge/change


in currents


a brief


electrical storm



*



You’re body your body underwater the smell water the smell chlorine your body body underwater body water each particle its taste tilt-a-wheel spin cycle washing machine maker heat comes pools body you are body so many bodies left here her to this holy roadside.



                  When did it start raining?



                  when we wake it is still
                  night close to light our bodies


                  in damp the taste your mouth
                  a burnt field barren dry without



                  then its hot glow the scar tissue raised
                  white floats above your hipbone


                  under your breasts circles areolas down
                  the spine under the jaw rope burns


                  here is where the body parts father
                  would say looks like you got into a hatchet fight


                  without your hatchet but you are not
                  I know this in fever dream



*



would say you look like you that we don’t like this but the night of cars along the side of the highway. Under the jaw rope burns. Here my father. Heat comes pools your body and singular. When I remove my hands already sectioned in threes with brass hardware: locks and hinges. The scar tissue raised white, floats all of them and the round’s on him. Left here to her this holy roadside how it snakes through the city there sits a magician’s trunk. He stares up at an empty billboard:



                  This is a body.



Last night
we met a guy who was a mobile glass guy:



                  drive to your house replace windshields et cetera
                  on your car as you wait—or don’t wait.


                  Leave a lot of receipts in newly sealed vehicles
                  insurance invoices et cetera.



*



Yeah I do of course when I install
large panes and everything is pre-cut at the shop


before I drive out of course et cetera. So I just slap it in
seal it and leave. But I don’t wear gloves pre-install


during the clean up the vacuuming et cetera of course
and the shit gets everywhere like glitter—even


the safety glass like glitter and now with the sun out
as it is et cetera my skin gets cut gets into my socks


in my chonies everywhere my whole body glows
et cetera et cetera et cetera et cetera et cetera et


here is the line



*



to catch and direct the eye over a given course
take me to the river orient a city from it watch


as we’ll go mad running our mouths out
filling our mouths with mouths


the ice cream truck loud
outside won’t you


you spare us
a quarter a field a billboard.


This is a vehicle.
This is the limen.



*



show position in space and/or time


Aboard about above across after against along amid among anti around as at
Before behind below beneath beside between beyond by


Down during
Except excluding


Following for from
In inside into


Like
Minus


Near
Of off on onto opposite outside over


Past per plus
Regarding round


Save since
Than through to toward


Under underneath unlike up upon
Versus via


With within
Lastly, without.



*



I knew a girl called Lila yeah yeah yeah
Here is the line to produce grey or tonal gradation:


we enter here from a place that looks like the others
its cheap patterned carpeting and leather-backed chairs


sectioned so we cannot sleep even if we wanted to
outside the window concrete divided


by yellow small carts wheeling around
the plane looks the same this one


perhaps smaller someone eats graham crackers
this is the first time that’s happened:



*



above us nothing


below the sectioned


patchwork of country


a singular body the line


to create arrangement


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